Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Reply to Vince

by Kenneth L. Gentry, Th.D., Director, NiceneCouncil.com

This letter is a response to Vince LaRue who commented on my previous blog: "A Tract for Dispensationalists." For the full text of his comment, see the preceding blog comments.


Thanks for your note. Glad you enjoyed the humor. You might want to check some of my older tongue-in-cheek blogs, such as "Witnessing to Dispensationalists" and "Identifying Dispensationalists."

But I wish you recognized the theological significance of the critique. I certainly do not understand your complaint that I don't hold to the final authority of Scripture. I was dealing with Scripture (Ephesians) in the whole article. I was showing the several biblical errors in dispensationalism from this one epistle.

Contrary to your complaint: I believe I do understand dispensationalism. I am a former dispensationalist with a degree in Biblical Studies from a dispensational college (Tennessee Temple University) and studied for two years at a dispensational graduate school (Grace Theological Seminary). For seven years I wrote a monthly newsletter critiquing dispensationalism ("Dispensationalism in Transition"). For my dispensational pedigree you might want to see my September 24, 2009 blog "I Was a Teenage Dispensationalist."

In addition, I have two debate books with dispensationalists. One is The Great Tribulation: Past or Future?, with Dr. Thomas Ice of Tim LaHaye's Pre-Trib Study Center. It is published by a dispensational publisher, Kregel. The other is Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, published by the nation's largest Christian publisher and edited by Darrell L. Bock, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. In 1992 I wrote a 600+ page book critiquing dispensationalism: House Divided: The Break-up of Dispensational Theology.

As the Director of NiceneCouncil.com, I was involved in writing the script for our bestselling DVD "The Late Great Planet Church." This is the first in a series of DVDs critiquing dispensationalism.

Since you don't mention any errors in my blog, I can't tell where my critique fails to "hold water" for you.

As for lacking "a cohesive alternative theology": you expect a lot from a blog! I recommend you read my 600 page book He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology. Postmillennialism is my alternative theology. If you don't have time for that, please see my Postmillennialism Made Easy.

And to show a broader cohesion in my theology you might want to check out some of my other books. I have written books on topics as diverse as a defense of six day creation (Yea, Hath God Said?), charismatic theology (The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy), the law of God (Covenantal Theonomy; God's Law Made Easy), the book of Revelation (Before Jerusalem Fell; The Beast of Revelation; Four Views on the Book of Revelation; Revelation Made Easy; Perilous Times), the Christian worldview (The Greatness of the Great Commission), predestination (Predestination Made Easy), and apologetics (Pushing the Antithesis).

A problem I have with dispensationalists is their tendecy to emotionally write-off counter analyses. But this problem only arises when a dispensationalist even considers any contrary viewpoints.

I hope you might check out some of our materials at the NiceneCouncil.com on-line store. I believe you will find we have studied dispensationalism well. And are offering a "cohesive alternative."


Zach said...

I think it is pretty ironic that Vince is asking for a “cohesive alternative theology.” It seems that he is unaware that dispensationalism’s two-people scheme is the alternative to the historical, orthodox position of only one people of God.
Vince, if you read this, please ask yourself if we should follow the interpretation of the unbelieving Jews in the N.T. who felt they had some advanced standing before God, or the interpretation of Jesus and the Apostles (who believed in the full authority of Scripture) and yet over and again found fulfillment with Old Testament promises for believers, both Jews and Gentiles, in the New Testament church. Ask yourself, how could Christ offer an earthly kingdom without the cross to pay for sin? If he was offering a kingdom, why did Jesus flee when they wanted Him to be their king (John 6:15), especially in light of His revelation to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36)? Where specifically did He stop His mission for the Jews and start His parenthetical mission for the Church? This is supremely important since we need to know which Scripture is really for us. And if the “literal” interpretation of Scripture teaches us these things, why is there no unanimity among dispensational teachers on these questions?
You’re asking for a cohesive theological system, but you’re already acclimated to a system involving intricate charts and timelines. Non-dispensational theology is far more simplified than all of this. God used earthly examples in the Old Testament to teach spiritual truths which are more fully revealed in the New Testament. The shadows have been replaced by the light, and when Christ comes back there will be a resurrection either to rewards and eternal life or to judgment and eternal death. The six points Dr. Gentry outlined in this tract while differing from major tenets of dispensationalism are in fact points of non-dispensational theology. It’s difficult questioning something you hold dear, but ultimately we must place our beliefs before Scripture.

Vince LaRue said...

First and foremost, it appears that your description of Dispensationalism hardly comes close to what I believe. To my knowledge, Tennessee Temple would throw me out on my ear for being a "Ruckmanite" (hence my mention of your lack of authority: which "Bible"?), so my position is probably very different from that which you are arguing against.

That being said, the so-called "errors" that you pointed out are either misinterpreted (or just an abhorrent translation!), taken out of context, misapplied, or something that my "theology" (I prefer to just believe the Bible, not construct theology) does not contain or believe. If time permits, I'll critique your post and provide a rebuttal to your position, as well as a clarification of what the Bible actually says.

Thank you for your consideration and response.

NiceneCouncil.com said...

Vince is correct: Temple --- and most other schools --- would probably toss him out. He is a follower of Peter S. Ruckman, a King James Only advocate. His theology is very narrow, strange, and unrepresentative.

NiceneCouncil.com said...

For those unfamiliar with Peter Ruckman, note the following: Ruckman insists that the King James Version of the Bible provides "advanced revelation" beyond that discernible in the underlying Textus Receptus Greek text. Arguing that the KJV is more authoritative for English speakers than the Greek and Hebrew texts, he believes the KJV represents the final authority for modern disputes about the content and meaning of the original manuscripts. For instance, in his Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, Ruckman says, "Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation!" Likewise, he advises where "the perverse Greek reads one way and the A.V. reads the other, rest assured that God will judge you at the Judgment on what you know. Since you don't know the Greek (and those who knew it, altered it to suit themselves), you better go by the A.V. 1611 text."

Len said...

I know that this isn't directly related to the topic of dispensationalism, but regarding Ruckman, I may be mistaken, but somewhere in the back of my mind I remember reading that the KJV is basically nothing more than a revised edition of the Geneva Bible. If this is true, how can Ruckman claim that the KJV is inspired?

He seems like quite a "character," and cannot be taken seriously.

Anyway, it will be interesting to read Vince's promised rebuttal.


Josh Gunter said...

I go to a dispensational school, I have been immersed in the the more reformed dispensational theology, and understand the issues well. I appreciate the blog here and think it represents both sides accurately. I guess you could say I am now a...recovering dispensationalist, so thank you.

Daviel D'Paz said...

People inmersed in Dispensationalist teching are hard to deal with because somehow they understand their peculiar beliefs such as the Rapture, the great tribulation, the millenium, etc, as SOMETHING FUNDAMENTAL for their true faith and they see them as almost DISTINCTIVES of TRUE ORTHODOXY. So, for them to deny the rapture, the great tribulation, etc, is almost equivalent with heresy.

But when someone decides to examine other interpretations by reading the books that explains them, and ponder their arguments, then things begin to take another color. For instance, HOUSE DIVIDED by Gentry & Bahnsen is A BIG CARTERPILLAR that demolishes Dispensationalism totally and completely.

But how many Dispensationalists have read the book from cover to cover? Maybe not the same amount of people reading LEFT BEHIND. But one thing is sure: Those who dare to read it, run the risk to finish the book WITH ANOTHER MINDSET! The arguments are hard to refute. So, having read for myself the arguments of Gentry, I simply don't see how VINCE is going to refute Dr. Gentry's.