Is 1689 Federalism "repackaged dispensationalism" ?


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Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have heard claims that 1689 Federalism has the hallmark of dispensationalism, being that 1689 Federalism separates Israel and the church. It seems to me that that is an accurate assessment.

I understand that I could be very wrong in my understanding. Also, I understand that this post might not be accepted on the board, being that some people here hold to 1689 Federalism and that dispensational theology is looked down on very much so, and we want to practice charity.

If it is allowed though, I would like to hear from the seasoned saints on this issue. I might not add very much, being that I could be over my head here.

I saw where a board member names Brandon (Adams, I think) wrote a blog on this. He said it is not dispensational because dispensational theology has Israel and the church have two different eternal promises and destinies. He says 1689 federalism does not. Israel just had temporal promises and the church has eternal ones.

But does it have to be separate eternal promises for both Israel and the church to be classified dispensational? Isn't temporal promises for one Israel and Eternal for the church enough to classify it dispensational?

Here is a blog from the 1689 view concerning why 1689 federalism is not dispensational theology.

https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/is-1689-federalism-dispensational/

I would post one from a Presbyterian view, but I do not know of one.
 
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Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
I hope this post brings clarity.

I’d love to see a charitable dialog between a Presbyterian and a 1689 federalist. It will bring clarity.

I’d love to hear a 1689er explain why believing in two different promises, whether they are eternal or not eternal, is not dispensational.

I know that 1689 views one as eternal and one as temporal. I’ve known that the whole time. Since the beginning I’ve seen the phrase “temporal blessing and temporal promises”.

I am just not sure why it matters. Why do the promises have to both be eternal to be dispensation. (As mentioned in the blog above).

I am not sure two eternal promises with two eternal destinies is the key trademark for dispensational theology. (Again, mentioned in the blog).

Why is not believing that there are two different people being promises to Abraham not the key trademark?


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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I hope this post brings clarity.

I’d love to see a charitable dialog between a Presbyterian and a 1689 federalist. It will bring clarity.

I’d love to hear a 1689er explain why believing in two different promises, whether they are eternal or not eternal, is not dispensational.

I know that 1689 views one as eternal and one as temporal. I’ve known that the whole time. Since the beginning I’ve seen the phrase “temporal blessing and temporal promises”.

I am just not sure why it matters. Why do the promises have to both be eternal to be dispensation. (As mentioned in the blog above).

I am not sure two eternal promises with two eternal destinies is the key trademark for dispensational theology. (Again, mentioned in the blog).

Why is not believing that there are two different people being promises to Abraham not the key trademark?


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http://www.1689federalism.com/faq/when-did-the-church-begin/
 

Timotheos

Puritan Board Freshman
Since the definition of church is markedly different between 1689 federalism and dispensationalism, that rules it right out since dispie theology makes their understanding of the church a shibboleth. Plus, 1689 federalism holds to the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, and other key elements of federal theology. A dispie cannot abide such teaching. A great paper on this was provided by Sam and Micah Renihan. It really clarifies the distinctions: http://confessingbaptist.com/samuel-micah-renihan-on-rb-cov-theology/

Another great resource is Founders Journal on the issue: https://founders.org/journals/of-covenants-and-mediators-108-spring-2017/
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Since the definition of church is markedly different between 1689 federalism and dispensationalism, that rules it right out since dispie theology makes their understanding of the church a shibboleth. Plus, 1689 federalism holds to the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, and other key elements of federal theology. A dispie cannot abide such teaching. A great paper on this was provided by Sam and Micah Renihan. It really clarifies the distinctions: http://confessingbaptist.com/samuel-micah-renihan-on-rb-cov-theology/

Another great resource is Founders Journal on the issue: https://founders.org/journals/of-covenants-and-mediators-108-spring-2017/
Exactly. I have a dispensational cousin. I showed him the 1689 Federalism website and he said it is guilty of 'replacement thology' the same charge he would make of paedobaptists. The thing is that even dispensationalists recognise that Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology is very different from dispensationalism.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
I would think that those who call it dispensationalism havent done their homework.

Yoda - “Understand you do not. Much learning have you.”
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
1689 Chapter 7

Paragraph 3. This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman,5 and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament;6 and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect;7 and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.8

1689 Chapter 19

Paragraph 3. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits;6 and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties,7 all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away.8

Paragraph 4. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of modern use.9

1689 Chapter 26

Paragraph 1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.1


How can these things be considered compatible with what is generally understood as modern day 'Dispensationalism'? The only way any Confessional Baptist could be considered a 'Dispensationalist' is to equivocate on the word itself.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Someone who has the idea that the OP does either does not understand dispensationalism or does not understand 1689 Federalism.

From any kind of dispensational point of view, the latter (at least in its contemporary expression) is "replacement theology," as is NCT, Progressive Covenantalism, Westminster Federalism, Romanism, EO, Lutheranism, Church of Christ teaching, and so on.

It might be helpful to know where you're getting the idea of two different promises or whatever.

1689 Federalism does not believe there are two peoples of God. Almost all of the ones I know of would also reject out of hand any notion of Israel being restored to the land (i.e. Zionism) which is considered to be a hallmark of all forms of dispensationalism today. (That being said, some postmils, as well as "historic" premils of the past were "Zionists." So that isn't necessarily even a Dispensational distinctive yet I think I only know of one person who claims to be a 1689 Federalist who is even premil.)

Read something like Ryrie's Dispensationalism or any version of the Scofield Reference Bible and then read some 1689 stuff and read Coxe/Owen or something like that (or even look at the videos on the website) and the difference should be clear.

The difference is clear with their definition of the church. For example, read the definition of the church in the TMS/Grace Church (John MacArthur) statement of faith and then read the 1689. Dispensationalism divvies up the redeemed into at least 3 categories: OT Saints, the Church and Tribulation Saints. Most of them will strenuously reject any notion of the OT Saints being part of the universal church. On the other hand, 1689 Federalism and similar views teaches that all of the redeemed of all ages are in the universal church.

What the OP may be thinking of is the idea that the church wasn't formally inaugurated until the NT era and the OT Saints are then sort of grandfathered in. (Some Baptists place it in Acts 2, some have taught that it was established during Jesus' earthly ministry.) But that's not the same as dispensationalism. No dispensationalist can honestly sign the 1689 because they cannot affirm its definition of the church, among other things, some of which KMK has highlighted above.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thank you for your input! Are all of you 1689 federalist?

About five or six years ago I would have said yes. Now? I'm not quite sure. I haven't been able to do much reading on it in the past few years, and I've got quite a bit of reading I'd like to do.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
About five or six years ago I would have said yes. Now? I'm not quite sure. I haven't been able to do much reading on it in the past few years, and I've got quite a bit of reading I'd like to do.
Are you a baptist though? You said not quite sure, so what are you in the middle on? :)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
From what I am able to tell, there is very little difference between Traditionalists and Federalists.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Are you a baptist though? You said not quite sure, so what are you in the middle on? :)

Ecclesiology and eschatology. I haven't done much reading in this area after about 2011. I'm baptistic at this point but not as hard core on some things as I was 8-10 years ago when I was taking in a lot of 9 Marks material and "old time" Baptist preaching and writing that made much of their distinctives. (It would take some digging, but I have some posts on here from that time frame, especially around 2008-2009.) But you start backing off some that (such as close communion) and it seems to me that you end up with an incoherent position. But I don't want to get too far off of the topic of the OP since some of that is only tangentially related to it.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the responses brothers! Not too much presbyterian dialog though. It looks like the baptist are more concerned about this post, than the presbyterians.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
As a Presbyterian, it looks like an intramural-Baptist debate.

As a matter of historical observation, dispensationalism found more of a home (not an exclusive one) in church traditions that did not have already something like a CovenantTheology hermeneutic. There were Dispensational-Presbyterians (e.g. Lewis Sperry Chafer) but Reformed soil was not the best for it. And the 1689Fed group is certainly aimed at confirming strong ties back to the English Reformation.

As an outsider to the issue, it looks to me like Correlation and not Causation. In a similar way, a Baptist might say the Presbyterian has the hallmark of baptismal-regeneration, simply because he baptizes infants. It may serve to note the correlation; but take care not to insist there is more connection even unto causation where it is nothing but perception.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I don’t think a Presbyterian or paedobaptist would have extensive interest because there are common disagreements with both. Whether 20th century RB theology or 1689 Federalism both assume a discontinuity that the paedobaptist does not believe Scripture teaches. If anything, if the PB disagrees with the discontinuity in modern RB theology and the view of the covenants (which more resembles Presbyterian CT than Federalism), only more those in the Federalism view, and from what I’ve seen the discontinuities are a little sharper in Federalism.

For all that though, neither RB is going to have much in common with Dispensationalists for the reasons cited.
 
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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Since the definition of church is markedly different between 1689 federalism and dispensationalism, that rules it right out since dispie theology makes their understanding of the church a shibboleth. Plus, 1689 federalism holds to the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, and other key elements of federal theology. A dispie cannot abide such teaching. A great paper on this was provided by Sam and Micah Renihan. It really clarifies the distinctions: http://confessingbaptist.com/samuel-micah-renihan-on-rb-cov-theology/

Another great resource is Founders Journal on the issue: https://founders.org/journals/of-covenants-and-mediators-108-spring-2017/
All one needs to know here is that spiritual Israel and the Church does not mean same thing to both a RB and a Dispensational one.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
About five or six years ago I would have said yes. Now? I'm not quite sure. I haven't been able to do much reading on it in the past few years, and I've got quite a bit of reading I'd like to do.
It seems that there are NCT Baptist, 1689 Baptists, Reformed Baptists, as well as Free will and Dispensational versions.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I don’t think a Presbyterian or paedobaptist would have extensive interest because there are common disagreements with both. Whether 20th century RB theology or 1689 Federalism both assume a discontinuity that the paedobaptist does not believe Scripture teaches. If anything, if the PB disagrees with the discontinuity in modern RB theology and the view of the covenants (which more resembles Presbyterian CT than Federalism), only more those in the Federalism view, and from what I’ve seen the discontinuities are a little sharper in Federalism.

For all that though, neither RB is going to have much in common with Dispensationalists for the reasons cited.
good observation, as the dividing line between Presbyterian and Baptist reformed and the Dispensational Baptists seems to be around the question of just how new really is the New Covenant?
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
good observation, as the dividing line between Presbyterian and Baptist reformed and the Dispensational Baptists seems to be around the question of just how new really is the New Covenant?

I think both modern RBs and paedos agree on some connection between the covenants (one CG, multiple administrations), that the NC flowers out from the prior covenants, or is yet one more covenant in the CG, the difference being what continues and what drops off and what is added.

With 1689 Federalism, the New Covenant is absolutely new, no connection to prior covenants, and is the Covenant of Grace, thus prior covenants have little to say to the NC except in the form of types and shadows.

So, if we paedos disagree with the first group (agreeing there is continuity, just disagreeing in what places), we'll disagree with the second group where the discontinuity is sharper.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
With 1689 Federalism, the New Covenant is absolutely new, no connection to prior covenants, and is the Covenant of Grace, thus prior covenants have little to say to the NC except in the form of types and shadows.

So, if we paedos disagree with the first group (agreeing there is continuity, just disagreeing in what places), we'll disagree with the second group where the discontinuity is sharper.
Actually the continuity is very consistent in a Reformed Baptist Covenant theology. See posts 7 and 8. The 1689 confession goes back earlier in Redemptive history than the WCF. It starts in Gen 3:15 and shows a tremendous continuity between the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace. This is the very opposite to dispensationalism. In fact Reformed Baptist Covenant theology gives a powerful foundation for Calvinistic theology. See especially the essay mentioned above https://thelogcollege.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/rb-cov-theo-renihans.pdf
 
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