Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 116:462 (Apr 1959)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Dispensationalism In America. By C. Norman Kraus. John Knox Press, Richmond, 1958. 156 pp. $3.00.

The author of this historical discussion, a Mennonite minister teaching in the Bible department of Goshen College, has contributed one of the most complete critical studies of the history of dispensationalism to be published for some time. Though obviously no friend of dispensationalism, the author painstakingly compiles the history of contemporary dispensationalism beginning with the post-Civil War period and brings together a mass of data seldom achieved even by the dispensationalists. The author is to be commended for his studied effort at objectivity and fairness, and, though sometimes falling short, has not stooped to the ridicule and misrepresentation that has characterized some treatments.

Dispensationalists will heartily disagree with some of his conclusions based on the data which he submits. In some cases his own data contradicts his conclusion as in his discussion endeavoring to prove that Scofield teaches different ways of salvation. Though he is correct that Scofield is not clear, it does not seem to occur to the author that Scofield’s real position can best be analyzed as teaching that salvation is only and always by grace, but that in different dispensations faith in God is manifested in different ways. The ground of salvation is always the same. The evidence of it differs.

Like other critics of dispensational premillennialism, the author traces contemporary dispensationalism to Darby and his associates and goes to great lengths to trace the line of influence from Darby. What has escaped the author completely is the major factor that the Bible conference movement, of which Darby was only a part, promoted Bible study itself, especially among laymen, on a scale which post-millennialism in many cases had failed to foster. The success of dispensationalism therefore cannot be attributed to the personal influence of Darby but rather to the fact that it provided a method of Bible study which opened the Scriptures to thousands who formerly were confused by the spiritualizing interpretation of postmillennialism.

Though the author’s presentation is largely historical and factual, the selective principle under which he arranged his material has an underlying fallacy. In America dispensationalism and fundamentalism were closely related as the author shows, but there are important distinctions. In the theological creeds advanced in the fundamentalist controversy, it is significant that dispensationalism is not specifically mentioned. The major battle was over such items as verbal inspiration, the virgin

birth, substitutionary death, and bod...

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