A Review of Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis – Appendix – “Alternatives to Dispensationalism”

Gribben concludes his book with an appendix called “Alternatives to Dispensationalism.” It is of course very true that there are other alternatives to a dispensational view of the Scriptures. Yet, does Gribben effectively understand dispensationalism so as to offer helpful alternatives to the movement?

He first notes that we must all acknowledge dispensational distinctives, in that he means that there are different epochs in redemption history that we need to note. Even the staunch opponent to dispensationalism notes the differences in 2 dispensations; namely the Old and New Testament. But because of this, we note that therefore this is not necessarily a distinctive of dispensationalism. We refer then to the sine qua non of dispensationalism. The major hallmarks of dispensationalism is a distinction between Israel and the Church, a literal hermeneutic, and viewing God’s main purpose in history as that of pursuing His glory. But Gribben does note these things later.

He looks briefly at the systematization of dispensationalism by Darby and the revision of the 1967 Scofield Bible. He then notes the change toward Progressive Dispensationalism and the work of Bock and Blaising and others. He notes the change on the view of Israel in this movment and the question of whether they are truly dispensationalists any longer.

He then explains the arrival of New Covenant Theology and the distinction between it and Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology and their emphasis on either the first or the second London Baptist Confession of Faith. He then looks at Reformed Paedo-Baptist theology and finally notes that any disagreement between the various movements should be done with grace. He finally notes that one does not have to be a dispensationalist to be a premillennialist.

It is not Gribben’s intention to go in-depth on the different positions but simply to say there are different positions outside of dispensationalism. In that I agree. I may quibble about the differences and how he views the importance of some of the non-dispensational distinctives but overall, Gribben traces the differences fairly well. It would have been nicer if this section was longer and more in-depth.

Overall, Gribben’s book is absolutely tremendous. As a dispensationalist I feel it is important to look at the popular mainstream approach to our theology and note the problems and work to fix them and to focus our eyes on the true gospel! Evangelicalism has issues. We are a movement without true theological moorings. We must heed Gribben’s call to faithfulness to the Scriptures and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Whether you are a dispensationalist, a progressive, a New Covenant Theologian, or a covenant theologian, you need to read this book! Could not be recommended any higher!

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