There is an old saying: If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck!” And the saying is of course true. For the purposes of this article and those to follow in this series, I am posing the question: Is modern Postmillennialism, as iterated by the Dominionist camp comprised of Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, Joel Mcdurmon, Keith Mathison, et. al, just a modified form of dispensationalism.
Now, make no mistake, there is certainly a stark contrast between Dispensational Premillennialism and Postmillennialism, in that as the names suggest, Premillennialists say the Second Coming occurs prior to the millennium, and of course the Postmillennialists say it occurs at the end of the millennium. However, in spite of this major difference, there are some major, striking parallels between the two paradigms, and those parallels become more than obvious in my July 2012 debate with Joel McDurmon of American Vision. DVDs of that debate are available here, and a book form is forthcoming.
In that debate with McDurmon he made several arguments about the Abrahamic Covenant promises and how they must be fulfilled literally and physically in the future. The gist of his argument was this: God promised the land to Abraham personally, not just to his descendants, but to him as an individual. Abraham, per Acts 7:5 never received the land promise. Therefore, Abraham must be resurrected from the dirt, physically, and receive the literal land promise, which is not confined to the borders delineated in Genesis 15, but, encompasses the “world” (kosmos, Romans 4:13).
I made the comment during the debate that McDurmon’s comments were a thinly veiled remake of the dispensational doctrine. McDurmon objected to this, and, on the Reign of Christ website, run by Jason Bradfield and Sam Frost, with heavy comment by Stan Talbot, they have taken great exception to this charge. They have in fact labeled the charge as a falsehood. They claim that there is no resemblance between what they are teaching and the dispensational paradigm. Let me be very clear, however. What Joel McDurmon, Frost, Bradfield, Talbot are espousing is, without any doubt whatsoever, nothing but dispensationalism wrapped up in different robes.
I noted in the debate with McDurmon, when he objected to the connection between what he was saying about Abraham and dispensationalism, that I have debated dispensationalists for years. I am intimately familiar with their theology. And I can say unequivocally that what McDurmon, and seemingly American Vision, is now advocating is nothing but what I will call Dispensational Dominionism. I will vindicate that claim in this article.
It is interesting to say the least that McDurmon said that he would have no problem at all debating a Dispensationalist. He claimed he could dispatch them with ease. No, not really. As this series of articles will reveal, modern Dispensationalism will surely be thrilled with the current direction of Dominionism.
The Land Promises
McDurmon’s key point upon which his entire argument was built, was that the land promise was to Abraham, personally, individually, and distinct from Abraham’s descendants, and that this aspect of the promise was never fulfilled, even though Abraham’s descendants were given the land. Then, it was claimed, not only did Abraham not receive the land, in Romans 4:13 Paul expanded on the promise and said Abraham was to inherit the world (kosmos). Since this demands, per McDurmon’s “logic” that Abraham must be physically present to inherit the world, this demands a physical resurrection of Abraham. To say the least, this is specious and fails, badly, to understand Hebraic thought.
The question arises: Was the land promised to Abraham individually, or, did the promise, from its inception, mean that Abraham was to receive the land representatively, through his descendants? This is the argument that I made in the debate, and McDurmon never offered a single word of substantive refutation. Here is what I mean.
In Hebraic thought it was common to speak of someone or some entity doing something, or receiving something, when they were not personally, individually to receive what is mentioned, or what was to happen.
Stevenson makes this observation: “I will assign this land to your offspring” (Gen 12:7). The distinction between Abraham and his descendants as the recipient of the promise is quite foreign to biblical thought.” … “Jacob (or Israel, as he comes to be called), is both a person and a people, both eponymous ancestor of the promise nation and an individual who pre-enacts the destiny of his descendants. “He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation” (Deuteronomy 26:5) A man metamorphoses into a nation? As an individual, Jacob is embedded in, indeed, indistinguishable from, his family in ways that we who are heirs to the more atomistic, individualistic cast of mind of the modern West find exceedingly difficult to fathom but that the Hebrew Bible, in the main, finds quite unexceptionable.” (Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel, (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2006)29. This “representative fulfillment” or “corporate” fulfillment concept is increasingly understood and accepted in scholarship.
Very clearly, the “corporate” and “representative” mentality was pervasive in Hebraic thought, but, was / is ignored by McDurmon and those who make his argument and this is a critical element. We will have more in the next article.
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