The Changing Face of Dispensationalism

A student recently came to my office and told me he had been to a conference with pastors from mainline churches. When he mentioned he was taking a course on Dispensationalism...
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18 thoughts on “The Changing Face of Dispensationalism

  1. The Conclusion I have come to after weighing all these views is this. I believe the confusion lies with Apostle Paul and his commission to the gentiles. The 12 were clearly under the Great Commission with its Kingdom Gospel.The secret plan of Christ grafting in the Gentiles in Acts 9 on the Damascus Rd choosing Saul/Paul is where the Dispensational change occurs. Paul’s revelation was gradually revealed to the 12 over time. The 12 never left Jerusalem, for the receiving of the Kingdom and its Commission to be started was dependent upon Israel’s National Repentance. So due to Israel’s fall, God in his Mercy chose Saul/Paul, and the Mystery is Revealed, the Gospel of Grace, the formation of the New Creation, the Body of Christ that was a secret. I truly believe the Kingdom church is the Mother church of the Body of Christ, but distinctly Jewish and translated into the Kingdom of Christ Spiritually for the Apostles letters are to the scattered believing Jews.They under the direction of the Holy Spirit Submitted themselves to Paul’s Gospel ( like a wife to husband) when they gave he and Barnabas the Right Hand of fellowship when he revealed the Gospel he was preaching to the Gentiles of Grace alone and no works of the law, for Christ is the Head of his Body and sits a at the Right Hand of God. Ruling His body/church/ bride, that includes the believing jewish remnant and the believing gentiles forming the new family of God, the Circumcision of the Spirit by the hands of God and not man. This does not in any way change the future physical promises of the Literal Earthly Kingdom. We gentiles are blessed with the partial Spiritual Blessing of the New Covenant based in the Faith of Abraham. The Church was taken out of Israel,( but you can’t take Israel out of the church) Christ in the flesh is Jewish, the Kingdom church is Jewish. I do not believe in Already not yet. I believe the future is secured by the Resurrection, but as Paul would say, we are living in an Evil age and the end of the church age, will be one of perilous times. We inherit the Kingdom, we don’t build it by our good works. Christ himself stated He will build his Church. He will Establish the Kingdom when he returns. We have no part in either. We are His ambassadors. Our Holy City resides in Heaven the New Jerusalem/John14/Rom 9:7-8, 11:1,5-17/Gal 4:26-28/Heb 12:22-24.

    1. Too many words; too many theories. My question is, why isn’t Jesus enough? God gave Adam and Eve one command and they blew it. Now everything is screwed up.

  2. I am a dyed in the wool premill CD and will be to my last breath….so help me God! As a lifelong rationally grounded industrial scientist, now Biotech consultant, I instantly recognized and embraced the incisive exposition of Scofield’s dispensationalism when taught by a lifelong dispensational pastor of a microchurch in PA about 25 years ago. And I never looked back to viewing the Bible through a glass darkly with its numerous seeming inconsistencies, to me troubling, in the divinely inspired inerrant Scriptures. Praise the Lord for Scofield’s Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, largely based on his annotations and footnotes in the 1917 edition of the KJV. Scofield’s logical bullet point presentation, reflecting his rational legal mindset akin to Paul, was a truly eye opening experience that appealed to my scientific mindset. I personally believe it is difficult to understand and reconcile Bible events without a dispensational overlay, further linked to the 8 conditional and unconditional covenants with humanity, most prominently to the Jews as His forever Chosen People. And equally importantly to me, premill dispensationalism provides a persuasive apologetical or even polemical tool when challenged by unbelievers or heretic Christians or CINOs embracing Replacement Theology or Calvinism. Similarly highly relevant is his tract, The Biggest Failure of the Church, in embracing ecumenism and seeking to reform society rather than focusing on our foremost earthly mission: to save a “few” among the “many” in Jesus’ words who will spend eternity suffering in a literal hell, again as told by the ever truthful Jesus in the true story in Luke 16;19-31.

  3. Wow! This explains a lot! Thank YOU for publishing it, and thank you for your consistent stand on Biblical principles.

  4. You made clear distinctions between the differing views. I am glad our Bible teaching Pastor holds the Classic Dispensation belief. Jesus is seated in heaven next to the Father interceding for us now.
    Thank you. I held this for 40 years.

  5. Thank you for this article. As a Pastor and 50+ yr. student of God’s Word I’ve been stunned by the departure from the PLAIN teaching of His Word by recent “theologians.” The Bible is NOT hard to understand if you allow it to speak plainly. Ephesians 2 &3 are NOT unclear about the Church being a distinct (from Israel) body of redeemed people. Again, thank you for this article.

  6. John Nelson Darby is noted in the theological world as the father of “dispensationalism” in the 1830s.

    It was from Darby’s influence that Schofield spread the doctrine in America. Not very hard to prove

  7. Why is the ‘university’ name omitted from an of Dr. Price’s articles? Liberty University is where our two boys attended and now we have a granddaughter who is a junior there now. The listing of both D. A. Carson and Darrell Bock supporting the PD is sad news; this enforces Hebrews 12:2a that believers are to keep their eyes on Jesus.

  8. You have Ladd’s first name wrong in this article. It is not Gordon. I believe you had George Eldon Ladd in mind.

  9. Dear Dr.Price,

    I would like your definition of Reformed Teaching. Are your referring to a modern interpretation or the teaching of Luther, Calvin and the others who stood against the Roman church in Europe and the Anglican church of England?

    I read Calvin’s Institutes and cannot find any replacement theology. I also read the Puritan fathers and the same is true. As far as I can understand, neither depart from traditional or “classical” definition of dispensationalism. They preach Jesus Christ, Son of God, Lord and Savior. Virgin born, lived a perfect life, crucified by ungodly men, resurrected from the dead and who rose to sit at the right hand of God the Father. That’s the Gospel. They also give counsel on the living of the Christian life, as directed by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Problem?

    Jesus said: “All authority has be given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:18-20).

    We are commanded to take the Gospel to all men and nations and warned to avoid “foolish controversies and genealogies and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man…..knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned”. (Titus 3:9)

    If there are pastors and churches that openly defy the Word of God and believe in a different Gospel, we are to correct them by the Word of God. If they repent not, then we are to hand them over to God. Only He knows the ‘hearts of men”.

    ” Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves”. (Mt 10:16)

    Gary Sackman

  10. Maybe the reason churches and theologians are moving away from dispensationalism is the fact that, while claiming to employ a strictly literal hermeneutic, dispensationalism repeatedly departs from it when convenient (See locusts turning into helicopters, etc., in Revelation. The “literalness” goes out the window completely!) How many know that between 1948 and 1988, there were so many “literalists” that had always held that a biblical “generation” was about 40 years, thereby predicting the Rapture before 1988, because in Mt 24:34, Jesus said everything that preceded that verse would occur BEFORE that generation passed? There are so many holes in dispensationalism that people have been forced by their integrity to the Bible to question and ultimately abandon it.

    1. The Lord said, “When you see ALL these things…” We haven’t yet, e.g. the sun will be darkened. You can be premill’ dispensationalist and believe locusts means locusts. But, most importantly, God made an unconditional promise to Abraham, and God keeps His promises; so there must be a future for Israel in their rightful land.

  11. Michael…

    Mt 24:29…”Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;…”

    Mat 27:45…”Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.”
    Mark 15:33…”And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
    Luke 23:44…”It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,” 45a) “while the sun’s light failed;”

    Mat 27:51…”And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split;”
    Mar 15:38…”And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
    Luk 23:45b…”and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”

    Matthew Henry commentary on Matthew 24:29, 34…..”The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars,” which were made to rule over the day, and over the night…signifies the putting down of all rule, authority, and power…that the kingdom may be delivered up to God, even the Father, and he may be All in all… The sun was darkened at the death of Christ, for then was in one sense the judgment of this world (Jn. 12:31), an indication of what would be at the general judgment.

    Verse 34:… “As to these things, the wars, seductions, and persecutions, here foretold, and especially the ruin of the Jewish nation; “This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled;” there are those now alive, that shall see Jerusalem destroyed, and the Jewish church brought to an end.’ Because it might seem strange, he backs it with a solemn asseveration; “Verily, I say unto you….” You may take my word for it, these things are at the door.’ Christ often speaks of the nearness of that desolation, the more to affect people, and quicken them to prepare for it.

  12. Thank you for this excellent article. I find that many of our young pastors are no longer taught about Dispensationalism in Bible College or Seminary. Rather, they are taught to focus on Kingdom Now and Covenant Theology which ultimately leads to a focus on ‘works.’
    Accompanying this trend, is and underlying anger – and yes, from both views. I am concerned about the vehement rhetoric by those who reject Dispensationalism – calling it ‘left behind’ idiocy and worse. This anger is palpable in many churches and even causes Dispensationalists to back off debating. How can we be afraid? We must study the scriptures together and reason with one another but it seems to me the enemy is at work as usual dividing believers.
    Since the Bible teaches that there will be a great falling away/the great apostasy, I hope and pray that we can break through this trend, I worry that it will cause some to fall away, blinded by their anger.

  13. It saddens me when the gospel takes a second fiddle to our theological systems whether it be classical dispensationalism, progressive dispensationalism, covenant theology or other. I understand the benefit and even necessity of interpretive frameworks, but when these frameworks cause disciples of Jesus to lay aside a love for one another for the sake of “truth” and being “right” we walk in disobedience to Jesus’s command- “A new commandment I Give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, also see 15:12 and 15:17). Truth is a Person (John 14:16) and being right is humility before Jesus. There is value in formulating and even espousing theological systems, but only is far as they lead us to love God and love others more (especially His family!). We must always remember that Classical Dispensationalism, Progressive Dispensationalism, Covenant Theology, or any other theological system are not infallible and none of these have a corner market on the whole truth. They are tools to help us fallen humans who see the radiant Glory of a Holy God dimly make sense of His perfect purpose, will, and plan. God has made the Gospel crystal clear, and as we move further from the focus of the Gospel we must consciously and willingly lighten our death grip on our theological systems (not abandoning them- but holding them in humility, understanding that they are incomplete and insufficient in defining or explaining the fullness of God, and His ways).

  14. A third form of Dispensationalism is the ‘Hebrew Roots Movement’. Their rationale is: “Since we’re going to have to keep the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium, we may as well start now”. It has resulted in a rethink of the meaning of key New Testament passages like Acts 15; Galatians and Hebrews – and even a rethink of the ‘gospel’ itself, and the place of the Law today.

    I wonder therefore whether a determining question in Dispensationalisms is not so much whether Israel remains distinct from the Church; but the question of whether the idea that anyone must offer animal-sacrifices in future is consistent with the New Testament.

    Taking Old Testament visionary Prophecies on face value, it would seem impossible to think that the sacrifices described in Prophecy would be for anything other than for iniquity. Nothing in the texts could make you think the sacrifices could be for something else – say, for a ‘memorial’ – instead of for iniquity. You would have to put a major interpretive twist to it to say it’s going to be for a ‘memorial’ and not that it was for ‘iniquity’.

    And by the same token, taking Jesus’, Paul’s and Peter’s statements on face value, there isn’t any thing stated in the texts to give you reason not to think that the order of future-events is to be: Second Coming; resurrection; Rapture, at the last trump, at His coming; final judgment; and end of the heavens and earth – and that it is all to happen on the last day, the day of the Lord. To rearrange their order of events; and to spread the events of the ‘last’ day over 1007 years, is to take the text significantly more complicatedly and even plain differently to what it seems to say on face value.

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