Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 159:634 (Apr 02) p. 234
by the Faculty and Library Staff of
Dallas Theological Seminary
Robert D. Ibach, Editor
“Dispensational Premillennialism in Reformed Theology: The Contribution of J. O. Buswell to the Millennial Debate,” Jeffrey Khoo, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (December 2001): 697-717.
In this article Khoo, a Presbyterian pastor and academic dean of the Far Eastern Bible College in Singapore, surveys the eschatology of J. O. Buswell, third president of Wheaton College (1926–1940), who was a Reformed, covenant theologian and yet a premillennialist. Basing his survey on Buswell’s two-volume A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), Khoo says that Buswell was a dispensational premillenarian and that such a position by a Reformed theologian should serve as a bridge for a meeting of the minds between Reformed and dispensational theologians.
Clearly Buswell was premillennial in his theology. He believed in a literal, future millennial reign of Christ on David’s throne on the earth; a seven-year tribulation preceding the millennium; historical-grammatical interpretation of Scripture without spiritualizing prophetic passages; a futurist view of the Book of Revelation; and a distinction between the pres-ent church and Israel’s future as a nation in the land.
Khoo says that Buswell differed from dispensationalists only in soteriology. And in discussing that distinction he cites Buswell’s five-point Calvinism as an example. However, a number of dispensationalists are five-point Calvinists, so this hardly differentiates his soteriology from dispensational soteriology. In addition, though Buswell claimed to believe in limited atonement, his view was surprisingly like that of unlimited atonement advocates, for he “taught that the atonement is limited only in its design and intention; it is not limited, however, in its sufficiency and applicability” (p. 714; see Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, 2:141–44).
According to Khoo, Buswell was a dispensationalist in his eschatology. But was he? Several factors suggest that the answer is no. First, how could Buswell be a dispensationalist and a covenant theologian at the same time? Buswell, Khoo observes, believed in the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Most dispensationalists, on the other hand, emphasize the biblical covenants (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New) and do not hold to the theological covenants of works, grace, and redemption. Second, unlike dispensationalists Buswell taught that the church manifested itself in Old Testament Israel (though today, he said, I...
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