Dispensationalism

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Related to Premillennial dispensationalism: premillennialism, postmillennialism

Dispensationalism

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Dispensationalism is a theological system designed to give shape and organization to Bible history. Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952) and Charles C. Ryrie (b. 1925) are perhaps the best-known defenders of the system. John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) is considered its founder, even though proponents claim it goes all the way back to Augustine in the fifth century CE.

Ryrie, in his book Dispensationalism, defines it this way:

Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. In His household-world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation in the passage of time. These various stages mark off the distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these different economies constitute the dispensation. The understanding of God's differing economies is essential to a proper interpretation of His revelation within those various economies.

In other words, when the ordinary person reads the Bible, he finds God behaving in different ways at different times. The angry God of the Old Testament who tells Joshua to kill all the Canaanites seems totally different from the Jesus of the New Testament who tells his followers to turn the other cheek. How to explain these differences?

Some have found the explanation by discovering "dispensations," periods of time when God acts in a certain way consistent with human development at the time,

testing humans in respect to a specific revelation of the will of God. The Scofield Reference Bible and Dallas Theological Seminary have been at the forefront of dispensational theology, identifying seven different periods of time, seven different "dispensations," in which the Bible reveals the developing plan of God for the world and humankind.

According to the Scofield Reference Bible, these seven dispensations are as follows:

1. Innocence (before the fall described in Genesis 3) 2. Conscience (from the fall to Noah) 3. Human Government (from Noah to Abraham) 4. Promise (from Abraham to Moses) 5. Law (from Moses to Christ) 6. Grace (the Church age) 7. Kingdom (the millennium)

After the millennium, humankind enters the Eternal State.

Because Christians seem to have attacked each other as often as they have attacked the world, followers of dispensational theology and covenant theology (see Covenant) have often been at odds, with rhetoric appearing—at least to the uninitiated—to generate a lot more heat than light. Although it seems strange to the outsider, it demonstrates the devotion to a theological system that has been at the very core of the many different and competing Christian denominations in the world today.

References in periodicals archive ?
Here Anderson parts company with writers such as Stephen Sizer, whose recent book, Christian Zionism: Road Map to Armageddon (InterVarsity Press, 2005) claims a definitive role for premillennial dispensationalism in lending support to the aims of political Zionism.
He emphasizes two theological developments that shaped evangelicals' approach to society and politics: first, premillennial dispensationalism, which fostered evangelicals' sense that they must remain a faithful remnant in a world getting progressively darker, and, second, "scientific creationism" as an answer to Darwinian evolution.
6) In many ways, premillennial dispensationalism lay behind all three of these emphases.
Darby brought these perspectives into the popular Bible and Prophecy Conference movement in the United States during the 1870-1890 period when premillennial dispensationalism became the dominant method of Biblical interpretation in the emerging Evangelical branch of Protestantism.
If so, they might want to know whether "traditional Protestantism" in this instance includes the theory of premillennial dispensationalism, and specifically, whether the job applicant agrees with many other dispensationalists that the Common Market was predicted in the Bible and now signals the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
He includes Christian Zionism, covering early Christian Zionism, premillennial dispensationalism, as well as the early links between Christian leaders and Jewish efforts to achieve the Jewish commonwealth.
Not until the 1870s did premillennial dispensationalism begin to spread in the United States, initially through the influence of John Nelson Darby.
He read deeply in philosophy and theology, and his personal beliefs hardened into a conservative postmillennialism viciously opposed to premillennial dispensationalism, (10) the dominant eschatological view among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians at the time.
It needs to be made clear from the outset that we are not talking about all evangelicals here, let alone all Christians, but about a particular theological tendency within evangelical Christianity that, for reasons explained below, goes by the convoluted name of premillennial dispensationalism.
Yet of all the figures whom he names to his list of most influential Christian accessories in the Zionist cause--William Blackstone, Lord Shaftesbury [who, incidentally, turns, on page 101, into "Lord Salisbury (an evangelical Anglican)"], Lloyd George, Lord Balfour, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman--not one had any interest in Premillennial Dispensationalism nor (to my knowledge) ever spoke of Armageddon.
Premillennial dispensationalism is motivated by the urgency engendered by the expectation of Christ's sudden, soon return.