A Presuppositional Apologetical Response by Lönngren Taljaard (Doctoral Thesis Accepted North-West University)
While in the past the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa (DRCSA) confessed the authority of the Bible as the Word of God, many within the Church today do not see the Bible as authoritative on all matters. Prevailing views on the Pauline epistles is a prime example. In many ways, Paul is viewed as “a product of his time who could only describe the awesome reality of God’s saving presence in limited (patriarchal) language”
The well-known South African theologian Andrew Murray, himself a member of the DRCSA, reacted as far back as 1862, shortly after the midway mark of the 19th-century, to the large-scale rationalism that had been advocated in Dutch theology faculties and warned against the influence it may have had on fellow ministers in the DRCSA. This battle where the authority of Scripture was at the centre became so severe that it was not able to escape the Cape courtrooms.
You won’t find the word “disproportionism” in any dictionary worth its salt, so feel free to stop the googling. I admit that this is not the queen’s English, but in a world where “isms” abound it is important for us to know about the dangers of them all, whether “relativism,” “anti-supernaturalism,” “post-modernism,” or whatever other dubious “isms” may exist that are worthy of refutation. Such is the case with the topic I’d like to address in this article. For some reading this, the term “Hyper-Calvinism” might no yet have entered their sphere of cognizance, however there are subtle ways in which they might already have been influenced by it. In broad strokes, Hyper-Calvinism is a misrepresentation of “good” Calvinistic teachings or tenets, the majority of which I personally can vouch for. Within a Calvinistic framework, these teachings, although biblical, get inflated, magnified, or for the lack of a better word, get “pumped-up” to the point of being disproportionate, leading to what I like to call "theological disproportionism.”
The New Testament sign of the believer is undoubtedly the sign of baptism. But what exactly does this look like? Some have said that the Old Testament, 8th-day circumcision is what controls our understanding of baptism and would therefore see it as something that is done with babies as a sign of the New Covenant. They would argue that since circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, so infant baptism — which seems to be the best possible transition from Old Covenant times to New Covenant Times (New Testament times) — would be the best possible transition from circumcision to baptism.
However, is this a good deduction to make with regards to the church’s current obligation to signify salvation through baptism (Matt. 28:19)? Is the church’s present-day practice of baptism mainly a vestige of a period in salvific history that, historically speaking, was symbolised by males only? That could hardly be the case in light of New Testament examples of believers, whether male or female, who were baptised after coming to faith in the Lord Jesus.
The argument between infant baptism (paedobaptism) and believer’s baptism by immersion (credobaptism) therefore mainly centres around this issue that involves its definition in New Testament times. If we define it in terms of a rehashed, reshuffled, or changed 8th-day circumcision, then it could perhaps make sense that babies should be baptised. But if it can be proven that it became the New Covenant sign of the believer, which is really a sign in its own right, then one could make a strong case for believer’s baptism.
To a large extent dispensationalism is misunderstood by those who oppose it. This may be the result of the application of a faulty hermeneutic in Bible interpretation. Since our hermeneutic drives our interpretation we need to make sure that it lines up with Scripture. If not, the results can be hazardous. The following aims at displaying the hermeneutical features of the dispensational system. As a system, dispensationalism consists of a solid method of interpretation; therefore adopting its principles of interpretation is valuable. We will look at the meaning of “hermeneutics.” It is essential to understand what we are talking about when we use this term. Subsequently we will look at the key tenets of dispensational hermeneutics. This will be done by contrasting and critiquing some of the views contrary to the one applied in dispensationalism.