Some of the ideas circulating in evangelicalism really seem far off… The word ‘heresy’ may be much too strong (I sincerely hope it is) so is used only for the effect, but these thing would be the end of my faith if I’d buy into them, and the way I I’ve encountered them they lessen or they even make invalid the redical message of Jesus.
For the first one we go to the more fundamentalist camp and take a look at the so-called ‘dispensationalism’, a long and difficult word for a system of complicated schemes and weird detailed theologies… But some things that go under that name have crossed the line and may be far outside the lines of healthy christianity… And now I’m not even talking about the ‘left behind’ eschatology, I’m talking about something deeper and much more serious. (I do not at all believe in pre-trib rapture, maybe that’s for another time…)
so, what is dispensationalism? it’s a protestant theology from the last 2 centuries, mostly rooted in the ideas of John Nelson Darby, (1800 – 1882) in which the story of the bible bible is viewed as a chronology of different ‘dispensations’, in which God has a different covenant with people. I have no problem with that idea, in fact it may be quite similar to narrative postmodern theology if explained like that in one sentence. So God has different covenants with humans throughout history (which is, by the way, deterministicly written out from before the beginning of the world…) How much covenants there are throughout history is not agreed on, some say seven, but it can be more or less… And then you get something like all those complicated schemes you can find if you just google for pictures on the word dispensationalism. Mostly they don’t agree with each other, and if you look at the bible verses that are used for ‘prooftexting’ these schemes, sometimes you need a lot of imagination to even see the connection with the verse and the conclusions drawn from it… (which is also not exclusive to this movement, I had sometimes had the same when reading Rick Warren or John eldredge books…)
Anyway, according to most of the common schemes we live now in the dispensation of the church, or the time of grace, or something like that. which means that the time of the apostles is long ago, so we don’t need any charismatic gifts, since they were only needed for starting up the church long ago. And what’s more important you have to see that the new testament in fact only begins by the death of Jesus, so everything before it (almost all of the four gospels) is irrelevant and it falls still under the time of the law. so the words of jesus as recorded in the 4 gospels were mostly just for the jews in the first century, and may be for the millenium somewhere in the future, but they are not for us to follow. I really had a discussion one time with a guy who tried to concvince me that we shouldn’t follow the gospels as christians, and that we shouldn’t pray the Lords prayer. His theology was mostly based on Pauls epistles (minus eveything about charismatic gifts) and some of Johns gospel. I hope this is just a caricature, but I’ve seen same tendencies in more fundamentalist writings.
The bitter irony of this whole story is that some of those people will tell you how important it is to read the bible litterally, and then use their own weird logic and strange thought constructions to make some of the most important parts of the bibel invalid. when someone goes to far to say that the sermon of the mount and the Lords prayer are not meant for us christians, but for the jews of the first century, the line is crossed for me. This is no longer a healthy Christianity, au contraire. It has almost nothing left of Jesus, and maybe the word of heresy really could apply… But I’m not in a position to judge that. I believe that believing in Jesus cannot be separated from following Him and the red letters of the bible.
I believe in charismatic gifts (though some pentacostels can really exaggerate and be 100% unbalanced about it) I believe discipelship and the following of jesus can not at all be separated from believing in Him and being saved. And I believe that we are still to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and that the sermon on the mount is something like our christian ‘constitution’ to live by…
God bless ya all