Home > dispensationalism, doctrines, eschatology, premillennialism > A Follow-Up on Theological Triage

A Follow-Up on Theological Triage


This is a follow-up from a recent post concerning Theological Triage.  Following are a few points I made in the follow-up comments, for clarification on my overall broad definition of eschatology and how it really is an issue of importance (not on the level of food and drink), very similar to the overall issue of Arminianism versus Calvinism and related to the believer’s level of overall maturity and doctrinal understanding.  Since comments are often lost and buried, I decided to repost it here as a separate post, with a few revisions and additions.

(Regarding the relative importance of eschatology, historically)… Just because it wasn’t an issue historically, is not valid reason to say that differences in understanding of eschatology are no obstacle or limitation on fellowship. Arminianism as I understand is also a relatively recent development, and yet differences in understanding DO limit the level of fellowship there, and thus Arminians fellowship separately, and Calvinists tend to feel uncomfortable in Arminian churches.  This is especially true when the Arminian preacher speaks against Calvinism, but even in the general handling of ideas concerning election and God’s sovereignty.  Calvinist preachers I know have said the same thing I’m saying here: we should not be too harsh and say that Arminians are not saved, but rather we acknowledge that Arminians are saved yet have an incomplete understanding of these issues, and so our fellowship is limited.

I would agree that among those believers who have not fully studied eschatology and don’t think it’s important, fellowship is unhindered. They are at the same level in their walk and maturity. Yet when some believers have studied the matter and have greater understanding, that DOES LIMIT the level of fellowship with those who either a) haven’t given it much thought or b) have contrary ideas. To those who do fully understand premillennialism, though, differences in preaching do come out when listening to non-premillennarians. I can notice the differences in the preaching of many different parts of scripture, since understanding of the church and Israel and the coming literal kingdom come out in so many scriptures, not just in the “classic” eschatology passages that everyone thinks of like Daniel or Revelation etc. So I contend that these differences in how we interpret various scriptures, have far greater impact on church fellowship (including what is being taught at that church), at least as much as differing views concerning baptism and communion. Again, since so few passages actually touch on those doctrines, those doctrines really don’t come up all that often in a particular church’s sermons or other teaching; yes, they come up in a particular church’s practices of actual baptism and communion, but not as much in the sermons.

Finally, consider this matter logically:
Correlation idea put forth:
1.  Christians really didn’t make much of an issue over such-and-such doctrine (doctrine A) for the majority of church history.
2.  Christians have studied and come to differing conclusions concerning doctrine doctrine A.
Therefore:
1. Therefore, doctrine A must be somehow unclear and speculative in nature, and
2.  Therefore, doctrine A must be unimportant.

Now, substitute “Doctrines of Grace” (i.e., the 5 points of Calvinism) for “doctrine A” above.

Christians historically did not question this matter, generally, until more recent times (Reformation and later, not really until the 18th century), and it wasn’t an issue.  Yet when Christians have studied the Doctrines of Grace they have come to very differing conclusions: Calvinism, Arminianism, even mid-range points such as Calminianism and Amyraldianism.

Therefore, the “Doctrines of Grace” must be somehow unclear and speculative in nature, and the “Doctrines of Grace” must therefore be of third-tier level, unimportant, and something we should not divide fellowship over.

Does this really make sense?

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  1. Rayn
    July 15, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Hey, I think I like where you’re going with this, but I’m not sure if this arguement is the best way to go about it.

    “1. Christians really didn’t make much of an issue over such-and-such doctrine (doctrine A) for the majority of church history.”

    I think you could say that, while Calvinism wasn’t put forth in very clear terms, the nature of salvation has always been important to the Church, which is simply what Calvinism deals with. That’s why Roman Catholics were so quick to denounce the Reformers when they began proposing that the will is in bondage to sin unless freed by God. It wasn’t that they were sleeping on the issue until the Reformers, but that prior to them there simply wasn’t the same sort of occasion for the arguement.

    However, at this time I think I agree with you that your understanding of the Church and Israel make up a huge part of your understanding of Scripture. That’s why people refer to “covenantal framework” and whatnot. It’s at least implicit in most passages of Scriptures.

  2. July 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Thanks for the comment, and I think you see my overall point: just as Calvinists and Arminians have enough differences in their understanding to “divide fellowship over” because of levels of understanding and what is taught at a given local church, so too differing levels of understanding of eschatology can cause enough differences, as far as what is taught on that doctrine at a given local church.

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