How Dispensational Thought Advances the Reformed Legacy
Edited by Christopher Cone and James Fazio
The “BUT WHO IS REALLY REFORMED???!” might be the most annoying, least productive discussion in Protestant and Calvinistic circles. So … LET ME ADD TO IT!!!?
I’m being playful, but I’m not really joking. It’s also not really my fault. I recently finished reading Forged from the Reformation: How Dispensational Thought Advances the Reformed Legacy. So let’s blame the editors, Christopher Cone and James Fazio. Why did they make me want to read this book?
The book begins with some history of the Reformation, especially focused on Martin Luther as the initial human spark-plug/lightening rod, followed by some history of John Nelson Darby as a similar character to Luther in his own place and time. After that most of the book defines the five solas and then argues—persuasively from my perspective—which group of Protestants have been most consistent in carrying on those Reformation solas. Spoiler: semper Reformanda belongs to the Dispies.
What?! How?! Dispies are usually defined as the hill-billy, bunker-building, rapture-theory, crazy second-cousins of the Reformed. So the “Reformed” are not actually the heirs of the Reformers?
Again, yeah, them’s fighting words. But, take sola Scriptura. If Scripture is the ultimate authority (over Roman Catholic Popes and Councils), then why would Christians be bound to confess some (very helpful but uninspired) documents written by some guys in West London in the mid 1600s? And if Scripture has clarity enough in translation to be read by the plough-boy (Tyndale’s conviction for which he gave his life), then why would you need to look through the lens of one (or three) extra-biblical covenants in order to understand the story of Scripture, especially when those extra-biblical covenants require eisegsis for (re)interpreting key words (like “Israel”)?
One thing I did not realize before reading Forged is the teleological distinctive between Covies and Dispies, namely that Dispies, especially since Darby, have consistently said soli Deo gloria includes God’s work of glory-getting on earth in time. Of course no orthodox, believing Presbyterian would deny that, but they tend to wrap up all the glory in God’s redemption of the one people of God. Anyway, it’s probably subtle, and easy to make a straw-man, but I can see it.
I’m only going to give this 4 of 5 stars. I’m taking two half points off for the following reasons. First, because there are over a dozen authors for various chapters, they all sort of write self-contained sections. It’s not that they contradict, it’s that there’s a decent amount of overlap; the book could be much less long. Second, as usual, I find “us Dispies” to maintain a dualistic worldview, which is really ironic, and stunting. Most Covies kick our butt when it comes to living and building, to equipping the saints for ministry and generational jealousability, liberal arts education and making beautiful things, and so on unto every square inch and stuff. My brothers, these things ought not, and don’t have to, be so.