Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:469 (Jan 1961)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Backgrounds To Dispensationalism. By Clarence B. Bass. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960. 184 pp. $3.50.

According to the author, who is associate professor of systematic theology at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, the purpose of this volume is to enlighten the “pastor-dispensationalist” defined by the author as one who holds dispensationalism without actually having worked out all its details or principles. In attempting to inform the uninformed, the author avows an “unbiased approach” and claims that “at all times an effort has been made to deal fairly and objectively with the ideas and events that come into view” (p. 8). Anyone who is a student of dispensational truth will soon discover that the author has fallen far short of his declared purpose.

In order to study the subject of dispensationalism “dispassionately and objectively” (p. 8), as the author claims he has done, one must define the subject impartially and accurately. The definitive chapter, however, contains statements which are untrue, unfair, or misrepresentative of normal dispensationalism. It is difficult to understand how a scholar who is attempting to be unbiased and who possesses the extensive bibliography which the author lists could arrive at such a distorted picture of the theological and historical facts about dispensationalism. One has only to examine chapter one where the author deals with the distinguishing features of dispensational to realize that the author must be dreaming when he thinks he is without bias.

On pages twenty-three and twenty-four the author states: “Dispensationalists will not interpret the obviously literal as literal, and the obviously symbolical as symbolical. Everything must be literal.” Such a sweeping statement must certainly have scholarly proof. Bass does not cite a single dispensationalist in support of his contention that “everything must be literal.” The reviewer knows of no dispensationalist, Darby, Scofield, Chafer, or even an extremist like Bullinger, of whom this is true. The author’s statement is misrepresentation and unsupportable.

On pages twenty-one and twenty-two there is a similar statement: “When the principle of literalness, however, is pressed in a rigid and unyielding manner upon every Scripture, this very principle, which is the natural one to be employed, actually perverts the meaning of the text. Dispensationalism does this to the extreme.” The reviewer would challenge the author to cite one dispensationalist, however “extreme,” who fulfills this supposedly “unbiased” definition of dispensationalism. No dispensationalist insists that every verse in Scripture should be interpreted in a literal way.


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