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Thursday, May 03, 2018

A Pauline Dispensationalist Speaks

You probably haven't noticed. I've been having a conversation with "Anonymous" (because giving your name makes you too accountable?) about Pauline Dispensationalism. He (she?) is in favor of it.

In case you missed that one (back in July of 2010), I explained there the concepts of "Pauline Dispensationalism" where the idea is that Paul offered a "new Gospel" that the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament didn't see. Only Paul. Not John. Not the writers of the Gospels. Not James or Peter or the author of Hebrews. Not even Jesus. Just Paul. Of the 66 books of the Bible, only 13 apply today. Oh, they suppose you can pull up some interesting background information and such, but with the exception of Paul's epistles, nothing else in the Bible is applicable today.

The principles of Pauline Dispensationalism are of interest themselves. They argue that the entire Old Testament (which would, in essence, include Matthew through Acts and Hebrews through Revelation, not being written by the New Gospel writer, Paul) teaches "saved by works", that everyone prior to Paul was saved by ... wait ... Anonymous's words ... a "performance-based acceptance program." In this early, rejected model, apparently, there were people who proved good enough to get to heaven using this "program," but the good news is that we no longer need it. Paul came up with a better plan. (We know this because he claimed it was his gospel (Rom 2:16; 16:25; etc.)) They preach "saved by grace through faith apart from works" (Eph 2:8-9) alone with heavy emphasis on the "alone", completely ignoring Ephesians 2:10 which says that we are saved "for good works" or Philippians 2:12-13 which insists that we "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." They assure us that it is entirely possible to "get saved" and have not one, single, solitary result from it, like a changed life, a changed heart, anything at all. "All I'm saying," Anonymous tells us, "[is] if a person who never wants to live for the Lord but still wants to be saved and go to heaven they can be saved and go to heaven." They carefully and correctly avoid the Roman Catholic error of "saved by works" and horribly and sadly miss the "saved for good works." They wholly reject James's "dead faith" concept (James 2:17) or Jesus's "If you love Me you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15) claim. (Note that it is a claim, not a command -- "If you ... you will ...") They jettison entirely Paul's concept of the "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15) and suppose that you can be "born again" (although that was Jesus's Gospel ... which Jesus said was indispensable (John 3:3, 5)) and filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18) and it has no effect. Paul claimed that God works all things together for good for those who love God (Rom 8:28) and explains what that good is -- "in order to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29) -- but apparently it doesn't necessarily happen.

I am most disturbed by these kinds of people. Having the initial true Gospel -- "saved by grace through faith apart from works" -- they immediately set out to combat the true Gospel. You can't trust God's Word even though God's Word says repeatedly that you can. You can't pay attention to Christ Himself even though we are called "Christians." They believe that the historic Church got this wrong all along and they, by some means, managed to arrive at this new truth in the last 150 years or so. What does that say about the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13)? They claim to be tied so closely to Paul while rejecting Paul's own words (2 Tim 3:16-17). They argue that they're doing what Paul says -- "rightly dividing the Word of truth" -- instead of doing what Paul intended -- correctly handling God's Word. And they claim that if you disagree on this -- that works has any role in the life of a Christian -- then you aren't saved. You are an "enemy of the cross."

I believe there are Christians in all sorts of "wrong places". I think there are actual Christians in the Roman Catholic church, not saved by Roman Catholic theology, but in spite of it. I am confident that liberal churches have true believers sitting in their pews not because of the doctrines they are being taught, but in spite of them. And I'm pretty sure that these Pauline Dispensationalists have genuine Christians in their midst who are indeed "saved by grace through faith apart from works" but misguided beyond that by false teachers who are eager to mishandle God's Word, strip off Jesus, and leave them without a Lord. "You can come to Jesus and you can be the Master" is a pleasant-sounding line of preaching; it's just not biblical. It is not "rightly dividing the word of truth." I would hope that you, dear readers, would be aware of this kind of misguided teaching, be able to handle God's Word as a whole, and pray for these people who have pursued this wrong course.


Bob said...

From what you have explained so far, i can see how the Pauline dispensationalist, have missed the moon because they are focused on the finger pointing to it. the purpose of salvation is not to be saved only.. but to becomes a lover and servant of Christ. when Jesus said, if you love me you will obey my commands. this statement is both prescriptive and descriptive.
prescriptive in that it is advisable to do so. descriptive in that it describes what lovers of Christ do.. to separate these ideas for the sake of making a case for salvation apart from works, is to forget that we are saved to love, adore and be conformed to the image of Christ.

David said...

Wait, if Revelations says that no new writings will come from God, but Paul's writings are a new revelation, are they not countering Scripture and creating their own new sect a la Mormons or JW's?

Stan said...

If they believe that Paul was correcting the Old Testament, the Gospels, Jesus, Peter, James, and John, then it's no problem, right? (And did Paul write his epistles before or after John wrote Revelation? Sticky questions, eh?) (Hint: The answer is "no.")

David said...

So, either Paul is the only available prophet to us and John was just straight tripping when he said the Gospel was closed with his , Revelation, or Paul is teaching a new Gospel, the very thing against which he taught.

Stan said...

Yes, it's problematic.

Craig said...

Clearly I’ve missed this entire discussion, it’s a strange and contradictory theology.

Stan said...

It is indeed, and yet, despite all the clarity of Scripture, this particular group of people can't seem to see it.