The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and Dispensationalism’s continued impact on theology and politics

Previously, in “Continuity and discontinuity in the covenants”, I quoted Pascal Denault on the hermeneutical implications of covenant theology versus that of Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism fails to properly and consistently distinguish between the old and new covenants thereby maintaining a special status for unbelieving ethnic Jews and the modern state of Israel as “the apple of God’s eye” even though the old covenant has been abrogated. These descendants of Abraham could become children of Abraham were they to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and thereby be grafted into the new covenant (Rom. 11:23). Apart from this covenantal relationship, however, neither Jew nor Gentile is entitled to the designation “child of God”. As recorded in the Gospel of John, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Lacking justification before God through belief in the gospel, ethnic Jews—just like unbelieving Gentiles—are by nature “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). Christ is the Mediator of a new and better covenant by which the remnant is saved.

To quote Denault again:

“The dispensationalists, for their part, accentuated the discontinuity between the testaments to the point of separating Israel and the church while giving a status as people of God to Israel while abolishing the old covenant (Israel’s covenant). They then find themselves in a theological impasse: on one hand, they affirm the cessation of the Old Testament system during the era of the church; on the other, they must maintain the permanent validity of this system in order to justify the continuity of the existence of Israel as God’s people. This contradiction is the main ambiguity of dispensationalism: the end of the Old Testament at the same time as the maintaining of it. Their solution consists in separating Israel from the church and temporarily putting the former aside during the time of the church while preserving its initial status. This seems to us to be an artificial construction that does not take into account the definitive abolition of the old covenant without the abolition of its promises. These promises were accomplished, unbeknownst to the majority of the Jewish people, in Jesus Christ in the new covenant and, while they first referred to Israel, they do not exclusively concern it, but extend themselves to all nations.” [original post here]

Following logically from what Denault has exposed as the “main ambiguity” of the Dispensational hermeneutic, we are forced to conclude that the evangelical obsession with “all things Israel” popularized by twentieth-century evangelicalism is without theological justification. It is at this point that my Dispensational brethren will often engage in the typical logical fallacy known as abusive ad hominem, denouncing such a proposition and its proponents as “anti-Semitic”. But such is not at all the case since the issue at hand is simply a matter of regarding the superiority of the new covenant over and against the old, as well as the abolition of the latter. Continue reading…

Continuity and discontinuity in the covenants

In one of the best books I’ve ever read, Pascal Denault compares paedobaptist covenant theology with that of the seventeenth-century Baptists. Certainly, not all twenty-first century reformed Baptists hold to the view put forth by the early Particular Baptists (although the endorsements of prominent Baptist theologians are noteworthy), but my motives for reprinting Denault at this point are primarily to show how (1) dispensationalism is an inadequate hermeneutic to compete with covenant theology, and how (2) dispensationalists have often misunderstood (or misconstrued) reformed teaching concerning Israel and the church.

In the discussion, some additional points are made which speak to dispensationalism’s failure to consistently distinguish between the old and new covenants, as well as the superiority of 1689 federalism (compared to paedobaptist federalism) in handling the objections of dispensationalists and the frequently erected strawman of “replacement theology”. Most of the following text was relegated to just a footnote, and yet these points are so vitally important not only to Baptist vs. paedobaptist discussions but to any interaction with dispensationalism as well:

Continue reading…

History no ally to old-earth creationism

Controversy of the Ages (2017) by Theodore J. Cabal and Peter J. Rasor II has been praised by various Christian scholars and displays some noteworthy endorsements. The book is, for the most part, another episode of old-earth creationists rebuking those who insist that the biblical creation narrative be taken literally (while out of the other side of their mouths offering an interpretation that amounts to little more than a condescending, ‘let’s just agree to disagree’).

My review[1] of Controversy of the Ages can be found in the current issue of Journal of Creation. Even though it is of considerable length, I would have been glad to address many additional concerns had space permitted. God willing, in the future I will take up some of those other issues here.

For now, one point that I will reiterate is that ‘six-day creation’ was written into the great seventeenth-century reformed confessions. Continue reading…

Satan bound and loosed

A recent conversation with some wise brethren brought to light a few of the difficulties with the binding and loosing of Satan (Revelation 20) within premillennial and amillennial eschatologies. I found the last chapter of Philip Mauro’s 1922 book, The Hope of Israel: What is it? to be helpful on this subject.

Mauro (1859-1952) was “a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and one of the foremost patent lawyers of his day.” In the famous Scopes trial, it was the argument prepared by Mauro whereby William Jennings Bryan won the case. It is also noteworthy that he “was a passenger on the British ocean liner RMS Carpathia when it rescued the passengers of the Titanic in April 1912.”

Most relevant for our purposes, however, is Mauro’s departure from his early embrace of premillennial dispensationalism and subsequent dismantling of that system. Consider the following from The Hope of Israel: Continue reading…

Contending for the Faith

Below is a video featuring an excerpt from a sermon on Jude 1-4 by Pastor Ed Moore of North Shore Baptist Church in Bayside, NYPast experience tells me that I should issue what should be an unnecessary warning: The embedded media segments of Robert Morris, Steven Furtick, Paula White and Larry Huch are not meant to be endorsements but are included for the purpose of providing examples of gross distortions of Scripture which would have been denounced by every regenerate person in their vast audiences had such heeded the biblical command to earnestly contend for The Faith (Jude 3).

Video by Steve Langella.

Full sermon available here.

Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash

Recovering our Protestant heritage: Why Baptists should honor the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

“The loss of many Baptists to the cause of Protestantism is one reason why Rome has made such gains in the past century in the United States. It is [an] amazing…ignorance that now exists in many Independent Baptist churches and in the mainline Baptist denominations, about the Protestant Reformation…. It is only in the United States, where the majority of Fundamental Baptist Churches are really Plymouth Brethren assemblies, that Baptists claim they are not Protestants.”[1]

There has been a tendency—particularly throughout the twentieth-century—amongst both fundamentalist and reformed Baptists to want to distinguish themselves from Protestantism. Even the revered Charles Spurgeon is recorded as stating:

“We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves….”[2]

Continue reading…

Christopher Columbus and papal proselytization

“Columbus was actuated by a desire to promote the interests of Romanism, when he traversed an unknown sea and discovered this Western World.”[1]

The above proposition, likely common knowledge in 1888 when it was penned by Justin Dewey Fulton, has been largely forgotten or denied in our day. Today it is common knowledge that Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of America had nothing to do with the totalitarian political theory of the Roman Catholic Church-State and all to do with a particular explorer’s spirit of adventure.

So, as another Columbus Day is upon us, I thought it would be of interest to reprint a portion of the great explorer’s conquests, as retold by Walter Montaño. Continue reading…

Book review: Debating the Text of the Word of God, Douglas Wilson vs. James R. White

In 2004, John Robbins and Sean Gerety wrote a rebuttal to Doug Wilson’s inconsistent and indefensible promulgation of the convoluted and very much “not reformed” Federal Vision theology. In that book the authors claim that Wilson “accepts on one page what he rejects on another”[1], is “very adept at inventing misleading analogies and very inept at constructing valid arguments”[2], “and exhibits a “facile glibness and an adolescent smart-aleckness that readers of his magazine and books apparently find attractive”.[3] They go on to say that

“Wilson simply makes a statement and expects his readers to accept it. His thought and writing are episodic and oracular…. Rather than providing valid arguments from true premises, Wilson offers his ‘conviction’ that this or that is so. His appeal to ‘conviction’ fits his irrational, anti-intellectual philosophy, but it carries no probative weight. Rather it reveals Wilson’s intellectual bankruptcy.”[4]

If these seemingly harsh criticisms were true thirteen years ago, it doesn’t seem that much has changed in Wilson’s method of defending errant and groundless assertions and “just-so” statements.

Continue reading…

Rome’s anathemas against those who believe in justification by faith alone

Protestants are often accused of being arrogant, intolerant Catholic-bashing bigots when we point out that Rome’s gospel, being as it is “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9), is a false and damnable one. Many evangelicals today seem to be oblivious to the fact that it was actually the church of Rome whom had officially anathematized Protestants as far back as the sixteenth-century at the Council of Trent. In other words, if we are “Catholic-bashers”, they were “Protestant-bashers” first. It is for this reason that Rome’s not-so-tolerant response to the reawakening of the true gospel was appropriately termed the Counter-Reformation. Naturally, if the gospel of grace which imputes sinners with the righteousness of Christ by virtue of His propitiatory work with no help of the sacramental sorcery of priestcraft, then the church of Rome is out of business.

In actual fact, and in contrast to Rome’s well-documented history of literally bashing Protestant skulls, we do not wish to “bash” anyone but seek to faithfully uphold and proclaim the plain, unequivocal gospel of Christ’s all-sufficient (Hebrews 10:12), once-for-all (1 Peter 3:18) atoning work at Calvary for the sins of God’s elect. Continue reading…