1. Welcome to Baptist Board, a friendly forum to discuss the Baptist Faith in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to all the features that our community has to offer.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

What is Dispensationalism?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Jan 12, 2018.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Quite often here on the BB my dispensational beliefs have been mocked and ridiculed and viciously attacked. We are called "dispy" and other names, and mocked as being unscriptural. Here is one example from Iconoclast's most recent thread:
    This is in spite of the fact that Iconoclast cannot even define "dispensation" correctly, thinking it is an age. So I feel it necessary to more fully explain what dispensationalism is on this thread. To do so I will try to ignore attempts to undermine and destroy my efforts.

    I believe strongly that in order to criticize you must first understand. Thus, I am hoping that this thread will help those of you who are critical speak more rationally, from understanding rather than ignorance.
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    First of all, let me explain the definition of "dispensation" more thoroughly. Charles Ryrie wrote, “There is no more primary problem in the whole matter of dispensationalism than that of definition. By this is meant not simply arriving at a single sentence definition of the word but also formulating a definition/description of the concept” (Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995, 2007). 27).

    Those of you who think it is an age, a period of time, go along with the error of none other than Scofield himself, who wrote that a dispensation is “period of time during which man is tested in respect to obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.”[1] However, this is problematic in that the lexical meaning of the word does not include the concept of a time period. (C. I. Scofield, ed., Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1945), 5.)

    Dispensationalism as revised by some great scholars since Scofield follow the lexical definition of the Greek word oikonomia, used in the NT 7 times. I quoted this definition on another thread:
    “(1) literally, relating to the task of an oikonomos (steward) in household administration stewardship, management (LU 16.2); (2) figuratively; (a) of the apostolic office in God's redemptive work task, responsibility, trusteeship (CO 1.25 ); (b) of God's arrangements for mankind's redemption plan, arrangement, purpose (EP 3.9); 1T 1.4 may mean (divine) training, but (divine) plan is also possible.” (Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, accessed through BibleWorks software.) So the lexical definition of the word as used in the NT does not include a time period.

    To avoid making this post too long (a pet peeve) I'll finish the definition with another post.
     
    #2 John of Japan, Jan 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  3. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    15,333
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Dear professor,
    Perhaps you can differentiate between the dispensation....and dispensationalism...lol
    Blurring the lines might have a confusing effect on people...
    Are you suggesting these economies that we are to be stewards of...exist outside of ages, or any time references?
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    One Bible encyclopedia defines it as “a stewardship, the management or disposition of affairs entrusted to one.” [1] The revised version of that work defines it: “The term refers to the action of giving out, specifically referring to God’s dealings with men. In 2 Cor. 3 Paul contrasts the brightness of Moses’ face in the giving of the OT law (v. 5) which brought death (v. 7) with the ‘greater splendor’ (v. 8) of the giving of the Spirit which brought righteousness (v. 9).”[2]
    [1] The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915 edition), accessed through e-Sword software.
    [2] Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, rev., Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 962.

    Lewis Sperry Chafer, the great systematic theologian, gives a better definition: “A dispensation is a specific, divine economy, a commitment from God to man of a responsibility to discharge that which God has appointed him.” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. VII (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 122.)

    Again, Charles Ryrie in the usual textbook for courses on the subject, gives this concise definition: “A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose.” (Ryrie, op cit, 33).

    This brings us my own concise definition: A dispensation is a stewardship from God in which mankind is given a task to fulfill. Therefore, dispensationalism is a theology in which the dispensations of the Bible are carefully delineated.

    Now, if you align yourself as saying that a dispensation is any kind of period of time, you are misrepresenting modern dispensationalism. Therefore, in my mind you have no right to criticize the system, since you can't even get the basics right, and I will ignore you on this thread as being irrelevant.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Yes, that is basically correct. The ages and how long they take are basically irrelevant to the theology except when that age is prophesied, as in the millennium. Even in the millennium, the most important thing is the dispensation itself, meaning that mankind fails in its God-given task during that time, and rebels against Christ at the end of the 1000 years. God is always glorified in dispensational theology, and man is always fallen and depraved, except when redeemed.
     
  6. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    15,333
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Faith:
    Baptist
    So... now you reject Scofield as a source?
    You do so to modify the view....lol okay...I stopped at the house to pick up Things to Come, is that still on the approved reading list as acceptable?
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Scofield is not the authority for 21st century dispensationalism, but only one source, often flawed. Why should it be surprising that the theology has been fine tuned and better developed in the 100 some years since Scofield?

    Things to Come by Dwight Pentecost is a good resource, but not strictly on dispensationalsim. And it is somewhat passe. My own brilliant son advised me not to use it as the textbook for my seminary class in eschatology.
     
  8. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    15,333
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Faith:
    Baptist
    I am going to try and revisit this issue and take a fresh look....not sure I can, however out of respect for you and your putting forth a modified view... I will attempt to let you develop it without interference ...maybe asking for clarification along the way.
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Thank you.
     
  10. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    15,333
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Okay....I believe it is valid to consider any modification....why not?
    If the goal is truth we should strive for that...
    So I will thank you in advance for offering on this topic.
     
  11. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2001
    Messages:
    21,272
    Likes Received:
    1,437
    Faith:
    Baptist
    The Chafer definition was the accepted definition of a "dispensation" at my alma mater - Calvary University KCMO. Not sure about today January 2018.

    I still accept it as my definition but certainly have an amendable expectation of the JoJ enhancement.
    I believe the element of human failure as related to man's dispensation responsibility should probably be part of the definition perhaps even an essential.

    HankD
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    I really like Chafer's definition, and you'll notice that my concise one is similar to his.

    To the learner: the word "economy" in these definitions does not mean a monetary system, but more of a system of government or society. I don't much like the term myself, since it is somewhat ambiguous.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Now, as I have said elsewhere, the glory of God is foundational to the system. In other words, it is not just that the system makes the glory of God important to it, as some theologies do (any theology that fails here is flawed), but that every single dispensation is handed down to mankind to the glory of God. When mankind fails in its fulfillment of the dispensation (as has always happened), God is shown to be always right and all wise. This truth has been a great blessing and guide for me in my Christ walk. We must each carry out what God gives us to do (our dispensation) and glorify God in the process by answers to prayer, miracles in the ministry, people saved, and lives changed.

    Thus, the fevered and very vocal opposition to dispensationalism always mystifies me. Why should we not glorify God? Why should not every dispensation show God to be true and every man a liar? Should we not respect anything and anybody who wants to glorify God?

    My next post will be from my lecture notes, explaining more about how we as individuals can glorify God.
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  14. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Messages:
    19,444
    Likes Received:
    3,266
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Or perhaps you could try to understand what he is saying. That you cannot understand Dispensationalism until you understand what a dispensation is. :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Applying the Concept of a Dispensation Personally:

    A. We should live every single moment for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

    B. Tests will come into our lives. At such times we must look for how the glory of God is advanced through our testing. It is also important at such times to examine our own lives to see if the testing is because of our own backslidden condition (Heb. 12:4-13).

    C. God will send nothing into our lives that will be too much for us to handle (1 Cor. 10:13).

    D. God will often give an individual believer a task to perform.

    1. That task might be something as basic as witnessing to a single individual. Whether the person saved is the next D. L. Moody, or simply a needy child, such a task has great meaning.

    2. God’s will for a person, His dispensation to that individual, may be for that person to faithfully preach the Gospel for a period of many years in an out-of-the-way location.

    3. God’s will for an individual may be to be faithful to God even while becoming famous or rich. This may be the most difficult task of all for a Christian.

    4. God’s task for every individual believer is to live a holy life (1 Thess. 4:3), and participate in reaching the world for Christ as commanded in the Great Commission.
     
  16. agedman

    agedman Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    7,173
    Likes Received:
    496
    Faith:
    Baptist
    In my early studies as an undergrad, I had the pleasure of sitting in class taught by a DTS graduate, and he used Ryrie’s definition.

    Often, as he would discuss aspects of the work of God, He would interchange the words economy and dispensation. He was careful to remind the class that economy wasn’t time, nor money, but stewardship.

    What confused most in that class was our history learning frame of reference.

    Often history being part of the economy was considered constraints to the stewardship and it was easier to align stewardship to history, then history to stewardship.

    That lead me to use dispensation as merely an outline tool to show how God interacted within the boundaries of the stewardship authority given.

    Therefore, it is obvious that no matter the history, or the length of time of a given stewardship, man failed.

    The pattern of failure does not escape this appointment to believers in carrying the gospel in the economy of Grace given from the crucifixion. God’s Word does not fail, humankind carrying God’s Word fail. Hence the numerous warnings and pleas found in the NT.
     
    #16 agedman, Jan 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  17. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    This is an excellent post, adding to the discussion. One thing that attracts me to dispensationalism is that it is a good, Biblical philosophy of history as well as a system of theology. I share this with my students.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Messages:
    14,358
    Likes Received:
    694
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Now, one strange thing about the opposition to dispensationalism is that the opponents often do not realize that other theologies admit to there being dispensations. They just don't systematize their dispensations into a complete theology.

    Covenant theologian Berkhof defines "dispensation" very much as I have in his Systematic Theology (p. 290). He then gives a scheme of three dispensations (p. 292 on).

    So to me, most opposition to dispensationalism is strange and uninformed. What actually happens is that the opponents are not really opposing dispensationalism as a system of theology--Internet opponents rarely think that far. What they are opposing is only one facet of dispensationalism: dispensational premillennialism. So they mock us, call us "dispys," and attack us in various nasty ways, whereas they are not really opposed to teaching dispensations per se, but to premillennialism, which is not exclusively dispensational but is held to by anyone who interprets the Bible literally, including the early church fathers, my grandfather, and many others who were or are not dispensationalists.
     
  19. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    15,333
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Faith:
    Baptist
    John has been granted a special dispensation to make clear this modified view....lol
    I still have my laminated copy of the seven d ispensations complete with man's alleged responsibilty,mans failure, leading to judgment....
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  20. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    11,102
    Likes Received:
    108
    Faith:
    Baptist
    Wow, I can agree with JOJ's post #18, the Bible means what it says, and says what it means, thus from the foundation of the world refers to creation until the end of the age, and before the foundation refers to before creation. When we speak of "dispensationalism" are we speaking of "traditional" dispensationalism, or "progressive" dispensationalism.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Loading...