I’ve been listening to a lot of interplay between covenant theologians and dispensationalists lately. I think most covenant theologians, especially younger students, think all dispensationalists hold to the two-plans theory, works-salvation in the OT, and nuke ’em all for Israel. Older dispensationalists probably did hold to some form of that. But I am not seeing that emphasis as much in modern dispensational writers. Below is a tentative pro-con survey of both positions:
- With dispensationalists and against covenant theologians, I hold that God has a future plan for Israel. Of course, a number of postmillennialists have believed this and even Kim Riddlebarger conceded the point.
- With covenant theologians and against dispensationalists, I acknowledge that the NT does echo language of OT Israel towards the church. Granted, this doesn’t actually imply “replacement,” but I don’t think dispensationalists fully own up to the point.
- With dispensationalists I reject covenant theologians’ neo-platonic hermeneutics. This is a necessary inference for covenant theology (at least in its amillennial variety). On a CT reading all of the land promises in the OT are “spiritualized.” They have to be. If they weren’t, then something like a millennial reign is inevitable as a hermeneutical move. At least Augustine is explicit on this point: he rejected premillennialism in City of God because he thought that matter in the eternal state was unworthy.
- With covenant theologians I affirm something like a Covenant of Works/Covenant of grace scheme. Granted, it’s not as explicit as I would like it to be in the text, but I see it too firmly anchored to Christology and soteriology to immediately jettison.
- With dispensationalists I advance the charge that amillennialists cannot coherently and consistently speak about 95% of OT promises because of their spiritual hermeneutic. Take Isaiah 19 for example on an amillennial hermeneutic: exactly what does it mean if it is not literal? How do you even know?
- With Covenant theologians I am not convinced of the dispensational reading of the Millennial Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.