Dispensationalists And Spirit Baptism -- By: Larry D. Pettegrew

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 08:1 (Spring 1997)
Article: Dispensationalists And Spirit Baptism
Author: Larry D. Pettegrew

Dispensationalists And Spirit Baptism

Larry D. Pettegrew

Professor of Theology

An area of debate among dispensationalists has involved continuity and discontinuity of Spirit baptism from dispensation to dispensation. Classic Dispensationalism as a whole endorsed the position of discontinuity. Revised Dispensationalism did the same with even more emphasis, a few of its spokesmen doing so by proposing two New Covenants, one for Israel and one for the church. With the abandonment of the two-New Covenants view by revised dispensationalists came the introduction of Progressive Dispensationalism. Progressive dispensationalists have proposed continuity of the doctrine of Spirit baptism from the OT through the church age into the future millennium. They likewise have suggested that the “body” metaphor for the church applies to all New Covenant believers, even those on earth after the church’s rapture. An alternative dispensational view defends the continuity of Spirit baptism by allowing that OT prophets foresaw its occurrence as did John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, Peter connected earliest instances of Spirit baptism with previous predictions too. Yet the alternative proposal does not go so far as to indicate continuity of the body of Christ metaphor, but rather limits it to church believers of this dispensation.

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Dispensationalists debate the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit on at least three fronts. First, they have generally been non-Pentecostal and have dismissed as unbiblical the teaching that Spirit baptism produces speaking in tongues.1 Second, they have debated other non-Pentecostal

fundamentalists and evangelicals who believe that Spirit baptism was a second experience after conversion which greatly enhanced power for Christian service. Concerning D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey wrote:

Once he had some teachers at Northfield, fine men all of them, but they did not believe in a definite Baptism with the Holy Ghost for the individual. They believed that every child of God was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and they did not believe in any special Baptism with the Holy Ghost for the individual. Mr. Moody came to me and said, “Torrey, will you come up to my house after the meeting tonight and I will get these men to come, and I want you to talk this thing out with them.” Of course I readily consented, and Mr. Moody and I talked for a long time, but they did not altogether see eye to eye with us. And when they went, Mr. Moody signaled me to remain for a few minutes. Mr. Moody sat there with his chin on his breast, as he often sat when in deep thought; then he...

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