Print Friendly and PDF

I LEFT DISPENSATIONALISM BEHIND

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  April 30, 2014 — 3 Comments
Rapture 0ut photo

From 1966 until 1975 I was a dispensationalist. I was attracted to the movement because it boasted of a consistent biblical outlook, which could explain the times. I was saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ at a dispensationalist youth camp in Boca Raton, Florida; I attended a dispensationalist church (Calvary Bible Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee) pastored by my dispensationalist uncle (Rev. John S. Lanham); I graduated from a dispensationalist college (Tennessee Temple University, Chattanooga, Tennessee) with a degree in Bible; I attended a dispensationalist seminary for two years (Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana); and I even owned a loose-leaf New Scofield Reference Bible, filled with all the notes necessary to make and keep one a dispensationalist.

In many ways it was great being a dispensationalist, yet also frustrating. It was great to know we had the reasons for the problems of modern society. It was frustrating that as a Christian I was not expected to have any hope of successfully promoting any biblical solution to those problems, even though I was taught that the earth is the Lord’s and the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. At the age of 20 I even turned down a life insurance policy because I was convinced that I would not be around long enough to have a family that would need it. My college days were lived “with anticipation, with excitement” because I thought “we should be living like persons who don’t expect to be around much longer” (Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, 145). I wish I could take some of the courses over: I was around long enough for graduation day to come.

While studying at Grace Theological Seminary, two influences converged causing me to reject dispensationalism. The first was my researching a paper on the Lordship Controversy. This led to my discovery of the significance of the Acts 2 enthronement passage, which shook my dispensationalism to its very foundation. The second was the discovery at about the same time of O. T. Allis’ Prophecy and the Church. This work bulldozed the residue of my collapsed dispensationalism. A couple of friends of mine (Rev. Alan McCall and Mr. Barry Bostrom, Esq.) and I not only soon departed dispensationalism but transferred from Grace Seminary to Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. Previously we had been partial Calvinists, now we had become fully reformed, hence non-dispensational.


Against Dispensationalism (DVDs by Jerry Johnson)
Provide deep insights into both dispensationalism’s errors, as well biblical eschatology itself.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


At Reformed Seminary I took two courses that initially seemed implausible and misguided extravagance. The courses were “History and Eschatology” (in which was defended postmillennialism) and “Christian Theistic Ethics” (in which was set forth theonomic ethics). Both of these courses were taught by my co-author, Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen.

Regarding the eschatological question, even though I was no longer a dispensationalist I had assumed Pentecost, Lindsey, and other dispensationalists were correct in affirming “postmillennialism finds no defenders or advocates in the present chiliastic discussions within the theological world”(J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, 387; cp. Lindsey, Late Great, 176). Unfortunately, I still had dispensational blinders on my eyes, for in the very era in which Pentecost’s book was published (1958) there were at least four notable works in defense of postmillennialism–one of them endorsed by the famed, orthodox Old Testament scholar, O. T. Allis: J. Marcellus Kik’s, Matthew Twenty-Four (1948) and Revelation Twenty (1955), Roderick Campbell’s Israel and the New Covenant (Introduction by O. T. Allis, 1954), and Loraine Boettner’s The Millennium (1957).

And how could anyone believe in the applicability of Old Testament law to modern culture? The notion was even more far-fetched to me than the idea of victory of the Gospel in history. Dispensational constructs still haunted my mind.


Dispensational Distortions (3 CDs)
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Reformed introduction to classic dispensationalism, with analysis of leading flaws regarding
the Church, kingdom, redemptive history, and Christ.
Helpful for demonstrating errors to dispensationalists.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


In both of the aforementioned courses I continued in steadfast opposition to the professor through almost half of each of the courses. You might say that I “kicked against the pricks.” But in both courses I was eventually swayed by the sheer force of biblical exegesis and consistent theological analysis. I went into these courses as an anti-theonomic amillennialist; I came out as theonomic postmillennialist. I date my adherence to Christian Reconstructionism to 1977. My reformed theology was now complete; with the Westminster Divines I could cite Old Testament case laws alongside of New Testament passages for divine insight into the resolution of moral issues and I could turn to the Old and New Testament prophetic hope for a proper understanding of the Gospel Victory Theme of eschatology. In short, I could apply the whole of Scripture to the whole of life in confident anticipation of all glory being Christ’s in His world.

I left dispensationalism behind. Shouldn’t you?

Print Friendly and PDF

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Posts

Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

3 responses to I LEFT DISPENSATIONALISM BEHIND

  1. Answer: YES

    I was raised dispensationalist as well. And the difficulty for me is that I still attend a dispensationalist church. Since my conversion (if I can use that word) to Postmillennialism I have been pretty much viewed as a heretic. Their convictions are confirmed when they hear that I am also a Preterist. Its a double whammy. However I believe the Lord will use me there to influence others in the right direction by showing them (whenever I can) the errors in dispensationalism.

    This website is a great encouragement for me. Thanks Ken.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. April 30, 2014 at 6:30

      Just remember: The same God who brought you out of this false construct brings out others. And remember 1 Tim 2:24: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.”

  2. Dr. Gentry,

    Thanks for posting your story. I was raised in the dispensational capital of the world (Dallas) and was never aware that anything existed outside of dispensationalism unless you were a liberal. I will never forget the time I was working through a “End Times Prophecy” work book by Tim LaHaye and his explanation of Isaiah 65 was quiet perplexing. He said that all non-Christians will die at age 100 in the millennium. I was so confused. How can this passage be about the millennium and people still die? How can there be death on the earth if Christ is physically reigning in Jerusalem?

    Your explanation of Post-Millennialism made all the pieces of the bible come together for me.

    Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>