Thursday, January 6, 2022

Perhaps Not For Everyone

 

I was looking into the history of the Plymouth Brethren, John Nelson Darby, and Cyrus Scofield, and came across an interesting series of videos.  I have written of Scofield before, perhaps coming down a bit too hard on dispensationalism (although it still doesn’t ring true for me) and not hard enough on the influence he has had regarding the state-worship of Israel. 

“Who cares about the Plymouth Brethren?” you ask.  Yes, a small group, and, like many Protestant groups, subdivided into a cornucopia of ever smaller divisions.  But the Scofield Reference Bible might be one of the most influential books in the American Protestant landscape – Brethren or otherwise.

Dallas Theological Seminary, ranked number one on this list of Top 10 Evangelical Seminaries in the U.S., is described as follows:

Perhaps no school has had a greater impact on recent theology than Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas was founded with a very specific purpose in mind: to teach and systematize dispensationalist theology. Before Dallas, the school of thought that divided the Bible into seven distinct historical periods or dispensations (and argued for a sharp distinction between Israel and the church), was largely unheard of.

Which leads me to recall my post on Christian Arrogance. 

Now the majority of Evangelicals hold to some variation of this [dispensational] system.

As noted, Scofield has conquered much of Protestantism in America.

So I found these videos on Darby, Scofield and dispensationalism (here and here).  If you are interested in the topic, these are worth watching.  The speaker is Bruce Gore, who has taught the adult education hour of First Presbyterian Church, Spokane (PCUSA) and taught at Whitworth University. 

He states that he once was fully bought in to the presentation of Scofield, although he has since changed his views.  However, he also shares his thoughts regarding many of those who hold to these views, as he once did – people who are strong Christian brothers and sisters, as he describes them.

The two videos are part of a ten-part series on the Apocalypse in Space and Time.  This series was delivered about six years ago.  This was followed up with more videos on Revelation from about two years ago, incorporated into the same series.  The entire series can be found here.  (Explore his channel and you will find two dozen additional teaching series.)

The first ten videos offer a review of how Revelation was understood over some of the intervening centuries, ending with a video on the Preterist view of the book (to which he is sympathetic, I believe, and which, therefore informs his general disapproval of Scofield’s views).  Following what I find to be the too-often Protestant approach, he pretty much skips from the fourth century to Jonathan Edwards in the eighteenth century – as if the intervening years never occurred.  This is unfortunate, but the focus on the Protestant scrambled mess of the nineteenth century is worthwhile.

This latter set of videos covers Revelation from beginning to end. 

Watching the first ten videos, there was much focus on the nineteenth century movements that consumed Protestantism in America – a dozen people each with a new idea, each founding a movement.  I have covered some of this in the past (this post received, by far, more comments than anything else I had written in 2021).  NB: I referenced the wrong post.  The one above, on Christian Arrogance, received the most comments.

Conclusion

If you were raised on Hal Lindsey and John Hagee, and still hold to those views, this series might not be for you.  However, if you hold to these views yet remain open to the possibility that there might be other views worth considering, then you might want to take a look.

22 comments:

  1. I am one of those Dallas Seminary influenced dispensationalists. However, I reject any deification of Israel or support of any injustices they perform. But I do believe the Biblical case for the separation for Israel and the Church is very strong. Otherwise, why doesn't the Church need a temple or a king? Israel was an ethnic state. The Church is a multi-ethnic nation/tribe without a state. The two have existed apart from one another now on 2 historical occasions.

    There is also some overlap when you look at the Abrahamic covenant and Romans 11. It isn't all black and white. I get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have watched the first video. I didn't realize how much cookiness was associated with proto-Dispensational thought. He does are good job of telling the story of how the idea of a spiritual coming of Christ happened. Several bad attempts at predicting Christ's actual return. Instead of admitting they were wrong, they came up with the idea that Jesus did come back, but in a way no one could see. They thought Jesus pseudo-return initiated His direct rule on earth. Then the idea was attached to 1 Thessalonians 4.

      1 Thessalonians 4 is about the bodily return of Christ not some kind of half return before the events of Revelation occur. I came that realization almost 20 years ago while reading through Revelation and other passages carefully. Pre-tribulation rapture doesn't have any evidence to back it up. Looking back not surprising the idea was conjured up in a milieu that produced the Burned Out District, Jehovah's Witness, and Mormonism.

      Delete
    2. Finished the second video. He does a great job of covering the big names in the movement. I learned a lot. Growing up in these circles the main name I heard was Charles Ryrie and Chafer. Since college my pastors' heroes or my pastors have mostly been from DTS.

      I don't agree that the OT doesn't apply to Christians. The question is in what why does it apply. Darby and Scofield went too far in that direction. Lindsay and his interpreting current events for proof of his eschatology I have always found strange.

      But I do think Darby observed some things in Daniel 9 that are true and support pre-millennial dispensational thought. For example, the 70th week is broken off from the preceding 69 according to the text. The question is how is it broken off and what is the proper application to Revelation? There are some obvious connections found in the time phrases: week of years, 7 years, 3.5 years. They show up in different places that are describing eschatology.

      Delete
    3. RMB, Someone emailed the following to me. You might find it of further interest:

      https://www.gospeltruth.net/scofield.htm

      Delete
  2. "perhaps coming down a bit too hard on dispensationalism (although it still doesn’t ring true for me)"

    Dispensionalism, at the simplest, is to recognize that there has been distinct dispensations/economies/periods in human history as viewed through the lense of the Bible - Pre-Fall, Adamic, Nohadic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, current.

    What I call hyper-dispensationalism is an attempt to force a prediction of when Christ will return based on past events categorizations and prophetic statements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ecc 7:29 See, this alone I have found, that God made man upright, and they -- they have sought out many devices.
      God has never seen us as fallen. We have never had an Adamic spiritual nature, only in our mind (Col 1:21). A case of mistaken identity.

      Delete
    2. "God has never seen us as fallen." Try using that simple statement in any denomination. I had a publisher remove my translation of Genesis from his store when he saw the title to one of the appendixes: 'The Changes to the Adam: Original Sin That Isn't'.

      Delete
    3. anon
      Maybe you should take the admonition and learn to properly divide the Word of God.
      When reading Ecclesiastes pay attention to the phrase "under the sun" and, by all means, disregard chapter 12.
      Also, disregard the whole of Genesis 3.
      And, since, according to you, there is nofalken, I guess Jesus was just a fool still buried somewhere. Even, maybe fathered babies by Mary Magdalene.

      Delete
    4. The Adamic Covenant is just a title to Gen 3's promises to Adam and Eve.
      And if you think you do not have Adam's t he-woman-gave-me-pass-the-buck-and-blame-someone-else nature ... well, there you go.

      Delete
    5. Sounds like the publisher was spot on, ducq. The fall of man and the result of everyone being born a sinner is a foundational belief of Christianity and has tons of evidence throughout the Scripture.

      Delete
    6. JiT, I agree that hyper-dispensationalism is the real problem. Some go as far as saying the means of salvation changes in the different dispensations. That is rank heresy. Even worse is supporting injustice in the world today based on a desire to see Bible predictions come about

      Predicting when Jesus will come back is worthless or fruitless as the Bible states no can know. But isn't as big a problem in my mind.

      Thinking about biblical history in terms of different eras is pretty harmless. There were different covenants, different organizations or characters that were prominent.

      Delete
    7. Given our lived experience, the idea that man has a fallen nature might be the most obvious and plain truth in the Bible. Yet, some go through tremendous contortions in order to avoid it.

      Delete
    8. RMB, in your response to Jaime you have captured my sentiments on the matter.

      Delete
    9. ducq, I see you were had by "Big Religion" too. Can't go there. Fear based religion is declining though. Thankfully. We do not have a God of wrath and punishment but one of healing and forgiveness.

      Delete
    10. JamieInTexas, Thank you. Maybe I will if you will discover the doctrine of Apokatastasis and why that was the early church doctrine until AD 500 or so (then big scary religion got started from the church heathens.not insinuating that you are a heathen but just saying). I'll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with annihilation or eternal conscious torment.

      Delete
    11. JamieInTexas
      From Bible Threatenings Explained by J. W. Hanson, D.D.
      ENDLESS PUNISHMENT OF HEATHEN ORIGIN
      We should also bear another fact in mind. When the doctrine of endless punishment began to be taught in the Christian Church, it was not derived from the Scriptures, but from the heathen converts to Christianity, who accepted Christ, but who brought with them into their new church that doctrine which had for centuries been taught in heathen lands, but which neither Moses nor Christ accepted. And having received the idea from heathen tradition, it was natural that the early Christians should transfer it to the Bible, and seek to find it there.
      That heathen invented this doctrine is undeniable. Much of the Christian understanding of Hell has more to do with Greek mythology than anything from the Bible.
      Says Cicero" "It was on this account that the ancients invented those infernal punishments of the dead, to keep the wicked under some awe in this life, who without them, would have no dread of death itself."
      Says Polbius, the Greek historian: "The multitude is ever fickle and capricious, full of lawless passions and irrational and violent resentments. There is no way left to keep them in order but by the terrors of future punishment, and all the pompous circumstances that attend such fiction! On which account the ancients acted, in my opinion, with great judgment and penetration, when they contrived to bring those notions of the gods and a future state into the popular belief."
      Strabo, the Greek geographer and philosopher, says: "it is impossible to govern women and the gross body of the people, and to keep them pious, holy and virtuous, by the precepts of philosophy. This can only be done by the fear of the gods, which is raised and supported by ancient fictions and modern prodigies." And again he says: "The apparatus of the ancient mythologies was an engine which the legislators employed as bugbears to strike a terror into the childish imagination of the multitude."
      This horrible heathen dogma sought entrance into the Christian church in vain for the first three centuries after Christ, and though here and there a heathenized Christian announced it, it did not become an accredited Christian doctrine till after more than five centuries. Dr. Edward Beecher candidly confesses that as late as three hundred years after Christ it had hardly obtained a foothold.
      He says: "What, then, was the state of facts as to the leading theological schools of the Christian world in the age of Origen and some centuries after? It was, in brief, this: There were at least six theological schools in the church at large. Of these six schools, one, and ony one, was decidedly and earnestly in favor of the doctrine of future eternal punishment. One was in favor of the annihiliation of the wicked. Two were in favor of the doctrine of universal restoration on the principles of Origen, and two in favor of universal restoration on the principles of Theodore of Mopsuestia."
      That is to say, here were four times as many Universalist theological schools, where clergymen were educated, as there were schools in which endless punishment was taught, even as late as A. D. 300. But from that time onward, as darkness increased, the heathen idea was more and more transferred to the sacred page, till it entirely overlaid and obscured the truth. and it was not until the light of the Reformation began to dawn that the profane inscriptions of heathen tradition were erased from the palimpsest of the Scriptures, so that the meaning of the inspired authors could be apprehended."
      Yeah, I'm a cut and paste kinda guy but I do study to show myself approved, just not for your approval. Cheers and Shalom!

      Delete
    12. bionic mosquito,
      To some, the idea that man has a fallen nature might not be the most obvious and plain truth in the Bible and they do not go through tremendous contortions in order to avoid it. Quite the opposite. Bible threatenings are easily explained.
      https://tentmaker.org/ScholarsCorner.html

      Delete
    13. Man has a fallen nature

      Bible threatenings.

      Two different concepts. I write of one, and you argue the other.

      Man is fallen. We see it in every human we meet, especially the one in the mirror. There is no concept in the Bible proven out (in the modern meaning of "proven") more often than this.

      Delete
    14. Holy moving goal post, batman!

      Delete
  3. Man, I was raised in an atheist family, trying to find, 'The Way' has not been easy.
    I was asked once, which denomination I was, it was a strange question to me at the time. I answered, Christian, as if it were a simple matter.

    Decades later, it doesn't seem so simple, sometimes. Oftentimes, it's like going down the rabbit hole.

    Anyway, I am seeking your Christian opinion, is this a true statement:

    "National origin or skin color or religion are irrelevant. If you’re willing to defend human liberty and you bleed red, then you’re my brother (or sister).

    This is a global unity."

    Something I read at TheDailyBell.
    A Luciferian or a psychopath wouldn't want to defend human liberty, would they?

    Just trying to further develop my creed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There are some good sermons on the book of Revelation by Fr Athanasios Mitilinaios online.

    Listen:
    http://www.saintnicodemos.com/content/apocalypse_audio.php

    In print:
    http://www.saintnicodemos.com/bookstore/revelation-1.php

    Also, Fr Peter Heers will be teaching about that book beginning 11 Jan. For details:

    https://www.crowdcast.io/e/the-revelation-of-jesus/register

    ReplyDelete
  5. Concerning the book of Revelation, if you were raised on Hal Lindsey and John Hagee, and still hold to those views, the following series by Dr, Kay Fairchild might not be for you. However, if you hold to these views yet remain open to the possibility that there might be other views worth considering, then you might want to take a look here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIwb4ivPE64
    Revelation Revolution (part 1) Chapter 1 Dr. Kay Fairchild

    ReplyDelete