Prophetic Hermeneutics -- By: George E. Meisinger
CTSJ 10:2 (Fall 2004) p. 43
George Meisinger is the president of Chafer Theological Seminary and professor in the Theology, Old and New Testament departments. He earned a B.A. from Biola University, a Th.M. in Old Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary, a D.Min. in Biblical Studies from Western Seminary and has pursued Ph.D. studies in Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological Seminary. He also pastors Grace Chapel in Orange, California. His e-mail address is [email protected].
Why is it that covenant theology and dispensationalism, two schools of theological thought embracing a high view of inspiration and claiming to employ a historical-grammatical hermeneutic, are miles apart in eschatology? It is apparent that something operates under the hermeneutical landscape to create this eschatological chasm. Two sources bring this gap into focus: Vern Poythress’ booklet titled Understanding Dispensationalists1 and Charles Clough’s journal article titled “A Meta-Hermeneutical Comparison of Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.”2
The definitions of literal interpretation and fulfillment are key to grasping the hermeneutical gap between covenant and dispensational eschatologies. Poythress meets both definitions head on. He sees a proper definition of these terms as crucial to one’s management of the biblical notion of covenant and prophetic fulfillment. Clough likewise views these as important issues and shows by means of informal symbolic logic3 why dispensationalists and covenant theologians make the choices they make when employing the historical-grammatical (often called “literal”) hermeneutic. Clough’s penetrating article reveals why a literal hermeneutic to one school does not mean the same thing to the other.
The issue of literal interpretation
Poythress points out that dispensationalists of all stripes “have in common. .. a particular view of the parallel-but-separate roles and destinies of Israel and the church,” and then adds that in nearly all ages most Christian branches have recognized different dispensations in God’s government.4 Perusing the theologies and commentaries of both dispensationalists and covenant theologians bears this out.
CTSJ 10:2 (Fall 2004) p. 44
Bifurcation of Peoples
Poythress gives a brief historical overview of Darby’s and Scofield’s teachingYou must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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