Full Text for Dispensationalism Examined and Found Wanting (Text)

DISPENSATIONALISM FOUND WANTING Dispensationalism Examined and Found Wanting* 89 Premillennialism is currently very popular with the Fun­damentalists. The doctrinal statements of all Fundamentalist associations profess belief in the premillennial coming of Christ and of His visible rule on earth during the millennium. Like­wise, the Holiness and Pentecostal bodies teach the premil­lennial coming of Christ. "Christ, the coming king," is one of the four main points of the Foursquare Gospel. The most radical type of premillennialism is dispensa­tionalism. Dispensationalism was first advocated by J. M. Darby of the Plymouth Brethren about a century ago. The Plymouth Brethren have remained a small sect, but their theory of dispensationalism has been popularized by James H. Brookes of St. Louis (Maranatha, 1870); the Prophetic Conferences since 1878; the Scofield Reference Bible (printed in two million copies, revised edition of 1917), and by W. E. Blackstone's "Jesus Is Coming" (sent gratis to practically all Protestant pastors some thirty-five years ago). Modern dis­pensationalism is based on the theory that all time is divided into cycles of seven, among them the creation week and Israel's religious calendar (the Sabbath at the end of seven days, Pentecost seven weeks after the Passover, the Feast of Taber­nacles seven months after the Passover, the Sabbatical Year at the end of seven years, and the Year of Jubilee at the end of seven times seven years). The latter proves, so argue the dispensationalists, that the history of mankind must also be divided into seven aeons, or dispensations, and that, cor­responding to the creation week, God appointed six dis­pensations of labor to be followed by one of rest (the mil­lennium) . Scofield defines a dispensation as "a period of time during which man is tested in respect to obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God." On the basis of 2 Pet. 3: 8 some divide the history of the world into seven eras of exactly 1,000 years (sun years), while most dispensa­tionalists make the following division: the dispensation of innocence, ending with the Fall; of conscience, terminated 0) A new publication on this subject is Prophecy and the Church by Oswald T. Allis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Philadelphia, 339 pp., SY4x514. $2.50. 90 DISPENSATIONALISM FOUND WANTING by the Flood; of human government, ending with the destruc­tion of Sodom; of patriarchal promise, lasting until the destruction of Pharao; of the Sinaitic Law, which ended at the crucifixion; of the Gospel, to be ended by Christ's first judgment and to be followed by the dispensation of rest, ushered in by the glorious manifestation of Christ as king of this world and finished by the second Judgment. Dispensationalism goes beyond premillennialism on an­other point. The premillennialists view the millennium chiefly as a Christian era in which the resurrected and transfigured saints will rule with Christ. Dispensationalism, however, be­lieves that the millennium is exclusively Judaistic. The dis­pensationalist holds that the "mystery" of the Church was entirely unknown to the Old Testament and revealed first to the Apostle Paul; that the Church is only a "parenthesis" between the Old Testament kingdom and the renewed and restored kingdom of the millennium, a sort of interruption in the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel. The dispensa­tionalists are united in the view that God's purposes as re­vealed in the Bible are twofold: one is related to the earth, with earthly people and earthly objectives, namely, the history and ultimate glorification of the Jewish race; the other pur­pose is related to heaven, with heavenly people and heavenly objectives, namely, the Christian Church of the sixth, or New Testament, dispensation. (L. S. Chafer, of Dallas Theological Seminary, in "Dispensationalism," p.448.) The theory, then, is that the Old Testament promises concerning the establish­ment of the Davidic throne were temporarily halted, but that ultimately all the Old Testament prophecies, especially those of the Psalms, dealing with Israel, must be carried out to the letter. Much is made of the argument that the promise to Abraham that he would possess the Land of Canaan was an unconditional promise, not contingent upon man's obedience or disobedience, and that all unconditional promises must be literally fulfilled. Another prominent view is, that the Church will be "raptured," that is, taken out of this world when Jesus will fulfill the promises made in His covenant with Israel. , Dr. Oswald T. Allis, professor of Old Testament at Princeton Seminary and later at Westminster Seminary, in the publication referred to, Prophecy and the Church, exam-DISPENSATIONALISM FOUND WANTING 91 ines dispensationalism primarily as it is presented in the writ­ings of Darby and in the Scofield Bible. In ten chapters, he thoroughly refutes the principles of dispensationalism, shows the hopeless confusion and the ridiculous deductions of dis­pensational Bible interpretation. The purpose is to show that the Old Testament prophecies are not to a physical Israel, but are spiritual and refer to the Church. Prof. Allis submits the results of his ripe scholarship in the field of the Old Testament and of his wide reading in dispensational literature. This is by far the most comprehensive study on dispensa­tionalism. In order that our readers who have to deal with dis­pensationalism may gain an overview of the chief arguments against dispensationalism, we have taken the liberty of sub­mitting a digest of Dr. Allis' book under four headings: 1. Theory of Interpretation. The