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ISRAEL IN DISPENSATIONALISM

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  April 4, 2012 — 2 Comments

Israel plays an important role in Scripture. She represents God’s people throughout most of the Old Testament: she is God’s elect nation (Deut 7:7–8 ; 10:15; Zech 2:8; Rom 3:1–3; 11:1), the focal point of his redemptive mercies in history (Deut 4:7–8; Psa 147:19–20; Amos 3:2; Rom 9:4). Because of her commanding presence in old covenant history and central role in Old Testament prophecy she becomes a crucial issue in eschatological inquiry.

The leading distinctive of dispensational theology is that ethnic Israel remains God’s key and favored people who star in his major plan for history. This view of Israel involves dispensationalism in its most destructive error. All of dispensational theology orbits around Israel as its theological center of gravity.

Unfortunately, the place of Israel in the dispensational construct dams up the flow of redemptive history causing severe back-flow problems. This problem dissolves the unity of God’s people (by creating two peoples of God in history) and drowns out a proper understanding of prophetic expectation (by redemptively exalting geo-political Israel as the center of God’s kingdom and retrogressively re-instituting blood sacrifices history’s final and highest redemptive period).

I will briefly present this error as explicated by dispensationalism’s leading scholar, Charles C. Ryrie. Ryrie points to the centrality and exaltation of Israel as the first of the three sine qua non of dispensationalism: “A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct.” He defends this position over against all other evangelical theologies by arguing that:

(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.

Unfortunately, each one of these points is mistaken: the dispensational house is built on sinking sand. Unfortunately though, it is not quick sand — dispensationalism has been at it and sinking since 1830. Set your alarm for 6:30 am tomorrow, when I will begin responding to the dispensational view of Israel. No, I tell you what. Since you are so anxious to read this material, I will post it at 6:25 am tomorrow. See you in the morning!

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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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 DISPENSATIONALISM

  1. Do you think this response will address “replacement theology?”

  2. Can’t wait brother .

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