Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Leaving Dispensationalism Behind (Part Four)

During my third year in seminary, I could no longer accept the dispensational distinction between Israel and the church. I saw much more continuity than discontinuity in the Bible. I was no longer a dispensationalist, yet I was not comfortable with full-blown covenant theology. What was I?

Some of the resources that helped me see more continuity between Israel and the church were from the perspective known as New Covenant Theology (NCT). I liked this group because they seemed to be a middle ground between Dispensational Theology (DT) and Covenant Theology (CT), which is where I found myself. They also seemed to be charitable in their relations with the other options. This was a huge plus for me because I was tired of hearing both DT and CT blast each other.

I joined an NCT email discussion group and enjoyed reading the email volleys. I was being sharpened, but I kept running into problems understanding their peculiar view of the law, among other things. Over time, I came to see that NCT is not really a middle position. It is just one step past Progressive Dispensationalism, making NCT far closer to DT than CT.

Near the end of my NCT days, the whole Baptism puzzle fell into place. Some NCTers were urging that because the children of believers are unbelievers, they should be treated as such. For instance, since God does not hear the prayers of an unbeliever, we should not teach our children to pray until they are converted. Furthermore, we should not permit our children to sing to the Lord because until they are converted, all of their singing is “strange fire.” I was horrified at such arguments, yet this is the logical conclusion of the Baptist position. NCTers are the only ones who pressed it this far. However, this seemed to conflict with all of the parental instruction from Scripture. “There has to be a better way,” I thought. And I discovered that there is: paedobaptism!