Progressive Dispensationalism: an Overview and Personal Analysis -- By: Roy E. Beacham

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 09:1 (Fall 2004)
Article: Progressive Dispensationalism: an Overview and Personal Analysis
Author: Roy E. Beacham


Progressive Dispensationalism:
an Overview and Personal Analysis1

Roy E. Beacham2

Introduction

Keeping abreast of the modifications that occur within theological disciplines is a formidable task. Coming to understand completely all of the nuances and details of theological constructs that diverge from one’s own is even more challenging. Further, it is difficult if not impossible to represent the views of others fairly and accurately. Often, such a task requires picturing a movement or theological construct as monolithic when in reality it has multiple facets and significant variation even among its proponents. Perhaps the gravest danger in summarizing and analyzing opposing viewpoints is not functional but attitudinal. The penchant for fallen humanity to become rancorous, even among the redeemed, is so very basic to our humanness that it is difficult to overcome apart from personal submission to the work of the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, critical, analytical evaluations are often necessary and usually beneficial, despite the potential pitfalls.

An attempt is made here to survey and analyze progressive dispensationalism from the perspective of a more traditional dispensational approach. The survey, to some extent, is abbreviated and superficial. The analysis is personal; it is the author’s alone. The engagement of numerous citations is employed in a desire to represent positions as fairly and accurately as possible. Special care was taken not to cull

citations in such a way as to distort the meaning or intent of the authors cited. Any misrepresentation or inaccuracy is unintentional. Any perception or hint of malice is regrettable. The desire is to be both accurate and affable. On the other hand, the topic is important, the disagreement is substantial, and the implications are extensive. Progressive dispensationalism has had great impact on the theological landscape of America, and that impact is a matter of concern to many, not because the disagreement is personal, but because it is theological, and theology matters.

The Birth Of Progressive Dispensationalism

The roots of progressive dispensationalism as a movement can be traced to the early 1970s if not earlier. The movement was born in the spirit of evangelical ecumenicity and theological rapprochement. A desire was growing, among some dispensationalists, to find amicable, middle ground in the old theological skirmishes between dispensationalists and covenant theologians. With this goal in mind, the dispensationalists who sought rapprochement began to emphasize the refinements that occurred within dispensationalism ov...

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