A quick and easy chart on Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology

Dispensationalism

Covenant Theology

How does God order history?

History is divided into dispensations, and God deals with humans differently in each dispensation. History is divided into covenants (with Abraham, David, etc.), and each covenant builds on the previous ones.

How many peoples does God have?

Two peoples: Jewish Israel and the Christian church. One people: the Christian church today is the true Israel.

Who receives God’s promises?

Jews (even if they don’t believe in Jesus) receive God’s physical promises, including the land of Israel in the Middle East. Christians receive the spiritual promises of salvation. Only those who believe in Jesus receive the promises of God, and these promises are physical and spiritual. One day, believers will inherit the whole earth. But Jews who deny Christ have forfeited the promises of God.

 Who is the Old Testament for?

It is for Jews, whose laws and promises are different from those of the Christian church. It is for Christians, who receive the laws and promises of Israel, but these laws and promises are understood and applied differently in light of their fulfillment in Christ.

What about the modern nation-state of Israel?

The modern nation-state of Israel is protected by God and will fulfill biblical prophecies. Modern Israel has the same rights as any other nation, but it is not directly fulfilling biblical prophecies today.

What about the biblical prophesies about the Jewish temple, like Matthew 24?

The Jewish temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem before Jesus returns. The prophecies about the temple were fulfilled in AD 70, when the Romans destroyed it.

Who is the Antichrist?

He is a future leader who will deceive the world and persecute believers for 7 years. He is a figure of every false teacher in history who tries to deceive the church. He is sometimes distinguished from the “Beast” of Revelation, who represents every political leader who persecutes the church.*

What is the Rapture?

The Rapture is the “secret” return of Christ to rescue believers from the earth before the 7-year tribulation. After that, Christ will come again. The Rapture is no different from the Second Coming. Believers will not be taken away from the earth, but will rule on earth with Christ.

What is the Millennium?

The Millennium will be when Jesus returns and rules on earth for 1,000 years before the final judgment. The Millennium represents the entire time between the Resurrection of Jesus and his Second Coming. We are living in it now, as we witness the expansion of God’s kingdom across the world when we preach the gospel.**

Who are leading advocates of this view today?

David Jeremiah, Tim LaHaye, Craig Blaising, Darrell Bock R.C. Sproul, Michael Williams, Michael Horton, Vern Poythress

*There are actually a variety of views on the Antichrist among advocates of covenant theology. Some believe that there will still be a future individual who will oppose the church just before the Second Coming.

**Some advocates of covenant theology believe in a future millennium. Their position is generally called “historic” premillennialism, as opposed to dispensational premillennialism.

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2 responses

  1. Thanks, Kyle. Good work on this. I wonder if the Antichrist position is necessarily that simple on the covenantal side? I need to do some reading! Aside from that one, I felt comfortable with all the descriptions.

    1. David, you are right. I added a note to clarify the variety of views on the Antichrist. Various aspects of eschatology can usually be classified as either 1) futurist, 2) historicist, or 3) idealist, and these three categories aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

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