Alan Patrick Boyd
“‘it would seem wise for the modern system to abandon the claim that it is the historic faith of the church.”
Author of “A Dispensational Premillennial Analysis of the Eschatology of the Post-Apostolic Fathers (Until the Death of Justin Martyr)” – submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Theology (May 1977)
“Perhaps a word needs to be said about the eschatological position of the writer of this thesis. He is a dispensational premillennialist, and he does not consider this thesis to be a disproof of that system. He originally undertook the thesis to bolster the system by patristic research, but the evidence of the original sources simply disallowed this.” ( “A Dispensational Premillennial Analysis of the Eschatology of the Post-Apostolic Fathers (Until the Death of Justin Martyr)”, p. 91, note 2)
“It is this writer’s conviction that historical precedent cannot be employed to disprove a system of belief, but only Biblical precedent. There is much error in the Fathers studies in other areas of theology (e.g., soteriology – incipient baptismal regeneration, a weak view of justification; ecclesiology – incipient sacerdotalism), so it should be no occasion for surprise that there is much eschatological error there.” (ibid., p. 91, note 2)
“It is the conclusion of this thesis that Dr. Ryrie’s statement [that dispensationalism was the view of the early church fathers] is historically invalid within the chronological framework of this thesis. The reasons for this conclusion are as follows: 1). the writers/writings surveyed did not generally adopt a consistently applied literal interpretation; 2). they did not generally distinguish between the Church and Israel; 3). there is no evidence that they generally held to a dispensational view of revealed history; 4). although Papias and Justin Martyr did believe in a Milennial kingdom, the 1,000 years is the only basic similarity with the modern system (in fact, they and dispensational pre-millennialism radically differ on the basis of the Millennium); 5).they had no concept of imminency or a pre-tribulational rapture of the Church; 6).in general, their eschatological chronology is not synonymous with that of the modern system. Indeed, this thesis would conclude that the eschatological beliefs of the period studied would be generally inimical to those of the modern system (perhaps, seminal amillennialism, and not nascent dispensational pre-millennialism ought to be seen in the eschatology of the period).” (pp. 90f.)
“Dispensational premillennialism is the product of the post-Reformation progress of dogma.” (Dispensational Premillennial Analysis,” p. 91, n2.)
“The Majority of the writers/writings in this period (70-165 A.D.) completely identify Israel with the church. He specifically cites Papias, I Clement, 2 Clement, Barnabus, Hermas, the Didache, and Justin Martyr.”
“it is evident that twentieth-century ‘premillennialism’, as represented by Dr. Ryrie, is much more than just the belief in a literal Millenniumand Christ’s return before it; but it is evident that this ‘pre-millennialism’ is an intricate system of theology, based upon the foundational tenets just discussed and incorporating a complex chronology of eschatological events” (p.14).
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Bahnsen and Gentry
“Dr. Charles Ryrie of Dallas Theological Seminary fame has written, “Premillennialism is the historic faith of the Church.” But in response, Alan Patrick Boyd, a student at Dallas, concluded the following in his Master’s Thesis, “It is the conclusion of this thesis that Dr. Ryrie’s statement is historically invalid within the chronological framework of this thesis [apostolic age through Justin Martyr].” ( “House Divided” p. 235)
As anyone familiar with dispensationalism knows, there is scant evidence of anything resembling dispensationalism prior to 1830. Certainly there is no evidence of dispensationalism among the early church fathers up until the time of the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), which produced the Nicene Creed, a document that says absolutely nothing about dispensationalism6 or even premillennialism. In fact, as dispensationalist Patrick Alan Boyd concludes, even premillennialism is hard to find prior to Nicea. As a result of his study, Boyd admonishes his fellow dispensationalists “to be more familiar with, and competent in patristics, so as to avoid having to rely on second-hand evidence in patristic interpretation.” He suggests that “it would seem wise for the modern system [of dispensational premillennialism] to abandon the claim that it is the historic faith of the church.”
Ice should have followed Boyd’s counsel and the directives of dispensational icon Charles C. Ryrie before he decided to take on the historical argument against preterism. Knowing that dispensationalism has a recent history, and critics have used its novelty against the system, Ryrie responds:
The fact that something was taught in the first century does not make it right (unless taught in the canonical Scriptures), and the fact that something was not taught until the nineteenth century does not make it wrong, unless, of course, it is unscriptural. . . . After all, the ultimate question is not, Is dispensationalism–or any other teaching–historic? but, Is it scriptural?
Agreeing with Ryrie on this point, we can ask, “After all, the ultimate question is not, Is preterism–or any other teaching–historic? but, Is it scriptural?” So even if it could be proved that no form of preterism can be found in first-century Christian documents, this in itself does not mean the Bible does not teach it. Ice knows of this argument, but like so much of The End Times Controversy, he conveniently leaves out evidence damaging to his position.” (Biblical Minimalism and “The History of Preterism”)
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Date: 08 Jul 2009
It is true that dispensational thinking is not fully seen in the ECF’s commentary. But then neither is amillennialism, neither is ANY modern view. The fact is, the only modern view that comes close (and I think purposefully so) is progressive dispensationalism, which can be held to without so much as acknowledging any dispensation save the Old and New Covenant periods. It fits best a pre-millenial/post-tribulational view, and yet it can also be held with an amillennial viewpoint. Point being, none of the systems (from Nicene through modern times) have really taken in all of scripture in a literal fashion, not even classical dispensationalism, and thus the faults of all these systems are glaring. In my opinion, the developers of the progressive dispensational system have taken those faults, and corrected them, while at the same time managing not to (as preterism, amillenialism, and other systems have done) toss out the baby with the bathwater. Soon, I see it supplanting everything else. Simply put, it better fits what the scriptures actually say.
Date: 21 Jan 2010
I will overly simplify the arguement by saying that I am a Pan-Millenialist. I believe that it will all Pan Out” in the end! Sorry! So…why get so hung up on this.