Dispensationalists see God as pursuing two distinct purposes throughout history, one related to an earthly goal and an earthly people (the Jews), the other to heavenly goals and a heavenly people (the church).1
At first glance, it seems OK regarding Christianity, although perhaps an over-simplification. One problem is that it is dividing things into earthly and heavenly, but such a division might not be absolute. After all, we can talk about earthly pains versus spiritual ones, but Christ healed people of both.
It's true that God had an earthly goal for example to create a certain society in the Old Testament related to Jews, but it wasn't his only goal. After all, there were other empires and peoples who had ideas about God. There were also other monotheist peoples like Zoroastrians. So it's an over-simplification to make an absolutist idea that God had just one big earthly idea. But on the other hand, it isn't wrong either absolutely, because God does apparently have some earthly goals related to an earthly people. Of course, he had goals related to other earthly people too. Plus, yes, OK, he had heavenly goals related to the Church, but here, the Church isn't necessarily separate from Jews, because Jewish people sometimes join the church.
Dispensationalists believe that in the Old Testament God promised the Jewish people an earthly kingdom ruled by Messiah ben David, and that when Christ came He offered this prophesied kingdom to the Jews. When the Jews of the time rejected Christ and the earthly kingdom, the promise was postponed, and the "mystery form" of the kingdom - the church - was established.
Likewise, here it makes sense at first glance. When certain Jews rejected Christ, OK, it was postponed for them. But for others it wasn't, as Jesus said to the thief for example that this
day he would be in paradise, which is immediate-sounding. Likewise, St Paul talked about someone who he knew who was caught up to the Third heaven.
Plus, there seems to be a big misunderstanding here: "when Christ came He offered this prophesied kingdom to the Jews. When the Jews of the time rejected Christ and the earthly kingdom"
The problem is that Christ himself said his kingdom wasn't of this world. One alleged problem with their rejection was that they were expecting an earthly kingdom, and didn't recognize that Christ was saying his kingdom wasn't of this world. The dispensationalists it would seem were making a similar mistake in their expectation.
Also, regarding the statement "the "mystery form" of the kingdom - the church - was established":
it doesn't appear that the church, especially the early Church, was God's people in more of a "mystery form" than the ancient Jews themselves were in some pre-Christian times: they both believed and tried to follow God, kept the scriptures, etc. They are people who really identify themselves as Christians and with the religion that worships God.
The church, according to dispensational doctrine, was unforeseen in the Old Testament and constitutes a "parenthesis" in God's plan for Israel. In the future, the distinction between Jew and Gentile will be reestablished and will continue throughout all eternity.
The first sentence is weird and sounds incorrect, because in Christianity, Isaiah 53 and Zechariah specifically talk about the Messiah's rejection. Isaiah 53-54 talks about the Messiah's spiritual seed, and Zechariah 11,13 together talks about God's people being tested after the Good Shepherd's smiting. So such an idea as God's people after the rejection, and those loyal to the Messiah does appear to exist in the Old Testament.
The second sentence is weird and sounds incorrect too, because St Paul writes how about in Christ there is no Greek or Jew. So it isn't clear to me what is the importance of the difference they are talking about, since both will be saved. Plus, it goes against St Paul's reasoning that gentile Christians have been adopted and that adoption is as good as biological descent. Since all are one in Jesus, according to Paul, the dispensationalist idea would require some kind of spiritual separation from Jesus.
After all, if the dispensationalism is only talking about a difference between Jews and gentiles in an earthly sense, then it should be obvious to dispensationalists that such an earthly distinction already exists, with distinct ethnic, cultural, and ritualistic differences, including apparently the Jewish "Messianic" sects within Christian.
This sounds somewhat doubtful:
The "parenthesis", or church age, will end at the rapture when Christ comes invisibly to take all believers (excepting OT saints) to heaven to celebrate the "marriage feast of the Lamb" with Christ for a period of seven years.2
because they are measuring a heavenly feast in seven earthly years, plus they are excluding OT saints from a celebration with Christ, which sounds like a loss for the saints who are in heaven.
OK, well the following sounds possible
God's program for the Jews then resumes with the tribulation, Antichrist, bowls of wrath, 144,000 Jews preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and Armageddon. Then, the Second (third, if you count the preTrib rapture) Coming, the instantaneous conversion of the entire nation of Israel, the resurrection of the Tribulation and Old Testament saints, and the "sheep and goats" judgment. The "goats" will be cast into hell, the "sheep" and the believing Jews will enter the millennium in natural human bodies, marrying, reproducing, and dying. The "mystery church" and the resurrected Tribulation and Old Testament saints will live in the heavenly Jerusalem suspended above the earthly city. This millennium will be a time of great peace and prosperity, with Christ ruling on David's throne. After 1,000 yrs. Satan will be released from the chain with which he had been bound at the beginning of the millennium and many of the children born to the "sheep" and the Israelites will follow him in revolt against Christ. The King will again destroy His enemies, followed by another resurrection of the righteous, another resurrection of the unrighteous, a final judgment, and at last the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Except that it sounds like fantasy, plus it has very unsual-sounding ideas like several resurrections and judgments. It seems to me that it could just be taking literally some poetic images that weren't meant to be taken literally, since the images here sound like fantasy, which is poetic with figures and images. For example, the "New Earth" could mean that the earth was destroyed completely and then a new one made, or that the earth was transformed into something new, which sounds nice. Another problem is that because the images sound extreme and fantastic, I feel that they should have consulted Church tradition to form their view, but I assume they didn't rely on it much because revivalist protestants seem to avoid such serious reliance.
Like you wrote here:
Although premillennial thought has been recorded in the early church, dispensational theology and its pursuant eschatology are new, as even the father of the system admitted -
Sounds like there is plenty in this dispensationalist novelty to challenge Orthodox thinking.
I think that's true if Orthodox take it serious: there are alot of challenges to comparing and contrasting Orthodox views with it. But especially with their apocalyptic futurist ideas, one of the big problems is their failure to consider church authority in interpreting the scriptural sources of the ideas, since I assume they get their ideas from scripture, and in particular prophetic parts of scripture. Prophetic places like Revelations are better interpreted with the church authority of traditions, because it would show the traditional view handed down by the Christian community about the passages, more likely adding accuracy to an interpetation.Peace
You made a great and incisive rebuttal to dispensationalist ideas in your post:
Oh, there's plenty wrong with Dispensationalism, all right.
Take for example the crzay spin it puts on the "Sheep and Goats" judgment of Matthew 25:31-46.
All Christians before Darby read that passage as referring to the Last Judgment at the end of time, as we Orthodox still do.
Dispensationalists say, "not so," however. They teach that Matthew 25:31-46 refers to a judgment of "nations" that occurs when Jesus returns, at the end of the so-called "Great Tribulation."
Whole nations will be judged based upon their treatment of the 144,000 Jews of the Tribulation.
Those who gave aid to the 144K will be saved. Those who failed to aid them or actively mistreated them will be damned.
Since when has God judged entire nations rather than individuals?
Do Dispensationalists really believe that if the UK sends foreign aid to the "remnant of Israel" all the inhabitants of Great Britain will be saved, regardless of their faith or lack thereof?
What if the government of Bulgaria neglects this "remnant" of 144K? Will every last Bulgarian man, woman, and child be eternally damned, regardless of his or her faith?
How else can God judge nations as nations?
This is utter tripe!
The Dispensationalists had to come up with this contrived interpretation because otherwise Matthew 25:31-46 shatters their whole system (which it in fact does).
If Jesus resurrects and judges everyone on the LAST DAY, then there is no room for all the different resurrections and judgments that must take place for the millenial schemes of the Dispensationalists to work.
But Jesus said he will raise up ALL those who believe in Him on the LAST DAY (John 6:39-40,44,54), and that He will judge everyone on that same Day (John 12:48).
He did not say he would raise some of them up at a secret "Rapture" 1,007 years (the 7-year Tribulation + the millenium) before the Last Day.
What is really especially heretical about Dispensationalism is that each of its 7 Dispensations has a different plan of salvation!
It is amazing how this whole whacky scheme has wormed its way into Evangelical Protestantism.
Perhaps a counter-rebuttal could be made, but I think that you have shown that their view goes against the sense
of the scriptures, by judging individuals based on their nation in the final judgment.
Dispensationalists see literal, fleshly Israel as the main actor in God's program, with the Church as a mere "parenthesis."
That's too bad they see the Church as less than the main actor, because the Church is the Body of Christ in Christianity, that is, a primary actor.
Also, it's weird and sounds wrong that
They have literal Jews reinstituting temple sacrifices in the literal millenium following the second Second Coming of Christ (the first Second Coming having occurred at the Rapture).
, because Christ was supposed to be the sacrifice, so it doesn't make sense that there would be other sacrifices after he conquered in the Second Coming.
On the other hand, it makes sense when they reason:
They also see the cross as something that "became necessary" only because the Jews rejected the kingdom offered them by Jesus. Had the Jews "accepted Jesus" at His first coming, say the Dispies, the cross would not have been needed!
If they had always repented and accepted the Messiah, he could have found another way to redeem them, I believe.
I also disagree with their idea as you described:
For example, according to Dispenstionalists, the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to Christians during the Church Age or even to the people to whom Jesus was speaking, but only to the Jews of the Great Tribulation.
, because Christ presented it as if it's a new commandment for everyone, and he spoke in all-encompassing terms like "Blessed are the Poor". He didn't just say "Blessed are the Poor who are Jews of the Tribulation." Rather he set such things forth as a principle.Kind Regards
Regarding dispensationalism, it could be a heresy, in that it appears to conflict with correct Christian teachings, as Linus7 showed. But on the other hand, it may not be so extreme that someone couldn't be properly called a Christian, or that a regular Orthodox who took some of the ideas would have to be expelled.
it sounds weird here:
Mid-Acts Dispensationalism, on the other hand, come very close to heresy. (one form of this dispensationalism, for example, says that a new dispensation began with the Apostle Paul in Acts 9--the dispensation of Grace--and that Paul's teaching was different than the teachings of Jesus and the 12 Apostles, who had taught salvation by works. Supposedly, when Israel didn't repent, God decided to go with grace instead, and therefore the teachings of the 12 and our Lord himself were valid only in the previous dispensation).
This sounds like they are going alot further with sola fide then necessary. In my opinion the differences in emphasis that I know of are reconcilable between St Paul and the Apostles on the question.Take Care
The dispensationalist ideas are often cited by evangelicals when explaining their support, so I agree with you when you write:
c) It should be quite obvious how this system of thought has influenced evangelical protestantism in it's support of Zionism and an at least latent support of Talmudism (without even wanting to consider how anti-Christian either of these things in fact is.)
Except that Zionism, depending on its definition, isn't necessarily anti-Christian. It could simply mean a movement of a return of Jewish people to Zion, the Holy Land, without necessarily involving the creation of a political state with certain qualities, and without necessarily involving religious aspects that oppose Christianity, I believe.Peace