The Essentials of Dispensationalism

Posted by Matt Postiff July 10, 2008 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Dispensationalism 

Previously, I mentioned four essential components of the Dispensational system of thought. If these are removed from the system, it ceases to be what it is.

One argument that has been used against Dispensationalism is that several of these points are not the exclusive property of Dispensationalism; therefore, it is invalid to use them as essential components, or as Ryrie said, the "sine qua non" of Dispensationalism.

From where I sit, this argument seems quite weak. For one thing, just because some truth is shared between two systems of thought does not mean that that truth cannot be essential to one of the systems. So, for instance, covenant premillennialism recognizes a distinction between Israel and the church. Or, covenant theology generally recognizes that the glory of God is a very important concept. But as I said, the fact that these truths are shared does not eliminate the essential nature of them for Dispensationalism.

For another thing, the sharing of various truths between two systems does not mean that the systems are indistinct. This is because each truth of the system is or should be interpreted in light of the other elements of that system. If we believe that truth coheres together and there is a certain consistency in our system of thought (as there should be if the system of thought at all reflects the Bible, which is totally consistent in itself because of its divine origin), then each part is affected by each other part. For example, Dispensationalism and Covenant theology both give an important place to the idea of covenants. However, Dispensationalism's emphasis on the four essentials I mentioned earlier make its approach to the covenants far different than in Covenant theology.

Thus, the essential components of Dispensationalism stand as essential and distinguishing characteristics of the system even though they or aspects of them are shared with Covenant theology.

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