Dispensationalism

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A heresy practiced by many Protestant groups, Dispensationalism is a form of premillennialism which narrates Biblical history as a number of successive "economies" or "administrations," called "dispensations." Each of these dispensations emphasizes the discontinuity of the covenants of God made with His various peoples.

History

Dispensationalism was born from the Protestant environs of England and Ireland, developed by the Plymouth Brethren movement under the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). Darby built on a number of themes that were common with radical Calvinists and Evangelicals in the early 19th century; however, he elaborated a more complex system for interpreting the Bible than his predecessors.

Dispensationalism was brought to the Americas by John Inglis, where it continued to flourish through the teachings of James H. Brookes, Dwight L. Moody (founder of the Moody Bible Institute), and Cyrus Scofield (author of the Scofield Study Bible).

Famous American advocates of Dispensationalism include Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, and authors of the Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

Teachings

Unlike the belief of the Church which teaches that itself, as Christ’s spouse, is the New Jerusalem and God’s chosen people through its union with Jesus Christ, Dispensationalists believe that the Christian Church is an interruption in God’s divine contract with the Jewish people. They believe that the Gospel began to be preached to the Gentiles, however, God’s continued care for the Jewish people will be revealed after the end of the “Church’s Dispensation,” when the Jews shall be restored to their land, and they shall accept Christ as the Messiah. Hence, Dispensationalists believe that there is one mode of salvation for Gentiles, and another for Jews. This goes against the soteriology taught by the Church, which says that Christ came to save all regardless of ethnic background.

Because of this, many Dispensationalists are advocates of Zionism, the Jewish nationalist movement.

Some Christian Dispensationalists have taken to not only supporting the state of Israel, but also observing traditional Jewish holidays, keeping Kosher standards, and practicing Jewish religious rituals. It should be noted that this practice has been condemned by the Holy Apostles (especially in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians) and Church Fathers throughout the centuries, including Ignatius of Antioch and John Chrysostom, both of whom were ardent opponents of Judaizing.

Dispensationalists also advocate other questionable teachings, especially in their interpretation of eschatology. For example, many believe in the Rapture, an event occurring before the Second Coming of Christ where all Christians of true belief are assumed into Heaven, and the Time of Tribulation, a period ruled by a draconian, demonic figure called the Antichrist, where those who were not taken up must find correct belief before the Final Judgment.

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