Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dispensationalism - A Reformed Evaluation

A few days ago I came across this essay by Dr. Ligon Duncan on Dispensational Theology.  I'm posting as a bookend to my previous post and what makes historic reformed theology different from the garden variety evangelicalism.

A Brief Background to Dispensationalism

The dispensational system of theology, if we are honest, is actually a Nineteenth Century phenomenon. Now I don’t want to get into an argument about these things. I know many good dispensationalists like to trace elements of dispensational teaching and belief way back into the history of the church. But as a historical theologian, and that is what I am by profession, I can pretty confidentially tell you that the system of dispensational theology is a Nineteenth Century phenomenon in the history of the church. It is particularly associated with John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren movement in Britain in the Nineteenth Century, and in America, with the name C.I. Scoffield, Cyrus Ingersoll Scoffield.

The dispensational movement created its own seminary in Dallas. And has for many years had control of a very theological journal, called, Bibliotheca Sacra, that has been sort of the official journal for dispensationalism. And many of you are aware of Dallas Seminary and of Bib Sac and of folks in the Bible Church movement, who would be very much indebted to the dispensationalist tradition.

Dispensationalism is not necessary committed in and of itself, for or against Calvinism and Arminianism. Earlier this century, for instance, you would have found many people who would have identified themselves as Calvinists and dispensationalists. And you would have found some who would have held basically to an Arminian theological framework been dispensationalist. On my best information, Dallas today would officially have sort of an ambiguous approach towards Calvinism. In other words, there wouldn’t be an out and out denial of Calvinism. Yet in fact, I am told that there is still a great deal of fear and discomfort with Calvinism at Dallas Theological Seminary. There are reasons for that which I won’t go into right now. They will become clear later on.

Read the rest here: Ligon Duncan on Dispensational Theology

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