Introduction/Review. The Emergence of the Acts 28 View, Continued. How to Enjoy the Bible (1907)

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1 1 Sunday, Octber 28, 2012 Grace Life Schl f Thelgy Grace Histry Prject Lessn 77 Rightly Dividing E.W. Bullinger: The Emergence f Acts 28ism, Part 2 Intrductin/Review At the cnclusin f Lessn 76 we made the fllwing bservatins regarding the dispensatinal paradigm prmted by Sir Rbert Andersn s 1897 wrk The Silence f Gd. There can be n dubt that Andersn is espusing ideas in The Silence f Gd that are cnsistent with the Acts 28 viewpint. That being said, Andersn des nt advcate fr dividing Paul s Acts Perid Epistles frm his pst-acts epistles. Furthermre, when ne cmpares The Silence f Gd (1897) with Bullinger s The Mystery: Secret Truth Revealed (1895) and The Church Epistles (1898) ne des nt bserve in the writings f EWB the ntin that the bk f Acts cmprises its wn dispensatin. As we shall see in ur next lessn, by the time EWB published Hw t Enjy the Bible in 1907 his dispensatinal thinking bears the marks f having been influenced by the ideas Sir Rbert Andersn presented in The Silence f Gd. After analyzing the dcuments in questin and cnsidering the relatinship between Bullinger and Andersn, the Grace Histry Prject believes that Sir Rbert Andersn was instrumental in altering Bullinger s dispensatinal views between 1898 and 1907 when Hw t Enjy the Bible was published. In 1907, Bullinger s dispensatinal scheme has mre in cmmn with the ne Andersn endrsed in The Silence f Gd. The Emergence f the Acts 28 View, Cntinued Hw t Enjy the Bible (1907) In September, 1907, Dr. Bullinger published the bk that t many has remained his mst endearing wrk: Hw t Enjy the Bible... T Bullinger s mind, it was the reliance n traditin instead f n the study f the Bible that prevented peple frm understanding and enjying it. T assist readers, he intrduced an inductive methd f study similar t that used in the natural sciences. (Carey, ) Cnsider the fllwing qutatins frm the Preface and Intrductin: The Rt f all evils which abund in the spiritual sphere at the present day lies in the fact that the Wrd f and the wrds f Gd are nt fed upn, digested, and assimilated, as they ught t be. If we ask the questin, why is this the case? The answer is, the bible is nt enjyed because the Bible is nt understd. The methds and rules by which alne such an understanding may be gained are nt knwn r fllwed; hence the bible is a neglected bk... But ur bject is t Open the bk; t let it speak; t hear its vice; t study it frm within itself; and have regard t ther bjects and subjects nly frm what it teaches abut them. The methd f Higher criticism is t discredit a Bk, r a Pastr Bryan Rss

2 2 passage, n internal evidence. Our methd is t establish and accredit Hly Scripture n internal evidence als, and thus t derive and prvide, frm its pharmacpeia, an antidte t that subtle and malignant pisn. This methd f study will reveal mre cnvincing and infallible prf f inspiratin than can be adduced frm all the reasning and arguments f men. (Bullinger, xii-xxvii) In the Preface, Bullinger als argues fr the abslute necessity f rightly dividing the wrd f Truth. This cmmand t rightly divide being given us in cnnectin with this special title the Wrd f truth spke t us, if we had ears t hear, and tld us that unless we rightly divide the Wrd f Truth we shuld nt nly nt get the truth; but, as Gd s wrkmen we shuld indeed have need t be ashamed. It shwed that, if we wuld indeed enjy the Bible, it was abslutely necessary that we shuld rightly divide all that it cntained, in cnnectin with its subject-matter, as well as in cnnectin with its times and dispensatins. (Bullinger, xix) Hw t Enjy the Bible is an excellent bk that cntains a hst f gd dispensatinal teaching. Hwever, fr the purpses f this lessn we must limit ur cmments t nly thse sectins that apply t the task at hand, demnstrating the emergence f the Acts 28 dispensatinal view. In chapter tw, titled The One Great Subject f the Wrd, EWB states, The ne great subject which runs thrugh the whle Wrd f Gd is Christ; the prmised seed f the wmen in Gen. 3:15. (14) The fllwing is Dr. Bullinger s breakdwn f hw the cunsels and purpses f Gd all center in Christ. In the Old Testament we have the King and Kingdm in Prmise and Prphecy, Illustratin and Type. In the Fur Gspels we have the King and the Kingdm presented and prclaimed by Jhn the Baptizer, and by Christ Himself. And we see the Kingdm rejected, and King crucified. In the Acts f the Apstles we have the Transitin frm the Kingdm t the Church. The Kingdm is nce again ffered t Israel by Peter; and again it is rejected, Stephen is stned, and Peter imprisned (ch. 7). (Sunds very much like the mid-acts psitin.) Then Paul, wh had been already chsen and called (ch. 9), is cmmissined fr his Ministry (ch. 12), and n the final rejectin f his testimny cncerning the Kingdm, he prnunces fr the third and last time the sentence f judicial blindness in Isaiah 6, and declares that the salvatin f Gd is sent t the Gentiles (Acts 28:25-28). (Sunds very much like the Acts 28 psitin.) Pastr Bryan Rss

3 3 In the Epistles we have the King exalted, and (while the Kingdm is in abeyance) made the Head ver all things t the Church, during this present interval; the dispensatin f the grace f Gd. In the Apcalypse we have the Revelatin f the King in judgment; and we see the Kingdm set up, the King enthrned in pwer and glry, the prmise fulfilled, and prphecy ended. (14-15) Please nte the muddled nature f the statements quted abve. Bullinger teaches that Israel fell in Acts 7 with the stning f Stephen, but was nt cnsidered judicially blind until Acts 28. This is almst exactly what Sir Rbert Andersn taught in The Silence f Gd sme ten years earlier (1897). Furthermre, Bullinger has Paul preaching the Kingdm t Israel until Acts 28. Bth f these are hallmark teachings f Acts 28 dispensatinalism. Immediately fllwing the summary quted abve, EWB ffers the fllwing structural summary f the entire Bible. In this summary we see fr the first time in embrynic frm the ntin f splitting the Pauline Epistles int tw categries. Please cnsider the fllwing structure. The One Subject f the Wrd as a Whle The King and the Kingdm in Prmise and Prphecy. (The Old Testament) The King presented, prclaimed, and rejected. The Mysteries (r Secrets) f the Kingdm revealed. Matt. 13:11, (The Fur Gspels) Transitinal (The Acts). The Kingdm again ffered and rejected (The earlier Pauline Epistles). The King exalted and made Head ver all things t the Church, which is His bdy, the fullness f Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:22-23). The Great Mystery revealed (The later Pauline Epistles). The Kingdm in abeyance (Heb. 2:8). The King and the Kingdm unveiled. The King enthrned, and the Kingdm set up with Divine judgment, pwer, and glry (Rev. 19; 20). Prmise and prphecy fulfilled (The Apcalypse). (15) Accrding t the structure presented abve, it is nt clear what exactly EWB is saying regarding the Pauline Epistles. Despite the lack f clarity, the fllwing aspects f the Acts 28 mdel are bservable in EWB s structure whether they were intended r unintended. The earlier Pauline Epistles apply t the transitinal dispensatin f the bk f Acts when the kingdm is being ffered t Israel. The Great Mystery cncerning the church is nt revealed until the later Pauline Epistles. Pastr Bryan Rss

4 4 The dispensatinal scheme presented in Hw t Enjy the Bible is cludy and hard t fllw at times. It shws signs f Acts 28 thinking but des nt fully espuse that view. Fr lack f a better term, Hw t Enjy the Bible and The Silence f Gd by Sir Rbert Andersn appear t be Acts 28ism in an embrynic r undevelped frm. But in the New Dispensatin f the Acts f the Apstles the Israelite branches were already being brken ff, and Gentile branches were already being grafted in. These latter had n greater privileges as Gentiles as t standing than Israelites (as Israelites); Here the wrd f Rm. 11:18-21 applied t all such; fr thugh the dctrinal fundatin f the Mystery had been laid in Rm. 1-8, the Mystery itself was nt revealed until it was cmmitted t writing in the Prisn Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, and Clssians). The Epistle itself was nt written until nearly the end f Acts, and nly a shrt time befre Ephesians. (71) The qutatin abve represents a departure frm what EWB said regarding the mystery in The Mystery: Secret Truth Revealed (1895) and The Church Epistles (1898). In these wrks, EWB taught that Paul knew the mystery when he wrte I Crinthians (and Rmans) but chse nt t expund it because f the spiritual cnditin f the Crinthian church. In 1907, Bullinger explicitly states that the Mystery itself was nt revealed until it was cmmitted t writing in the Prisn Epistles. What exactly des Bullinger mean here? Des he mean that it was nt revealed t Paul until he wrte the prisn epistles, r des he mean that Paul did nt reveal it t anyne else until he wrte the prisn epistles? Unfrtunately Bullinger is unclear. Later in Hw t Enjy the Bible EWB states: The Kingdm was again prclaimed in the Acts, and the prmise f Christ s return n their natinal repentance was repeated (Acts 3:19-21). But the cmmand t repent was unheeded by the natin and its rulers; and s, in the Acts f the Apstles, we see the gradual transitin taking place, until the final prnuncement f Gd s rejectin f the natin is frmally made by Paul in Acts 28: This dispensatin f the the Church f Gd r the grace f Gd, and f the Spirit f Gd cmmenced utwardly by the ministry f Paul, in the Dispensatin r administratin cmmitted frmally t him; and inwardly by the revelatin f the mystery as further set frth in its fullness in thse epistles which he wrte frm his prisn in Rme: Ephesians, Philippians, and Clssians. (94-95) Please nte that Israel was nt fully rejected by Gd until Acts 28 accrding t EWB. In the sectin n nt reading the past int the present with respect t baptism, EWB writes, As lng as the Divine ffer f the kingdm made by Peter in Acts 3:19-21 was pen, baptism with material water was carried n, side by side with the baptism with spiritual water (pneuma hagin), which was administered by the laying n f hands (cmpare Acts Pastr Bryan Rss

5 5 19:6); the ne decreasing and the ther increasing, n the principle f Jhn 3:30. This cming change had been fur times fretld (Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5), and we see it taking place; but the change is nt cmplete until the ffer f the kingdm made in Acts 3:18-20 was finally and frmally clsed and withdrawn in Acts 28: Until then, baptism with water was cntinued, thugh it was decreasing. And it is mentined nly in thse Pauline Epistles written during that perid (I Cr. and Rm. 6) but never again afterward. In the Epistles written after that slemn epch it is never nce referred t; but nly the ne baptism with pneuma hagin. In Ephesians, Philippians, Clssians, and the Pastral Epistles there is n mentin f any rdinances; except that emphasize the fact that they n lnger exist, but are all dne away in the cmpleteness which is urs in Christ... When the Mystery was revealed t Paul, and by him was made knwn t the sns f men, the Hebrew dctrine f baptisms was left behind... ( ) Any dubts r ambiguities cntained in the sectins quted earlier seem t be remved here. First, Bullinger is clear, teaching that the ffer f repentance t Israel was n the table thrughut the bk f Acts until it was frmally withdrawn in Acts 28. Secnd, EWB refers t Acts 28 as a slemn epch when he used the same terminlgy in 1895 t refer t Paul s statement t the Jews in Antich f Pisidia in Acts 13: 46 (see Lessn 68). Third, it seems clear in this cntext that Bullinger n lnger thinks that Paul knew the mystery until he wrte the prisn epistles, which nce again is cntrary t what he said in 1895 and In the sectin abut nt reading the present int the past, EWB states the fllwing regarding the Church. In the Pauline Epistles the wrd (church/ecclesia) acquires a meaning which it never had befre. The meaning which is peculiar t this present Dispensatin must nt, therefre, be read int the Wrd when it is used in the Past Dispensatin... A further develpment f the usage f the wrd was caused in the clsing r transitin perid f the Past Dispensatin, which affected the meaning f the wrd as used in the Gspels, and in the Acts f the Apstles: at any rate, in the early prtin f the Acts, which is a transitinal bk... In Acts 9:9, he began this wrk when he separated the disciples, and the hardening f Isa. 6 was appraching its cmpletin. When that prphecy was fulfilled in Acts 28, the change f dispensatin was cmpleted. Hencefrward the wrd Ecclesia acquires a mre restricted meaning, and is used f the church f Gd eleven times in Paul s Epistles. The preceding qute prves beynd questin that as f 1907 EWB viewed Acts 28 as the dispensatinal bundary between the dispensatin f the law and the dispensatin f grace. Furthermre, it prves that Bullinger had nt yet frmally divided Paul s epistles int tw grups. This view is essentially the same view purpsed by Sir Rbert Andersn in The Silence f Gd in Please recall the fllwing sectin penned by Andersn: Pastr Bryan Rss

6 6 Having been carried a prisner t Rme, his first care was t call tgether nt the Christians, much thugh he lnged t see them (Rm. 1:10-11), but the chief f the Jews, and t them t give the testimny which he had brught t his natin in every place t which his ministry led him. In his intrductry address t them he claimed the place f a Jew amng Jews, I have dne nthing (he declared), against the peple, r the custms f ur fathers (Acts 28:17); but when these, the Jews f Rme, refused the prffered mercy, his missin t his natin was at an end; and fr the first time separating himself frm them, he exclaimed, Well spake the Hly Ghst thrugh Isaiah the prphet unt yur fathers and he went n t repeat the wrd which ur Lrd Himself had used at the kindred crisis f His ministry when the natin had penly rejected Him (Acts 28:25, Matt. 13:13). My cntentin is that the Acts, as a whle, is the recrd f a temprary and transitinal dispensatin in which blessing was again ffered t the Jews and again rejected. Hence the sustained emphasis with which the testimny t Israel is narrated, and the incidental way in which the testimny t Gentiles is treated. (Andersn, 175) The dispensatinalism presented in Hw t Enjy the Bible (1907) shares the fllwing key pints with The Silence f Gd (1897): The bk f Acts cmprises its wn transitinal dispensatin. In ther wrds n new dispensatin begins during the Acts chrnlgy. Israel is able t repent accrding t Acts 3:19-20 at any pint within the Acts perid until Acts 28. When Paul qutes Isaiah 6:9-10 t the Jewish leadership in Rme in Acts 28, Israel is here rendered in unbelief and it is here that that dispensatinal bundary shuld be drawn. As f 1907, Acts 28ism is in an embrynic state. Many f the ingredients are present but they have nt yet fully germinated. Neither Dr. Bullinger nr Sir Rbert Andersn as f 1907 has frmally suggested that Paul s epistles need t be divided int tw distinct grups. In 1908, during a cnversatin between Dr. E.W. Bullinger and Mr. Charles Welch, the embry f Acts 28ism will be fully fertilized by Welch s suggestin that Paul s epistles need t be divided between thse written befre and after Acts 28. Once this suggestin is embraced and applied, the Acts 28 psitin emerges frm its embrynic state int full blm. The decisin t divide Paul s epistles int tw grups is the sine qua nn f Acts 28 dispensatinalism. Wrks Cited Andersn, Sir Rbert. The Silence f Gd. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publicatins, Bullinger, E.W. Hw t Enjy the Bible: A Guide t Better Understanding and Enjyment f Gd s Wrd. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publicatins: Carey, Juanita S. E.W. Bullinger: A Bigraphy. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publicatins, Pastr Bryan Rss

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