Book Review: Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths

Book CoverMichael J. Vlach, Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths (Los Angeles: Theological Studies Press, 2017), 112 pp.

Reviewed by Matthew Cain

Michael Vlach is a professor at The Master’s Seminary, an evangelical school founded by John MacArthur. His book is the first I would recommend to provide someone an overview of dispensationalism. It is brief but engages well with the main issues at stake. His tone is not polemical, but he presents his arguments clearly.

Vlach draws on the work of others in this area of study (Ryrie, Feinberg, Blaising and Bock), but presents his own modification of their ideas to present six essential beliefs of dispensationalism, which are summarized across 20 pages. A subsequent chapter on continuity and discontinuity is particularly helpful because these terms are commonly used when comparing covenant theology with dispensationalism. Here, Vlach is clear on the distinction between Israel and the Church (“With 73 references to Israel in the New Testament none refer to the church, nor are Gentiles ever referred to as Israel”), and has two helpful paragraphs on the term “People of God” (“All God’s people from beginning to end are saved the same way, but the people of God concept has varied”). The book helpfully cautions readers about progressive dispensationalism, particularly its teaching that Jesus is currently sitting on and reigning from David’s throne. Not all will agree with Vlach’s view on our place in the New Covenant, but it is not a major theme in the book. Overall, it is a concise but extremely helpful presentation of the subject.