Pastor Allen Rea
How many times have we heard the tired and old straw man that dispensationalism came with Darby? Such a tired old criticism is not to be taken seriously. While I would like to think that such critics had been hanging out with giants like Thomas Oden, who had taken the definition of orthodoxy from Vincent of Lerins, I fear that they are simply repeating what they have heard from others fearing to do any research of their own.
A few years ago, any doubts I had about dispensationalism’s firm hold on church history were laid to rest when Watson’s mammoth resource, Dispensationalism Before Darby, found its way across my desk. Watson’s resource is a treasure trove, but it is not for the faint at heart and can make even the greatest lover of church history exhausted. In Ancient Dispensational Truth, James Morris has done the church a tremendous favor. He has done more than simply condense Watson. His book goes back to the days of the Church Fathers (while Watson covers English works from the 17th and 18th centuries). Morris has as, the subtitle suggests, refuted the myth that dispensationalism is new. Morris has made clear ecclesiastical history accessible to all who are open to questioning the assumptions.
The most commendable aspect of the book is Morris’ unwavering commitment to the authority of the Word of God. Dispensationalism is true, not because it can be traced throughout church history, though as Morris proves it can be, it is true because it is what the Bible teaches. Anyone that takes the time to read this book will be better equipped to rightly divide the Word of Truth. For the most part, most Christians are ignorant of church history and Morris educates us all on great Christians of the past that we should all be aware of.
Church history, while important, is not our final authority. I can say it no than Morris has written:
“We have no right to base our ideas on anything other than the word of God itself. Anything less than this is a false foundation.” (Ancient Dispensational Truth pg.2)
Church history is a source to turn to for the Christian, and not an infallible foundation of doctrine. However, Morris shows through the source of church history that the basis of dispensationalism has always been around as long as the church has been biblically centered because dispensationalism is a biblical doctrine.
Pastor Allen Rea is pastor of Higgston Baptist Church in Ailey, GA. He is a Doctor of Ministry student at Luther Rice Seminary. Pastor Rea is married to Kara and they have four children. His sermons are online at www.faithlife.com/higgstonbaptistchurch.