(Read Part 7)
Editor’s Note: For the conclusion to this blog series—Dispensationalism 101—I interviewed Dr. Parker Reardon and asked him to expand on his views on dispensationalism, as well as on the “Resources for Further Study” that he includes at the bottom of this final article. He shared a number of interesting thoughts, and we also discussed our plan to expand this series into a more substantial resource to be published by Dispensational Publishing House. Be watching for that—and hopefully for more material from Parker in the future. We so appreciate his enthusiasm and his cooperation, and gladly recommend the conclusion of this series for your consideration.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)
Parker Reardon explained his motivation in writing Dispensationalism 101, stating: “I wanted people at the church to understand the difference between dispensational and covenant theology at the lay level.”
Reardon, who serves as an adjunct professor of theology for Liberty University and an adjunct professor of Bible and theology for Pacific Bible College in addition to his duties as the teaching pastor of a local church, has many opportunities to train students. In so doing, he also learns about the areas in which people need additional help, and how he can best assist them.
“I am a pastor that has the privilege of having a faculty position,” he said. “My passion is trying to get people to understand dispensationalism at the lay level.”
In this final installment in the series, Reardon lists some dispensational resources that he believes to be some of the most necessary for all Bible students. But before discussing those, he adds a few more general thoughts about his understanding of dispensationalism.
“If you are going to be consistent, Genesis to Revelation, you are going to become a dispensationalist,” Reardon stated. “I do not want someone to become a dispensationalist because their pastor is a dispensationalist. I want their hermeneutics to drive them. As you look at these articles, you can look at the ‘Issues of Contention’—those are all really important issues and I will die for any of those. But what really drives my crank is hermeneutics. Where you waffle is how you are handling the text.”
“We have to submit our theology to our exegesis—not the other way around,” he added. “In more than 20 years of pastoral ministry, I have never waffled on my dispensational views. My hermeneutics has been the driving force. My dispensationalism gives me interpretive confidence.”
“I used to give a little pushback when I heard the term ‘dispensational hermeneutics.’ When I really came to understand it, I thought, ‘It is another phrase for consistently literal.’”
“We do not believe in wooden literalism,” he said. “I think Revelation is one of the easiest books to understand. We let symbols be symbols, but that is not to be overly figurative. God used human writers to pen Scripture. So they are going to use a wide variety of linguistic techniques. We have got to settle on our hermeneutics. What are our rules of hermeneutics?”
Reardon summed up his own view of hermeneutics with this statement: “It is our responsibility to ascertain carefully the true intent and the meaning of the Scriptures. We dig down deep to get the meaning right. We do not want to put words in God’s mouth.”
“I want to train leaders on how to handle the text,” he said. “And, of course, it comes out of a dispensational hermeneutic. I do not want them to do with Revelation 20 what people do with Genesis. A lot in the minor prophets is looking forward to the millennial reign of Jesus. I am not afraid to preach on the minor prophets. We know what to do with them.”
Not Scared of the Old Testament
“We are not scared of the Old Testament—even though all of it has not come to pass,” stated Reardon.
Reardon encourages the people in his church to read through the Bible in a year on a five-day-per-week plan.
Speaking broadly, Reardon said: “The church is ignorant of the Old Testament. I want to build their love of the Old Testament. I was scared to preach from the Old Testament before I went to The Master’s Seminary. My dispensationalism grew astronomically when I found out that the Old Testament is not dependent on the New.”
Reardon believes that dispensationalists actually have the greatest ability to deal with large portions of the Old Testament prophets, who write so much regarding the millennium. To that, he added: “You can preach the law to the church. It has been fulfilled in Christ, but it is not like it is no longer in our Bibles. You can preach this to God’s people.”
To sum up: “When it comes up, you get the covenants right, you get Israel right, you get the church right—dispensationalism fleshes itself out.”
Comments on the Resources for Further Study
“My teeth were cut on these Dallas Theological Seminary guys growing up,” Reardon said. “I had John Walvoord’s commentary on Revelation, Charles Ryrie with his Dispensationalism. But I think the contemporary guy is Michael Vlach. The baton has been passed to him. His dispensationalism book—I think people need it. It is a harder read for lay people, because they have not been clued in to the issues. That is what I hope to do—say, ‘Here are the basic issues.’”
“I think they have to contend with (Vlach) in our day and age,” Reardon said. “Mike is doing a great work.”
Regarding Thomas Ice, Reardon stated: “What a storehouse of information he has provided! He has got some good stuff.”
Reardon also noted that the book edited by Chad Brand, Perspectives on Israel and the Church, contains the writings of his beloved professor, Dr. Robert Thomas, defending dispensationalism.
Reardon also highly recommends the recent work by William Watson, Dispensationalism Before Darby, stating: “If we can get that more traction, that takes away from the argument that dispensationalism started with Darby.”
Reardon currently teaches two survey of theology classes repeatedly for Liberty, and is teaching the books of Hebrews and the general epistles for Pacific.
Resources for Further Study
Michael Vlach, Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths, 2nd edition (Los Angeles: Theological Studies Press, 2017).
Michael Vlach, Premillenialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus (Los Angeles: Theological Studies Press, 2015).
Michael Vlach, “What is Dispensationalism?”, <theologicalstudies.org>; Internet; accessed 30 March 2016.
Rolland D. McCune, “What is Literal Interpretation?”, (Sola Scriptura Issue 3, 2002).
Thomas Ice, “The Calvinistic Heritage of Dispensationalism, <http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/calvinistic-heritage-of-dispensationalism>”; Internet; accessed 3 June 2016.
Paul J. Scharf, editor in chief of Dispensational Publishing House,
compiled the interview portion of this article.
Review the entire series:
Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
Read Part 6
Read Part 7
Dr. Parker Reardon is a graduate of Word of Life Bible Institute, Pensacola Christian College and The Master’s Seminary, where he received a doctorate in expository preaching. He is currently serving as the main teaching elder/pastor at Applegate Community Church in Grants Pass, Ore., and as adjunct professor of theology for Liberty University and adjunct professor of Bible and theology for Pacific Bible College. Reardon’s sermons and writings may be accessed at BiblicalExpositor.org. It is with great eagerness that we present him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House for the benefit of our readers.
Copyright © 2017 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995
by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)