I’ve added Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry’s blog, Against Dispensationalism to my blog roll. He, and the rest of the scholars at the NiceneCouncil.com, are committed to pointing out the dangers of bad theology, like Dispensationalism. They quote Dr. Robert L. Reymond, who says: “Dispensationalism has thrown down the gauntlet: and it is high time covenant theologians take up the challenge and respond to them Biblically.”
Gentry has written that Dispensationalism is beginning to die a long, painful death. Part of this is due to the wacky predictions of who the antichrist is, and when Jesus will return. In his most recent post, he lists at least 18 books that have predicted the return of Christ and such lunacy. After all, Jesus told us that no one knows when He will return except the Father in heaven. For some reason, Dispensationalists seem to always know when Christ will return.
Here is some of what Gentry writes:
This is like dispensationalism: it is such a large behemoth that its death will take a long time. Furthermore, given its inherent naivete — which allows its adherents to tolerate one failed Antichrist prediction after another and which can endure one erroneous rapture prediction after another — we can’t expect the system to die quickly. Dispensationalists are adept at grinning and bearing it.
Nevertheless, it is dying. And as we have pointed out: it dying from a brain-drain. Many of its scholars are opting out; others are radically transforming the system into what it has never been. Read the dominant dispensationalist’s vehement attacks on progressive dispensationalism. Fear is in their words: their beloved system is collapsing within.
We agree that the prophecies of the Bible do not fail of their purposes. But the prophecies of dispensationalists constantly fail. Again, review the titles listed above. As we have said many times: Dispensationalism is embarrassing itself to death.
I like the way he points out his intended purpose of the article:
In this blog article I will show that dispensationalism’s death is being effected by suicide. Apparently no amount of embarrassment and humiliation has been able to discomfit dispensational pew-sitters. Like the Eloi in “The Time Machine” they mindlessly wander about to their doom. They drift into Christian bookstores and pick up the latest mind-numbing, apocalyptic drivel. Neither wrong rapture dates nor wrong Antichrist spottings phase erstwhile dispensationalists. Their motto is: “Grin and Bear It.” But now we see that suicide might just do the trick. But first let me give a brief history lesson.
But more specifically, he shows how Dr. Chisolm, a professor at DTS, actually shows the Dispensationalism will commit suicide because of the change in the way the prophecy is viewed. Under the current system, every prophecy, according to the Dispy construct, must be fulfilled literally. Chisolm shows that this is not true at all.
The article shows that prophecy is dynamic, intending either to change or encourage the hearers rather than simply to record the future in advance. Chisholm notes that prophecy “announces God’s intentions conditionally and is intended to motivate a positive response” so that “the prophecy’s predictive element is designed to prevent (in the case of judgment announcement) or facilitate (in the case of a salvation announcement) its fulfillment” (p. 563). That is, prophecy has a hortatory dimension, which means that it seeks to encourage good behavior by promising (conditionally!) blessings in the future or to warn against bad behavior by threatening judgment. (Emphasis added).
What this means is that prophecy is not intended to show us the future, but shows us the future based upon continued obedience or lack of repentance. This means that there can be change in the prophecies fulfillment. Think of Jonah’s predication that in 40 days, all of Nineveh would be destroyed. Yet, what happened? Nineveh repented and they were sparred God’s wrath. So did the prophecy fail? Not at all. God was using the prophecy of impending judgment to bring about repentance. The prophecy brought about it’s intended purpose.
Gentry is helping us to see that those in Dispy circles are changing how they view prophecy. They are beginning to see that prophecy isn’t given to tell us the future, but to show us the future if certain conditions are or are not met.
Chisholm provides several other clear evidences of prophecy functioning as a goad to either repentance from sin or continuance in righteousness. This is prophecy’s main point: to either dynamically alter or effectively reinforce a people’s moral/spiritual condition, not to foretell the future for political pundits.
Because of this change, Dispensationalism will eventually fail. But Gentry doesn’t stop there. He shows that the predictions of Israel’s dominance of the world will not be fulfilled because those promises were conditional on her repentance and acceptance of Christ.
I believe Chisholm is correct in his view of the conditional nature and dynamic purpose of prophecy. And if he is correct, dispensationalism is no longer theologically viable.
On Chisholm’s principles we can argue that the future of Israel is not necessarily to involve a return to the land to rule the world and re-establish the temple sacrificial system. The dynamic purpose of Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s future glory were intended to encourage faithfulness. But Israel rejected all of her prophets and then when God finally sent his Son, they said: “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance” (Matt 21:38). As a result, God gave them a final forty years after Christ to repent and turn to him.
Tragically, Israel did not repent and her temple was destroyed in AD 70. As a result, Israel’s prophetic hope of future world-dominion will not be fulfilled in the literal terms of the Old Testament hope. We should not be surprised at this for Jesus himself taught:
“I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 811-12).
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” (Matt 21:43).
This shows us that Israel will not rise up as a nation and rule for 1,000 years. Those days have passed, for Christ is ruling through His Kingdom now and there is no need for Israel, the descendants of Abraham, to rule again. This doesn’t mean that God’s prophecy of such failed. The prophecy wasn’t meant to be kept if the natural descendants were not obedient. It was given to spur on obedience, and the natural descendants failed in this regard.