Dear Southern Baptists, the Calvinistic Roots of Dispensationalism

Warning shots against Calvinistic influence in Southern Baptist churches is all the rage today. While some anti-Calvinist Southern Baptists have been involved in end times conferences promoting Dispensationalism, they do not seem to fear its Calvinistic roots. To be fair, many Southern Baptists may not know the Calvinistic history of Dispensationalism.

Dr. Thomas Ice of Liberty University (hardly a pro-Calvinist institution) is here to help with his article – The Calvinistic Heritage of Dispensationalism.

Dr. Ice explains the systematization, history and growth of Dispensationalism. He begins:

If systematic Dispensationalism is rightly understood it logically makes sense only within a theocentric and soteriologically Calvinists theology. Dispensationalism teaches that it is GOD who is ruling His household, as administered through the various dispensations of history. Though Dispensationalism, or elements of Dispensationalism have been disseminated throughout a wide diversity of Protestant traditions, this system of theology is best seen as a system of theology that views God as the Sovereign ruler of heaven and earth; man as a rebellious vice-regent (along with some angels); Jesus Christ is the hero of history as He is saves some by His Grace; history as a lesson in the outworking of God’s glory being displayed to both heaven and earth. In essence, Dispensationalism is a theology properly derived from biblical study and lets God be God.

After defining Calvinism and Dispensationalism, Ice explains the theological logic of how nicely the two systems fit together. He then tackles the following topics as they relate to Dispensationalism.

  • Darby and the Brethren
  • Dispensationalism in America
  • Scofield, Chafer, and Dallas Seminary
  • A Broadening of Dispensational Acceptance
  • Latter Rain Pentecostalism
  • Post War Development

Ice concludes in part:

In our day of Postmodern irrationalism, where it is considered a virtue to NOT connect the dots of one’s theology, we need to be reminded that the theology of the Bible is a seamless garment. It all hangs together. If one starts pulling at a single thread, the whole cloth is in danger of unraveling.

I personally think that if systematic Dispensationalism is rightly understood then it still logically makes sense only within a theocentric and soteriologically Calvinistic theology.

Read the whole thing: The Calvinistic Heritage of Dispensationalism by Dr. Thomas Ice.

Guilt by association is often employed against Calvinism in certain Southern Baptist circles. Yet, that fallacy is not used against Dispensationalism that is taught within Southern Baptist churches. No one seems to be worried that Dispensationalism within the Southern Baptist Convention is going to slowly move people toward Calvinism nor slowly move people toward theological practices that the founders of Dispensationalism practiced.

Now, if we Southern Baptists can just treat other theological positions with Calvinistic roots in the same manner there may be much less infighting.

For what it’s worth…


P.S. Don’t be a Southern Baptist Phantom Menace.

tagged as , , , in Arminianism,calvinism,Christianity,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris Coppenbarger September 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

So, there is something about Dispensationalism to be thankful for….other than that, it simply not a Biblical doctrine.

2 Rick Patrick September 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Well, let’s see. I’ve been told that to be a Baptist, you really have to be a Calvinist. I’ve been told that to be an inerrantist, you really have to be a Calvinist. And now it seems that to be a real dispensationalist, you have to be a Calvinist. They love to claim ground.

So I wonder…can I be a tennis player, a Cowboys fan or eat BBQ ribs without being a Calvinist? Because that really might be enough to convert me. 🙂

3 Mark September 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Rick, I’m not sure, but you can be a smart aleck of you like. 🙂

4 jenn September 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Founders are not fans of dispensationalism:

5 Nicholas Kennicott September 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I’ll have to bite and read the whole article… but up front, I’m not convinced that dispensationalism and Calvinism have anything to do with one another other than a few people who have found something biblical, namely Calvinism, have decided to enjoin it with something that’s not, namely dispensationalism. Historically, particular baptists have been covenental (cf. 1689 LBC, Philadelphia confession), not dispensational which seems to have come from general and anabaptist traditions…

BUT, I’ll give it a read and see what the brother has to say…

6 Mark September 12, 2012 at 8:17 am

Nick, I hope you’ll come back and share your reflections. I am not a Dispensationalist (which I think you knew). Whether you agree or not with Ice’s conclusions of how Calvinism and Dispensationalism are tied together we cannot deny the Calvinistic heritage Ice lays out.

7 Johnny Ward January 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm

/ Just ran across this web snippet, for what it is worth /

Carl Sweatman, a PhD student in England, has penned an electrifying “tribute” to Bible prophecy specialist Thomas Ice that all Ice fans and others may enjoy reading. To read it Google “be careful in polemics – 26 December 2012.”

8 Mark January 2, 2013 at 9:07 am

Johnny, thanks though I’m not an Ice fan. 🙂

9 Johnny Ward January 3, 2013 at 2:14 am

I Googled “Thomas Ice” and found that he stands up and even stands out in the current worldwide rapture debate. Readers undoubtedly will be interested in visiting the same search engine and typing in “Thomas Ice – Hired Gun,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Pretrib Expert John Walvoord Melts Ice,” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”

10 Matt Privett September 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

Well the Founders weren’t perfect.

11 Henry Wynns August 17, 2015 at 3:18 pm

I must say that I am an Arminian Southern Baptist who believes in one point Calvinism. I accept the doctrine of the Eternal Security of the Believer. Otherwise, I would make a good Free Will Baptist. Am I a pretribulationist? I can accept it as long as it is in the tradition of the Rev. Billy Graham, BTh, BA. I do not accept the predictive views of Hal Lindsey and Jack Van Impe. These two theologians are always trying to predict the return of our Lord. Did not Jesus say that only God the Father knows when that will occur? Yes! I like Rev. Graham and will miss him when his spirit goes to heaven. He has served the Lord so well. May God bless him.


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