May 27, 2007
Warrenism wants to create a seeker friendly environment for the church and dispensationalism wants to create a reader friendly Bible. But both have thrown out the baby with the bathwater! It would seem that the efforts to perserve the authenticity and lasting importance of the Bible many today have perhaps done away with what may be the most important part of the Word. The part that causes men to fall on their face, worship God and know with certainty that "God is with us!"
Dispensationalism (or some variation thereof) has robbed American fundamentalism of the the 'pneumatika' that the 'primitive, apostolic assembly of saints' possessed. God is not wanting us to become pentecostal but he is wanting us to be truly 'Spirit-led' under guidance of the 'perfect law of liberty'. In the primitive church there was liberty of the many members of the body to be spiritually enabled in their specific ministries under the restraint of the inspired preacher. The pastor who has to restrain the zeal of immature believers is better off than the pastor who has to continually motivate believers to be zealous. Many times the resolution of messy people problems are corrected by the move of the Spirit in an obscure corner of the Church. God is not restricted to the interpretations of committees but he moves according to his choosing among diversity. The cessationist theory of dispensationalism has robbed us of the element of Church where the secrets of men's hearts are revealed and they fall on their face knowing they are in God's presence.
Bear with me while I belabor this point. I want to understand the present delima of the Church today. I believe that the present state of fundamentalism in American is largely due to the influence of Darby-Scofield Dispensationalism. The witness unto Christ is marred by materialism, bigotry and depersonalization in the Christian community. Everyone to whatever degree they bear the name of Christ will be a witness unto him either good or bad. Good witnesses are the result of the Holy Spirit comming upon individuals in Biblical fashion. Chauvinistic and Rationalistic coldness pervades the leadership and strives to restrain unbalanced enthusiasm. Much of this restraint comes from the influence of Darby-Scofield dispensationalism and the ensuing influence of arminian/semi-pelagianism. The church has the form of godliness but not the power. It seems to me that some of the clues are hidden in I Cor. 12-14 as to how we conduct ourselves in assemblies and how we become reliant on the Holy Spirit. The harmony that the church achieves is a unique product of the supernatural operation. The reformed believer understands this better than anyone. From the beginning the supernatural creation of life begins the spiritual walk. There must be harmony in the body. This does not mean the weak surrender to the dominance of the strong but that they blend together in such a way that the member that seems unimportant is treated with greater honor in an unpretensious way. Leaderhip has to restrain zeal and enthusiasm but what has to be restrained has to be heard and informed. If it is not restrained there will not be order and if it is not heard and informed there will not be harmony. Order alone eliminates discord and strife and unity above all prevails. Harmony produces the love and trust that identifies holiness and purity. With order, alone, secrets of men's hearts can be concealed but with harmony of a spiritual nature the secrets of the heart are revealed. The world will know that God is really with us!The desire to build a church friendly to sinners conflicts with the desire of God to build a church where the Spirit draws sinners.
Before 1957 A.W. Tozer wrote about the current dilemma of fundamentalism in his day. "A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today (1957) in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years." Tozer's words were prophetic! They are being fullfilled before our eyes.He says: "A generation ago, as a reaction from Higher Criticism and its offspring, Modernism, there arose in Protestantism a powerful movement in defense of the historic Christian faith. This, for obvious reasons, came to be known as fundamentalism."He also said, "Fundamentalism fell victim to its own virtues. The Word died in the hands of its friends. The voice of the prophet was silenced and the scribe captured the minds of the faithful. In large areas religious imagination withered. An unofficial hierarchy decided what Christians were to believe. Not the Scriptures, but what the scribe thought the Scriptures meant became the Christian creed. Christian Colleges, seminaries, Bible Institutes, Bible Conferences, popular Bible expositors all joined to promote the cult of textualism. The system of EXTREME DISPENSATIONALISM which was devised, relieved the Christian of repentance, obedience and cross carrying in any other than the most formal sense. Whole sections of the New Testatment were taken from the Church and disposed of after a rigid system of 'dividing the Word of Truth'.""The error of texualism is not doctrinal. Not its theological beliefs are at fault, but its assumptions. It assumes, for instance, that if we have a word for a thing we have the thing itself. If it is in the Bible, it is in us. If we have the doctrine, we have the experience. If something was true for Paul it is of necessity true of us because we accept Paul's epistles as divinely inspired. The Bible tell us how to be saved, but textualism goes on to MAKE IT TELL US that we are saved, something which in the very nature of things it cannot do. Assurance of individual salvation is thus no more than a logical conclusion drawn from doctrinal premises, and the resulant experience wholly mental."The current condition of American fundamentalism is the "Beliver's Babylonian Captivity"Tozer states, "the letter triumphed, the Spirit withdrew and textualism ruled supreme."A.W. Tozer, 'Keys to the Deeper Life'
The Biblical orthodxy that triumphed in the mid 1800 and was under attack at the turn of the century was a two-fold attack of modernism. What we mistakingly call conservative theology today was a type of liberal theology and both were opposed to orthodox Christianity. Both were humanistic expressions of free will over God's sovereignty. Jesus met both Sadducees and Pharisees in debates. One added to the Scriptures and the other took away from scripure. In the same way opposition to orthodox theology undermined the authority of scripure and denied God his supernatural power to intervene in human affairs. In the plain words of Christ to both groups he says they are ignorant of the Scriptures and God's power. When leaders of the Southern Baptist say they led the church away from liberalism and back on conservative tract they just moved from the backwoods to the middle of the woods, still in the wilderness. Natural processes have replaced the actual presence of God to rule. We have the form of godliness but not the power.
Dispensationalism and evolution have some similarities. Both are theories that are prominent in this century. I started school in 1952 and already we were exposed to the pictures of the development of man from an ape. That picture was a lie from the deepest part of hell. It was a picture that even Darwin himself would not accept. No intelligent scientist would ever see that picture as a reflection of scientific honesty. It was simplistic and emotive ridicule of people's belief in creationism. Yet in public schools it was portrayed as fact. In churches Christians accepted another theory as fact and that was dispensationalism. Both theories have done irrepairable harm to America.Scofield says that the revelation concerning the Holy Spirit is progressive. In the O.T. He comes upon whom He will. On the day of Pentecost He comes upon the whole body of believers. After Pentecost, so long as the gospel was preached to Jews only, the Holy Spirit was imparted by the laying on of hands. (how is this gospel different?) When Peter opened the door to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit, without delay, or other condition than faith, was given to thoes who believed. Though this is one of the many theories of rightly dividing the Word (there are better) Scofield says, "this is the permanent fact for the entire church-age." This faith that Scofield speaks about is not the Faith that Paul spoke of but a semipelagian faith that insults the Spirit of Grace. Incidently He says that this insult is a sin of unbelievers against the Holy Spirit.If Scofield is right here then dispensationalism is equal to blasphemy.The confusion of Scofield is seen in Notes to I Cor 12 when he implies that the Holy Spirit acts in free sovereignty distributing spiritual enablements to believers for service. "There is no room for self choosing, and Christian service is simply the ministry of such gift as the individual may have received."But in I Cor 14 this liberty for ministry is not relevant for us today. So that on one hand He insults the Holy Spirit now he implies that we don't need this primitive liberty we have that which is perfect and we have confusion as to what is perfect and that which is "in part". We have in the words of a famous pastor, Steve Gaines, hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign on our bedroom doors. No thank you Holy Spirit we'll figure it out ourselves. Then to seal the stone door Scofield seals the door shut with the words, "These injunctions are declared to be the commandments of the Lord" Oh My!