The Founder of Dallas Theological Seminary on “Gospel”

{Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, in his Systematic Theology has several terms that he wrote a summary about in the “Doctrinal Summation” section (Volume 7).  This particular offering is relevant to a situation that has become an issue in my church.  I sat on the board from 2011 through the beginning of 2016.  I was an elder on that board since 2013 and had taken ownership and leadership of the adult Sunday school program.  Late in 2015, a controversy arose where two of us elders were determined to be holding to “hyperdispensationalism”.  We were voted off of the board by the unanimous vote of everyone who was in disagreement with us.  Although I am not absolutely certain because no formal reason was given, the main concern was that we held to “2 gospels”.  After our elimination from the board, we were also no longer allowed to teach in Sunday school or any other teaching positions.  I put this entry in because I am still amazed at the absurdity of all of this, and that my IFCA church is becoming what may as well be a Covenant church.  While I am not in 100% agreement with all of Dr. Chafer’s thoughts and conclusions, I have very much appreciated his teachings and insights.  I have learned a lot from his works and very much enjoy his defenses of premillenialism.  Now I realize that just because Dr. Chafer put the following into writing it does not make it true or false, but it is ironic that the founder of the seminary that trained Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, and many other well respected pastors has defined gospel such, but this cannot even be spoken of without destroying the leadership of a local congregation.  Since that decision, another small group in the church was made to “disband” because some held to wanting to continue to study the scriptures under the leadership of the other board member that was with me in this.  It is sad when church leadership demands all see things their way, even when they are not all in agreement, except that they are all in agreement against you.  Without any further commentary, I offer below the full entry from the theology textbook once, and possibly still used at DTS.}

GOSPEL

The word εὐαγγέλιον means ‘good news’ and was fully appreciated when all the news of the day had to be carried by couriers. To bear good news was a high honor. Four different messages of good news have been rightly identified and set forth by Dr. C. I. Scofield:

  1. The Gospel of the kingdom. This is the good news that God purposes to set up on the earth, in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7: 16 . . . ) , a kingdom, political, spiritual, Israelitish, universal, over which God’s Son, David’s heir, shall be King, and which shall be, for one thousand years, the manifestation of the righteousness of God in human affairs…

Two preachings of this Gospel are mentioned, one past, beginning with the ministry of John the Baptist, continued by our Lord and His disciples, and ending with the Jewish rejection of the King. The other is yet future (Matt. 24:14), during the great tribulation, and immediately preceding the coming of the King in glory.

  1. The Gospel of the grace of God. This is the good news that Jesus Christ, the rejected King, has died on the cross for the sins of the world, that He was raised from the dead for our justification, and that by Him all that believe are justified from all things. This form of the Gospel is described in many ways. It is the Gospel “of God” (Rom. 1:1) because it originates in His love; “of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:14) because it flows from His sacrifice, and because He is the alone Object of Gospel faith; of “the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) because it saves those whom the law curses; of ”the glory” ( 1 Tim. 1:11; 2 Cor. 4:4) because it concerns Him who is in the glory, and who is bringing the many sons to glory (Rev. 2:10); of “our salvation” (Eph. 1: 13) because it is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16); of “the uncircumcision” (Gal. 2:7) because it saves wholly apart from forms and ordinances; of “peace” (Eph. 6: 15) because through Christ it makes peace between the sinner and God, and imparts inward peace.

  1. The everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14:6). This is to be preached to earth-dwellers at the very end of the great tribulation and immediately preceding the judgment of the nations (Matt. 25:31 …). It is neither the Gospel of the kingdom, nor of grace. Though its burden is judgment, not salvation, it is good news to Israel and to those who, during the tribulation, have been saved (Rev. 7:9-14; Luke 21:28; Ps. 96:11-13; Isa. 35:4-10).

  1. That which Paul calls, “my Gospel” (Rom. 2: 16 …) . This is the Gospel of the grace of God in its fullest development, but includes the revelation of the result of that Gospel in the outcalling of the church, her relationships, position, privileges, and responsibility. It is the distinctive truth Ephesians and Colossians, but interpenetrates all of Paul’s writings.

… There is “another Gospel” (Gal. 1:6; 2 Cor. 11:4) “which is not another,” but a perversion of the Gospel of the grace of God, against which we are warned. It has had many seductive forms, but the test is one-it invariably denies the sufficiency of grace alone to save, keep, and perfect, and mingles with grace some kind of human merit. In Galatia it was law, in Colosse fanaticism (Col. 2: 18, etc.). In any form its teachers lie under the awful anathema of God.-Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1343

Strong objection is offered by Covenant theologians to a distinction between the gospel of the kingdom as preached by John the Baptist, Christ, and the other disciples and the gospel of the grace of God.  One of them states that to make such a distinction is “unfortunate” and “dangerous.” He with others contends that the kingdom gospel is identical with the gospel of divine grace. Here nevertheless will arise an absurdity which does not deter this type of theologian, namely, that men could preach the grace gospel based as it is on the death and resurrection of Christ when they did not believe Christ would die or be raised again (cf.  Luke 18:31-34).

 

4 thoughts on “The Founder of Dallas Theological Seminary on “Gospel”

  1. david ferrie

    Great article by Dr Chafer. His “terms of salvation” is something I personally read and reread periodically. It goes hand in hand with knowing what the gospel is.

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    1. Too many times, people are more concerned about unity in doctrine than they are about learning the truth. It should be looked at as a good thing when people study and are hungry for more, but what unfortunately happened is that now some are afraid to have any doctrine other than “this is what my church believes”. We are not instructed to study to show our church doctrine approved, but to study to show ourselves approved UNTO GOD, and to be workmen who are not ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

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  2. Thanks for this article.
    In my understanding, Covenant Theologians have not worked very hard at understanding scripture in every detail. They work harder to stick to their theology, which I think is too simplified. They, I think, have endeavored to make everything sound logical, and have put everything in a neat package. But we must take scripture as it is, even if it doesn’t appear logical and according to our theology. I hold to dispensationalism because I see that God has worked differently in different time periods. Dispensationalists are literalists and covenant theologians are generally more allegorical.
    We of course have to be careful not to be too hyper in our dispensationalism or we will also be falling in the trap of following theology instead of the bible.

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    1. I agree, we always have to have our theology shaped by the scriptures and not the other way around. I have always preferred not to teach “dispensationalism”, but to teach the Word. I said in the past that instead of saying that I have a “dispensational, premillenial, pre-tribulational understanding of eschatology”, that I am “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.” But dispensational understanding goes beyond “last things”, so in that case I would say that I would rather teach Paul’s gospel, “and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest.”[Rom 16:25] Sometimes unfortunately, alot of energy needs to go into defending our convictions because of the fight that was brought to us for having and holding to them.

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