A friend asked me to share recommended resources on Progressive Dispensationalism and then suggested I post what I sent him on my website. Here’s a lightly edited version of the email I sent him.
I’d start with the festschrift John Feinberg edited for S. Lewis Johnson, Continuity and Discontinuity. It has a point-counterpoint format featuring John and Paul Feinberg, Willem VanGemeren, O. Palmer Robertson, Allen Ross, Doug Moo, Martin Woudstra, Robert Saucy, Bruce Waltke, Walter Kaiser and more. I found John Feinberg’s essay on systems of discontinuity quite good. In the pairs of essays, I sometimes found myself more in agreement with continuity and sometimes more in agreement with discontinuity.
The two programmatic, but accessible books that introduced Progressive Dispensationalism to the general Christian public were Blaising and Bock’s Progressive Dispensationalism and Robert Saucy’s The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism. I’ve found Blaising’s discussion of the various historical phases of dispensationalism very helpful. Overall, I’ve found Saucy’s book more useful. I wish it had a different title. I’m sure that The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism spurred sales in the 1990s, but Saucy is doing more than just making a case for Progressive Dispensationalism. There’s a lot of valuable material there that may be overlooked today because readers don’t think to turn to that book for a treatment of the covenants or baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church: The Search for Definition, ed. Blaising and Bock is a set of essays laying out Progressive Dispensationalist views on key issues. It also includes responses from three non-dispensationalists.
More recently, there hasn’t been as much on Progressive Dispensationalism in particular. You have to look for what particular authors have been writing. Darrell Bock and Mitch Glaser have been editing books of essays, which originated in conferences. The papers are midway between popular-level and academic. They’re a mixed bag, but there are usually some standout essays. For instance, if you can get past the sensationalist cover and the Joel Rosenberg foreword to The People, the Land, and the Future of Israel you’ll find some excellent essays. Criag Blaising’s “Israel and Hermeneutics” is a must read. (There are also essays by Eugene Merrill, Walter Kaiser, Darrell Bock, Craig Evans, Mark Saucy, John Feinberg, and Michael Vlach.) I recently picked up Israel, the Church, and the Middle East (also edited by Bock and Glaser), and the essays by Averbeck on the covenants and Blaising “A Theology of Israel and the Church” both look good.
Gerald McDermott recently edited a collection of essays under the title, The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land. It’s not really a Progressive Dispensationalist book, though Blaising and Bock do have essays. McDermott, Joel Willitts, and others who aren’t dispensationalists also contribute. McDermott has an essay in it that distances the book from dispensationalism. I don’t care for the Zionism label, and some of the essays are more in a messianic Judaism stream, which I think misinterprets the function of the law at present. But several of the essays are worth looking into.
Steven L. James’s New Creation Eschatology and the Land: A Survey of Contemporary Perspectives is not explicitly Progressive Dispensationalistm, but I’m pretty sure this is a published dissertation done under Craig Blaising’s supervision. It’s quite a good book.
Michael Vlach’s little book Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths is an excellent brief book for orientation to dispensationalism. He has several little self-published books. How Does the New Testament Use the Old Testament? and Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus. B&H published his Has the Church Replaced Israel? And his big book is He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God. Vlach isn’t a Progressive Dispensationalist (he still holds to a postponement view of the kingdom), but he’s willing to be influenced by Progressive Dispensationalism. Matt Waymeyer’s work falls into a similar category. His Amillennialism and the Age to Come is helpful, though not even explicitly dispensational.
Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, is worth reading. Lunde’s introduction is excellent. Walter Kaiser’s position is basically that of traditional dispensationalism, though he eschews the label and Bock gives a good defense of the Progressive Dispensationalist view. I wish they had gotten a good conservative covenant theologian for the third view rather than Peter Enns.
The Naselli-Compton book on Israel and the church Romans 9-11 that Vlach, Zasepl & Hamilton, and Merkle contributed to is worth reading. Zaspel and Hamilton persuaded me of their position, and I think it is compatible with Progressive Dispensationalism, though that’s not their label.
I also try to read seriously in covenant theology. That’s not a monolithic position. There are many different covenant theologies. And frankly, they’re not all incompatible with progressive dispensationalism. Or at least there is significant insights that can be taken on board. In the end, while I really respect the scholarship of people like Vos and Hoekema, and while I want to distance myself from a lot of sloppy and frankly weird dispensationalism, I don’t find arguments against the future conversion of Israel or the denial of the fulfillment of the land promises exegetically convincing. I think I can get the best of what Covenant Theology or Progressive Covenantalism teach—the promises are all extended to the gentiles and Jesus is at the heart of the fulfillment of all the OT promises—while also affirming that specific promises to Israel aren’t canceled out. I sometimes wonder why there is such an effort to deny a future conversion and return to the land for Israel by contemporary reformed folks when reformed theologians like Jonathan Edwards held to both. I wonder if some of it is just a reaction against dispensationalism combined (at times) with an ignorance of what earlier covenant theologians taught.