A Tale Of Two Kingdoms: The Struggle For The Spirituality Of The Church And The Genius Of The Dispensational System -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 19:0 (NA 2014)
Article: A Tale Of Two Kingdoms: The Struggle For The Spirituality Of The Church And The Genius Of The Dispensational System
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger


A Tale Of Two Kingdoms:
The Struggle For The Spirituality Of The Church And The Genius Of The Dispensational System

Mark A. Snoeberger1

Dispensationalism exists today because the fathers of the movement had a deep and abiding interest in the spirituality of the church. There were other factors, of course, that contributed to the formation of the dispensational system, and other features of the system that eventually became more prominent, but the primary historical impetus for the rise of dispensationalism was concern for the spirituality of the church. It is my contention and the burden of this article to demonstrate this fact and also that contemporary disinterest in this doctrine has robbed dispensationalism of much of its practical utility. To that end this article will briefly define the doctrine of the spirituality of the church, trace its historical development and role in the establishment of the dispensational system, identify its detractors, and explain why the church generally and dispensationalists specifically need to give greater attention to the doctrine of the spirituality of the church.

The Definition Of The Spirituality Of The Church

While the phrase “spirituality of the church” may refer generally to the spiritual health and purity of the church, the phrase is usually employed more technically to communicate “the notion…that the church has no business as an institution meddling with political or social questions.”2 Stripped thus of all secular jurisdiction, the church’s “prerogative” is instead “simply to declare the truth of God as revealed in his Word and to require that the truth should be professed and obeyed by all under its jurisdiction [i.e., its members].”3 The church is a spiritual kingdom with a strictly spiritual (not social or political) mission/function.

Several caveats concerning this simple definition are in order. First, in arguing that the church has no secular jurisdiction, advocates of the spirituality of the church are not saying that the church cannot speak to the civic duties of its members. The church may (and must) inform its members of their responsibilities as godly neighbors, citizens, parents, children, employers, and employees (see, e.g., Titus 2:1-10). The church may also appeal to the Scriptures in identifying and censuring civic/public vice (e.g., abortion, drunkenness, or homosexuality) by its members under pain of excommunication; likewise, it may appeal to the Scriptures in promoting specific civic virtues by its members as the...

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