A Brief Response to Matt Waymeyer's Article, "Am I a Dispensationalist?"
Nathan Pitchford, Psalm45publications.com
Dispensationalism is a very broad school of thought, encompassing within its ranks of self-professed adherents some very extreme and dangerous ideas. But I am pleased to say that Matt Waymeyer's article, "Am I a Dispensationalist," (found here on Christianity.com) has admirably avoided many of the worst consequences that the camp has historically given rise to among its less respectable devotees. In fact, as soon as he begins, he commendably disavows a whole assortment of various errors that have cropped up among self-professed dispensationalists throughout the years. His own explanation, on the contrary, is marked by a thoughtful approach to the biblical witness and a very helpful, "big picture" overview of the history of God's covenants as recorded in the Scriptures. For that much, I heartily commend him.
In fact, I agree with the bulk of what he says in his article. But I do have a couple of simple questions. Let me grant that much of what he is saying is true, that is, that God gave his promise of redemption and possession of the Promised Land to Israel; that he expanded that Promise to David; that he spoke of the fulfillment of the Promise in a New Covenant; and that, as an ethnic entity, he has not permanently disavowed Israel, but is even now preserving a remnant of them in his covenant and might bring them to Himself in much vaster numbers near the end of the age (a respectable, if not irrefutable, exegetical possibility from Romans 11:1).
So far so good; but my question is this: have Gentiles been brought in to become heirs of all those same promises or have they not? If they have—that is, if they have been grafted into the same tree that sprang from the roots of the patriarchs (Romans 11:1), if they have become Abraham's seed by faith and heirs of the promise given to Abraham (Romans 4:1 and Galatians 3:1), if the New Covenant has been confirmed to them, so that they are now the heirs of the Land promised to Abraham (Hebrews 8:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 4:13, Matthew 5:5), then that admission makes his system so far removed from historic dispensationalism that it can no longer legitimately be called such. Will ethnic Jews continue to be saved? Yes. Will they know a future mass conversion? Possibly (although I find the exegetical support for that point tenuous). But when they are converted, they will be brought back in to the same tree that the Gentiles have been grafted into, where there is no longer Jew or Gentile, but all have become Abraham's children and heirs through faith. And that is the one point upon which dispensationalism stands or falls.
You see, it is not really a question of whether Jews will be converted en masse in the future. It is not a question of premillennialism (although I have a definite opinion on that point). It is a question of whether or not anyone can be saved apart from participation in the covenants of God, that is, whether or not one may be justified without being a member of the promised New Covenant, which guarantees for all its members the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham and David. Are Gentiles who believe members of the New Covenant, and heirs of all the promises made to the fathers? When God fulfills his promise of restoration completely and finally, will it be a restoration in which all the Gentiles who call upon the name of the Lord will be included, and made a part of his people? Is there or can there be an ongoing distinction between Gentiles who are a "kingdom of priests" (1 Peter 1:9), who are "Abraham's seed and heirs according the promise" (Galatians 3:27), who have participated in the cup of the promised New Covenant (Luke 22:20); and ethnic Jews who by faith and perseverance are also Abraham's true seed and members of the Covenant, or who by a future conversion will become such? There can be no division between such either now or in the future, any more than there can be a division in Christ, in whom alone is eternal salvation, the fulfillment of every promise (2 Corinthians 2:20), the inheritance of every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), both now and forever.
That is the hinge upon which the entire matter turns. And I trust that the clear scriptural passages I have compiled will put the matter beyond any doubt to the honest and careful reader, who submits to the testimony of God on these most important of issues. To Him alone be glory in Jesus Christ and in the Church!
Nathan Pitchford owns psalm 45 publications and is a regular contributor tomonergism.com. For further discussion on the topic, visit Psalm 45 Publications'dispensationalism archives; or, for more research, browse Monergism's extensive resources on dispensationalism.
Nathan Pitchford's more comprehensive critique of dispensationalism entitled, what the bible says about the people of god is available as a free download here.