Can Dispensationalist Have a Literal Hermeneutic and not be Roman Catholic?

What is Dispensational Hermeneutics? In short, Dispensationalism has more to do with commitment to a particular hermeneutic then it does to adherence to a theological model. The Dispensational theological system arises out of a hermeneutic rather than from a theology imposed upon Scripture. They interpret the Scriptures with a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic through all of the Scriptures – reading the Bible as the original writer intended to the original reader. As Dr. Charles Ryrie states on literal interpretation (Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), 86.) “does not preclude or exclude correct understanding of types, illustrations, apocalypses, and other genres within the basic framework of literal interpretation… might also be called plain interpretation so that no one receives the mistaken notion that the literal principle rules out figures of speech.

With that in mind, how does the Dispensationalist read John 6:41-59 without becoming Roman Catholic???

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life.49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

One, I guess they could claim, as some do… the Four-Gospels written by the Apostles were not intended for the NT church – so then, this would not matter.

Two, they could use Pauline theology in 1 Corinthians 11 to properly understanding what Jesus is saying in chapter 6 of John’s gospel, but that would take away their literal interpretation of what the text is saying from original writer to original reader.

Three, Then again, (Ps. 50:10) he owns every beast of the forest, yet only a cattle on a thousand hills… right?


3 Comments on “Can Dispensationalist Have a Literal Hermeneutic and not be Roman Catholic?”

  1. Erik Raymond says:

    I don’t think that is a fair characterization/conclusion. I am not a dispensationalist as you have outlined, however, if you include the preceding verses in 6 you are helped greatly:

    (Joh 6.33-40) o the world.”
    34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
    35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
    36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
    37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
    38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
    39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
    40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    v.35: comes to me—not hunger // believes in me–not thirst
    v.37: come to me
    v.40: looks on the son // believes in him

    The eating and drinking of the body and blood of Jesus seems to be unpacked by Jesus in the passage. Folks could pull the anachronistic card, I suppose. But context itself is more clear. And helpful.

    I enjoy your blog.


  2. The context is more clear to us yes, but what about original writer to original reader? It seems the crowd/synagogue Jesus was speaking to seem to have a hard time even understanding all this meant, if any.

    I do see your point, mine was more for just joking.

  3. Erik Raymond says:

    Gotcha Michael. I think you are exactly right. The context is that the bread he was giving was tough to swallow…they didn’t like it because they didn’t get it.

    I’m enjoying the heavy lifting you are doing on some of the other historical posts. Keep ’em coming!

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