I have gone through the document you linked, at http://www.matthewmcgee.org/dispguid.html, and it is a really good (but brief) summary. It is an overview full of lots of statements. And that is fine, it was not attempting to go in depth on any of them. I would like to continue on the topic of the different gospels of Paul and Peter if you are game. Would the other articles on the Matthew Mcgee site be in line with your thinking? If not, how not? Also is there any "exceptions you guys take to Stam. Anything in his book you would not agree with? And please, if you don't want to go into all this, please let me know and I will not go into it with you. (although I will still be going into it, but perhaps less informed than if you or Doug or someone engaged me on it first)
As a preliminary question to the (Disp. of law/Disp. of grace) conversation (which I am still in process of further researching if you have other resources to offer), I want to know if we agree on something or not. My claim is this:
All interpretive methods (paradigms) in Protestantism which rely on the concept of sola Scriptura are on the same level of authority. Put another way, there is no principled reason to choose one method over another, other than personal conviction of the methods reliability.
I don't mean this as an insult in any way, it seems just to be true. But I think it will help me understand your epistemology more to know if you agree with this statement or not. If we get too bogged down and can't agree very much on the epistemology, we could just set it aside. But otherwise it will help me narrow the focus of my questions.
Could I try an experiment to show you where I am coming from here? Read the following link from a Reformed perspective. If you don’t have time, then just read my excerpts below. I think these statements are common to all Protestant interpretive paradigms. I will put in red the parts I think you would replace with other more "Mid-Acts Dispensational" words. See if you find this as interesting as I do:
“At first glance, it is apparent that the Bible is a very complex book: it was written in three different languages, by dozens of human authors, over the course of many centuries, and in a wide variety of styles and genres. However, beneath this dauntingly complicated surface, there must be a unified purpose and message; … So what is that unified message of the Bible?... the idea which most rigorously allows the Bible itself to indicate its own major emphases and underlying structural elements, is commonly called Covenant Theology.”
However, the sad truth is that, in contemporary Evangelicalism, many believers have only a very fuzzy understanding (at best) of this helpful and biblically-faithful way of understanding the over-arching message of the scriptures. And yet, in the author's experience, there are few teachings which will enable a Christian to make better and more fruitful use of his scripture-reading than the basic components of Covenant Theology – understand these few, scriptural themes, and you will be able to mark out and follow the general flow of the unfolding saga of redemptive history, as recorded in God's Word.”
“Basically, Covenant Theology attempts to unfold the biblical story with constant reference to the universal display and glorification of God…”
“Covenant Theology differs from other systems in that it sees the biblical structure giving great weight and importance to a series of divine covenants. These covenants are like the framework of a house – without them, all the doctrines and stories in the Bible fall down into a hopelessly confused jumble of unrelated bits of information.”…
“So what are these covenants? Theologians speak, first, of a Covenant of Redemption, made between the members of the Godhead; second, of a Covenant of Works, made between God and man; and third, of a Covenant of Grace; which is basically a repetition to man of the first Covenant of Works, with the added proviso that a Redeemer would be provided to fulfill the required works in the place of all covenant-members, as their federal head. Let's look at each of these three covenants in a little more detail…”
O.k. so what I think is interesting is that the language here (minus the red) is almost identical to what I read from Traditional Dispensationalists, Mid-Acts Dispensationalists, Lutherans, Methodists, etc, etc. Not to even mention more unorthodox people like Harold Camping or worse weirdos.
Now here is a selection from the Matthew McGee article you linked:
"One aspect of the context which is often overlooked is the dispensation. God has provided His Word in the Bible in several different dispensations. Every Bible passage is written in the context of one dispensation or another. Therefore, proper understanding of the different dispensations is needed in order to understand the context of each Bible passage. After becoming aware of this need, many Bible students will then ask about how they can determine which dispensation any particular Bible passage is under, so that they can more fully comprehend the context of the passage."There are some obvious similarities in their views of the superiority and simplicity of their interpretive method, but of course the results of those methods are quite different.
The following are some facts I think are uncontroversial. If you disagree with these facts, please, by all means tell me, but honestly they seem to be obviously true to anyone who looks at the evidence. So, concerning the proponents of the various Protestant interpretive paradigms:
1. They all (using the same language) claim that their method is clear and biblical.
2. They all claim their method "gets to the bottom" of things, and simplifies interpretation by focusing on some key interpretive principle that other Christians have ignored or missed. (covenants for Reformed, dispensations for Dispensationalists, Law/gospel for Lutherans the quadrilateral for Methodists, etc.).
3.They generally claim other Christians "just don't understand" their interpretive method, and if they did, would adopt it.
4. They all can be assumed to have good motives, to be followers of Christ, and to have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they all desire the truth of God's infallible word, and are using the method of interpretation that they truly and honestly believe gets closest to the truth of the scripture.
5. They all pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to properly interpret.
6. They all can be assumed to have studied the other methods of interpretation and found them to not be the right ones.
7. They all believe ONLY the Bible is authoritative for faith and practice.
8. They all disagree on how to interpret the bible at key points of doctrine, and they all disagree on what those doctrines actually are. (they take different roads, and find different destinations.)
So to summarize, do you agree with my statement at the beginning of the post, and do you agree with these 8 statements?
P.S. If we continue the conversation, I will try to keep things short. Staying on topic will really help me with that.