Saturday, May 23, 2009

Comparing Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology

Jason Robertson @ Fide-O has compiled a helpful chart comparing Dispensationalism vs Covenantalism, summarizing the two theologies and providing a short list of proponents.

Dispensational Theology

Covenant Theology

Most are Arminian, but many are Amyraldian (4-point Calvinist).

Usually Calvinist.

Usually does not accept the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith.’ There are many systems of hermeneutics utilized by Dispensationlists from hyper-symbolic to hyper-literal.

Accepts the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith’ (allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture)
The Baptist Confession, Article 1.9: The infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. Therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any [part of] Scripture (which is not a miscellany, but a unity) it must be understood in the light of other passages that speak more clearly.

‘Israel’ always means the literal, physical descendants of Jacob (ethnic Jews).

Depending on the context, ‘Israel’ may mean either physical descendants of Jacob, or “spiritual Israel” (who are people with faith in Christ like Abraham).

‘Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16 means physical (national, ethnic) Israel alone.

‘Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16 means spiritual Israel, parallel to Galatians 3:29; Romans 2:28-29; 9:6; Philippians 3:3.

God has 2 peoples with 2 separate destinies: Israel (earthly) and the Church (heavenly). Many do not believe in God’s sovereign election. But for those who do believe that God has an elect, they divide the elect by ethnicity (ie Jew, Gentile).

God always had only one people, the Church who gradually developed through the ages, in accordance with a Covenant worked out in eternity past between the “Three Persons of the Godhead.” (The Cov. of Redemption)

The Church was born at Pentecost after the Ascention of Christ.

The Church began in the Garden of Eden and grew in the Old Testament with the OT covenants and reached fulfillment in the New Testament with the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. God has one family, one church, one flock, one baptism, one way of salvation whether before the Cross or after – by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The Church was not prophesied as such in the OT but was a “mystery”, hidden until the NT.

Recognizes that there are many OT prophecies of the NT Church, and that the NT writers also affirmed this fact (1 Peter 1:10-12; Acts 2:16-35; 3:22-25).

All OT prophecies for ‘Israel’ are for the physical nation of Israel (ethnic Jews), not the Church.

Some OT prophecies are for national Israel, others for spiritual Israel based on context.

God’s main purpose in history is national, ethnic Israel.

God’s main purpose is His own glory, which is revealed in Christ and then through the Body of Christ – the New Covenant Church.

The Church is a parenthesis in God’s program for the ages.

The Church is the culmination of God’s saving purpose for the ages.

The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Isaac and literal Israel (ethnic Jews).

The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Christ, the Seed, and spiritual Israel which is “in Christ” (Galatians 3:16). Thus all who have faith in Christ (are “in Christ”) are the participants in the Abrahamic Covenant.

God’s program in history is mainly through separate dispensations.

God’s program is history is mainly through related covenants, but all those covenants were derived from the eternal covenant that the Trinity made in eternity, the Covenant of Redemption.

Most teach that men in the OT were saved by faith in a revelation peculiar to their Dispensation.

All men who have ever been saved have been saved by faith in Christ as their sin-bearer, which has been progressively revealed in every age.

The Holy Spirit indwells only believers in the Dispensation of Grace, not OT and not after the “Secret Rapture.”

The Holy Spirit has indwelt believers in all ages, and He indwells the Body of Christ in a special way in the present NT era as an anointing upon the Church for ministry from the glorified Head of the Church who is established on the Throne in heaven, and the Spirit will not be withdrawn from God’s people.

Jesus made an offer of an earthly Kingdom that is defined nationally/ethnically to Israel. Since Israel rejected it, it is postponed till a future time when God will remove the Church from the world, and then God will reinstitute OT Israel via a Great Tribulation for seven years, and then Christ will return. At which time, God will send glorified OT saints to join living Jews on the earth to have national dominion over the world for 1000 years. Then Christ will judge the living and dead, destroy creation and make a new earth and bring a golden heaven down to sit upon it.

Jesus’ Kingdom is not defined nationally/ethnically but morally and spiritually. That Kingdom was rejected by national Israel but has been accepted by spiritual Israel who are Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ (Galatians 3:29). Christ rules and reigns over His kingdom now as King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom will be consummated and fully realized at the Second Advent, in which all the unbelievers will be judged and removed from the earth. The curse of the Fall will be removed from the earth resulting in a “new heavens and new earth” of which believers will enjoy as their inheritance for all eternity.

OT believers were not ‘in Christ,’ nor part of the Body or Bride of Christ even now.

Believers in all ages are all ‘in Christ’ and part of the Body and Bride of Christ now.

God’s laws as given in the Old Testament are no longer in effect unless repeated in the New Testament.

God’s moral laws are eternal and are thus in effect forever. OT laws for the government of Israel and temple activity are no longer useful since the inauguration of the New Covenant.

Craig Blaising
Darrell Bock
John Nelson Darby
John Feinberg
John Hagee
Ed Hindson
Carl Hock
David Hocking
Dave Hunt
Thomas Ice
Harry Ironside
Tim LaHaye
David Larsen
Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
Chuck Missler
J. Dwight Pentecost
Charles Ryrie
Robert Saucy
C. I. Scofield
Henry Thiessen
Robert Thomas
Jeffrey Townsend
Jack Van Impe
Michael Vlach
John Walvoord
Kenneth Wuest

Jay Adams
Eric Alexander
Tom Ascol
Isaac Backus
Greg Bahnsen
Richard Barcellos
Rolfe Barnard
S. M. Baugh
Herman Bavinck
G. K. Beale
Alistair Begg
Richard Belcher
James Montgomery Boice
James P. Boyce
John A. Broadus
F. F. Bruce
B. B. Caldwell
John Calvin*
William Carey
R. Scott Clark
Johannes Cocceius
Gene Cook, Jr.
R. L. Dabney
John L. Dagg
Mark Dever
J. Ligon Duncan, III
Jonathan Edwards
Sinclair Ferguson
John Frame
Richard Fuller
John Gill
Robert Godfrey
Robert Hall, Sr.
Charles Hodge
Anthony A. Hoekema
Michael Horton
Dennis E. Johnson
Benjamin Keach
Elias Keach
Tim Keller
Meredith Kline
Abraham Kuyper
J. Gresham Machen
C. J. Mahaney
Fred Malone
Basil Manley, Sr.
Basil Manley, Jr.
Albert Martin
Peter Masters
Keith Mathison
Russell Moore
Iain Murray
John Murray
Tom Nettles
Roger Nicole
Caspar Olevianus
John Owen
J. I. Packer
A. W. Pink
John Piper
Kim Riddlebarger
Jason E. Robertson
O. Palmer Robertson
Robert Rollock
Ernest Reisinger
Robert Reymond
Samuel Rutherford
Philip Ryken
L. R. Shelton, Jr.
Richard Sibbs
R. C. Sproul
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Derek Thomas
Cornelius Van Til
Carl Trueman
Francis Turretin
Geerhardus Vos
Samuel Waldron
B. B. Warfield
Hermann Witsius
James White

*Writings are consistent with CT


Kirby said...

That left column --I'm not understanding where you got that list. I don't think any dispensationalist I know ascribe to all the points the way you present them. I'm particularly thinking about Dr. MacArthur and Dr. Thomas. Just because someone is pre-trib doesn't mean they have to subscribe to every other element of the list. I think you are mischaracterizing folks in both columns, but particularly the dispensationalists.

What do you do with people who hold to facets from both columns?

I'm just not sure what you're hoping to accomplish with broad generalizations and a list of specific so-called subscribers.

Unknown said...

I'd have to agree with the SniperedPastor comment more than I agree with article you have written. Seemed a little "one-sided." You should check out some of the article written about Dispensationalism at this site: or check out this theology: Anyways, thanks for the thought provoking article.

Caleb Kaltenbach said...

I think you need to research progressive dispensationalism, which has taken points from Covenant and Classic Dispensational Theology and merged them together. Darrell Bock, Craig Blasing, Robert Saucy, many Dallas Seminary professors, Talbot professors are of the progressive view now.

Also, MacArthur and The Master's Seminary are all dispensational and 5 pt Calvinists

rob said...

Some of those theologians/preachers in the "Covenant" column may actually be "New Covenant" theologians. E.G. James White.

Angela Hogan said...

Agree that the list on the right is not actually representative of those who claim Covenant Theology proper. I don't believe James White has made his view explicit. John Piper leans NCT. I would have a star for those who hold to 1689 Federalism because it is not CT proper either. I'd be surprised if Begg holds to CT, though it's possible.