Breaking the Rack

Why do we do what we do? This is a question for individuals and for groups, applicable to Christians, families, churches, schools, businesses, and so on. Every person does what he most wants to do, whether or not he thinks in those terms or is attentive to his intentions. We all have wants, we all have reasons, we all make choices how we will spend our resources (time, money, skills, interests, etc.). And what we believe about God’s plan for the future will shape what we believe about God’s will for today.

In history, most Dispensationalists have considered their lives, and the world, to be in a sort of throw-away category. Dispies say doctrine matters, but our daily vocations not so much. Our lives are a vapor, as James wrote, and Dispensationalists tend to apply that to the worth of one’s life not only the duration of it.

That sort of Dispensationalist sings about how this world is not his home, he’s just a’passing through, and he sings how the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of Christ’s glory and grace. A Dispensationalist runs everything through the comparative grid rather than the integrated grid (very helpful categories Joe Rigney described in his book, The Things of Earth). Compared to Jesus everything else is worthless, “there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). This mindset tends to be best at building (Dispensational) Bible colleges as well as walls between Denominations. We are good at seeing and criticizing and condemning sin in the culture. We major on strident apologetics and urgent evangelism and rapture narratives. We believe that Israel is still significant in God’s plans and promises, and we expect that God will work all that out on the other side of the globe. We’ll wait here, at home, in our prayer closets, and Jesus will be back to get us out of here at any moment.

The part about Israel is good, the rest of the above not so much. There are great promises of God to His elect people in the Old Testament. He made great and unbreakable covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In recent posts we’ve looked specifically at the New Covenant promises to “the household of Israel,” promises to give them a new heart and the indwelling Spirit, as well as to return them to the land of their forefathers (Jeremiah 31:31-40; Ezekiel 36:22-32). Then we saw Paul’s long section of confidence in Romans 9-11. God chose the nation of Israel for Himself, He chose to save many within the nation. He also purposed for many to reject His Son for time, before He will save all of the Jews in future generation. God is faithful. He will finish what He started. While the fullness of Gentiles are grafted into salvation in Christ, the ethnic people of Israel will also be grafted back in. This what it means to be a Dispensationalist.

What does that have to do with being a Kuyperian? Though it’s been awhile, the first posts on this site were about the adjective “Kuyperian” as a nickname for a way of looking at all the world as a good gift from God. Not anything that was made was not made by Him. He sustains it, and He’s interested in it. He also made image-bearers to reflect His interests, and commissioned them to steward and build and subdue the earth. Marriage and family, medicine and technology, a father’s labor and a mother’s labor, are all ways to glorify God, not things that keep us from glorifying Him. Yes, any created thing could become an idol, but so can Bible reading and religious service. Lots of religious people go to hell.

A Kuyperian is a Christian who acknowledges Christ’s lordship over every thumb’s-width in creation. Earthly callings are God’s idea. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices is His choice for our response to His mercies (Romans 12:1). If the Lord merely wanted excellent thinkers He could have made computers. Instead He made Man with brains and blood and bodies and thumbs.

So here’s the crux: most Kuyperian-minded Christians have not been Dispensationalists. Most Dispensationalists have not been Kuyperian. There are verses for both, so there are blind spots to watch for on both sides. Whether or not one uses the labels, both truths are Bible truths.

Do the doctrines go together or do we just try to hold them both? Is this a case where God reveals them, we believe them, and we can’t explain any further connection? He’s sovereign, we’re responsible, He’ll have to figure out how it works?

Perhaps the truths are like holding two sixteen pound bowling balls, one in the left hand and one in the right. There have been some Christians who believe and live like this, most of whom probably couldn’t explain it, but they do it. We shouldn’t drop either ball, but they don’t really have much to do with each other.

But I wholeheartedly believe that this is not the case. Kuyperianism is more like the cue ball that breaks the Dispensational rack, sending balls into pockets all around the table. Kuyperianism is the key that touches all the right parts of the eschatological tumbler, opening the lock on the timeline of God’s plan. It’s not just that they could go together, they must. How so? Now it’s really going to get good.

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