Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Book review: Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths, by Michael J. Vlach

Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths
by Michael J. Vlach
(Theological Studies Press: 2008; 73 pages)

Who wrote the book?
When readers ask me to recommend a good book on dispensationalism, I usually go to the 1965 edition of Charles C. Ryrie's Dispensationalism Today (which I actually prefer over the 1995 revision). It isn't that I agree with Ryrie on everything, but I do think Ryrie makes a sane and sober case, effectively presents some essential thoughts, makes a good argument, and tries manfully to calm some of the hysteria and inaccuracies coming (—alas, still, 34 years later) from critics.

But I still would prefer a more up-to-date work, something sane and solid that you could give to someone unfamiliar with dispensationalism. In this book, Michael Vlach aims at filling that gap — at least partly.

Has he succeeded?

Vlach earned his Master of Divinity degree from The Master’s Seminary, followed by a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation was The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism, and it is available online, for a fee. Vlach has a web page that looks almost as due for a face lift as mine, and it's bristling with helpful documents. Vlach is an Assistant Professor of Theology at The Master's Seminary, and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, where he presented a paper on Supersessionism in 2007.

What's in the book?
This is indeed a brief book, with an introduction and four chapters. It weighs in at a scant 73 pages. However, it sells for $8.45, which many are bound to find a bit steep.

Noting that dispensationalism is "popular yet controversial," Vlach observes that the position has been subjected to many misrepresentations and harsh criticisms which assume a readership utterly ignorant of dispensationalism's central tenets. Does dispensationalism deserve to be classed (as it still is by some) with cults and kooks? What are the essentials of the position? Or are they even possible to define?

Vlach believes that essential dispensationalism can be defined, and states this as his purpose:
The purpose of this brief book is to highlight the foundational beliefs of dispensationalism that are truly at the heart of the system. It will also look at misrepresentations and myths about dispensationalism that have muddied the waters of understanding (3, emphases original)
Vlach says that he is a dispensationalist by conviction, not by being married to any given system (5). First and foremost, Vlach aims at being a Biblicist (ibid). As such, he says his own position appreciates elements of the traditional, revised, and progressive schools of dispensationalism (ibid.).

Vlach deals first with the history of dispensationalism (7-12), beginning with J. N. Darby's recognition in the 1800s of Israel's distinction from the church (7), a position Darby said was fully formed for him by 1833 (8). Vlach goes on to discuss three key periods of dominance in the development of dispensationalism: Classical (1802-1940s), Revised or Modified (1950-1985), and Progressive (mid-1980s).

Next comes the essential beliefs of dispensationalism (13-31). I was most interested in this chapter. Vlach discusses Ryrie's three sine qua nons of dispensationalism, which I've generally used, and which I discuss a bit here. John Feinberg's (1988) six essentials are reviewed, as are the seven common features that Craig Blaising and Darrel Bock (Progressive Dispensationalism, 1993) lay out. Vlach notes that not all the suggested distinctives are truly distinctive, such as "the authority of Scripture, dispensations, and the significance of Bible prophecy" (14).

After discussion, Vlach lays out and explains his six essential beliefs of dispensationalism (18-31). Much abbreviated, they are:
  1. NT revelation does not override or cancel the original meaning of OT writers "as determined by historical-grammatical hermeneutics" (18)
  2. Types exist, but Israel is not a type that is superseded by the church (22)
  3. Israel and the church are distinct; the church is not "new" or "true" Israel (24)
  4. Though Jews and Gentiles share spiritual unity in salvation, national Israel has a future role (26)
  5. The nation Israel will be saved and restored with a unique identity and function in the future earthly millennial kingdom (29)
  6. The phrase "seed of Abraham" has multiple senses, so that "the church's identification as 'seed of Abraham' does not cancel God's promises to the believing Jewish 'seed of Abraham'" (30).
Chapter Three addresses some myths about dispensationalism, such as the old rancid chestnut that it teaches multiple ways of salvation; that it is inherently Arminian; that it is antinomian; that it leads to Non-lordship salvation; and that it's all about the seven dispensations.

Chapter four deals with a series of questions about dispensationalism. Such as:
  • What is a good short definition of dispensationalism?
  • Why are you a dispensationalist, and how did you become one?
  • What main mistake do non's make in evaluating dispensationalism?
  • Shouldn't dispensationalism be rejected because it is new?
And others. Then the book ends with a Conclusion that is more of a summary, followed by — yes, sorry to say it — about eleven pages of endnotes. Eegh.

What do I think of the book?
Vlatch is a very readable writer. He is clear, straightforward, and engaging; and he shows a sense of humor. I do think he'd have benefited from some editing (i.e. to catch repetitions such as "this brief book... this brief book," 3). But not much.

I appreciated Vlach's book, I benefited from it, I'll go back to it, and I recommended it.

I do wish the book were different in two main ways:

First, I fear it will be hard to get many people to pay ~ $10 for a 73-page book. That's a pity, because it is a good book.

As to my second, I'm afraid that I'm going to sound like Roger Ebert, criticizing Fellowship of the Ring because Jackson didn't film Ebert's interpretation of the book. But....

Vlach's stated aim was to define dispensationalism, and clear up some misunderstandings. At the very least, he made a good start towards that end.

What I really wanted was a book at least 2X-3X the length, which featured an aggressive, positive case for dispensationalism. But that wasn't Vlach's design. He apparently did not set out to persuade per se. But that disappoints me, because (A) Vlach seems to have the "chops" to do it, (B) there is such a need for an up-to-date book that unapologetically makes the positive case for dispensationalism, particularly from a Reformed perspective, and (C) Vlach comes teasingly close here and there, but it's beyond his determined scope.

Here's where I still like Ryrie. As is also true of Vlach, Ryrie's tone is very sane and sober; I'd think he'd still go a long way (at least objectively) to address and calm some of the hysterics of those who react to dispensationalism without understanding it, just because it ruffles their tradition or confession. Or, at least, Ryrie does this vis-a-vis the dispensationalism of 40+ years ago. But he also makes a positive general case for dispensationalism.

So I'm still looking for one book that does as good a job of defining dispensationalism as Vlach's book does, interacts with critics as Vlach does to a degree, but also makes the robust, positive, aggressive Biblical case that dispensationalism deserves, and that people need to be able to read.

So here's hoping that this book does well enough to encourage Dr. Vlach to dig in and get (say) Kregel on-board with a 200-400 page book doing just that.

Meanwhile, if you want to get or give a book that sets out what dispensationalism is as to its distinctives, and clears away some fog and rubble — here it is.

40 comments:

jmb said...

Thank you for the review. I'll definitely buy this book.

I really would like to know why you prefer Ryrie's first edition to his "revised and expanded" edition. I only have the latter one, so I can't compare the two.

DJP said...

I knew somebody'd ask that!

It's a fair question. All I can say without comparing both, is that I remember when I read the new edition, right when it came out, thinking — "Hunh; I like the first one better"; and doing some comparing to confirm my impression.

Sorry. I know it's a lame answer. In my defense, this is about Vlach's book, not Ryrie's. But I will try to try to remind myself more specifically why I preferred '65.

David Kjos said...

Is this a clue to the topic of your forthcoming book?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I'm still learning more about eschatology. And I have always heard that Covenant theology was supercessionism or replacement theology. But I have recently read this essay which states that Covenant theology is *not* replacement theology.

If so, then maybe Dispensational and Covenant Theology are not so far apart on the issue of Israel.

DJP said...

I wish, David. It's a book that badly needs to be written, and a book I'd like to write, but right now I'm not the man for that job.

Michael said...

What is funny is I was about ask about something similar to this topic. [insert joke on prophecy]

I was going to ask about a good solid - reformed - dispensational commentary on book of Revelation.

DJP said...

TUAD — you have to be careful about that. I've seen supersessionist CT's insist they're not supersessionist, when they really are — because the criticism stings. So they play word-games to try to dress up their position.

Michael — Probably the best commentary on Revelation is Robert L. Thomas' commentary on the Greek text.

The Squirrel said...

"So I'm still looking for one book that does as good a job of defining dispensationalism..."

"It's a book that badly needs to be written, and a book I'd like to write, but right now I'm not the man for that job.
"

Let's see... You have the knowledge of the subject... You can write in a way that is clear, forceful, readable and often enjoyably funny... You're soon to be a publish author, so you'll have a track record...

Can I encourage you to make Dispensationalism the topic of your second book?

I'll buy 10 copies, to start with...

(o:

~Squirrel

DJP said...

That whole thing is an elusive subject for me. What I'm writing on, I'm filled with, it's pouring out, I have a pretty good grasp of resources I want to use.

But prophecy... yikes. I have read and read and read, and studied and studied and studied, and I still don't feel I have the grasp that that book would deserve.

Plus, working fulltime in secular jobs for the last 12 years, I haven't read as I'd have liked. There are a number of books I'd have to pore over, and articles....

If you're serious, just pray more that God will open up to me a door for fulltime ministry of the Word. I'm goin' nuts here.

To speak your language. But when I say it, it's a bad thing.

Terry Rayburn said...

This may not be the venue for a discussion of Dispensationalism itself, but it's Vlach's #1 ("NT revelation does not override or cancel the original meaning of OT writers 'as determined by historical-grammatical hermeneutics'") that has always given me the most problem with Dispensationalism.

My reason for that is that the interpretation of the OT by Jesus and the Apostles makes me cry out, "No one, and I mean no one, would have *ever* interepreted that OT passage that way, strictly by commonly taught historical-grammatical hermeneutics!"

Not to mention that the OT writers themselves didn't always know the "original meaning of the OT writers".

Still, Dispensationalism has always been far superior in general to Covenant Theology, in that it at least understands Hebrews 8 when the writer announces that the Old Covenant is obsolete, even for Israel.

Yet both DT & CT have never "satified" me.

And while CT has remained pretty stubborn, and DT has "progressified" and "branched out" and "modernized" and pretty universally recognizes salvation as by grace in all "dispensations", I have searched for 33 years for a better understanding of the flow of the biblical ages.

So-called New Covenant Theology, although too new to be solidified into a real system --if that would even be wise -- goes farther than CT or DT in explaining the transition from OT to NT and on into eternity, from a true "progressive revelation" standpoint.

I hear DT's shrieking a response about neglecting the prominent role of National/Ethnic Israel in some future Millennium, as though it was taught in the Bible as clearly as the Cross and the Tomb.

But I heard them shriek 30 years ago when I questioned the idea that Israel would be sacrificing bulls and goats again in the Millennial Kingdom "as a memoriam", or that "locusts" were really helicopters, and most DT's I know today would agree that it's not likely to happen.

I don't think most New Covenant Theology guys go far enough in the radical nature of the New Covenant, but at least we agree that the New Covenant promised to Israel has become the very same New Covenant we Gentiles are blessed with.

And we agree that this New Covenant is as good as it gets, despite admitted exegetical problems with "land promises".

I don't deny a future for National Israel, but as some kind of revival involving the New Covenant we already have access to.

Dispensationalism has asked great questions that CT could never answer biblically (I find it amazing that CT has maintained its position with a straight face), but DT has shorted itself in answering its own questions, too, despite "progressing".

As an honesty issue, I would ask any Dispensationalist who would come to vehemently defend DT, to first ask the honest question, "Can I at least articulate the basics of New Covenant Theology?" If the answer is, "No", then I would first check it out a little.

Finally, my hope would be that any Bible believer would at least *philosophically* agree with the following:

"I would gladly and immediately throw my 'System' of theology out the window, IF I thought that Scripture taught differently."

Mike Riccardi said...

I have this book. I'm reading it together with my wife (God bless her). It is indeed very readable and informative.

One thing that I'm seeing, though, and kind of related to TUAD's point, I personally know Covenentalists who deny supersessionism in word and deed. Their argument is not that the Church is the fulfillment or replacement of Israel, but that Israel always was the Church. When God made the promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants (among others), He made them with His people; i.e., not the nation of Israel, but the elect among the nation of Israel. The nation was never His people, as God only cares about the spiritual and not the physical. The promises always were to the elect and never for the non-elect Israelite.

That makes Vlach's first essential characteristic -- that NT revelation doesn't illuminate the OT in such a way to change the original intent -- moot. Because they're not arguing that the promises were to national Israel and now are for the Church. They're arguing they were always "for the Church," so to speak.

So the issue, to me, is that there needs to be a clear, Biblical look at why we think Israel and the Church are the same entity or different entities. I don't know if you have any insight on that just right off the top, Dan.

And while I'm wishing upon a star, another work I'd like to see is an annotation of Revelation and all OT prophecy concerning the kingdom / eschatology, in which the Dispensational and Covenental views each give their interpretation.

So Dan... get to work.

:o)

PS - My verification word is "tympl," clearly a reference to the rebuilding of the temple in the Millennial Kingdom as laid out in the Ezekiel 40s.

DJP said...

Yeah, Mr. Terry, I don't really have in mind this being a venue for the lodging of every question or challenge that could be posed to dispensationalism, no matter how good they might be; that's true.

As to hermeneutics, did you ever read S. Lewis Johnson's The Old Testament in the New (Zondervan: 1980)?

Michael said...

Thanks Dan, I assume these are the ones part of the "Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary"? Those are the ones that came up via Amazon (and are now on my Commentary Wishlist).

DJP said...

Yes, Michael, those ones.

Fred Butler said...

Not that I am the greatest mind to write on the subject, but I wrote on the NT/OT issue HERE.

I also wrote about typology and prophecy HERE and the Israel/Church distinctions HERE

DJP said...

Thank you, Link Troll.

Associate-to-the-Pastor said...

As a non-Dispy, tentatively Covenantal guy, my only comment is...this thread will never get as many posts as the cat one.

Rachael Starke said...

Mike -

You're reading this with your wife?

Now that's love. :)

I will confess, having grown up in a seminary/pastor's home where these things were too-vigorously argued, that I've resisted studying these things in depth. But, having just finished a Sunday School class where we talked in some detail about the physical realities of the new heaven and new earth, I'm beginning to admit that I need to nail some things down here.

I would love to see some resources that actually flesh out how these two systems manifest themselves in other areas - evangelism, engagement with the world and culture, environmentalism and care for the physical earth, etc.

Fred Butler said...

Thank you, Link Troll.


I know, I know, I am sad and pathetic. I think my mama didn't hug me enough growing up or something.

jmb said...

Mike Riccardi - Whether they say that the church is now "Spiritual Israel" or the church started out being only Jews, or the Jews referred to are only the saved remnant, Covenant Theologians always end up saying that "the only important thing is that we're all believers," or that the church inherits the promises given to Jews, (and often these promises have to be allegorized in order to make any sense to them), or that the Jews are simply cast out of the church. The basis for this is their belief in a so-called "Covenant of Grace" with Jesus, a human-divine Covenant which apparently began at Genesis 3:15 and will continue to the Messiah's second coming. This "Covenant," among other things, often flattens out differences between Gentiles and Jews, or the Old and New Covenants (e.g. the belief that the church began in OT times, not at Pentecost. BTW, if someone could tell me how the word "church" became the English word for the Hebrew and Greek words for "assembly" and "congregation," I'd very much appreciate it).

Unfortunately for their theories, throughout Scripture God consistently distinguishes between Jews and Gentiles. They receive different promises; in the future, they will have different roles, etc. This does not mean that they have different statuses as believers.

The most detailed and exhaustive book I know on this and every aspect of Scripture which involves Israel is "Israelology: The Missing Link In Systematic Theology," by Arnold Fruchtenbaum. (1993; Ariel Ministries Press). (Full disclosure: I know Dr. Fruchtenbaum slightly.)

In a recent book entitled "To the Jew First: The Case For Jewish Evangelism in Scripture and History," edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser (2008; Kregel), there's a chapter by reformed theologian Richard L. Pratt, Jr., called "To The Jew First: A Reformed Perspective."
Dr. Pratt touchingly bends over backwards to try to reconcile Covenant Theology and Jewish distinctiveness; he inevitaby fails because of the tenets of CT, particularly the "Covenant of Grace."

One more thing: I followed the link from someone's post to an article called "Covenant Theology Is Not Replacement Theology," by R. Scott Clark. I don't think I've ever seen so much confusion, so many straw men, and so much deception in an article that short.
Here's an example: "At least some forms of dispensationalism have suggested that God intended the national covenant with Israel to be permanent. According to Reformed theology, the Mosaic covenant was never intended to be permanent. According to Galatians 3(and chapter 4), the Mosaic covenant was a codicil to the Abrahamic covenant. A codicil is added to an existing document. It doesn’t replace the existing document. Dispensationalism reverses things. They make the Abrahamic covenant a codicil to the Mosaic. Hebrews 3 says that Moses was a worker in Jesus’ house. Dispensationalism makes Jesus a worker in Moses’ house."

This paragraph is truly mind-boggling. At the beginning it reverses Dispensational and Reformed views, with a little added weirdness thrown in. The last sentence is truly unforgivable. It implies that that is a belief of dispensationalism. If it is, it can only be held by a small fringe group that calls itself "dispensationalists." It reminds me of the old slander that dispensationalism taught two ways of salvation: by works under the Mosaic Law; by faith in the New Covenant. Clark should be ashamed of himself.

Al said...

Dan,

What is the difference between say a Ryrie dispensationalist and a Chafer dispensationalist? Are their substantive differences in various camps?

respectfully,

al sends

DJP said...

Interesting question, and I don't know the answer. Chafer does not seem to have a great direct influence on most dispensationalists of this generation. He has had none on me. Best thing I know of that he did was an enumeration of the blessings that instantly are bestowed on anyone the moment he becomes a Christian.

Both alike are unfortunately associated with what I've dubbed the gutless-grace position, which (A) has no inherent nor necessary connection with dispensationalism, (B) I regard as an opportunistic virus, and (C) I heartily reject.

Ryrie was more of an actual scholar than Chafer. The latter was well-read and did what he could with what he had; the former actually was academically accomplished.

Al said...

"Both alike are unfortunately associated with what I've dubbed the gutless-grace position

Is there something within dispensational thought that makes such a "gutless-grace" so common outside the John MacArthur school (his was the only dispensationalism I studied before moving covenantal)?

al sends

DJP said...

As I said, no.

Quite the contrary. If you have a hermeneutic that makes you read "Israel" and think "Yes, of course, Gentile church," then I can see you thinking that anything means anything.

But if you're committed to a consistent treatment of verbally, plenarily inspired Scripture as perspicuous and binding, you ought to take such passages as John 14:15; 15:14; Titus 2:11-13; and 1 John 5:3 as meaning precisely what they say.

That some don't is just a barking-mad inconsistency.

Al said...

Thanks Dan, I won't highjack the thread...

al sends

DJP said...

Awww.

)c*:

Terry Rayburn said...

Chafer differed from Ryrie in two main ways:

1. He was somewhat confused on the instruments of salvation, similarly to Scofield.

Although he said clearly (especially in his later years) that salvation was always on the basis of the cross of Christ (much like Universalists who think Muslims can be saved), he also made many confusing statements about the meritorious nature of salvation under the Mosaic Covenant.

Hard to greatly fault him or Scofield in this, since they were pioneers in uncharted waters, striving to break new ground in the face of Covenant Theology's ridicule, and obviously loving the Lord Jesus.

2. Chafer was surprisingly Calvinistic in his soteriology of the Church.

He repeatedly maintained that salvation was entirely of God, from election to the point of faith.

I would characterize him as a 4-pointer, though I have to admit that I can't remember his firm views on Particular Redemption.

Sidenote: I think I gave up food for a while to buy his treasured Systematic Theology (several volumes) back in Bible Institute days, but I long ago got rid of them (alas, along with giving up food).

DJP said...

Thanks, Terry.

Yes, iirc Chafer was a lifelong Presbyterranean. I'm pretty sure he was 4 point. Ryrie was more in the Arminian direction. Though there's much I love about his Study Bible, his note on Ephesians 1 really startled me.

Al said...

well, since you put a frowny face on it...

I wonder how much the systematic thought, that there is an Age of Law and an Age of Grace (correct terms?) separated by the first coming of Christ, influences folks to read their bibles all "free-grace" like.

I think it is awful easy to say, "just believe the Bible" when a "scholar" like Ryrie says he does.

al sends

DJP said...

Well, that's possible, but you'll have to take that up with the apostle John, who spoke in such dichotomous terms first (John 1:17).

Hasn't been a school of thought formed nor a statement made since the Garden that some sinner can't mess up.

Terry Rayburn said...

Forgive me, but I'm experiencing wistful waves of nostalgia in this atmosphere.

In 1980, having gone to an old-time Dipensational Bible Institute in Michigan, and while still having trouble distinguishing the Dallas Seminary faculty from Paul of Tarsus, I visited the Seminary.

When I drove up in front of the Seminary, I saw Dwight Pentecost and Howard Hendricks walking down the sidewalk together. I swooned.

Browsing through the library, I couldn't speak above a whisper, due to the hallowed nature of the place.

[See joke below, which just flashed in my memory]

I got to see Ryrie preach (Scofield Bible Church, if I remember correctly). Strong studied content, but very mild-mannered.

I got to hear Roy B. Zuck teach Ecclesiastes in Sunday School, (Northwest Bible Church, I think).

He taught us to substitute "apart from God" wherever we saw the phrase "under the sun", which I've found useful, if not technically accurate, all these years.

Mecca had nothing on Dallas in those days.

Anyway, the joke:

Guy goes into a library and LOUDLY says, "I'd like a cheeseburger and a Coke, please!"

"Sir!", the librarian whispered, "This is a library!"

"Oh," the apologetic man said, "[whispering] I'd like a cheeseburger and a Coke, please."

Terry Rayburn said...

Sorry, make that "Dispensational".

Al said...

"Well, that's possible, but you'll have to take that up with the apostle John, who spoke in such dichotomous terms first (John 1:17)."

Do you set truth up against law in the same way you set grace?

al sends

Mike Riccardi said...

JMH,

Thanks for the book recommendations.

"Church" was cirice in Old English (ca. 400-1000 AD). It evolved from the West Germanic (ca. 100 BC - 400 AD) word *kirika. You can see the sound similarities between the two. Eventually cirice had undergone sound changes in the shift from Middle English to Early Modern English (ca. 1600) to give it the "ch" sounds.

*kirika came from the combination of the Greek kuriake, which was a combination of two words: kurios and oikia, for "Lord" and "house," respectively. So "Church" comes from a word that meant "Lord's house."

Source was etymonline.com. For a cool (secular) book on the history of the English language, check out Charles Barber's "The English Language."

Mike Riccardi said...

Sorry... JMB, not JMH.

CR said...

DJP: Yeah, Mr. Terry, I don't really have in mind this being a venue for the lodging of every question or challenge that could be posed to dispensationalism, no matter how good they might be; that's true.
l

I'm not a dispensationalist but I have at least one acquaintance who is well versed in Dispensationalism. But in case any of your readers are interested in learning more about Dispensationalism , I have not read any of these sources because covenant views are not a high priority right now but according to him, I would recommend the following:

The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational & Non-Dispensational Theology, by Robert L. Saucy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 336 pp.


All Things New: The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology, by Carl B. Hoch, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 365 pp.

Note: See esp. Chapter 13, “Newness and the Corporate Church”, pp. 227-318.

Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition, Craig A. Blaising, and Darrell L. Bock, eds. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 402 pp.

Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional and Progressive Views, Herbert W. Bateman IV, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999), 345 pp.

Note: See esp. “Part Three: Israel and the Church”, pp. 227-303.

Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments, Essays in Honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., John S. Feinberg, ed. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 410 pp.

Note: See esp. “Part IV: The People of God and the Testaments”, pp. 221-259.

Progressive Dispensationalism, by Craig A. Blaising & Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), 336 pp.

The following works also contain helpful material:

Issues In Dispensationalism, Wesley R. Willis, and John R. Master, gen. eds. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 271 pp.

Note: See esp. Chapter 6, “Israel and the Church”, by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, pp. 113-130.

What The Church Is All About: A Biblical and Historical Study, by Earl D. Radmacher (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), 441 pp.

Note: The original title of this work was The Nature of the Church. See esp. pp. 281-287.

The Church in God’s Program, by Robert L. Saucy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), 254 pp.

Note: See esp. pp. 69-82.

Jesus Is Coming, by W. E. B. (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1932), 252 pp.

The Second Coming Bible, by William E. Biederwolf (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 728 pp.

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, Darrell L. Bock, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 330 pp.

The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, Robert G. Clouse, ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), 223 pp.

CR said...

PS Dan,

I know you're disappointed that the book was not longer, but for those of us working stiffs in laity that just don't have the time to read volumes of work, Vlach's book may be just what we need.

Frank Turk said...

You lose me at 2 and 3. What does it mean to be "Grafted in" (Rom 11) if 2 and 3 are correct?

I know, I know: we're not supposed to fight about this. I'm just asking.

Shamgar said...

I know, I'm posting on a really old post, but this came up in a search and I had to respond to this:

It reminds me of the old slander that dispensationalism taught two ways of salvation: by works under the Mosaic Law; by faith in the New Covenant. Clark should be ashamed of himself.

I hear this sort of thing from dispensationalists, and I find it very interesting.

You see, I grew up in a heavily dispensational church. And that is exactly what we taught, and what I believed for the first 20 or so years of my life before I was introduced to reformed theology.

So perhaps in the ivory tower that's not what you believe, but perhaps you should consider that it's not slander, but rather a response to what people you are teaching actually come away understanding. (In which case, yes, critics should probably be more accurate about what they are responding to - but it's not slander to be sure.)

DJP said...

Shamgar, to whatever degree it's true, it's regrettable. But obviously it's pretty rough to conduct a conversation on the basis of the unverifiable anecdote. I have printed examples of Covenant Theology guys sounding every bit as two-ways-of-salvation as any dispie writer. I think we have to focus on the formative figures currently exercising any influence among dispies, and well-night forty years of my reading and experience just doesn't bear that out.