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There Really Is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology [Paperback]

By Renald Showers (Author)
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Item Number 45276  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   225
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.28" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.68"
Weight:   0.73 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2001
Publisher   FRIENDS OF ISRAEL #1218
ISBN  0915540509  
EAN  9780915540501  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This volume focuses on the differences between the Covenant and Dispensational systems of theology and examines their diverse approaches to such issues as:

-- God's Ultimate Purpose for History

-- God's Program for the Nation of Israel

-- The Significance of Several Key Biblical Covenants

-- The Nature and Beginning of the Church

-- The Christian's Relationship to the Mosaic Law and Grace

The book is written in easy-to-understand, non-technical language and has received favorable response from lay people, pastors, students, and reviewers.

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More About Renald Showers

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Renald E. Showers (diploma in Bible, Philadelphia Bible Institute; B.A., Wheaton College; Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary; Th.D., Grace Theological Seminary) serves on the staff of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry in New Jersey. He has served as a pastor; as a member of the faculties of Lancaster School of the bible, Moody Bible Institute, and Philadelphia College of Bible; and as a visiting lecturer. His other works include The Most High God, Maranatha: Our Lord Come! and What on Earth Is God Doing?

Renald E. Showers currently resides in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Yikes!  Feb 23, 2007
I'm a little disappointed with Renald Showers', "There Really Is a Difference." I want to be careful and say upfront that I have made far more errors and mistreatments than Dr. Showers did. I'm not some know-it-all and have large amounts to learn. Far too frequently, I have made all these fallacies and more. I am in absolute need of massive doses of daily mercy and grace. I want to submit this in humility, knowing that I will be judged with the measure I judge with. Yet, I do think that it is useful to highlight some of the problems that I noticed with this book.

It was interesting to learn some of the history behind the Covenental and Dispensational systems. I thought that was the best part. Although, I think it is a stretch to say the Jonathan Edwards is in the Dispensational camp simply because he used the term "dispensations." However, I learned many things in this portion of the book.

As far as Dr. Showers' argumentation goes, I believe he made several logical fallacies. He repeatedly makes the "Begging the Question" fallacy throughout. One example is on page 20, where he states,

"...Covenant Theology denies the existence of distinctive gospels in the Bible. By contrast, it was demonstrated in the first chapter that there are indeed different gospels in the Bible."

Was it? All he did was state that there were different gospels. That there are different gospels has yet to be proven. That's the essence of the classic "Begging the Question" fallacy. The same can also be said of his argument on p21 regarding distinctions between Israel and the Church.

Another error in his logical reasoning is a "Syllogistic" or "Affirmative Conclusion from a Negative Premise" fallacy on page 20. However, it could also be "Denial of the Antecedent." Showers' states that,

"Covenant Theology sees the ultimate goal of history as being the glory of God through the redemption of the elect."

The proposition can be laid out like this:
1. God's ultimate purpose is His glory in the program of the redemption of elect
2. God has different programs which are not the redemption of the elect
3. Therefore, God's glory cannot be the ultimate purpose for these different programs.

I believe this also is a "False Dilemma" fallacy, as well as "Fallacy of the Excluded Middle," "Hasty Generalization" and "Stacking the Deck" fallacies.

To sum it up, I think that this comparison was filled with "Red Herring" argumentation. I was embarrassed for Dr. Showers. Everyone makes mistakes. I know that this isn't a highly technical exegetical/expositional work. He didn't intend it to be. But when you are trying to "prove" something, at least make more than bare assertions. I think his strongest argument was his support for his second point on page 21. It also happened to be the one where he used some textual defense (2 Cor 3 ; Jer 31:31-34).

If these logical fallacies are jumping off the page at me, then there is a problem. Surely this isn't the best (or most balanced) treatment of the distinctions between the Dispensational and Covenental systems. I would like to suggest that a better source be substituted. Frankly, I thought Virkler's treatment was much more accurate and balanced. Virkler's work mentioned both strengths and challenges of both systems. In Dr. Showers' defense, he does say that his book is meant to persuade readers to the Dispensational system. I just feel that his case could have been stronger if it had been presented more carefully and forthrightly.

I guess I should briefly explain why I wrote this critique. Simply put, it is a reminder and caution to me (first) and everyone else (second), that we need to be careful in how we handle the Bible and our support for our beliefs. I think D.A. Carson puts it best in his book Exegetical Fallacies, so I'll just quote him twice:

"My purpose in drawing these distinctions is to point out that even when an argument is valid, it may not be conclusive...(or logically reasoned)...Some arguments are intrinsically weak." p121 (parenthetical mine)

"All of us will fall afoul of one or more of these fallacies at some time or another; but alert awareness of their prevalence and nature may help us escape their clutches more frequently than would otherwise be the case...If it results in interpreters who are marginally more self-critical in their handling of Scripture, and in readers who are somewhat more discerning when they devour commentaries, expositions, and other studies, this sustained critique will be amply rewarded." p.126

That is the reasoning behind why I felt it was important to bring to attention some of the problems I found in Dr. Showers' book. It wasn't a fair and well reasoned book. I have no desire to humiliate him. I just felt that it was a good example for us to walk much more circumspectly when we make statements and put forth arguments.

In contrast, I highly suggest that everyone get a copy of D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies. I only have the first edition, but it is convicting as it is instructive. In my opinion, no one should be without a copy of this book. It's scary in a way, but as he says, we will be "amply rewarded" for examining our expositional work.

May God bless us all with wisdom and grace in all humility,
Excellent Overview  Feb 12, 2007
This book provides a functional overview of the differences between "Covenant Theology" and "Dispensationalism" (two radically different interpretative frameworks used when studying the Scriptures). Though it's an easy to read book, the author doesn't sacrifice theological substance. Moreover, the author presents the basic issues between the two systems in a coherent way, free of technical jargon and obscurantism.

My only criticism of the book is that it reads somewhat in a stilted way, with a lot of numbered lists and a bit of repetition in the arguments. Nonetheless, if you are interested in the subject matter and the truth of the issues, this stylistic criticism can be easily overlooked.

The prospective reader should be forewarned, however, that Dr. Showers is himself a dispensationalist, so if you are looking for a more "dispassionate" comparison of these two systems of theology, you might want to supplement this book with one that is pro-Covenant theology.

I gave this book 5 stars because it sets forth the dispensational case in a powerful manner. I have yet to read anything from the Covenant side that can even approximate the cogency and integrity of a basic dispensational position that is grounded in the historical-grammatical method of reading the Scriptures. The issue, as you'll see if you read this book, has to do with the hermeneutic method employed when studying the Torah, and how these implications are then used to read the New Testament.
look elsewhere  Sep 19, 2006
Awful! This book skews scripture and twists it in ways that gave me a stomach ache. Sorry for the crude review, but this book really is very misleading on the subjects it reports to deal with. It is typical of some dispensationalist interpretations that use a flat, un-nuanced hermeneutic in "piecing" together their system. For a truly accurate assesment of these issues try a little work by Vern Poythress titled, Understanding Dispensationalists.
Covanent Theology  Jun 25, 2006
Just finished Dr. Showers work. I recommend this to any person stuck in Amillenial or Covenant theology. I belonged to a church that taught this method of allegorical interpertation for many years. Its clearly the wrong way to interpret scripture.

Every work I have read against dispensationalism, or rapture of the church, or pre-millarianism has used very poor arguments to make their case. In fact, I am convinced that most modern day Covenant Theologians frankly don't sincerely give dispensational theology a deep study. Choosing instead to scratch the vaneer and then taking foolish jabs at this most excellent system of Biblical organization. Must be a case of, 'Never let the Bible get in the way of your Theology'

History is on the side of the Pre-mill, Pre-Trib rapture view. Meaning almost all of the Post-Apostolic fathers for the first 3 centuries held to the Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation, which pointed to the Millenial Kingdom on Earth, and pre-trib rapture as well. Only until Origin, and the Alexandrian school of interpretation came about did this teaching of allegorizing come into play with force. Soon, Augustine took this up as well in his work, City of God. But read why he did, and you will see he to was inclined to change his mind.

Read Dr. Showers work and Dr. Walvroods 'The Millenial Kingdom' and you will have the 800lb Gorilla of Amillarianism, and Covenant theology off your back for good.
Dispensationalism Basics Explained Simply  Mar 30, 2006
This book is not about the detailed variations within either Covenenant Theology or Dispensational Theology, but is a general overview of the beliefs the Church thru history has held regarding how God administers His sovereign rule thru time, showing how these beliefs were influenced by their times, and how we have come to the place we are at now in the tension between Covenentalists and Dispensationalists, and why it is so significant. At particular issue is whether Israel and the Church are distinct. Obviously one's view on that will affect both domestic politics(church/ state theocracry, take-back-America stuff) and foreign policy views (regarding Middle East), both hot topics for today, so for this reason especially I'm rating this book a 5. As for the style of this book, it's straightforward, unemotional, organized ("first," "second,"...). Easy to follow for those who want to understand what all the fuss is about and for those who want examine their faith and challenge their method of scripture interpretation (coventalists tend to more allegorical methods, dispensationalists more literal).

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