Copyright © November 22, 2015
Note. See Dispensational Theology versus Covenant Theology as well as the first four sections of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application for an accurate explanation (not the perversions of the doctrine which many follow) of the origin, definition, etc. of the term “Dispensational Theology.”
This short article gives questions to help the knowledgeable believer and the believer who wishes to become knowledgeable determine what he believes and why; specifically whether he is a Covenant Theologian, a Dispensational Theologian (both as defined in the article above) or some variation thereof.
Many more questions could be added, but these few will help one determine whether he believes Covenant Theology or some aspects of that theology. One who answers all the questions “yes” is a Covenant Theologian. Should you answer some questions yes and some questions no, you have inconsistent and mutually exclusive beliefs. Some of these questions are rather difficult and you may not be able to answer them with your present knowledge and understanding of the Bible and theology. If so, just skip those questions and answer the ones you do understand.
- Do you believe that the rules for church and state and for the Jewish religion-state are the same?
- Do you make important dispensational distinctions even though you view them as related to the unifying and underlying Covenant of Grace?
- Do you see the present struggle between good and evil terminated by the beginning of eternity at which point there will come catastrophe and divine judgment?
- Do you believe that the unifying principle for the philosophy of history is the Covenant of Grace?
- Do you believe that the redemption of the elect plus many other programs are all parts of God’s purpose for history?
- Are you convinced that Israel and the church are essentially the same?
- Do you believe in a nonliteral interpretation of Scripture, especially when interpreting prophecy?
- Are you amillennial?
- Do you believe that the church/state union (a one world church/state) will be achieved and will succeed in bringing peace to the earth before the return of Christ?
- Do you believe that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the redemption of the elect?
- Do you develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of two or three covenants: the Covenant of Redemption (some covenant theologians do not include this covenant), the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace? [Note. One definition of “philosophy of history” is “a systematic interpretation of universal history in accordance with a principle by which historical events and successions are unified and directed toward ultimate meaning.” Of course, that definition requires some thinking to understand. If you wish to know whether you are or are not a Covenant Theologian, you should be able to understand it.]
- Do you believe that person who is a child of the regenerate is a member of the Covenant of Grace even if he does not enter into the communion of life aspect through a confession of faith?
- Have you divided postfall history into two dispensations, the Mosaic dispensation sometimes called the “Old Covenant,” and the Christian dispensation, usually called the “New Covenant”?
- Do you believe that the Covenant of Grace, although administration of that covenant differed between the dispensations, exists throughout these dispensations?
- Do you believe that each of the biblical covenants is a continuation and newer phase of the Covenant of Grace?
- Do you believe in dual covenants? (I.e., that the Covenant of Works required obedience for salvation. According to the Covenant of Grace one could only be saved by faith in Christ.)
- If your answer to 16 was “yes” then is the Covenant of Works still in effect?
- Do you believe that God’s commands are “too severe even for Adam in innocency, and that grace[, through the covenant of circumcision and its successor, baptism,] gives an exemption from that severity,” under the Covenant of Grace?
- Do you believe that the local church should be made up of both those who are under the Covenant of Works as well as those who are under the Covenant of Grace?
- Do you believe that all in society should be forced to be members of a church which is united with and supported by the state?
- Do you believe in infant baptism?
- Do you believe in union of church and state?
- Do you believe in enforcing all the Ten Commandments?
- Do you believe in executing those who do not agree with your theology, at least outwardly?
- Do you believe in forcing all to attend the established church?
These matters are most important because the road to religious freedom without persecution in America was a story of the conflict between opposing Bible beliefs and practices – between the persecutors (Covenant Theologians such as the Anglicans and the Puritans or Congregationalists) and the persecuted. Because the same theologies are at war today, a believer actively engaged in spiritual warfare should make sure he is fighting according to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom on all fronts and especially on the front of accurate Bible teaching.
The history without the theologies involved is incomplete and inadequate. The battle between false theology and truth is still raging. To side with the false in even some areas dishonors our Lord and leads to bad consequences. It is better to fight for right no matter what, but so doing without knowing and teaching the reasons for the fight and the Bible precepts behind the war, and exposing lies and false theologies does not fully glorify God. Failure of God’s soldiers to proclaim all truth contributes to the cause of those who are pushing spiritual lies. All believers should seek to be in God’s perfect will even though one knows that he will never perfectly achieve such a thing.
As is obvious from a reading of Dispensational Theology versus Covenant Theology as well as God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, those Baptists who led the charge for religious freedom were well studied in their beliefs, exposed the doctrines and practices of their Covenant Theology adversaries, and very articulately published their positions. Let us look to our examples, those historic Baptists who stood for truth and followed the teachings of the Bible no matter the cost.