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Energizing dispensationalism focus at BBS council
Equipping modern church leaders with a stronger academic basis for defending dispensationalism and interpreting the Bible accordingly was the focus of a unique gathering of scholars from across the country at Baptist Bible Seminary.
The first "Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics" was held September 24-25 on the campus in Clarks Summit, PA.
Organized by Seminary Dean Dr. Mike Stallard, a group of more than 20 top scholars and ministry leaders met for two full days, discussing strategies and approaches to raise the level of authority and scholarship associated with more traditional forms of dispensational theology.
Click here to read more about the council and the Summit Statement on Dispensational Hermeneutics.
"Post-modern culture is more subjective and some scholars are breathing that air," Stallard said. "We need to engage the debate more rigorously."
Dispensationalism holds to historical-grammatical principles of interpreting the Bible, including prophecy. It views scripture as literal unless strong textual evidence suggest otherwise.
'Need to say more'
The idea for the council meeting came out of Stallard's discussion of dispensational theology at a 2007 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Those holding to dispensational theology, he said, are too often ignoring or not addressing challenges as some scholars move away from a focused biblical basis for grammatical interpretation.
In recent years, for example, some scholars have moved toward a more subjective interpretation of scripture, particularly sections of poetry and prophecy. Among the influences is so-called "Second Temple" literature, Jewish works written in the centuries before and after Jesus Christ's earthly ministry, which such scholars use to infuse and affect their biblical views. The teaching that follows can minimize prophetic details to the point that ethical considerations are the only area that matters, an approach many dispensational scholars view as a slippery slope toward subjectivity and away from the complete and absolute truth of scripture.
Because most dispensationalists have traditionally spent less study time with such works, they are, as a result, less able to address such concerns head-on. Tackling such matters, and equipping academics and church leaders alike with tools to strongly defend and explain dispensationalism was among the key benefits of the council meeting.
"We need to say more," Stallard said. "Details in the text matter. An objective interpretation matters."
A book adding weight to the conclusions, as well as a second gathering in 2009, is being planned.
Among the participants in Clarks Summit were three key figures in modern dispensationalism: Dr. Charles Ryrie, Professor Emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary; Dr. Robert Lightner (BBS, 1955), Professor Emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. Robert Thomas, Professor at The Master's Seminary in Sun Valley, CA.
Click here to read a related story in The Baptist Bulletin.
Click here to view photos of the council.
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Posted on: 9/26/2008 3:43:13 PM