Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mac make Big Boom!

Intro. Many readers will know that a blogstorm has been set off by John MacArthur's opening address at the 2007 Shepherd's Conference at his church. The title was something like "Why Every Self-respecting Calvinist is [not "should be"; I checked] a Premillennialist."

If you want to hear it, you'll have to buy it for $2.00. If you want to comment on his talk, I really think you should listen to it. You can purchase it, if you wish, at the link given above.

Mac and me. Because I have the blessing and privilege of blogging with my friend Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs, some have very understandably assumed that I work at (or at least attend) Grace Community Church. In fact, I think I've only walked through its doors once. Ironically, it was to attend a prophecy conference and hear Dr. Merrill Unger speak. Since Unger died in 1980, before some of you were born, you know that was hundreds of years ago.

So you know I don't work at or attend GCC. Still, you might assume that I am an unqualified admirer of MacArthur's. This is also not true. I am an admirer, but not an unqualified admirer. I could list off areas of difference or reservation. But that doesn't change the fact that I admire a great deal about him. I admire his unswerving position on the Word, I admire his emphatically Bible-teaching ministry, I admire his concept in starting the Master's College and Seminary. I can't think of many leaders whom I'm happier to see as a guest on (say) Larry King, knowing that not only will he not embarrass me as a Christian, but he'll give solid answers and take the conversation to the Gospel of Christ.

All that to say this: if you assume that I'm going to say something positive about his talk just because he's MacArthur, you've made a miscalculation.

Having said all that. John MacArthur has been okay with "Reformed" folks because he's an unapologetic five-pointer, he's popular, he stresses the Bible and does it well, and he's popular. However, he's known as a dispensationalist (cue scary music). Given that a lot of "Reformed" folks have adopted something more like Rome's approach to eschatology, and given that "Reformed" folks have very often actually characterized dispensationalism as cultic and evil, how is that okay with them?

Because MacArthur once said that he was a "leaky" dispensationalist.

I think many of them interpreted that as meaning that Mac was a bit embarrassed to be a dispensationalist. They thought it meant that he wasn't consistent about it, he wasn't insistent on it, and he wasn't confident of it. So Mac would never make a big thing about it, or embarrass them about their eschatology. So he was okay—just so long as he shut up about prophecy and ecclesiology. Maybe Mac's dispensational, but at least he's got the grace to be ashamed about it.

Now in this talk, "apologetic" and "embarrassed" and "tentative" are not words that one should apply to MacArthur's basic outlines of eschatology.

So I'm hoping that that is at least one good thing that will come out of this: Calvinists who like MacArthur will have to confront the misconception that he's timid and embarrassed about his dispensationalism. It sounds as if, on this one issue at least, MacArthur and I are of one mind: we are Calvinists for the same reason we are dispensationalists, and vice-versa.

Of course the better thing would be if it caused many "Reformed" folks actually to do the semper reformanda thing, take their hermeneutic back to the Bible, and lose the rest of the unhelpful Roman trappings left by Calvin, et al.

Not so far, though, judging by all the crying, chest-beating, and blustering one sees at some places. "That wasn't a shark, and we didn't jump it." All of the shouted insistences, clean-up operations, and table pounding may belie the core embarrassment they feel over their inconsistent hermeneutic. I suggest, you decide.

Confrontation always leaves two choices: change direction, or redouble efforts in the wrong direction. Again, you read it, and you decide which you think is going on.

Of course, Kim "What shark?" Riddlebarger has the answer.

MacArthur isn't really Reformed.

In fact, he's not even a Calvinist!

I. Am. Not. Kidding. If your hermeneutic is closer to Antioch than Rome, you're not Reformed. Read it for yourself, have a good chuckle, shake your head sadly, draw your own conclusions.


Kaffinator said...

I read the Riddlebarger piece (which was mostly a reference to Richard Muller) and couldn't make sense of it either, until I understood that by "Reformed", Muller meant, well, "akin to the doctrine of the original reformers". That's as good of a definition as any, I suppose, and so along those lines it's fair to say that it excludes (for instance) credo-baptists.

Maybe, rather than "reformed" we should seek a better term less beholden to, eh, "Roman trappings". Hmmm....

I've got it! "Biblical Christianity"! :-)

LeeC said...

Ah yes, nothing like moribund dogma to help reforming...

How very sad.
The comments section just breaks my heart.

The irony of the "Reformation" being like a fly caught in amber never able to grow or change according to our understanding of the Scriptures is too much.

Don't tell me what some famous theologian once thought, or some dusty confession. Yes those can be wonderful tools to help us crystalize our beliefs, but those beliefs must be based upon Sola Scriptura! Who here claims to fully grasp the mind of God?

I pray the Lord takes me home before I decide that I am "fully reformed".

Sempre Reformatta.

LeeC said...

I'll say this much.
Dr. MacArthurs goal of getting people to talk more and take end times more seriously certainly has been achieved at least for now!

DJP said...

Yep, Kaffinator, that's why I coined it — and, of course, I know that it really just moves the definition back one step. Its flexibility is both its plus, and its minus.

This argument that a man can be a 5-pointer who affirms the 5 Sola's, inerrancy, the whole 10 yards, and still not be Really Reformed... reminds me of a classic Emo Phiiips joke.


Jim Kirby said...

Thanks Dan for your comments.

I was there at the Shepherds' Conference, and was I surprised, but pleased that someone with gravitas addressed the issue. I've contended for years that eschatologically amillennialism is Arminian.

One also needs to listen to Dr. Mayhue's seminar on Cutting It Straight, which is an exposition of the phrase, "So all Israel shall be saved" in context (Rom 11:25-27).

Jim Kirby

Nathan White said...

A few comments:

A) I’ve heard the sermon. MacArthur said some good things, some bad things, and some downright scary things (which he will regret on the final Day). Overall, even listening with an open mind to correction (JMac is my favorite), I didn’t hear one thing that seriously challenged Amillennialism one bit. Many Amillers believe in a revival of Israel as a people, just not as a political nation. The sermon was of course filled to the brim with non-sequiturs, but you’ve already heard that.

B) Dan said: It sounds as if, on this one issue at least, MacArthur and I are of one mind: we are Calvinists for the same reason we are dispensationalists, and vice-versa.

That is really interesting given the fact that you believe that God deals differently with different races. That is, a true 5 pointer recognizes that the ‘U’ in TULIP actually means ‘Unconditional election’, which of course is the truth that God takes in account nothing in regards to race, social status, knowledge, etc., when choosing who to lavish His grace on. If I were a Jew, then I could claim special divine favor, precisely what Paul spends half of Galatians and half of Romans refuting.

I continually find it so ever interesting that Dispys now days have the exact same mindset of the first century pharisees: Jews are special because they are Jews, and the kingdom is a political/tempooral/physical thing that will show everybody else how the Jews are better.

DJP said...

Ladies and gentlemen, Nathan White — again illustrating what happens when you being with a misconception, isolate it, then turn around and impose it on Scripture.

Highland Host said...

The problem with Muller's article is that it does NOT make 'Reformed' mean 'believing what the original Reformers thought', but it means believing what the Continental Reformed Churches do. In other words it takes 'Reformed' as a denominational label (as in Dutch Reformed).

One thing worries me, however. A lot of pre-mils think that one must be pre-mil (if not dispensationalist) to believe in the restoration of the Jews. This is a straw man position. I know a young man who was deeply saddened and exercised by a ministry that held this position. Amils, post-mils and pre-mils CAN and DO hold this position. True, not all amils do, but many do. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his followers, for example. My New Testament lecturer at Bible College. All are quite willing to take Romans 11 at face value without adopting a pre-millenial eschatology.

I understand that Dr. MacArthur is a 'Progressive Dispensationalist', meaning that some of the excesses I have seen among the Plymouth Brethren (such as implying a different method of salvation in each dispensation) are done away with, and the Dispensations are seen as 'progressing'. It is my understanding of this position that it is closer to historic premillenialism that the old Plymouthism.

Highland Host said...

The blistering attacks on Reformed Baptists on Riddlebarger's comment thread(s) on this topic are also fascinating.

Apparently some of the 'Reformed' feel threatened by Baptists using the word!!! 'Help! must define Reformed so as to exclude Baptists!' But apparently not Congregationalists. Is there a conspiracy here? They want to keep Owen and Goodwin 'Reformed' but not Gill and Spurgeon and MacArthur?

Of course defining 'Reformed' so as to insist on amillenialism has some amusing effects. Horatius and Andrew Bonar (historic premillenialists) are no longer Reformed! Samuel Rutherford (post-mil) is no longer Reformed! Scots Presbyterian commentator David Brown (post-mil) is no longer Reformed! And I might go on. How silly.

DJP said...

HH, I'll defer (sincerely) to your apparent greater familiarity with such, and ask you this:

These folks you've alluded to numerous times—why do they see a future for the Jews, and what future do they see for them?

For instance, some will say that, on the basis of Romans 9-11 and that only, many Jews will become Christians in the future. But they have no national future.

Now, that would come under MacArthur's criticism hermeneutically. To sweep aside the whole OT (as Ladd does, in effect), or turn it into a bait-and-switch, is bad hermeneutics and bad theology.

I don't mean to go on and on, just to pose the question. I'm interested in your answer.

UK67 said...

You could also ask Jason Richardson that question, djp.

SJ Camp said...


I have always benefited from Nathan White's articles at Strange Baptist Fire; and through his comments from time to time at my blog. Even when we disagree, I have come away stronger or more equipped in service to the Lord Jesus. I have found him to biblically, theologically, and doctrinally sound.

All to say, though Nathan didn't frame his statements here in the form of questions, i would interested to see you actually deal with the content of his remarks than simply sarcastically dismissing him.

I.e. - could you specifically address the election of Jews in the context of Galatians and Romans as he referred.

Thank you in advance.
To the praise of the glory of His grace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

SJ Camp said...

This is Nathan's blog Preach the Word in Season and Out of Season and he has an excellent lead article that gives further insights into his beliefs and concerns. Many links from both sides of the aisle on this issue as well.

I think you and others will find it beneficial in this important discussion.

Col. 1:15-20

DJP said...

Oh, Steve, it looks like I've displeased you again.

At any rate, we disagree. I think it was a silly objection, a misrepresentation paired with a misconception, leading to much misinterpretation.

Regardless, some time ago I anticipated and responded to it, and some other points Nate dutifully repeats regardless, here.

You do know, BTW, that Arminians use the same "logic" in objecting to the U? That sovereign-grace election makes God a respecter of persons? It's silly when they object to what God does; it's silly when Nate does it, too.

And if you'll forgive one more BTW, there are a great many folks who I find excellent on 9 out of 10 issues — and they'll turn around and say similarly of me. Loving the 9 doesn't oblige me to agree with the 10th; disagreeing with the 10th doesn't invalidate my love of the 9.

Highland Host said...

DJP. let me put your mind at rest. All of these people held that the Jews would be restored to the LAND as well as to God. As you know, the GIFTS and the CALLING of God are without repentance. Now the calling is what made Israel the people of God. But what was the gift? The gift given to Abraham was the LAND. The WHY is based in the promises of Scripture. David Brown et al all believed that Israel would be restored to the land and to the faith. Obviously before the modern state of Israel there was a question as to which would come first. Now we know.

DJP said...

HH, thanks. Don't know what you mean about putting my mind at rest, though.

So, how do they see the prophetic future, I wonder? They see a restoration of Israel both to Yahweh and Messiah, and to the land; they see the prophecies literally fulfilled on earth -- but no millennial kingdom? You have any more specifics and f'rinstances?

Nathan White said...


Thank you for the kind words, and the link. I am humbled given how I have been so tremendously blessed by your ministry over the last 3 years.


Yes, we interacted a little on the post you linked to, and on this one as well, but I don’t ever recall us discussing the specific issue of the U in TULIP. (Also, I’m not sure why my two comments on the first post are under ‘anonymous’ –some kind of error going on there.)

You said: I think it was a silly objection, a misrepresentation paired with a misconception, leading to much misinterpretation.

I certainly think the same of your statement of being a Dispy because you are a Calvinist, as if there is any real connection between the two. But I was simply trying to dig a little deeper and find out on what basis you believe the U in TULIP. Because whenever this U is discussed in scripture, it is always in the context of the Jews having no advantage over Gentiles –something I see as puzzling in light of the Dispensational view that national Israel still has some emphatic, Divine favoritism left in the tank. (Let's look at Romans 3-4, specifically, for Paul asks some of these same questions).

Listen, it comes down to this: we both believe that God has promised things to the Jews. We simply disagree on how many of those promises the gentiles partake in (I say all, you say some), and exactly how those promises were, are, and will be fulfilled. The belief that the Amill position completely replaces Israel with the church or nullifies the promises of God is simple ignorance. A supercilious and groundless statement that Calvinism is only consistent with Dispensationalism gets us nowhere in rooting out the real issues at hand. There is just way too much cross-talk in this subject, lets get down to what really separates us.


Unknown said...


I was once a Calvidispiebaptogelical. I do still believe in One God, sixty-six books, five points, the five sola's, am not afraid to use the word “dispensation” in a non-dispensationalist context, I have one wife, six children, 2 cats, all at the age of 32 and supported by a meager law enforcement salary (which I am thankful for), no fooling. Anyway….

Like you Dan, I recognize the foundation for discussing eschatology is a correct (biblical) hermeneutic. We would both probably agree that if your principles of hermeneutics are skewed, your theological conclusions will most likely (almost definitely) be skewed as well.

As a former dispensational premillenialist, I understand and, to a certain degree, respect my former camps hermeneutical position. I respect that dispensationalist have a high regard for God's Holy Scriptures. They are adamant (and rightfully so) that God's Word must be (among other things) interpreted literally. They rightfully warn against the great danger of applying some "mystical" or figurative interpretation to texts of Scripture which God intended to be interpreted literally.

“With that being said,” I believe that most Dispensationalist would agree that we should interpret all of Scripture literally unless there is SOLID, BIBLICAL reason not interpret certain texts literally.

Amillenialists (of which camp I belong) also believe we should interpret all of Scripture literally unless there is SOLID, BIBLICAL reason not interpret certain texts literally.

Here's the rub. I believe there is SOLID, BIBLICAL reason not interpret certain texts (particularly certain prophetic texts) literally. The SOLID, BIBLICAL reason I give is that Christ and his apostles did not interpret many OT prophetic texts literally. This hermeneutical practice has been dubbed by some as the “Apostles Hermeneutic”. “If the Apostles did not interpret many OT Prophetic texts literally,” some may ask, “where did the Apostles get the authority to seemingly play so ‘fast and loose’ with OT prophetic texts.” The answer to that question is simple; from Christ himself.

Post resurrection , the followers of Christ experienced the most in-depth Bible prophecy conference ever (40 days worth). Luke 24:27-29 describes how Jesus taught two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus “…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

I will provide one example (there are many more) where one of the Apostles applies a non-literal interpretation of an OT promise in the NT after being taught by Christ “the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” In Acts 2:29-30, Peter (after he was taught by Christ during the forty days post-resurrection) refers (in Acts 2:29,30) to the promises God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:12 and following. Peter then interprets this prophecy in the following verse (Acts 2:31). Did Peter interpret this promise literally? No. How can I justify such a statement?

The promise in 2 Samuel was reiterated by Peter in vss. 29,30 with Peter's interpretation of the promise in vs. 31; "..And so, because he (referring to David) was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his Throne, HE LOOKED AHEAD AND SPOKE OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE CHRIST..."

The promise made to David to “establish HIS (referring to David's descendant) kingdom forever”, and according to Peter, “raise up the Christ to sit on David's throne”, WAS FULFILLED in the Resurrection according to the Apostle Peter.

If this does not sit well with you, please read Acts 2:16, where Peter says that the promises made to Israel in Joel 2:28-32 was fulfilled on the day of Penetecost (see Acts 2:1-11 for the context of Peter’s understanding of how the Joel prophesy was fulfilled at Pentecost).

There are many, many more texts, but I would simply refer the reader to study any and all OT prophetic texts QOUTED IN THE NT and pay special attention to find out if the inspired NT author provides a NT interpretation of said OT promise.

It was this very study which caused me to change my position. I am by no means the authority on this issue, however, I felt compelled to respond after reading the original post and subsequent comments.

By God's grace I am reformed, and my desire is to be always reforming.

Grace and Peace,

Mike J.

Unknown said...


I have often found that believers who disagree on various theological issues (particularly eschatology) find themselves debating conclusions rather than presuppositions. This often leads to unprofitable and unhelpful dialogue. IMO, the hermeneutical debate is the presuppositional foundation from which all eschatological camps base their conclusions upon. This is where the debate should begin and end, in my humble opinion.

Now, in reference to my previous post. I am not suggesting that since there are instances where the Apostles "spiritually" interpret certain OT promises, this gives the modern day believer (who is not inspired) the right to apply the same hermeneutic to all OT promises WITHOUT BIBLICAL WARRANT. I say again, there must be solid, biblical justification to interpret OT promises figuratively.

It is also true that not ALL OT prophetic texts are quoted in the NT and then interpreted by the inspired NT authors. However, if it can be shown that the inspired NT authors systematically interpret OT promises to Israel as being fulfilled in Christ (and therefore the Church, that is, those who are IN CHRIST, experience those promises due to their relationship with Christ, the TRUE seed of Abraham), then we can interpret OT prophetic texts (not quoted in the NT) in the same spiritual sense, so long as those texts are referring to the same OT promises which are quoted and interpreted in the NT. Say that ten times fast.

I hope my posts, whether you agree with them or not, will help us identify the foundational principles which cause us to have such different conclusions.

Grace and Peace,

Mike J.

2 Corinthians 5:9

UK67 said...

"You could also ask Jason Richardson that question, djp."

Or, if you don't have access to the Golden State Warriors, maybe you could ask Jason Robertson that as well...

DJP said...

Nate, briefly: you (and others) became "Anyonymous" when this blog shifted to New Blogger. Other blogs had the same thing happen. Don't know why, no way to recover as far as I know.

So it wasn't a conspiracy against you. Everything else is, of course — but not that!


Pastor Steve said...

It seems to me that some people are so enamored with the label "reformed" and those men who "started" it, that they seem to hold to its teachings with a death grip at the expense of a weakening grip on Scripture.

It especially seems to be something that is trendy among the younger generation. They want to be reformed because that is where all the "great" past men have been, as if being reformed makes them great too. They seem to be unwilling to address some of the faults of this system, because then they couldn't say that they are "truly reformed" in their theology.

It almost seems like it is becoming a sub-culture. It's getting to worry me and bordering on bizarre.

DJP said...

Pastor Steve—yep.

It makes you wonder: when was the Reformation finished? When was the last truth was gleaned from Scripture? When were the last trappings of Romanism swept away, the last bit of doctrinal exactness set in stone or fossilized in amber?

Did Calvin himself set a date? Did he ever publish, "There, I'm done, that's it! Now your part is to agree in every exact detail, because I have it all right"?

Pastor Steve said...

To further the thought, the anti-dispensationalism attitude of these "reformers" gets old. I know everyone thinks their view is correct and "plain as day", but I just don't see how a proper hermeneutic drives you anywhere but dispensationalism. Somehow it also gets labeled as being the less scholarly position.

If I'm not mistaken, aren't those denominations that came out of the reformation now stumbling over something as basic as homosexuality?

Everything reformed is not rosy, but to cover my backside, there are a lot of great things that came from the reformation that I am indebted to.

Solameanie said...

I have to chuckle here a bit, Dan, over this kerfuffle. I have a lot to admire in Calvin and Luther, but I certainly didn't agree with them over some things, including the Romanist trappings to which they continued to hold.

I had always thought being Reformed was understanding the slogan "Always Reforming." I have taken that to mean this - the more you immerse yourself in Scripture, the more God's Word will reform your theology. In my humble opinion. Luther and Calvin both still needed reformation in this area. Those who so vociferously hold to an amillennial or preterist view of eschatology have, in my view, arrested development in the sense of "Always Reforming." They're stuck in place on that issue. And, as you rightly point out, they don't seem to understand the violence that it does to their hermeneutic.

Unknown said...

Okay, I'll summarize my stance on this whole eschatology issue:

1. John MacArthur is wrong. DJP is wrong. Phil Johnson is wrong. The Reformed are wrong. I'm wrong. What is really going to happen is bigger than any human can guess.

2. As Phil reminds us in his recent post, and as Emo Philips drives home in the joke DJP links to, this is a Secondary Issue. Hello!

3. One of the clear and biblically unambiguous truths of Christianity is that we're to be salt and light in the world, that we're to be witnessing by word and deed, making a real difference every day, furthering the Kingdom. It's my longstanding observation that interest in eschatology tends to correlate INVERSELY with being a real believer here and now.

Okay, so if this challenges you (whoever is reading this post), seek God's clear direction for you on where you're to be going. And if this just makes you mad at me, I think that proves what I'm suggesting about you being too caught up in a relatively minor issue.

Pastor Steve said...

Because one sees the issue as divisive and secondary, doesn't excuse one from the responsibility of diligent study on what God has said on the matter. A significant portion of the New Testament is prophetic in nature and it is imperative that we give it the attention it deserves.

Basically, you are saying that God was wrong for including eschatology in the New Testament because it is divisive and doesn't matter and we can't understand it anyway, so why try. That's about as wrong as you can get on many levels.

Coram Deo said...

Nice work Daniel.

I only became aware of the "MacArthur Controversy" today after noticing a short piece on the subject over at Christian Research Net.

Upon review of the matter decided to blog on it since, while not exactly newsworthy, it's certainly noteworthy.

Highland Host said...

Daniel, you need to take more care reading posts. Did you ever meet a pre-millenialist who did nt believe in the Millenial Kingdom? Because if you have, tell him that he's radically revised his definition of words and is a mere Humpty-Dumpty 'premil'. Of course the Bonar Brothers believed in a literal pre-millenial reign of Christ upon the earth!!!
The question is not 'did such-and-such believe in a millenial reign?' Rather it is 'what did they believe was the NATURE of the millenial reign of Christ. And that is a subject that I have ni inclination to go into here. There are other people who know the writers in question better than I do.

It is not my policy to enter into this argument on either 'side'. I am trying to promote peace and understanding and to stop amils and dispesationalists throwing mud at one another.
You see, this is my problem. The Calvinistic dispensationalist uses rhetoric implying that everyone else is using a hypocritical hermeneutic. The amil replies by declaring that no-one can be truly reformed in any sense unless he is amil. Meanwhile both hurl around straw-man characterisations of the other side (amils don't believe in the restoration of the Jews, dispensationalists make God a respecter of persons, Baptists don't preach redemptive history, etc, etc, etc...).
The result is I get hit by mud thrown from both sides. Typical.

On the plus side, your blog hasn't been infected by too many amil-bashers, whereas Riddlebarger's is plagued with Reformed Baptist-bashers.

By the way, what is the best treatment of PROGRESSIVE Dispensationalism you know of? Is it by MacArthur?

The Last Hour Blog said...

having FINALLY listened to MacArthur's lecture, I can finally blog about it. I was not about to comment on it myself without having listened to it.
Anyway, please check it out on my blog. Its gonna be a long series and involves arguments that I havent seen anyone else bring up.


DJP said...

Really? It's not going to be just another rehashed "Here's why amill/CT's can feel good about our refusal honestly to face the fatal flaws in our system" exercise?

Because that'd be great.

The Last Hour Blog said...

nope it sure isnt. please check it out.


also read another blog, with contributions by a group of guys, like pyromaniacs.

Fred Butler said...

Hey Dan,
I realize I am two years too late even commenting on this post. I happened to follow a link you left in the comments of a current post over at Teampyro (as of 5/15/09). I was compelled to leave a comment just for the sake of others who may also drop by from that link and read the comments.

I actually did a series of posts interacting with Sam Waldron's book supposedly addressing John's message, MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto. Being a guy who was seriously thinking of becoming an amiller, having read lots of literature on the subject including bloggers (if such can be considered "literature."), I can say there is a smug tone of arrogance smoldering in the camp of those who are anti-premillennial and anti-dispensational. I see that specifically with Nathan and Steve C.'s comments here.

The main criticism is that non-amillers like myself who actually see a national future for Israel, are said to be out of touch biblically with Paul's discussion with Romans 9-11 and Galatians. Nathan implied as much in one of the comments above. To make such a claim is fantastically unaware of the current academic writing on the subject. For some reason, non-premillennialists think Hal Lindsey and Tim Lahaye are the only voices of dispensational premillennialism in the world. Hence one of the reasons for their consternation with MacArthur.

Anyhow, I go into some detail with Romans and Galatians in my rejoinders to Waldron. On top of my Waldron rejoinders, as you know, I am currently doing a much longer study on eschatology that will also defend premillennialism. (when I actually get around to millennial positions.)

The entire series can be viewed HERE

John Thomson said...

Hi Highland Host,

I'm a Central Lowlands man who loves the Highlands but I must take issue with something you wrote.

'I understand that Dr. MacArthur is a 'Progressive Dispensationalist', meaning that some of the excesses I have seen among the Plymouth Brethren (such as implying a different method of salvation in each dispensation) are done away with, and the Dispensations are seen as 'progressing'. It is my understanding of this position that it is closer to historic premillenialism that the old Plymouthism.

My background is Brethren (Open Brethren). I was brought up in a fairly strict Open Brethren church. Although no longer a dispensationalist I have read a fair amount of Plymouth Brethren literature. In particular the writings of J N Darby and W Kelly - effectively the founders of dispensationalism. Although both taught various epochs of revelation and ways that God dealt with man (something most Reformed folks will acknowledge though they will generally avoid the word 'dispensation') neither Darby nor Kelly nor any mainstream Brethren writer I know of would argue that anyone was ever converted at any time than by grace through faith. In every dispensation they would say a man was justified by faith in the promise given. Neither Darby nor Kelly argue that under law a man was saved by law-keeping. They would assert that the promise of life was authentically offered to all who kept the law but that none did nor could and the point of law was to expose the sinfulness of the heart and point to Christ.