by Jerry Shugart

Introduction

One of the foundational teachings upon which Traditional Dispensationalism has been built is the teaching that the Body of Christ is an intercalation or parenthesis in the divine purposes toward Israel. The founding President of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, correctly understood that the Body of Christ is "wholly unrelated to any divine purpose which precedes it or follows it":

"But for the Church intercalation -- which was wholly unforeseen and is wholly unrelated to any divine purpose which precedes it or which follows it. In fact, the new, hitherto unrevealed purpose of God in the outcalling of a heavenly people from Jews and Gentiles is so divergent with respect to the divine purpose toward Israel, which purpose preceded it and will yet follow it, that the term parenthetical, commonly employed to describe the new age-purpose, is inaccurate. A parenthetical portion sustains some direct or indirect relation to that which goes before or that which follows; but the present age-purpose is not thus related and therefore is more properly termed an intercalation" [emphasis added] (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology [Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1948] 4:41; 5:348-349).

In the 1980's a group of dispensationalists who had started to question the teaching of the Traditional Dispensationalists such as Chafer and Charles Ryrie denied the Church parenthesis and asserted that those in the Body of Christ partake of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) promised to the nation of Israel.

Ryrie says that progressive dispensationalism "has modified or clouded the classic, normative, dispensational dictinction between Israel and the church...by abandoning the concept of the church as an intercalation or parenthesis. Classic dispensationalism used the words 'parenthesis' or 'intercalation' to describe the distinctiveness of the church in relation to God's program for Israel. An intercalation is an insertion of a period of time in a calendar, and a parenthesis in one sense is defined as an interlude or interval (which in turn is defined as an intervening or interruptive period). So either or both words can be appropriately used to define the church age if one sees a distinct interlude in God's program for Israel (as clearly taught in Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks in 9:24-27)" [emphasis added] (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism [Chicago: Moody Press, 1995], 134).

The dispensationalists who questioned the teaching of Chafter and Ryrie came to the conclusion that those in the Body of Christ partake of the spiritual blessings of Israel's New Covenant and thus they rejected the idea of the Church parenthesis.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., wrote that "when Israel and the church were viewed as sharing one and the same covenant the possibilities for major rapprochement between covenant theology and dispensationalism became immediately obvious" (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "An Epangelical Response," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992], 369).

That so-called "major rapprochement" reared its ugly head in the form of Progressive Dispensationalism, as witnessed by the title of the book authored by Robert Saucy:

The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational and Non-Dispensational Theology.

It will be easily shown that the teaching of the Progressive Dispensationalists in regard to Israel's New Covenant is embedded with a multiplicity of errors.

The people mainly responsible for Progressive Dispensationalism movement are Craig A. Blaising, Darrell L. Bock and the one person who could be regarded as the father of this movement, Robert L. Saucy.

Bock wrote that "in the Old Testament the fulfillment of the new covenant is tied to the inauguration of the kingdom (Jer. 31-33; Ezek. 36-37)" [emphasis added] (Darrell L. Bock, "The Reign of the Lord Christ," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 43).

Since the Progressive Dispensationalists say that the New Covenant is operational today then if they are right then the Messianic Kingdom of God must have already have been inaugurated and the Davidic Covenant has been fulfilled with the Lord Jesus now reigning from the throne of David. We will see that these Progressive Dispensationalists are unable to make their case and in their failed attempt they make blunder after blunder.

The Throne of David and Progressive Dispensationalism

In the following verse we can see the location of the throne where the Lord Jesus now resides after ascending into heaven and being set down at the right hand of the Father:

"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev.3:21).

Here we can understand that the Lord Jesus is speaking of two different and distinct thrones. In regard to the throne the Lord Jesus describes as His throne Robert Saucy says the following:

"The Scriptures frequently promise that the saints will reign with Christ in his kingdom (cf. Da 7:27; 2Ti 2:12; Rev 3:21; 5:10; 20:4-5; cf. also Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; 1Co 6:1-3). This coreign with Christ, as Revelation 3:21 indicates, is with him on his throne ('on my throne'), which surely includes the messianic reign" [emphasis added] (Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993], 282).

From this we can understand that the Lord Jesus is not now at His own throne (the throne of David, the Messianic throne) but instead on the throne of the Father at the Father's right hand--"I...am set down with My Father in His throne." Saucy is familiar with Revelation 3:21 where the Lord Jesus makes it plain that He is not now sitting on the throne of David but instead on the throne of the Father. Despite that fact Saucy says that the Lord Jesus has been raised up to sit on the throne of David:

"The 'right hand of God' is the position of messianic authority. Taking 'throne' in its metaphorical sense as a 'symbol of government,' the right hand of God is also the Messiah's throne. It is probably in this sense that we are to understand Peter's reference to Christ as having been raised to sit on the throne of David (Ac 2:30)" [emphasis added] (Ibid., 71).

I find it impossible to comprehend how Saucy can look at the Lord Jesus' words at Revelation 3:21 and admit that the Lord Jesus' throne is the throne of David and then turn around and say that the Lord Jesus "has been raised to sit on the throne of David"--despite the fact that the Lord Jesus reveals that He is now at the throne of the Father and not at His own throne. Saucy's teaching about this defies common sense! This is just one example of the illogical teaching put forth by the Progressive Dispensationalists.

Since Saucy mistakenly has the Lord Jesus sitting upon the throne of David he says that the kingdom promised in the OT finds its fulfillment in the present church age:

"The kingdom promised in the Old Testament, with its central features in the Davidic covenant, thus finds its fulfillment according to the New Testament teaching both in the present church age and in the future" (Ibid., 110).

Craig A. Blaising

Craig Blaising wrote that "it is the 'Root of David' who is sitting on the Father's throne. But the fact that it is said to be on the Father's throne, far from presenting a problem to our interpretation, actually affirms it. For this is one of the ways in which the Old Testament spoke of the throne inherited by the Davidic king; it is in fact the throne of the Lord" [emphasis added] (craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993], 183). Here is the verse to which Blaising makes reference:

"And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel" (1 Chron.28:5).

According to Blaising the fact that the throne of David is referred to as the throne of the LORD means that the throne of the Father where the Lord Jesus now sits is the throne of David. However, the Scriptures reveal that in the Universal Kingdom the LORD is sovereign over all and therefore all things belong to Him:

"Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all" (1Chron.29:11).

So the fact that the Scriptures reveal that the Davidic throne belongs to the LORD does not in anyway support the idea that the Father's throne where the Lord Jesus now sits is the throne of David. Besides that, Blaising says absolutely nothing about the throne to which the Lord Jesus says belongs to Him:

"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev.3:21).

That is the elephant in the room and Blaising doesn't seem to even notice it. It is not difficult to understand that the Lord Jesus' throne is the throne of David, the same throne which was given to Him. The angel Gabriel told Mary the following:

"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk.1:32-33).

According to Blaising even though the Father gave the throne of David to the Lord Jesus that throne is still referred to as the Father's throne by the Lord Jesus. That makes absolutely no sense because the throne belongs to the Lord Jesus and not to the Father. And even more devastating to Blaising's argument is the fact that he says absolutely nothing about the throne of the Lord Jesus.

Darrell L. Bock

Bock says that the Lord Jesus "sat down with the Father on the Father's throne":

"A crucial text is Revelation 3:21. Here the one who conquers is granted the right to sit on Jesus' throne, just as Jesus 'conquered and sat down' with the Father on the Father's throne" (Darrell L. Bock, "The Reign of the Lord Christ," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 62).

However, Bock then speaks of a throne of the Lamb which is set next to the Father:

"The image of sitting on the throne is clearly an image of rule, and the description of being seated next to the Father accords with the language of Psalms 110, a messianic Psalm. The previous texts in Revelation make it clear that this is an already bestowed authority. Furthermore, this throne of the lamb, set next to the father, is alluded to again in Revelation 22:1...Jesus is neither passive nor inactive from his right hand throne" [emphasis added] (Ibid, 62-3).

According to Bock "the Davidic throne and the heavenly throne of Jesus at the side of the Father are one and the same, but there are two stages to the rule from that throne" (Ibid., 64).

Bock fails to even address the throne which the Lord Jesus belongs to Him at Revelation 3:21 and instead makes the Father's throne the Davidic throne.

Of course the "throne of God and of the Lamb" is the eternal throne and the throne of God's Universal Kingdom mentioned here:

"The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Ps 103:19).

The Scriptures will be searched in vain for any mention of two thrones in the heavenly sphere. Of course when the Lord Jesus came to the earth He came from the heavenly throne of God and when He ascended into heaven He sat down with the Father in the same throne, which He called the Father's throne.

The failure of the Progressive Dispensationalists to place the Lord Jesus Christ on the throne of David is a dagger into the heart of their teaching that the Davidic Covenant has been fulfilled and the Messianic kingdom has been ushered in. Since the Lord Jesus is now sitting at the Father's throne and not on His own throne, the throne of David, then the theology of Progressive Dispensationalism comes tumbling down like a child's house of cards. Besides that, since the Messianic kingdom is not in force now then the New Covenant promised to Israel is not operational today. Bock wrote that "in the Old Testament the fulfillment of the new covenant is tied to the inauguration of the kingdom (Jer. 31-33; Ezek. 36-37)" [emphasis added] (Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 43).

The blunders found in the scheme of Progressive Dispensationalism in regard to the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant have been exposed and it is obvious that the theology offered by the Progressive Dispensationalists is bankrupt.

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