March 26, 2009

The Fruit of Dispensationalism

Category: Theology - Eschatology,Updates :: Permalink

Last weekend, I lectured on Philippians, taught Sunday School (on the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6), and preached twice (Psalms 6 and 7) at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana. The lectures, given for the Bucer Institute, should soon be online here or here. I had a great time in Louisiana. My last visit was six years ago, and I hope my next visit isn’t that far in the future.

In the Portland airport, on my way back home, I read a new book on eschatology by Auburn Avenue’s associate pastor, Duane Garner. Here are a few paragraphs to whet your appetite. In the context, Garner has been talking about Hal Lindsey’s recommendation that Christians retreat from society because things are going to get worse and worse until Jesus returns:

What is most disturbing about Lindsey’s writing here is that he talks about retreating from a culture that he helped create. When he wrote his first book, the abortion issue had not yet gone to the Supreme Court, homosexuality was still taboo, drugs and pornography were nowhere near as prevalent or as accessible as they are today, marriage was still viewed as a sacred union, and outside of a few areas of this country, it was still expected that nearly everyone worshipped in a Christian church on the Lord’s Day. Then Lindsey came onto the scene proclaiming that we are living on what will soon be the late great planet Earth. Christians accepted the hype and retreated into their homes and their splintered churches while the world went to hell.

After thirty years of this end-times hysteria, the church has fallen from her former influential position in society. Without any plan for the future, and hardly a plan for the present, the church has lost every single significant cultural battle that has faced our generation. The church keeps thinking that if she can just hold out a little longer, Jesus will come back and everything will be all better. After all, any effort to make this a better world will only delay the second coming.

What they miss in the midst of all this madness is that Jesus placed his church in a position to succeed at her mission. He fully expected her to complete her work and we should not expect him to return until she is finished. The failure of dispensationalists to see that the world is already under the Kingship of Jesus Christ has led them to accept defeat at the hands of a powerless enemy. Like the Israelite spies who viewed the land of Canaan and shook in fear at the giants they saw there, dispensationalists do not believe their God is mightier than the giants and they do not believe him when he promises to crush the head of the serpent through the means of his triumphant church. — Duane Garner, Why The End Is Not Near: A Refutation of End-Times Hysteria (Monroe: Athanasius Press, 2008), pp. 37-38.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:39 pm | Discuss (3)

3 Responses to “The Fruit of Dispensationalism”

  1. Dad B Says:

    This problem is seen in non-dispensational circles (e.g., Reformed and Mennonite), too, where young people are not encouraged to get further education to become college profs, journalists, lawyers/judges, politicians, etc. These professions affect societal change. Even pastors don’t lead their congregation in prayer for those in these professions.

  2. Charles Chambers Says:

    Thanks for this piece John and your insights. Your Dad’s comment was informative too. Never thought of it that way.

  3. Mike Bull Says:

    I’d love your notes on Numbers 6.

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