Understanding Dispensationalists Paperback – 1 Dec 2012
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From the Author
The way to fruitful dialogue on dispensationalism
Dispensationalists and covenant theologians disagree with one another at some crucial points. As a consequence, they differ in their strategies for interpreting a fair amount of the Bible. How do we find our way around this disagreement?
I write as a nondispensationalist, a covenant theologian. But I want to explore how to build bridges toward dispensationalists. This book explains why dialogue has been difficult in the past, and how it may be more constructive in the future. I challenge dispensationalists to reconsider some of their assumptions. But I do so with respect.
In the postscript to the second edition I explore the developments in "progressive dispensationalism."
The contents are as follows:
1. Getting Dispensationalists and Nondispensationalists to Listen to Each Other
2. Characteristics of Scofield Dispensationalism
3. Variations of Dispensationalism
4. Developments in Covenant Theology
5. The Near Impossibility of Simple Refutations
6. Strategy for Dialogue With Dispensationalists
7. The Last Trumpet
8. What Is Literal Interpretation?
9. Dispensationalist Expositions of Literalness
10. Interpretive Viewpoint in Old Testament Israel
11. The Challenge of Typology
12. Hebrews 12:22-24
13. The Fulfillment of Israel in Christ
14. Other Areas for Potential Exploration
Postscript to the Second Edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Giving credence to his thesis is the fact that he spent time at Dallas Theological Seminary doing research for the book. In fact, he thanks the staff and students for their help! Given the often dogmatic and unloving attitudes that persist on both sides of the interpretive divide, Poythress is very effective and genuine in his style.
Poythress has a number of arguments against Dispensationalism that can't all be summarised here. He does, however, point out that Dispensationalists often paint themselves into corners - they believe the Bible is the literal word of God (which Poythress believes as well), but are unable to cope with basic exegetical problems that contradict their theology. Rather than allow their theology to be changed by the Bible, they interpret the Bible via their theology - thus removing a central part of their belief system that the Bible determines theology.
I challenge any Dispensationalist to read Poythress' work and still remain committed to their theology. But, like Poythress, I do this in the spirit of love, recognizing their faith and love of Christ.
As a Dispensationalist who's followed more of the Revised/Modified tradition (of Ryrie, Tan, Walvoord, McClain, Pentecost, etc.), most of the arguments had a smaller impact on me, as most from this later movement of Dispensationalism between the 1950s and early 80s would find little trouble responding to Poythress' hermeneutical (which in-turn become applicational) critiques. However, his work was very solid and I certainly do not want to downplay it in my response. Above all, Poythress clearly shows the foundational problems within the classical tradition, specifically, the dualistic issues seen from its earthly/heavenly dichotomy. However, Poythress tends to show his own interpretive issues as he signifies all the Mosaic Covenant (along with much of the other OT covenants) as originating in the 'Heavenly reality', showing a slant towards the metaphysical.
However, with that being said, he carefully observes the modifications of others within Covenant Theology pertaining to the earthly character of God's promises, especially Anthony Hoekema in his, 'The Bible and the Future'. Though Hoekema does not contribute towards the development of earthly promises within an understanding of a Millennial Kingdom, he does contribute to the earthly character of the promise fulfilled in the New Earth in the final renovation (a nuanced Amillennialism). I found Poythress' comments on these modifications very helpful.
Other than the inherent dualism prevalent throughout early Dispensationalism (see also Ronald Henzel's 'Darby, Dualism, and the Decline of Dispensationalism'), there is, without a doubt, some problems in the expressions of Dispensationalism (even of the revised sort) on how they express the relationship of the two peoples of God, especially within the Millennial Kingdom period, yet future (to us). I find his critiques well-deserved and needed, though Ryrie, Walvoord, and Pentecost have dealt with many of these problems over the course of their distinguished careers, especially in view of the final state and how both people groups will inhabit the New Heavens and New Earth, co-existing as the Redeemed.
This movement of Dispensationalism has made the 'Two Peoples of God' view much less apparent, though they still hold to it. I think part of this is because they do see a clearer relationship between the two peoples than older Disp. did; this is welcomed. They have also completely set aside the 'Two New Covenants' view from older Disp. (thankfully) and have articulated a view that sees only one New Covenant, yet not inaugurated in any sense until the Millennial Kingdom (Prog. Disp. sees it as already inaugurated). In the end, Dispensationalists still need to work on this articulation, though it is a difficult area in every system's understanding. Yet this concession does not mean that we should abandon the earthly, political/social aspects that we view as so pertinent from the OT Covenants with Israel. This is where Poythress fails to engage thoroughly enough to convince me to leave the Dispensational hermeneutic, though I do commend him on his solid contribution.
Overall, Poythress has written one of the best critiques of Traditional Dispensationalism, and does so with a congenial attitude towards the Dispensational community. Thankfully, Poythress doesn't make the faulty arguments/straw men based on poor scholarship that so many still make today about Dispensationalism, such as two ways of salvation, it doesn't believe in the entire bible for the church, etc.; I commend him for this. Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology have been listening to each other's critiques for the past 60-70 years (though not highly publicized) and each has made revisions to their systems. The inherent problems will always be complex and there will always be a tension in the Promises of God between the earthly/heavenly, material/immaterial, and eternal/historical. These will remain with us till the fullness of His coming. Thankfully, men like Poythress have the ability, and irenic spirit, to lead the church in these dialogues, even if some still disagree or others have yet to reach a conclusion. An excellent read.
What I wish to discuss instead is the generally positive and irenic tone of this book. Having been firmly in the Reformed postmillennial camp since my conversion as a 32-year-old adult from agnosticism nearly 35 years ago, I am well aware that when it comes to areas of theological disagreement in general and eschatology in particular, the virtues of charity and fairness are often in short supply. Vitriolic language, straw-man arguments, gross misinterpretations of the statements of one's opponents, are seemingly the order of the day. I have observed this not only in the attacks dispensationalists make on non-dispensationalists but also in the writings of non-dispensationalists when attacking the dispensational position. (An especially egregious example of the latter is John Gerstner's "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth.")
Therefore, Poythress's little book (it is just over 130 pages in length) is a breath of fresh air. Although ultimately he is critical of the dispensationalist position, his primary purpose, as the title of the book indicates, is to understand this position in a spirit of Christian love. In this he by and large succeeds, as even some of the dispensationalists who have reviewed the book admit. Moreover, when he has criticized, he has tried his best to be fair. Of course, any time a person who rejects a position attempts to discuss that position there is the chance that he or she will not understand that position and will wind up offering a caricature rather than an accurate portrayal. However, insofar as a critic can fairly discuss a position, Poythress has done a good job. It is certainly a step in the right direction.