Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"A Defense of Dispensationalists by a non-Dispensationalist," by Pastor John Reisinger

[This special treat is a scoop. Two months ahead of its appearance in Sounds of Grace, Pastor Reisinger has invited me to share this with you. The tone is, as you'd expect of John, gracious, and this dispensationalist welcomes both him and it. Pastor Reisinger writes:]

I was converted on a Monday, given a Scofield Reference Bible the next day, and enrolled in the Scofield Bible Correspondence Course on the third day. I graduated from an Arminian, Dispensational Bible School. In my first pastorate, I.C. Herendeen, the man who published A.W Pinks books and tracts, came into our congregation. Under God, Mr. Hereunder, patiently taught me the truth of sovereign grace.

At that time the only books teaching Calvinism were written by Presbyterians. Calvinistic Baptists were unheard of. I accepted Covenant Theology as a package deal and left Dispensationalism. I could not buy infant Baptism. About 30 years ago, I began to question the basic presupposition of Covenant Theology and this left me in “no man’s land.”

I have no trouble believing, 1) the “promise made to the fathers” are fulfilled in Christ; 2) believing the NT spiritualizes the kingdom promises; 3) and believing Christ is presently seated on the throne of David. I see no necessity of an earthly millennium but also see nothing stating there will not be one. In many ways, I agree with the A-Mil but not on his basic presupposition that the “Bible teaches there will be no earthly millennium. Seeing no necessity for one and saying Scripture teaches there will not be one is two different things. I am not looking for a millennium but there may be one. I guess if I had to chose a label, I would say I am an A-Mil with a very low level of assurance. Of course it would depend on what book I read last.

Having said all that, I still have several very real problems. One, some of the OT prophecies have a very literalistic ring. Passages like Habakkuk 2:14 are difficult to spiritualize. The only time in history such a promise remotely came close to fulfillment is Christmas and I think Habakkuk means more than that.

Two, Israel is there on the map as a nation, like it or not. Spurgeon, McCheyne and may others preached that Israel would be restored to the promised land. Many scoffed but there they are! No nation that was conquered and never regained its land or its king has every maintained its identity for more than 100 years. It was assimilated into the other culture. Israel was without a land or a king for over 2,500 years, was persecuted by nearly every nation, some of which tried to literally annihilate them off the face of the earth.

Israel today is like a little David surrounded by giant Goliath's. Every once in while one of those Goliaths mess with Israel and get their butts kicked. When that happens, I check my Scofield footnotes and Larkin’s charts one more time just to be sure!

I should add that when evolution hit full force and a lot of Reformed people were “re-thinking” some things, it was the Dispensationalist who were defending the inspiration of the Bible. The Scofield Bible moved it adherents to start hundreds of Bible conferences, Bible schools like Moody Bible Institute, Philadelphia School of the Bible, and many others including Dallas Theological Seminary. Those schools trained and sent 30,000 missionaries to countries all over the world and everyone of those godly young men and women had a Scofield Bible in their suit case.

As I said at the beginning, I am not a dispensationalist, but among my most Godly personal friends some are dispensationalists. Please do not make any snide remarks about them or question either their godliness or scholarship around me.



James Kime said...

Thanks for posting this Dan.

Pastor Reisinger, thank you for your honesty in the matter. I have a question for you though.

Does your brother give you the evil eye for being NCT instead of CT? I mean it humorously but am curious still.

CR said...


jgr's brother passed away some time ago.

DJP said...

Oh, I didn't know that, either.

Solameanie said...

Excellent! This wonderful post made my day, Dan (and Pastor R)!

As for enabling comment moderation, let me guess. A certain banned stalker troll has been making a nuisance of itself again?

Joel said...

I really appreciated this. If I had to pin down my theology more than less, I'd say I was reformed, BUT covenant theology is something I personally just think has MAJOR issues.

The covenant baggage that reformed theology often carries with it, can be an unnecessary stumbling blog, but it need not be that way, but boy can it make the dividing lines sharper than they need to be.

Rachael Starke said...

"an unnecessary stumbling blog"

Must. Resist. Urge. To. Name. Names....


GrammaMack said...

"Of course it would depend on what book I read last."

I love the honesty and humility of that admission.

Hayden said...

Thank you

Matt McK said...

A little gem from the BaylyBlog yesterday (a commenter, not a Bayly)

For the same reason that at a bank they don't have seminar after seminar examining and postulating upon the origins of counterfeit money. What they do is get their tellers extraordinarily familiar with the genuine article. Then when something else goes by, the reaction is, "Hey, there's something not quite right about that."

We don't need to spend a lot of time examining heresy. What we need to do is immerse ourselves in God's truth for biblical sexuality. Then when something like dispensationalism or feminism rears its head, our reaction is the same as the teller's.

Stefan said...

Thank you to Pastor Reisinger for this fascinating article. May God grant us all the same humility when it comes to matters of eschatology, as we eagerly wait together for the day when Jesus Christ returns in glory!

DJP said...

Matt McK - the last two paragraphs are the commenter's, not yours?

Yeah, they had some real gems. Ironically, one or two are on the very thread of the post where they're saying to cool it on stupidly criticizing dispensationalism

Matt McK said...

Forgot the quotes- yes, the last two paragraphs aren't mine.

To clarify the context, the commenter wasn't making a direct comparison between feminism and dispensationalism, but using both as examples of heresies that can be easily refuted without dealing with the actual specifics of the position. Good grief.

Susan said...

Thank you, Pastor Reisinger and Dan. Pastor Reisinger's point about Israel as a modern-day nation is really the elephant in the room that few can ignore (but they somehow manage to do it anyway).

Timothy Edwards said...

Thanks for this, a really helpful comment (and I am someone who would basically hold to covenant theology).

A couple of comments:

(i) Pastor Reisinger says, "No nation that was conquered and never regained its land or its king has every maintained its identity for more than 100 years." Hmm, that is not really true. Poland, Croatia, and Ireland, are just three counter-examples that spring to mind immediately (and there are plenty of others that one could easily add to the list).

(That is not necessarily saying that there is nthing special about the history of the Jewish people since Christ, but it is a plea for an element of realism.)

ii) Yes, some people yes some pretty intemperate language about Dispensationalism. But, at the same time, one finds the same thing going the other way.

Some of the people that I have known have been of the view that if you do not hold to the "simple, literal" meaning of the Bible (which to them meant Dispensationalism), then you were a krypto-liberal.

(Which is not to say that, because one side does it, it is alright for the other lot to do it too).

JGR said...

I do have fixed prophetic views concerning the events of the future that I am willing to preach and risk getting stoned to death.

When our Lord returns:
 Every jot and title of every prophetic word will be verified.
 Everyone’s theology will be clarified.
 God the Father will be magnified.
 God the Son will be satisfied.
 God the Holy Spirit will be gratified.
 The saints will be glorified.
 And then they will be classified.
 And the world will be horrified.
 Even so, some Lord Jesus.

JGR said...

To Timothy Edwards: Thanks for pointing out my error about cultures ceasing to exist. I read what I said a long time ago and assumed it was correct. If I use that again I will correct that statement. JGR

JGR said...

To James Kime: My brother Ernest was one of the greatest Christians that I ever knew. He was not a prepositional thinker. He never truly understood what we were saying and refused to discuss it. If I believed what he thought I believed, I would have been twice as upset as he was. JGR

Ma ~ said...

Great article.

Are you familiar with Jim McClarty of GCA? He is dispy and Calvinistic, too. I think one has to mix and match systematic theologies at times to get to the biblical truths.