Contemporary Amillennial Literature Part 2 -- By: Homer Lemuel Payne

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 106:423 (Jul 1949)
Article: Contemporary Amillennial Literature Part 2
Author: Homer Lemuel Payne

Contemporary Amillennial Literature
Part 2

Homer Lemuel Payne

(Continued from the Apri1-June Number, 1949)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 34–82, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–49 respectively.}

Dispensational Distinctions

It is obvious that amillennialism with its age-long church, covenant theology and rejection of a millennium would be inimical to any real distinctions of a dispensational character. Liberal and Roman theologians ignore the question as an issue—perhaps because in the main their religious sphere is that of the creedal churches where dispensational issues seldom rise. The majority of Reformed writers are outspoken in their opposition to any serious effort to distinguish periods in the divine economy. Among contemporary writers this oppositions has been reflected in a repeated charge of recency.

Mauro, for instance, styles dispensationalism as “modernistic,” saying that “it first came into existence within the memory of persons now living.”1 Allis takes a similar position but designates “one hundred years or more” as the approximate period of dispensational teaching.2 Berkhof is more conservative in that he only regards as “modern” those who hold to seven or more dispensations.3 Masselink does not name a period of time but merely uses the descriptive term “Present-day Dispensationalism.”4

Probing behind these discrediting comments, the fact appears that Reformed amillennial writers themselves accept a distinction in time periods under the divine plan. What

they reject are the implications which affect amillennial doctrines of covenant theology and the age-long church.

Berkhof, for example, in his chapter on dispensations claims to accept only two, the Old and the New Testament dispensations. Under the former, he distinguishes separate divine arrangements with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses which—together with his covenant of work (paralleling the Edenic covenant)—requires only the millennium to complete the conventional dispensational pattern.5 Masselink does likewise.6 Further proof of amillennial acceptance of dispensational principle is found in Berkhofs discussion of the various groups coming up for final judgment. He plainly declares that ...

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