False Dichotomies Between The Testaments -- By: Kenneth L. Barker

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 25:1 (Mar 1982)
Article: False Dichotomies Between The Testaments
Author: Kenneth L. Barker


False Dichotomies Between The Testaments

Kenneth L. Barker*

I. Preliminary Remarks

In my presidential letter to the members of the Evangelical Theological Society (dated January 15, 1981) I wrote that “I firmly believe in a truly evangelical ecumenicity and in projects and organizations that foster that ecumenicity, such as ETS.” One of the purposes of this address is to further such evangelical ecumenicity by demonstrating that we are closer in our theological positions than many realize.

In the same letter I made this appeal:

As we deliver papers in our annual meeting and in the regional meetings, let us follow a high level or standard of evanglical scholarship, academic decorum, and professional ethics. Particularly in dealing with opposing viewpoints, let us refrain from ad hominem arguments and instead always be respectful, charitable, fair, and objective. As Christians, we above all people should be exemplars of propriety and etiquette.

Another purpose of this paper, then, is to promote an irenic spirit and thus a greater sense of true brotherhood in Christ. I have been heartened by what Radmacher calls the “growing rapprochement that has been taking place between covenant and dispensational theologians of orthodox persuasion over the last decade or so.1 “For almost ten years I have had the privilege of helping to promote such a rapprochement through involvement with the NIV, which was a transdenominational project, and now the forthcoming NIV Study Bible, which will not consciously advocate either premillennialism or amillennialism. Certainly dialogue must continue between the two theological camps, for it can only result in greater understanding, which in turn will advance the cause of conciliation. I would like to think that this message also moves in that direction. Is this not as it should be in the body of Christ? And are we not united on the issues that matter most? I am especially concerned that both dispensational premillennialists and amillennial covenant theologians begin treating each other more like brothers and less like adversaries or even heretics, which brings me to the next preliminary consideration.

Before tackling some controversial subjects about which we have some honest differences, it will be useful and important for you to know where I am coming from. Hermeneutically (I say “hermeneutically” because, with Gaebelein,2 I be-

*Kenneth Barker, executive secretary of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation and director of the Bible translation department at the New York International Bible Society in East Brunswick, N J, deliver...

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