Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dispensationalism and Reformed Christology.

They've been doing a number of interviews of with the Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa on Issues, etc. lately. They're very interesting. Espinosa did his Ph.D in historical theology in Britain. I believe he defended last year.

In any case, his doctoral dissertation was about the historical origins of the Dispensationalist theology. He's been really thorough in his study. He's traced the Rapture concept back to the 15th century. Also, he discovered that Hal Lindsey's weird identification of "Rosh" with Russia in the later chapters in Ezekiel came from some obscure German scholar in the 19th century.

Any way, what I find most interesting is his theological critique of what's going on in Dispensationalism. The question is not really if they make bad exegetical arguments (they obviously do), but rather why they would make them in the first place. The guys who came up with this stuff are really smart people and so, you've got to explain why someone so bright would want to believe in a bad argument.

Espinosa's argument is that the problem lies in Reformed Christology. In other words, being that for the majority of Reformed-Evangelicals (all of whom share the same Calvinistic Christology) do not believe that Jesus is here on earth with us in the Eucharist and the Divine Service, but is rather trapped in heaven, they miss and long for his real presence. Hence, they remain disinterested in what goes on in the divine service (apart from the need to have a weekly personal finance/marriage seminar/bad gospel-music stage show) and are obsessed with the coming of Christ in some sort of imaginary future kingdom on earth. Through his 1,000 reign on earth, apparently, they will finally be able to enjoy his real presence.

Now, as Lutherans we know from Revelation 4-6, our Eucharistic practice will be fulfilled in heaven, and therefore we should long for his second coming. Nevertheless, we don't have to worry or obsess over it or feel anguish at his absence. Instead, for the time being, we have heaven on earth in the Divine Service by the direct presence of the God-man Jesus in,under, and with the elements.

This, I think is one of the best critiques I've seen of Dispensationalism. I'd be very interested to read the dissertation itself.


  1. That is an excellent reason for dispensationalism. Does Espinoza develop this theory in his book or in any article?

  2. I think you mean "against."

    I don't know if he did. He did in the interview. That's why I want to read the dissertation.

  3. I know the vicar there, maybe he'll give up the e-mail address.

  4. Fascinating thoughts. I've been thinking about and reading up on dispensationalism and millennialism lately and I too would be curious to read Dr. Espinoza's thoughts on the origin's of the theology.

    I also wrestle with your initial question, i.e., " would they make them in the first place." It's always a pleasure for me to read the Scriptures, study the texts, teach in my parish, and get to a point and say, "It just couldn't be any other way."

    It also gets my mind going on conspiracy theories -- how many false teachers know they're wolves in sheep's clothing, and how many will be shocked and surprised by it when the end comes (obviously, a lot of them, as Jesus points out in Matthew 7)?

    Thanks for putting this name on my radar.

    Grace and peace,

    Pr. Benjamin Tomczak
    St. Mark Lutheran Church (WELS)
    Duncanville, TX

  5. I am doing a series against the hypostatic union on YouTube titled "why I am not an ancient Christian"