Dispensationalism is a theological framework of interpreting the Bible which maintains that history is divided into multiple ages or "dispensations" in which God acts with his chosen people in different ways.[1]: 19  It is often distinguished from covenant theology.[2][3] The term "dispensationalism" is attributed to Philip Mauro, a critic of the system's teachings in his 1928 book The Gospel of the Kingdom.[4][5]

Dispensationalists use a literal interpretation of the Bible and believe that divine revelation unfolds throughout the Bible. They believe that there is a distinction between Israel and the Church, and that Christians are not bound by Mosaic law. They maintain beliefs in premillennialism, Christian Zionism, and a rapture of the Church that will happen before the Second Coming of Christ, generally seen as happening before a period of tribulation.[6]

Dispensationalism was systematized and promoted by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in the mid-19th century.[7]: 67  It began its spread in the United States during the late 19th century through the efforts of evangelists such as James Inglis, James Hall Brookes, Dwight L. Moody, the efforts of the Niagara Bible Conference, and the establishment of Bible Institutes. With the dawn of the 20th century, C. I. Scofield introduced the Scofield Reference Bible, which solidified dispensationalism in the United States.

Dispensationalism has become popular within American evangelicalism. It is commonly found in nondenominational Bible churches, as well as Baptist, Pentecostal, and Charismatic groups.[8][9] Conversely, Protestant denominations that embrace covenant theology as a whole tend to reject dispensationalism.


Dispensationalism is a theological framework that views history as divided into distinct periods in which God interacts with mankind in a specific way. Each of these periods is defined as a specific dispensation.[4][1]: 19  The defining characteristics of a dispensation are the distinct governing relationship in which God interacts with mankind in the specific period, and the resulting responsibility placed upon mankind in each of these periods.[7]: 33 

Christians generally agree there are distinct periods in God's plan for humanity.[10] However, dispensationalist theologians tend to hold "a particular view of the parallel-but-separate roles and destinies of Israel and the [Christian] church", with a "careful separation ... between what is addressed to Israel and what is addressed to the church. What is addressed to Israel is 'earthly' in character and is to be interpreted 'literally.'"[3][2]

This view is distinct from covenant theology which holds that rather than having separate plans, "God has one people, one people of God throughout redemptive history, called 'Israel' under the Old Testament, and called 'the church' under the New."[2]

Philip Mauro, a critic of the system's teachings in his 1928 book The Gospel of the Kingdom, is considered to be the first to coin the term "dispensationalism" to describe the system that was making its way through fundamentalism as a whole, calling it "a subtle form of modernism".[4][5]

Typical divisions

Although the number of dispensations typically vary from three to eight, the typical seven-dispensation scheme is as follows:[7]: 51–57 

Dispensational schemes Bible chapters
Genesis 1–3 Genesis 3–8 Genesis 9–11 Genesis 12-Exodus 19 Exodus 20-Birth of the Church Church Age-Rapture Revelation 20:4–6 Revelation 20–22
7 or 8 step Innocence
or Edenic
or Antediluvian
Civil Government Patriarchal
or Promise
or Law
or Church
Millennial Kingdom Eternal State
or Final
4 step Patriarchal Mosaic Ecclesial Zionic
3 step (minimalist) Law Grace Kingdom
Covenant theology Law Grace Kingdom



Purpose of God in the world

According to John Walvoord, God's purpose in the world is to manifest his glory.[11]: 92  Charles Ryrie writes that dispensational soteriology focuses on man's salvation as the means God uses to glorify himself.[7]: 40 

Biblical literalism

Main article: Historical-grammatical method

A key element of dispensationalism is the use of the historical-grammatical hermeneutic to apply a consistent, literal interpretation of the text.[12] Scripture is to be interpreted according to the normal rules of human language in its entirety.[7]: 80  This leads dispensationalists to take eschatological passages of the bible literally. Charles Ryrie suggests that a non-literal hermeneutic is the reason that amillennialists apply the Old Testament promises to Israel "spiritually" to the church and covenant premillennialists see some prophecies as fulfilled and others are not.[7]: 90 

Progressive revelation

Main article: Progressive revelation (Christianity)

Progressive revelation is the doctrine that each successive book of the Bible provides further revelation of God and his program. Theologian Charles Hodge wrote that the progressive character of divine revelation is gradually unfolded until the fullness of truth is revealed.[13] Charles Ryrie wrote that the Bible is not viewed as a textbook on theology, but rather as a continually unfolding revelation of God through successive ages where there are distinguishable stages in which God introduces new things for which man becomes responsible.[7]: 33 

Disagreement exists between covenant theology and dispensationalism regarding the meaning of revelation. Covenant theology views the New Testament as the key to interpreting the Old Testament.[7]: 32  For dispensationalists, the Old Testament is interpreted on its own and that the New Testament contains new information which can build on the Old Testament but cannot change its meaning.[14] Each stands alone, rather than the Old Testament being reread through the lens of the New Testament.[12]

Distinction between Israel and the Church

Dispensationalists profess that there exists a historic and demographic distinction between Israel and the Christian Church. For them, Israel is an ethnic nation consisting of Hebrews (Israelites), beginning with Abraham.[7]: 127  The Church, on the other hand, consists of all saved individuals from the "birth of the Church" in Acts until the time of the rapture.[15] Classic dispensationalists refer to this period as a "parenthesis" or temporary interlude in the progress of Israel's prophesied history when God has paused his dealing with Israel and is dealing with his Church.[16][7]: 134,177 [17]: 410 

There are differing views within dispensationalism as to when the church age began. Classic dispensationalism considers Pentecost in Acts 2 as the beginning of the Church as distinct from Israel.[18] Charles Finney noted in 1839 that Pentecost was "the commencement of a new dispensation", emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit as a distinction.[19]: 87  C. I. Scofield did not make Pentecost itself the turning point but did emphasize its role in dividing the dispensations of "Law" and "Grace".[19]: 88  In contrast, hyperdispensationalists suggest that the church started later in Acts ("Mid-Acts") with the ministry of Paul, identifying the start of the church as occurring between the salvation of Saul in Acts 9 and the Holy Spirit's commissioning of Paul in Acts 13.[20][21] E. W. Bullinger and the ultradispensationalists taught that the church began in Acts 28.[21] According to progressive dispensationalism, the distinction between Israel and the Church is not mutually exclusive, as there is a recognized overlap between the two.[22]: 295  The overlap includes Jewish Christians like James, brother of Jesus, who integrated Jesus's teachings into the Jewish faith, and Christians of Jewish ethnicity who held varying opinions on compliance with Mosaic law, like Saint Peter and Paul the Apostle. Progressive dispensationalism "softens" the Church/Israel distinction by seeing some Old Testament promises as expanded by the New Testament to include the Church. However, progressives never view this expansion as replacing promises to its original audience, Israel.[23]

The Law

Dispensationalists believe that Christ abolished the Mosaic law, and thus it does not apply to the Christian. Instead, the Christian is under the Law of Christ, which embodies the moral principles of God which are in both codes.[24][25]: 71  In this view, although many commandments of the Old Testament are re-established in the New Testament, only the commandments that are explicitly affirmed are to be kept, which excludes the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Mosaic law.[25]: 71 


Further information: Premillennialism and Rapture

Dispensationalism teaches an eschatology that is specifically premillennial in that it affirms the return of Christ prior to a literal 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.[7]: 147–148  This millennial kingdom will be theocratic in nature and not mainly soteriological, as it is considered by George Eldon Ladd and others with a non-dispensational form of premillennialism.[6] It will be distinctly Jewish, with the throne of David restored.[1]: 31 

The majority of dispensationalists profess a pretribulation rapture, while mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation rapture are minority views.[26][27] Pre-tribulational rapture doctrine is what separates dispensationalism from other forms of premillennialism and other millennial views.[17]: 409 

Dispensational eschatology was popularized in Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth. In Lindsey's version, the unfolding of events includes the establishment of Israel in 1948, Jews regaining control of Jerusalem's sacred sites in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the rebuilding of the Temple which has yet to occur, an Antichrist will come to power, Christians will be removed from the earth in a rapture of the Church, and there will be seven years of tribulation (Daniel's seventieth week) culminating in a great battle of Armageddon in which Christ will triumph over evil and establish a literal 1,000 year reign of his kingdom on earth.[28] The necessity of the rapture is that, with the Church and Israel being distinct, the Church must be removed before remnant Israel can be gathered.[1]: 42 


Timeline of the history of dispensationalism, showing the development of various streams of thought.


Advocates of dispensationalism have sought to find similar views of dispensations in Church history, referencing theologians or groups such as Francisco Ribera, the Taborites, Joachim of Fiore, Denis the Carthusian and others.[29][30] Joachim's theory of three stages of human history has been argued to have anticipated the later dispensationalist view of organizing history into different dispensations.[7]: 65  Joachim's stages were divided into the "Age of the Father" which was under the Law, the "Age of the Son" which was a period of tribulation, and the "Age of the Spirit" which was a period of bliss on earth.[31]: 155  Fra Dolcino taught Fiore's theory of the stages of history, and dispensationalists Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice have suggested that Dolcino's teaching was of a pretribulational rapture.[31]: 157  The relevant teaching was that when Antichrist appears, Dolcino and his followers would be taken away and preserved from Antichrist, and that following the death of Antichrist, Dolcino and his followers would return to Earth to convert those then living to the true faith.[31] However, this actually comes from an anonymous 1316 Latin text titled The History of Brother Dolcino and it is uncertain as to whether this came directly from Dolcino.[31]: 158-159 

William C. Watson argued that multiple 17th century theologians anticipated dispensational views, he argued that Ephraim Huit and John Birchensa in his The History of Scripture published in 1660 taught that God has differing plans for Jews and Gentiles. He also argued that Nathaniel Holmes taught a pretribulational rapture.[29]

Pierre Poiret is seen as a forerunner of Dispensationalism.

Pierre Poiret has been said to have been the first theologian to develop a dispensationalist system, writing a book titledThe Divine Economy. Poiret taught that history should be organized into multiple dispensations in which God works with humans in different ways, including the millennium as a future dispensation.[32] Poiret's eschatology includes a belief in two resurrections, the rise of the Antichrist and the nation of Israel being regathered, restored and converted.[6][29] Poiret divided history into seven dispensations, early childhood (ended in the Flood), childhood (ended in Moses's ministry), boyhood (ended in Malachi), youth (ended in Christ), manhood (most of the Church), old age ("human decay", meaning the last hour of the Church), and the restoration of all things (the Millennium, includes literal earthly reign of Christ with Israel restored).[7]: 65 

Isaac Watts presented a dispensational view in a forty-page essay titled The Harmony of All the Religions Which God Ever Prescribed to Men and All His Dispensations Towards Them.[33] Charles Ryrie points out that Scofield's outline of dispensationalism, with the exception of the millennium, is exactly that of Watts, and not Darby.[7]: 67 

Edward Irving in some ways anticipated dispensationalism. He used a literal approach to prophetic interpretation, he believed in a restoration of national Israel, he believed there would be a great apostasy and that Christ would return to establish a literal earthly kingdom.[6] However, he also preached that Christ had a fallen nature, which led to him being defrocked by the Scots Presbyterians.[6][34]

Formalization by Darby

John Nelson Darby systematized and promoted dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism developed as a system from the teachings of John Nelson Darby, considered by some to be the father of dispensationalism (1800–1882),[22]: 10, 293  who strongly influenced the Plymouth Brethren of the 1830s in Ireland and England. The original concept came when Darby considered the implications of Isaiah 32 for Israel. He saw that prophecy required a future fulfillment and realization of Israel's kingdom. The New Testament church was seen as a separate program not related to that kingdom. Thus arose a prophetic earthly kingdom program for Israel and a separate "mystery" heavenly program for the church. In order to not conflate the two programs, the prophetic program had to be put on hold to allow for the church to come into existence. Then it is necessary for the church to be raptured away before prophecy can resume its earthly program for Israel.[35]

In Darby's conception of dispensations, they relate exclusively to the divine government of the earth. The Mosaic dispensation continues as a divine administration over earth up until the return of Christ, and the church, being a heavenly designated assembly, is not associated with any dispensations.[36]

While his Brethren ecclesiology failed to catch on in America, his eschatological doctrine became widely popular in the United States, especially among Baptists and Old School Presbyterians.[37]: 317 

Expansion and growth

Dispensationalism was introduced to North America by James Inglis (1813–1872) through the monthly magazine Waymarks in the Wilderness, published intermittently between 1854 and 1872.[38]: 100–102  During 1866, Inglis organized the Believers' Meeting for Bible Study, which introduced dispensationalist ideas to a small but influential circle of American evangelicals.[38]: 132–133  They were disturbed by the inroads of religious liberalism and saw premillennialism as an answer. Dispensationalism was introduced as a premillennial position, and it largely took over the fundamentalist movement over a period of several decades. The American church denominations rejected Darby's ecclesiology but accepted his eschatology.[38]: 101  Many of these churches were Baptists and Old School Presbyterians, and they retained Darby's Calvinistic soteriology.[37]: 317 

After Inglis's death, James H. Brookes (1830–1898), the pastor of Walnut Street Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri, organized the Niagara Bible Conference (1876–1897) to continue the dissemination of dispensationalist ideas. Brookes was well known within millenarian circles as a prominent speaker for the Believers' Meeting for Bible Study conferences and having written for Inglis's Waymarks in the Wilderness.[38]: 134 

D. L. Moody

Brethren theologian C. H. Mackintosh had a profound influence on Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899).[39][40]: 49  Moody worked with Brookes and other dispensationalists and encouraged the spread of dispensationalism.[40]: 46–47  It was during this time that dispensational doctrine became widely accepted by American evangelicals.[41]: vi  It also marked a shift in dispensational theology from Darby's Calvinist and doctrinal rigor to a non-Calvinist view of human freedom in personal salvation under evangelists like Moody.[19]: 46 

Other prominent dispensationalists in this period include Reuben Archer Torrey (1856–1928), James M. Gray (1851–1925), William J. Erdman (1833–1923), A. C. Dixon (1854–1925), A. J. Gordon (1836–1895), and William Eugene Blackstone (1841–1935). These men were active evangelists who promoted a host of Bible conferences and other missionary and evangelistic efforts. They also gave the dispensationalist philosophy institutional permanence by assuming leadership of new independent Bible institutes, such as the Moody Bible Institute during 1886, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) during 1908, and Philadelphia College of Bible (now Cairn University, formerly Philadelphia Biblical University) during 1913. The network of related institutes that soon developed became the nucleus for the spread of American dispensationalism. Torrey served as first superintendent of the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society (now Moody Bible Institute) when it formally opened in 1889.[42]

Although the revivalist evangelicals such as Moody and Torrey did not believe the gift of tongues continued past the Apostolic age, their emphasis on the baptism of the Holy Spirit merged well with holiness ideas. This encouraged the spread of dispensationalism within the Pentecostal movement.[19]: 94 

During this time, E. W. Bullinger began teaching what became known as "ultradispensationalism" or "Bullingerism", Bullinger taught that the Church did not begin until Acts 28, that the Lord's Supper and water baptism were for Jewish believers, and that Paul's epistles were written to the Jews.[21]

Scofield and his influence

Cyrus Scofield

A disciple of James Brookes, Cyrus Scofield, began attending the Niagara conferences and became an advocate of premillennialism, specifically pre-tribulationism.[38]: 223  After several years of work, in 1909, Scofield introduced dispensationalism to a wider audience in America by his Scofield Reference Bible. The publication of the Scofield Reference Bible during 1909 by the Oxford University Press for the first time displayed overtly dispensationalist notes on the pages of the biblical text. The Scofield Bible became a popular Bible used by independent Evangelicals in the United States.[38]: 222–224  The premillennialism of the Scofield Reference Bible led to a pessimistic social view within evangelicalism, to "not polish the brass rails on the sinking social ship", focusing the evangelism of saving the lost rather than expanding Christendom.[41]: 5 

The Scofield Reference Bible came out at the apex of Bullinger's influence. Scofield's Bible confronted some of the ultradispensationalists' (Bullingerites) positions, specifically, the divisions of dispensational time, and as the Scofield Bible became popular among dispensationalists, it marginalized the hyperdispensationalist position in the United States.[5]

Having been influenced by Scofield, evangelist and Bible teacher Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871–1952) along with his brother, Rollin Chafer, founded Evangelical Theological College in 1924. The school would eventually become the Dallas Theological Seminary, which has become the main institution of dispensationalism in America.[43] The Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania became another dispensational school.

The Fundamentals

In the 1910s, another publication took hold within American evangelicalism. A twelve-volume publication known as The Fundamentals was published between 1910 and 1915 by the Testimony Publishing Company. Managed by an executive committee of dispensationalists including Clarence Dixon and Rueben Torrey, The Fundamentals helped solidify dispensationalism within American Christian fundamentalism and the evangelical movement.[5]

The Scopes trial in 1925 served to unify the fundamentalists, and with them, dispensationalism. However, very shortly after, fundamentalism as a movement began to decline. Scopes trial prosecutor and public face of the fundamentalist movement William Jennings Bryan died a week after the verdict, and H. L. Mencken portrayed supporters of the verdict as largely uneducated. In Bryan's absence, a decentralizing of the movement began. The fate of dispensationalism was tied to the breakdown in fundamentalism.[5]

In 1928, Philip Mauro, seeking to re-invigorate the fundamentalist movement, pointed the finger at dispensationalism, and in the process coined the term. He alleged the view was more recent than Darwinism and that it eroded the fundamental truths of scripture, singling it out as the source of division within the larger fundamentalist movement.[5]

Evangelical Theological College acquired the historical theological journal Bibliotheca Sacra in 1934. In its pages, Lewis Chafer first publicly declared that he was a dispensationalist. In 1936, Chafer published a 60-page response to the criticisms of Mauro and other fundamentalists entitled Dispensationalism. That same year, Chafer renamed his school Dallas Theological Seminary.[5]

Through the 1930s and 1940s, the conflict within fundamentalism continued between dispensationalists and covenantalists, leading to permanent divisions within fundamentalism, ultimately giving shape to the entire fundamentalist movement.[5]

Influence of Dallas Theological Seminary

By the mid 20th century, dispensationalism was being promoted by evangelical stalwarts such as Charles Feinberg, J. Dwight Pentecost, Herman Hoyt, Charles Ryrie, and John Walvoord.[5][44]: 269  All of them either studied or taught at Dallas Theological Seminary.[5] Pentecost taught at DTS for more than 60 years, and published one of the primary works on dispensational eschatology, Things to Come (1956). During this time period, Ryrie published what has become the primary introduction to dispensational theology, Dispensationalism Today (1965).[5]

Furthering the rift between covenantalism and dispensationalism, Ryrie wrote in Bibliotheca Sacra in 1957 that dispensationalism is "the only valid system of Biblical interpretation". In 1959, Walvoord stated that all non-dispensationalists, including Catholics and mainline Protestants, offered no defense against modernism and that they were under the influence of hermeneutical and theological errors.[5]

Throughout this period, the influence of DTS was growing as other schools and seminaries hired DTS graduates as faculty. In 1970, DTS graduate Hal Lindsey published The Late Great Planet Earth that would launch dispensational eschatology beyond anything previous. His book sold 10 million copies and made "rapture" and the "tribulation" household terms.[5]

Pop prophecy

With the success of Late Great Planet Earth, the rapture theology of dispensationalism triggered a flood of books. Lindsey released Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth (1972), There's a New World Coming (1973), and The Liberation of Planet Earth (1974). Other books included The Beginning of the End (1972) by Tim LaHaye, and DTS graduate Thomas McCall's Satan in the Sanctuary (1973) and Raptured (1975).[5] In 1972, Iowa filmmakers Russell Doughten and Donald W. Thompson released A Thief in the Night, a fictional film about the aftermath of the rapture that has been seen by an estimated 300 million people.[45] Televangelist Jack van Impe covered current events in light of Bible prophecy with a dispensational premillennialist spin.[46]

Emergence of the Christian Right

The late 20th century marked a change from the separatism of earlier in the century to one of more political engagement through the emergence of the Christian Right, rooted in the dispensational theology that Israel is at the center of God's purpose in the world.[44]: 270 

In 1978, dispensationalist television evangelist Jerry Falwell began making trips to Israel that were sponsored by the Israeli government. He became the first major American political figure to insist that the U.S. must support Israel for the fate of the nation.[47] Falwell listed Feinberg, Pentecost, Hoyt, and Walvoord as his primary influences.[44]: 269  In 1979, Falwell, along with Tim LaHaye, founded the Moral Majority with the objective to get people saved, baptized, and registered to vote.[48]: 354  The Moral Majority also provided a platform of political activism.

Due in large part to the influence of dispensational premillennialism, the Moral Majority advocated for pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy positions, including protection of the Jewish people in Israel and continued aid for the state of Israel.[49][50] Opposed to Jimmy Carter's affirmation of a Palestinian homeland, the Moral Majority endorsed Ronald Reagan for President in 1980.[51] In Reagan, they found a candidate that shared their apocalypticism. Reagan had read Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth and it is suggested that his Middle East policies were driven by this eschatological view.[47]: 43 [52]: 177  In an interview with televangelist Jim Bakker, Reagan stated that "[w]e may be the generation that sees Armageddon".[53]: 355  Dispensational theology affected more than just Middle East foreign policy in the Reagan administration. James G. Watt, a member of the Assemblies of God and Reagan's first Secretary of the Interior, stated to Congress that preservation of the environment was made irrelevant due to the imminent return of Christ.[54]: 148 

In 1980, Hal Lindsey wrote a follow-up to his Late Great Planet Earth titled The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. Previously, Lindsey had not drawn a connection from a Christian's personal obligations to their responsibility for social change. But this changed with The 1980s. He began encouraging his readers to elect moral leaders who would reflect that morality within government, an agenda closely aligned with the administration of Ronald Reagan.[5]

Tim LaHaye, who was a lifelong fundamentalist and dispensationalist, became a primary figure in the Christian Right.[5] He served as head of the Moral Majority for a time and in the mid-eighties created the American Coalition for Traditional Values. In 1987, he served as co-chairman of Republican Jack Kemp's presidential campaign, until it was reported that he had called Catholicism "a false religion".[55]

Peak and decline

By the 1990s, a younger generation of academics emerged as "progressive dispensationalists", presenting a rift in the united front that Ryrie had advocated for in Dispensationalism Today (1965). This school of thought was led by Craig A. Blaising, Darrell Bock, Kenneth Barker, and Robert L. Saucy.[5]

After the influence of dispensationalism within the New Christian Right grew into the 1990s and building on the success of Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, the 1995 novel Left Behind pushed pop prophecy to further commercial success.[5][56]: 3  Conceived by Tim LaHaye and written by Jerry B. Jenkins, the book spawned a multimedia franchise of 16 books as well as multiple movies, video games, and other spinoff works. The series brought dispensational premillennialism into the mainstream.[56]: 3 

As with Reagan in the 1980s, the New Christian Right helped elect another 'born again' president, George W. Bush, who, like Reagan, spoke in terms of prophecies being fulfilled in a way that had meaning to dispensationalists.[5] Bush referenced Gog and Magog in the War on Terror and stated that the confrontation was "willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase His people's enemies".[57]

Dispensational ideas were experiencing commercial success, but the primary standard-bearers of dispensationalism had become Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye who were different from their academic predecessors John Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost, and Charles Ryrie.[5] By the 2010s, the movement had peaked and was largely in decline within academic settings.[5] A 2009 survey of Southern Baptist seminaries showed that the majority view was covenantal, and that flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary had no dispensationalists within its faculty.[5][58]

While dispensationalism collapsed in academic areas, its cultural influence remained. Dispensational ideas continue within the culture. A 2004 Newsweek poll indicated that 55 percent of Americans believe that Christians will be taken up in the Rapture.[59] By the turn of the 21st century, the term "dispensationalism" had become synonymous with "sectarian fundamentalism" and came to be more of a political perspective than a set of theological doctrines.[5]


The term "dispensationalism" is believed to have originated with Philip Mauro. His critique of the system is found in Mauro's 1928 book The Gospel of the Kingdom, in which he stated that "evangelical Christianity must purge itself of this leaven of dispensationalism", using the term to group the new premillennialism, the idea of dispensational time, and the Israel-Church distinction into a singular bundled idea.[5]

Protestant denominations that embrace covenant theology as a whole tend to reject dispensationalism. For example, Presbyterian minister John Wick Bowman called the Scofield Bible "the most dangerous heresy current to be found within Christian circles".[7]: 13  Dispensational theology ultimately led the Presbyterian Church of America (later the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) to split from Bible Presbyterian Synod, which taught dispensationalism.[60] The Churches of Christ underwent division during the 1930s as Robert Henry Boll (who taught a variant of the dispensational philosophy) and Foy E. Wallace (representing the amillennial stance) disputed severely over eschatology.

Some teach that the presupposition of the difference between law and grace carries to the conclusion that there are multiple forms of salvation.[1]: 34 ; in fact, salvation has always been by grace through faith.

The pessimism of premillennial eschatology caused dispensationalists to consider social reform as wasted effort, focusing only on conversion of the lost without effort toward the kingdom building social reform of postmillennialism.[61]: 35–36 

Political commentator Kevin Phillips claimed in American Theocracy (2006) that dispensationalist and other fundamentalist Christians, together with the oil lobby, provided political assistance for the invasion of Iraq during 2003.[62]: 87  He further points out that most theologians acknowledge there is no specific sequence of end-times events in the Bible, and that such a belief is the result of a century of "amplified Darbyism", further quoting theologian Barbara Rossing that such hyper-literalism is a "dangerous and false view".[62]: 253–254 [63]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Bass, Clarence B. (2005-02-03). Backgrounds to Dispensationalism: Its Historical Genesis and Ecclesiastical Implications. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59752-081-2.
  2. ^ a b c Waters, Guy (2 November 2021). "What are the differences between covenant theology and dispensationalism?". Reformed Theological Seminary. Retrieved 9 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b Poythress, Vern Sheridan (1986). "1 Getting Dispensationalists and Nondispensationalists to Listen to Each Other. The Term "Dispensationalist"". Understanding Dispensationalists. Chestnut Hill, PA: Westminster Theological Seminary. Retrieved 9 December 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Mauro, Philip (1928). The Gospel of the Kingdom: With an Examination of Modern Dispensationalism. Hamilton brothers. p. 17.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Hummel, Daniel G. (2023-05-04). The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle over the End Times Shaped a Nation. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4674-6220-4.
  6. ^ a b c d e Blomberg, Craig L.; Chung, Sung Wook (2009-02-01). A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to "Left Behind" Eschatology. Baker Academic. ISBN 978-1-4412-1056-2.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ryrie, Charles C. (2007). Dispensationalism. Moody Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8024-2189-0.
  8. ^ Dearing, Karen Lynn (2001). "A History of the Independent Bible Church". Ouachita Baptist University. p. 20. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  9. ^ Crenshaw, Curtis I.; Gunn, Grover (1985). Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow. Footstool Publications. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-877818-01-1.
  10. ^ POYTHRESS, VERN (13 March 2009). "Understanding Dispensationalism". Westminister Theological Seminary. Retrieved 9 December 2023. Now, the problem is that almost anyone who is an evangelical will recognize that there are distinct periods. For instance, there was a period before the fall of Adam when things were very different because there was no sin and there was no need for redemption, animal sacrifice or any of those things.
  11. ^ Walvoord, John F. (1983). The Millennial Kingdom. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-34091-1.
  12. ^ a b Buschart, W. David (2009-09-20). Exploring Protestant Traditions: An Invitation to Theological Hospitality. InterVarsity Press. pp. 216, 218. ISBN 978-0-8308-7514-6.
  13. ^ Hodge, Charles (2003), Systematic Theology, vol. 1, Peabody: Hendrickson, p. 446, ISBN 1-56563-459-4 (also available as Hodge (May 1997), Gross, Edward N. (ed.), Systematic Theology (abridged ed.), P & R, ISBN 0-87552-224-6)
  14. ^ Toussaint, Stanley D.; Burns, J. Lanier. Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional and Progressive Views. Kregel Academic. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8254-9881-7.
  15. ^ Ironside, Harry A. "Not Wrath, but Rapture". Archived from the original on 2016-02-03. The prophetic clock stopped at Calvary; it will not start again until 'the fullness of the Gentiles be come in'.
  16. ^ Ironside, Harry A. (1943). The Great Parenthesis. Zondervan. p. 4. It is the author's fervent conviction that the failure to understand what is revealed in Scripture concerning the Great Parenthesis between Messiah's rejection, with the consequent setting aside of Israel nationally, and the regathering of God's earthly people and recognition by the Lord in the last days, is the fundamental cause for many conflicting and unscriptural prophetic teachings. Once this parenthetical period is understood and the present work of God during this age is apprehended, the whole prophetic program unfolds with amazing clearness.
  17. ^ a b DeMar, Gary (1999). Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church. American Vision. ISBN 978-0-915815-35-7.
  18. ^ Enns, Paul (2014-03-27). The Moody Handbook of Theology. Moody Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8024-9115-2.
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  20. ^ Brock, Robert C. "The Teachings of Christ". The ministry of Christ did not stop with His ascension in the first chapter of the book of Acts. Christians have failed to realize that when Saul is saved in Acts 9, a NEW ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is begun by God, and this NEW ministry ushers in this present age of grace. Saul's name is changed to Paul, and he is designated as the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). He is given revelations from the risen Christ, and these are the revelations embracing Christianity.
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  22. ^ a b Blaising, Craig A.; Bock, Darrell L. (1993). Progressive Dispensationalism. Wheaton, Illinois: BridgePoint. ISBN 1-56476-138-X.
  23. ^ Stallard, Mike. "Progressive Dispensationalism" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-19. some OT promises can be expanded by the NT. However, this expansion is never viewed as replacing or undoing the implications of that OT promise to its original audience, Israel. For example, the Church's participation in the New Covenant taught in the NT can add the Church to the list of recipients of the New Covenant promises made in the OT. However, such participation does not rule out the future fulfillment of the OT New Covenant promises to Israel at the beginning of the Millennium. Thus, the promise can have a coinciding or overlapping fulfillment through NT expansions of the promise.
  24. ^ Blaising, Craig A.; Bock, Darrell L. (2010-08-10). Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition. Zondervan Academic. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-310-87740-0.
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  27. ^ Walvoord, John F. (1990). Blessed hope and the tribulation. Contemporary Evangelical. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-310-34041-6.
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  31. ^ a b c d Bennett, David Malcolm (2008-04-30). "Raptured or not raptured? That is the question". Evangelical Quarterly: An International Review of Bible and Theology. 80 (2): 143–161. doi:10.1163/27725472-08002004. ISSN 0014-3367.
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  39. ^ Moody, Paul Dwight (1938). My Father: An Intimate Portrait of Dwight Moody. Little, Brown. pp. 188–189.
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  46. ^ Dias, Elizabeth (2020-01-22). "Jack Van Impe, End Times Preacher on TV, Is Dead at 88". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-07-18.
  47. ^ a b Halsell, Grace (1986). Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War. Lawrence Hill & Company. pp. 74–75. ISBN 978-0-88208-210-3.
  48. ^ Sutton, Matthew Avery (2014-12-15). American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-74479-0.
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  54. ^ Balmer, Randall Herbert (2006-07-03). Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America, an Evangelical's Lament. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00519-2.
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Further reading