Old Doxoblogy

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Losing my Religion Redux part 5

Awaking from my tryptophan induced coma I realized that the passage of time had exceeded my planned vacation from blog posting. So to remedy this I have decided to finish the history of my migration from Dispensationalism to Reformed Theology. Of which I am sure some are saying: Finally!

Well I ate it all up. I picked up all of Hal Lindsey's books I bought a Ryrie study bible. All my answers in any bible study I consulted the notes before I ventured any answers. The pastor at the church was an old time Southern Baptist and under his influence I was rebaptized (which I am sure relieves any concerns of my Baptist brothers since I started out a Lutheran) and things continued on like that for quite some time and then the church split. I went with the separatists since I thought their reasoning was more scriptural. But the church they formed didn't last so I wound up at a little Bible Church (Again Baptist only not called that. I mean really have you ever seen any "non-denominational" "bible" churches that practice paedobaptism?) whose pastor was a teacher at the local bible school ( it eventually would become Moody Northwest). It was there I met Ted Campbell.

Now Ted was a student at the bible school with ideas about becoming a missionary to Ireland. And he taught karate. I had always screwed around with martial arts and I had hesitated from doing anything like that again because of some teachings I had received that taught that bowing that happened in karate classes was the worship of false gods. (Charismatic influences). But Ted assured me that what he taught was divorced from eastern philosophy and was in fact an American version of T'ang Soo Do. There wasn't a Buddhist shrine, nobody bowed to the founders photo, in fact the only bows were to the instructor and the American flag. So I sat in and yes there was nothing that offended my conscience so I became a pupil. I prospered under the teachings until I gained the rank of first gup (red with two stripes equivalent to a third degree brown belt for Japanese systems; just under a black belt rank) but injuries kept me from attaining my black belt. (Someone I was sparring, full contact, took my knee and turned it around 180 degrees, makes it difficult if not impossible to do the jump kicks when the knee won't hold up.) I also went with Ted and did demonstrations where we would break bricks and wood and Ted would give his testimony. That was my ministry for a number of years. It ended when Ted's marriage dissolved.

It was around that time that I was wandering through the local Christian book store and I spotted this title:

Dispensationalism: Rightly dividing the people of God? by Keith Mathison.

I don't know why I picked this book up. For that matter I don't know why this book was in that particular store since it carries mostly dispensational theology books. And hardly any books of substance. You know the type a million Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and maybe one by R.C. Sproul and the only reason its there is because I put it on hold.

But I picked it up and I decided to buy it and read it. And I got mad. I mean really how dare this, this Mathison fellow tell me that the last decade of my life was based upon a faulty theology. So I reread it, I mean if your going to rebut and argument you have to know the argument right? (I realize that isn't the popular theory now [take a look at the guys debating Steve Hays and Paul Manata at Triablogue for the latest theory in practice] but its how I was taught back in the stone age) So I read it again. And then I did something I had never done before I read about the history of the Christian church. That was a mistake Christian History tended to agree with Keith Mathison's statement about the age of Dispensational theology. Well then I started to really examine the Bible verses that Mathison had used, I mean really examine them. And I wasn't really comforted by what I was reading. It didn't seem to follow what I had previously been taught. In fact it seemed to be the direct opposite. Yet there it was in the Word of God. So I bought another book by R.C. Sproul and I read that, and I realized that "salvation was of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). This caused me to re-evaluate what I had been taught about Man's free will. I knew I no longer believed that. During this time I started searching the Internet for Reformed Theology. And I came across some great websites. They had things like Jonathen Edwards, and John Owens works on them. They ruined me. I could no longer hold to Dispensationalism and the dystopian world view that taught me that all of God's purposes end up in failure. (Check it out for yourself, why do the dispensations end? Does anyone really pass the test? Even in the millennium?) Instead I saw the progressive revelation of God to man that would culminate in His glorious restoration of all things into what they were originally and even better.

Well that settled it for me. So I knew I had to make a change. Now, here's a clue for those of you persuaded to change your views. Don't do what I did. I went home and started examining all my books everything that was obviously dispensational in its view (all of Lindsey's books say) I threw out. This tends to to make the wife look at you strangely especially if everytime you toss a book you are muttering "Crap, its all crap." With a strange gleam in your eyes. Not the best way to do things, your wife may think you've gone over the edge.

And that is how I became Reformed.


bluecollar said...

Peter, thanks so much for this series. I loved it. My path is somewhat different than yours. I have not yet read those books that expose the errors of Dispyism. Any recommendations? Recommend all that you know to exist.

Peter D. Nelson said...

Mark, you don't mind if I use your first name do you I've been calling you Blue for so long now I thought I'd actually look up your id. Anyway the book I referred to is good but this is the best one I've read: Understanding Dispensationalists by Vern S. Poythress. That one does an excellent job in looking at the differences and showing what covenant theologians believe.

bluecollar said...

Peter, please call me Mark, yes that's fine.

Thanks for the recommendation.

D.J. Cimino said...

That is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone that is questioning Dispensationalism.

Anonymous said...

No negative comments yet?

Either the Dispensationalists are really polite or they have long ago abandoned this blog.

No negativity here! Thanks for the series. You're making me think about doing more Biblical Theology type posts.

C.T. Lillies said...

Good one Pete. I wasn't a dispensationalist, just a plain old Southern Baptist--now reformed.


"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Fundamentally Reformed said...

I really enjoyed this series, Peter. Thanks for sharing it.

I have read Mathison's book too. I think he overstates his case sometimes, and doesn't accurately convey the dispy side of things at times, but he does cut to the heart of the whole debate. And the Scriptures he uses are great.

For me, it was seeing Rom. 4:13 coupled with 4:16 that devastated dispensationalism. 4:13a "For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world..." 4:16 "That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring--not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." And then Gal. 3 (vs. 9, 14, 29) put the nails in dispensationalism's coffin for me.

I am currently reading through O. Palmer Robertson's book The Christ of the Covenants and I highly recommend it. Some of these books would also be good for this issue.

Lastly, let me recommend a great article on this issue which discusses the way the Old Testament itself treats the promises of the covenants. It is written by a friend of mine, Nathan Pitchford, who also contributes to Reformation Theology. In fact he just posted that article over there this week, you can access it by clicking on its title: "Land, Seed, and Blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant".