Is it even possible that Dispensationalism and the Reformation can go hand in hand? Some would say no! They believe that dispensationalism has too many problems to be considered truly Reformed. I’ll say more about it below.
It’s not likely you’ve missed it but, just in case you have, this year marks the 500th anniversary of The Reformation. As one website puts it:
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther published 95 criticisms of the Catholic Church practice of selling Indulgences. Although he intended to reform Catholicism, not break it apart, he accomplished both. On the 500th anniversary of his act of conscientious defiance, it is important to review how that moment changed the world religiously, economically, politically, socially, and intellectually. The upheaval stretched into every fabric of society, exceeding anything Martin Luther could anticipate. So widespread of an effect proclaims God’s hand was involved.
Pastor Alistair Begg observes:
Though the context was vastly different, the issues dealt with at the time of the Reformation are still relevant for us today.
But just as Luther nailed his 95 Theses against the Church of his day, NiceneCouncil.com came up with a neat idea they called The Ninety-Five Theses Against Dispensationalism. In the Preface they note:
What follows should not be interpreted to mean that NiceneCouncil.com nor the historic Bible believing church would place every dispensationalist outside of the Christian faith. We acknowledge that most are dedicated to the foundational orthodox doctrines of Christianity. Unlike the sixteenth century dispute over the doctrine of justification, this is an in-house discussion, a debate among evangelical Christians. We recognize and treasure all born again believers who operate within a dispensational framework as brothers and sisters in Christ.
However, we must remember that Paul loved his fellow apostle Peter and esteemed him the senior and more honored of the two of them. Nevertheless, when it came to a point of theology that had profound implications for the purity and health of the Church, Paul was constrained by his love for Christ and the Truth publicly to withstand Peter to his face. (Galatians 2:11)
Therefore, because we believe that dispensationalism has at least crippled the Church in her duty of proclaiming the gospel and discipling the nations, and out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light… (Emphasis mine)
A few years ago I conducted some research on criticisms of dispensationalism. To some degree, it’s healthy to challenge your beliefs by reading those who object to them. Providentially, I also came across Dr. Paul Henebury’s responses to each and every thesis point presented by the Nicene folk. He’s done us all a favor. Once again, I link these responses below because they’re a valuable contribution to the discussion. Don’t forget to also read the two concluding Reflections by Dr. Henebury. (Note that he prefers the term “Biblical Covenantalism” to Dispensationalism).
Some of the Nicene people claim to be former-dispies. This supposedly lends weight to their arguments. But, as Dr. Henebury shows, in many cases they seem to misunderstand aspects of dispensationalism. I found the same to be true of a Catholic writer claiming to be a former dispensationalist. His polemical book made claims about dispensational teachings which were contrary to what I understood of the system.
Read Paul Henebury’s Contra the 95 Theses Against Dispensationalism
See also Dan Phillips’ 25 Stupid Reasons for Dissing Dispensationalism
It might be worth a look.