My ISI Talk on Darby and His Pneumatology

03 Jun


Posted by on June 3, 2021 in John Nelson Darby


Tags: , ,

11 responses to “My ISI Talk on Darby and His Pneumatology

  1. duanemiller

    June 3, 2021 at 5:42 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I was taught eschatology in DTS-influenced Bible church. I assumed dispensationalism was just what everyone believed. Years later (and now as Anglican priest and professor of OT), I find his entire theology to be totally bizarre but in a fascinating way.

    • Dr. Larry Dixon

      June 3, 2021 at 6:12 am

      Dr. Miller — thanks so much for your comment. I still consider myself a moderate dispensationalist. I think there’s a cohesion in the system that makes sense. I’d be interested in knowing what in JND’s theology you find bizarre. Thanks again for dropping by my blog. Blessings. Larry

      • duanemiller

        June 3, 2021 at 8:53 am

        Thank you or the response Dr Dixon. When I say bizarre I do mean fascinating if strange, nothing pejorative. But now that I think about it, we know much more today about how the people writing, redacting and interpreting Scripture in the original historical context do this things. For me, that is the first step in exegesis, though I don’t discard the allegorical and Christocentric tendencies of the Fathers and the medieval Church either. In so far as and theology is substantially influenced by one’s hermeneutic, a very strange hermeneutic would result in a very strange theology. And I say that as a moderate, evangelical scholar and minister.

  2. duanemiller

    June 3, 2021 at 6:03 am

    Question: if he doesn’t like ordination, then what does he say about the NT practice of the laying on of hands? It clearly seems to be a way of symbolizing and effectuating a sharing of authority of some sort, no?

    • Dr. Larry Dixon

      June 3, 2021 at 6:13 am

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Dr. Miller. I believe JND was responding to unconverted men becoming clerics and the system that regulated preaching. Thanks for your comment. Blessings. Larry

      • duanemiller

        June 3, 2021 at 8:34 am

        Thank you Dr Dixon. That makes sense, especially in his historical context. Most Anglican churches today are fine with lay preaching, ironically.

  3. duanemiller

    June 3, 2021 at 8:26 am

    I’m now around minute 35 when you talk about mediate v. immediate. I have to ask about inspiration. I mean, what is his theology of that? His hermeneutic is so disconnected from how people wrote and read things at the times when the Scriptures were actually written down. Does he ever deal with that? The practical effect is that the original writings would not have been understandable by the original audience, because none of them would have read the texts like Darby did. Does that make sense?

    • Dr. Larry Dixon

      June 3, 2021 at 10:18 am

      Dr. Miller, I didn’t do an intense of study of JND’s doctrine of inspiration, but I’m fairly certain it was very close to a conservative, inerrantist Evangelical view. Especially in his “Synopsis” books, I fairly certain he’s seeking to exegete the biblical text carefully. How do you think Darby’s reading of the texts (apart from his dispensationalism) differs from a normal, “plain” hermeneutic? Blessings. Dr. D.

      • duanemiller

        June 3, 2021 at 4:35 pm

        What I recall from reading about disp. hermeneutics is that there is an insistence on reading anything that can be literal as literal. So if Rev. says 1,000 years then it must be 1,000 years (or seven years, famously), and if there is some reference to a temple there, then it must be a physical, rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount.

        Am I getting this wrong? My concern is that based on what I know of 2nd Temple Judaism and how they wrote and read apocalyptic, they would never have made such assumptions or read the text in such a way. So what does that say about the Spirit? That he is speaking in code to a future generation and the original message is not intelligible to anyone for a thousand years or so.

        I find the same questions regarding references to Israel. I have published a chapter on the topic, arguing that Jesus Christ is, in his body, the Israel of God, and that he says as much. I’d be curious to hear your constructive criticism if you are willing. It is not a long chapter. Here is the link:

        What in this chapter coheres with dispensationalism, and what in it disagrees? For me, part of the difficulty is that dispensationalism has grown many branches and variations. That’s nothing odd or novel, of course, but it makes it hard to identify a core of what it is and is not.

  4. Dr. Larry Dixon

    June 6, 2021 at 9:10 am


    Thanks for your comment. I’m not an expert on dispensational hermeneutics, but one of the operating principles is the normal or plain method of interpretation. This doesn’t mean dispensationalists don’t see analogies or metaphors or figures of speech, but that a text should be interpreted literally unless there are reasons not to.

    So, I take Revelation 20 in a straightforward manner — and do expect a thousand-year reign of Christ (which is not the eternal state, but a Golden Age which precedes it). I find it difficult to treat the chapters (in Ezekiel) about a millennial temple as less than literal (given the details). When one leaves such a hermeneutic, where are the controls?

    I appreciate your comment about the original audience and what they would have understood. But the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day greatly misunderstood the prophecies about their own Messiah. So what that generation assumed or how they read the text to me isn’t the most important question.

    I’d be glad to read over your chapter on Israel. We’re watching four of our seven grandkids at the moment, so it will be a couple of days before I get to it!


    • duanemiller

      June 9, 2021 at 7:27 am

      Hi Dr. Dixon. Thanks for the thoughtful response. You are correct that the original audience did not understand correctly the prophecies and texts that referred to Christ’s first advent. It was quite a move: a panoply of figures who were expected to carry out different roles—the suffering servant, the Son of Man from Daniel, the David king, the messianic High Priest, and so on. But what we Christians later discerned is truly radical: that all these roles were fulfilled in one figure alone, but that furthermore that figure would fulfill them all not in on advent, but two.

      Do you have any recommendations as to a method for formulating a biblical theology? I have read some of your earlier posts on the topic but wonder if you have anything to add since you originally posted those. Many thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: