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Dispensationalism (I)

Dispensationalism, also known as Darbyism (after John Darby, the founder both of Dispensationalism and of the Brethren movement), Brethrenism, and Scofieldism, is the most serious of all errors regarding the millennium. In fact, it is not just a certain teaching about the millennium and the future, but a whole erroneous theological system.

The name comes from the fact that Dispensationalism divides history into different "dispensations" in each of which God has a different covenant relation with men, each of which ends with man's failure to meet God's requirements. We are now, according to classic Dispensationalism, in the "church age" or dispensation of grace, with only one more dispensation to come, that of the kingdom.

Rather than give a lengthy and detailed description of Dispensationalism, however, we suggest that those of our readers who are unacquainted with its teachings or want a lengthier critique than is offered in these articles, write us for the booklet,Dispensationalism. We have limited quantities of this booklet.

Some of Dispensationalism's errors we have already dealt with, i.e.:

(1) its teaching regarding a secret, pre-millennial, pre-tribulation rapture (see earlier issue).

(2) its teaching regarding multiple comings of Christ (earlier issue). Some of its teachings we will, God willing, deal with in future articles, i.e.:

1. its belief in multiple resurrections and judgements.

2. its literalist interpretation of Scripture, especially Revelation 20.

The other principal errors of Dispensationalism are:

(1) its method of interpreting Scripture, the end result of which is that the whole OT and some of the NT are applied to the Jews, and have no application to NT Christians except perhaps as an object of curiosity. The Scofield Bible teaches, for example, that the Sermon on the Mount is not Christian but Jewish. This is contrary to the teaching of Scripture that all Scripture is profitable (and applicable) to NT Christians (Jn. 10:35; II Tim. 3:16, 17). It is in this connection especially that Dispensationalism has been accused of "wrongly dividing the Word of truth" (cf. II Tim. 2:15), though it claims the opposite.

(2) its strict literalism, which, as one writer points out, is really the literalism of the Pharisees, who could not and would not see that Christ is a spiritual King and so crucified Him. This strict (though inconsistently applied) literalism, and opposition to "spiritualizing" is also contrary to the teaching of Scripture (I Cor. 2:13-15; also the many passages in which Scripture itself "spiritualizes" the things of the OT, notably I Pet. 2:5-9 and the whole book of Hebrews). We hope, God willing, to deal in more detail with this matter of "literalism" in a future article, but would point out, that which Scripture must be interpreted carefully and soberly, there are things which cannot be taken literally, e.g., the white stone of Revelation 2:17.

We will continue to point out these errors in the next issue.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 23
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002


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