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A Study of Dispensationalism
by Arthur Pink

"But there is further reason, and a pressing one today, why we should write upon our present subject, and that is to expose the modern and pernicious error of Dispensationalism. This is a device of the Enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to "make the Bible a new book" by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation."

The Pious Totalitarians

P. Andrew Sandlin | When God and his Word won't cut it, we can always make up more morality as we go along

In Mark 7 Jesus sternly reprimands the Pharisees for substituting their own self-serving law for the commandments of the Old Testament. Plainly, Jesus was not abrogating the law of the Old Testament itself (Mt. 5:18-20), but rather rebuking men who substituted man-made regulations for God’s spiritual commandments. Regulation is inescapable; the only question is whether man will be regulated by God or by his fellow man. God in Christ is a gracious and merciful regulator (Mt. 11:28-30). Man, on the other hand, is often a totalitarian regulator.

Tyranny in Every Man’s Bosom
In his classic work The Revolutionary Ascetic, Bruce Mazlish observes how leaders of modern revolutions from Robespierre to Mao to Lenin had distinctly ascetic traits, depriving themselves of the ordinary licit pleasures of God’s creation. This asceticism was a crucial factor justifying to themselves the rationale to tyrannize their countrymen—“I am self-disciplined, self-denying, and self- sacrificial; therefore, I may discipline you and punish you and and extract from you the greatest possible sacrifice.” In Eric Hoffer’s aphoristic wisdom, “The revolutionary agitator must first start a war in every soul before he can find recruits for his war with the world.” He must teach man to be his own tyrant before he can tyrannize the masses.

By contrast, Christian lovers of liberty like the late G.K. Chesterton often relish fatty food and great grog and other earthly pleasures. Their lives—often like their waistlines—are full and joyous and robust (though one need not be corpulent to love liberty!). They hate tyranny, and they know that men cannot tyrannize the world unless they first tyrannize themselves.

Suffocating Surveillance
The Word of God liberates us from man-made tyranny, “Christian” or otherwise; but men with deficient and distorted views of the Word of God eagerly tyrannize under the guise of great piety. Too many strict Presbyterian elders and charismatic “apostles” consider it their job to maintain suffocating surveillance over the entire congregation and to govern almost every aspect of their lives. One Presbyterian even suggested that a potential spouse’s session member, not her father, should determine whom she should marry!

The Fundamentalists are often equally guilty of such tyranny. One small, razor-wire-enclosed college in northwest Florida, notorious for its overregulation enforced by seemingly Gestapo tactics, has, from what I can gather, left in its wake hundreds (or more) of young people suffering serious spiritual damage as a result of its flagrant subversion of the Scriptures, albeit under the guise of piety.

The Protestant Reformers were flamed by a love for the Word of God, which in the late medieval era had been diluted by the Latin Church’s canon law and numerous arbitrary regulations that served only to buttress the authority of the church. To be fair, of course, Protestants and evangelicals can in practice be nearly as guilty of such tyranny as the Roman church that they so vocally oppose. Both are inexcusable.

Helping God Out
All sorts of non-biblical regulations and rules and “standards” become the criteria for what Francis Schaeffer once criticized as “the new super-spirituality”: prohibition of all alcoholic beverages, tobacco, “worldly music,” movies, athletic contests, trendy clothes and cars, fatty foods, and on and on and on.

At a recent conference, one ostensibly Reformed speaker argued that all rock music was sinful and that he could make a biblical case for his position—though he did not attempt to do this, since such a case (I am confident) was an invention in his own mind. Apparently, God didn’t possess sufficient foresight to include in the Bible all of these “terrible sins” by which we early 21st century Christians may be easily seduced, so he needs pious totalitarians to dictate to the rest of us worldlings.

This pious totalitarianism is an affront to God and his Word. Let us recall that Jesus Christ reserved his severest denunciations for those who substituted their own regulations for God’s inspired regulation.

Tyranny under the guise of piety is the most dangerous tyranny of all.

  P. Andrew Sandlin, an ordained minister, is president of the Center for Cultural Leadership, a Christian educational foundation dedicated to reclaiming contemporary culture for Jesus Christ. An interdisciplinary scholar, he holds academic degrees or concentrations in English, English literature, history, and political science. He has written several monographs and books, including The Full Gospel: A Biblical Vocabulary of Salvation and Totalism, and hundreds of essays and articles, both scholarly and popular. Andrew and his wife Sharon have five children.  

By Nat Carswell

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