Last week I received a note chiding me for not responding to a man named Tim Warner, a “progressive dispensationalist” who is likewise anti-Reformed. I had noted his attempts to deal with key texts quite a while back. He replied, and the writer was chiding me for noting Hunt’s unwillingness to debate while I had not replied to Warner. Of course, I pointed out there is no parallel: I have commented on Warner’s dispensationalism and the over-riding role it takes in his commentary resulting in eisegetical errors in John 6 and elsewhere. I do not have to commit myself to a never ending series of give and take articles with every unusual interpretive system that finds a voice on the Internet, and this is particularly true with the wide range of “dispensationalisms” that are developing as the movement shatters into a thousand different streams.
   In any case, I looked at the articles, and have chosen to respond, not so that another endless series of articles can be produced, but because I see value in illustrating when tradition (in this case, some kind of “progressive dispensationalism”) distorts exegesis resulting in error. This is surely the case here, especially, as we will see in time, when the writer completely robs the believer of his assurance of salvation by torturing the Greek subjunctive into something even the sources he cites admits it is not. But I do not have so much extra time as to be exhaustive in this response. I will have to focus upon the key issues.
   First, it is not fairly dealing with the historical context of John 6 to force some kind of unique dispensational “spin” on the text. The historical context is that of Judaism in the first century in Capernaum, not an artificial construct produced by a particular interpretation of “progressive dispensationalism.” Mr. Warner confuses the two in his first response, found here. It should be noted that this kind of dispensational hermeneutic would mean that nothing before the cross–no teaching, no example, no command–could be seen as having any enduring quality. It is this kind of application of an over-arching concept that has given rise to every form of dispensational abuse of the text, such as is seen in the “Paul Only” churches where nothing but the writings of Paul are allowed to speak with authority to the church.
   The issues addressed by our Lord in the Synagogue at Capernaum were over-arching and remain valid to this day. He was addressing unbelief. He was addressing men who had listened to him teaching for hours on end the day before. And yet, despite hearing, they did not believe. Despite seeing (the miracle), they continued in unbelief. Despite “seeking” Jesus, He explains they are unbelievers. And it is in that context that He explains who comes to Him and who does not. There is not a hint that this has anything to do with a particular hardening of Israel so that the crucifixion could take place. There is not a hint that what Jesus says about the nature of unbelief, of the drawing of the Father, and of Himself as the very center of Christian experience, our life-blood, the giver of spiritual life, is only true for the brief period of time left before the crucifixion, at which time all of this was going to change anyway. And what a wonder that the Holy Spirit would record these words for us and preserve them when they would have little or no meaning for the church as a whole. So while Mr. Warner says I am committing the error of eisegesis “because he is assuming a universal application when the text does not warrant or demand such,” the reality is that I am simply listening to the text in the context in which it was given without presupposing some kind of dispensational hermeneutic that inserts extraneous conclusions into the discussion. Unbelief, the drawing of the Father, Christ as the bread from heaven, and the strong demands of discipleship are all just as relevant today as they were in Capernaum, and it is Mr. Warner that has to demonstrate otherwise. He consistently fails to do so.

   Given his over-riding external paradigm, Warner then reads into texts meanings they simply would not have borne in their original contexts. Present tense verbs mean, to him, something completely different than they have meant to Christian exegetes down through the centuries. For example, present-tense participles now only have to do with the Jews believing while Jesus was speaking, not with anything to do with Gentiles in the future. Consider what this means: none of the promises of the Gospel of John are relevant today. Ponder that a moment! All those precious promises, including such texts as John 1:12-14, 3:16, 3:36–all those glorious promises of chapters 10 and 14, the High priestly prayer of 17–restricted to the Jews before the cross! But, wait, you say, that’s ridiculous. Of course it is, since John wrote the book long after the cross and said he wrote it so that Jews and Gentiles together might believe!
   Ironically, Warner accuses me of the very thing he is doing when he writes, “There is no reason to believe that the original audience Jesus spoke to would draw White’s conclusion. White’s insistence on it demonstrates that he is thinking in a theological “rut” ingrained into his Reformed tradition.” Yet just the opposite is true: the idea that the original audience would be thinking in a paradigm created by late 20th century American theology is the obvious mistake. The idea that Jesus’ original audience, let alone John as he recorded these things, would think Jesus was saying, “All that the Father gives me–right now, at this very point in time, only amongst Jews in this particular audience, but never anywhere else or in any other situation–will come to Me, but this is relevant only until the cross, even though it will only be recorded decades thereafter, at which time it will only be of historical interest, but no longer relevant dispensationally” is clearly without merit. Obviously, even as John wrote these words, he did not in any way limit his words to the time period of the Lord Jesus’ pre-cross ministry, but instead clearly made the application to Jews and Gentiles of his own day, calling them to faith. And given the same themes keep repeating from John 5 through 6, then 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, and 17, all leading directly to the general appeal of the gospel itself to “all the world,” i.e., Jews and Gentiles, there simply is no reason to accept this artificial construction foisted upon the text by Warner’s “progressive dispensationalism.”
   Warner attempts to hide his eisegetical insertion of his progressive dispensational hermeneutic by ignoring that his views are the “new kid on the block” and saying, “Mr. White prefers a generic approach to Scripture. He wants to view the Bible as merely a collection of universal truths.” Of course, this is completely untrue, and it is an amazing thing to hide the wholesale import of progressive dispensationalism into the ancient text under the guise of accurately contextualizing that text. Yes, we need to start with the ancient text in its own context, but progressive dispensationalism in this form does just the opposite, as it starts with conclusions about what the text could not possibly mean.
   Now, the most useful portions of Mr. Warner’s articles has to do with the examples of clear exegetical errors prompted by the over-riding acceptance of an external authority. Seeing examples of this kind of error is highly educational. And to those we will turn in the following articles.

©2020 Alpha and Omega Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?