Supersessionism Rising: Dispensationalism…? Part 1

This article appeared in the September / October 2011 edition of Voice magazine and is reproduced with the permission of its author, Dr. Kevin Zuber.

Dr. Zuber is Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute and a teaching elder / pastor at Grace Bible Church Northwest.


Preface (by Dave James)

There were several catalysts in the process that ultimately led to the formation of The Alliance for Biblical Integrity. One of the first was a very late-night conversation with Dr. Jimmy DeYoung in 2007 (which I’ll get back to in a moment).

It was after midnight and we were returning to Hungary after speaking at the first prophecy conference ever held in Serbia (to the best of our knowledge). We were still rejoicing in the fact that the Lord had allowed us to be a part of something that had far exceeded everyone’s expectations. The organizers of the conference (one a Serbian Baptist pastor and the other an elder in a Brethren Church) had set up the locations for the meetings based on their hope that we might have as many as 100 people or so attend the conference. After the meeting on Saturday, a last-minute change of venue for the Sunday meetings was necessitated by the fact that around 500 had come out to hear the messages. By the last meeting on Sunday, it was estimated that close to 800 were in attendance that evening – approximately 10% of the evangelical population of the entire country of Serbia!

Back to the conversation: The question we were asking ourselves was, “Where is the next generation of prophecy speakers going to come from? Who is teaching and training them.” This also led to the observation that dispensationalism, in general, seems to be in rapid decline after over 50 years of being the most widely-held view within conservative evangelicalism.

In this article, Kevin Zuber deals with this specific issue and some of the significant implications flowing out of this shift away from Pre-Trib Pre-Mil Dispensationalism and toward Covenant Theology and its attendant “supersessionism.” As Dr. Zuber explains in the article:

[supersessionism is] the theology that denies that God has a future program for the nation of Israel and denies that the promises God has made to the ethnic descendants of Abraham—the Jewish people—will be kept fully and literally.


Article by Kevin Zuber

Dr. Kevin Zuber

In October, 2010 many in the evangelical world were focused on the third Lausanne Conference in Capetown, South Africa. The Lausanne Movement begun in 1974 by Billy Graham, John Stott and others in Lausanne, Switzerland has had only three such major conferences in its over sixty-year history.

The purpose of the movement was ostensibly to unite and focus the efforts of global evangelicalism for the task of global evangelization. The preparations for the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Capetown included papers from several study groups; one such group was the Lausanne Theology Working Group. This group produced a document entitled “The Whole Church Taking The Whole Gospel to The Whole World.” This document was published on the Lausanne website1 and in the January 2010 issue of Evangelical Review of Theology (vol. 34, no. 1, p. 4-13).

In one startling paragraph of that paper the members of the Theology Working Group at first affirmed the unity of the church: “We give thanks that the one Church that God has called into being in Christ is drawn from every nation, tribe, people and language,” but they then went on to assert that “no single ethnic identity can any longer claim to be ‘God’s chosen people.’” The theologians of the Lausanne Movement who produced this document further argued “God’s election of Old Testament Israel was for the sake of the eventual creation of this multi-national community of God’s people.” In other words, they assert that the purpose of the election of Israel was for the creation of the Church! This, of course, is a denial of God’s purposes for the ethnic descendants of Abraham and of a future for the nation of Israel.

The statement also asserted, “It is vital that we strongly affirm, therefore, that while there are multiple ethnicities within the one church by God’s clear intention, no single ethnic group holds privileged place in God’s economy of salvation or God’s eschatological purpose” [italics original]. And just in case the theological and practical thrust of that assertion was not clear enough the paragraph concluded, “For this reason, we strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to Jewish people today or to the modern Israeli state in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged, inasmuch as they deny the essential oneness of the people of God in Christ.”

Many readers of this publication will recognize immediately that in this statement is a fairly obvious assertion of “covenant theology,” and an affirmation of “supersessionism,” or “replacement theology.” That is, the theology that denies that God has a future program for the nation of Israel and denies that the promises God has made to the ethnic descendants of Abraham—the Jewish people—will be kept fully and literally.

Why is this important?

Why should we be aware of this statement and what might be its import?

We might begin by observing that the general drift of wider evangelicalism is decidedly in the direction indicated by this statement, namely toward supersessionism.2 Many, both inside the Lausanne movement and those close to it, when made aware of this statement and this paragraph found it unobjectionable and many endorsed it. This might have been surprising since, as noted, one of the professed purposes of the Lausanne movement was to create unity for the evangelistic enterprise of the church and this statement is obviously dismissive of a certain segment of evangelical Christianity. But authors of the statement and its subsequent defenders clearly felt that they were on a sufficiently solid theological footing when they choose to advocate for a particular supersessionist biblical/theological position and chose to dismiss those who hold to “certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism.” The authors of the document certainly believed that the advocates of “certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism” were insignificant enough as a group that they could be dismissed without significantly impacting the unity of the movement or the cause of global evangelization.

In short, it would appear that the authors of the statement believed that most of the Lausanne movement, and the wider evangelical public would agree with them in this dismissive marginalization of dispensationalism and the theological tradition that holds to a future for ethnic Israel. Sadly, I would have to agree with them in that theoretical estimate; that is, the proponents of “certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism” have been by and large marginalized by the wider evangelical community. The fact that this paragraph went largely unnoticed and its implications largely dismissed cannot be due simply to the relatively obscure place of publication. The very fact that it was written, published and originally endorsed by the leaders of the Lausanne Movement demonstrates that they and others believed that it reflected (or would reflect when published) the viewpoint of a considerable majority of its adherents. In short, they determined that it was safe to advocate for supersessionism and to dismiss dispensationalism.

The broader picture

Again, why should this matter to us? At this point I want to try and bring into focus the broader picture. That is, I want to widen the focus and by that to enable us to see an even more alarming trend—namely, the marginalization of the dispensational theological tradition and the rise of supersessionism. To be clear, I am asserting here that the statement of the Lausanne Theology Working Group is by no means an isolated aberration but merely one more example that dispensationalism, grounded in the Old Testament covenantal promises to Abraham and his descendants, established in promises to David and the nation of Israel, is a theological position that is an “endangered” position,3 whereas supersessionism is finding a wider and growing support. I have several reasons to think this.

Some authors such as Craig Blaising, have suggested that the view that “God’s covenanted promises regarding Israel’s future… were transferred by God to the institution of the church” and that “the church was seen as the new Israel,”4 is a view that is “increasingly being rejected by Christians as not accurately representing the message of Jesus, his apostles, or Scripture generally.”5 Other authors, however, suggest otherwise. For instance, Barry E. Horner has documented the rise in church history and in the history of Christian thought and has clearly demonstrated the pervasiveness of this view of supersessionism throughout church history and in current Christian thought.6 While it might be true that premillennialism and dispensational eschatology reached in the twentieth century something approaching (at least among North American evangelicals) a degree of “popular theological hegemony” there are reasons to think that that status is very much in question in the early years of the twenty-first century. In short, certain trends seem to be indicating that supersessionism is on the rise and dispensationalism is on the wane.

For instance, as a very general indication of this development it can be observed that three of the latest major evangelical systematic theologies, Wayne Grudem’s,7 Millard Erikson’s,8 and Robert Reymond’s9 each advocate some degree or form of supersessionism.10 It is not a stretch to argue that these systematic theologies represent something of a consensus of a “broad evangelical theology.” And if that is so, then they indicate supersessionism is far from vanishing but is in fact becoming more and more the viewpoint of the academically oriented and theologically minded evangelicals. Furthermore, as these texts are assigned and read in evangelical seminaries and Bible colleges they are more likely to move students in a supersessionist direction.

Furthermore, I have seen a growing weariness, even resistance to the study of eschatology and in particular the study of the details of premillennial dispensationalism.11 It may be fatigue from the best-selling Left Behind series or the influence of post-modern relativism.12 In any case, many of my students and their friends in other Christian colleges and universities13 have decided that eschatology is just not that important.14 And the students are not alone in this regard. Many lay people are of the same opinion.



1 accessed March 22, 2011; while the majority of the statement is still posted the offending paragraph discussed in this article has subsequently been removed. However, the original statement remains a matter of record in the journal article cited in the text above (, accessed Nov. 7, 2011.)

2 I am using the term “supersessionism, supersessionist” as Michael J. Vlach does, Has the Church Replaced Israel?, (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2010) as “the view that the NT church is the new and/or true Israel that has forever superseded the nation of Israel as the people of God” (p. 12). Vlach’s refinements of the definition/position in his chapter on “What is Supersessionism?” (pp. 4-17) inform my use of the term in this article.

3 Some may think that is something of an overstatement or exaggeration—and perhaps it is. But I would contend that if the trends I identify in the rest of this article are not addressed, “endangered” is not too strong a term.

4 Craig A. Blaising, “The Future of Israel as a Theological Question,” in To The Jew First: The Case for Jewish Evangelism in Scripture and History, ed. by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2008), 103; i.e. “supersessionism.”

5 Blaising, “The Future of Israel,” 103.

6 Barry E. Horner, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2007). Horner styles this view “anti-Judaism” and traces its origins to (mainly) the writings of Aurelius Augustine. See pages 3ff, 22, 65ff, and many other references.

7 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994) ” … we should notice the many New Testament verses that understand the church as the ‘new Israel’ or new ‘people of God.’” (861). Grudem holds to “historic premillennialism” (1127).

8 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 1053; Erickson can say “the church is the new Israel,” and yet also affirm, “There is a special future for national Israel. They are still the special people of God.” Erickson is premillennial (1224) but post-tribulational (1231).

9 Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith 2nd Edition—Revised And Updated, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998); Reymond is a signatory of the Open Letter discussed in the point above.

10 Cf. Vlach, Has The Church Replaced, 22-23; Vlach locates Erickson and Grudem in the category of “moderate supersessionism” along with George Ladd.

11 In what follows I will not attempt to document all of my concerns, some of which are admittedly anecdotal in nature; however, I believe that many IFCA pastors could corroborate these concerns from their own experiences.

12 By that I mean, if we find the interpretation of the past a confusing mix of multi-cultural analyses and ideologically driven revisionisms and reconstructions then how can we possibly say for certain what the future will hold?

13 Here is just one “young evangelical’s” view, but it rings true to things I myself have heard: “I get the sense that for many of my young evangelical peers, the doctrine of eschatology is less important not because of careful reflection upon the Scriptures, but because of the political and cultural scorn the doctrine has earned. For most young evangelicals, eschatology is cringe inducing not because traditional formulations are wrong, but because they are weird. That all Christians would disappear in a flash will hardly earn Christians cultural acceptability—and cultural acceptance, today, is their paramount desire.” (Matthew Lee Anderson, “The New Evangelical Scandal,” The City: A Publication of Huston Baptist University, January 15, 2009; accessed Nov. 7, 2011); the whole article is worth reading.

14 See Paul Martin Henebury, “Where Are All The Young People? The Pre-Trib Conference 2010,”… ; Henebury (aka Dr. Reluctant) observes that young people are not flocking to the Pre-Trib conferenre held annually by Tim LaHaye Thomas Ice; “We may wish to point our fingers at the undoubtedly faddish “Young, Restless and Reformed” movement [see the discussion below], but the lack of new blood in dispensationalism is very worrying, even if it was predictable.”

  1. Thanks for posting this article. It was interesting to read the thoughts of a former professor. (I didn’t have a class with him, but Claudiu did while he was at Moody.) I’ve missed your blog entries and articles. Is this something you plan to continue? I hope you are well. Blessings to you and Karen!

    • Hi Autumn,

      Good to hear from you. Yes, I will be continuing the blog – I have had to work on other things for awhile, but will be getting back to that soon.


  2. Hello, just discovered your site and this article. I agree 100% and forgive what’s probably an obvious observation but I am convinced what you’ve described is specifically the result of the (to me) baffling resurgence of Reformed theology into formerly dispensational, or at least dispensational-leaning, “territories.” Full disclosure: I say this as one who’d be classed as a hyperdispensationalist: our own in-house squabbles with the remnants of ancient Reformed baggage go back to the 1930s and continue to this day…since we strive to be as consistent as possible in our dispensationalism (agree or disagree with us, we really do), I’m not at all surprised with the slide that’s taking place in more nominal dispy circles; take the SBC’s present issues with a renewal of strict Calvinism as a good example.

    In my opinion, it all goes back to the historically incessant slide further and ever further away from the ministry and doctrines Christ gave us through the apostle Paul. Reformed theology, as far as I’ve studied it, has always sought to over-harmonize the New Testament at the expense of reducing and diminishing the Pauline texts to a status largely identical to those of the Gospel accounts and the writings of Peter, James and John (and usually subsidiary to them). This, we believe, is precisely what God did not intend to happen.

    My point is, this resurgence of supercessionism comes as no surprise to us in our little corner of dispensationalism. In fact, we’re convinced all is proceeding precisely as Christ, speaking through Paul, warned the Body of Christ that it would. What you are seeing is going to get worse.

    So keep looking up! and thanks for letting me share.

    • Hi Don,

      Thanks for posting. My observation is that no one is immune from this – and those who think they are in a group that is, usually end up realizing there has been a change after it’s too late.

      I don’t know that it is the Covenant theology, per se, that pulls people in, it is the Calvinism that is usually bundled with it that does the pulling.

      I find it interesting that the attraction of Calvinism is that it is generally regarded as “the thinking man’s theology” – and the academically credible one – while at the same time, it reduces soteriology to a simplistic out-of-balance system that can’t seem to deal with the sometimes uncomfortable tension that the Bible has within certain concepts (i.e., sovereignty and man’s will).

      Since there are different definitions of “hyper-dispensaitonalism” – or at least the way it is applied (as the “Briders” in some Baptist groups) – but we all make the distinction between the Church and Israel in God’s program and two peoples of God.

      Thanks, again.

  3. I’m a former independent Baptist but I’m unfamiliar with Briders; I’ll have to look that up.

    “I find it interesting that the attraction of Calvinism is that it is generally regarded as “the thinking man’s theology” – and the academically credible one – while at the same time, it reduces soteriology to a simplistic out-of-balance system that can’t seem to deal with the sometimes uncomfortable tension that the Bible has within certain concepts (i.e., sovereignty and man’s will).”

    I’ll go you one better, if you’ll allow me. It’s not just out of balance. Calvinism is utter blasphemy against God and Christ. It’s very simply proved:

    1. God, according to the Bible, wants all people everywhere to trust Christ upon hearing the Gospel of the grace of God. Calvinists agree that the Bible *appears* to teach this.

    2. But God, according to Calvinism, secretly enables only a minority of humanity to believe the Gospel.

    3. God, according to Calvinism and the Bible, condemns people for not believing the Gospel…even though (according to Calvinism) the reason they don’t believe it is because He never enabled them to do so…after all, whomever He sovereignly elects to believe, irresistibly does, sooner or later.

    No way around it – Calvinism slanders God by making Him out to be a liar — condemning specifically for unbelief those He chose to be unable to believe. That is Calvinism’s blasphemy and must be exposed as such.

    Worse: since Calvinism acknowledges Christ is co-equal with God from eternity past, He, too, can have no true desire to save the non-elect and so is just as much a liar as God the Father is.

    If Calvinism is true, that is. Thank God it is not true. Still, Calvinism’s blasphemies are so subtle and (as you say) ‘scholarly’ they are without doubt Satan’s deceptive masterpiece of the modern age.

    Thanks again for letting me post, you’re bookmarked.

    • Well, not trying for one-upsmanship, but it goes beyond even God enabling someone to believe. In 5-pt Calvinism, regeneration precedes faith, rather than being contingent upon it.

      Along with this, which you said in other words, in presenting the gospel there are two things that cannot be said:

      1. God loves you (because if you’re not one of the elect, He doesn’t)
      2. Christ died for you (because if you’re not one of the elect, He didn’t)

      There is a mystery in God’s election from our frame of reference and limited reason and knowledge. We also know that no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws Him.

      But we don’t know the “mechanics” of exactly how this works – which undoubtedly requires an omniscient, omnipresent and eternal Being to grasp fully.

      Unfortunately, neither full-blown Calvinism nor full-blown Arminianism are content to leave it at that.

      My view is that we leave it where the Bible leaves it and accept that by faith. Anything less than this leaves us with a man-distorted theological mess.

      Thanks for your comments.

  4. Agreed, brother. Don’t worry about looking one-upmanlike, you don’t. Just iron sharpening iron unto the truth, as it should be.

    Since you bring up election, let me leave this particular conversation (since we’re on much the same page) with this: an elderly pastor friend of mine has a convincing case that if you look at the biblical references to election, it’s not individuals being elected to salvation – he insists none are, as that would make God a respecter of persons, which the Bible repeatedly denies – but that Christ Himself is God’s elect One. Believers *become* elect “in Him,” unto positions of service within the Body. No one today is elected unto salvation, Augustine, Calvinism et al notwithstanding.

    I’ve not seen this intriguing angle expounded elsewhere and he’s long issued a challenge that, to my knowledge, has never been adequately answered: drop all Calvinistic presuppositions (that many of us carry without knowing it) and find one verse in the N.T. where it says, describes or implies an individual being elected *TO SALVATION.* He insists no such verse exists, not even in Romans 9. Anyway, it’s a fascinating, eye-opening study if you ever want to pursue it.

    Thanks again for your time and communication. Grace to you and yours!


    • Thanks, Don.

      Yes, I’m aware of this view – and it does have appeal, as well as a degree of biblical support. Of course, each view has at least the appearance of biblical support in different places or it really wouldn’t be a discussion among those with a high view of Scripture.

      Obviously, we have to go with the view that most consistently is able to handle all of the relevant biblical passages.

      I’m not sure this view does that fully.

      There are several passages to consider, but one in particular would be 2 Thess. 2:13: “…because God from the beginning chose you to salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

      This passage seems to most concisely suggest the biblical balance or tension depending on how you want to look at it – God’s election and our faith are both necessary components of salvation.

      Again, the mechanics of how that works itself out – I don’t know. Fortunately, we don’t have to be theologians to be saved – we only need to hear and respond to the gospel as the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts.


      • Dave, I’m surprised to see you lending credence to an idea that has no biblical support. 1 Thess. 1:4 says, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” There is no balance or tension in this verse at all. Neither is there tension in the passage in 2 Thessalonians which you noted. Based on the wording of the passage, God’s choosing is not contingent on anything. It is, in fact, unconditional.

        I find it extremely ironic that, in an article which basically proves the apostasy of the evangelical churches in moving from dispensationalism to replacement theology (or “supersessionism”), that the doctrine of election is called into question. The doctrine of election is no theory of John Calvin’s, it is found in the Bible in both testaments and, indeed, in all dispensations. Furthermore, although many Reformed Christians probably consider themselves Calvinists, I doubt many of them understand the doctrine of election, either the one articulated by Calvin, or the one taught in Scripture. If they did they wouldn’t be post-millenialists and supersessionists, both of which are born of unbelief of the Scriptures and human pride that “we” are better than Israel. We are not better than Israel. We are all lawbreakers just like Israel was judged nationally to be, and therefore need grace in order to be saved by faith. This faith is not our own, it is from God. That is election.

        In short, the apostasy is affecting every area of church doctrine, in particular as it pertains to this article and the comments, soteriology and eschatology.

    • God electing sinners to salvation does not make Him a respecter of persons. That is not what “respect of persons” means at all. Have you noticed not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called? I Cor. 1:26. If He elected the high and mighty, and the rich and the famous, that would indeed make Him a respecter of persons.

  5. Dave,

    My last post on this, promise.

    I assume you’ve considered this but if not, take a look at all of 2 Thessalonians–up to, including and past v. 13–not in the light of eternal soul salvation from sin (a Calvinistic presupposition) but of salvation from the coming wrath of God, which the Thessalonians had been duped into believing was already upon them despite Paul’s prior teaching.

    To me, that fits the context of the entire chapter much better…they were worried they were NOT going to be saved from what’s coming upon the earth. Paul assures them that by their election in Christ, they would be most assuredly safe at the pretribulational rapture, were it to come while they were yet alive.

    I do not see soul salvation as a required reading of the passage, especially not in the overall context of persecution and worldwide judgment.

    Of course, Calvinists tend to doubly reject this reading out of hand, not only for the attack on predestination it poses but for the text’s pretribulational tone, which all Reformed thinkers tend to reject.

  6. I agree with much of this article. However, I do have a thought about how dispensationalism has become an accepted part of a “biblical worldview”.
    Dispensationalism is a philosophy, or theory which came from a man, and has become the accepted “glasses” through which most people read scripture now-a-days.
    Has anyone every even questioned its reality and validity based SOLELY on scripture? Have you studied opposing views, to see if they make valid points?
    Any theory that was developed by a man (John Nelson Darby) and earthly institution (Brethren Movement) should be at least suspect. We shouldnt just accept it as fact, just because it has been around and accepted for so long.
    We have been challanging the theory of Dispensationalism, and have begun to look at the facts, and even opposing views. We have been finding enough information to at least see that Dispensationalism is NOT without error, in and of itself.
    Should we TEST EVERYTHING, or NOT? Or are there still some denominational “sacred cows” we should never question?
    No modern day doctrine, philosophy, or theory, that effects the way we interperet scripture is above reproach. If it came from a man in the early 1800’s, and mankind lived without it for 5800 years prior to its invention, then in our book, it is up for dissection.
    Each and every one of us must TEST EVERYTHING!
    Just my meandering thoughts for what they are worth to anyone.

    • Hi Kimberly,

      It sounds like perhaps you are relatively new to the “dispensational discussion” overall – so I will just make a few observations and comments with that in mind. I will just number each point to keep them separate.

      1. Dispensationalism as a philosophy or theory: Not exactly. Actually dispensationalism is a theology – and it came from man no more than the Trinity did. The theological concept of the Trinity is never found in Scripture stated the way we normally explain it. Rather it is a theology that is a compilation of ideas that are based directly on what the Scriptures do say. This is also true of dispensationalism.

      2. Dispensationalism has become the accepted glasses: Although some may do this, this is not the way good dispensational theologians and Bible teachers handle it. Dispensationalism is not the grid through which we interpret Scripture – in other words, it’s not where we start. Rather it is where we end up if you consistently apply a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic. Even those who don’t agree with dispensationalism acknowledge this.

      3. Has anyone question dispensationalism based solely on Scripture: Actually that is the only way dispensationalism is ever defended and I only use Scripture when I teach dispensationalism. There are a number of very, very good books. The classic is Dispensationalism by Charles Ryrie.

      4. It was developed by a man: No, not really. The biblical authors, particularly Paul, we dispensational in their view of Scriptures and history. Darby helped to organize and systematize the various aspects of dispensationalism to a new level of detail – but many who came after him have done very good biblical work to refine his work.

      5. We shouldn’t just accept it….: I have been a believer for almost 30 years and studied this issue for nearly this long and I have never heard anyone just accept it because it has been taught for so long.

      6. Dispensationalism is not without error: I would put it this way, “dispensationalism is not without difficulties” – but that is true of every eschatological system. If not, there wouldn’t be any debate. However, the question system most consistently and comprehensively handles all the relevant passages. In the final analysis, when everything on the various sides is seriously considered, dispensationalism best does that.

      7. Are there still some sacred cows: I have never encountered a serious student of the Bible or solid Bible teacher who ever held on to “sacred cows.” We must always allow the Bible to speak for itself.

      8. Mankind lived without it for 5800 years: No, not really. You can see God dealing with man in various ways in various eras from Genesis to Revelation. Even non-dispensationalists recognize that there are at least 3 or 4 dispensations: From creation to Adam, from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Jesus, from Jesus to the 2nd coming.

      Absolutely agree – everything must be tested. Scripture is the final authority in all things.

      Again, thanks for writing.


  7. In traditional Reformed theology, by contrast to supersessionism, the church comprises the people of God throughout all ages. You don’t have two different entities (Israel, the church) which represent respective stages in redemptive history. Rather, the same entity (the church) goes passes through various stages throughout the course of redemptive history.

    Covenant theologians do not recognize “dispensations” , but “covenants”

    • Hi Ileana,

      Yes, that is true – and sometimes “Replacement Theology” is too loosely used, with some dispensationalists thinking that Covenant theologians place the beginning of the church at Abraham. And in fact, I think I have seen that some non-dispensationalists have framed it that way.

      Either way, the sense in which “Replacement” is generally (and arguably, rightly) used is with regard to the physical descendants of Abraham receiving very clearly literal promises concerning physical land and seed as being superseded by a spiritual fulfillment among the people of God as seen in this portion of God’s program – with the literal promises being abrogated.

      So, in a way, it is as much a matter of semantics as much as anything.

      And such is also the case in the argument that Covenant theologians don’t recognize dispensations, but rather covenants. The fact is that Covenant theologians do recognize there are dispensations (whether they call them that or not) – there are at least two – Pre-Fall and Post-Fall. And arguably at least three – because we no longer sacrifice animals at the temple (among other things). Call these eras what one will – they are still dispensations in much the same way that dispensationalists use the term. Likewise, dispensationalists also see covenants as providing a framework – and in fact dispensations are directly related to covenants – Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, New, etc. The difference is that dispensationalists focus on the explicitly stated biblical covenants based on an inductive study, whereas Covenant theologians focus on theological covenants which are the result of deduction.

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