Wednesday, August 05, 2009 lets leaky-Canoneers peddle their goods, BUT...

Most of my readers are probably aware of It's a pretty wonderful site in many ways, offering articles and sermons and lectures from the broad perspective of Reformed theology.

Now I note that they've got actual representatives of the positions defending both "cessationism" and "continuationism." That is, both men who believe that Scripture is complete and sufficient, and that modern claims to revelatory or attesting sign-gifts are fake and sub-Biblical, and those who want to pretty up the modern claims and sneak in some sort of ongoing semi-revelatory dribble — both, I say, are allowed to present and defend their own positions. In their own voices, with their own arguments.

Interesting, eh? Very interesting.

So I'm immediately wondering: will they have got actual representatives of the positions defending both Covenant Theology and dispensationalism? After all, dispensationalism in no way contrasts with affirming doctrines of grace. Further, the vast majority of dispensationalists stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other Reformed believers in adamantly defending the sufficiency and perspicuity and full authority of Scripture — in contrast to the "continuationist" position.

So one would naturally assume that they, too, would be allowed to present and defend their own approach to Scripture.

(This reasonable openness, for instance, would contrast with the silly obscurantism of the second site discussed here.)

That approach would make sense. It is what clear-eyed rational thinking would move one to expect.

But if I were forced to guess, before checking it out? I'd guess "no." They wouldn't dare let dispensationalists themselves actually present their own view, in their own voices, apart from the caricatured (dare I say "slanderous"?) misrepresentations with which so many "Reformed" tranquilize themselves.

Ah, now I see under Doctrine and Theology a whole section on Covenant Theology. It appears to me that all the speakers are advocates of CT, not critics of it. Okay, so, that's one side.

Oh, but wait. Here it is. I found dispensationalism.

Where is it? Next to "Covenant Theology," as another respectable approach to Scripture?

In your dreams, Phillips.

Ah, no. It is under Heresy and Bad Theology — along with Islam, Open Theism, Postmodernism, Emerging Church, Jehovahs Witnesses, Atheism, Roman Catholicism, and the DaVinci code. Ah, I love the smell of "Reformed" humility and love in the morning.

And yep, what a surprise: far as I can tell, all the speakers are critics of dispensationalism. Not one advocate.

Now that is interesting, isn't it? A position — "continuationism" — that is commonly propped up by such historical and exegetical nuttiness, and very frequently directly causes so much ecclesiastical and personal harm, is presented by its own advocates. Adrian Warnock — a brother who displays an unhealthy obsession with desperate efforts to legitimatize charismaticism, who is so "open" that he can't bring himself to criticize its worst and craziest and most harmful manifestations — he gets to propound his own view.

But dispensationalists cannot be allowed that same respect.

And btw, a huge "Reformed" bogeyman is how supposedly recent dispensationalism is. (I.e. a century or so more recent than Covenant Theology; evidently that was a critical hundred years, emptying the Bible of all previously-undetected wisdom or formulations.)

So help me with the math here. Which is more recent? 1830s? Or 1906?

So Warnock and Piper and Storms get to try their level best to doll up "continuationism" and make it sound Biblical.

But the position held and propounded, to one degree or another, by John MacArthur, S. Lewis Johnson, Alva J. McClain, Eric Sauer, (Spurgeon successor) W. Graham Scroggie, J. Oliver Buswell, Allan A. MacRae, and a host of others — file that one under "Heresy and Bad Theology," and assign it to a hit squad or two.




The Squirrel said...


Good post this morning. This off-handed dismissal of Dispensationalism by the Reformed community is both sad and unjustified. I have witnessed the failure to actually address the arguments made by Dispensationalists more then once, and have seen the "It's sad, he looks intelligent" looks directed my way.

Sure, we've had our goofs, our date-setters, and our heretics, but what theological movement hasn't had it's unsavory ripples? There have also been a great many good and solid and respectable Dispensationalist Theologians, and quite a few of them have also held to the Doctrines of Grace.

I feel like Rodney Dangerfield sometimes...


Douglas Kofi Adu-Boahen said...


I'm a covenantalist, but I have to give you an e-five on this one.

Continuationism gets a green card, but dispensationalism doesn't? Talk about an epic fail...

DJP said...

Thanks, Douglas. Odd, huh?

Fred Butler said...

When monoergism was in its infancy, they did have dispensational theology presented along side CT. I remember using the links they presented to research articles. They also had a big section on New Covenant Theology highlighting the works of John Resinger (sp?), Fred Zaspel, and those guys in Arizona.

At some point later, I remember one time stopping by and all of the links and pages for these subjects were removed with out any note of explanation. The next thing I recall seeing sometime later past that time, was the new "heresies" page (what was sort of copied from Phil's bookmarks) with dispensationalism displayed there.

John Hendricks is the one who maintains the sight. He always seemed like a fair guy to me, so I am guessing he must have had some complaints from inside his circles.


DJP said...

I had about a two-email correspondence with Hendryx five years ago. I don't ever publish private emails without permission, so I won't, and it would probably be unfair for me to characterize him in my words.

But I broached the issue, and he deflected it for what he thought were good reasons. I was not persuaded.

But his reasons as expressed in that email would have nothing to do with NCT, so go figure.

Michael said...

I'd have to say I find (and have found) much more agreement with Dispy friends than with 'da Gifts' POV.*

*As long as we only talk about the 65 books of the Bible :D

And when I study Dispensalionalism I'd find it more helpful (even though I disagree with it) to read primary sources. Which would seem useful for (IMO).

Maybe we should just set up a Dispensational/CT Pen Pals...? Anyone?

Andrew Faris said...


Your point is well-taken. There should be defenses of both.

But it's frustrating that you attack continuationism the way you do, since only the most extreme of its proponents would actually characterize it the way you do. Just seems unfair.

And seriously? Benny Hinn and the Florida guy (whose name I don't even know)? Those are the pictures you put up? As if most of us are like them? Hardly! That's just not being gracious to those who you are arguing against, since no doubt monergism itself wouldn't allow Hinn-supporting defenses.

As an aside, I'm wondering what the absolute best written defense of cessationism is in your view? I want to read it, and I want to know what a staunch cessationist recommends.

Thanks brother.


DJP said...

I knew someone would squawk. I just didn't know it'd be you! (c;

But Andrew, that is "continuationism." It isn't all of it, certainly — but the one can't exist without the other.

Hinn and Bentley and the lot trade on that "who-knows-maybe-it's-God" crack that "continuationism" depends on. And check out that link to Warnock. I daresay you'd own him as a brother-in-good-standing; you would not have objected if I'd had his smiling face instead of Bentley's.

But Warnock refused to rain Biblical fire on Bentley and his nonsense when it might have mattered. And that isn't the first time.

Benny Hinn gets up and says "Fresh revelation! God says your mama is okay!" (I have the direct quotation documented elsewhere.)

"Reformed" "continuationist" gets up and has his own "word from God."

The difference?

Categorically, zero difference. Both exist thanks to the same fiction. The one who isn't 95% nuts legitimatizes the one who is, because he has forced open the same locked door.

Jon said...

lol... I think I was literally looking at that section on Monergism last night Dan. There was about two articles that were pro-disp and they were tiny little articles from some MacArthur transcript.

So much good stuff on that site it really depresses me when you look at a lot of the articles in that section and you get the, "You're not really Reformed if you're a dispy" nonsense.

I skimmed one article by Riddelbarger about "MacArthur's Millennial Manifesto" and he said something about he was sorry that MacArthur has decided to pick this fight since he's such a good teacher of the Bible. Uhhh... maybe I'm new, but isn't Riddelbarger the amillennial pitbull? Why is he exempt from bringing up "fights" and MacArthur can't?

And this quote from a blog post about MacArthur's Calvinists Should be premillennialists series:

"While you may not be convinced of Reformed amillennialism (hopefully, you will!), at least you'll be better informed and realize that Reformed amillennarians are not anti-Semites who don't take the Bible literally or seriously."

ANTI-SEMITES?! Did he even listen to the series?! k, I'm done.

DJP said...

But Jon, didn't you hear?

Riddlebarger has that whole MacArthur-thingie all worked out.

See: MacArthur isn't really a Calvinist!

I'm not making that up.

Mike Westfall said...

No True Calvinist would be a dispensationalist!

Andrew Faris said...

Funny thing is, I thought, "DJP has a response ready for this. I know he does. He ALWAYS has a response!" And you did indeed. That's no shot at you, by the way. I just know you too well!

What if I posted something like this:

Can you believe that [whatever mostly legitimate website] allows cessationists to defend their position but doesn't allow [some other arguable theological position].

At least [other position] doesn't deny the possibility of God doing miracles today and abandon the work of the Holy Spirit in the church! At least [other position] doesn't make it impossible for anyone but the preacher to contribute to congregational meetings and actually minister to one another!

Cause here's the thing, Dan: some cessationists probably actually fall under that. But most of them don't. The nature of the position, of course, doesn't have as many popular garbage t.v. advocates, but some nut-jobs are out there, I'm quite sure. They're just harder to target.

It would be uncharitable because the majority doesn't see the position that way. And granted, this is your blog and not pyro. And it's a blog and not the academic world. So there's some more freedom.

But as a charismatic, I hate Hinn and Bentley and the rest of them. I think they are false teachers through and through and I never want to be associated with them. And their charismaticism isn't close to mine, and it isn't close to any charismatic that I know.

It's ironic to me that you have the strawman bit on the bottom of the post for that very reason.


P.S. I really, really want a cessationist book recommendation. Please, please, please, please tell me what the best defense of cessationism is. I want to read the best articulation of the position in existence, since I've read very little on the subject (except for One Book of course...).

Anonymous said...

Something does seem amiss.

Dispensationalism is shunned by many (most?) of the Reformed community when it has more Biblical support than infant baptism which is believed by many (most?) of the Reformed community.


Kay said...

Funnily enough, I discounted dispensationalism because of the crazies before I even heard that people I respect believed it. But then, I'm not entirely sure what 'it' is still.

Best cessationist position book I have read so far is 'The Charismatic Phenomenon' or 'The Healing Epidemic' by Peter Masters. Who isn't a dispensationalist, as far as I'm aware. It was those two books which convinced me that the charismatic beliefs I held just didn't stand up to scrutiny. It was quite a painful and embarrassing discovery, as you may imagine.

Barbara said...

Hinn and Bentley not fair representatives ... hmm.

I live and work surrounded by people who fall for that stuff and are just "waiting for my healing" and have bought what they "prophesy" - all the way down to the "you give a little, God gives a lot" version of works-righteousness hook, line, and sinker. In our little corner of this peachy little state, the single biggest battle we fight is the TBN mentality, and it's creeping into what call themselves NT churches (which have always been in the "Left Behind" version of dispy, I never even heard of CT until last year - and it is most definitely a force to be reckoned with.

To say that those - along with Creflo Dollar and all the rest - aren't a fair representation of charismatic theology, likely haven't spent much time in the poverty-stricken areas of the Bible Belt. It's everywhere here.

trogdor said...

One of the best cessationist books I've read is Grudem's systematic theology. My late former roommate, a lifelong pentecostal who never spoke in tongues ("when the Spirit wants me to, I will, and not a second before"), read his explanation of modern 'prophecy' and wound up re-evaluating his beliefs. Exposing him to the best charismatic arguments worked better than cessationist arguments ever did.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Why is it usually framed as "Covenant vs. Dispensational" instead of "Amillenial vs. Historic Premillenial"?

Anonymous said...

So let me see if I understand...the crazy wacko dispensationalists should be ignored as, you know, just the every day wackos that every movement has...even though some of the most influential dispy's were dead wrong about some pretty important stuff...but the wacko charismatics should not be ignored thus?

And this is reasonable because both John Piper and Benny Hinn share the premise that the Bible is insufficient and we need further revelation? Am I following?

DJP said...

Could you reword that as an actual question? Or shall I just delete it as a regrettable, purely-emotional blurt?

SQLSvrMan said...


I have spent a good bit of money on Puritan books at Monergism. I too have noticed the disparity. I have read some AMill books but I am still a dispy. It's pretty much like Dr. Mac said, the interpretation of scripture has to be changed for their view.


DJP said...

MMike — funny, and good one. I thought R's point pretty hysterical.

Andrew — in reverse order.

I'm slow to respond to your book request for two reasons.

First, I have the suspicion you just want to be able to say (and have already worded the statement) "Pah! See? I read what they say is their best, and I'm still all about the bibble-babble!" Or, you know, words to that effect. It's a box to check.

But really and more fundamentally, I just don't have an answer. If you'd asked for "two or three really good books," that'd be easy. But there is no one book that's dropped my jaw and made me say, "That's it!"

So, answering my question instead of yours:

Victor Budgen's Charismatics and the Word of God is a very good book.

Thomas Edgar's Miraculous Gifts: Are They for Today? is also good, particularly his very extended treatment of "prophecy" in the NT.

I also liked (and reviewed) To Be continued?. by Sam Waldron.

Then: you don't know anyone who legitimatizes the same fundamental beliefs in ongoing semi-revelation and wacky behavior in the name of the Spirit? So, you've never heard of Adrian Warnock? Or do you disown him?

Anonymous said...


As I understand your position, you hold that the dispensationalists who are considered by the majority of the reformed community to be seriously and dangerously mistaken on important issues should not be considered important when discussing dispensational vs covenant theology. But the charismatics who are considered by the majority of the reformed community seriously and dangerously mistaken on important issues should be considered important when discussing cessationism vs continuationism.

And you hold this position because you believe that the difference is that the continuationists start from a dangerous premise to begin with, whether they are crazy or not...whereas dispensationalists don't have any such fundamental flaw that they are starting from.

So all leaky canoners can be lumped together...crazy or not...but not so dispensationalists.

Am I following you? The reason I am asking is because if that is your position, then I can understand your confusion about monergism, and really the reformed communities' acceptance of leaky canoners in general.

But I really do want to know if I'm following your argument.

DJP said...

StanDispensationalism is shunned by many (most?) of the Reformed community when it has more Biblical support than infant baptism which is believed by many (most?) of the Reformed community.


Excellent point, actually.

DJP said...

Ulf, that wouldn't be my central argument in this specific matter.

My central argument would be built on the premise that one workable definition of Reformed thinking would be hearty affirmation of the five Solas.

Nothing in any iteration of dispensationationism clashes with any of those Solas, unless you really, really do some tortuous argument. On the contrary, many or most dispensationalists have argued fiercely for each and every one of those Solas.

The central formal distinguishing tenet of any form of Charismaticism is the denial of sola Scriptura and the necessary attendant of the sufficiency of Scripture and the closed nature of the canon. If the denial is not de jure, it is certainly de facto, and it is essential to the position.

Now, some formal Charismatics live as if they did not embrace that denial; however, their position requires it.

OTOH, many live as if that denial is central. That is, it is the thing they obsess on, it is what they find most exciting and appealing and interesting. They could never attend a church that just preached the Word passionately, worshiped the Triune God, and worked out Scripture by the Spirit's power.

Does that move us forward any?

Andrew Faris said...


"...all the way down to the "you give a little, God gives a lot" version of works-righteousness hook, line, and sinker" is the reason why we should disown those guys and outright call them false teachers preaching false gospels. No question about it.

And while that, for them, is all laced with their charismaticism (I suppose it's much easier to legitimize your false gospel is you can "prophesy" and "heal" and all that, too), their charismaticism really isn't the fundamental problem.

The abuse of the gifts by so many is one of the biggest problems for those of us who believe that the Bible teaches charismaticism. I just don't get why charismatics refuse to follow the instructions laid out in 1 Cor. 12 and 14. I really don't.

But that doesn't mean they abuse them the way that Hinn & Co. do. They don't use them to teach the prosperity gospel or to prop up their amazing spiritual leadership. Not at all.

So I sympathize with you on the one hand and I pray to God that He will destroy TBN and all those false teachers, and rid the Bible Belt (and Long Beach, where I live) of all of that crap (I'm tempted here to use stronger words than "crap" too...).

But let's keep the main thing, the main thing on that stuff.

And DJP,

Thanks for the book recommendations. I just wish you could take a commenter who disagrees with you at face value just one time.

I want to read the best book(s) on the subject because I want to order my life around what the Scripture teaches. I don't want to waste my time misunderstanding a potentially legitimate biblical position by reading poor defenses, etc. Is that so crazy?

And regarding Warnock, actually I don't read his blog. I just read the link you put in the post, but that's the extent of my Warnock reading to date. And frankly, I understood him to say there, "I've not followed Bentley and I don't know what he teaches or what's really going on there, so I'll withhold judgment." And withholding judgment on something you know nothing about doesn't seem so crazy to me.

But as for this question: "you don't know anyone who legitimatizes the same fundamental beliefs in ongoing semi-revelation and wacky behavior in the name of the Spirit?" I'm actually not totally sure what you're asking, probably because you're smarter than me.

Any chance you could rephrase it for me? And really, honestly, I don't read Warnock.


Andrew Faris said...

And of course, I flatly deny the charge that I deny Sola Scripture. As you mention, you think charismaticism requires it. I disagree, because I understand the nature of prophecy today differently than you do.


Anonymous said...

Yes that is very helpful.

And I have read you enough to understand why you think continuationism denies sola Scriptura.

My question is you have a theory as to why there is this widespread acceptance/tolerance of continuationists within the reformed community, as opposed to dispensationalists?

Obviously you've indicated it doesn't make all that much sense to you but there has to be a reason.

DJP said...


That's a great question, Ulf.

I don't have an instant answer. I have a few instant thoughts, but... that's a puzzler. You'd think it'd be the opposite way around. About fifty years ago, in fact, it arguably was the other way around.

And there is still strong resistance to charismaticism in many Reformed circles. But many would allow the one, reject the other; don't know how many comparatively would do the reverse.

I'll have to ponder it more.

Anonymous said...


Definitely would love to see a blog post on it if you get the chance when you've had more time. I wonder how much of it is the simple influence of men like Grudem and Piper and Mahaney who, because of their influence in the bigger picture of evangelicalism and their integrity, have simply earned a voice for continuationism.

You would think MacArthur would achieve the same thing for dispensationalism though. Hm maybe its a combination of what I said above with the fact that Grudem et al are not pushing continuationism in a confrontational, but more of a defensive way, as opposed to the more confrontational approach MacArthur takes. That allows folks the opportunity to disagree more comfortably with continuationists. Anyways, like I said I would love to hear further thoughts when you get the oppurtunity.

Fred Butler said...

Hm maybe its a combination of what I said above with the fact that Grudem et al are not pushing continuationism in a confrontational, but more of a defensive way, as opposed to the more confrontational approach MacArthur takes.

MacArthur is confrontational with his views of the gifts or dispensationalism? I didn't quite follow.

Anonymous said...

Well, both I guess but I was referring to dispensationalism in this case. His approach is more likely to cause someone who disagrees with him, if they are insecure in their beliefs especially, to react strongly to him. Basically I'm wondering if folks like those on monergism feel more threatened by dispensationalists than continuationists and thus the lack of willingness to present their views (dispensationalists) more robustly.

I could be dead wrong.

Fred Butler said...

Really? Could you give some specific examples where John is up in everyone's face about dispensationalism? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I am not saying MacArthur being more confrontational is necessarily a bad thing at all.

Anonymous said...

You might have heard of a talk titled, "Why Every Self Respecting Calvinist Is a Dispensationalist" or something along those lines?

I don't see Grudem titling anything "Why Every Self Respecting Calvinist is a Continuationist."

And that's simply a title. I'm not sure there are very many people in the world, supporters or non, that would say John MacArthur isn't an in your face kind of guy. Its part of what makes him such a force to be reckoned with. Like I said I don't think there is anything wrong with his style of argumentation.

Aaron said...

I once dragged my wife to a debate at Biola University between Gentry and Timothy Ice. Ice, a huge proponent of dispensational eschatology, was treated shamefully IMO. I noticed that anybody who was reformed ridiculed Ice and followed the preterist, or partial preterist position of Gentry. I really couldn't buy into the whole argument that Revelation and Matthew 24 all happened in AD 70, but Jesus is still coming visibly to the earth to judge the living. So now I tend to be more dispensational in my conclusions (one of my good friends tells me that dispensationalism is a system not just the which I say, "whatever").

Anyways, exactly what crazy dispensationalists are there? Timothy Ice and the left behind guys are definately against date setting of any sort. They published a companion book to the Left Behind series which explains their views (in addition to a prophecy study Bible). I don't agree with all of their conclusions (since I tend to take a more Jewish apocalyptic view than they) but I didn't see anything in there that I would consider heretical or that was in contrast to belief in the five solas. In fact, I'd say for the essentials of eschatology (Jesus returning visibly, final judgement, etc.) there was complete harmony. I don't think that is true with continuationists. I defy somebody to present before me an actual person who actually has the gift of healing. Not somebody who has been healed. not somebody who believes in the miracle of actual person who heals.

DJP said...

Probably Thomas Ice.

Which is like "Timothy."


Terry Rayburn said...

Ulf wrote,

"My question is you have a theory as to why there is this widespread acceptance/tolerance of continuationists within the reformed community, as opposed to dispensationalists?"

The answer is that Covenant Theology (I didn't say soteriological Calvinism) is inherently Law-oriented, as in not understanding Romans 6:14.*

[*"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace."]

While most Covenant Theologians would agree that INITIAL salvation is theoretically by Grace alone, they wander back into Mr. Legality's territory by failing to rightly divide the Old Covenant from the New Covenant.

They think the New Covenant is just a new Old Covenant, and can't comprehend it's Unilateral nature, wherein Christ has unilaterally secured the salvation of His people utterly apart from the the Law, OC or NC.

Along came Dispensationalism, which was the first breath of New Covenant fresh air in almost 400 years, and Mr. Legality roared against it.

Not surprising that his dupes (Covenant Theologians, for those who are not following me) would try their best to ignore it.

"Age of Grace?!," they sputtered. "Why, God has always been gracious!" they cried, while they continued to preach Law, Law, Law! to Believers, warning them that if they weren't as Law-based as *they* were that they just might not be brethren at all!

Sad to say, some wonderful Dispensationalists have been influenced by Covenant Theologians, through reading them in a rightful search for understanding God's sovereignty in salvation (soteriological Calvinism).

And so you have even people like MacArthur saying silly things like "giving all that you are for all that He is" is the Gospel according to Jesus. It's not.

Full disclosure: I'm not a Dispensationalist, though I honor those brave men who have dared breech the Covenantal gates.

Finally, can abide by Continuationism because it doesn't bother Mr. Legality one bit.

As best I know my own heart, I'm not judging any Covenant guy's heart here. I'm just explaining their blind "tradition" which "makes the Word of God of none effect".

Unknown said...

I no longer consider myself a dispensationalist but this is by biblical conviction, not because I consider dispensationalism inherently heretical (big "H" or little).

However, when I profess that I am not a dispensationalist, my Calvinistic brethren automatically assume that I must adhere to covenant theology. Au contraire! This is why I don't subscribe to the 1689 LBC, but rather the 1644/46.

Usually eyebrows will raise: "Oh, then you must be one of those new-fangled NTC antinomians!" Sorry again to disappoint.

I came to the conclusion years ago that I did not have to identify myself with a singular hermeneutical system. I have since been told that I am in good company. Men such as Don Carson and John Piper hold similar views.

As I have observed the theological landscape over the past 20 years or so, I have seen an increased distaste for dispensationalism, especially among those who would identify themselves as "Calvinists." That distaste has unfortunately been furthered by dispensationalism's de facto identification with the likes of John Hagee, Zane Hodges, Tim LaHaye, and the TBN Network. I have to admit, there's enough revulsion in that group to cause most anyone to tattoo Chapter VII of the Westminster Confession on his forehead!

But let's not throw the theological baby out with the bathwater. I think it's fair to say that dispensationalism isn't the direct cause of bad theology. Yes, it may be argued that it is an indirect cause, but that's true of any system that goes unchecked by good exegesis.

There's enough real heresy out there to battle against. Let's focus our energy on those truths that stand sentry over the precious treasure of the Gospel that we not give cause for the enemy to further divide us on secondary matters that do more to fuel our pride than further the kingdom.

Fred Butler said...

Actually, it is called "Why Every Self Respecting Calvinist Should be a Premillennialist" not a dispensationalist. John's point was that if one were to be a consistent Calvinist who affirmed the doctrine of election, he would recognize the dishonesty with "spiritualizing" the original promises of making Israel a great kingdom upon the earth, as being "fulfilled" with a "New Israel," the church.

I think it was Sam Waldron who dishonestly attempted to take John's key argument and make it stand or fall along dispensational lines.

Aaron said...

Yes, Thomas. I always do that too. I have a mind block or something.

Why do people have a distaste for Tim LaHaye? It was his books that led me to Christ (well sort of).

Pierre Saikaley said...


According to Theopedia J. Oliver Buswell ...

"Buswell was a committed Calvinist who held to the Westminster Standards and Covenant Theology. He was considered a fundamentalist in the most evangelical sense of the word, specifically opposed to the "modernism" of his day. He was also a Premillennialist and believed in a mid-tribulation rapture, although not a dispensationalist. "

What think you?


DJP said...

I shrug. It's an assertion, that's all.

I've read numerous times that Buswell was a dispensationalist — like here, and here, and elsewhere.

Jon said...

Look at all of these posts! You'd almost infer that people are passionate about eschatology or somethin...

One Salient Oversight said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Dispys just can't read the Bible properly...

Others can't seem to tell when they've been banned from a blog.

DJP said...

Obsessive banned stalkertroll OSO dropped by to say "I just can't quit you!" — and to add, "Imagine what my in-person relationships are like!"

Fred Butler said...

More on Buswell's dispensationalism

DJP said...

Wasn't that one of my links - Khoo? However, I think your copy's neater.

You Google Buswell and dispensationalism, and you get Khoo Khoo Khoo.

Terry Rayburn said...

You Google beatles and walrus, you get goo goo gajoob :)

DJP said...

"Yes, son, I was there the day Terry Rayburn got giddy!"


Associate-to-the-Pastor said...


I am a covenantalist with a huge appreciation for dispensationalists. Huge. I agree that it often gets the cold shoulder. Ironically enough, I was introduced to S Lewis Johnson by its sermon index!
Slightly off topic, but to Bartolucci: There is no significant difference in the covenantal view of the 1644/46 and the 1689 LBCF. The only reason it appears so is that the 1689 was patterned after the structure of the WCF and the Savoy Declaration, which were written in the 40 or so years between the two confessions. People were suspicious of Baptists at the time; the 1689 was an apologetic effort of sorts, to say 'Hey! We're not so different!'
Just my two cents.

DJP said...

I have the smartest readers.

Oh... I hope that doesn't mean I'm going to have to bring up my game....

Terry Rayburn said...

Associate-to-the-Pastor wrote,

"There is no significant difference in the covenantal view of the 1644/46 and the 1689 LBCF."

Actually they are very significantly different.

Here are just five significant ways (there are more):

1. The 1646 repeatedly speaks of the New Covenant.

The 1689 never even mentions the New Covenant, but speaks only of "the covenant of grace" (code words for Covenant Theology).

2. Although the 1689 speaks of believers being "united to Christ", the 1646 speaks of our "union" with Christ, "by which union, God is one with them, and they are one with Him.

This is an important provision of the New Covenant which the Old Covenant believers never knew, and important to point #3 below.

3. Related to point #2 above, the 1689 emphasizes the Law (including the Sabbath - see point #4 below) as our "Rule of Life".

The 1646 emphasizes our union with Christ and His Life in us as our driving motivation.

It says, "...sanctification is a spiritual grace of the New Covenant, and an effect of the love of God manifested in the soul..."

In other words, the very Life of Christ in us (not the Law) is our "rule of life" [cf. Gal. 2:20, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ..."].

4. The 1689 is, of course Sabbatarian (I call it "Antinomian Sabbatarianism, since it waters down the true Old Covenant Sabbath, and changes it to Sunday without biblical warrant, Jonathan Edwards' bad exegesis notwithstanding).

The 1646 is non-Sabbatarian, since it recognizes the point of Hebrews 8 which says that the New Covenant has made the Old Covenant obsolete.

5. Finally, the 1646 makes it clear that the Law is not the Gospel, nor a requisite for preaching the Gospel.

"The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him."

I'm not demeaning the 1689.

It's so far superior to the Canons of the Council of Trent that I shudder to pick on it.

But it is a Baptist version of the Westminster, and quite a leap from the pristine, beautiful, New Covenant, grace-packed 1646 :)

Historically, the 1646 was somewhat of a backlash against the Covenant Theology of the Westminster Confession, and the 1689 was somewhat of a backlash (alas) against the 1646's emphasis on the New Covenant (mostly because of Presbyterian influence).

Jim Kirby said...

I think it is interesting and ironic that the heritage of dispensationalism was Calvinistic. Tommy Ice wrote an article entitled "The Calvinistic Heritage of Dispensationalism" that makes that connection. It is worth the read. It can be found at:

Aaron said...

The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him."

What, no law? "Way of the Master" people must be disappointed.

I like the WCF the best, myself.

I also tend to be dispensational in my conclusions, but I disagree with many of the fine points. It's one of the things that has bothered me about my church's doctrinal statement. Way too much eschatological certainty.

Aaron said...


I just scanned the article (I've read nearly everything Ice has ever written at least once.) Although I respect Ice greatly, I think he should have defined Covenant Theology. Some people that are classified by others in the covenant camp don't think that "that Israel's election was conditional and temporary." They actually think the promises to Israel were completely fulfilled with Jesus and the ushering of the New Covenant. I think Ice oversimplifies the beliefs of those who disagree with dispies.

Angus said...

"I personally think that if systematic Dispensationalism is rightly understood then it still logically makes sense only within a theocentric and soteriologically Calvinistic theology." (Thomas Ice)...that's even more amazing considering Tim LaHaye's blurb on 'What ove Is This'..I had no idea this was Tommy Ice's belief. Must make for some interesting chats between the two!

DJP said...

Thanks, Jim.

That article is in serious need of typographical cleaning up!

But this in particular caught me (cleaned up):

"On another occasion Darby was invited to the city of Calvin - Geneva, Switzerland - to defend Calvinism. Turner declares that 'He refuted the "perfectionism" of John Wesley, to the delight of the Swiss Free Church.' Darby was awarded a medal of honor by the leadership of Geneva."

That's pretty great.

Stefan Ewing said...

This has been a fascinating discussion...all the more so, since despite varying eschatological viewpoints, it hasn't turned into a slagfest.

Me, I tend towards Historical (Posttrib) Premill, but respect the Dispy position (having been persuaded by Dan's writing over several years), and also find the pedestal on which Covenant Theology (and amillennialism, for that matter) are placed in Reformed circles a little puzzling.

Stan McCullars made an excellent point, vis-a-vis infant baptism.

And Terry: you made a number of very interesting observations, as well. Ah, Mr. Legality....

Aaron said...


What was LaHaye's blurb? LaHaye and Ice have co-written a number of articles together so I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't see eye to eye on most subjects.

Angus said...

LaHaye's blurb (on What Love is This, by Dave Hunt - sorry for the tying error) was:

“Calvinism . . . comes perilously close to blasphemy. And that is why I congratulate Dave Hunt for writing this excellent clarification of the doctrine that has its roots more in Greek humanism, from where it originated, than it does in Scripture . . . Every evangelical minister should read this book. If they did, we would see a mighty revival of soul-winning passion that would turn this world upside down as multitudes see the real God of the Bible, not the false God of Augustinianism and Calvinism.”

Can't imagine Ice and LaHaye see eye to eye on this...just surprised me...

DJP said...

Charitably put.

Sounds like two pinheads in a pod.

Aaron said...

Wow. That's bad. Ridiculous sentiment. Does Dave Hunt believe Calvinism if blasphemy?

It's a ridiculous assertion. They have the whole thing backwards. At least according to the Amazing Grace documentary on Arminianism.

Anonymous said...

Sir Aaron, Dave Hunt is a world-class knucklehead.

Phil Johnson has written a review of Hunt's book What Love Is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God.

From his review:

According to Dave Hunt, all of those men (Protestant Reformers, the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, James Montgomery Boice, R. C. Sproul, Al Mohler, and John MacArthur) are guilty of seriously corrupting the gospel and slandering the character of God. And in his attack on their theology, Hunt pulls no punches. He charges them with turning God into a monster, making men into puppets, and replacing the concept of grace with an unjust notion of divine favoritism. He emphatically believes that God is obliged to love everyone the same. He denies that God has foreordained whatever comes to pass. And he is convinced that Calvinists worship a god who does violence to the human will.

In short, Dave Hunt’s book is a digest of every hackneyed argument ever brought against Calvinism. He brings together both the best and the worst of anti-Calvinist thought, blending and repackaging it all in a format that is easy to read and understand. He gives the impression of thoroughness and scholarship. And he aims to convince the naive that this difficult subject is really quite simple.

I normally like to begin every book review by saying something positive about the book. There’s simply not anything good I can sincerely say about this book.

SQLSvrMan said...

What made me realize I was a Calvinist was Dave Hunt's book that is a debate on Calvinism with James White. It's a horrible book from the Dave Hunt perspective. James White was just awesome! Read Phil's (or hear) his review. Hunt pretty much believes that Calvinism is a heresy.

SQLSvrMan said...


You hit the nail on the head!!

Aaron said...

I think I have some cassette tapes of a White/hunt debate. Just nowhere to play the cassettes.

Associate-to-the-Pastor said...

AH! I've been away all day, and now I am heading home- where I have no internet access! But I have to respectfully disagree about the nature and purposes of the differences between the two confessions. For now, if Dan may let me, I can only give a link:
I have more thoughts on this, but as interesting as this is (I LOVE history, especially Baptist history! I'm sick, I know) my wife and toddlers are infinitely more appealing at the moment.

Terry Rayburn said...


Thanks so much for that link.

It does give some great insight, not only into the history of the 1646 & 1689, but the other writings and beliefs of those who wrote the 1646.

1. It's clear that although the 1646 does not espouse Covenant Theology, that at least a couple of it's authors were Covenant Theology guys.

I can only conclude that they wrote a "compromised" document (in the good sense), content to glorify Christ and lay down more essential doctrines, including the New Covenant.

2. Having read Lumpkin's comments on the reason for the changes in the 1689, I'm convinced that the 1689 was largely done to draw nearer to the Presbyterians, under persecution from the Episcopalian Church of England.

[**I'll footnote a quote from Lumpkin below, for any geeks like you :) who want it]

This happened after the end of the Cromwellian Commonwealth in 1658 (intensified by the Clarendon Code of 1661 and the Conventicle Act of 1664).

It's as though they said, "No more compromise with non-Covenant Theologians, we need to look unified with the Presbyterians."

3. Anyway, I praise the Lord that the 1646, despite the CT views of some of it's authors, remains available in it's Christ-exalting Grace-exalting beauty and truth, for those of us who choke on the CT parts of the 1689.

Thanks again for your follow-up.


**"The renewal of persecution brought dissenting groups nearer to one another and especially brought Baptists and Congregationalists nearer to Presbyterians.

Defiance of the Conventicle Act by the large Presbyterian party, which had been the dominant ecclesiastical group under the Commonwealth, made enforcement of that Act all but impossible.

Observing the success of the Presbyterians, other Dissenters were emboldened. Moreover, it was important that Dissenters form a united front, which might be demonstrated by a show of doctrinal agreement among themselves.

The very document which would be best proof of this agreement on essential matters was at hand, the Westminster Confession.

The Congregationalists had adopted it as their Confession, after making some changes in conformity with their views of the Church, at the Savoy Conference in 1658.

The Particular Baptists of London determined, therefore, to show their agreement with Presbyterians and Congregationalists by making the Westminster Confession the basis of a new confession of their own."
(William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, 235.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for pointing this out. I couldn't agree more.

When I was first looking for theology sites on the internet, Monergism was very helpful. But around the middle part of the decade a number of Federal Vision links were posted without warning, perhaps in part due to the work of some people who were helping with the site. At that point I stopped using the site. Thankfully the FV issue appears to have been rectified, and the last time I checked, Monergism has a large number of links critical of FV/NPP.

If I'm not mistaken, one of the contributors to the blog associated with Monergism is a "Reformed-Charismatic" so that may be a factor.

Anonymous said...

IIRC the stated m.o. of the Monergism site in the beginning was to promote Monergism and not to get sidetracked on other issues e.g. eschatology, covenant theology, baptism etc.

However what you point out here shows that there has been a definite shift on this issue at least. If it's going to be a strictly confessional (WCF) site, fine. Put credo baptist links on the bad page too, and we can say, "Well it's a helpful Presbyterian site" and leave it at that. But the fact that this is not done shows that dispensationalism remains a despised system (as Dr. S. Lewis Johnson said years ago,) and one that is often misunderstood.

This also reflects the trend among the "Young, Restless and Reformed" crowd in which charismaticism to one degree or another is tolerated if not embraced while dispensationalism is derided.

rwt said...

I went over to their site and looked around. I found a link over there to Ken Gentry's blog Againstdispensationalism. He refers to dispensationalism as heretical. He also ridicules dispensationalists extensively in virtually every post. I've encountered others who use this tactic as well. It appears to me to be a form of spiritual Alinskyism.

Mike Westfall said...

So... I picked up Ryrie's book on Dispensationalism at our public library (it was in the "free, take this junk off our hands" stacks). Just wondering what you all think of that piece. Does it give a good representation of dispensationalism? Is it worth reading? Would DJP approve?

DJP said...

Use the "Search" feature for Ryrie on this blog, and you'll find several places I've discussed the book. Short answer, yes.

Echindod said...

You know, if your main beef with Charasmatics is the fact that they have a leaky canon; it would be along the same lines to say that CT's main beef with dispys is that they have a truncated canon.

DJP said...

...which is not too unlike saying, "If your main beef with Roman Catholics is that they preach a false gospel, it would be along the same lines to say that RCs' main beef with Christians is that they say it's okay to live in unbroken and unrepented sin because the decision-card means you're 'in.'"

Echindod said...

Sorry, I should have been more clear.

CT= Covenant Theology

And then note
Chafer on Scripture

Canon within a Canon?

DJP said...

Ah; so those ignorant of dispensationalism accuse them of doing what every Christian does — at least the ones who feel free to eat ham, wear mixed fabrics, and worship on Sunday in a place other than Jerusalem — as if they alone do it? Of taking context into consideration?


But at any rate, I suppose lazy-minded bigots find it simpler than reading, listening, thinking, and (gasp!) considering a revision to their own system.

Echindod said...

Yep, absolutely right. I am glad the synoptics aren't addressed to Christians. After all Jesus says some pretty crazy things.

DJP said...

That's your position? Wow, what a strange stance.

Because I'm a dispensationalist, I'd never be able to agree.

Echindod said...

Might I redirect your attention to the link to Chafer?

DJP said...


And now, having done that, what is it that you think you've accomplished?

Echindod said...

Maybe I should be a bit more clear. The link above is to google books archive of Lewis Sperry Chafer's Systematic theology, volumes 1 and 2. The exact section is in the chapter on scriptural interpretation. And the subsection is entitled. "III. TO WHOM IS A GIVEN SCRIPTURE ADDRESSED?" Go ahead read it again and see if Chafer could repeat your statement WITHOUT QUALIFICATION:
[In response to a statement that the Synoptics are NOT written to Christians]That's your position? Wow, what a strange stance.
Because I'm a dispensationalist, I'd never be able to agree.

DJP said...

And, again, what of it?

Echindod said...

I guess I stand corrected. A dispensationalist would never say that the Synoptics were not written to Christians. And all this time I thought Chafer was a dispensationalist.

DJP said...

Okey doke.

Echindod said...

But at any rate, I suppose lazy-minded bigots find it simpler than reading, listening, thinking, and (gasp!) considering a revision to their own system.

DJP said...

Right, thanks. It was worth repeating.

It's astonishing how CTs run so hard on such colossal, willful ignorance.

Anonymous said...

For people with sub-175 IQs like myself, could you please spell out exactly what it is you want to say to DJP? I'm confused.


Echindod said...

Chafer wrote that the Synoptics were not entirely written to the Church. Much of what is contained in the synoptics is written TO the Jews. Chafer then is saying that the Gospels themselves are not written to Christians. Our dear and thoughtful friend Dan wants to call this "context," but it is much more, it is getting at the heart of where the difference between the two schools lies. Continuity or Dissection? It is this dissection that I wanted to highlight. Dan's statement that Dispys and CTers were closer on the view of Sola Scripture, then their tongue speaking brothers. I was merely highlighting something that Dan must have forgotten: CTers hold that the entire Canon was written to the people of God. Dispys say that only some of it was written to the Church.

Again: Leaky Canon or Truncated Canon? Neither are Sola Scriptura.

rwt said...


If you open just about any study Bible and look at the introductory materials for each book, you will see that a particular audience was intended when the book was written. For example, Philemon was addressed specifically to Philemon. That is the historical context of the book. That does not restrict its value as a source of truth for others beyond the original audience to whom it was directed.

I would have to read the particular Chafer reference you mention to discuss further; however, the dispensationalists whom I know and have read would agree that "All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness."