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.
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?