A Short Primer on Hermeneutics -- By: Thomas Baurain

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 10:31 (Dec 2006)
Article: A Short Primer on Hermeneutics
Author: Thomas Baurain

A Short Primer on Hermeneutics

Thomas Baurain, Th.M, D.Min

Vice President and Academic Dean, Calvary Bible Theological Seminary


The respective catalogs of both Calvary Bible College and Calvary Theological Seminary describe our theological convictions as fundamental, premillennial, and dispensational. Among other areas that distinguish this institution of Christian higher education, it can be clearly noted that Calvary is dispensational. As taught at both the College and the Seminary, we further identify ourselves as “normative” in our dispensational theology. For those unfamiliar with the terminology this would be the description of dispensationalism made popular (and understandable) for the most part by Charles C. Ryrie.1 This means that we do not subscribe to extremes of dispensationalism, such as “ultradispensationalism,” nor do we agree with the relatively recent appearance of the apparent moderating position of “progressive dispensationalism.” Most certainly, we do not subscribe to the theological system known as Covenant Theology.

But why do we hold to the distinctive of dispensationalism? Is it really that important? What are the implications of this theological position? What is the significance of describing ourselves as dispensational? We shall attempt to answer these questions during this inaugural McCarrell Lecture Series from four different perspectives. First, I will examine briefly the issue of hermeneutics or the principles of accurate biblical interpretation. Second, Professor Joel Williamson will demonstrate the importance of these principles to Old Testament interpretation as he examines the issue of the Sabbath and the Mosaic Law. Third, Dr. Neil Nelson will examine several critical exegetical issues in Matthew 24. Fourth, Professor John Klaassen will summarize our position by contrasting Dispensational Theology with Covenant Theology. Our purpose will be to clarify for the reader why being dispensational matters to the individual Christian as well as to the Church at large.

The Importance of Hermeneutics to Dispensational Theology

What are the distinguishing features of dispensationalism? Ryrie asked and answered this question by suggesting the sine qua non of the system in his definitive publication. The answer included three critical elements. The first is the distinction between Israel and the Church. The second is the matter of plain hermeneutics or literal interpretation. The third aspect concerns the ultimate purpose of God in the world to be bringing glory to Himself.2 While the essence

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