In Your Time, But Hurry!

October 19, 2013 at 7:41 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love, Prayer | Leave a comment

Today I read two Psalms, both prayers written by David, that have a fascinating contrast.

In Psalm 69, David feels like he is buried in his troubles.  “The waters have come up to my neck;” he complains, “I sink in deep mire where there is no foothold.” (v1 ESV)  But, as is so often the case in Psalms, he turns to God in the midst of his troubles.  “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.  At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.” (v13)  I love the way he recalls God’s steadfast love and saving faithfulness.  Like David, we often need to remind ourselves of those two attributes of God.  In Psalm 70, once again David prays to God about his troubles.   His enemies seek his life and delight in his hurt.  But, he prays, “You are my help and my deliverer.  O LORD, do no delay!” (v5)

The similarities between these two prayers are instructive, but what caught my attention today is the contrast between them.  In the first, he prays that God would work at an acceptable time, and in the second that God would act now — do not delay!  I can relate.  There are times I say “God, when it seems right to you, will you take care of this situation.”  And there are times when I say, “God, hurry up and deal with this!”  I guess, in that regard, I am not in bad company.  God is sovereign, and he will act in his time.  But it’s alright to pour out our hearts to him, even on those occasions we think his timing is too slow.  However, in doing so, we must never let go of his steadfast love and his saving faithfulness.

Reflections of a Recovering Dispensationalist — a Book Review

October 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, Eschatology, Theology | 2 Comments

I just read Reflections of a Recovering Dispensationalist by S. P. Sammons.  I picked up this book for two reasons.  First, I loved the title, because “Recovering Dispensationalist” could describe me as well as the author, though he knows far more than I do and was deeper into Dispensationalism than I was.  But second, when I saw recommendations by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss, two men whose work I have appreciated in the past, I decided it was worth a read.  Sammons’ writing is simple and straight forward, sometimes sounding almost simplistic, but that style fits the purposes of this book very well, since his point is that a simple interpretation of scripture led him to his conclusions.  The subtitle is Revisiting the Pretribulational Rapture in Light of a Literal Interpretation.  Sammons writes as an insider, having grown up a Dispensationalist and having attended a Dispensational seminary, but he has since abandoned that school of thought.   Since I began this blog with a promise to chart my journey from a pre-tribulation rapture position to a post-tribulation rapture position, I had to include this report.

The argument he makes over and over, for numerous tenants of Dispensational Theology, is two-fold.  First he states that these tenants are no where plainly stated in scripture.  For example, Sammons says, “The pretribulation rapture of the Church is a doctrine that is not directly stated in the Scriptures.  It is a doctrine that is based on a nineteenth century theology”  (p.103)  I would have added that, in some cases, the straightforward interpretation of scripture leads to the opposite of what Dispensationalists claim.  Sammons only touches on that in the second stage of his argument.  I’ve written about some of those examples before.

Second, Sammons shows that the tenants of Dispensationalism also cannot be drawn from the Bible.  That the literal/historic hermeneutic that the Dispensationalists claim to follow really doesn’t give the conclusions they claim, unless they assume those conclusions to begin with.  The only way one can arrive there is to come to the scriptures with a predisposed bent toward them.   For example, “I would submit that to attribute meaning that the Apostle Paul did not intend is not the result of a plain and normal interpretation; rather, it is the result of coming to the text with an interpretive agenda.  One must impose a predetermined theological filter  .  .  .  ” (p.108)  He says similar things throughout the book, using this same two-fold approach for other points of the system.

I suppose I liked the book because the author wrote what has been my theological journey over the past 30 some years of Bible study.  It’s always been my intent to understand the text of the Bible.  That lead me to many unanswered questions and contradictions concerning Dispensationalism.  I came to the conviction, at one point, just as Sammons did, that one has to have a predetermined Dispensational bent to come to a Dispensational conclusion.  It is a theology that isn’t drawn from scripture; it is one that is brought to the scriptures.

Sammons claims not to be a Covenant Theologian either, and though he doesn’t clearly offer an alternative system, he quotes books that would offer one.  He does however, graciously invite those of a Dispensational bent to ask themselves some tough questions about their own system of belief.  If you’re willing to hear an insider’s journey out of Dispensational theology, you will find this book very interesting.

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