Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Critique of Dispensationalism

On today's program, I gave a brief overview of the history of Dispensationalism. I critiqued that position by discussing how the New Testament authors interpreted prophetic texts addressed to national Israel.

Here is the program.

I was also on the Boars in the Vineyard podcast this week, which can be found here.


Jesus Loves You said...

I come from a brethren assembly church. I grew up as a dispensationalist. What are the MAIN problems with it?

When you mentioned about the cross being a backup plan, I was never taught that. That's very interesting. Darby wrote about that?

Pretty much all that John MacArthur teaches about eschatology, is what I was taught. And he says he's been labelled a "leaky dispensationalist". LOL

Do you believe in Covenant theology?

Sorry, I don't know if I make any sense with my questions.



Nicholas said...

I don't think that you can find anyone in church history prior to John Nelson Darby who separates Israel from the Church, or who taught that the Church was a parenthesis.

The Plymouth Brethren movement was simply a schismatic a heretical sect which was a nineteenth century equivalent of the sixteenth century Anabaptists. But since Baptists are primitive-restorationists themselves, they were all too ready to embrace this heretical theology when Scofield published his infamous "study bible."

Jordan Cooper said...


The primary problem is the separation from Israel and the Church. I just don't see that justified Biblically. I don't believe in covenant theology, because I am not convinced that "covenant" is such an overarching scheme, though I would agree with many views held by covenant theologians.

Jordan Cooper said...


No, you certainly can't find such a distinction prior to Darby. What is found are occasional remarks that share similarities to certain eschatological positions held to by Dispensationalists. That does not, however, mean that Dispensationalism existed before Darby.

Nicholas said...

Some Dispensationalists claim that an ancient document called Pseudo-Ephraim teaches a pre-tribulation rapture, but others have criticized them for misusing the document. I haven't looked into it yet myself.

Nicholas said...

Here's some info on Pseudo-Ephraem:



J. Dean said...

Alright, now I want to know what that homemade hot chocolate recipie is!

Back on topic, Jordan is right about the inherent problems with dispensationalism. John Hagee is a good example of where dispensationalism can lead, as he holds to dual covenant theology which actually teaches two ways of salvation, one for Jews and one for Gentiles (look up "the other gospel of John Hagee").

Steve Bricker said...


You did a great job of presenting the history of dispensationalism. Some try to say that Darby got some ideas from his contemporary, Edward Irving, but I don't think much of the idea.

I also was among the Plymouth Brethren for about 30 years and had never heard of the cross being a "back-up plan." Rather it was presented that Jesus offered the kingdom to Israel knowing they would reject it, thereby forcing the cross: something akin to God and Pharaoh.

Jesus being the fulfillment of Israel is new to me. I'll listen to the podcast again. Maybe I'll need to get Preus' book on Matthew.

Mike Baker said...

I come from a dispensatinalist background. I don't really think the teaching is as dangerous as what people do with it.

No doubt it is an error and a misreading of the text, but I don't think that it is injurious to faith. What is injurious to faith is the obsession that many people have regarding the topic and how that so often obscures the gospel because no one has time for that stuff.

But, then again, the gospel doesn't sell as many books as Left Behind novels and Scofield commentaries.

John Hagee is a perfect example of how a relatively peripheral error in doctrine becomes so all-consuming that it strangles the life out of the church.

Daniel Stinson said...

I came across a post on the web that supposedly proves some earlier forms of Dispensationalism, in a Refomred Theology thread.

Ephraem of Nsibis (303 - 373)


John Gill (1748)

Daniel Stinson said...

I came across a post on the web that supposedly proves some earlier forms of Dispensationalism, in a Refomred Theology thread.

Ephraem of Nsibis (303 - 373)


John Gill (1748)

Jason said...

I can't say I was a dispensationalist because I never believed in a rapture of the church. Often times Dispensationalist quote Matthew 24:40, but it is clear in the text you want to be the one staying not taken.

My Old Testament reading has been tainted and I read it through the influential lens of Dispensationalism. Thank you for the new glasses.

qmc82 said...

Hey, I enjoyed the podcast. I am an avid dispensationalist but I'm not here to argue for the position. Actually my wife and I recently began attending a Reformed Baptist church and today there was a sermon specifically against Dispensational teaching. It's been a couple of weeks since I listened to your discussion, so I may be off a little bit, but what I always find frustrating with those who take on dispensationalism is that they never satisfactorily prove another position. For example, I believe you quoted Hebrews 8 as proving the New Covenant is with the church and that Hebrews 8 shows that whatever special relationship Israel had, it no longer has because Jesus fulfills it all. That may well be true, but if I remember correctly, all you did was read Hebrews 8, you didn't go into the details. Well, to do that assumes that no dispensationalist has ever read Hebrews 8, 'cause if they had they obviously wouldn't be a dispensationalist. That's kind of insulting. They've obviously read it and done SOMETHING with it. I think a better presentation would be to present what the dispensationalist do with key passages and then contrast it with the Lutheran position. Also, you mentioned MacArthur, but not Charles Ryrie or anyone from Dallas Seminary. Ryrie's book, Dispensationalism is the basic representative view of dispensational theology (that along with Chafer's Systematic Theology). These are what you should be reading to get an idea of what is the dispensational position, not MacArthur. Thanks for your ministry.