"Soli Deo Gloria" As Pinnacle Of Dispensationalism’s "Sine Qua Non" -- By: Christopher B. Cone

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 022:1 (Spring 2018)
Article: "Soli Deo Gloria" As Pinnacle Of Dispensationalism’s "Sine Qua Non"
Author: Christopher B. Cone


Soli Deo Gloria As Pinnacle Of Dispensationalism’s Sine Qua Non

Christopher Cone

In 1957, Charles Ryrie wrote an article published in Bibliotheca Sacra entitled, “The Necessity of Dispensationalism.”2 In the article, Ryrie emphasized the concepts he later referred to as the sine qua non of dispensationalism,3 and in particular he focused on the goal of history as being centered on God’s glory: “the differing dispensations reveal the glory of God as He shows off His character in the different stewardships culminating in history with the millennial glory.”4 Ryrie’s later iteration of the sine qua non (“without which not”) culminated with “the underlying purpose of God”5 as “the total program of glorifying Himself.”6 Despite Ryrie’s emphasis on the centrality of God’s doxological purpose, few later dispensational thinkers have echoed the doxological purpose as a necessary and distinctively dispensational theme. It is not unusual for dispensational thinkers to acknowledge God’s glory as the highest end, yet Ryrie stands nearly alone in his assertion of God’s glory as uniquely necessary for dispensational thought.

It seems clear enough that the consistent application of the literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic would uncover both the Israel-church distinction and the centrality of the doxological purpose. If this be the case, then the significance of including the two conclusions as part of the sine qua non is based not on their methodological usefulness, but rather on their explanatory value. The three elements are not altogether methodological. In fact, only one of the three components is methodological. In addition to that methodological factor, one is theological, and the other is teleological.7 The methodological distinctive of dispensational thought is a hermeneutic one (the literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic consistently applied). The theological distinctive (the Israel-church distinction) is an explanatory litmus test so significant in its practical implications that there may be no single greater theological difference between the dispensational and reformed systems. It is, however, the teleological distinctive that undergirds the theological distinctive. Recognizing the doxological purpose through exegetical examination (governed by literal grammatical...

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