Is Bi-lateral Ecclesiology a version of Dispensationalism?
A visitor to my blog, Nate Long, commented on my Dispensationalism post, by saying the following:
[It] has been more than a bit fascinating to me to note the UMJC’s move back in the direction of dispensational tenets; most notably with bi-lateral ecclesiology.
I would like to reply with this:
For all that Dispensationalism got wrong, it got one thing very right (in my opinion) – the perpetuity of [ethnic] Israel in G-d’s plan. This is the very thing that originally stumbled and continues to stumble most [but not all] of Christendom, which does not [want to] see Jews as having a unique place in G-d’s economy any longer.
So, to address Nate’s point: does Bi-lateral Ecclesiology = Dispensationalism? Not at all, in my opinion. Upon examination, the similarities do not extend far from what I outlined above, that is the ongoing role for Israel. First of all, Bi-lateral Ecclesiology, unlike Dispensationalism, does not hold a view that Israel and Gentiles parts of the Body in the Ecclesia represent two totally separate entities. Rather, the two merely represent two wings of the same Entity – the Community of G-d – and complement each other (not apart from each other) by following G-d-ordained differentiated callings.
To summarize: according to Bi-lateral Ecclesiology, the multinational “Church”, therefore, is not a replacement or a continuation of Israel, nor is she a separate entity far removed from Israel, but rather she is an extension of Israel (that is she is part of the Kingdom of Israel). Also, quite unlike classic Dispensationalism, her callings and plans are closely aligned to those of Israel and are in fact absolutely inseparable from it. The multinational Church will not be in Heaven or Israel on earth, but the two will be united together, yet distinct. As with husband and wife coming together to become One Flesh, so it is or will be with the multinational Ecclesia and Israel forming One New Man.