The Blatant Errors of Dispensationalism

Below in this 57 minute panel discussion video, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Dr. Steve Lawson, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. and Dr. R.C. Sproul, discuss various theological issues. For the first 20 minutes, the blatant errors of dispensationalism are discussed. Here is a partial transcript of Dr. Sproul’s words on dispensationalism and its very real dangers:

“They asked me, R.C., what’s your problem with dispensationalism? And I said, “You know, my biggest problem with dispensationalism is your historic doctrine of regeneration. And that was met with bewilderment. These professors said, “What are you talking about? What’s our problem with regeneration?”

I said, “Well, classic dispensationalism teaches that when the Holy Spirit regenerates a person, that person does not experience a change in their nature. So that you can have the Spirit in you, and you be in a state of salvation, without any change in your life whatsoever. And that was popularized in the picture books that were spread out by Campus Crusade, where you had the circle with the chair, and you had the cross outside the circle, and ‘S’ the self, was on the chair, and that’s the picture of the unregenerate person, the pagan.

But then you have the next stage of those who are regenerated, where now, Christ is inside the circle, but not on the throne. Self is still on the throne. You’re saved; you’re in a state of grace, you’re regenerated, you’re justified – but you have absolutely no fruit whatsoever because your life hasn’t changed; and that gave rise to the development of this concept of the ‘Carnal Christian’ where a person could be saved without any manifestation of any change, and that’s what I said… for us, regeneration involves a foundational change in the disposition of the human heart, where that fallen person prior to his regeneration had no inclination to the things of God, no love for Jesus, and once that heart has been changed, through the immediate, transcendent power of God the Holy Spirit in regeneration, now that person has Christ in his life, and Christ is now his Lord. He’s not perfected, not fully sanctified, but the process of sanctification has certainly begun. And if it hasn’t, you have a profession of faith with no faith!

And so what’s so serious about this is that it invites a false sense of security for people believing that they are saved, because they signed a card, or raised their hand, or walked an isle, and prayed a prayer, whatever, but have no evidence of the fruit of sanctification in their lives. Then they’re challenged and the whole thing about this antinomianism is that the Old Testament law has no bearing on the Christian life… that’s all future, and now comes the eschatology, where the kingdom of God is in no sense realized, it’s totally and completely future, now what do you do with that?”

HT: Joel Taylor

2 thoughts on “The Blatant Errors of Dispensationalism

  1. Unfortunately, R.C. Sproul’s response reflects a mere caricature of what most dispensationalists believe about someone who is regenerated. I have been saved 30 years, studied at DTS, and personally know many DTS and Grace Seminary professors, both living (including Charles Ryrie, Stan Toussaint, Tom Constable, Stephen Bramer, John Davis, Homer Kent) and those who are now with the Lord (John Walvoord, J. Dwight Pentecost, Roy Zuck). And, yet I don’t know a single dispensationalist who would remotely suggest that someone can be regenerated with absolutely no change whatsoever.

    Furthermore, the concept of a “carnal Christian” does not come from dispensationalists, but rather from the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 3 where he is undeniably speaking of born-again believers when he says, “Are not some of you yet carnal?”

    I could go on and on about this sort of misrepresentation which I’ve unfortunately come to expect – but it is disheartening when it comes from someone of the stature of Dr. Sproul who must surely know better than to engage in straw-man argumentation.

    Dave James
    Director, The Alliance for Biblical Integrity

    • David,

      I am greatly surprised by your comment in that my experience with dispensationalists has often been that described by Dr. Sproul and the others on the panel.

      I know that Paul used the word “carnal” in 1 Cor 3 but it is what is meant by the term that is the question.

      There is a view (often found in dispensationalist circles) that distinguishes between three types of persons in the world. To quote an article online, “The first type of person would be the natural man. The natural man doesn’t know Christ, but lives after the sinful nature that he is born with. The second type person is a carnal Christian. A carnal Christian is one who has come to the knowledge of Christ and has accepted him as Saviour, yet doesn’t allow him to reign as Lord in his life. This carnal Christian can live in all types of heinous sins and still be a Christian because he is just one who is still living after the flesh and not the spirit. The third type person would be the spiritual Christian. This is the Christian who has accepted Christ as both Saviour and Lord. Though he may at times still sin, nonetheless he allows Christ to be the Lord of his life. The Bible knows of no such doctrines as I described above. The Bible distinguishes between the natural man and the spiritual man. The natural man is unsaved, the spiritual man is one who has accepted Christ as Saviour and Lord.”

      Here is a short article by Sproul, Jr. Would you feel he is wrong too regarding Charles Ryrie’s position found here:

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