Part 2: A Review of “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth” -- By: John A. Witmer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 149:595 (Jul 1992)
Article: Part 2: A Review of “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”
Author: John A. Witmer

Part 2:
A Review of “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”

John A. Witmer

Archivist and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Emeritus
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

As noted in part 1 of this series,1 John H. Gerstner in his book Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth2 condemns dispensational theology as being antinomian (repeatedly in pages 1 through 272) among other things and denounces it as “heresy” (pp. 1, 201, 231). He does so from his personal theological perspective of an extreme Calvinism and a rigid covenant amillennialism, which he considers to be “just another name for Christianity” (p. 107). As a result of this stance Gerstner does not deal at length with the biblical evidence for and against the doctrines of either dispensationalism or his own theology, a fact reflected in the lack of any Scripture index to the book, which has only an inadequate two-page index of persons and subjects.

Also as noted in part 1, an examination of the charges Gerstner makes against dispensationalism shows either that he misunderstands and misrepresents dispensational teaching3 or that he has either oversimplified or exaggerated the issue involved. Gerstner attacks the classic American dispensational teaching of Brookes and Scofield and their generation and insists that more contemporary dispensational teaching has changed only superficially and remains the same as classic dispensationalism. This is not correct. Despite Gerstner’s insistence to the contrary, The New Scofield Reference Bible

and Ryrie’s Dispensationalism Today4 refined classic dispensational teaching considerably. Furthermore, since that time dispensational scholars, under the impact of advances in the field of biblical theology, have been and are continuing to refine their system of theology. As a result even Dispensationalism Today no longer represents dispensationalism today in some respects.

This continuing study and refinement of dispensational theology does not constitute a “tiring of this burden” of “the faith of their fathers” by contemporary dispensationalists, as Gerstner concludes (p. 159, n. 19); it is simply an effort to understand and interpret God’s infallible revelation better. It is expressed in the activity of the Dispensational Study Group of the Evangelical Theological Society, which held its first public meeting November 20, 1986. At its annual meetings since then it has attracted nondispensationalists as well as dis...

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