Let God Be True and Every Man a Liar: Dispensationalistm, Inerrancy and a Doctrine of God

I was just thinking about dispensationalism—I’m sure you ‘just’ do the same all the time ;-)—it is in my life blood, as I have shared multiple times before. It is interesting, maybe you haven’t made this connection before, Bible Pagedispensationalism is necessarily a product of a Christian Fundamentalist doctrine of Scripture, and in particular, a staunch and idiosyncratic adherence to verbal plenary inspiration, and thus then, the inerrancy of Scripture. What’s at the bottom of what Charles Ryrie has called the sine qua non of Dispensationalism—i.e. adherence to a wooden literalistic form of interpreting Scripture—is that whatever God has said in the any part of Scripture, must occur with positivistic emperical fulfillment, or God has lied. And so when God promises in Jeremiah 31 that the nation of Israel will always be His covenant nation, then it is impossible to read this sensu plenior through a fuller meaning in light of its literal fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and in the way the New Testament authors interpret New Covenant language in that light. So Israel must be the focal point of prophetic history, and as most classic Dispensationalists maintain, there are multiple prophecies yet to be fulfilled; even though, it would appear that the New Testament believes the substance of those have already been fulfilled quite literally in Christ.

In short: What’s at stake for Dispensationalists is the belief in the integrity and Sovereignty of God. If one jot or tittle of an OT prophecy is not fulfilled wooden-literally in the nation of Israel; then God is a liar, the Bible is errant, and we are of most people most to be pitied. Maybe this will give you better insight into what’s at stake for the Dispensationalist hermeneutic; a doctrine of Scripture, and more importantly, a doctrine of God.

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4 Responses to Let God Be True and Every Man a Liar: Dispensationalistm, Inerrancy and a Doctrine of God

  1. Bobby Grow says:

    I should say though, that in fairness, that it is true for all Christians that the veracity of the faith is contingent upon God’s Word. Of course the point I am highlighting here, is that what constitute’s the Word for dispensationalists is a wooden-literalistic reading of Scripture, and failing to appreciate that the promise-fulfillment motif finds its reality in none other than Jesus Christ. So where many classical dispensationalists err is by trying to read the primary thrust of Scripture through a nationalist Israelocentric lens, instead of understanding the signficance of the nation of Israel’s vocation in redemptive-history through a Christ conditioned/Christocentric lens. It is not that Israel is not important, nor that the promises to Israel are not important (i.e. the Land, Davidic, etc.), but that the promises have found their fulfillment literally in the person of Jesus Christ, and the Land promise, the Davidic promise etc. will be fully realized in the consummation and iteration of the New Heavens and Earth, the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly Zion.


  2. I think you might enjoy Beale’s comments on the fulfillment of OT prophecy in the NT and the difference between a literate and a literal hermeneutic. Especially since Beale himself is an inerrantist:



  3. Bobby Grow says:

    Hey Derek,

    Thanks for the link. I have actually read quite a bit of Beale in the past, and even on inerrancy; like in his more recently published reference book on inerrancy.

    Unfortunately, he is just as stuck in natural theology as are dispensationalists; but in a different way.


  4. Bobby Grow says:

    One of my profs replaced the L in the LGH with “Literary” Grammatical Historical instead of “Literal” Grammatical Historical; sounds like something Beale is doing.

    I like Beale, his commentary on Revelation is good; but, Derek, I still have problems, desperate ones, with the kind of Federal Theology that underwrites much of Beale’s thought.

    Anyhow, I understand that you are just highlighting the idea of Literary V. Literal (in its rationalist sense), and I totally agree with this move.


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