Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Harbinger Critics: The Dispensationalist Connection

Just had a theological/hermeneutical ton of bricks land on my head. As it were.

I've noted before that dispensationalism has been guiding some of the criticism of The Harbinger, but I managed to forget that and focus on the separate arguments. While taking note of its influence to some extent I was hoping to avoid getting into such a thicket of theological controversies.

Now it's hitting me that it is this system of theology, or system of hermeneutics, that is THE basis of the attack on The Harbinger. This came as a depressing realization as I've been grappling with David James' book. Unfortunately it looks like I'm going to have to get into it to some extent, and even a small extent is already far beyond where I wanted to go with such questions.

Why is it there is such a divide among conservative Christians on The Harbinger? James asks that question and I found myself coming to the conclusion that it's somehow because the critics all share a theology, a theology that I don't share and that apparently the average reader doesn't share either. But I wasn't yet understanding just WHAT theology that is.

James, who is very saddened by the disagreements on this book among conservative Christians, also attributes it to theological differences, in his last chapter, but he doesn't name the theologies in question.

It took a while for it to sink in. Ah yes. Dallas Theological Seminary. Ah yes, look at who the critics are. James, DeYoung, Howse, McMahon, Thomas Ice, Roy Zuck.

Dispensationalists. Of course. Why did "Replacement Theology" ever come up at all, and why is it still an issue in some form or other? All that stuff I keep wanting to call stupid and so on, that keeps missing the point of The Harbinger, is dispensationalism.

THAT's the cause of the huge divide. Even though many of the book's defenders are also dispensationalists to one degree or another.

And I'm going to have to deal with all this, like it or not. I've collected some links. My work is cut out for me.

More later.


Unknown said...

1. Dispensationalism is *not* a system of hermeneutics any more than Covenant theology is a system of hermeneutics.

2. There are dispensationalists on both sides of The Harbinger issue - so logically that cannot be THE theological issue.

3. Dispensational questions comprise only a portion of the manifold problems with The Harbinger. Even if one were completely non-dispensational the majority of the hermeneutical and historical problems remain.

4. I've both stated and demonstrated countless times that I completely understand the main point of The Harbinger. I can state it again if anyone is interested.

5. When you're dealing with spiritual issues it does make a difference how one gets there - which in the case of The Harbinger is an unbiblical way - being sensationalist and speculative to the nth degree. There are an unlimited number of ways that point could be communicated without all the problems.

6. With the main point being a call to repentance, it is a tragedy that the book doesn't give a clear solution because the gospel is anything but clearly communicated. How could a post-resurrection prophet fail to mention the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the context of a call to repentance and presentation of the gospel?

There are many other issues that I have already covered exhaustively and clearly in my book. So, I'm planning on just bowing out of this conversation for the most part unless I see a compelling reason to jump back in.


Faith aka Connie said...

There certainly is a dispensationalist system of hermeneutics, which I intend to get to in further posts. Here is Tommy Ice on the subject:

Faith aka Connie said...

Hi Dave,
I'm answering your points in my posts as I get to them. Of course dispensationalism isn't the reason for all the criticisms but it is for a surprising number of them.

Thanks for your comments here.

Unknown said...

RE "Dispensational hermeneutics" -

Dispensationalism is a theology, not a hermeneutic when used precisely.

If you will note the way the article develops, literal interpretation is essentially used synonymously with dispensational hermeneutics - which makes things somewhat confusing.

Stated perhaps a bit more carefully, "literal, grammatical, historical" is the hermeneutic and "dispensationalism" is the theological result.

In other words, a literal, grammatical, historical (LGH)hermeneutic is where we start - dispensationalism is where we end up.

Because even Covenant theologians agree that consistently applying a LGH hermeneutic leads to dispensational theology.

Therefore, it is true that the two are linked - but in a cause / effect relationship - not because they are synonymous.

I've been involved with teach dispensationalism, Bible study methods, theology and hermeneutics for over 25 years - and have had my understanding of this consistently confirmed by dispensational theologians whenever I have discussed it.

So, although I understand Tommy Ice's point, I think there is a better way to phrase this.


Faith aka Connie said...

That's fine, I can try to be accurate about it. In any case it's the dispensationalist result of the hermeneutic you regard as THE right hermeneutic that I'm objecting to as imposing WRONG biblical views on the Harbinger. My own learning has been mostly Reformed -- obviously pretty hit-or-miss as I'm needing to study this stuff now. I doubt Cahn has that sort of background but the way he wrote the book is perfectly defensible by my way of reading the Old Testament, while dispensationalism invents things to be suspicious about from its own preconceptions.