As of late I have been discussing dispensationalism with Rose. She follows Classic Dispensationalism, while I am an advocate of Progressive Dispensationalism. I once was a “Classic,” but after further researching this issue (approx. 10 yrs. ago now)—I abandoned this prevalent position in favor of the so called “Progressive” approach. There are many reasons why I am progressive versus classic, one of the most prominent reasons is the artificiality that I began to sense within the classic model. Classic dispensationalism operates with a hyper commitment to discontinuity between the various seven dispensations, Law & Gospel, Israel & Church, etc. After reading scripture, and the teachings of Classic Dispensationalists (like Pentecost, Ryrie, Chafer, Scofield, et al), I quickly came to the realization that this hyper commitment to discontinuity certainly is a product of that system instead of sound exegesis.
I challenged Rose with the Classic Dispensational teaching of more than one New Covenant, i.e. that there is the New Covenant made with the nation of Israel, and a New Covenant made with the church. I wanted to illustrate this by quoting Charles Ryrie on this teaching, this quote is in the context of a discussion Ryrie is providing on II Corinthians 3, and Paul’s application of the New Covenant to the church at Corinth. This certainly poses a problem for someone who places a heavy wedge between Israel and the Church, thus Ryrie’s attempt to clarify his position in light of this apparently contradictory teaching by the Apostle Paul. This is an example of the the artificiality that turned me off to classic and on to progressive dispensationalism:
. . . The reference to “new covenant” is without the definite article. The text does not say we are ministers of “the new covenant” but of “a new covenant.” The definite article is also absent in Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24. This may not be significant at all, or it may indicate that Paul is focusing on a new covenant made with the church, which, of course, is based on the death of Christ as is also the future new covenant made with Israel. If so, there are two new covenants; perhaps even more if one understands a covenant related to each dispensational change in the outworking of God’s plan and purpose. In this view the two new covenants are distinct and not merged into one, which has already been inaugurated (as progressives teach). (Charles Ryrie, “Dispensationalism,” 174)
Did you notice Ryrie’s rather passive-aggressive approach here? If you had read the preceding context to this quote, you would realize that instead of merely being a suggestive, as he tries to frame this, he actually holds to the idea that there is more than one “New Covenant.” The burden of proof is on him, and those who follow Ryrie’s logic, that there is more than the one New Covenant that Yahweh makes with Israel. Paul, in II Cor. 3, is alluding to Ezekiel 36:24ff, following the promise/fulfillment motif used by the rest of the New Testament; in other words, just as there were promises about the Messiah, finding fulfillment in Jesus—likewise the promise of the New Covenant is fulfilled in Jesus’ blood (in Luke), and subsequently applied and fulfilled by all those in union with Him.