User:Duke Ganote/draft page dispensationalism

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Dispensationalism is a Protestant evangelical interpretation of the Bible [1] known for seeing a series of chronologically successive "dispensations" or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants. Dividing Biblical history into periods is not unique to dispensationalism; however, Dispensational Theology defines the Christian Church as separate and distinct from the nation of Israel, unlike Covenant Theology which sees the Church as replacing Israel as the recipient of Biblical promise[2]:322. Classical dispensationalists refer to the present day Church as a "parenthesis" or temporary interlude in the progress of Israel's prophesied history.[3], and expect separate outcomes for Israel and the Church, most commonly:

  1. The Church will undergo the so-called Rapture, that is, Christ will gather together Christians "in the air" and take them prior to his return and rule.[4]
  2. Israel will be restored, a step toward a Jewish kingdom where Christ, upon His return, will rule in Jerusalem[5] for a thousand years.

In other areas of theology, dispensationalists hold to a wide range of beliefs within the evangelical and fundamentalist spectrum.[6]:13

As a system, dispensationalism is rooted in the distinctive eschatological "end times" perspective of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and the Brethren Movement.[6]:10

History of the development of dispensationalism


Progressive revelation[edit]

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 a gradually developed unity as seen in the entirety of 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 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.

Spectrum of Belief about Church - Israel Distinctions
Advocates Classical
George Ladd Covenant


The label "dispensationalism" is derived from the idea that biblical history is best understood through division into a series of chronologically successive dispensations. The number of dispensations held are typically three, four, seven or eight. The three- and four-dispensation schemes are often referred to as minimalist, as they recognize the commonly held major breaks within Biblical history. The seven- and eight-dispensation schemes are often closely associated with the announcement or inauguration of certain Biblical covenants. Below is a table comparing the various dispensational schemes:

Although dispensationalists have obtained their name from belief in God-ordained dispensations, the concept is neither unique to, nor original with dispensationalists.

Range of Bible Chapters
Schemes Genesis 1-3 Genesis 3-8 Genesis 9-11 Genesis 12
to Exodus 19
Exodus 20 to
Acts 1
Acts 2 to
Revelation 20
Revelation 20:4-6 Revelation 20-22
7 or 8 Dispensational

or Edenic
or Antediluvian
Civil Government Patriarchal
or Promise
or Law
or Church
Millennial Kingdom Eternal State
or Final
4 Dispensational

Patriarchal Mosaic Ecclesial Zionic
3 Dispensational

Law Grace Kingdom


A "dispensation" is a term for a "time period" used while analyzing history, typically Biblical history. Dispensational schemes provide a framework for characterizing what is important to the person analyzing the Bible. Biblical covenants are intricately tied to the best-known dispensational schemes. Dispensations, like other historical periods, generally have overlaps or transitions.

Charles Caldwell Ryrie notes that "a person can believe in dispensations... without being a dispensationalist"[7], citing examples[8] before the Protestant Reformation including:

  • "Clement of Alexandria (150-220) distinguished three patriarchal dispensations (in Adam, Noah, and Abraham) as well as the Mosaic...
  • "Augustine [(354 – 430) wrote] "The divine institution of sacrifice was suitable in the former dispensation, but is not suitable now. is now established that that which was for one age rightly ordained may be in another age rightly changed...because the ages succeed each other (To Marcellinus)
  • "Joachim of Fiore (ca. 1135-1202)..anticipates in rudimentary form the dispensationalism popularized by British and American prophecy writers

However, .


  1. ^ DeWitt, Dale Sumner (2002). Dispensational Theology in America During the Twentieth Century: Theological Development and Cultural Context. Grace Bible College. ISBN 0912340118.  p. 1 and 16
  2. ^ Elwell, Walter A. (1984). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. ISBN 0801034132. 
  3. ^ Harry A. Ironside. "The Great Parenthesis". 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. 
  4. ^ Charles Caldwell Ryrie. "Dispensationalism (c) 1995". (p.40) There are many characteristics to commend such a view The Tribulation is a time of wrath; it distinctly deals with Israel again; assuming that the Rapture is before the Tribulation, the true church is absent from the earth; and the gospel to be preached during that period is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 24:14). These features seem to characterize a different dispensation 
  5. ^ Ryrie, Charles Caldwell (1986). Basic Theology. Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books. ISBN 089693814X.  p. 508-509
  6. ^ a b Blaising, Craig A. (1993). Progressive Dispensationalism. Wheaton, IL: BridgePoint. ISBN 156476138X.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  7. ^ "DISPENSATIONALISM © 1995, Chapter 2 - What is a Dispensation?. THE SINE QUA NON OF DISPENSATIONALISM, p.32". MOODY PRESS. 
  8. ^ "DISPENSATIONALISM © 1995, Chapter 4: The Origins of Dispensationalism. THE CHARGE OF RECENCY: Early Dispensational-like Concepts, p.50-51". MOODY PRESS.