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Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.49"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 1995
Publisher   P & R Publishing
ISBN  0875523595  
EAN  9780875523590  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Dispensationalism is a popular system of belief today, promoted by well-known authors, radio and television preachers, Bible colleges, and seminaries. Many sincere Christians have never heard any other view. Others may be confused as to what dispensationalists believe and whether those beliefs are true. Written so that all can understand, this book dispels much current confusion by clarifying the most central and problematic teachings of dispensationalism.

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More About Keith A. Mathison

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mathison received a B.A. in Christianity and political science from Houston Baptist University and then studied at Dallas Theological Seminary for two years before completing his M.A. in theological studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He earned a PhD in Christian thought from Whitefield Theological Seminary. He is director of curriculum development for Ligonier Ministries.

Keith A. Mathison was born in 1967.

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The Dispensationalist hermeneutic is analagous to looking at Bible through a Kaleidoscope  Jan 19, 2008
~Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?~ takes a look at the current popularity of seeking fulfillment of Bible prophecy in the Middle East and the state of Israel.

What is dispensationalism? My working definition...

Dispensationalism: A system of biblical interpretation that is virtually analogous to looking at the Bible through the lens of a kaleidoscope.

I was naive enough in my youth to interpret the Bible through the heuristic of dispensationalism. Ironically I never even heard of the phrasing dispensationalism at the time, and yet I absorbed its basic premises through the shallow evangelical subculture as if by osmosis. Interpreting the Scriptures through this heuristic is analogous to looking at the Bible through the lens of a kaleidoscope. Dispensationalism is a deeply flawed, specious, ahistorical overthrow of historic Reformation theology. Many of its core tenets were contrivances of Darby and Scofield with no historic basis in Scripture or the Reformation.

Keith Mathison is a Reformed theologian and tackles dispensationalism for its perceived errors in ecclesiology (i.e., doctrine of the church,) eschatology (i.e., doctrine of last things, Bible prophecy,) and soteriology (i.e., doctrine of salvation.) This book essentially is a refutation of the dubious dispensationalist notion that God has two plans of redemption: plan A for Israel and a plan B for the Gentiles. Dispensationalists presuppose a "secret rapture" of Gentile believers of faith around the time of a Great Tribulation while the Jews will be subjected first to the delusions and then to persecutions of the Anti-Christ. Mathison shuns these presuppositions, which emanate from the hermeneutical framework of Bible interpretation known as dispensationalism that is wildly popular with American evangelicals. Dispensationalism made its assent with the works of Darby and Scofield in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It reached a fevered pitch in the later twentieth century, with the rise of prophecy teachers like Hal Lindsay and Tim LaHaye.

Who is the Israel of the Bible and who are the heirs of the covenant promises? The Scriptures purport a profound unity within the body of Christ, which includes peoples of all nations (Eph 2:12-14; Heb 11:24-26; Rom 11:16-17). Deriving a cogent ecclesiology (i.e., doctrine of the church) entails an exegetical reading of he third chapter of Paul's letter to the Galatians. God in his forbearance has by no means cast his people off. The true Promised Land for Jews and Gentiles of faith is a celestial or heavenly kingdom! Israel is an anti-type foreshadowing the celestial kingdom. It's no coincidence that Moses dropped dead before reaching the so called Promised Land; it wasn't just because of disobedience, but was a prescient revealing of what the Promised Land and God's Grace really is.

In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul explains that all those of faith are heirs to the covenant promises of Abraham: 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ... 19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator... 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus... 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:16,19,26,28,29)

I went to Christian colleges such as Liberty and Regent and it's good to get a break from dispensationalist dogma and let the Word speak for itself. This is not what dispensationalists pejoratively denigrate as "replacement theology" but rather it is "expansion theology." As the Apostle Paul makes clear, God has not cast his first people off by any means, but there is a remnant according to election (Rom. 11:1-8). Standing up for the truth of the Gospel means standing against flawed hermneutical frameworks like Dispensationism.

On the downside, Mathison's book probably could have left out the eschatology, and his claims for postmillennialism are subject for a whole other debate. I think the focus on a book refuting dispensationalism should just be to do so, while only scratching the surface of the varieties of alternative views within a covenant theology framework. There are viable alternatives to dispensational eschatology besides his theonomic postmillennialism. Vern Poythress has written another refutation of dispensationalism, which is worth considering.

I would be happy to point out the flaws of dispensationalism to any Christian who cares to interact with me in the comments form, or via e-mail.
A Book Worth Reading  Oct 17, 2007
This book, while it is very challenging, is much worth the read. Having been brought up with a Dispensational backround, I found that Keith Mathison identified with Dispensational beliefs very well and was able to articulate how and why Dispensationalist have dropped the ball on some very key doctrines of the Church.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking the truth of the Scriptures.
Better on ecclesiology than eschatology.  Aug 4, 2007
Keith Mathison raises the question of whether or not dispensationalism is an accurate way to interpret the Bible. He makes some good points: a. Dispensationalism's anthropology depicts saved human people who have a civil war going on inside of themselves with the new nature versus the sin nature and the system doesn't seem to allow for consistently victorious living in this life (although, Galatians 5:16-18 does seem to capture what dispensationalists are trying to say).

Mathison also points out how there is only one people of God according to the New Testament (as opposed to dispensationalism's teaching that there are two peoples), and he makes his strongest case from Romans 11:11-24, where he shows that the one olive tree represents the one people of faith.

Keith also correctly identifies how most dispensationalists are more Arminian than Calvinist. However, he errs in his faulty definition of Arminianism, preferring to identify it with Semi-Pelagianism. I get ticked when Reformed people do this, because Arminius believed in the total depravity of man and the complete inability of humanity to lift a hand or a foot toward their own salvation apart from the prevenient grace of God.

Mathison does a better job of critiquing dispensational ecclesiology than he does with dispensational eschatology. For example, when discussing the rapture, he never brings up John 14, which clearly teaches that Christ is coming back to take believers with Him to the Father's house.

Moreover, Mathison completely sidesteps the passages of scripture which teach that the Lord could come back at any time (Luke 12:35-48; James 5:7-10, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, etc). In addition, his teaching about the millennium in Revelation 20 just doesn't make any sense of the text, the premillennial interpretation is much to be preferred, in my opinion.

Keith does a good job of avoiding ad hominem argumentation, but he totally misunderstands and mispresents Arminianism, and he fails to grasp dispensational eschatology as well as he should have. 3 stars.
Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?  Mar 19, 2006
Very good book. I was looking into is Dispensationalist theology biblical, after being taught this without even knowing that this was a modern teaching since the late 1800's. Actually I thought it was the only way to look at the end times. After much study I'm leaning with the Amillenial way of understanding Rev 20. It was an awesome study for the last few months, and I learned much.
Jimmy from NJ
Poor understanding of the church  Jan 20, 2005
Mr Mathison has a poor understanding of the church and when it actually began. He claims all the faithful of Israel in the Old Testament are a part of the church, because they had a genuine faith in God. Mr Mathison overlooks two major things.

First of all, the church was not brought into being until Christ was on the earth and he said "I WILL BUILD my church", not "I will continue to build my church". The church was a future undertaking, starting with Christ and his apostles.

Secondly, being baptized in the Holy Spirit places one IN the church or the body of Christ.I Cor 12:13. None of the Old Testament saints were ever baptized by or in the Holy Spirit and so are not in the church of Christ.

Mr Mathison claims he attended Dallas Seminary. Well, he surely must have been asleep during studies on the beginnings of the church or his professor flunked him out altogether. This book is very poorly thought out that even a lay Christian can see the errors it presents. I recommend a more scholarly book also called "Dispensationalism", by Charles Ryrie. Mr Mathison needs to go back to Bible college and pay more attention this time.

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