Monday, January 29, 2007

A Copernican Revolution (Part One)

Leaving Dispensationalism behind was a long process for me. It was not something that happened overnight, nor was it just a matter of tweaking a few theological points. Moving from Dispensationalism to Reformed Theology involved an entire paradigm shift. I have often compared this shift to what it must have been like for Copernicus to change from a geo-centric view of our solar system to a helio-centric view.

Before Copernicus, geo-centrism was the dominant perspective. It seemed to make sense. However, as Copernicus did his calculations, something didn’t add up. He saw the same sun, planets, and stars as the previous astronomers, but he discovered that if the earth was truly the center of our solar system, then the planets should behave differently than they do. The conclusion is that there must be a different center. Copernicus suspected that the sun was the center of our solar system, and his calculations confirmed this. Today, Copernicus is credited with changing astronomy from geo-centrism to helio-centrism, and we call this the Copernican revolution.

I had my own Copernican revolution in my theological journey. When I was first exposed to Dispensational ideas, I would go back to the Scriptures to see if these things were so. A lot of things made sense.

However, as I got deeper into Dispensationalism, I began to notice a verse here and there that did not seem to fit in the Dispensational scheme. This troubled me, so I asked my pastor, but he did not have a satisfactory answer. I thought that seminary would explain things better.

Unfortunately, when I got to seminary, the problems compounded. I was finding entire passages that seemed to conflict with Dispensationalism, both OT and NT. It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was a problem passage. I began to suspect that the problem was not with the Scriptures but with Dispensationalism itself. I was reading the same Bible as the Dispensationalists, but the Scriptures behaved in patterns that defied Dispensationalism.

I thought, what if there is another theological system that made better sense out of the Scriptures? As I investigated Reformed Theology, I found that it comported much better with the Bible. The old problem passages now made perfect sense. Thus, my move to Reformed Theology did not involve a rejection of the Bible, but embracing an alternative explanation for the Bible. Much like Copernicus, I was using the same data as my Dispensational friends, but the data forced me to come to a different conclusion. I'll cover some specific examples next.


Doug said...


While your still in the biographical mode... What were some of the reactions you did receive from leaving DP? Just curious.

Also when considering a church to attend what advise would you give as far as priorities like ecclesiology, soteriology, and eschatology.


Eric Adams said...


I only told a couple of my Dispensational friends, and they were supportive.

As far as churches go, my first criteria is commitment to the word of God in preaching and teaching; second is Christ-centered worship including frequent communion; third is a warm, loving body of believers.

Doctrinal statements are far less important than what a church actually practices. What they do shows what they really believe.

Hope this helps!

Doug said...

Eric, thanks for the thoughts. I agree with all your priorities. Specifically as it relates to the word of God. It would seem though that at some point doctrinal statements do matter(or why would we be presbytertian or baptist or pentecostal)... and should affect our practices.

Anyways, I look forward to the specifics.

Andrew Matthews said...

Hi Eric,

I'm glad to have found your blog. I was raised in the Plymouth Brethren (the originators of dispensationalism) and was also able to break out of their system with the aid of Reformed theology. Well, I look forward to reading your stuff.

Best wishes,

Eric Adams said...


Thanks for your encouragement. I hope this is helpful.