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Why dispensationalists must engage in newspaper exegesis

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We hear a lot of many of the more 'progressive' dispensationalists, especially within the Calvinist camp, that although they accept a certain form of futuristic dispensationalism, they do not engage in the embarrassing newspaper exegesis more commonly associated with the movement in pop culture. For example, the Calvinstic dispensationalist will commonly distance himself from those who believe that all talk about microchip implants refers to the reception of the mark of the Beast and the number of His name. Those who accept that the mark of the Beast is a literal mark (Rev. 13:16) would have us believe that they are being "consistently literal" even though the antithetical mark of the Lamb (Rev. 14:1) is purely symbolic.

But my point here is not specifically to critique their exegesis. What is most disturbing about dispensationalism in general is that those who adhere to it must necessarily engage in the sort of embarrassing alarmism for which it is famous. Hal Lindsay is not being fanatical or unbalanced in his dispensationalism. He is simply being consistent. If a future Antichrist will provide a mark to his followers which will issue in their damnation, then if I am a dispensationalist, I have every reason to be extremely alarmed about technological advances involving the implementation of some sort of mark on my hand. I need to be on the continual watch for false teaching wherever it may arise. I would also need to be quite obsessed with the political goings-on surrounding Palestine, since dispensationalists believe that the Antichrist will break a covenant he makes with the Jews. I would be warning Jews fervently that, now that they have been restored to the land of Palestine (which dispensationalists believe to be an inevitable and essential event in redemptive history), I need to be warning them that the Antichrist (be he Barack Obama, or someone else -- keep in mind that the Antichrist, from this perspective, could be absolutely anyone) will soon make and break a covenant with them and they need to be on the lookout.

It would also be quite reasonable for me to preach entire sermons and write entire books about the European Union, since from a dispensationalist perspective, it is necessarily quite reasonable to be preoccupied with such a events. According to such an eschatological schema, such events may foreshadow quite eschatologically significant events. If a dispensationalist does not engage in such activities, he is simply being inconsistent. Anyone who believes in the dispensationalist eschatological system who does not engage in such rhetoric is being irresponsible, because he is not warning the world of what may be, from the perspective of his eschatological system, extremely important events in the scheme of redemptive history.



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