By PAUL J. SCHARF, M.Div.
Editor in Chief
Just a little humor for the chapel hour—except I was not laughing. You see, I came from a Bible (not Baptist) church—which seemed like a fairly big detail at the time.
But my point here is not to bear any emotional scars from my youth—or make any further attempts at humor. I would really like to provoke your thinking about a very serious question.
It is not so much, “What would you be if you were not a dispensationalist?”—as if I were asking you to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of alternative theological viewpoints and pick one that you could still be comfortable with.
I am actually asking you to reflect much more introspectively. I am inviting you to ponder how you would view things… if you were not a dispensationalist.
For instance: If I were not a dispensationalist, how would I make sense of all that is happening in our world today? The onward march of global terror, the impending dissolution of the United States and its place as the leader of the world, the trampling of nearly all that we hold to be morally right and dear, and the rampant apostasy in the contemporary church all fit together perfectly with a dispensational understanding of Scripture and the pre-tribulational view of Bible prophecy—especially in light of all that we expect to see unfold during the coming tribulation. If I were a postmillennialist—looking for the advance of worldwide progress in the spiritual, political and moral realms that would finally herald the return of Christ—I wonder what I would be thinking about all of that.
Or if I were an amillennialist, believing that God had no future plan for national Israel—neither final salvation nor a kingdom to come—how would I understand a world in which the modern iteration of such a tiny nation plays such a central role in global geopolitics?
What if I—seeking to appeal to a broader audience, or just viewing myself as being above the fray—took no stand on dispensationalism or Bible prophecy one way or the other? How could I live with the tension that would result from telling people that we do not know (or perhaps just do not care) what the Bible means when it goes on chapter after chapter with intricate details about events that are obviously future, with no past or ongoing fulfillment (i.e., Ezek. 40-48)?
My point is not to denigrate those who are not dispensationalists. Several such men have had an important impact upon my spiritual life. But I truly wonder how I would deal with such realities without the aid of dispensational theology.
In fact, there was a time when I was not a dispensationalist. I was first raised in a confessional Lutheran system which was strongly non-dispensational, but which—I contend—in some ways laid the groundwork for my later acceptance of dispensationalism.
To return to my opening theme, a question that I have often heard posed in my ecclesiastical circles goes as follows: “Are you a Baptist by conviction or by convenience?”
If I were to alter that question to fit the point of this post, I could heartily say that I have for many years been a dispensationalist by conviction. Failing to be such, I am not sure how I would make sense of the Scriptures—or of the world as I view it today.
Copyright © 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.