And Behold, It Was All A Vision: Last Response

This post will be my final say in my debate with Steve Hays.  It’s becoming personal and I never intended that to happen.

This responds somewhat “scatter-gun” to the posts below.  I have decided to hone in on the most salient topics from my point of view.

Steve’s latest offering: lowers the bar considerably and is a pugnacious and emotion-driven effort paying still less regard to my words even when printing them.

If you wish to know about Rocinante, and what Steve may be implying you can read about it here.  I shall not respond in kind.

Visions Are Uncertain Things – or Not

Ezekiel has several visions.  For example he has a vision of the glory of the LORD departing the Temple in Jerusalem in Chs.10-11.  It departs through the East Gate.  So far as I know, nobody believes the temple in the vision was not the actual physical temple in Jerusalem.  Turning on to the Temple vision of Ezek. 40-48, we see the Prophet expressly told:

40:4 And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and
hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for
you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to
the house of Israel everything you see.

One of the things he saw was the the Glory of God coming via the Est Gate into the Holy Place (43:1-5).  The third verse explicitly relates this later vision to the earlier one in chapter 10:

43:3 It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw — like the
vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were
like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face.

The first vision was of an actual temple standing in Jerusalem.  Thus, just because something is seen in a vision does not at all mean it is symbolical.  To base ones interpretation on the symbolical nature of visions is therefore irresponsible.  As the later vision is also of the glory coming through the East Gate into the inner court, we are encouraged to take the vision as representing a real temple structure – but of the future.  What future?  The return from exile but without independence?  That might have been the expectation of those in Babylon, but it became clear that that was not going to be so.  The full blessings of restoration which the prophet foretells would not be realized in “the day of small things” (Zech. 4:10).   In Ezek. 48:35 we are given an indication of when this will occur:

“…the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD Is THERE.”

So when Jerusalem will be known by the name “The LORD is there” will be the time of fulfillment of the whole vision.

Now, many interpreters, because they cannot see how a literal interpretation of these chapters harmonizes with the NT, use their understanding of the teaching of the NT as a reason to conclude that the whole later vision is non-literal and typological.  But many of us see no reason to go that route.  We think God said what He meant and if He wanted us to think of this vision in symbolical terms He would have said so somewhere in the context.  And because this vision comports with the covenant promises God made (e.g. in Num. 25 & Jer. 33), we believe the major stumbling block to a plain-sense interpretation is simple disbelief, perhaps engendered by a faulty understanding of, say, the book of Hebrews.  We may be wrong.  But the discussion must be on the basis of the text of Scripture and not the current fashion among language philosophers.

Ancient Interpretations: Typological or Not?

Let me serve up another sample of what ancient Jews believed on this issue.  This time it’s the ancient view of Malachi 3. It’s a bit long, but well worth reading:

“Other aspects of the imagery of the book of Malachi, and particularly its ending, have brought much hope and comfort.  In fact, the reference to Elijah in 3:23-24 was often understood as an affirmation of hope for a final liberation, one even greater than the exodus from Egypt, for after Israel’s first liberation it eventually becomes enslaved, but it will not after the one promised in Malachi (see Pesiq. Rab. 4.3).  Similarly the language of 3.4 is repeated often in traditional Jewish liturgy as an expression of hope about the restoration of appropriate worship in a future, third Temple” – Ehud Ben Zvi, “Malachi,” in The Jewish Study Bible, Tanakh Translation, 1269.

Hays represents this as me interpreting the OT via extraneous sources.  But I’m doing nothing of the sort.  My purpose is simply to show how ancient readers, including the disciples in Acts 1:6,  understood, e.g., Ezekiel’s vision and Malachi’s prediction; and show thereby that his objection that my interpretation is conditioned by my timeline and/or by my dispensationalism is plain wrong.

To bring up G.K. Beale once again, anyone interested in this ought to read chapters 3 and 4 of his A New Testament Biblical Theology.  They will there see adequate corroboration of what I have been saying from an author who will then spend the rest of his book trying to prove how the NT “transforms” and “changes” “unexpectedly” what is seen in the Old.  (I hope to review this book later in the year).

Still Hays thinks it’s me:

Henebury isn’t putting himself into the historical situation of the original audience. He’s not hearing the text the way the first hearers heard it.

He’s been shown to be wrong.  And all he puts up in response is philosophy mixed with supposition.  It’s not enough!

I can’t decisively prove that the first hearers of the Prophets interpreted them differently than those witnesses, both biblical and non-biblical, that I’ve produced within Second Temple Judaism and after.  But when that is combined with the above and the intertextual links I have provided I’m content to rest my case and let the reader decide if Steve’s objection has any bite.

I had a quotation from B. Childs which agreed with Ben Zvi, but enough is enough.

I can’t keep back from quoting from pages 113-114 of Beale’s book where Beale is referring to G. B. Caird.  First, Beale cites Caird

“1. The biblical writers believed literally that the world had had a beginning in the past and would have an end in the future”

Again, in this sentence it is taken for granted we know what “literally” means.  It is not a technical word of course.  But we usually all know what it refers to.

Then Beale talks about Caird’s description of prophets having short and long-range “sight” and adds,

This is quite close to the definition of typology given by many in which an OT person, institution, or event has analogous correspondence to and is a foreshadowing of a later event in the NT age.

Let’s Not Talk Philosophy

John Frame has said he wants to do theology with more appeals to scripture and less to philosophy.  I entirely agree!  Steve plies his trade in sense/reference, type/token, authorial/audiential, etc., but never actually does anything with it.  He never applies it exegetically.  Observing a “New Exodus” or “New Eden” motif does not automatically mean we are alerted to a biblical type.  I know Steve complains he never said such a thing – and I acknowledged it – but when he introduces types and tokens he is doing so to disprove my interpretations.  Fine.  But every time he does that he clearly does imply his putative typology of the OT.

Steve says I’m tilting at windmills.  He thinks I’m misrepresenting him.  Listen:

What I said, rather, is that when the same plot motif is repeated with variation, then that’s a type/token relation.

He sees this in his proffered texts (Isa. 11; 35; Jer. 16; and Isa. 51 and Ezek. 36).  These were examined here and here.  He also faults my inability to see that “the Fregean distinction between sense and reference” nobbles my interpretations.  But how does all this work on Ezekiel 10-11?  If Ezekiel tells us he saw the Temple in Jerusalem, are we to decide he is not referring to to the Temple in Jerusalem?  No, he assuredly is referring to it.  Very well, how come things change when we get to the Temple Vision at the end of the Book?  What magic ingredient causes us to idealize the future Temple?  That temples represented other theological truths is well known (I recommend Allen P. Ross’s outstanding, Recalling the Hope of Glory on this subject).  But the representation of, say, Eden or New Eden no more dissolves the representative entity then God’s image dissolves the man who bears it.  Likewise, the Temple in Ezekiel 10 represented old and new Eden just as much as the Temple in chs. 40-48.

It’s the same with plot lines.  Steve thinks certain plot lines lead one to typological interpretations.  For example,

Actually, it’s just a case of taking narrative theology seriously. Biblical narratives often embed a metanarrative that’s driving the action.

Guess where Steve thinks the action is being driven to?  His typology.

As usual, Henebury can’t follow the argument. I didn’t say plotlines necessitate typology.

I didn’t say he did.  I inferred that his argument implied it which is very different.  He does not take the next step and demonstrate how the motifs he sees drive the action toward a typology.  He merely points to a plot line or motif and says “QED.”  Embedded narratives may drive the action, but they never contradict the words of the author.  That would put the author in conflict with himself.

Steve thinks we should all get this:

The sense/reference (or intension/extension) distinction is pretty mainstream in hermeneutics and semiotics.

But we’re not talking about mainstream hermeneutics and semiotics.  We’re supposed to be talking about biblical typology.  “Type” re. “type/token” is a different animal than “type” re. typology of Scripture.

This distinction is important in the work of Quine and Ricoeur.

That’s reassuring.  Ricoeur, the man who thought the story of the fall contained “nothing like Augustine’s doctrine of original sin” (K. Vanhoozer, “Ricoeur, Paul,” Dict. for Theol. Interp. of the Bible, 694)!

Unwelcome Uses of Motif

Mention of the story of the fall makes one think of the way the first chapters of Genesis are “interpreted” by old-earth creationists (M. Kline, V. Poythress), and theistic evolutionists (B. Waltke, J. Collins, P. Enns) by their employment of motif and literary theory.  Doesn’t this tell us that merely pointing to literary and linguistic features does not procure correct interpretation?  I repeat, the words in context must determine the meaning.  Any motif will not contravene the “plain-sense.”

Does this mean exegesis equates to “face-value” meaning?  Not necessarily.  But the first, most apparent meaning must be given first shot, and the exegesis must uncover good reasons for departing from what most would call, for right reasons of expediency, “the plain-sense.”  It may be that figures and symbols and structure have to be taken into account.  Thus, in the case of Ezekiel’s Temple we must decide on what grounds, if any, the Temple in chapter 40ff. is symbolic or figurative.  As I pointed out last time, the reason Hays recognizes a floor-plan is because of the meaning imparted by a normal reading of the text.  The reasons for departing from that must be set out and weighed.  Still, the assumption must be that God said what He meant to say and that the Bible is revelation and not obfuscation.  I know of no fundamental Christian doctrine that can be maintained by any other method. 

I shall not tarry here, there is ample material on this (e.g. R. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old.  See also these two pieces by Andy Woods).

Being Serious About “The Plain-Sense”

Okay, did I claim Beale and Poythress believed in “plain-sense” hermeneutics?


Henebury can’t be serious. One of Beale’s primary interests is how the OT is fulfilled in the NT. He’s devoted years to refining a highly nuanced explanation.

I know it.  But despite that he expects us to know what he means by “literal” and “face value”!  I proved it.  That is not the same thing as saying Beale holds to a “plain-sense hermeneutics.”  If he did, I would have had no reason to have quoted him.

The same with Poythress,

With all due respect, it’s simply ridiculous for Henebury to attribute a “plain-sense” hermeneutic to Poythress.

And just where did I attribute any such thing to him?

I said, Vern Poythress assumes a plain-sense when writing about the 8th Commandment in his paper on “Contracts and the Destructive Effects of Unfaithfulness” (6).

Ditto John Frame.  Actually, ditto everybody in normal conversation.

While we’re dealing with misunderstandings, I recommended Douglas Moo’s essay “The Problem of Sensus Plenior” in the Carson and Woodbridge book, Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon for those who wish to see something close to my position.  I singled out pp.195-198, which deal with typology, “although noting that Moo falls foul of Sailhamer’s critique of the usual promise-fulfillment schema.”

But Steve asks,  Since I set my own position in explicit contrast to the sensus plenior, how’s that relevant?   Read what I said and judge.  I wasn’t  talking about Steve’s position on sensus plenior.

And he wants to know,  “does Henebury endorse Moo’s section on typology?”  Well, I recommended it.

While I’m on the subject, I believe I did misrepresent Steve on what he said about land-referents changing.  I also should have been clearer by what I meant when I compared his view of “recapitulation” with “reinterpretation.”  I should have separated Steve’s view more.  for that I apologize.  Finally, I took for granted Steve believed this world would be destroyed and replaced at the Second Coming.  Beale does and Steve may, but he didn’t say he did.  Howbeit, nothing hinges on it.  I may also be guilty of misrepresenting him elsewhere (these long blog debates run without editors and are liable that way), although I am not impressed by his other attempts at crying wolf.

Caution: Conspiracy Theorist

Steve says “It’s difficult to have a constructive conversation with a conspiracy theorist…

Henebury constantly suspects that I’m really reinterpreting the OT through the lens of the NT. No amount of correction or explanation on my part disabuses him of his suspicions. It gets to be a bit paranoid.

Let us be clear on this.  I don’t think Steve is being disingenuous on this issue.  I think he really believes, at least at one level, that his view is self-evident from the pages of the OT and OT saints knew that the covenants and promises were to be interpreted via the “underlying motifs” much along Steve’s lines.  But since his view belies all the internal and external evidence I have brought up, and since it so closely resembles the procedures of CT’s who openly profess to read the OT through the New; and since his examples are so unpersuasive as they stand, then I’m sorry but I think he is presupposing his knowledge of the NT and it is driving what he looks for in the OT.  That is why he doesn’t interact with the text itself.  He’s more concerned with motif-spotting than following what the words of the text are saying in context.

I mean no offense to him.  I’m just being honest.  I take no offense when he accuses me of doing likewise, although I think I have far less reason to operate that way.  The problem for dispensationalists is to line up the NT with the OT, whereas the problem for covenant theologians is the reverse.  Hence, DT’s are perhaps tempted to read the OT into the NT.  I feel that tension sometimes.

He writes about me:

In all candor, I think Henebury is oblivious to how the NT is conditioning his own interpretation of Ezekiel. To situation Ezekiel’s temple within a premillennial eschatology is hardly something he could get from the text of Ezk 40-48 alone.

This is bogus.  As I have shown, ancient Jews managed it without reference to the NT.  I have demonstrated intertextual covenantal linkage in the OT itself (none of which has been joined).  That this intertextuality agrees with Jewish expectations at the time of Jesus and before, and also with later premillennialism, shows it has explanatory durability and force.  Hays just thinks we all start at Rev. 20 (which only gives the duration), and read it into the OT.  He is badly mistaken.  My position bears resemblance to that of those who reject the NT – Rev. 20 included!

We can, for present purposes, easily set aside the NT and simply examine OT texts to present a coherent picture of future hope for Israel, and the world through Israel.  Steve just doesn’t like what these many passages say, so they must undergo artificial typological treatment to make them conform to his theology.   Modern philosophy is drafted in to shore up a poor argument.  Let Hays interact with the textual and background evidence that has been produced before he makes such cavalier remarks.

I want to mention that a person can admit these passages present a glorious picture for renewed Israel and yet apply them to the church by redefining or transforming them in light of their understanding of the NT.  This is what covenant theologians routinely do.

Steve says he isn’t guilty of doing that.  Not explicitly no.  Presumably he has persuaded himself he stands with the original interpreters of these messages and is simply republishing their views.  I have shown otherwise.

Sneeking in the Church

Henebury: “The church was a mystery not revealed to them (Eph. 3:3-6; Col. 1:26).  All they needed to know was that it would be fulfilled.”

Hays: Oh dear. I hope Henebury isn’t using the NT to interpret or “reinterpret” the OT. Surely he’s not reading the NT back into the OT to tell us what the exiles were in a position to anticipate. Doesn’t sound very dispensational to me.

He ought to have quoted the entire paragraph.  No matter, no OT text was interpreted by use of the NT to show that the church was not in view for the Jews.  Steve had asked,   “When did they think Messiah would come? At the end of the church age?”  As Steve thinks the Church is a NT phenomenon he shouldn’t complain if I have to go to the NT to answer him.

Henebury: “Steve acts as if the OT saints understood all these underlying patterns and believed it.  If that is true I don’t know what to make of the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6.”

Acts 1:6 is simply cited as another ancient witness to the way Jews of that period understood the promises to Israel.  Steve had written:  If they understood the fulfillment as taking place when Jews returned to Israel after the Babylonian exile–or even before the exile (depending on the date of a given oracle), then that’s at odds with postponing the fulfillment to the end of the church age.

I have shown they didn’t understand it that way.  This reference to Acts as an ancient witness is relevant to the question Steve put.   There was nothing “schizophrenic” about it.   As every commentator I know of thinks the disciples understood “the kingdom” of Israel as a literal restoring of a literal kingdom to literal Israel it serves to demolish Steve’s anachronistic view of how  Jews of the day took the OT.  Notice he ignored the main point.

Steve links to “a lengthy discussion of Ezekiel’s temple.”

His discussions of Ezekiel’s temple did not address the issue raised by Hess citation, nor many issues raised in this correspondence.

He avers,

If Henebury indexes meaning to what it meant to the first hearers or original audience, then their expectations are, by his own definition, highly relevant to the correct interpretation. If they understood the fulfillment as taking place when Jews returned to Israel after the Babylonian exile–or even before the exile (depending on the date of a given oracle), then that’s at odds with postponing the fulfillment to the end of the church age.

Since they didn’t, and since they couldn’t know “the church age” would intervene,and since they still await the restoration of Israel, well Hays is answered.

Of course, if we think the land-promises are inherently emblematic, then that’s not a problem.

True, it’s a good way to get rid of “problems.” Translation: “If we interpret the words of God through domineering motifs interpreted through the Hays typology then we can move along without dealing with the words in context.”

In his most recent foray:

Henebury is still committing a level-confusion by confounding the visionary narrative with what it analogizes. Ezk 40-48 is a figurative montage which combines a number of different, complementary themes. It’s not a photographic preview of the world to come. I’m not the one whose “equating” Ezk 40-48 with the future.

I can’t find it now, but he did equate Ezekiel’s temple to Rev. 21!  I said I would comment on that to show how the two things are very different, but this post is too long anyway.  Let the interested reader run the comparison himself.  And let him not dance over the sin issues in Ezekiel the way Hays has!

Given the numerous discrepancies between Ezk 40-48 and the Mosaic cultus, if we take Henebury’s objection to its logical conclusion, then that would make Ezekiel a false prophet. If Deut 18 sets the bar, and Ezk 40-48 contradicts the blueprint which God gave Moses, then, by Henebury’s logic, Ezekiel should be stricken from the canon.

I just printed this to have a record of it.  It’s for those who like a chuckle.

Appealing to Zech 6 & 14 merely relocates the same issue. Zechariah is a book full of obscure symbolism. So obscure that Zechariah needs angelic commentators to interpret the symbolism. So there’s no presumption that we should take the imagery in Zech 6 & 14 at “face-value.”

There are no angelic communicators in Zech. 6:9f. (the temple section pertinent to the discussion), or Zech.14!  I could go on and on with this.  For instance, the fact that “all flesh is grass” is a figure of speech in a poetic section of Isaiah is supposed to alert us to the figurative nature (?) of nine chapters in a non-poetical temple account in Ezekiel!

The People of God?

Okay, I’m nearly done.  I was going to go into this but, as I said, it’s too long.  Suffice then to say that Turretin believes the OT saints were in the Church:

the proper signification of this word [church called catholic] teaches that…in whatever place they have been or will be, and in whatever time they have lived from the beginning of the world or will live unto the end.  In this sense, “The whole family of God” is said “to be named in heaven and on earth (Eph. 3:15).  Therefore, in the Apostle’s Creed the church is properly called catholic.  – Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (Trans. Giger, ed., Dennison1997), Vol. III, 18th Topic, Sixth Question, II, p. 30. (See also Fifth Question: IV, p. 27).

In 6.V he speaks of the term “taken more strictly for the church of the New Testament” but only because of its OT restriction to the Jews.

I was going to cite D. Dickson’s Truth’s Victory Over Error, 194 to show that the Westminster Confession disagrees with Hays on restricting the term Church to the NT saints (I know he will play the semantics game but either way, it’s clear he doesn’t jibe with them).  Hays says we are to call the whole people of God in both Testaments “the covenant community.”  That is what Beale calls the NT church on page 203 of his NT Biblical Theology.

That’s more than enough, though the flesh wants to keep going!.  Steve is welcome to have the last word(s).  Despite his obvious annoyance at me I would like to thank him for the exchange.  I am the better for it.  I wish him God’s blessing.

† I should explain why I did not speak about “Grammatical-historical hermeneutics” in this exchange.  It is because the term has come to mean different things to different people, and is, therefore, unsatisfactory without further qualification.  E.g., CT’s speak of it but usually introduce the Analogy of Faith very early on in the process of exegesis.  They also freely employ theological and especially Christological categories in their interpretations. I intend to write on this matter separately. 

‡ It seems I need to clarify.  The city will bear the name Jerusalem, but it will be known by other names: “The LORD is there”; “The LORD our Righteousness”; “The City of Truth.”  This is like Jesus being called “Immanuel.”  He IS God with us!




  1. Paul, love the dialogue and believe you may have met your match (in verbage and tone). What concerns me most in all of the keyboard stokes typed is the fact that the discussion is missing the supremacy of the gospel in the Church. While we may be on different pages in relationship to the Church and ethnic Israel . . . we must allow the glory of the gospel temper all of our disagreements. The greatest need of our day is for systematic theologians who continue to articulate and defend the precesion of the gospel. They are in my mind a dying bread.

    1. Good to hear from you Christian, although I’m afraid we must disagree once more 😦

      1. Even though your position is CT I don’t see how you can compare my tone with that of Hays. As well as being likened to an old nag, I am supposedly “malicious,” “devious” and “hostile.” Steve is clearly annoyed and became very combative. He also presented a moving target; veering from his original trajectory onto philosophical ground when his points were confuted. This is what called forth a little sarcasm from me. I am a Brit and we see nothing wrong in it, provided it isn’t mean. I was not mean, I was being ironic because of the temper of his remarks and his inability to argue biblically. Remember, most of the greatest wits in literature used sarcasm – from Aristophanes to Shakespeare to Wilde to Chesterton. It was never personal.

      Providentially, Dan Phillips posted a piece from Spurgeon on this issue:

      2. The gospel was not really germane to our discussion. I’m sure both Hays and I would join you in making the gospel a priority. But our discussion was not about the gospel.

      3. Further, because of the way the debate went we could never tie anything into the NT. Recall, he tried to argue a Typology within the OT, and spent half of his time talking equivocally about semiotics. I mentioned OT prophecies about Christ but these were never joined. Indeed, scarcely any major point I raised was joined. By joined I mean addressed head-on.

      4. I agree with you about protecting the precision of the Gospel. But when you have somebody who insists on arguing that Bible readers should not believe what the Bible says (what I call its “plain-sense”) but must employ obtuse type/token relationships which point anywhere but where the intertextual links within the Bible seem to point, well, I hope you see that this method, if allowed to proceed into the NT (and who would stop it?) would affect the precision of the Gospel. What would “Christ died according to the scriptures [i.e. OT] even mean on such a program?

      5. I truly wish a covenant theologian would actually interact with the 40 Reasons posts which triggered the exchange. But let them not use obfuscation to do it. Let them say what it is they believe and argue from it. That would be constructive, and I’m sure I would greatly benefit from it.

      Always a pleasure!

      Your brother,


  2. “I can’t find it now, but he did equate Ezekiel’s temple to Rev. 21!”

    Paul, I believe it’s here:

    Frankly, if I were to side with Steve Hays’ approach I think I’d need a special code book of sorts to deal with anything I read in the OT (Revelation too for that matter). Is it an actual temple or not? And if not then why bother going into the details? And Acts 1:6? – don’t get me started.

    Also, Baron does a great job with Zechariah’s “obscure symbolism”. Perhaps it only becomes a problem when it doesn’t fit our theology? My two cents is that if these things are written there for us then we should get them right. IMO you pretty much nailed the issues, Paul.

    1. Alf,

      Yes, Baron is great. The new Commentary on Zechariah by George Klein in the NAC series looks very impressive. It’s on my reading list. Of course, according to Hays guys like Baron, Klein, Patterson, Sailhamer, etc. don’t understand the nature of motifs and visions (after all – they would agree with me)!

  3. Hi Dr reluctant,

    Would you be able to point me to the best dispensationalist explanation of the guilt sacrifices, sabbaths etc in Ezek 40-48?

    Or perhaps a post you have done on it? I don’t have time to read a full book unfortunately,

    many thanks


      1. Many thanks,

        out of curiosity, are there any broad patterns as to where dispensationalists fall on the following issues:

        calvinist / arminian
        role of women
        continuationist / cessationist

        many thanks


  4. “Would you be able to point me to the best dispensationalist explanation of the guilt sacrifices, sabbaths etc in Ezek 40-48? ”

    The best expositions or discussion on Ezek 40 to 48 from the dispensationalist would be in : 1 ) Unger’s Commentary On The Old Testament by Dr. Merrill Unger 2 ) The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty edited by Dr. John Walvoord & Dr. Roy Zuck. 3 ) The Millennial Kingdom by Dr. John Walvoord and 4 ) Things To Come by Dr. J. D. Pentecost.

    1. Bryan, you forgot Richard Patterson’s ‘Excursus’ and comments in the Expositor’s Bible Comm. on Ezekiel (ed. F. Gaebelein). I alluded to this work in my debate with Steve Hays, but it was ignored. Another, less easy to find treatment is in the book “Prophecy in the Making” ed. Carl F. H. Henry. The article I am referring to is by C. L. Feinberg (there is another CT one by Clowney).

      In my debate Hays never provided to an interpretation of the Temple. He just asserted (without corroboration) that my interpretation was not in line with the original hearers.

      As i noted in my article, some dispensationalist interpretations of the “Third Temple” are disappointing.

      Thanks for the comment as always.


  5. “Bryan, you forgot Richard Patterson’s ‘Excursus’ and comments in the Expositor’s Bible Comm. on Ezekiel (ed. F. Gaebelein). I alluded to this work in my debate with Steve Hays, but it was ignored. Another, less easy to find treatment is in the book “Prophecy in the Making” ed. Carl F. H. Henry. The article I am referring to is by C. L. Feinberg (there is another CT one by Clowney). ”

    You are right ! I do agree that Steve Hays ignored that work. It appears their standard mo is denial of means what we say is taught by sound exegesis of it and yet hardly if ever provide a sound and reasonable interpretation based on what the text says. I also bring up the fact that even John Calvin in his commentary on Ezekiel has no exposition of chapters 40 to 48 from the amillennial position. 🙂

    “In my debate Hays never provided to an interpretation of the Temple. He just asserted (without corroboration) that my interpretation was not in line with the original hearers. ”

    I agree with that. That is what happens when they say it does not mean that and yet they give nothing to offer in it’s place. That all too often happens in passages such as Ezek 40 to 48 and other passages in the OT which relate to the millennial kingdom with animal sacrifices.

    “As i noted in my article, some dispensationalist interpretations of the “Third Temple” are disappointing.”

    I would agree with that with a clear example of one is Ironside’s exposition / discussion on that. Some premillennialist do not like to face those issues because of the so called objections to it from amillennial and postmillennialist scholars.

    “Thanks for the comment as always.”

    Welcome and its good to always read your articles here !

    1. Bryan,

      During our exchange I was becoming more and more concerned with Steve’s reluctance to plant his feet in the Bible and tell me what the passages were saying. I was concerned too that he would avoid my main arguments (even if he printed them) while taking the argument in a different direction. I have since learned that he uses these same tactics with many other people, whether they are Reformed Amils or Armininians or guys like me.

      He appears to just like to argue and he never admits when he’s wrong. I’m glad I closed the discussion down before I learned these facts. I feel less foolish because of it 🙂

      I did benefit from the discussion even if I learned little or nothing from Steve himself. I intend to deal with some of the subjects raised in future posts.

      God bless,


  6. ” out of curiosity, are there any broad patterns as to where dispensationalists fall on the following issues: ”

    I will answer this one. 🙂


    In general dispensationalist do not believe in so called sabbath keeping. It is generally held that there is no restatement to keep the sabbath in the Law of Christ. It is held that the sabbath in the law of Moses was exclusive to the people of Israel. Dispensationalist reject the idea of sabbath keeping.

    “calvinist / arminian ”

    There are dispensationalist who are Calvinistic and some who are Arminian in their soteriology. A majority of the early dispensationalist were Calvinist but a lot today embrace a modified form of Arminianism. It must be stated also that the Calvinistic views of those who are dispensationalist hold to a more moderate form of Calvinism than that approved of by the Synod of Dort.

    “role of women”

    In general all the leading dispensationalist hold that the position of elder / Bishop / Pastor and that of deacon is reserved for men. It is not open to women. It has no bearing really on the issue of dispensationalism but the same method of interpretation used for dispensationalist would be applied to this issue.

    ” continuationist / cessationist ”

    A classical dispensationalism would be classified as cessationalist. The ones who would really embrace the idea of the sign gifts present today would be those of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. Even then their dispensationalism is modified to allow for that specific view. Dr. Merrill Unger wrote 2 books which soundly refutes the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement and restated the classical dispensational view of it. In recent times those who are called ” Progressive dispensationalist ” have had new discussions on this point of issue. The most outspoken people againist the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement have been classical dispensationalist.

    1. I’m with Bryan on most of these points. There are different types of dispensationalists around. The ones that believe a more comprehensive framework in dispensationalism (such as Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Lewis Chafer, Charles Ryrie, Paul Henebury here) always sound more Calvinistic, although the Calvinism would have been very different from the Canon of Dort type of Calvinism. They are also classical cessationists. Unfortunately this breed is becoming rarer by each day and tend to be older believers.

      Many who are under 60 and claim to be dispensationalists in our age only take the elements of Bible prophecy from the system, but would have no time to invest in other doctrinal implications of dispensational theology. Their theology in other areas are actually more Pentecostal/charismatic. My understanding of most popular Bible prophecy teachers and what I’ve seen at popular-grade dispensational forums would inidcate this type to be the majority voice today. One average, just over 50% of believers who post on dispensationao forums are in fact Pentecostals/charismatics who carry [modified] dispensational teachings on prophecy. They are actually [modern] Arminians in their salvationa theology (many popular dispensationalists like Joseph Chambers, David Reagan, Todd Strandberg, Jack Kelley. etc are of such type. None of these listed are cessationists, in fact they are leaders of either Pentecostalism or the charismatic movements).

      In terms of salvation, Chuck Smith Sr of the Calvary Chapel or Jack Kelley of are the best representatives of the second group of dispensatinalists. There is a wide gulf between the dispensationalism of Ryrie and Kelley, chiefly Ryrie believes in unconditional election while Kelley denies it; and Kelley is intentionally vague as to whether the Holy Spirit works first to draw people to salvation prior to their belief.

  7. Quote: “(I recommend Allen P. Ross’s outstanding, Recalling the Hope of Glory on this subject).”

    Nice to see that you recommend Ross’ book. I wasn’t aware you had. I picked it up some time ago and am slowly going through it.

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