PROGRESSIVE DISPENSATIONALISM – Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock

Progressive Dispensationalism is designed as a handbook on the principles of interpretation and the structures of biblical exposition that define so-called progressive dispensationalism.  Part one distinguishes between the three phases of thought including classical, revised and progressive dispensationalism.

The authors contend that the modifications of progressive dispensationalism affect the way dispensationalists understand key biblical themes including the kingdom of God, the church in God’s redemptive program, the interrelationships of the biblical covenants, the historical and prophetic fulfillment of these covenants, and the role of Christ in their fulfillment.

The primary goal is to explain the progressive dispensationalism’s continuity with earlier dispensationalism and explain the differences in current thought.  The major distinction is found in the progressive accomplishment and revelation of a holistic and unified redemption (which stands in contrast to the central dualism of dispensationalism, namely that God is pursuing two different purposes: one related to heaven and one to earth, i.e. a heavenly humanity and an earthly humanity).

Part two discusses hermeneutics.  The authors note the differences between presuppositions and pre-understanding.  The former have no room for negotiations, while the later remain open to adjustment, refinement, or development by further interaction and reflection.

The authors conclude that a biblical approach to hermeneutics must be text based.  Students of the Word must let the text speak for itself.  Biblical interpreters must refuse to be influenced by faulty presuppositions. Further, the authors discuss the “historical-grammatical-literary-theological” method and stress the importance of letting each text speak on it’s own terms.

A few strengths are worth noting.  The authors are very objective and fair-minded in their approach.  Second, I find it encouraging to read seasoned scholars openly challenging the cherished classical dispensationalism of old.  One only hopes the old will turn into the obsolete!

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