Q. I’m a strong dispensationalist, so I’m always taken by surprise when someone calls it a false teaching. Can you explain why people would feel this way? As I see it, while the label “dispensation” may be more recent, the principle of God having different covenants with different peoples is clearly outlined in the bible. Can you elaborate?
A. It’s popular these days for people to call anything they disagree with a false teaching. I think the reason some people don’t like dispensationalism is they don’t like Israel. They may have been taught that the Church has inherited Israel’s unfulfilled promises and there’s no longer any reason for a Jewish nation to exist. This has caused them to look at the entire end times scenario in a way that can’t be reconciled with a literal understanding of the Bible.
In some ways, they remind me of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, who resented the way his errant brother was welcomed back into the family after going off on his own (Luke 15:25-30).
Of all theological systems, I believe dispensationalism is the one most consistent with a literal interpretation of Scripture. It teaches that Israel and the Church are two different entities with different destinies. We insist that Israel not only has a part in end times prophecy, but is destined to become the world’s preeminent nation again. We believe the Bible’s prophecies about the the end times actually describe the process by which Israel will be reconciled to God and their long awaited Kingdom Age will come to them.
And you’re correct, the inspiration for the dispensational system of theology came from Ephesians 3, and was first put forth by John Nelson Darby in the early 1800’s, but the idea that God has dealt with His people in different ways at different times can be seen throughout the Bible.