Mr. Phillips may reply that he has read dozens of Covenant Theologians, and he thinks that his analysis is fair. Well, Dave Hunt says that he has read hundreds of Calvinist books and still horribly misrepresents Calvinism. Dave Hunt has read them through the lenses of his own prejudice. In the same way Mr. Phillips has read Covenant Theologians through the lenses of his Dispensationalist prejudices. It is always more important for us to give credence to men’s express statements than what we ‘feel’ them to be teaching. The objective rather than the subjective must rule in this, otherwise what Mr. Phillips is simply knocking down a straw man set up be his Dispensationalist teachers.
We are sorry to have had to spend so much time pressing this point, but we believe that it is essential that we, as Christians, do not misrepresent our opponents. You see, if we come to a debate and immediately misrepresent the other side, we in effect say ‘I have not bothered to find out what you actually believe, I don’t care about that.’ At once we have alienated the other side. Speaking for ourselves, when we read Mr. Phillips’ declaration that non-Dispensational Reformed theologians believe that God’s ultimate end in His dealings with man is the redemption of the elect, we were extremely annoyed. And then when he came back to say, in effect, ‘you’re wrong, you don’t understand your own writers’, he gives the impression that he is more concerned to keep hold of his Dispensationalist straw man than he is to take our denials at face value.
C.I. Scofield defines a dispensation as:
“a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some Specific revelation of the will of God.” (Scofield Reference Bible [1917 Oxford University Press] P. 5 note 4)If dispensationalists still accept this definition, we would humbly suggest that a better ‘third distinctive’ would be
“The division of history into a series dispensations, which are defined as periods in which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.”This would have the advantage of actually being a distinctive. Obviously it could be better worded, but we leave that to the Dispensationalists themselves.