Three Critical Factors Upon which Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology Disagree


A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 9, 2018


Three factors are indispensable to Dispensational Theology. First, Dispensational Theology recognizes the distinction between the nation Israel and the Church. Covenant Theology is convinced that Israel and the church are essentially the same. “The theological liberal, no matter how much he speaks of the Judaistic background of Christianity, recognizes that Christianity is different from Judaism.”[i]

Second, Dispensational Theology, unlike Covenant Theology, uses a single hermeneutic or method of interpreting Scripture—the historical-grammatical method. “If plain or normal interpretation is the only valid hermeneutical principle and if it is consistently applied, it will cause one to be a dispensationalist.”[ii] “Covenant Theologians are well known for their use of nonliteral interpretation, especially when interpreting prophecy, and they are equally well known for their amillennialism, which is only the natural outcome of such a hermeneutic.”[iii] Thus, the 144,000 of Revelation 7 cannot refer “to literal Israel, but the spiritual Israel, or the church, [etc.].”[iv]

Third, Dispensational Theology recognizes that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the demonstration that He alone is the sovereign God, unlike Covenant Theology which advocates that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the redemption of the elect. “[A]lthough Dispensational Theology recognizes that the redemption of elect human beings is a very important part of God’s purpose for history, it is convinced that it is only one part of that purpose.” God is working out many other programs in addition to the program of redeeming people, all of which must be contributing something to the ultimate purpose of history.[v]


Endnotes

[i] Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 52.

[ii] Ryrie, p. 16 see also, Renald E. Showers, There Really Is a Difference: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bellmawr, New Jersey: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1990), p. 53.

[iii] Ryrie, p. 20; Showers, p. 53.

[iv] Ryrie, p. 20, citing George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1956), 126.

[v] Showers, pp. 52-53.

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