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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  2 Comments
Israel in Bible

The function of Israel in the Bible is an important issue for students of Scripture. Unfortunately, confusion reigns supreme on this vital question. In this article I am opening a brief series on the question of Israel from a biblical (rather than emotional or political) perspective. I hope the series is helpful.

As I open I want to drive home the significance of this question to the eschatological debate between postmillennialism and dispensationalism. Dispensationalism dominates the current discussion among Christians-in-the-pew. Sadly most evangelical Christians today get their understanding of Israel from novels rather than Scripture. The view of Israel that they hold is truly fictional. Let us see why.

The leading distinctive of dispensational theology is Israel’s role as God’s separate and special people. This is true both in its classic and progressive forms. In fact, as Poythress suggests, this theological presupposition is probably the raison d’etre of the literalistic hermeneutic: “The dualism of Israel and the church is, in fact, the deeper dualism determining when and where the hermeneutical dualism of ‘literal’ and ‘spiritual’ is applied.” Non-dispensational evangelical exegetes — including historic premillennialists — broadly agree against dispensationalism’s radical Israel/church dichotomy.

Non-dispensationalists must grasp dispensationalism’s understanding of Israel, for herein lies the system’s fundamental error. This crucial mistake entirely destroys the flow of redemptive history, the unity of God’s people, our understanding of prophetic fulfillment, and proper hermeneutic theory.

Ryrie points to the distinctiveness of Israel as the first of the three sine qua non of dispensationalism: “A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct.” Elsewhere, he provides even more detail:

(1) The Church is not fulfilling in any sense the promises to Israel. (2) The use of the word Church in the New Testament never includes unsaved Israelites. (3) The Church Age is not seen in God’s program for Israel. It is an intercalation. (4) The Church is a mystery in the sense that it was completely unrevealed in the Old Testament and now revealed in the New Testament. (5) The Church did not begin until the day of Pentecost and will be removed from this world at the rapture which precedes the Second Coming of Christ.

Yet, the Scripture does not support such theological assertions, as we will see in this series.

Greatness of the Great Commission (by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.)
An insightful analysis of the full implications of the great commission
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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.


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.

2 responses to ISRAEL IN THE BIBLE

  1. Looking forward to the series.

  2. I am looking forward to this series as this issue is the linchpin of dispensationalism.

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