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Dispensationalism – Progressive Dispensationalism
Covenant Theology – New Covenant Theology

DISP – Dispensationalism
PD – Progressive Dispensationalism
CT – Covenant Theology
NCT – New Covenant Theology

Definition of Terms:
Physical Israel – physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Spiritual Israel – the elect of God, all those in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile
Universal Church – all the elect of God from all time
Visible Church – a local assembly of baptized believers in Christ, joined by covenant for worship and fellowship

(These statements are generally true of those who hold to a specific system of theology, however this list is not to be considered comprehensive. Some of this material has been compiled from several resources available online and some of it is original work resulting from the study of these issues by Phillip M. Way.)

1. Stance regarding the Doctrines of Grace

DISP – Usually not Calvinistic
PD – Some not Calvinistic
CT – Almost Always Calvinistic
NCT – Same as CT

2. Interpretation of the Scriptures

DISP – Literal Interpretation
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Literal or Figurative, depending on context
NCT – Same as CT

3. “Analogy of Faith”

DISP – Does not accept AoF
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Usually accepts AoF
NCT – Same as CT

*What is the Analogy of Faith?

4. Israel

DISP – Physical descendants of Jacob
PD – Same as CT
CT – Physical descendants of Jacob, or spiritual descendants of Abraham, depending on context
NCT – Same as CT

5. Israel in Galatians 6:16

DISP – Physical descendants of Jacob only
PD – Physical descendants of Jacob that are in Christ (Jewish Believers – physical and spiritual)
CT – Spiritual Israel, parallel to Gal. 3:29; Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6; Phil. 3:3
NCT – Same as CT

6. Israel and the Church

DISP – Two distinct groups of God’s people with separate destinies
PD – Same as CT
CT – God’s elect are “one people”, the Universal Church has always existed
NCT – In OT, believers are called simply “the elect of Israel”, not the Church. NCT doesn’t recognize a Church in the OT, such as in the NT. In Matt 16:18, Jesus said that He will build His Church. There is but one people of God of whom natural Israel was the typical foreshadowing. So, the Church is the “New Israel.”

7. Birth of the Church

DISP – Born at Pentecost, separate from Israel
PD – Visible Church Born at Pentecost as an extension of God’s program for Israel
CT – Born in the OT and reached fulfillment in the NT
NCT – Same as DISP

8. The Church in OT Prophecy

DISP – No, it was a mystery, hidden until the NT
PD – Same as CT
CT – Yes, there are many direct OT prophecies of the NT Church
NCT – Same as CT

9. Israel in OT Prophecy

DISP – All OT prophesies for Israel are for the nation and have nothing to do with the Church
PD – Same as CT
CT – Some OT prophecies are for the nation of Israel, others for spiritual Israel
NCT – Same as CT

10. God’s Main Purpose in History

DISP – Physical Israel
PD – “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him”
CT – Christ, and by extension the Church
NCT – Same as CT

11. The Church and God’s Program

DISP – The Church is a parenthesis in God’s program (a mystery)
PD – The Church is a progressive and integral part of His dealing with physical Israel
CT – The Church is the culmination of God’s saving purpose through the ages
NCT – Same as CT

12. The True Heir to Abraham’s Covenant

DISP – Isaac and physical Israel
PD – Physical and Spiritual Israel, including the Church
CT – Christ, the Seed, and thus all those in Christ (spiritual Israel)
NCT – Same as CT

13. Covenant of Redemption within the Trinity

DISP – There is no such covenant
PD – Same as DISP
CT – This covenant effected election
NCT – No such covenant, but there was an eternal decree for redemption within the Trinity (a determination and plan to save)

14. Covenant of Works with Adam

PD – Same as CT
CT – God made a conditional covenant of works with Adam as a representative for all his natural descendants
NCT – No, but Adam is a representative for all his natural descendants

15. Covenant of Grace concerning Adam

PD – No
CT – God made a Covenant of Grace with Christ and His people, including Adam
NCT – Does not believe in using the term “Covenant of Grace”, as the term is not found anywhere in Scriptures. NCT believes that only when the Bible stipulates that a Covenant has been “cut” between God and man, is there a Biblical reason for believing that one has been made. This is not to say that God isn’t gracious to man in “cutting” a covenant with him; but that the term itself is never found in Scriptures, and thus should not be used, especially when describing the Mosaic Covenant, which was a law covenant.

16. Israel and the Mosaic Covenant

DISP – Israel accepted the Covenant at Sinai with little thought
PD – Same as CT
CT – Israel was meant to accept the Covenant at Sinai
NCT – Same as CT

17. The New Covenant and Israel

DISP – In Jer. 31:31-34 is only for physical Israel
PD – Only for physical Israel, but the Church has been made part of the New Covenant
CT – The New Covenant of Jer. 31 is the same as Luke 22:20, both are for spiritual Israel according to Hebrews 8
NCT – Same as CT

18. God’s Program and “Dispensations”

DISP – God works through separate dispensations
PD – Same as DISP
CT – God works through separate but related covenants
NCT – God works through separate but related covenants, but the New Covenant fulfills or brings to their ultimate realization all others because they are all realized/fulfilled in Christ

19. Salvation of OT Saints

DISP – Some saved by works
PD – Same as CT
CT – All who are saved are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
NCT – Same as CT

20. Faith is Christ as a Sin-Bearer

PD – Same as CT
CT – All who are saved are saved by faith in Christ as Sin-Bearer
NCT – Same as CT

21. OT Sacrifices

DISP – The OT sacrifices were not recognized as the Gospel or types of the Messiah as sin-bearer, but only seen as such in retrospect.
PD – Same as CT
CT – OT believers believed in the Gospel of Messiah as sin-bearer mainly by the sacrifices as types and prophecies.
NCT – Same as CT

22. Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

DISP – Indwells believers only in the Dispensation of Grace, not in the OT or after the rapture
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Indwells all believers in all ages, never withdrawn
NCT – Believe that the indwelling wasn’t the same as in the Church time. In John 13:16-18, Jesus said that He would send the comforter that He may “abide” (live) with them forever. If the Holy Spirit was already “abiding” with them, as with the Church after Pentecost, then that promise means nothing.

23. The Kingdom of God and Israel

DISP – Jesus offered the literal Kingdom to physical Israel but the offer was rejected and therefore postponed
PD – Jesus offered the literal Kingdom to physical Israel. Only a small remnant accepted it. The physical nation of Israel will come to believe and be made part of the literal Kingdom in the Millennial Reign
CT – Jesus offered a spiritual Kingdom which was rejected by physical Israel but has been gradually accepted by spiritual Israel
NCT – Same as CT

24. OT Believers and the Body/Bride of Christ

DISP – OT believers were not in Christ, and therefore not part of the Body/Bride
PD – Same as CT
CT – Believers in all ages are in Christ and part of the Body/Bride
NCT – Same as CT, except they do not see the church in existence until Pentecost.

25. OT Law

DISP – The OT Law has been abolished for the Church. Physical Israel will be under the Law after the rapture.
PD – Same as DISP
CT – OT Law serves 3 purposes: 1) restraining sin in society, 2) leading to Christ, and 3) for instruction in godliness. The ceremonial law and civic law is abolished. The moral law continues to be in force.
NCT – OT Law is binding only as interpreted, applied, and in some cases even expanded in the NT. The OT Law is there to serve as a tutor, exposing our sinfulness and our need for the Savior. Christ is affirmed as being “The New Law-Giver”, as opposed to Moses who was “The Old Law-Giver”.

26. OT Law and the Church

DISP – OT Laws are only in effect if repeated in the NT
PD – Same as DISP
CT – OT Laws are in effect unless abrogated
NCT – OT laws are in efftect as reiterated by Jesus and the NT writers

27. The Kingdom of God

DISP – The Millennial Reign is the Kingdom of God
PD – Same as DISP
CT – The Church is the Kingdom of God
NCT – The Church since Pentecost is the Kingdom of God

28. Millennial Reign

DISP – Literal thousand years on earth – pre-mil
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Millennial reign is figurative for the current age – amil, some post-mil, a few historic pre-mil
NCT – Same as CT

29. OT Sacrifices

DISP – restored in the Millennial reign as a memorial
PD – Same as CT
CT – fulfilled in Christ and forever replaced by Him
NCT – Same as CT

30. The Future of Israel

DISP – Physical Israel has a future
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Some hold to a future for physical Israel, but most do not
NCT – Same as CT

31. The Millennium and the Covenant with Abraham

DISP – The Millennium is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Christ fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant
NCT – Same as CT

32. David’s Throne

DISP – Jesus will sit on David’s throne during the Millennium, the saints ruling with Him
PD – Jesus is sitting on David’s throne now at the right hand of the Father
CT – Christ sits on the Throne of Heaven. Saints rule under Him in spirit
NCT – Same as CT

33. Baptism

DISP – Believer’s baptism and some disp Presbyterians who baptize infants
PD – Same as DISP
CT – Most embrace infant baptism, except Baptists who are Covenantal
NCT – Believer’s baptism only


March 2008

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright
© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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