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Dispensationalism is a Protestant evangelical tradition and theology based on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive "dispensations" or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants. As a system dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby and the Brethren Movement. The theology of dispensationalism consists of a distinctive eschatological "end times" perspective, as all dispensationalists hold to premillennialism and most hold to a pretribulationrapture. Dispensationalists believe that the nation of Israel is distinct from the Church, and that God will fulfill His promises to national Israel. These promises include the land promises, which in the future result in a millennial kingdom where Christ, upon His return, will rule the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years. In other areas of theology, dispensationalists hold to a wide range of beliefs within the evangelical and fundamentalist spectrum.
Dispensationalist theology refers to the teachings of Dispensationalism to address what many other scholars see as opposing theologies between the Old Testament and New Testament. Its name comes from the fact that the teaching has in view that biblical history is best understood in light of a series of dispensations, or separated time-periods, in the Bible.
Each dispensation is said to represent a different way in which God deals with man. Some writers also believe that it also involves a different testing of Man. "These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God's method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and of man's responsibility," explained C. I. Scofield. "Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment—marking his utter failure in every dispensation."
The seven dispensational periods
Dispensationalism seeks to address what many see as opposing theologies between the Old Testament and New Testament. Its name comes from the fact that it sees biblical history as best understood in light of a series of dispensations in the Bible. Most dispensationalists cite seven dispensations although this is not a critical or foundational factor to the theology:
the dispensation of innocence (Gen 1:1–3:7), prior to Adam's fall,
of a literal, earthly 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will (Rev 20:4–20:6).
John Nelson Darby did not consider the Garden of Eden to represent a dispensation, and listed only six.
Each one of these dispensations is said to represent a different way in which God deals with man, specifically a different test for man. "These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God's method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and of man's responsibility," explained C. I. Scofield. "Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment—marking his utter failure in every dispensation."
Viewing the flow of biblical history as a series of "dispensations" may be seen in some works that predate Darby's dispensationalism. Joachim of Fiore proposed that human history would be divided into the three ages of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The term "dispensation" is drawn from Calvinist theology, as in the Westminster Confession, to describe the different forms of divine worship and law practiced in Judaism and Christianity. Some writers, such as L'Économie Divine by Pierre Poiret (1646–1719), listed multiple dispensations. However, these earlier works did not include the unique testing/failure motif described by Scofield or any hint of the four underlying tenets of classic dispensationalism listed below.
The four dispensational periods
An alternative to the above “seven-dispensations” approach derives from the question: How and by whom is God evangelizing lost men and women at any given time? A pattern can be traced through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. First, through various Gentile nations; second, through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- the progenitors of the nation Israel; thirdly, through Jesus Christ; fourthly, through the Church, the Body of Christ. (Israel becomes the focus of divine dealings again after the Rapture for 7 more years). This is followed by the Second Coming proper and the instituting of the millennial kingdom.
the dispensation or age of Gentile nations (Gen 1-11), from Adam to Abraham’s Call;
of Israel (Gen 12 – Acts 1), from Abraham’s Call to Pentecost in Acts 2;
of the Church (Acts 2 – Rev. 2), from Pentecost in Act 2 to the end of the Church age;
of the (missionary) tribulation of Israel (Rev. 6-19), A yet-future seven-year period;
of a literal, earthly 1,000-year millennial kingdom that has yet to come but soon will (Rev 20:4–20:6).
Basic Tenets of Dispensationalism
One of the most important underlying theological concepts for dispensationalists is progressive revelation. While some nondispensationalists start with progressive revelation in the New Testament and refer this revelation back into the Old Testament, dispensationalists begin with progressive revelation in the Old Testament and read forward in a historical sense. Therefore there is an emphasis on discontinuity as seen in Scripture. Biblical covenants are intricately tied to the dispensations. When these Biblical covenants are compared and contrasted, the result is a historical ordering of different dispensations. Also with regard to the different Biblical covenant promises, dispensationalists place more emphasis on to whom these promises were written, the original recipients. This has led to certain fundamental dispensational beliefs, such as a distinction between Israel and the church.
Another important theological concept is the emphasis on what is referred to as the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. This is often popularly (but inaccurately) referred to as the "literal" interpretation of Scripture. Just as it is with progressive revelation, the historical-grammatical method is not a concept or practice that is exclusive just to dispensationalists. However, a dispensational distinctive is created when the historical-grammatical method of interpretation is closely coupled with an emphasis on progressive revelation along with the historical development of the covenants in Scripture.
Distinction Between Israel and the Church
All dispensationalists perceive a clear distinction between Israel and the church, particularly as different groups who receive a different set of promises. Dispensationalists hold that God provided the nation of Israel with specific promises which will be fulfilled at a future time in the Jews. The Church has received a different set of promises than that of Israel. Most dispensationalists also recognize "membership" overlap between Israel and the Church. Jewish Christians such as Paul, Peter and John are in this category. While most do not believe that Israel and the church are mutually exclusive groups, there is a small minority of past and present dispensationalists who do. Those who do hold that Israel and the church are mutually exclusive include some classical dispensationalists and virtually all ultradispensationalists.
Other Proposed Distinctions: Law and Grace
Classical dispensationalism teaches that law and grace are mutually exclusive concepts. Statements made by Scofield and other early classic dispensationalists teach a radical law-grace distinction. In other words, they teach that law contains no grace, and that grace is not conditioned on keeping the law. This does not mean that grace was missing from the dispensation of law, only that the law itself was diametrically opposed to grace, which operated by other means (such as promises and blessings). Some modern dispensationalists disagree with making such a radical distinction. In fact, Daniel Fuller, a non-dispensationalist, stated in his book Gospel and Law (p. 51) that "Although today's dispensationalism explains the relationship between law and grace in wording that is different from that of covenant theology, there is no substantial difference in meaning."
Types of dispensationalism
The traditional view is the majority view for dispensationalists today. John Walvoord and Charles Ryrie are two traditional dispensational authors. The Revised Scofield Bible of the 1960s also reflects a traditional dispensational view, which is why traditional dispensationalists are sometimes called "Revised" dispensationalists.
Main article: Progressive dispensationalism
In the late 1980s a number of dispensational scholars -- in particular Craig A. Blaising, Darrell L. Bock, and Robert L. Saucy -- proposed a significant new position developed from within dispensationalism. The major difference between traditional and progressive dispensationalism is in how each views the relationship of the present dispensation to the past and future dispensations.
Traditional dispensationalism perceive the present age of grace to be a parenthesis or "intercalation" with relation to past and future dispensations. In general that means God's plans as revealed in the past dispensations have been "put on hold" until after the rapture. Progressive dispensationalists however hold that this present dispensation is a key link between past dispensations and the future dispensations. In general that means God's plans have continued in this present dispensation, marking it as a crucial link between past and future dispensations and not a parenthesis. This idea of a key link or progression between dispensations has resulted in the label progressive dispensationalism.
Progressive dispensationalism holds much in common with traditional dispensationalism, including a distinction between Israel and the Church, a future rapture, a 7 year tribulation, and the rule of Christ over the earth centered in Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom.
Both progressive and traditional dispensationalists hold to a clear distinction between Israel and the Church. In short, God has provided the nation of Israel with specific promises such as possession of the land, promises which will be fulfilled in the future. Both Progressive and traditional dispensationalists do recognize some "membership" overlap between the Israel and the Church: Jewish Christians such Paul, Peter, and John are both Jewish (of Israel) and Christian (members of the church). This is in contrast to ultradispensationalists who see the Church and Israel as mutually exclusive.
Both progressive and traditional dispensationalists hold to a distinctly "dispensational" end-time view with a pretribulation rapture and a millennial kingdom with Jesus physically reigning from Jerusalem. This common view with traditional dispensationalism is also what clearly distinguishes progressive dispensationalism from historical premillennialism.
The reasons for progressives holding to a progression of dispensations as opposed to a parenthesis is related to: 1) the relationship between the covenants, and 2) hermeneutics.
Relationship between the covenants
One of the most crucial covenants which highlight the differences between progressive and traditional dispensationalists is the new covenant. In the past, dispensationalists have had a surprising variety of views with regard to the new covenant. Some dispensationalists (Charles Ryrie, Walvoord in the 1950s) argued for two new covenants: one new covenant for the church and another new covenant for Israel. Other dispensationalists (Darby and John Master) argued for one new covenant applied only to Israel. And still other dispensationalists (Scofield and John McGahey 1950s) have argued for one new covenant for 1) believing Israel today and an ongoing partial fulfillment, and for 2) a future believing Israel when Jesus returns for a complete fulfillment.
Progressive dispensationalists, like Scofield and McGahey, argue for one new covenant with an ongoing partial fulfillment and a future complete fulfillment for Israel. Progressives hold that the new covenant was inaugurated by Christ at the last supper. Progressives hold that while there are aspects of the new covenant currently being fulfilled, there is yet to be a final and complete fulfillment of the new covenant in the future. This concept is sometimes referred to as an already-but not yet fulfillment.
Both traditional and progressive dispensationalists share the same historical-grammatical hermeneutic. As with all dispensationalists, progressive revelation is emphasized so that the dispensationalist interprets the Old Testament in such a way as to retain the original meaning and audience. Thus progressives, like traditionalists, place great emphasis on the original meaning and audience of the text.
The primary differences in hermeneutics between traditionalists and progressives are that 1) progressives are more apt to see partial or ongoing fulfillment, and 2) progressives are more apt to utilize Complementary hermeneutics.
These differences between traditionalists and progressives show up in how one views the Old Testament texts and promises in the New Testament and how they are handled by the New Testament writers.
For traditionalists who perceive the present dispensation as a parenthesis, the standard approach has been to view Old Testament quotations in the New Testament as applications rather than fulfillment. If an Old Testament quotation is said to have a fulfillment role in the New Testament, then that may imply that the present dispensation is no longer a parenthesis, but has a relationship or connection with the prior dispensation.
In contrast, progressives, instead of approaching all Old Testament quotations in the New Testament as application, attempt to take into account the context and grammatical-historical features of both OT and New Testament texts. An Old Testament quote in the New Testament might turn out to be an application, but it also might be a partial fulfillment or a complete fulfillment or even something else.
Complementary hermeneutics means that previous revelation (such as the Old Testament) has an added or expanded meaning alongside the original meaning. For example in Jeremiah 31:31-34, the original recipients of the new covenant were Jews - i.e., "the house of Israel and the house of Judah." Progressives hold that in Acts 2, believing Jews first participated in the new covenant based on Jer 31:31-34. Gentiles were not named as original participants. However, additional revelation came in Acts 9-10 concerning believing Gentiles where God (through Peter and Cornelius) formally accepted believing Gentiles as co-heirs with the Jews. In other words God used additional NT revelation to further expand the participants of the new covenant to include believing Gentiles. God did not replace the original recipients or change the original meaning of the new covenant, he simply expanded it. This expansion of meaning while keeping the original intact is called complementary hermeneutics.
4 negatives, and one positive non-comment.
I only posted it for the reason to get a fair hearing, after it was listened to, not a bunch of preconceived opinions, but thanks anyway. I new two of you for sure were already against Camping, but i was wondering if you went and heard the debate to see if J. R. White was right in saying Camping is biblically wrong.
Yea, and Satan appears as an angel of light and so do his ministers.
I just finished listening to it, and White stuck to his exegesis of - historical-grammatical interpretation, and Camping his progressive revelation. But White did sound his age, young and impetuous, and not very convincing but fluted a lot showing his immaturity. Camping was unmoved nor shaken. In fact what Camping threw away as garbage doctrine it seems that White picked up and kept for himself.
I believe that someone on this site a time back explained it, But I'll try to demonstrate : Daniel was told:
(Dan 12:4) But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. So you ponder and wonder what is God talking about. After searching you come upon the words seal and book in Rev. Lo and behold, you find those words(Rev 5:1) And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. So you wonder farther onward: Rev 5:5-(Rev 5:5) And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. So who is this, we find out it is Jesus. So now we figure that we being in the end times there must be a message to all these seals, and then we investigate from there on in. What it is we are doing is finding the knowledge that daniel had predicted the increased knowledge. So then we are not adding to the bible, we are just looking at verses that are tied together to get the revelation from the day the seals were opened. It is a knowledge no one has accurately been able to translate before the seals were opened. Many ppl think Camping is nuts because he says this knowledge can only be found by diligent searching leading from verse to verse like a puzzle until the pieces fit. And that it has not been revealed before its time which he claims was 1988 the beginning of the tribulation period of which many disagree.
I hope that helps because I am not a master of it all. Yea, the hidden knowledge of god! Thanks todd
I would never debate something in the context of my local church unless the Gospel was directly at stake. Internet forums is one thing but in real life its important to use prudence. I would always try to maintain unity unless chaos is being created or the Gospel being underminded. When the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and many others is being denied I am grateful for Mr. WHite's ministry. I saw Mr. because his phd was from an unaccredited christian college and I'm an accredidation snob and I simply don't accept it as valid.
"Internet forums is one thing but in real life its important to use prudence."
Am I not a human being? Am I not your brother in Christ Jesus? When we both die are we not going to be spending eternity in heaven together? Just becuase it is in an internet forum does not mean it is anything more or less real. I submit that we should be the same in our virtual interactions as well as real life.
I am not singling you out in purpose brother, rather this is a mindset that is pervasive throughought so-called christian forums (really just something that has trickled in from the world) - that we can somehow be one thing in RL and another thing in a virtual world isn't something I feel is healthy for christians. Sometimes things are said in forums under the guise of anonymity that would never be said face to face amongs brothers, and most certainly not while gathered in a house of God. I hope at least that no brother would say the things that are sometimes said in these forums to another brother ever, let alone in a house of God.
Forgive my spelling.
Also forgive me for attempting to hijack the thread to all here. I just don't see any fruit in all the constant bickering about things that will not amount to a hill of beans when we all go home. In the end all that will matter is did we seek Jesus in earnest? If so, we probably did what we needed to do to get to heaven. If we did seek him in earnest, whatever silly stuff we did or did not do in ingnorance or just plain human stupididity will probably be covered by grace. The rest is just a lot of human concerns and filtering the ways of God through human eyes.
The current thread is just another example of many of the same. Heck, many of the threads are started simply because some brothers and sisters in christ just like to argue and stir the pot. It is something you all should get used to hearing from me. It is something God has laid on my heart since the earlist days of my new found salvation. I mean, look at some of the current threads... Do we really need 8, 9, 10 or 11 pages of threads to prove who is right or wrong? We when all get to heaven, we really arent going to to care. I submit we all will wish we made better use of our time ministering to the sick, feeding the poor and reaching out to those in prison.
I pray for much love and grace and unity to you all in Christ Jesus. Yes, unity beyond the local church as well, for we all serve one God and one savior.
Well after listening to Dr. J. White, I find that he kinda goes over the top in his non-belief of Camping, for in his attack against Camping, He mentioned that just because family radio has networks all over the world, and is broadcast by air waves, Whites say and tries to compare that use of the air waves with Satan who is the prince of the air, Can you explain what White is trying to say, i think he is saying that the airways are of Satan, yet he talked to Camping using the airways. And his ministry is broadcast over the airwaves as well. Hmmmm! Talk about Eisegesis..