Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Book review: Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths, by Michael J. Vlach

Dan Phillips has a good overview Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths, by Michael J. Vlachat at his blog: Biblical Christianity . Highlights:

The Author:
Vlach earned his Master of Divinity degree from The Master’s Seminary, followed by a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation was The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism, and it is available online, for a fee. Vlach has a web page that looks almost as due for a face lift as mine, and it's bristling with helpful documents. Vlach is an Assistant Professor of Theology at The Master's Seminary, and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, where he presented a paper on Supersessionism in 2007.
Vlach believes that essential dispensationalism can be defined, and states this as his purpose:Vlach says that he is a dispensationalist by conviction, not by being married to any given system (5).
The purpose of this brief book is to highlight the foundational beliefs of dispensationalism that are truly at the heart of the system. It will also look at misrepresentations and myths about dispensationalism that have muddied the waters of understanding (3, emphases original)
Vlach deals first with the history of dispensationalism (7-12), beginning with J. N. Darby's recognition in the 1800s of Israel's distinction from the church (7), a position Darby said was fully formed for him by 1833 (8). Vlach goes on to discuss three key periods of dominance in the development of dispensationalism: Classical (1802-1940s), Revised or Modified (1950-1985), and Progressive (mid-1980s).

After discussion, Vlach lays out and explains his six essential beliefs of dispensationalism (18-31). Much abbreviated, they are:
  1. NT revelation does not override or cancel the original meaning of OT writers "as determined by historical-grammatical hermeneutics" (18)
  2. Types exist, but Israel is not a type that is superseded by the church (22)
  3. Israel and the church are distinct; the church is not "new" or "true" Israel (24)
  4. Though Jews and Gentiles share spiritual unity in salvation, national Israel has a future role (26)
  5. The nation Israel will be saved and restored with a unique identity and function in the future earthly millennial kingdom (29)
  6. The phrase "seed of Abraham" has multiple senses, so that "the church's identification as 'seed of Abraham' does not cancel God's promises to the believing Jewish 'seed of Abraham'" (30).

No comments: