About Me

My photo

I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

DISPENSATIONALISM AND PREMILLENNIALISM
and Covenant Theology
part four
.
DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOUR PASTOR HAS PREACHED FOR TWENTY YEARS?or HAS NOT PREACHED BUT BELIEVES?
^
  • "Oh brother, where art thou." not another dissertation on doctrine!? Many of us have that attitude when it comes to these "high-fa-lootin'" multi-syllable theological words. But we all practice what we believe to be true, therefore doctrine does make a difference! You need to know what your preacher is preaching! Often they are not willing to spell out what they are teaching. Oh I am not talking about Jerermiah Wright, or am I.
.
Magnitudes of articles have been written explaining the teachings of both covenant theology and dispensationalism. This information hereper is not intended to define these systems of interpretation.
.
A Bit of History
.
In order to understand the development of covenant theology, we need to take a brief look at church history.

Some covenant theologians would have us believe that their belief system was that of the founding fathers of the early church. They try to make a case that dispensationalism is a mere infant when compared to the grand old scheme of covenant theology. However, the truth of the matter is that systematized covenant theology is actually of recent origin. Cornelius Van Til, a covenant theologian, admits, "the idea of covenant theology has only in modern times been broadly conceived." Louis Berkhof, another covenant theologian, wrote, "In the early Church Fathers the covenant idea is not found at all." Dr. Ryrie points out:
.
It [covenant theology] was not the expressed doctrine of the early church. It was never taught by church leaders in the Middle Ages. It was not even mentioned by the primary leaders of the Reformation. Indeed, covenant theology as a system is only a little older than dispensationalism. That does not mean it is not biblical, but it does dispel the notion that covenant theology has been throughout all church history the ancient guardian of the truth that is only recently being sniped at by dispensationalism.
.
Covenant theology does not appear in the writings of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, or Melanchthon…… There were no references to covenant theology in any of the great confessions of faith until the Westminster Confession in 1647, and even then covenant theology was not as fully developed as it was later by Reformed theologians. The covenant (or federal) theory arose sporadically and apparently independently late in the sixteenth century.
.
Yet having said all this, much of the erroneous teachings of covenant theology can find its roots centuries earlier.
.
For the first three centuries the predominant belief of the early church was that Jesus Christ would literally return to the earth to reign for a thousand years. A number of historians have documented this belief of the early church Fathers. The evidence is indisputable. However, around 170 A.D. certain factors began to undermine the belief of Christ's literal return to establish a physical earthly kingdom.
.
The book of Revelation written by the Apostle John ends with the Lord Jesus declaring, "Behold, I come quickly (20:20)". About a hundred years had passed and this promise had yet to be fulfilled. Obviously, something was wrong! Some church leaders in Asia Minor decided to reject the book of Revelation from the canon of scripture. They may have reasoned that this supposed declaration by Jesus must somehow be false. In actuality there were a number of factors that influenced them in their decision to reject Revelation from the canon of scripture:
.
· A certain group of Christians had taken their premillennial beliefs to an unhealthy extreme. Therefore anyone who believed that Jesus would return to establish a literal kingdom upon earth was viewed with suspicion.
.
· Many early Christians taught that Christ would soon return and crush the Roman power that was ruling the empire. Some of the leaders of the early church felt that it would be better to sacrifice their premillennial belief rather than face more intense persecution.
.
· There was also a strong anti-Semitic spirit in the eastern church. The thought of Christ regathering Israel to their land was an abomination to them.
.
· A new method of Biblical interpretation known as Alexandrian theology greatly changed the view of scripture. Origen (185-254) and other scholars in Alexandria developed a system of Biblical interpretation based on allegory. Origen and his contemporaries were greatly influenced by pagan Greek philosophy. They tried to integrate this into their theology.
.
According to Greek philosophy all physical matter was inherently evil. Therefore the idea of a literal earthy, millennium with physical blessings could only be erroneous. This allegorical or spiritualizing method of interpretation allowed these theologians to read almost any meaning they desired into the Bible. Thus they were able to do away with a literal return of Christ to establish a physical earthly millennial kingdom.
.
All of these factors set the stage for the rejection of premillennialism. In the early days of his Christian faith Augustine (354-430) was premillennial. However, through time he abandoned the idea of a literal return of Christ to establish a physical kingdom on earth. He used this new allegorical method of interpretation to explain away the literal return of Christ and thus amillennialism was born. In his book, The City of God, Augustine taught that the Universal Church is the Messianic Kingdom and that the millennium began with Christ's first coming. When the church lost the hope of the imminent return of Christ it plunged headlong into the dark ages. The seeds of false interpretation bore fruit giving rise to Roman Catholicism and a works-based religion. Augustine's amillennial teaching continued to be the standard view of organized Christendom until the 17th century. Occasionally premillennial groups challenged that doctrine through out the dark ages, but they were a small voice compared to the powerful
Roman Catholic church.
.
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. One of the primary factors that caused him to break away from the Roman Catholic Church was his understanding of Sola Fide——the doctrine that man is justified by faith alone without works. Through Luther and the reformers, God restored the doctrine of salvation by grace back to His true church. The reformers understood grace in regard to salvation, but for Christian living they fell into the Galatian error of works. They knew that they couldn't keep the law in order to gain salvation, but the law became the rule for living the Christian life. Little did they realize that sanctification is also by grace
will continue