A Meta-Hermeneutical Comparison Of Covenant And Dispensational Theologies -- By: Charles A. Clough

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 07:2 (Apr 2001)
Article: A Meta-Hermeneutical Comparison Of Covenant And Dispensational Theologies
Author: Charles A. Clough

A Meta-Hermeneutical Comparison Of
Covenant And Dispensational Theologies

Charles A. Clough*

[*Editor's note: Charles Clough earned a B.S. degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Th.M. in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a M.S. in Atmospheric Science from Texas Tech University. He pastored for eleven years and has spoken at conferences and creation-evolution debates. He has served in the United States Air Force as a Weather Officer and in the Army as a supervisory meteorologist. His email address is [email protected]]


The two-centuries old conflict between covenant and dispensational theologies continues despite several attempts at amicable dialog.1 Thus, Christian radio, magazines, parachurch meetings, and bookstores expose congregations to the controversy (or, at least, to its effects). Although congregational members cannot become experts in every detail of each version of the conflict, unless they understand the basic conflict, they will likely retreat into a doctrinal agnosticism, concluding that Bible study is an exercise in confusion. This article seeks to offer an alternative to the foregoing scenario by examining how Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology differ in their basic approach to Scripture.

Why Differing Hermeneutics?

Bible teachers often assert that Dispensationalism proceeds from a literal hermeneutic, whereas Covenant Theology uses a mixed hermeneutic, particularly in prophetic passages. However, neither side chose its hermeneutic in a vacuum any more than an exegete mechanically chooses a literal or a metaphorical meaning. An integrated network of beliefs about the world and the Scriptures lies behind the hermeneutic in general and its specific application. This meta-hermeneutical2 background underlies the chasm between Dispensational and Covenant Theology.

Viewing Historical Revelation through
an Informal Logical Grid

Scripture is not an abstract theological textbook, but an ongoing account of real historical events. It gives God’s vantage of what He did with history at various historic moments. This article views the Bible through informal symbolic logic as a set of captured historical revelations3 in order to compare Covenant and Dispensational Theologies.

Terms and Definitions

1. Creator-creature Distinction. The Creator-creature distinction requires separating Creator causes (divine sovereignty) from creature causes (angelic causes, h...

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