The Parables of the Kingdom: A Paradigm for Consistent Dispensational Hermeneutics -- By: Ronald N. Glass

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 05:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: The Parables of the Kingdom: A Paradigm for Consistent Dispensational Hermeneutics
Author: Ronald N. Glass


The Parables of the Kingdom: A Paradigm for Consistent Dispensational Hermeneutics

Ronald N. Glass

In an attempt to refine the position of traditional dispensationalism1 and to address lingering questions which the Darby-Scofield system left unanswered, some evangelical scholars have recently advocated a so-called … progressive dispensationalism.”2 This new form of dispensationalism, which views each dispensation as representing progress over the previous one within the unified plan of God, is really a synthesis of traditional dispensationalism and Covenant Theology.3

In reality, however, progressive dispensationalism raises more questions than it answers. These questions are, above all, hermeneutical.4 Fhe problem that needs to be addressed may be asked this way: is compromising the principle of literal, grammatical-historical exegesis an acceptable price to pay for such rapprochement? This paper proposes that the hermeneutical problems entailed in traditional dispensationalism’s approach to the prophetic Scriptures have not been the fault of an excessively literal understanding of the text, but of a failure to maintain the literal grammatical-historical interpretation with consistency.5 A thoroughly dispensational hermeneutic, consistently applied, however, yields a far more satisfactory interpretation than either the non-literal methods of Covenant Theology, the compromising methods of the traditional approach, or the eclectic methods of progressive dispensationalism.

The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God in Dispensational Thinking

No more conspicuously has the confusion of inconsistent dispensational interpretation been apparent than it has in the case of the Parables of the Kingdom, the series of seven parables recorded in Matthew 13. Over forty years ago, Charles Ryrie correctly observed that “the details of this chapter have been a

battleground for interpreters through the years.”6 it still is. The first question that must be answered in approaching these parables is: what is this “kingdom of heaven” of which the Lord Jesus speaks? The identity of the kingdom is one of the major issues at stake in contemporary discussions among dispensationalists. A major problem for traditional dispensationalists is that the Scofield Reference Bible so confused the subject that for many, the concept of the kingdom has been ser...

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