Book Review: Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, And Tomorrow

Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, And Tomorrow, by Gover Gunn & Curtis Crenshaw

While I am no big fan of dispensationalism [1], in reality most of this book left me a bit cold.  Overall, this book can be defined as part of the genre of “coming out” stories where people express their hostility towards the belief system they were once a part of but now are deeply hostile towards.  I’m not unfamiliar with this sort of genre, but by and large I tend to be somewhat negative towards books of this genre, not least because the authors in this genre right with such obvious hostility towards their former belief system and are nowhere near as critical towards their current belief system.  The general attitude is that “I got it wrong before but now I understand things completely,” which is not the right way to look at things.  Rather, a better viewpoint for writers engaged in this sort of writing is a sense of humility towards their insight with the knowledge that their previous errors demonstrated that they could be fooled and so could be fooled again in their current belief system, which would be a good way to look at this false book’s false dilemma between dispensationalism and the reformed (Calvinist) view.

Overall, this book is written with the evident intent to debunk the Dispensationalist viewopint.  For one, the author attempts to reframe the usual dispenstionalist criticism of a view of covenantal theology into a debate between the dispensationalist and reformed views as a whole.  After this the author attempts to place a wedge between the premillennialists of the early Church (John, Papias, and Justin Martyr among them) and the premillennialism of Dispensationalist Christianity.  After this the author writes a great deal attempting to show a greater degree of continuity between the Hebrew scriptures and New Testament in the Reformed view than in the Dispensationalist view, and points out some inconsistencies in the literalism of the latter view that he once held as well as some of the theological problems he notes about the dispensationalist view.  For what it’s worth, I happen to be more favorable to the author’s viewpoint than that he criticizes, but I happen to be critical of both worldviews and think that the author fails by engaging in a false dilemma as if one has to be either one or the other, not recognizing the more biblical options that exist.

Overall, I felt in this book like someone who did not feel the need to cheer on either Alien or Predator in their dueling worldviews.  After all, both of these worldviews spring from Hellenistic Christianity, and the continuity problem that both worldviews face is that they do not square with apostolic Christianity.  And ultimately, that takes a lot of fire out of the author’s generally just criticisms of Dispensationalism, and means that my agreement with a lot of what the author has to say is compounded by a wish that the author would be more honest and more forthcoming about the discontinuities that exist between the NT and the Apostolic and later Church Fathers who the author and others of his ilk rely on so much for their supposed legitimacy.  The failure of those who hold to Reformed covenental theology to honor or regard, for example, the eternal Sabbath covenant indicates that those who live in glass houses when it comes to inconsistencies and discontinuities should not be so quick to throw stones at others when it comes to their own weaknesses.  Yet this author is not writing a charitable work, but rather attempting to demonstrate he is older and wiser now than he was when he was a Dispensationalist.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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