Introduction To The Blog, and a Bit About My Dispy Testimony

Hello, welcome! This blog is dedicated to discussing things eschatological, from primarily an American Evangelical perspective. I will describe and articulate the ins-and-outs of what has become known as Dispensational Theology. I am not actually an adherent of ‘Dispensational Theology’ any longer. But, I was once ardently so! I was born into an ordained Conservative Baptist pastor’s home, and was weaned on what I will call Classic Dispensational Theology (viz. Pre-Trib, Premillennial, etc.). I sat under this teaching in my very early formative years. I can remember looking at dispensational charts, like this one:

As I continued to grow older and mature I continued to be intrigued by this theological/hermeneutical system, and out of high school (a few years) I began really digging into this stuff much more heavily. I devoured old school dispensational preacher H. A. Ironside’s commentaries, dispensational biblical theologian Erich Sauer’s books; and then of course I read Charles Ryrie, purchased a C. I. Scofield study Bible, read J. Dwight Pentecost, Lewis Sperry Chafer, John Walvoord, J. Vernon McGhee, David Hocking, Hal Lindsey, et al. I also attended Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA. (for about 4 years, during this period), and also attended Calvary Chapel Bible College (which is staunchly Classic Dispensational in orientation). 1998 I matriculated (I graduated high school in 1992 just for point of reference) to Multnomah Bible College (which is also, in heritage, very indebted and shaped by the Classic Dispensational system), and it is here where I “converted” to what is called Progressive Dispensationalism (most of my profs were in fact PD at this point). I held this view up until probably about 3 years ago, at which time I “converted” out of the Dispensational system (which honestly was hard for me), and now claim what is called Historic Premillennialism as my own (I flirted with amillennialism for awhile, but could not bite that bullet).

So that is a bit of my dispy testimony. I wanted to start this blog because I sense that there is really a lot of questions out there about this stuff (esp. in American Evangelicalism), and I have lots of background and training in this area; so why not offer some of what I know for those who might be interested. I will discuss the intricacies related to Dispensationalism. I will try to provide sketches on its history of development, its hermeneutics, its various instantiations (like Classic, Revised, and Progressive). I will contrast Dispensationalism with my Historic Premillennialism, and then with Amillennialism. I will also discuss the various tribulational views here.

I think this is a timely blog, and one that should be of interest to those who sit under this kind of teaching day in and out in American Evangelicalism. I will not be hyper-critical of dispensationalism here; instead I want to constructively engage it, and in so doing provide “critical” resources for “Church folk” to be able to engage in thoughtful reflection upon a system of thought that is usually communicated in ways that assume it to be the only “Biblical” interpretation of the Text of Holy Scripture. It is not the only alternative.

Posted on June 10, 2011, in Introduction. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Love the Dispensational Chart! No Chart…no “Dispensatio”! 😉

  2. Fr Robert,

    Exactly! 🙂

  3. Bobby,

    Prehaps you could express your exegetical understanding of Rev. 1:19? Of course the sructure of this verse is questioned, but it does appear to be futuristic.

  4. Fr Robert,

    That would be fodder for a great post. I’ll plan on doing that sometime down the line. I definitely am futurist still, but of course as historic premil I also see some historicist and idealist stuff too. That said, it would be hard to question that there is a futurist reference in Rev 1.19; of course then the question becomes one of the relativity of futurity and John’s proximate and ultimate reference points.

  5. Bobby,

    Btw, here is a nice little link, taken from the writings of J.N.Darby himself. He is the man that really began the “classic” dispensational lines.

    http://www.theologue.org/Dispensations-JNDarby.html

  6. Bobby,

    I would agree that the interpretative measure of the book of Revelation would somewhat include both historicist and some ideal or simply spiritual ideas, but the overall method is toward the futurist and prophetic reality, i.e. The Apocalypse of Christ! (Rev. 1:7)

  7. Fr Robert,

    I don’t disagree with you on the futurist component. I’ve read JN Darby, and then more about him from Marsden who I will be referencing in days to come. But this is a blog dedicated to the topic, so I’ll be talking about all kinds of stuff in the days to come. I plan on comparing, for example, Pentecost and Ryrie and how they vary amongst themselves on certain details related to the future. Thanks for the link. I plan on providing links to various dispy ministries. Dr David Hocking, a teacher of mine from the past, will be getting lot’s of play here as well. He’s actually right there by you in Tustin.

  8. Bobby,

    Yes, J.N. Darby is very hard to read generally. He can be verbose, and or just enigmatic, but he is simply always worth it when you can get his biblical, spiritual, and theological meaning! And I am afraid he is just one of those men, that either people get or they don’t. Also, I am not sure historical or personal (like our modern day psychological bio’s), really can touch much of Darby either! Note there is very little on his personal life that is trustworthy, either something of one’s theological or biblical hero, or just the opposite! Indeed, to see the man J.N.D., I think we must simply read his biblical works, and this is not easy! But again, well worth the task! Note some of his personal hymns are simply profound, and both christological, but also theocentic.

    Btw, years back someone sent me some Dave Hocking tapes when he was among the Grace Brethren. Simply a good Bible man…a lost breed of the pastor-teacher!

  9. Fr Robert,

    Through blogging I once knew a guy who was doing his PhD at St. Andrews on John N. Darby, he had some good thoughts on him. He’s like any person/theologian though (idiosyncratic or not), he will always have his better commentators and worse (I think Marsden is an excellent historian of ideas though).

    I know Hocking (not buddies, but I know him). He, like Darby, would be someone that either you love or hate; there’s no middle ground. He’s got a booming voice, and a booming character; but that’s what I like about him, he doesn’t care what people think about him (of course that can also be a deficit at a certain level too). All in all though the Lord has used that guy in my life over the last 16yrs. That said, of course, I have some rather strong disagreements with him (but of course he’s not a “Theologian” he’s just an old time Bible Teacher).

  10. Fr Robert,

    You can find Hocking on-line, and his teaching @: http://davidhocking.org

  11. Bobby,

    I was a one time thinking of doing a Ph.D. on something Darby, since he was at one time an Anglican rector. I must confess that I have always liked certain historical and evangelical Anglicans. Note the Wesley brothers here also. I even was able to see some of Darby’s personal letters, but I realized that the personal side of Darby was rather thin, historically. I did write a few articles for some Brethren magazines about Darby and his friendship with Willam Kelly. And I have spoken at a few Brethren conferences over the years. Of course my name is always of interest with some of them…Robert Kelly Darby. But no relation though. Just me greatgram, she was quite a woman…baptised at Spurgeon’s Tabernacle by A.T. Pierson. She could go toe to toe with any man, over the Bible at least! She was a breed, a Scot-Irish lady, and she out-lived two husbands. One of which was knighted for his work in science, and left her quite a bit of money. I was her first great-grandson. Yeah she left me a few shekel’s. God Bless her!

    I have also had a few mentors in my life, some theolog’s, and one now retired Major-General (Royal Marine).

    Thanks for the link to Hocking. He is a very able preacher certainly! I would choose the path of the pastor-teacher again any day, to that of the so-called “theologian”. That was one thing I saw very early in my young Christian life, especially with ‘the Brethren’.. that of the “spiritual” man. Though certainly I have liked a few theologians! 😉 It is however a great rare combination to find both! And myself, I would place Barth here, over Torrance, i.e. the preacher. No knock on Torrance, he was simply a great personal Christian himself, certainly! But to choose the simple but profound “biblicist”, is the path of men like Darby and Kelly! And as I get older, and see now even more the grave apostasy of the Church, and ‘the Day’ approaching more so! I am drawn to the Biblical Text alone, or I pray so, I hope in “Spirit & Truth”!

    As I wrote on another blog, we too…pastor, teacher, etc. must too be caught up in Eph.4:13, etc. 🙂

  12. Thanks again Bobby, for the Hocking link…he sure can preach it still…powerful and gifted preacher! His voice sounds different some since he has aged somewhat. Do ya know if his health is okay? He is 8 years older than I am. And I hope his marriage is healed!

    My brother sat under his preaching back in the 80’s and 90’s, when he was an American Marine. It was rough when Hocking fell into sexual sin. My brother almost cried, as I remember talking to him on the phone. Thanks be to God that HE forgives…again and again! But like King David, a man pays a price for his sins in this life!

  13. Fr Robert,

    Thanks for sharing a bit more of your past, that is interesting; esp. about your greatgram, and her background.

    Yes, Hocking’s “fall” was unfortunate, but he has recovered and is healed from that. He and his wife have a great marriage, and have now (since that whole debacle) for years! He did almost recently die from an ecoli poisoning he recently went through (just in the last few months), but he has recovered from that. He’s just a big guy (physically); but I think he has a clean bill of health right now. I just spoke with him at a “Prophecy” conference he did in our area back in April (just briefly). He’s the same Hocking I’ve known since 1996. I know his “fall” let a lot of people down. Actually what happened, after that, is that Chuck Smith (at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa) took Hocking in and they engaged Hocking in a time of restoration and healing; which they did over a period of years. It was at CC Costa Mesa that Hocking started his teaching ministry again, and now of course he is full-fledged (not as a “Pastor” anymore just as a Radio Bible Teacher and Conference speaker). You should go check him out, he teaches every Wednesday night at Tustin’s Salvation Army facility (a nice facility); it’s where he gets many of his messages that are then played on the radio (I’ve been a few times, just went last summer when we were visiting my mom in Yorba Linda).

    My heart is much more Pastor-Teacher as well vs. “Academic,” Fr Robert. IN fact I am really an Evangelist-Teacher type; that’s where my gifting and much of my experience is at. I only ever was motivated to read read read because of Evangelism.

    Blessings, Fr Robert!

  14. Bobby,

    Thanks for the info on Hocking. He is still quite busy it appears. I noted his new book on Israel. Oh btw, there is a big difference I think between the PB’s or “Brethren” in Great Britain and Canada, and the “Brethren” groups in the USA. I know the so-called Kelly Brethren in America (still somewhat “Exclusive” Brethren) are rather small. I like some of the American Open Brethren groups, more like the Bible Church or Chapel, etc. And they are very Evangelistic also. Calvinism does not seem to prevail with them either. I have “broken bread” with some of the Open Brethren by me of late. They are very friendly to this old Anglican! I remember when I met Robert Saucy from BIOLA (92?), I had just left active duty with the RMC’s, and was visiting my brother and mother here. My mother used to go back and forth from England often to visit my brother. My brother and mother were very close.

    So Bobby are you close to the Pre-Wrath still? Don’t you think the so-called Rapture should be a more real Blessed Hope with so-called modern Christians? Sorry, not to get ya off track here.

  15. Fr Robert,

    Hocking is very very busy. Yeah, announced that book on Israel at that conference I was at; I’ll need to give that a read when I can get my hands on it. I graduated from a “Grace Brethren” High School (actually Brethren Christian High School [they were in Cypress, CA when I graduated but have now moved to a permanent facility in Huntington Beach . . . they were in Paramount, CA for years and years]). Hocking is a “Grace Brethren” guy (that’s what his church was in Long Beach, I attended there for awhile . . . he wasn’t the pastor then) (his PhD is from Grace College in Indiana). I know of some Exclusive Brethren churches in CA (I have friends whose family are still a part of it, they are quite legalistic). But my profs from Multnomah who are PB are quite “Evangelical,” it’s just their polity that is distinct (e.g. elder ruled, no “paid” senior pastor).

    I’m post-trib. I’ll be revisiting that in some posts in the future though. I have a hard time seeing a separation between the rapture and second coming from the Text. I’ve tried for years, grew up pre-trib, and would have claimed that until even more recently. I just can’t maintain that at this point (as much as I hope I’m wrong 😉 ). I’ll post on that some down the line.

  16. Bobby,

    Funny, or ironic, but I too have been Post-trib for most of my adult Christian life, but during the last several months I have finally come to see the Rapture or Catching-away, as it is seen from St. Paul, as an act of Christ in the “event” of the Parousia. Note too, that is 1 Cor.15: 51-52, this “mystery” happens in an instant or moment..”the twinking of an eye”. And this simply is instantaneous, and will not be seen! (Atomos, indivisible). The question to me is whether CHRIST will be seen when HE first speaks and descends? And the more I look at 1 Thess. 4:16-17-18, the more it appears to be that Christ will be NOT seen in this aspect of the Parousia! It is here I note too, that this will be a time for the “marriage supper of the Lamb”, there the Saints receive at the ‘Rapture’ their “righteousness” at the resurrection (Rev.19:7-8-9). Of course this itself is not the Rapture, but what happens during that time. I must confess also, that reading closely W.E. Vine (himself of the Open Brethren), has been very insightful! Note his work on the Greek “Parousia”.

    It is much like the the gaps between Isa. 61:2 and Lk. 4:16-21, and of course the “mystery” of the Rapture itself is only seen in St. Paul. Just a few of my thoughts and conclusions! I must confess that this has been almost revelatory like! I mean more from the text and comparing Scripture with Scripture. But it certainly presupposes a dispensational schema, in seeing the gaps, and who it invloves and affects.

  17. Bobby: You might find this link of historical/theological interest?

    http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/antichrist.htm

  18. Fr Robert,

    Yes, it is ironic that we have both apparently switched our perspectives about the same time in the opposite directions.

    Thank you for the link, I’ll check it out.

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