John MacArthur – Can You Explain Dispensationalism (Discussion)

Someone posted a link on facebook to a short response from John MacArthur when somebody asked him to explain Dispensationalism. Facebook doesn’t allow lengthy comments, so I’m just providing a better forum for discussion. So discuss.

47 thoughts on “John MacArthur – Can You Explain Dispensationalism (Discussion)

  1. [[Riddlebarger – one instance is the question of whether you can be truly “reformed” and dispy – he says no for the likes of Jmac and others.. hog wash!]]

    We need to be careful here to ensure we are talking about the same thing when we say “reformed.” I believe when Riddlebarger says “reformed” he is referring to more than just soteriology. He is referring to reformed theology as summarized in the confessions. You may disagree with his classification of “reformed” but I just want to be sure there are not misunderstandings regarding what is actually being argued.

    As for Roger’s comments about Darby and the other Dispensationalists, I think (though I could be wrong) he was trying to say that just because Waldron and Riddlebarger’s critiques may not be accurate summations of what you personally believe does not mean that they are being inaccurate in regards to Dispensationalism.


  2. Patrick

    I could be wrong.. but I do not believe the confessions deal with a “reformed eschatology” which is why I have a hard time with Riddlebarger’s calling someone non-reformed based on being dispy at all. I could be wrong.

    I think there might be a real problem with the label of Dispensationalist, remember Darby/Scofield/Chafer didnt agree on many things… do you mean Darby’s systematic approach that emphasis a constant literal interpretation of the word, a distinction between the Church and Israel and allowed him to hold to the doctrines of grace and be a reformed calvinist or do you mean the LEFT BEHIND over spiritualization of bringing upon the rapture?

    This is why I reject that I can not disagree with parts of the modern fathers of Dispensational Eschatology – because they disagreed with each other.


  3. Dispensationalism is not an eschatology. It requires a particular eschatology, but it is more than just talk about the end times. The confessions do not specify an eschatology, but they understand the history of redemption in terms of covenant theology, so it is not inaccurate to say that a dispensationalist is not in agreement with the confessions.

    I don’t believe anyone ever said you’re not allowed to disagree with other dispensationalists. I think the point being made was that you can’t accuse critics of dispensationalism of being inaccurate just because they may not be critiquing exactly what you believe.

    Do you agree with the following 4 tenets of dispensationalism?

    1. a fundamental distinction between Israel and the church, i.e. there are two peoples of God with two different destinies, earthly Israel and the spiritual church,

    2. a fundamental distinction between the Law and Grace, i.e. they are mutually exclusive ideas

    3. the view that the New Testament church is a parenthesis in God’s plan which was not foreseen by the Old Testament,

    4. a distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ, i.e. the rapture of the church at Christ’s coming “in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17) precedes the “official” second coming (to the earth) by 7 years of tribulation.


  4. Patrick

    I was addressing the comment by Roger.. “Scofield and Chafer, along with Darby, are the founding fathers of the dispensational system. They defined it. Jmac doesn’t get to redefine it and still call it dispensationalism”.

    Put simply they didn’t agree on everything.. Darby didn’t believe in a 2nd call of the holly spirit but I think Chafer did.. but the basics are clear.

    1) I believe that Gods “salvation” promises to elect Israel are unconditional and he will bring them to pass, just as the elect in his church.

    2) God’s grace is applied to his elect not by any measure of good in the elect or keeping of a law. Total depravity does not allow us to choose good. Because Israel is elect it can not loose its being marked out for election, just as I can not loose being marked out by God – it was by no merit of mine.

    3) There was no plan B.. God chose to deal with elect israel and the elect in the church by a differant dispensation.. all needing Christ. Romans 11:25 “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

    4) The position of the rapture does not necessarily have to do with being a dispensationalist.. pre-trib or mid-trib fit (some would say post-trib)- because they call for a literal rapture.

    BTW – congrats on your engagement!! We are happy for you guys!!


  5. Jonny C.

    “1) I believe that Gods “salvation” promises to elect Israel are unconditional and he will bring them to pass, just as the elect in his church.”

    My questions are…

    1)Who do you believe that “elect Israel”, to use your terms, is?

    2)What makes one belong to this group?

    I’d also say that affirming a pre, mid or post tribulation rapture of the Church are necessary eschatological conclusions for the dispensational system.


  6. Patrick

    Jon – thanks for popping in.. I can tell I’m in for it.

    1&2 The linage is Abraham to Isaac to Jacob (who is named by God – Israel) – I would not be able to name a person today who is part of the group for sure.. just as I would not be able to know who is elect in the church.

    and yes.. I don’t know any amil DP’s


  7. Patrick

    Rom 11: 27

    “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins”.

    God has not turned away ungodliness from Jacob (Israel) as far as I can see

    As I said before.. I’m not sure who elect Israel is beyond the linage given by God, just as if you asked me who is elect today, but I do know Israel is not the Church… there are far too many places where the Church and Israel are discussed in the NT as separate entities.

    You have asked a lot of questions and I have tried my best to answer.. now I need you to give me a covenantal response to Romans 11:25 that no one seems to want to answer…

    “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

    1) Who is the Israel Paul is talking about?
    2) Who are the Gentiles that are coming in?


  8. Patrick

    Brandon.. sorry forgot to post a reply to you.

    I believe that I (and the church) participate in the new covenant (by grace – to make Israel Jealous) while elect Israel fulfills the new covenant in the future.

    Romans 11:11

    “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their FULL inclusion mean!”

    Israel has to mean Israel here and not the Church.


  9. Thanks for the link. I read the beginning and will try to read the rest later, but I am discouraged from reading it because it fails to even acknowledge the view held by Waldron and I assume all covenant theologians. He does not believe that the Church replaces National Israel, but that there is a true Israel of God, and that this is the Church, and always has been.


  10. Jonny C.

    I’m about half way through the posted article and I have found that it misrepresents the covenant position as replacement theology in more than one place. I took the liberty of looking up the statement of faith of the seminary that produced the document along with the church that is connected to it and it seems to be straight ahead dispensational…that is they are not trying to affirm the Reformed teachings of predestination/election and limited atonement…although they do mention total depravity and elude to the perseverance of the saints. I only point this out because this seminary and church is completely consistent with their hermeneutic system. My understanding was that we were discussing how JMac is inconsistent as is anyone who attempts to blend reformed soteriology with a dispensational hermeneutic and eschatology.


  11. Patrick

    Jon – not here to defend the school. The link was only to address Brandon’s question regarding how a gentile can be a part of the new covenant. I could show you similar links from TMS, but you would question their “Reformed” credentials also.

    It would be nice if you would address the two simple questions I posed above.. so far I have only asked a few questions and none have been addressed.. I’m not quite sure why.


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