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Dispensationalism Part 10: Extreme Views

Updated on December 5, 2018
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Barry is the founder and director of Expositors International Ministry and dean of Bible Expositors Seminary, Philippines.

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E.W. Bullinger

E.W. Bullinger was a clerical secretary of the Trinity Bible Society. AFter graduating of King’s College, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1862. Bullinger was a direct descendant of the famous Swiss reformer, Johann H. Bullinger. E.W. departed from the teachings of the Anglican Church and embraced Dispensationalism. It is worth noting that he was influenced by the Plymouth Brethren as well as Bishop Joseph Butler.[1]


He is perhaps best known for The Companion Bible. This work was a commentary on the KJV Bible and contained 198 appendixes. It was through his study Bible, his positions in various organizations and his other writings that his views on Dispensationalism were spread. Other men, like Charles Welch, carried his views forward. Bullinger believed that the four Gospels belong to the Age of the Jews. He also departed from the belief held by Protestants that the New Testament Church was founded on the Day of Pentecost. Instead, Bullinger said that the assembly in the Book of Acts cannot be the New Testament Church because there are both Jews and Gentiles present as members. Today, most of the extreme Dispensationalists believe that the Church was not established until the time of Paul's Epistles.

They create a sort of Mini-Dispensation that occurs at Pentecost and goes through the Book of Acts. Because of this mixed church, they conclude that the teachings of the Gospels and of Acts have no bearing on the New Testament church which is exclusively a Gentile Church, or at least a Church that is in the Age of the Gentiles. Many Hyper-Dispensationalists deny any observances in the Gospels or Acts as being valid for the Gentile Age. This includes Baptism. A few will even exclude the Lord’s Supper as valid for the New Testament Church.[2]

There are few if any Bullingerists today. This is not to say that his works have not had an influence. What we seem to find is variations of his view showing up mixed with other views. With the later day extreme Dispensationalists, we find smatterings of Bullingerism as well as other obscure positions. One example of this would be the “Baptist Briders” movement.


The Baptist Briders

The Baptist Briders

I would say that the “Baptist Brider” movement is a subset, of a subset of a subset. Obviously, they claim the name Baptist but they are a real minority. In addition to embracing the “Doctrines of Grace” (that is the sovereignty of God in election), they deny that they are part of the Protestant lineage. They claim to have preexisted Protestantism.[3] They are part of the “Landmark Baptist” movement. Landmarkism was an attempt to establish that Baptists were the original New Testament Church and they can trace their lineage back to John the Baptists. In this way, they could argue that they predated the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ or Church of Christ) as well as the Presbyterians and even Roman Catholics.

I consider this to be a very weak position in that it is based upon a reaction and not upon sound exegesis. The Landmarkists start with a presupposition that they are the only true, historical church of the New Testament. They list groups that they consider to be proto-Baptist in an attempt to establish a lineage going back to the Apostles. However, these groups were not only not Baptist but were often heretical. Scholastic study of history will not bear out their claims. In order to counter the historical accounts of church history they resort to grand conspiracy theories to say that the historians ignored the evidence for the Baptists church. However, when pressed to present evidence they have none. Of course, they have a proof text or two but the totality of the argument is very weak.[4] The argument is narrowly circular and utterly absurd.

-God always had a true people

- Baptist is the true church

: Therefore, there has always been a Baptist Church.

As if there have not been enough subdivisions already, there are also two camps within the Briders. The first camp believes that the New Testament Church (which is Baptist only) will be the Bride of Christ while the Old Testament believers will be guests at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This is a form of Hyper-Dispensationalism that continues to see the radical separation of the Church and the Jewish people continuing even into the eternal state. The second group sees not only the Old Testament believers but also those Baptist churches which were not faithful to remain separate and hold to strict doctrines as also being excluded from the Marriage Supper.

CLICK HERE for more on Landmarkism


Christian Zionist Movement

No one person has done more to promote this view than the Reverend John Hagee. Taking a wooden-literalistic approach to all Old Testament text, he and others in this movement teach that the “nations will be blessed” by their allegiance and alliance with the ethnic nation of Israel. To this end, they work to influence government and business to support and preserve a Zionist state at all costs. We will speak more about Hagee in a future article.

The Confused

Without a doubt, this moniker would refer to the vast majority of Dispensationalists. They believe in the new birth, the atonement of Christ and the necessity of the New Testament Church but they do not see it as the ultimate work of Christ. They see the Church as simultaneously disconnection from the Old Covenant and yet as a continuation of people of the ethnic Israel. For them, the Church is not the fulfillment of typology in the Old Testament by Christ and the new birth, but rather Israel is the real people of God and the Church is tacked onto Israel the nation. We can see this even in the most educated and respected of the Baptist camp.[5]

“Grafted-In”

By cobbling together a string of proof texts, this group sees the New Testament Church as a part of the Old Covenant people. Their primary proof texts come from Romans 11:

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (verse 1)

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. (verses 17-18)

We will deal in detail with the exegesis of these and other proof texts in future articles.

Footnotes

[1] Joseph Butler (1692—1752), was a religious philosopher. What is relevant to us is that Butler saw morality as part of nature and that the Bible should be read like any other book. He said that religious knowledge does not supersede revelation but rather is in addition to natural knowledge.

[2] Some of the followers of Bullinger went on to affirm other aberrant teachings such as “soul-sleep” or annihilationism. For a complete treatment of Bullinger’s work see Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth by H. A. Ironside. This work is very interesting given that Ironside was not arguing against Dispensationalism, which he believed, but the abusive extremes that many had gone to.

[3] Not all who make this claim go as far as Landmarkism. Some, whom I refer to as “perpetuity” Baptists, claim that God has always had His people, and His people were Baptist, even if they cannot prove it historically. It is an argument from silence, at best.

[4] Please see the author’s article on Landmarkism. For a presentation of Landmarkism see The Trail of Blood by J. M. Carroll.

[5] Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Twitter, Oct. 28, 2018 in response to a shooting at a Synaggue in Pittsburg, PA.


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