The Heresy of Dispensationalism

I intend for this to provide a reference for those of my friends who would like to have some guidance in answering the heresy of Dispensationalism. This is a living document; it's not possible for any one of us to know it so thoroughly that we can always answer every argument. There are far, far too many variations. Rather, we present an answer from within the framework of our basic assumptions that arise from a careful study into the intellectual framework of the ancient Hebrew culture from which the Bible arises. We assume that the essence of this particular outlook is the definitive viewpoint of Jesus the man, and thus the faith He taught.

Sources

We can easily trace where the whole idea of Dispensationalism comes from, because the documents are still available to us today. Some years ago I found this excellent review and archived a complete copy (in case it disappears). The document itself is loaded with links, and some are surely broken by now, but the tracing is the most complete I've seen. The basic assumptions of Dispensationalism were born of an attempt to answer the very common argument during the Reformation that the Pope was Antichrist. It is well established that the symbolic interpretation of Revelation and other apocalyptic prophecies was the mainstream among spiritual students of the Bible up through the Reformation. For the Roman Church to protect the papal authority required introducing a corrupting mythology into the teaching of her opposition. This cynical ploy was based on introducing elements of literalism and futurism, pushing the whole of John's Revelation into the future as concrete events.

There were other books by several Jesuit defenders who might use some twisted logic, but their work took a forthright approach to this debate. However, there was one scandalous deception by the priest, Manuel De Lacunza, who hid his identity and pretended his book was by a Jewish rabbi. It was his book that was embraced and translated by Edward Irving and gave birth to the Dispensationalist theology in the UK. Under his influence was the famous teenage seer Margaret McDonald, who gave us the full blown concept of a secret rapture, locking in the futurist assumptions. John's Apocalypse was no longer written for his flock, but a confusing document aimed at some future generations. While there were many other figures involved, we know the major promoter after that was John Nelson Darby. There is a large array of documents across the web which pick up the narrative at this point. Though some of the best ones seem to have disappeared in recent years, it's still too easy to find the real story.

However, it was the American criminal C.I. Scofield who came to the attention of the Zionists. There is abundant evidence linking him to Samuel Untermeyer, an agent of the Rothschilds empire. Untermeyer paid Scofield's expenses while he composed his references for insertion in the biblical text, giving us the infamous Scofield Reference Bible. Then the Rothschilds published it through their wholly controlled Oxford Press. This Bible was heavily marketed and adopted to the point that it became a common standard of "serious scholarship" and only those who consciously rejected it are unstained by its flawed assumptions. This marketing scheme was promoted throughout the broad collection of evangelical denominations, creating a vast pool of middle and lower class adherents, and in some cases spinning off new denominations and organizations to pursue this new and increasingly popular approach to prophecy.

Follow the money. This stuff was rammed down our throats, as it were, because it was perfectly adapted to Zionist needs to build a solid support base in the US, the biggest bully of nations in modern times. There were a host of other efforts at the same time, but the program for the US to create a broad evangelical Christian Zionist network continues to reap a harvest of fanatical and entirely unreasoned support for Israel. The modern State of Israel can commit any crime imaginable with impunity. This was precisely the reason Untermeyer invested in it.

Theology Fundamentals

These things we cannot forget: Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah. We can understand even on a purely intellectual level why the Jewish rabbis rejected Him -- they were wrapped up in rationalist Hellenism, and He called them back to Ancient Hebrew Mysticism. They didn't use that terminology, but no other understanding makes as much sense when we review the debates He had with the Jewish leadership of His day. We can see they were too dense to grasp the parabolic and symbolic nature of their own Scripture, because His statements all reflect just that approach. They kept thinking in the literal and linear mode that gave birth to legalism, and now dominates all of Western Civilization.

We assert with full confidence that whatever Jesus said was entirely from His Father. Whatever He asserted as the meaning of the Law was God's viewpoint, who gave the Law through Moses. When Jesus spoke, it didn't simply reflect Moses, but was of a higher authority than Moses. When they argued with Jesus, they were arguing with Almighty God, the Creator of all things who called them as a special nation.

It was Josephus, as a historian writing after his surrender to Roman forces, who gave us the term "Judaism" as a label for what the Jewish leadership believed at that time. By definition, then, Judaism is not Old Testament religion, but falsely claims to be. We note there is a whole raft of teaching in Judaism which was almost entirely oral at that time, but which was eventually recorded as the Talmud. It was derived entirely from this Hellenist perversion they had absorbed some three centuries before Christ was born. Jesus summed it up as "the traditions of the elders" and rejected it completely. The Jewish scholars falsely insisted it was the summation of Moses' oral teaching, and gave it precedence over the written Law. Thus, Judaism serves as a rejection of Moses.

Under what terms did God grant Israel the authority to conquer and occupy Canaan Land? We note from the many incidents of failure, and why those failures, that it required a full commitment to the terms of the original Torah. It is Law in the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) feudalism, in the sense as a summary of the sovereign's personal character. It is not "law" as we view legislation, but as the Ancient Hebrews viewed it -- a suzerain-vassal treaty, a covenant between a divine Nomadic Sheik of Heaven and his adopted household. This image is as close as anyone can come to understanding the nature of the Covenant of Moses. That ancient nation functioned as the extended family of God Almighty, and the entire feel is rooted in the ANE nomadic sheik culture. This was God's choice of self portrayal, and His terms for fulfilling the promises.

From that point forward, the fulfillment of the promises continually hinged on their demonstrated personal loyalty to God as sovereign. The idea that this written record is somehow absolute and concrete, as we commonly assume in Western theology, is utterly foreign to the Bible. The prophets throughout the life span of the Nation of Israel warned graphically that the promises were dependent on personal loyalty, and that there was a breaking point when it would all come apart. So we see in the biblical narrative the hassles from Israel demanding a human monarch and why it was sin. We see the breakup of the kingdom, again arising from sins on all sides. We see the loss of the Northern Kingdom from going too far too long from that same personal loyalty. We see the Southern Kingdom exiled to Babylon for something similar. On and on it goes. Finally, the Messiah comes and offers them one last chance to get it right, but they reject Him.

That was the end. Their existence as a nation ended with the Cross. What made them special as a nation on the earth? Whatever your answer, it was symbolized by the standing Temple and the Holy of Holies as the place for God's Spirit to dwell. It had been vacant for several centuries, but upon Jesus' death, God Himself tore the Temple Veil in two. To drive the point home, the Apostles promptly after the Ascension taught that there was from that point forward no other sacrifice acceptable to God under any covenant except the blood sacrifice of Jesus. Either you were a temple God yourself, or you had nothing to do with Him. From that day on, "His People" was a term which applied only to those who were born-again. The name of "Israel" was first and foremost a mission, not some national identity, and certainly not racial.

Jews who do not embrace Jesus as their Messiah are not the People of God. Jews who do not embrace the Law as Jesus taught it are not following the Law. Jews who attempt to form a nation outside these now current terms are not under any covenant at all. They are just sinners and no different from any other human on the earth. Any promises you imagine are as yet unfulfilled under the Old Covenant would still require they see Jesus as the only sacrifice for sins, and must embrace the Ancient Hebrew understanding of the Law, not the Hellenized perversion which stands today. No part of Modern Israel does this, so nothing about her existence is a blessing of God.

It ain't this Israel.


By Ed Hurst
14 February 2010, updated 08 March 2016

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