Abiding In Christ: A Dispensational Theology Of The Spiritual Life (Part 2 of 3) -- By: Robert Dean, Jr.

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 07:4 (Oct 2001)
Article: Abiding In Christ: A Dispensational Theology Of The Spiritual Life (Part 2 of 3)
Author: Robert Dean, Jr.


Abiding In Christ:
A Dispensational Theology Of The Spiritual Life
(Part 2 of 3)

Robert Dean, Jr.*

[*Editor's note: Robert Dean, Jr., earned a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and also spent time in their doctorate program. He is the pastor of Preston City Bible Church, Preston City, Connecticut, and a visiting professor at Faith Evangelical Seminary, Tacoma, Washington. Besides an international schedule as a conference speaker, he serves on the board of advisors for Chafer Theological Seminary. His email address is rldeanjr@earthlink.net.]

The previous article in this three part series posed the question, “Why do the same people always seem to line up together on opposite sides even when interpreting different scripture passages?” The verses themselves might appear to have little intrinsic relationship, yet the same theologians and commentators group together on the same sides, facing off in theological debates. The reality of this is never more apparent than in disagreements between Calvinists and Arminians, dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists, and lordship and free grace advocates.

We find the answer to this perplexing question in the theological presuppositions which, though seemingly unrelated to the passage at hand, frequently shape an interpreter’s framework resulting in interpretive decisions consistent with one theological camp or another. However, sometimes a theologian in one camp will inconsistently develop an interpretation more consistent with another camp. Often this is due to undetected presuppositions that shape the interpretation of a passage. The result might produce a dispensationalist who unwittingly holds to the interpretation of a passage that he develops on a presupposition antithetical to dispensationalism.

While wrestling with the interpretive options available for understanding our Lord’s discourse on the vine (John 15:1–10), it became apparent there were two broad groupings: the first understand “abide” to be soteriological—believers abide, unbelievers do not; the second understand abide to describe the believer’s ongoing fellowship with Christ. It was further observed that those who hold to the former position’abiding is

believing’had other views in common including an emphasis on the Old Testament use of the vine imagery to describe the spiritual status of Israel: Just as Israel was composed of believer and unbeliever, so too must the vine in John 15. In contrast, those who held to the latter position’abiding is fellowship’did not emphasize the Old Testament vine analogy as ...

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