I am a dispensationalist, but there is a shelf in my office dedicated to books that oppose dispensational teaching. They are from the other side of the doctrinal aisle.
It is good to be aware of your weaknesses, and the best way to identify them is by listening to those who disagree with you.
There are good and bad arguments against dispensationalism and I want to know what they are. The shelf does not get very big, because there are not many good arguments. Most are bad.
Here are some of the worst. Hopefully, this will save you time and shelf space.
Bad Argument #1:
Dispensationalism is false because [Darby/Scofield/other dispensational teacher] is a bad person.
It is common to attack the man, but all this achieves is injury toward the man’s reputation, not his teaching. When the man is dead, his teaching still exists.
When you read this type of argument, you are reading someone who thinks there is merit in following men and is not responding to the doctrine. Personal attacks are not worth your time.
David was an adulterer and a murderer. Peter lied. Paul put disciples of the Lord in prison. John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, and many other Bible teachers were arrested as criminals and executed. So, what?
When you hear an argument attacking the man, save your time and move on until you meet someone who is wise enough to deal with the doctrine.
Bad Argument #2:
Dispensationalism is false because there is no proof for the rapture.
The rapture of the church has been popularized into a sideshow for many books and movies, but it is not the key idea behind dispensational doctrine.
As soon as you hear this argument, you have identified someone who is ignorant about dispensational teaching. Turn around and walk away, they cannot help you.
Yes, most dispensationalists believe in a rapture, but if this is the depth of someone’s understanding of dispensational truth, then their grasp is so superficial that their argument will fly away before the church does.
Bad Argument #3:
Dispensationalism is false because it is new.
A variation of this bad argument is to combine it with the first one: “Darby invented it in the 19th century”. (See above. Darby is dead, and all that remains are ideas.)
As time goes on this claim becomes sillier and sillier. Teachings foreign to scripture should be warned against. This argument turns bad when it does not refer to the teaching at all, but to its historical popularity.
According to this inane argument, only ideas that have had widespread historical appeal should be considered true, not those that have widespread appeal at this time in history. This is the argument of historical losers.
We are now two hundred years past the 19th century, but wasn’t the Protestant Reformation new 500 years ago? Newer still are the Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations. Have there not been any new developments in Covenant Theology since its popularity in the 17th century?
How then do we know what is truly new? Answer: by comparing it to scripture, not to historical popularity. Has it been compared to the scriptures yet? Truth is determined from the scriptures.
Truth can be uncovered, forgotten, restored, and our understanding developed. Uncovered truth is not new.
Perhaps it has been there all along, and it is only just now being nailed to the door of old dead wrong tradition.
Knowing the Good from the Bad
How do you know if an argument is good or bad?
Good arguments correctly identify the dispensational target, and take shots clearly at the doctrine. Bad arguments wrongly identify the teaching and attack the men or institutions teaching them.
Good arguments are rare and a pleasure to read. They can challenge and help refine your understanding. Bad arguments are abundant and a waste of time. When you see them, walk away.
Your time is better redeemed fighting the good fight, not getting stuck in the foolish fervor and fallacy of bad arguments.