I have stated on many occasions that the Dispensationalist approach to Scripture, if consistently applied, would eventually lead one away from Christianity altogether in favor of Christ-rejecting Judaism. Rodney J. Decker's latest article (Why Do Dispensationalists Have Such a Hard Time Agreeing on the New Covenant?) related to the September 2008 Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics, is a classic case in point. Decker has come to the conclusion that the church is not in covenant with God. Instead, Decker concludes, the new covenant is made only with the Christ-rejecting nation of Israel.
The disagreement between Dispensational and Covenantal Theology can be best solved by asking the following question. Whom shall we trust when it comes to the correct interpretation of Old Testament prophecy? Shall we trust the inspired writers of the New Testament, or should we trust Bible Baptist Seminary? Decker, Professor of NT and Greek at Bible Baptist Seminary, makes some surprising claims that put Dispensationalism clearly at odds with Scripture.
After assuming a priori that the Mosaic law has a "lack of legal standing in the church" (p.1), and that the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant is yet future1 (p. 1 - see Acts 2:25-32), Becker ask a series of questions concerning the method of Bible exegesis. "Does the text determine our theology or does our theology determine our understanding of the text? How does our hermeneutical framework - our theological system- affect (and sometimes effect!) our exegetical conclusions? Which takes priority, text or theology? We all know the "correct" answer to such questions: the text must determine our theology." (p. 2). All good so far, but this approach dissolves into mere rhetoric once he begins to delve into Old Testament Prophecy. He writes, “If God does not fulfill the promises of the new covenant with Israel exactly as he promised and as the prophet understood God’s promise, the God has failed.” (p. 20). This statement clearly begs the question. Becker never tells us how we are to determine the way "the prophet understood God’s promise". What insight does he have into the mind of the Old Testament prophets? Does he have any more than Jesus, John, Peter, or Paul? By rejecting the New Testament fulfillment as the actual fulfillment, Becker has clearly let his theology determine his understanding of the text. In addition, the Dispensational hermeneutic fails to focus on all of Scripture as a story of Christ's redemptive work. It pits Scripture against Scripture, and focuses on Old Testament shadows instead of the substance in Christ. (John 1:45, John 5:46, John 8:56, etc.). Furthermore, if we were to apply Becker’s standard to the Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament, we would become Judaist, who were blind leaders of the blind (Luke 6:39).
If nothing else, Decker should get props for consistency in terms of the new covenant in Dispensational theology. He also soundly refutes the modern "dual covenant" heresy propagated by John Hagee and others. Perhaps I can answer the question as to why Dispensationalists have such a hard time agreeing on the New Covenant. Because, contrary to Galatians 3:28, they insist on erecting racial walls in order to separate fleshly Israel from the Church. As such, they cannot figure out how to include both in the New Covenant. Like other dispensationalists, Decker cannot come to grips with the fact that there is no covenant without Christ, and there never has been. Thus Decker concludes, based on his flawed hermeneutic, that the New Covenant is made only with the present nation of Israel, not the church. However, he does suggest that the church participates in the blessing “in some way” (p. 19). He further defends the exclusion of the church from the New Covenant by boldly telling us that “...the church is never mentioned in the OT" (p. 17). Hmmm...
The redemptive work of Christ is the center of both the Old and the New Covenant, both covenants being made with the elect and them only. As for the correct interpretation of Old Testament Prophecy, why do we need to go any further than the interpretation given us in the New Testament? Indeed, Dispensationalism has been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
1 I give Becker the benefit of the doubt concerning this approach, as he was addressing fellow dispensationalist concerning his view of the new covenant. He didn't address Covenantal views, which I have done many times here.