Is Dispensationalism considered Orthodox?

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by Nathan Riese, Sep 7, 2009.

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  1. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    For purposes of labeling Dispensationalism "orthodox" or "unorthodox" I think it is important for a quick definition of what we mean by "orthodox" in this context.

    Dispensationalism is NOT unorthodox in the way Mormonism is unorthodox.
  2. PastorTim

    PastorTim Puritan Board Freshman

    dispensationalism is a direct contradiction of the scriptures whilst at the same time using them for its defense. It denies the effect of Jesus' work by awaiting the establishment of a kingdom that he already has done, albeit not completely yet. This bad theology changes one's worldview and thus leads to bad politics.
    Therefore. In my humble opinion, it is heresy and should be treated as such. (gotta match LOL). We dont attack viruses within Christendom because.....well, I dont know why. Maybe because it is so poular and is where the Christian money goes, much like we treat Catholicism as another denomination. Arminianism, at least, is merely just a theology of the immature and can be shown their errors and are thus not heretics. Their immaturity, however, does leave them prey to dispensationalism, even pentecostalism heresies.
  3. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    another question for any dispensationalists amongst us, where do you see the temple being rebuilt in scripture?
  4. puritan lad

    puritan lad Puritan Board Freshman

    There was a discussion at Pulpit Magazine about the future sacrifices, defending MacArthur's comments at the 2007 Shepherd's Conference. It sounds as if MacArthur does believe in a future return to animal sacrifices.

    See Pulpit Magazine Blog Archive End Times Q&A (Part 3 of 3) Question #9
  5. Blue Tick

    Blue Tick Puritan Board Graduate

    In some areas they're orthodox in some areas they are not.

    Because the reformed community is still trying to recover from the ravages of theological liberalism. Remember the history behind dispensationalism is that it's a reaction against 19th and early 20th century liberalism.
  6. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Even though it was a reaction, that system is still erroneous. One does not cancel out the other, it just makes a bigger problem within the church.
  7. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    If someone teaches heresy, they are a heretic. Heretics are false teachers - unbelievers. Are you prepared to say that David Jeremiah, Chuck Swindoll, and John MacArthur are unbelievers?

    We need to be careful throwing out the "H" bomb. Words mean things.
  8. PastorTim

    PastorTim Puritan Board Freshman

    It may be assumed that one believes what he teaches. If you teach that Jesus did not come to establish His kingdom as the gospel message proclaims then it may be rightly assumed that you believe it. If you deny the teachings of Jesus, such as expecting a new temple to be built with new sacrificial systems, an earthly rule inter aliaas the Dispensationalists teach we may therefore conclude, rather safely, that this same person believes different than the gospel.
    If we call one who believes all the truths of scripture a believer, what is one called wo does not believe? If they believe some of the truths and add new modern doctrine are they half-believers?or neo-believers?
    If we called that which is not true by the name "false" and treated i as such, instead of re-conditioning the truth to fit the popular we could begin to purify the church of Christ. Reform will precede revival.
  9. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Tim, I think you need to brush up on how church history defines heresy. Historically, heresy surrounds perverting the message of the Gospel (ala Galatians 1). Dispensationalism does not necessarily pervert the gospel. Not all error ascends to the level of heresy. As a pastor, your willingness to so casually use the heresy label concerns me.
  10. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    These are VERY, VERY concerning.

    Add in that many Dispensational's believe that the bible was written partly to Jews, and partly to Christians and you have another MAJOR concern.

    Am I calling them heretics, no not at this time. Does it frighten me for them? Absolutely.

    -----Added 9/8/2009 at 02:31:19 EST-----

    Bill, does it not? I love MacArthur, I do and I am not ready to label him or anyone who thinks as he does a heretic but I do find the few major items listed here very, very alarming and close to "another gospel".
  11. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Another definition from my above quoted source:

    HERESY (hehr’ eh ssee) An opinion or doctrine not in line with the accepted teaching of a church; the opposite of orthodoxy. Our English word is derived from a Greek word which has the basic idea of choice. In ancient classical Greek it was used predominantly to refer to the philosophical school to which one chose to belong. Later, it came to be associated with the teaching of philosophical schools.
    The word had a similar usage in Jewish writings. Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century from whom we learn much of what we know about the Judaism of New Testament times, used the word to refer to the various Jewish parties (or schools of thought) such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Jewish rabbis employed the term in a bad sense applying it to groups who had separated from the main stream of Jewish teaching.
    The word has several usages in the New Testament, but never has the technical sense of “heresy” as we understand it today. It may be classified as follows:
    1. Most frequently, especially in Acts, it has the same meaning as Josephus. In Acts 5:17, 15:5; and 26:5, where it refers to the Pharisees and Sadducees, it simply means party or sect.
    2. In Acts 24:14 and 28:22 it is used in a slightly derogatory sense, referring to Christians as they were viewed to be separatists or sectarians by the Jews. This usage conforms to that of the rabbis.
    3. Paul used the term to refer to groups which threatened the harmonious relations of the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:19, where he was writing about the disgraceful way in which the Corinthians were observing the Lord’s Supper, the word has to do with the outward manifestations of the factions he mentioned in verse 18. In Galatians 5:20, it is one of the works of the flesh and is in a grouping including strife, seditions, and envyings. It apparently has to do with people who choose to place their own desires above the fellowship of the church. Titus 3:10 speaks of a man who is a heretic. Since the context of the verse has to do with quarreling and dissension, the idea in this passage seems to be that of a fractious person.
    4. In 2 Peter 2:1 it comes closest to our meaning of the term. It clearly refers to false prophets who have denied the true teaching about Christ. Since the remainder of 2 Peter 2 refers to the immoral living of the false prophets, the word also refers to their decadent living. The reference to the heretic in Titus 3:10 may belong to this category since the verse mentions disputes about genealogies, a doctrinal matter.
    It is clear that in the New Testament, the concept of heresy had more to do with fellowship within the church than with doctrinal teachings. While the writers of the New Testament were certainly concerned about false teachings, they apparently were just as disturbed by improper attitudes.
    In the writings of Ignatius, a leader of the church in the early second century, the word takes on the technical meaning of a heresy. Most frequently in the writings of the early church fathers, the heresy about which they were concerned was Gnosticism, a teaching which denied that Jesus was fully human. See Christology; Error; Gnosticism.
    W. T. Edwards, Jr.
  12. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Adam, there some facets of dispensationalism that are more troubling than others. Old line (classical) dispensationalism, the type that Gerstner wrote against, is the worst offender. PD (progressive dispensationalism) may very well be the majority view at this point. The eschatological component of PD operates somewhat independent of soteriology. Wannabe (Joe Johnson) falls into that camp if I understand correctly. Joe is a Calvinist, like MacArthur. Tell me how MacArthur's self-described "leaky dispensational" theology negates his view of the Gospel.
  13. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    Do progressive's believe that Christ came to set up an earthy Kingdom and failed?

    Do they believe that some of the bible was written for Jews and some to Christians? Meaning while we (Christians) can learn from all of the bible it's clearly not written directly to us (I am talking New Testament here too)

    Do they believe that a temple has to be rebuilt before Christ can return?

    If they believe those things (I have no idea if they do or not), is that Jesus, the one that these kind of ideas apply to, the Jesus Christ of scripture? Would he not be the false Messiah the Jews awaited thus rejecting the true Christ because He didn't do what they expected?
  14. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    One thing I neglected to do is comment on why I posted the definition of Dispensational. I see it as a defective timetable which may confuse some about Christ's return and breaks down history according to someone's dreams. It is a template that the whole of scripture does not support.
  15. Particular Baptist

    Particular Baptist Puritan Board Freshman

    The label of heretic has been thrown by many on this thread and that disappoints me. Personally, for me, the eschatology is a third or fourth tier issue when it comes to theology, albeit I know that eschatology touches every other part of one's theology and therefore affects and molds other parts. If anyone here wishes to say that men such as John MacArthur and Steve Lawson are heretics simply because they disagree with others about a third or fourth tier issue then they must do much heart searching and find what the gospel really is. The gospel in its simplest form is "deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." 1 Timothy 1:15. Also, in 1 Timothy 3:16 Paul sums the gospel again when he says that
    "He who was revealed in the flesh,
    Was vindicated in the Spirit,
    Seen by angels,
    Proclaimed among the nations,
    Believed on in the world,
    Taken up in glory."

    This is the gospel and this is what is Orthodox and therefore most basic for saving faith. I would say that Orthodoxy=The Gospel. When we learn to love our brothers and sisters in Christ who have differing opinions on theological subjects that are not basic to the gospel then, and only then, can we begin to learn how to love Christ's Church the way He does.
  16. PastorTim

    PastorTim Puritan Board Freshman

    they are definitely another gospel...the Jesus they teach of is different than that of scripture. His purpose is different, his means, and his future are all different. Even his present is different. They are looking for the Jesus that the pharisees were looking for. Yep, they missed it too.

    Why have we become so afraid to call a spade a spade. Are we unsure and afraid of being wrong?
  17. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    If you are convinced that dispensationalists - of all stripes - are preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:8); you are entitled to your opinion. What you will not do is throw out the heresy label on this board, never mind this thread. You have a myopic view of what constitutes heresy. You would be well served to bone up on the term as defined throughout church history.

    Also - please update your signature per my last PM.
  18. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Dispensational bashing threads are often in vogue here on the PB. And they usually involve brushes too broad for anyone to handle and a major case of plankeye.

    One thing that we must be very careful of is the distinction between what is necessarily dispensational and what many dispensationalists teach. These are not synonymous. Yet they are often treated as such by the reformed community. And, just as often from those who "came out" of dispensationalism because they think what they came out of defines dispensationalism.

    Dispensationalism, at its core, does not deny the Gospel. However, I would readily admit that many dispensationalists do. And, I can see how the more classic perspective of dispensationalism points in a plan B/reactionary perspective in the work of the cross. That is unfortunate and dangerous to souls, but not necessary for dispensationalism. It must be realized that covenantalism also has its abominations, such as FV and baptismal regeneration (though the latter might be found in some fundy Dispensational churches, for entirely different reasons). The same broad brush paints both ways...

    Let's examine a few claims:
    • Radical division between church and Israel? Well, yea, some do make this claim. But is it necessary? No. The church involves all who are saved and salvation is only found in Christ. Israel is a people group God chose to work through in the world. Covenantalists see all prophesy involving Israel as fulfilled in the church. Dispensationalists still see many yet to be fulfilled, specifically in regard to land promises and the millennial kingdom. Heresy?
    • Secret rapture? I find this term odd. Any event where millions of people disappear is hardly a secret. It is worth mentioning that not all Dispensationalists are pretrib. There are those who are mid and post trib as well. I'm not even sure the 7 year tribulation period is necessary for dispensationalism, though some form of greater tribulation would certainly be. It is obviously the predominant position by far.
    • Parts of the Bible written to Jews, parts to Christians? Well, I would have to affirm that statement. However, before throwing stones at me, I would also assert that the entire Bible was written FOR all men. "To" and "for" are different thoughts. Was Ephesians written "to" Philippi? No, but it is just as applicable to God's people everywhere (for).
    • Sacrifices was dealt with well....
    • The "Margaret McDonald" argument is a straw man that should be abandoned. It's been dealt with by many and there are enough problems with the origins of classic dispensationalism to avoid such erroneous claims. As for Darby and Scoffield, well, I think they speak for themselves... a host of errors.
    • Denies that Christ has already set up his kingdom? Yes, it does. Of course, one of the people who made this observation also said, "It denies the effect of Jesus' work by awaiting the establishment of a kingdom that he already has done, albeit not completely yet." It's the already/not yet aspect of Christ's kingdom. A dispensationalist will claim that the kingdom has been established in that it resides in heaven and in those who belong to the kingdom of God. But, it has yet to be established on earth. This will happen in the millennial kingdom. Many "orthodox" theologians have taken this view, Spurgeon for one; and I think Ryle.

    And within this framework one was so bold as to assert confidently, "Nothing of dispensationalism is orthodoxy....nothing."

    Another claims "dispensationalism is a direct contradiction of the scriptures..."

    Another statement that deserves careful consideration, "If you deny the teachings of Jesus, such as expecting a new temple to be built with new sacrificial systems, an earthly rule inter aliaas the Dispensationalists teach we may therefore conclude, rather safely, that this same person believes different than the gospel." Really? And what if one claims that circumcision and baptism are the same thing? That'll split the PB in a hurry.

    The claim "we call one who believes all the truths of scripture a believer" condemns us all, for obvious reasons. Who believes them all? Is there one here who'll cast the first stone? According to this line of thought half the folks on the PB are not believers because some are credo and some paedo. Then some are post and some are amil, with a few premils scattered. We're getting down to very few are are true believers. If that's the measure of orthodoxy then there might be one believer in all the world... he's the only one who "believes all the truths of scripture." Anybody who disagrees is a heretic.

    With all this in view, how many are examining themselves in the process? Is this a case of the great wise man speaking thus with himself, "Oh thank you God for making me smarter than others and giving me great theological understanding; that I am not like this dispensationalist," while the Dispensational brother pounds his chest and simply cries out, "God, forgive me"? Or perhaps we are to look around at our vast reformed empire that we have built... (Daniel 4).

    The Pharisees of Jesus' time embraced the title of Pharisee. I wonder what title is embraced today that is parallel...

    a spade?
  19. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Since this is the PuritanBoard and we are basing our assumptions off the confessions and not on any other known religions or beliefs outside of the confessions, when I define orthodoxy I define it according to the confessions. Therefore, anything which is outside of the confessions is unorthodox. Mormonism is heresy. Dispensationalism is unorthodoxy. Dispensationalism is stuck in the OT as it were and has not come to see how God brought all that He did in the OT to fulfillment in the NT. For the dispensationalist, the church, although apart of God's family and no less considered as being needed, is just a parenthesis within God's plan. This is not what the church has always believed and certainly not what our confessions purport as being true. John M. preaches the Good News accurately and is a man of God. He goes wayward when be beings to talk about the Jews and the premillennial belief system and how during that during that time they will bring back animal sacrifices which will replace the Lord's Supper. He has the Jews living with Christ on earth for a 1000 years and Gentiles in heaven during that 1000yrs. So he separates the Body of Christ. Although he is not a heavy-ended Dispensational, the way he interprets many of the OT Scriptures leads to a Dispensational outcome which does effect the Good News to a certain degree. I listened to his "sermon" on this subject at one of his conferences and was disappointed at what he believes.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  20. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    "The "Margaret McDonald" argument is a straw man that should be abandoned. It's been dealt with by many and there are enough problems with the origins of classic dispensationalism to avoid such erroneous claims."

    Why? A reliable Bible dictionary usually researches it's content.
  21. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Interestingly Sarah, my views fit within the LBC 44, which is clearly confessional. Also, other than sabbatarianism, which you are not in agreement with, is the only aspect of the LBC 89 that I am clearly in disagreement with. Not that you attacked me personally. But dispensationalism is not necessarily anti-confession. Of course, it cannot fit within the confines of the WCF. And, interestingly enough, many dispensationalists take a more strident stand on the Sabbath than many sabbatarians here would be comfortable with. And, upon reflection, I'm sure you are aware that JM would be disappointed in much that you assert.

    I won't go deep into this. There is much reliable research on this available. A simple look at Wiki exposes it as a fraud. Samuel Tragelles started the lie and MacPherson, in his irresponsible treatment of Tragelles' assertions and dispensationalism, propagated and inflated it (I have an autographed copy of The Unbelievable Pre-trib Origin). Darby said that MacDonald's visions were of demonic origin. Furthermore, Darby's views on the rapture were written a few years before MacDonald's "visions." And MacDonald's visions were post-trib, not pre-trib. It's enough evidence to abandon the idea. Even if it were possible, and I don't think it is, why use it as a source when there is much about their teaching that is clearly unbiblical?
  22. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    Most of us agree that dispensationalism is in error; but not every error rises to the level of heresy. Heresy is a serious charge. Heresy is reserved for those teachings that pervert the gospel. We're making much of Johnny Mac, but his dispensationalism does not pervert the gospel. He's a Calvinist! He shares the stage with R.C. Sproul because of his stand on the doctrines of grace. I disagree with his dispensational eschatology, but it does not rise to the level of heresy.

    When we are tempted to drop the "H" bomb; are we ready to pronounce the anathema of Gal. 1:8 on the person?
  23. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    isn't there a difference between heresy and damnable heresy?
  24. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I said Mormonism is heresy and dispensationalism is unorthodoxy. You have me confused with someone else. I never said that dispensationalism was heresy. You didn't read what I read someone else's post and then placed what they said onto me. Please reread what I said.

    -----Added 9/8/2009 at 09:16:24 EST-----

    I actually ascribe to the Sabbath now after a long conversation with Lane. My only dispute with it is the day change. So I indeed am unorthodox in this small area (change of day) but only unto debating its reason for the change of day. I still practice the Sabbath on Sundays but just don't understand how we could change it. Remember, I am saying that dispensationalism falls outside of orthodoxy not a person on the whole. JM very well may ascribe to most of the WCF in all aspects of his belief system except for his belief system in dispensationalism. Except for those who ascribe to the confessions 100%, the rest of us are unorthodox in one area or another. Some are greater errors than others. I was never placing persons completely outside of orthodox belief system only some of their belief systems. My first comment stated that nothing about dispensationalism was orthodox. I didn't say anyone who believes in dispensationalism was unorthodox......there's a great difference between those two statements.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2009
  25. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Sarah, you're right. So many things going back and forth in this thread. Sorry about that.
  26. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    That was my point, really. What does "nothing" exclude? Nothing orthodox necessitates heresy.
  27. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    You would then have to give unorthodoxy and heresy the same definition. Although, they might come close in their definitions, I doubt most of us would say they are one and the same. Heresy is reserved for those who deny the Trinity, virgin birth etc they are not Christians. Unorthodoxy is reserved for those whose belief systems are confused on the understandings of the Bible.....Arminians would fall under unorthodox....they are Christians. A person who denies that Christ is the Son of God and is God the Son isn't confused they are just heretics. Someone who thinks that the church is a parenthesis is confused not a heretic. They misinterpret Scripture which we all do from time to time. In the end, heresy = non-christian and unorthodoxy = confused Christian on a certain belief.
  28. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    "Nothing" includes the basic tenets of the Gospel. It's absolute. The basic tenets of the Gospel are within the confines of orthodoxy. I don't see how it could NOT be heresy.
  29. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Before I comment I would need to know to which basic tenets you are referring? There are some dispensationalist who are rejected by the dispensational community bc that dispensationalist has fallen into heresy....but then that heretic would no longer really be a dispensationalist in my opinion.
  30. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I personally have been taught that we should be very careful about bandying about the word heresy, in that if we call heresy what is not heresy, we come close to heresy ourselves. When we call something heresy, we are saying those that hold to such a position are outside the church ... that such a position not only is error, but is such serious error than those that believe it are lost. If we define the bounds of salvation more strictly than what God does, that is we make salvation some in addition to or take away some requirement of salvation, we are very close to not maintaining belief in what saves us, but are believing something else, and that is very close to another gospel.

    I am not willing to say that dispensationalism is a heresy, partly because it was not judged as such by several courts of the church that stated it was error (and barred those that held to it from church office). And while I understand it is not what I understand the scriptures to teach, I do not know that someone who is Dispensational would not trust the finished work of Christ for salvation and rest in him alone for his standing before God. While it is certain that I would hold the Dispensational as holding to error, and all error is serious, I do not believe they are heretics just on the basis of dispensationalism.
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