Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CenQ 3:3 (Fall 1960) p. 47
BACKGROUNDS TO DISPENSATIONALISM, by Clarence B. Bass (Wm. B. Eardmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids 3, Mich., 1960, 184 pp., $3.50).
The author of this volume is associate professor of theology at Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., the official seminary of the Baptist General Conference. The major argument of the book is simply stated: that dispensationalism had its historic beginning with J. N. Darby and the Plymouth Brethren movement, and that it is a departure from the historic premillennial position. A large portion of the book is devoted to an analysis of the life and theology of J. N. Darby, including two whole chapters on his beliefs concerning ecclesiology and eschatology. The author repeatedly insists that dispensationalism (of the type presented in the SCOFIELD BIBLE) is novel, extreme, and foreign to orthodox theology. While he makes reference to a work which disproves his major premise, he does not adequately deal with it. This is the historical investigation of dispensationalism which Arnold Ehlert wrote some years ago (cf. “A Bibliography of Dispensationalism,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, Vol. 102, 1945). Ehlert shows that many writers in various periods of church history have held to dispensational systems of one kind and another. Bass has not given careful attention to the evidence for dispensationalism prior to Plymouth Brethrenism. Most will agree that dispensationalism has expanded and sharpened its theology in many areas, particularly in the past hundred years. Nor would any informed dispensationalist deny the debt owed to many Plymouth Brethren authors for their contributions in this area. The claims of dispensationalism cannot be answered by an attempt to prove the method different or queer. Bass makes much of the fact that church creeds and “Reformation theology” do not contain dispensational principles. The fact is that dispensationalists do not endeavor to guide their theology along the lines of creeds or Reformers. Dispensationalists appeal only to the Word of God. The fact that Reformers’ and church fathers were not dispensationalists does not make dispensationalism an un-Scriptural system. These ancient churchmen were wrong in many areas of theology. The test of the truth or error of dispensationalism lies in an examination of its premises by the Bible. Prof. Bass’ book will confuse many and will no doubt be praised by many who thoroughly enjoy the contemporary sport called “anti-dispensationalism.”
—Dr. Ernest Pickering
SEVEN DISPENSATIONS or THE WORK OF CHRIST IN THE COVENANT OF REDEMPTION; DEVELOPED IN SEVEN DISPENSATIONS, by J. R. Graves (Baptist Sunday School Committee, Texarkana, Ark.-Tex., 1928, 569 pp., $3.25).
Originally published in 1883, again in 1928, this much-demanded...
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