My previous post clearly troubled some consciences, which always results in either change or heel-digging and chest-beating. There was a lot of the latter. (There was also some brotherly, challenging, worthwhile discussion in the meta of that post.) One of the most amusing/bemusing responses was the repeated charge that, in interacting with what I've heard and read for over thirty years, I'd created "straw men." Go figure. (Charismatics often do the same when their doctrines and practices are held up to analysis.)
So the following, I hope, are instructive one hand / other hand examples:
- On the one hand David Bayly (a good guy, whose dad Joseph was a wonderful writer) wrote a very gracious essay titled Why Dispensationalism Is Wrong..... He tells a story involving an former prof of mine (John Sailhamer), ends by linking to my post on dissing Dispensationalism, below -- but not before saying:
I don't agree with dispensationalism, but I'm not an expert on it. And when I did meet an expert, I found certain stock Reformed criticisms of dispensationalism rather threadbare. Dispensationalists deserve to be taken seriously. Reformed believers don't appreciate being accused of the things Arminians suggest against us. Most are false. We need to be as careful in what we say about dispensationalism as we ask Arminians to be toward us.
- Among those most certainly not taking brother Bayly's advice would be The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics. I was pretty jazzed to see the site at first. They look like they may have a truckload of really cool resources. And then I saw they had a section on Eschatology. This intrigued me; many of us are content to define "Reformed" by the Five Sola's, but some also define it as having a specific eschatology. So, optimistic fool that I am, I clicked.
It features discussions of various positions. Ah! so there isn't just one! Oh, but look closer. Postmillennialism and amillennialism apparently enjoy the status of being presented by advocates of those systems themselves, with some alternative assessments offered. But under dispensationalism? Alas; only criticism, by anti-Dispensationalists. Why? The blurb at the top explains quite clearly:
There are three basic eschatological views which are held by those calling themselves "Reformed." These are: postmillennialism, amillennialism, and historic premillennialism. Absent from the list is dispensational premillennialism because it is a view which (a) is incompatible with the doctrines of grace (b) compromises God's aseity, and (c) compromises God's sovereignty. Below are included some critques of different aspects of dispensationalist teaching.Now, this is just foolish, and sad, and utter nonsense. Blind traditionalism isn't confined to Rome, is it? Ah well; maybe some reasonable soul like David Bayly will have a chat with the webmasters, and we Calvidispies can get on their bus, even if we have to start with sitting at the back of it. [UPDATE 8/7/2009 — because I'm about to link to it, I checked the site again. It is two and one-half years later. Do you think the webmasters have learned one thing about dispensationalism in that time? Has there been a millimeter's growth? Evidently not.]