DISPENSATIONALISM’S INCONSISTENT LITERALISM (1)

PMT 2014-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.inconsistent

Populist dispensationalism is an immensely successful eschatological construct. Its purveyors have sold tens of millions of books to evangelical Christians. One of the key factors in its success is its naive commitment to an alleged “consistent literalism.”

Besides being naive, the dispensational claim to “consistent literalism” is frustrating due to its inconsistent employment — despite contrary claims. For instance, some dispensationalists do not understand certain Old Testament prophecies about David’s millennial reign literally. Older, but still popular dispensationalist, H. A. Ironside writes: “I do not understand this to mean that David himself will be raised and caused to dwell on the earth as king. . . . The implication is that He who was David’s Son, the Lord Christ Himself is to be the King.” [1] On what basis can a consistent literalist allow this view?


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by Ken Gentry
In these nine lectures Dr. Gentry demonstrates the world altering consequences of the Great Commission. An important and encouraging study on the biblical foundations of the Christian worldview.
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Neither is it necessary that we understand literally Elijah’s coming prophesied in Malachi 4:5–6. Pentecost writes: “The prophecy is interpreted by the Lord as being fulfilled, not in literal Elijah, but in one who comes in Elijah’s spirit and power.” [2] Here he breaches two hermeneutic principles of his dispensationalism: He allows the New Testament (Lk 1:17) to interpret the Old Testament (Mal 4:5–6), and he drops his consistent literalism. This is convenient but illegitimate.

Walvoord hesitates, but declares: “It was clear that Elijah was a type of John and to some extent that John the Baptist fulfilled Elijah’s role. But, predictively, it is difficult to determine whether the future one will come in the spirit and power of Elijah or be Elijah himself.” [3] On their “consistent” literal hermeneutic, why should this be difficult? Does not Walvoord himself open this very book with these words: “Unmistakably, the evidence is overwhelming that God means exactly what He says as prophecy after prophecy has already been literally fulfilled.” [4] (Despite such a statement, he can explain Jos 11:11–23 thus: “Though the Lord was said to have fulfilled all His promises, as the Book of Judges makes clear, much of the territory had not yet been possessed”! [5])

I will continue this study in my next blog. Stay tuned.

Notes
1. Ironside, Expository Notes on Ezekiel the Prophet, 262, cited in J. D. Pentecost, Things to Come, 498–499. Cf. Ryrie, Basis of the Premillennial Faith, 88. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 60.
2. Pentecost, Things to Come, 311–313; cf. English, “The Two Witnesses,” 666
3. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 339–40.
4. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 7.
5. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 44.


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3 thoughts on “DISPENSATIONALISM’S INCONSISTENT LITERALISM (1)

  1. Guy Cooksey March 28, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Ken: After switching to Preterism it is hard for me to stomach the eisegesis of so many dispensationalists. They are so inconsistent and even dishonest in hiding or misrepresenting sources (i.e. Ice in Rapture). What I once found confusing in their writings, I now find almost revolting. Thanks for being honest to the scriptures with your hermeneutic–a blessing that has freed me in my studies and sermons.
    Guy

  2. Kenneth Gentry April 6, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I know exactly how you feel. I once was a dispensationalist. Then when I learned more of biblical theology, I felt I was duped by the dispensational populists.

  3. Stanley Simon November 13, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Thanks Man of God Rev. Ken Gentry, it was a video in youtube led me to a very new concept called post millennium teachings. For me dispensation all view was the only known way for bible teaching. Who is the beast of revelation started changing me and led me to change many other here…God bless you…I feel comfortable …

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