Hermeneutics,  Review,  Theology

Dispensational Hermeneutics by Mike Vlach

Note: Information on entering the book giveaway is at the bottom of this post.

It is a sad reality that whenever someone searches for dispensationalism, the first results they find are often strawman critiques of the system. Dispensationalists are often misrepresented in their beliefs. For example, dispensationalists are said to teach multiple ways of salvation, or embrace antinomianism, etc. Although there are certainly non-negotiable beliefs that are a part of dispensationalism, the real issue has always been how dispensationalists arrive at their beliefs.

Dispensational Hermeneutics

Enter Mike Vlach’s new book, Dispensational Hermeneutics: Interpretation Principles that Guide Dispensationalism’s Understanding of the Bible’s Storyline (available for purchase here). In this book, Vlach provides a go-to resource for those trying to understand why dispensationalists believe what they believe. The purpose of the book is best defined in Vlach’s own words: “Our goal is to present the key hermeneutical principles that influence Dispensationalism’s view of the Bible’s storyline. As one understands these this will help with understanding the key theological beliefs of Dispensationalism” (Dispensational Hermeneutics, 9).

In other words, the goal of the book is not so much to focus on the essentials of dispensationalism (which Vlach has written on elsewhere), but to describe what makes dispensationalists unique in their hermeneutics. As always, the debate between different systems is one that is foundationally about hermeneutics. Why do dispensationalists believe in a future for Israel? Why do dispensationalists believe in a future Antichrist? Why do dispensationalists believe in a millennial kingdom? The answer to these questions are simply outworkings of a commitment to specific principles of interpretation. And, as usual, Vlach does a masterful job describing the dispensationalist’s commitment to authorial intent and a consistent method of interpretation.

Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the book is its concise simplicity. Some of the topics Vlach addresses are complex, but he summarizes the dispensational approach in an easy-to-understand description. He outlines and briefly describes the dispensational hermeneutic as follows:

  1. Consistent Use of Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutics to All Scripture
  2. Consistent Contextual Interpretation of Old Testament Prophecies
  3. Passage Priority: The Meaning of Any Bible Passage is Found in That Passage
  4. Old Testament Prophecies not Repeated in the New Testament Remain Relevant
  5. Old Testament Eschatology Expectations Are Reaffirmed in the New Testament
  6. Progress of Revelation Does Not Cancel or Transform Unconditional Promises to the Original Audience
  7. Fulfillments Occur with the Two Comings of Jesus
  8. Partial Fulfillments of Old Testament Prophecies
  9. Jesus as Means of Fulfillment of the Old Testament
  10. Types, Yes! Typological Interpretation, No!

One of my favorite aspects of the book is Vlach’s clear explanation that dispensationalism is concerned with understanding the Bible as a clear story about God’s kingdom. The Bible is not only a book about how a human being can be saved. It is a story about how a king comes, conquers, and will rule in finality over creation.

Needless to say, this is a really important book—especially because many of the discussions about dispensationalism are entirely ignorant of the real issues involved. This book will be a welcome resource to help explain why dispensationalists believe what they believe.

Chance to Win a Free Copy

Because I think understanding the message of this book is so important, I have personally purchased 2 copies to give away. To enter the random drawing, just fill out the following Google form (if you can’t see it immediately below, you can access it here).

I will keep the signups open until February 2 (2023 obviously), and then I will email the winners and ship the book out that next week (I will only ship to the USA lower 48… sorry Canadians, Hawaiians, Alaskans, and the rest of the international contingent!).

Interview with Mike Vlach on Dispensationalism

As part of the recent launch of his book on dispensationalism, Vlach also sat down with me to talk about dispensationalism and how his book aims to help people understand the system. We also talk about why people view dispensationalism negatively, and what he is working on next. It is a great interview, and you won’t want to miss it! You can watch it below, or view it directly on Youtube here.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs the Bible Sojourner podcast.

3 Comments

  • Peter Goeman

    Thanks everyone for the great response and signing up for the free book giveaway! The giveaway has ended, and the winners have been emailed. If I don’t receive a response from the winners within 4 days, I will select a new set of winners until the books are given away.

  • Chris Roberson

    Dr. Goeman,
    Thanks for this video. I really enjoyed it. I have really learned a lot from you two men. I thank God for you both.

    Blessings,
    Chris

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