by Jerry Shugart
One of the foundational teachings upon which Traditional Dispensationalism has been built is the teaching that the Body of Christ is an intercalation or parenthesis in the divine purposes toward Israel. The founding President of Dallas Theological Seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, correctly understood that the Body of Christ is "wholly unrelated to any divine purpose which precedes it or follows it":
"But for the Church intercalation -- which was wholly unforeseen and is wholly unrelated to any divine purpose which precedes it or which follows it. In fact, the new, hitherto unrevealed purpose of God in the outcalling of a heavenly people from Jews and Gentiles is so divergent with respect to the divine purpose toward Israel, which purpose preceded it and will yet follow it, that the term parenthetical, commonly employed to describe the new age-purpose, is inaccurate. A parenthetical portion sustains some direct or indirect relation to that which goes before or that which follows; but the present age-purpose is not thus related and therefore is more properly termed an intercalation" [emphasis added] (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology [Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1948] 4:41; 5:348-349).
In the 1980's a group of dispensationalists who had started to question the teaching of the Traditional Dispensationalists such as Chafer and Charles Ryrie denied the Church parenthesis and asserted that those in the Body of Christ partake of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) promised to the nation of Israel.
Ryrie says that progressive dispensationalism "has modified or clouded the classic, normative, dispensational dictinction between Israel and the church...by abandoning the concept of the church as an intercalation or parenthesis. Classic dispensationalism used the words 'parenthesis' or 'intercalation' to describe the distinctiveness of the church in relation to God's program for Israel. An intercalation is an insertion of a period of time in a calendar, and a parenthesis in one sense is defined as an interlude or interval (which in turn is defined as an intervening or interruptive period). So either or both words can be appropriately used to define the church age if one sees a distinct interlude in God's program for Israel (as clearly taught in Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks in 9:24-27)" [emphasis added] (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism [Chicago: Moody Press, 1995], 134).
The dispensationalists who questioned the teaching of Chafter and Ryrie came to the conclusion that those in the Body of Christ partake of the spiritual blessings of Israel's New Covenant and thus they rejected the idea of the Church parenthesis.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., wrote that "when Israel and the church were viewed as sharing one and the same covenant the possibilities for major rapprochement between covenant theology and dispensationalism
became immediately obvious" (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "An Epangelical Response," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992], 369).
That so-called "major rapprochement" reared its ugly head in the form of Progressive Dispensationalism, as witnessed by the title of the book authored by Robert Saucy:
The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational and Non-Dispensational Theology.
It will be easily shown that the teaching of the Progressive Dispensationalists in regard to Israel's New Covenant is embedded with a multiplicity of errors.
The people mainly responsible for Progressive Dispensationalism movement are Craig A. Blaising, Darrell L. Bock and the one person who could be regarded as the father of this movement, Robert L. Saucy.
Bock wrote that "in the Old Testament the fulfillment of the new covenant is tied to the inauguration of the kingdom (Jer. 31-33; Ezek. 36-37)" [emphasis added] (Darrell L. Bock, "The Reign of the Lord Christ," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 43).
Since the Progressive Dispensationalists say that the New Covenant is operational today then if they are right then the Messianic Kingdom of God must have already have been inaugurated and the Davidic Covenant has been fulfilled with the Lord Jesus now reigning from the throne of David. We will see that these Progressive Dispensationalists are unable to make their case and in their failed attempt they make blunder after blunder.
II. The Throne of David and Progressive Dispensationalism
Two Distinct Kingdoms
Robert Saucy identifies two different aspects of the kingdom of God, one being the eternal rule over all creation and the other being the eschatological, Messianic kingdom which is to be established in history:
"The kingdom of God thus refers to the sovereign rule of God over His creation. Although there is, in the ultimate sense, one kingdom of God, the Scripture uses this term for two distinct aspects of
this kingdom. On the one hand, it signifies God's universal, eternal rule over all creation: 'The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all' (Ps 103:19). On the other hand,
it refers to the eschatological Messianic kingdom which is to be established in history, which Christ announced as at hand, and for which He taught His disciples to pray" [emphasis added]
(Robert L. Saucy, The Church and the Kingdom, Part 2; https://verticallivingministries.com/2013/11/07/dr-robert-l-saucy-on-the-church-and-the-kingdom/).
Of course the throne of the Father in heaven (Rev.3:21) is the throne of Psalm 103:19 and that throne is in regard to God's universal, eternal rule over creation. Since that throne existed in the eternal state and
it existed at the time of creation it is certain that throne is not the throne of David because that throne did not even come into existence until the tenth century BC.
The following verse identifies the abode of the LORD God:
" For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15).
The Lord Jesus is now at the Father's throne and not at His own throne:
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev.3:21).
When the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven He was at the throne of the Father. Later, Stephen saw a vision of the Lord Jesus still at
the right hand of the Father:
"But he, being full of holy spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of
man standing on the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55-56).
The Scriptures will be searched in vain for any evidence that the Lord ever moved from the throne of the Father or that there are are two heavenly thrones.
Robert L. Saucy
Let us look again at the following verse where we see the location of the throne where the Lord Jesus now resides after ascending into heaven and being set down at the right hand of the Father:
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev.3:21).
Here we can understand that the Lord Jesus is speaking of two different and distinct thrones. In regard to the throne the Lord Jesus describes as His throne Robert Saucy says the following:
"The Scriptures frequently promise that the saints will reign with Christ in his kingdom (cf. Da 7:27; 2Ti 2:12; Rev 3:21; 5:10; 20:4-5; cf. also Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; 1Co 6:1-3). This coreign with
Christ, as Revelation 3:21 indicates, is with him on his throne ('on my throne'), which surely includes the messianic reign" [emphasis added] (Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive
Dispensationalism, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993], 282).
From Revelation 3:21 alone Saucy should know and understand that the Lord Jesus is not now at His own throne, the throne of David, but instead on the throne of the Father. Despite that at another place Saucy inexplicably declares that the Lord Jesus is now on the throne of David:
"The 'right hand of God' is the position of messianic authority. Taking 'throne' in its metaphorical sense as a 'symbol of government,' the right hand of God is also the Messiah's throne. It is probably in this sense that we are to understand Peter's reference to Christ as having been raised to sit on the throne of David (Ac 2:30)" [emphasis added] (Ibid., 71).
I find it impossible to comprehend how Saucy can look at the Lord Jesus' words at Revelation 3:21 and admit that the Lord Jesus' throne is the throne of David and therefore Christ is not now sitting on the throne of David but instead on the Father's throne and then turn around and say that the Lord Jesus "has been raised to sit on the throne of David." Besides that, how is it possible that the Father's eternal, heavenly
throne is the throne of David since the heavenly throne existed before the world began and the throne of David didn't even come into existence until the tenth century BC? It isn't possible and it is evident that the Lord Jesus
is not now reigning from the throne of David.
Since Saucy mistakenly has the Lord Jesus sitting upon the throne of David he says that the kingdom promised in the OT finds its fulfillment in the present church age:
"The kingdom promised in the Old Testament, with its central features in the Davidic covenant, thus finds its fulfillment according to the New Testament teaching both in the present church age
and in the future" (Ibid., 110).
The Lord Jesus is now at the throne of the Father and not at His own throne, the throne of David. The whole scheme of Progressive Dispensationalism is totally dependent on the idea that the Lord Jesus is now reigning from the throne of David but since He isn't then the New Covenant promised to Israel is not now in force.
Craig A. Blaising
Craig Blaising wrote that "it is the 'Root of David' who is sitting on the Father's throne. But the fact that it is said to be on the Father's throne, far from presenting a problem to our interpretation, actually affirms it. For this
is one of the ways in which the Old Testament spoke of the throne inherited by the Davidic king; it is in fact the throne of the Lord" [emphasis added] (Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, Progressive
Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993], 183). Here is the verse to which Blaising makes reference:
"And of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel" (1 Chron.28:5).
According to Blaising the fact that the throne of David is referred to as the throne of the LORD means that the throne of the Father where the Lord Jesus now sits is the throne of David. However, the Scriptures
reveal that in the Universal Kingdom the LORD is sovereign over all and therefore all things belong to Him:
"Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD,
and thou art exalted as head above all" (1Chron.29:11).
So the fact that the Scriptures reveal that the Davidic throne belongs to the LORD does not in anyway support the idea that the Father's throne where the Lord Jesus now sits is the throne of David. From the following verse we know that the throne of David belongs to the LORD because only the owner of that throne can give it to the Lord Jesus:
"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk.1:32-33).
Like Saucy, Blaising
fails to understand that the eternal throne of the Father has always existed but the throne of David did not even exist until the tenth century BC. It is impossible that the Lord Jesus is now at His own throne, the throne of David,
because He Himself says that He is at the Father's throne. Besides that, Blaising says absolutely nothing about the throne to which the Lord Jesus says belongs to Him:
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev.3:21).
That is the elephant in the room and Blaising doesn't seem to even notice it.
Darrell L. Bock
Bock says that the Lord Jesus "sat down with the Father on the Father's throne":
"A crucial text is Revelation 3:21. Here the one who conquers is granted the right to sit on Jesus' throne, just as Jesus 'conquered and sat down' with the Father on the Father's throne" (Darrell
L. Bock, "The Reign of the Lord Christ," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 62).
However, Bock then speaks of a throne of the Lamb which is set next to the Father:
"The image of sitting on the throne is clearly an image of rule, and the description of being seated next to the Father accords with the language of Psalms 110, a messianic Psalm. The previous texts in Revelation
make it clear that this is an already bestowed authority. Furthermore, this throne of the lamb, set next to the father, is alluded to again in Revelation 22:1...Jesus is neither passive nor inactive from his right
hand throne" [emphasis added] (Ibid, 62-3).
According to Bock "the Davidic throne and the heavenly throne of Jesus at the side of the Father are one and the same, but there are two stages to the rule from that throne" [ emphasis added] (Ibid., 64).
Here Bock speaks of a throne of the Lamb which is set next to the Father. But is there evidence of a second heavenly throne, one set next to the Father? In the following passage John is given a vision of a scene set in heaven and he only sees one throne, not two:
"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne...And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev.4:2;5:6).
If there is a heavenly throne at the right hand of the throne of the Father then why did John only see the one throne?
The throne seen by John is the same throne which is the "throne of God and of the Lamb" in the following passage:
"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads"(Rev.22:3-4).
There is only "One" on the "throne of God and of the Lamb" and that is God. In the following passage John speaks of that very same throne and it is clear that it is the throne of God:
"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev.21:5-7).
Later we see the Lord Jesus saying that He is "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" so He is on the one heavenly throne as God:
"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (Rev.22:12-13).
John certainly understood that those words are the words of the Lord Jesus:
"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev.22:20).
Since only God can be the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" then it is certain that the "Throne of God and of the Lamb" is the eternal throne and not the throne of David.
Although Bock asserts that the Lord Jesus is now at a throne which is at the right hand of God he has failed to give any convincing argument that such a throne actually exists. Besides that, the Lord Jesus said that it will be not be until He returns to the earth when He will sit upon His throne:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Mt.25:31).
The failure of the Progressive Dispensationalists to place the Lord Jesus Christ on the throne of David is a dagger into the heart of their teaching that the Davidic Covenant has been fulfilled and the Messianic kingdom
has been ushered in. Since the Lord Jesus is now sitting at the Father's throne and not on His own throne, the throne of David, then the theology of Progressive Dispensationalism comes tumbling down like a child's house
of cards. Besides that, since the Messianic kingdom is not now in existence then the New Covenant promised to Israel has not yet been fulfilled. Bock wrote that "in the Old Testament the fulfillment of the new
covenant is tied to the inauguration of the kingdom (Jer. 31-33; Ezek. 36-37)" [emphasis added] (Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, 43).
The blunders found in the scheme of Progressive Dispensationalism in regard to the Davidic Covenant have been exposed and it is obvious that the theology offered by the
Progressive Dispensationalists is bankrupt. Next, we will look at many of the passages from the Scriptures which are employed by them in their failed attempt to prove that the Messianic Kingdom is now in place.