The Glory Of God And Dispensationalism: Revisiting The “Sine Qua Non” Of Dispensationalism -- By: Douglas Brown

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 22:1 (Spring 2018)
Article: The Glory Of God And Dispensationalism: Revisiting The “Sine Qua Non” Of Dispensationalism
Author: Douglas Brown


The Glory Of God And Dispensationalism: Revisiting The “Sine Qua Non” Of Dispensationalism

Douglas Brown

In 1965 Charles Ryrie published Dispensationalism Today. In this influential volume, Ryrie attempted to explain, systematize, and defend the dispensational approach to the Scriptures. His most notable contribution was arguably the three sine qua non of dispensationalism. First, a dispensationalist consistently keeps Israel and the church distinct. Second, a dispensationalist consistently employs a literal system of hermeneutics (i.e., what Ryrie calls “normal” or “plain” interpretation). Third, a dispensationalist believes that the underlying purpose of the world is the glory of God.2

The acceptance of Ryrie’s sine qua non of dispensationalism has varied within dispensational circles. In general, traditional dispensationalists have accepted the sine qua non and used them as a starting point to explain the essence of dispensationalism.3 In contrast, progressive dispensationalists have largely rejected Ryrie’s proposal and have explored new ways to explain the essential tenants of

dispensationalism.4 Despite criticisms leveled by progressive dispensationalists, Ryrie reaffirmed the sine qua non when he revised and expanded his book in 2007.5 It is remarkable that for over fifty years dispensational advocates continue to affirm, debate, and dispute Ryrie’s sine qua non of dispensationalism.

This study is primarily concerned with Ryrie’s third essential aspect, the glory of God. On balance, dispensational scholarship has focused more on the other two distinctives, the distinction between Israel and the church and a consistent literal hermeneutic. E. E. Johnson correctly observes, “In this author’s view dispensationalists have not always given adequate attention to the glory of God in their teaching on dispensationalism. Yet the Bible repeatedly focuses on this aspect of God’s program.”6 I have divided this study into three parts. First, I will explain the controversy surrounding the glory of God as a distinguishing mark of dispensational thought. Second, I will attempt to develop an outline for a biblical theology for God’s glory based on Scripture. Third, I will draw some conclusions about the validity of using the glory of God as a unifying principle for dispensationalism.

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