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Acts 28 Dispensationalism
(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
A. An outline of Acts 28 dispensationalism is as follows:-
B. The main factors motivating the construction of dispensationalism are:-
- God's promises are without repentance (change of mind) on his part.
- God made certain eternal promises to Abraham involving land and posterity, and these promises were extended (via Isaac & Jacob) to the Jews ("Israel").
- The enjoyment of certain of these promises in individual generations (notably those promises related to the land) was dependent upon faithfulness.
- However, these promises may be recovered across generations by national repentance and are, in the longer term, inviolate.
- The promises belong to the physical descendants of those to whom they were originally made.
- Enjoyment of the land of Israel was contingent on national submission to the Law of Moses (including the conscientious maintenance of the sacrificial cult for the expiation of sin).
- Jesus of Nazareth came firstly as the perfect king to replace the Davidic kingship (or rather to sum it up in himself, as he was descended from David) and secondly as the perfect priest and offering to replace the Levitical priesthood and the Mosaic sacrificial system.
- The New Covenant was to have been a replacement for the Old (Mosaic) Covenant, but was to have been between the same parties (ie. God and Israel). Its offering to Israel was accompanied by miracles as the inauguration of the Old Covenant through Moses had been.
- Jesus preached the Kingdom of God to the Jews and this procedure was repeated by the Apostles (including Paul) during the period covered by the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.
- This period of the Acts of the Apostles represents a second offering of the kingdom to Israel, with Gentiles gradually introduced to provoke Israel to jealousy (zeal or emulation), and with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Converted Gentiles were incorporated into the body of Israel as spiritual Jews.
- The Book of the Acts of the Apostles ends with salvation being sent to the Gentiles independently of the Jews. The Jewish "hope" of a restored Earth is now in abeyance until the return of Christ.
- In the interim, the secret (Mystery [musterion]) of a new gospel (being salvation through Christ to Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing, independently of the former promises to Israel) with a heavenly "hope" was revealed to Paul and is explained in such New Testament letters as Ephesians and Colossians.
C. My main objections to dispensationalism are as follows:-
- A desire to maintain the integrity and unity of the Scriptures in the face of its diversity and apparent contradictions.
- A desire to take Scripture at face value.
- A desire to maintain the faithfulness of God.
- B.1 and B.2 above, though laudable aims, cannot in practice coexist. Attempts to make them do so lead to many forced interpretations : ie. taking Scripture at face value in one passage may lead to the insistence on opaque reading in others.
- Attempts to maintain distinctions ( eg. between Earthly & heavenly hopes, Jew / Gentile in the Gospels & Acts, New Covenant / Mystery) cause as many problems as they solve.
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