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WITNESSING TO DISPENSATIONALISTS

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  July 17, 2012 — 7 Comments

How does one witness to an erstwhile dispenstionalist? That is the question. But not to worry: I have the answer. And the authority to frame the answer.

My Background Training

When I was a student at a dispensationalist college in Tennessee, the faculty continually emphasized that proper methods are essential for successfully witnessing to unbelievers. Because of their commitment to methodology, in the view of the administration and faculty the most important early church father was evangelist Charles G. Finney. (They noted that he was not real, real early, but that he was certainly earlier than any of the faculty — most of whom were fathers.) Finney’s important contribution to evangelism lies in the fact that he invented the “anxious bench” that was so important for assisting the sinner in converting himself.

Super church pastor Jack Hills spoke frequently in our chapel services. He emphasized how very important it was for soul-winners to use mouthwash, so as not to turn off the unbeliever who opens the door when you come knocking. He pointed out that it would be a tragedy if on Judgment Day some poor sinner was denied entry into heaven because he you ate cabbage-wrapped bockwurst the day he met you. Because there were so many eager students gathered on one campus, many debates broke out regarding the best brand of mouth wash to use. This was never fully resolved in that the school year lasted only nine months.

We also learned from John R. Oats the importance of using a piano rather than an organ in evangelistic services. He pointed out that the slow building crescendo of a note on an organ was not as effective as the staccato, piercing sound of the piano. He emphasized how urgency was better promoted by a piano than an organ.(Dr. Oats even pointed out exegetically that no verse in all of the Bible mentions the electric organ.)

Tragically some students went out immediately and started smashing organs as “instruments of the devil.” One was even electrocuted because he used an iron crowbar that conducted electricity when it penetrated the electronic components within the organ. Needless to say, at his funeral we heard only the piano as we were all urged to come forward. Many of the students were born-again once again as they crowded the church aisles. And this was all because of this well-orchestrated funeral service. This student truly laid down his life for his friends.

My Personal Challenge

With these practical matters in mind, I have developed a helpful approach for witnessing to dispensationalists. I have seen too many erstwhile Reformed theologues stumble away from a fruitless encounter with a dispensationalist.

My method helps soften up the resistance, so as not to turn off the dispensationalist as he scours the newspaper for material for next Sunday’s message. I hope that these ideas might prove helpful to you as you seek to minister to dispensationalists in the highways and byways. And in the Christian bookstores, and trinket shops. And at prophecy conferences and church camps. And on church basketball teams, and baseball teams, and bowling leagues, and badminton leagues. And so forth, and so on.

You can say one thing for dispensationalists: they certainly have been fruitful and multiplied. Perhaps the methods I suggest below might even be helpful for you to start an effective church slimming seminar. I know these have certainly worked for me.

My Recommended Method

When witnessing to dispensationalists, you will find the following recommendations quite effective.

(1) When approaching a dispensationalist, never —  never! — walk up from behind. They are always looking up, absorbed in contemplation, eagerly awaiting the Rapture. Thus, any sudden movement from behind might scare them, turning them off as potential converts. Plus it may result in their mercilessly stabbing you with their gold-plated Bible marker.

(2) In fact, if you really want to be successful in your witness to dispensationalists, buy a convertible and let them actually see you drive up in it. They will realize how seriously you take the any-moment Rapture and how prepared you are for it. (Be aware though: They will immediately look to your bumper to make sure you have a bumper sticker that says: “In case of Rapture this car will be unmanned.” You must always have the proper bumper sticker prominently displayed. And don’t buy defective bumper stickers, such as the one that says: “In case of rupture this car will be un-manned.”)

(3) If you are earnest in your desire to effectively witness to a dispensationalist, you should always have a Scofield Reference version of the King James Bible with you. As you approach them, be sure to have the Bible out in front of you with the cover clearly visible. When they see the gold lettering “Scofield Reference Bible,” they will at once find perfect peace.

(4) I highly recommend also that you carefully fray the pages of the Book of Revelation. The dispensationalists will see this and believe that you are one of them. This will cause them to be warmed and filled. They might even spontaneously erupt with their favorite word: “Maranatha!”

(5) Though some Reformed evangelists discourage this in our litigious society, I believe that it is always a good idea to accidentally bump dispensationalists when first approaching. This proves to them that you are literal, and not some spiritual interpretation. This will make them believe you are on the same wave-length. (Some may believe in the corpuscular theory of light, but statistics show that most average dispensationalists believe in the wave theory, after all,  it is easier to think about. Always, always, always go with the law of averages.)

(6) Before you open your mouth to speak, let them see the colorful charts you have carefully placed in your shirt pocket. (Wearing pocketless t-shirts is not recommended; when you go hunting, dress for the hunt. You wouldn’t want someone to miss the Rapture because you chose to wear some t-shirt with a cheesy slogan on it, would you? I didn’t think so.) Once they see the colorful graphics they will surmise that you are either a dispensationalist or a Jehovah’s Witness, giving you a 50/50 chance to engage them in conversation.

(7) When you first begin speaking to the unwary dispensationalist, end each sentence with a confident sounding: “according to biblical prophecy.” They will hear this and be intrigued. I would recommend also that you do something that strikes people as Jewish. But be careful, don’t over do it. Many dispensationalists don’t trust people with biblical looking beards. (This is an odd inconsistency in their worldview that I don’t have space here to discuss. Besides, I am tired.)

(8) A good conversation starter would be something on the order of:

“Hey, did you hear the latest date predicting the Rapture? This is not some ‘off-the-wall’ stuff. I actually heard it from a televangelist!”

Or perhaps:

“Did you read in the news there was another earthquake? How many does that make this year? Don’t you enjoy living like a person who doesn’t expect to be around much longer? I know I do.”

A dispensationalist finds it impossible to turn away from such salient and intriguing information. In fact, they may pull out their own Scofield Reference Bible and take some notes based on your comments. You have primed the pump. I often drop into conversations that I lived in California for several years, consequently, I have personally felt earthquakes.

(9) You are now ready to engage them properly. But, darn. I forgot what I was going to say. I hate it when that happens. One time my mind wandered all the way to Venus and ordered a meal I couldn’t afford. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

 

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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 80 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.

7 responses to WITNESSING TO DISPENSATIONALISTS

  1. Bummer, I thought you were serious. I was hoping for some help with my family and church.

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 17, 2012 at 6:30

      I actually offered something along those lines in an earlier series here. You check out this one, for instance: http://postmillennialism.com/2012/05/ephesians-and-dispensationalism/

      • William Donelson July 17, 2012 at 6:30

        Thank you for the humor. I really enjoyed the one about the convertible! And the link to the earlier article.

        But sadly, I am finding most dispensationalist have little humor when it comes to their blind faith in Scofield!

        I believe that what has happened is common among religions; namely ones faith is linked to a system or ‘company-line’ of traditions and with time this becomes a personal identity issue. Partly due to pride and partly due to insecurity…if they know enough to know they don’t know enough Bible truth to defend their belief system!

        In cases like this, facts mean nothing…clear biblical statements mean nothing…only their personal feelings/ opinions/emotional reactions matter. The more forceful their emotional reaction, the stronger they think their faith is!

        But this is the very same mindset that Darwinian believers operate from, ‘don’t confuse me with the facts; I have already made up my mind!’ And no matter what facts or logic is presented, they suppress the truth for a fable of man!

        The only thing that can indeed be done for both dispensationalist and evolutionist is that God will act to open their minds and hearts to His word. Present the biblical worldview, yes… but pray and trust God for the results.
        Thanks again for the humor, its needed by all… WBD

      • Ken, that was just too easy. But, then, I was there too.

  2. Earl Almond July 17, 2012 at 6:30

    Ken, your mention of earthquakes is Cali is not qualified according to scriptures. They need to be in divers places. Did you ever live in the Bahamas?

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. July 17, 2012 at 6:30

      No, but after the Rapture and my return with the saints to rule and reign over the Gentiles, I hope to settle there. I hope they don’t speak Portewgeese . . . I mean Pourtgeze . . . er, ah Portugees . . . I mean Portuguese there. It is simply too hard to spell.

  3. Noa Napoleon July 17, 2012 at 6:30

    Perhaps we might try the sneak up approach to witnessing to dispensationalists. Just ask, does your pastor preach that a believer can experiences righteousness, joy, and peace today? Can you ask them to extol the virtues of Gods righteousness and explain how they plan to make it known to their family and friends? Can they explain how righteousness is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God in their own lives? Can I use Kingdom fruit to describe the impact of the kingdom of God in the world? To say that we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ is to also affirm that we are his subjects, which is the same as saying we are citizens of and in his kingdom. If the kingdom was postponed no one can claim to be saved this side of the rapture!

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