We close our review with a few observations about other parts of Waldron's book.
Waldron shows that, despite the protestations of MacArthur to be speaking as a simple pre-mil, in fact Dr. MacArthur’s sermon presents a form of Dispensationalism, so that the sermon ought to have been entitled ‘Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Dispensational Premillennialist’. This is not to accuse Dr. MacArthur of dishonesty, it is to note that he has unconsciously confused Dispensationalism with historic premillennialism (unless he has, like Barry Horner, defined historic premillennialism with almost sole reference to Horatius Bonar). Church history, Waldron points out, shows that Calvinism and premillennialism have historically NOT been closely related. While J.N. Darby and other early Brethren leaders were Calvinistic, those who have come after (for example C.A. Coates) moved to a more Arminian position, making the claim that Dispensationalism is the natural Calvinistic position rather tenuous to say the least. To give one prominent example, C.I. Scofield in his ‘Reference Bible‘, P. 1203 refers Romans 9.11 to corporate election, not personal. This is really quite logical if you believe that the purpose of the Dispensation of grace is to test men in respect to obedience to the command to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. While Dr. MacArthur insists (rightly) that Dispensationalism teaches God’s gracious election of Israel, he fails to point out that even the most rabid Arminians teach corporate election. The thing is, that’s the only election that they DO teach.
Dr. Waldron points out that Dr. MacArthur and other Dispensationalists assume in their criticism of the non-Dispensational position the Dispensational distinction between Israel and the Church, namely that the Church began at Pentecost and is an essentially Gentile institution, while those they criticise hold that there is a continuity between Israel and the Church, so that the Church does not replace Israel but is Israel reformed and expanded to embrace Gentiles who are engrafted into Israel by faith. Thus it is inaccurate to describe this alone as replacement theology. The trouble is that Dr. MacArthur is assuming that we agree with him on the nature of the Church and the relation between the Church and Israel. WE DON’T!!! This is one of the points at issue, not a point of agreement between us!
We teach, following what we understand the Bible to teach, that Christians are members by faith of a Jewish Church with a Jewish head and founded by Jewish Apostles, based on a Bible written by Jewish men (though some think that Luke was a Gentile, we tend to agree with those who think that he was a Jewish man like the other Biblical writers). In this book Dr. Waldron exegetes the key passages showing that the Apostle Paul identifies the Church and Israel. He points out that MacArthur is erroneous in supposing that non-Dispensationalists teach that God cast out Israel for disobedience and made a new people out of the Gentiles. No, He engrafted the elect Gentiles into the olive tree of Israel.
Other chapters deal with such important issues as “Must Israelites be ethnic Jews’ (No. By accepting circumcision those who were born Gentiles could become Israelites by law) and ‘If the Church is Israel, why doesn’t it inherit Israel’s curses?’ (because the true Church is made up of faithful people. As Cranmer put it, it is "the blessed company of all faithful people". The true Church can‘t apostatize, so it cannot receive the curses for disobedience).
This is an excellent response to Dr. MacArthur, presented in a loving, straightforward way. Waldron corrects from the Bible and does his utmost to present MacArthur’s true position. The whole of MacArthur’s offending message is printed as an appendix, allowing the reader to check Waldron’s use of MacArthur in the work. Like all works by men, it ought to be read with discernment, but it will be profitable for anyone who wants to understand more about the ongoing debates over eschatology and Dispensationalism.