Skip to comments.Is Dispensationalism a Recent Doctrine? How Do YOU Define 'Recent'?
Posted on 08/11/2011 4:48:01 PM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
One of the most common objections to Dispensationalism offered by Preterists and Covenant theologians is that, according to them, it was an invention based on a 'vision' ascribed to a young Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald.
As they tell it, in 1830, she had a vision about the end of the world and when she came out from under her trance, she wrote it down. This account attracted the attention of Edward Irving and his church later claimed Margaret as one of their own prophetesses.
Irving also had an interest in prophecy and held prophetic conferences. The historian of Irving's church claimed that Margaret was the first person to teach a two stage second coming of Christ.
John Darby traveled to Scotland to visit the MacDonald home. Darby was a lawyer until a year after his conversion when he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England. Soon after entering the ministry he became disillusioned with the institutional church and started the Brethren movement in Plymouth, England.
Darby became known as the 'father' of Dispensationalism, the first eschatology to incorporate the 'prophecy' of Margaret MacDonald. Darby continued to develop this new view by becoming the first to make a radical distinction between Israel and the Church.
Darby taught that God has two special groups of people (or two Brides) and a separate plan for each of them. This meant Christ would have to return twice.
Covenant theologians sneer that, "this secret rapture was so secret that no one had ever heard of it for 1800 years!" Can that be true?
First, let's clearly define what Dispensationalism means; "the act of dispensing or something dispensed; a specific arrangement or system by which something is dispensed."
Moses dispensed the Law. The word 'dispensation' does not mean a period of time. It means the dispensing of a particular message or ministry. For example, the Church Age began at Pentecost and will end at the Rapture.
". . .Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
The Margaret MacDonald story has been told and retold so many times that most Covenant theologians can recite it in their sleep. There is something about Dispensationalism that makes them see red.
Most Dispensationalists couldn't care less whether or not a segment of the Church believes it will go through the Tribulation. I am among that group.
If somebody trusts Christ for his salvation, but disagrees with the timing, (or even the doctrine) of a secret Rapture, they are still saved.
But I've yet to discuss Dispensationalism with Covenant (or replacement) theologians without being called names like 'false teacher' and 'liar'. The Margaret MacDonald story is included in every missive, so that 'ignorant' can be added to the list.
Is it true? Was the doctrine of Dispensationalism born out of the vision of a Scottish schoolgirl and nurtured by a church who proclaimed her a 'prophetess'? Is Dispensationalism, as replacement theology teaches, such a secret that nobody had heard of it for 1800 years?
In 177 AD, which is, ummm, like 1833 years ago, Irenaeus wrote in 'Against Heresies (1.10)
"What the church believes: One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who PROCLAIMED THROUGH THE PROPHETS THE DISPENSATONS OF GOD, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His future manifestation from heaven."
In addressing the teachings of an heretical sect called 'Montanists" (today we'd call them 'replacement theologians') Irenaeus wrote;
"Montanists set at naught the gift of the Spirit, which in the latter times has been, by the good pleasure of the Father, poured out upon the human race, do not admit that aspect of the EVANGELICAL DISPENSATION presented by John's Gospel, in which the Lord promised that He would send the Paraclete (John 16); but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit."
In 'Against Heresies 3:15 Irenaeus wrote, Jesus and the Father are the only true God. Jesus gave Moses the dispensation of the Law."
And, "Some of the orthodox are ignorant of God's dispensations." (Against Heresies 5.32)
Clement of Alexandria (192 AD -- 1,817 years ago) in his 'Stromata (5.3) identified seven distinct Dispensations of God, including the present Age of Grace.
Origin taught Dispensationalism in 230 AD (1,779 years ago). Justin Martyr taught in the 1st century that there were four phases, or dispensations' of human history; Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Moses, Moses to Christ, and Christ to the eternal state.
So, if the early Church fathers taught Dispensationalism, then why so much focus on Margaret MacDonald? How come nobody was teaching Dispensationalism in 1492?
An honest reading of history provides the answer.
When the Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the state Church of Rome, he set into motion a codification process in which ultimately resulted in the Bible being restricted to members of the clergy.
This period is known to history as the 'Dark Ages'. It wasn't until the Bible was made available to the common man that the Protestant Reformation began to take place in the 15th century.
And the Protestant Church was born out of the Roman Catholic Church. While it rejected Catholicism's teaching of salvation by works, it carried with it much of its doctrine, including that of replacement theology.
For almost three hundred years, the Protestant Church continued to accept the Catholic doctrine of replacement theology without challenge. Until Dr. C. I. Schofield reviewed and advanced the teachings of the early Church, publishing his findings in the Schofield Reference Bible.
The Scofield Reference Bible attempted to set in order the right divisions of God's purpose as Scofield understood it. And it is important to note that there is very little similarity between the writings of Scofield and the writings of Darby, despite being assigned joint credit for 'inventing' the doctrine by its critics.
As Christians, we are obligated to search the Scriptures and see if the Bible teaches different dispensations, and if it does, we are obligated to embrace its teaching. If it does not, we are bound to reject it.
There are three things to keep in mind about dispensational teaching. First, it maintains a distinction between Israel and the Church, recognizing God has an eternal, unchanging, Plan for Israel and a different Plan for the Church during the Church Age.
The second is that Dispensationalists hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, instead of spiritualizing a text or making everything a 'type'.
Thirdly, Dispensationalists believe God's purpose is much bigger than the salvation of mankind. God's purpose centers in His glory.
It was at the Cross we get in on God's blessings and Purpose. However, the Cross is not the center or the end of God's Plan.
The Bible teaches that there have been and will be saved Jews and Gentiles who are not part of the present body of Christ. Moses and Abraham come to mind. So does the Gentile King, Melchizidek. And the Bible teaches that Enoch was not only saved, he was raptured early.
After the Church Age, the Bible teaches that all Israel will be saved at the end of the Tribulation.
Dispensationalists also believe in a literal thousand-year rule of Christ on earth. During that time, Scripture says Israel will be the head of nations and Jerusalem will be the center of government.
The Bible is all about God's kingdom and His Son ruling over it. This is the part where the replacement theologians start turning red. Dispensationalists believe that there is a place for the Jew, the Gentile and the Church of God in this eternal purpose.
Those saved in this age are part of the "Church", which the Bible says is the Body of Christ.
Replacement theology cuts the Jew out of God's Plan, blurs the line between Christian and Gentile, and assumes unto the Church the Promises of God to Israel.
Therefore, according to the modern interpretation of replacement theology, modern-day Israel isn't really the Israel of the Bible. It has no special spiritual connection to the Land.
This theological worldview is behind most mainstream Protestant churches sharing the Vatican's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.
Replacement theology is also the root cause of modern anti-Semitism. This is why those who hold to it get so nasty when attacking Dispensationalism.
If Dispensationalist truth IS truth, then they are standing against God's Chosen People.
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:3)
There are far safer places to stand.
I read the link. Very accurate articulate account of the conservative Lutheran position on replacement theology. I embraced the teaching for 30 years in the LCMS. Then I asked God, Why all this Israel stuff in the Bible?
The article you link to is based on ignorance, or deceit...
Millennialism and its synonym, chiliasm, derive their names from the Greek and Latin words for the number one thousand. The devil makes millennialism attractive in the same way he tried to make jumping off the pinnacle of the temple appealing to Jesus: he perverts Scripture.
Not nearly as much as the author of this piece...
Millenarians cite Revelation 20:3 as their proof passage for their final thousand years. Although every picture in the context of this passage is symbolicand explained as such in the text itself
This fella is lying...
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
So show us where in the text that it is explained that every thing is symbolic...You guys are counting on preaching this trash to people who don't have bible to check you out...
millenarians teach that the thousand years is a literal thousand years.
The devil makes every aspect of millennialism an appeal to our sinful flesh. The supposed thousand years at the end of the New Testament age offers everybody a second chance to come to faith.
That's an outrageous lie...Those who go into the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ are already saved...
The second chance detour appeals to our sinful laziness, which wants to delay attention to our spiritual relationship with God.
Millennialism teaches that the thousand years will culminate with a physical, military victory of Christians over their enemies at Armageddon.
The Millennium STARTS with the culmination of Armageddon...Not the other way around as this character claims it...
Such an idea invites vengeful temptations to get even with those who persecute us, ridicule our faith, or simply reject our message.
And this is what sold you on being against Dispensationalism??? If that's all it takes, you could easily be a muzlim...
END TIMES LIST PING
Good article. Two slight errors:
Justin Martyr taught in the 2nd century (103-165) not the first, and the Protestant Reformation began in the 16th Century (October 31st, 1517 — Martin Luther nail the “95 Theses” to the door at the Wittenburg Chapel), not the 15th Century....
Well, a person's belief in the timing doesn't affect his salvation, however, the outright denial of the God-give doctrine of the Rapture is a huge problem. And, the denial of the Scripture that tells us the Church will not be here for the Tribulation is a huge problem. If you have to deny Scripture for your belief to work, then your belief is a false doctrine.
No true Christian will deny any part of Scripture.
As has been demonstrated repeatedly on this forum, God assures us that He will take His bride off the scene before He sends judgment. And, since He tells us to "comfort one another" with those assurances, we can rest easy knowing that we are not destined for the judgment God has for those who have chosen to reject Him and who love evil and love to practice evil.
BTW Why do we need labels that put us in groups?
The way one reads and interprets Scripture is extremely important and can affect a person's eternal destiny. If someone believes that the Scripture is not entirely true, or is fallible, or has errors, that is going to influence his worldview, and how he lives his life. If a person believes that the Scripture should not be taken as God gave it to us, but that men have the omniscience and the authority to allegorize the Bible, which makes it meaningless and open to any view that any person may have, this can also affect a person's eternal destiny. After all, if the Bible has errors, or is open to being allegorized, how do we know that Jesus Christ really died to rescue mankind? Who is to say?
Unfortunately, "labels" are sometimes necessary because labels enable people to distinguish between belief systems. If, for example, someone takes it upon himself to allegorize the book of Revelation, which, again, takes what God intended for man to have as a warning and as a gift to know how this age is going to end, and we see, in our generation, the technology necessary for the literal fulfillment of Revelation 13:16 ready to be implemented, then those who have bought into the idea that the book of Revelation is nothing but a fairy tale, a book of meaningless symbols, are not going to recognize this stage-setting for what it is. A dispensationalist will tell people that that verse is a literal, future prophecy that is in the process of being fulfilled in our generation. A person who allegorizes that passage will tell you not what God tell us, but what he thinks it means. And, you will get a different interpretation from each person who believes that that Scripture should not be taken literally, but as some kind of symbol that really doesn't mean anything.
So it is very important to have labels so that people can differentiate between truth and error; between deception and trustworthiness.
They always have to use deceit and smarmy, irrelevant "authors", and they can never disprove dispensational methods using Scripture.
That tells all we need to know.
The heart of this article is the section regarding the early church fathers. These quotes, if they hold up in translation, are golden.
I thought that this article was written by the religion editor of the Onion when I saw the battle being fought over the use of a word "Dispensation" as if the future seven year Tribulation and division of the People of God by some cracked pot American evangelicals is the definition of "Dispensation".
What is hysterically funny is that the author thinks that Irenaeus wrote in 20th century English, but what is sad is the number of people who have no skills in critical thinking go along with this absurdity.
Nonetheless, you asked if this held up to translation, and I am almost ashamed to admit that I had to do spend a whole minute googling this up and read it for myself, knowing full well that the premise is a joke. Here is the text in the updated Greek (the last line of page 90 in the Greek and the first line on the next page in Latin), translated into Latin where you find the word 'dispositeones' in the Latin (which doesn't mean what Dispensationalists think it means) and, of course the Greek 'οίκονομίας' (NT:3622) which is two words "house" and "law" which usually refers to the management of a household. Paul, in 1 Cor 9:17 uses the same word in such a way that the KJV renders it as "dispensation" yet the NAS and NKJV says "stewardship" and the NIV spells it out in "trust committed to me".
Even "Vines" weighed in on the word, knowing how much it has been abused, added to their dictionary:
Note: A "dispensation" is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous, use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement or administration of affairs. Cf. oikonomos, "a steward," and oikonomeo, "to be a steward." (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Therefore, the author of this article is clearly abusing the word "Dispensation" and thus has probably earned the characterization of "liar" and "false teacher".
Lets draw a random sample here to prove the point.
"Clement of Alexandria (192 AD -- 1,817 years ago) in his 'Stromata (5.3) identified seven distinct Dispensations of God, including the present Age of Grace."
I'm reading Clement right here and I don't see any such thing. In fact "Stromateis" 5.3 is titled (in English) "The Object of Faith and Hope Perceived by the Mind" and there is nothing in there about division, ages, dispensations anything. The author assumes that his readers won't bother to check and will mindlessly accept his lies.
But it gets better...
"The second is that Dispensationalists hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, instead of spiritualizing a text or making everything a 'type'."
Let me present, from the same book "Stromateis" some chapter titles:
Clement sounds like he is a strong literalist and Dispensationalist of the Bible, huh? </sarc>
So what is a Dispensationalist going to do? Embrace the non-existent "dispesnations" allegedly taught by Clement and then conveniently disregard the 95% of the same book that speaks about allegory, symbols, mysteries and abstractions as being ways to convey God's Truth? If you are a true Dispensationalist, of course this is what you do. Contort and bend what you think you can get away with, and then categorically reject and ignore all that which contradicts. Standard MO.
"The Bible is all about God's kingdom and His Son ruling over it. This is the part where the replacement theologians start turning red."
Typical Dispensationalist. Just state an open lie and use that as an introduction into attacking the saints of God who have not fallen prey to the Futurist Cabal. Note no supporting Scripture. But the Bible is about Jesus Christ. (John 1:45;5:38-39 Luke 24:44; Acts 26;22) When the Bible speaks of the Kingdom, it has absolutely nothing to do with an earthly kingdom Jn 18:36, or this party-pooper passage to the Dispensationalists:
"The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." ( Luke 17:20-21 )
The Dispies must reject this passage wholesale because they keep pointing to the modern secular God hating nation Israel and saying that is the physical location of God's [future] Kingdom.
Of course, you can't be a real Dispensationalist until you just blurt out pure blasphemy:
"The Bible teaches that there have been and will be saved Jews and Gentiles who are not part of the present body of Christ. Moses and Abraham come to mind."
Strangely, there are no references to back that outrageous statement up. But we do have Matthew 13:17 Hebrews 11:23-29 or John 5:46 to remind us that Moses did look to Christ. And of course we have Hebrews 11:8,17 to counter the heresy that the author is delivering regarding Abraham. But the Dispensationalists here wouldn't know the Gospel anyway so they wouldn't see that statement from Hell. That explans why John Hagee believes in Christless salvation for the Jews and is committed to the idea that the Jews do not need the Gospel -- ergo, they don't need Jesus Christ.
Here is an interesting gem of Psychological Projection:
"Replacement theology is also the root cause of modern anti-Semitism. This is why those who hold to it get so nasty when attacking Dispensationalism."
First off, he begins his statement with a very well refuted lie and slander - and then hypocritically calls the saints of God "nasty" in his nasty attack against us. Second, it is ultra-Dispensationalist John Hagee who wants to see Jews burn in eternal Hell by refusing to preach the Gospel to them - and he presses others of his kind to refuse to preach to Jews also. Third, it is the Dispensationalists who fantasize about two-thirds of the world's Jews being slaughtered. I don't know of any non-Dispensationalist who wants to see another Jewish holocaust. Yet Dispensationalists teach it as if it is fact. Remember! According to their warped and depraved thinking Jesus loves the Jews so much that He will slaughter most of them and make them suffer through the bloodiest and most violent Tribulation!
When it comes to anti-Semitism, the Dysfunctionalists conveniently forget that the "Semitism" comes from one of Noah's sons Shem and includes 480 million people living today. So while they fantasize about millions of Jews being brutally slaughtered, they also openly advocate and wish that hundreds of millions of other "Semites" aka Arabs and Middle Easterners, are vaporized after suffering famines, plagues, war, pestilences and other calamities. Dispensationalists often in this forum wish death and destruction upon hundreds of millions of Semites. They are the true monsters whose dreams if come true would have a larger body count than all of the murders committed by the Hitlers, Stalins, Maos, Pol Pots, Castros et al over the past millennium.
Maybe Jack Kinsella ought to hold back that outrageous "anti-Semitism" card, especially when he slanders us by calling us "replacementarians" and hypocritically accuses us of "nasty" attacks. Speaking Truth to this demon and the people who blindly embrace this dreck is not "nasty", rather it is heaping upon them the condemnation of rejecting the Gospel - which is what Dispensationalism is really all about.
Thank You for pointing this out, I am willing to take your word for this one as you do have a copy of Stromateis in front of you. I may have run into the same type of difficulty when when Dr. Thomas Ice tried to make the point that the word apostasy may be defined as departure (rapture). Best construction might be we all see through a glass darkly.
The neat thing about FR is someone else might show you how you are wrong. Then it goes back and forth and maybe we can learn something.
BTW your rejection of dispensationalism comes through loud and clear. I do feel, and I am sure you would agree, that you are convicted of this and your mind is made up and closed. That is okay we do have freedom of religion still (for a while) in this country and I do enjoy the persecution of my faith.
Also, I am curious as to what religious group you belong to? If you are Roman Catholic you do think for yourself which is refreshing.
Religion vs Christianity
Reason vs Faith
covenant vs replacement
Israel vs World
Flesh vs Spirit
denial vs truth
fear vs hope
World system vs God's Kingdom
Church vs Israel
group vs individual
of Christ vs in Christ
Now vs past and future
relationship vs knowledge of
being vs having
being vs wanting
disappointment vs expectations
denominations vs unity
weeds vs wheat
visible church vs invisible church
Well welcome...I'm glad we got one of them thar critical thinkers amongst us...
1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a
dispensation administration/stewardship of the gospel is committed unto me.
Eph 1:10 That in the
dispensation administration/stewardship of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the
dispensation administration/stewardship of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Administration/stewardship doesn't fit...You'd have to change the rest of each passage to get any sense out of Administration/stewardship...
In Col. 1:25-27 there is a new revelation not heretofore known...It wasn't known because it didn't exist...
Something new takes place from that point on...
It is not merely an administration but a new dispensation for future Christians...
dis·pen·sa·tion [dis-puhn-sey-shuhn, -pen-] Show IPA noun
an act or instance of dispensing; distribution.
something that is distributed or given out.
a certain order, system, or arrangement; administration or management.
Theology . a.
the divine ordering of the affairs of the world.
an appointment, arrangement, or favor, as by God.
a divinely appointed order or age: the old Mosaic, or
Jewish, dispensation; the new gospel, or Christian,
a dispensing with, doing away with, or doing without
I just read this verse for John's gospel 7:52 and would like your insight. Is there a verse in the OT that says this or is it just the common sense of the pharisees saying it? I do not know.
Not only that, they also can't make sense of the scriptures...Nothing fits...And when it doesn't fit, they say it's symbolic...
But for the life of them, they can't figure out what the passages symbolize...
That's ALL the counsel of God...
So then we have to wonder; were the Apostles as ignorant as we of all these 'symbolic' things in the scriptures they wrote, or were they privy to them and God told them not to reveal what all those symbols are...
The whole council of God was 90% symbolic, of something???
I don't think so...
It'd be so much easier just to believe what God said and take Him at His word.
But then again, taking Him at His word opens up an entirely different can of worms that can be very unpleasant to think about...
The Dispies must reject this passage wholesale
I love this passage