Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Am I Dispensational?

3/24/08 Update: No, don't think New Covenant works either, but I might be confused. How does a layperson know? I'd have to go to Bible College to figure this out - or give up my day job as a wife and mother to read up on everything. I really don't know how people can do this. I thought I'd take what I have found to ring true and it would fit nicely into a theology - but not so. Apparently, amongst many other considerations, I have to figure out the book of Revelation to choose an official theology. Can't really see that happening in my lifetime! Faith really is personal, huh? ;)

3/14/08 Update: I've been looking at distinguishing theologies and think what I have described is more closely related to the New Covenant view. Still looking - not sure I will find a label close enough to cheer for.

I dodge labels. I have all my life. But lately, I find a (unwise?) desire to locate a group - if not a label - that best fits my theology. To my travail, I have finally been challenged to understand some of the theological terminology that I have not to this point been educated on. One term I have heard bandied about most often is "dispensational." And the current discussions going on at Rose's are kind of dependent on some understanding of it. Initially, based on the meanings I knew of the term itself, I thought it might have meant a belief in how God distributes salvation. But as I read conversations, the implication proved false. Then using my understanding of the term along with contextual evidences in conversations, I deduced that it was a belief in breaking down the history of the Bible by the reigning laws of God for man. I think this was a fairly accurate assumption for so little real knowledge, but there is still much to know.

I don't really understand if these dispensational periods indicate different content requirement for saving faith, or simply the stages of revelation until Christ.

Here's my take. Let me know if you think I am dispensational or not. Would I fit in with that group or would I be thrown to the curb?

I don't always think that sin is what separates us from God. I often think that sin is the symptom of the disease that separates us from God - that not believing what God promises, such as "Eat the fruit of this tree and you will surely die," is what separates us from God. Sometimes I imagine that Adam and Eve ignorantly did many of the things we consider "sin" today, and God lovingly instructed and trained them as they trusted him to help them mature. But when they decided to trust the serpent and doubt God's promise, they acted in disbelief of that promise. That promise was more complicated than Adam & Eve were aware of. Obviously they did not seem to die at that moment, but they would. God knew this. They had chosen to trust themselves to decide what is right and wrong instead of God, and there was no turning back.

Have you ever been in a relationship where distrust entered in? How does that affect your relationship? Have you ever worked to bring that relationship back around to trusting? It takes sacrifice, doesn't it? I was trying to get some feedback on my previous post about sin as barrier between God and man, but no takers. With the lack of readers, I guess I have free reign to work this out. :)

Anyway, with this premise, I might understand that saving faith is believing God's promises and not acting in unbelief. I believe that God issued several promises in time that might have changed the "content" of what is to be believed, but at the heart of it was simple trust in God's promise. I have considered that there are some universal promises and some individual promises, and many of the universal promises were issued as a result of the trust ensuing in those individual promises. Consider God's covenant with Abraham, who believed in God's promise of a son and thus entered into a covenant that included all Abraham would add to it.

The universal promises I've identified align pretty well with the 7 dispensational periods I have read about online recently. Ironically (not really, because God knew this already!) each of these promises lead directly to the true fulfillment of all those promises - the Messiah - who issues the final and eternal promise of a reborn eternal life. It would seem that each age has it's specific promise to believe in, but Jesus is truly the fulfillment of all those promises.

I am still working through this. I might have found a tentative label, but I suspect that even if I chose to wear it, it would fall off occasionally. :)


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

It is not clear from your post whether you are Dispensational or not.

A Dispensationalist believes that:

1) Christ's coming will establish a thousand year reign over the earth (though one may believe this without being Dispensational).

2) God's dealings with Israel and the Church may be distinguished in history. The Church is not viewed as a continuation of God's dealings with the nation of Israel.

Another Voice said...

Thanks, Matthew. As I have just begun to read about dispensationalism, I haven't gotten to or clearly understand those issues yet.

On 1 - I have no clue what I think about prophecies and revelations of the future. I get so much of the simple stuff wrong, I am afraid to speculate. :)

On 2 - Does that mean that you would believe that the church is not those numbered among Abraham's promised descendents or that the church is among those descendents, but under a new covenant?

Rose~ said...

It was interesting to read your thoughts on this.

Here is a chart that is kind of interesting:

Thelogy Chart

Another Voice said...

Thanks, Rose. That is interesting.

Glenn W said...

Hi Missy,

I just followed a link from Rose's blog over to your's and saw this post. I don't generally comment on blogs any more but I love to point people to some of the web reference material I have collected over time. You may find this paper titled WHAT IS DISPENSATIONALISM? helpful. The paper is found on a dispensational web site so it, of course, is not critical of the dispensational viewpoint (I am also dispensational, if you want to find anti-dispensationalists there are a ton of them on the web.)

I see I got to the party a few weeks late but I hope you find this of use.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Oh, this was ages ago.

"Does that mean that you would believe that the church is not those numbered among Abraham's promised descendents or that the church is among those descendents, but under a new covenant?"

Dispensationalists would not deny that they are spiritual sons of Abraham through faith. However, they would regard the Abrahamic Covenant as being for Israel, Abrahams' physical descendents.

There are a number of different dispensational views on the New Covenant. However, they would all regard it as having promises that are specifically for Israel.

God Bless


Another Voice said...

Thank you Glen, that was useful.

And thanks, Matthew, for returning to answer my questions.