But then he does this. In the midst of a characteristically good review (this time of Pagan Christianity?), Pastor Gleason feels compelled to say:
Viola gives us an insight into his understanding of Scripture when he writes, “in the New Testament we have the genesis of the church.” Really? He sounds very much like a dispensationalist.Huh? I had to look twice. Then I got it: Viola says the church begins in the New Testament, dispensationalists say (with Paul) that the church begins in the New Testament; ergo, he "sounds very much like" a dispensationalist.
But I still think it's an odd association, and a bit of a slam. This guy's reportedly saying all sorts of strange things that no dispensationalist would say, and Gleason rightly faults him for them. But Viola seems wobbly in his grasp of the authority of Scripture — whereas writing dispensationalists have virtually unanimously been unwaveringly insistent on the inerrancy and plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. You can say all the bad things you care to about dispensationalism and -ists, but if you're honest, you'll grant that.
Sometimes it seems as if the resentment bubbling in some Reformed brothers just bursts out uncontrollably every so often, whether really germane or not. Like when I was skimming through Fred Malone's book on baptism, and saw that he took a moment out to slam dispensationalism — whose premises accord very naturally with the credobaptist position.
Perhaps I could try it. Next time I'm discussing some wild-eyed, foam-flecked, ankle-biting, howling, barking, drooling liberal who says that "the Bible seems to say ___, but it really means ____" —
— I'll just save time by saying, "Sounds very much like an amillennialist."
(And BTW, still love Gleason.)