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Jan 31, 2006

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Neil

With the current dominance of dispensational thinking within the US churches, thanks to the influence of Dallas Seminary and the Southern Baptists in particular, it is an important reminder that this system has no place in the reformed tradition. More than that it is a "new" system with no strong roots in the history of the church.

Michael Kruse

Dating back to the 1830s to be precise. The eschatology article goes into this a little. I think the Scofield Bible did a lot to popularize dispensationalism as well.

will spotts

I don't think it would be quite accurate to say "Dispensational thinking dominates in the US." Most of dispensationalism (e.g. separate modes of salvation, separate tasks or tests, etc.) is rarely expressed. What is dominant is the exposition of certain prophetic texts that are heavily influenced by dispensationalism. Most holding to this "exposition" do not hold the theological views Presbyterians label heretical. It is not their pre-milennialism or their selective literal interpretation that can be faulted on the basis of the "reformed tradition". (Though these can be argued to be a misinterpretation. That is a very different thing from the heresy charge usually referrenced.)

I am particularly startled (as I am every time I read that report) by the curious sentence, "Third, it makes Divine Election absolute, and freedom of the human will is actually lost in the detailed chart of established future events." That is listed as one of the draws of dispensationalism -- but it seems to suggest that this is a "problem". Why would this be startling? Presbyterians historically always emphasized God's sovereignty and election over human will. One could hardly say such an understanding was "unreformed".

Michael Kruse

Good observations. I think you are right that full blow dispensationalism is not wide spread. Also, I friend told me last week that 85-90% of those reading the "Left Behind" books do not subscribe to the theology.

Of course, for those who know little of Christianity and read these books, there is the danger of thinking that what they describe is mainstream Christian thinking. Particularly since no other alternative ever seems to be put before the public or even in churches.

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