COVENANT THEOLOGY vs. DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY*
following are the major differences between these two systems of
theology. They represent the mainstreams of both systems, though there
are variations in each. Representative systematic theologies are those
of L.S. Chafer and Charles Hodge.
|1. May be Arminian or
never 5-point Calvinist.
||1.Always Calvinist. Usually 5-point.|
|2. Stresses 'literal' interpretation of the Bible.||2.Accepts
both literal and figurative interpretation of the
|3. Usually does not
accept the idea of the 'Analogy of Faith.'
||3. Almost always accepts the idea of The ‘Analogy of Faith.’|
|4. 'Israel' always means only the literal, physical descendants of Jacob.||4. ‘Israel’ may mean
either literal, physicaldescendants of
Jacob or the figurative, spiritual Israel, depending on context.
|5. 'Israel of God' in Gal. 6:16 means physical Israel alone.||5.
‘Israel of God’ in Gal. 6:16 means
parallel to Gal. 3:29; Rom.
2:28-29, 9:6; Phil. 3:3.
|6. God has 2 peoples with 2 separate destinies: Israel (earthly) and the Church (heavenly).||6. God has
always had only 1 people, the Church gradually developed.
|7. The Church was born at Pentecost.||7. The Church
began in O. T. (Acts 7:38) and reached fulfillment in the N. T.
|8. The Church was not prophesied as such in the O.T. but was a hidden mystery until the N.T.||8. There are
many O. T. prophecies of the N. T. Church.
|9. All O.T. prophecies for 'Israel' are for literal Israel, not the Church.'||9. Some O. T.
prophecies are for literal Israel, others are for spiritual
|10. God's main purpose in history is literal Israel.||10. God’s
main purpose in history is Christand secondarily
|11. The Church is a parenthesis in God's program for the ages.||11. The
Church is the culmination of God’s saving purpose for the ages.
|12. The main heir to Abraham's covenant was Isaac and literal Israel.||12. The main
heir to Abraham’s covenantand was Christ
and spiritual Israel.
|13. There was no eternal Covenant of Redemption within the Trinity.||13. The
eternal Covenant of Redemption was within
the Trinity to effect election.
|14. There was no Covenant of Works with Adam in the Garden of Eden.||14. God made
a conditional Covenant of Works with Adam as representative forall his posterity.
|15. There was no Covenant of Grace concerning Adam.||15. God made
a Covenant of Grace with Christ and His people, including Adam.
|16. Israel was rash to accept the Covenant at Mt. Sinai.||16. Israel
was right to accept the Covenant Mt. Sinai.
|17. The 'New Covenant' of Jer. 31:31- 34 is only for literal Israel and is not the New Covenant of Lk.22:20.||17. The ‘New
Covenant’ of Jer. 31 is the same as in Lk. 22; both are for spiritual
Israel according to Heb. 8.
|18. God's program in history is mainly through separate dispensations.||18. God’s
program in history is mainly through related covenants.
|19. Some Dispensationalists have said that O. T. sinners were saved by works.||19. No man
has ever been saved by works, but only by grace.
|20. Most Dispensationalists teach that men in the O.T. were saved by faith in a revelation peculiar to their dispensation, but this did not include faith in the Messiah as their sin-bearer.||20. All men
who have ever been saved have been saved by faith in Christ as their
sin-bearer, which has been progressively revealed in every
|21. The O.T. sacrifices were not recognized as the Gospel or types of the Messiah as sin-bearer, but only seen as such in retrospect.||21. O. T.
believers believed in the Gospel of Messiah as sin-bearer mainly by the
sacrifices as types and prophecies.
|22. The Holy Spirit indwells only believers in the dispensation of Grace, not O.T. and not after the Rapture.||22. The Holy
Spirit has indwelt believers in all ages, especially in the present N.
T. era, and will not be withdrawn.
|23. Jesus.made an offer of the literal Kingdom to Israel; since Israel rejected it, it is postponed.||23. Jesus
made only an offer of the spiritual Kingdom,
which was rejected by literal Israel but has gradually been accepted by
|24. O.T. believers were not in Christ, not part of the Body or Bride of Christ.||24. Believers
in all ages are all ‘in Christ’ and part of the Body and Bride of
|25. The Law has been abolished.||25. The Law has 3
uses: to restrain sin in society, to lead to Christ, and to instruct
Christians in godliness. The ceremonial Laws have been
abolished; the civil laws have been abolished except for their general
equity; the moral laws continue.
|26. O. T. laws are no longer in effect unless repeated in the N.T.||26. O. T.
laws are still in effect unless abrogated in the N.T.
|27. The Millenium is the Kingdom of God. Dispensationalists are always Pre-Millenial and usually Pre-Tribulational.||27. The
Church is the Kingdom of God. Covenanters
are usually Amillenial, sometimes Pre-Millenial or Post-Millenial,
|28. The O.T. animal sacrifices will be restored in the Millenium.||28. The O. T.
sacrifices were fulfilled and forever abolished in Christ.
|29. The Millenium will fulfill the Covenant to Abraham. Israel has a future.||29. Christ fulfilled the Covenant to Abraham. Some Covenanters believe in a future forliteral Israel, most don’t.|
|30. David will sit on the Millenial throne in Jerusalem.||30. Christ alone sits on the throne. Saints rule under Him.|
from the article Dispensationalism
- A Reformed Evaluation by Ligon Duncan, pastor First
Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS