The Necessity of Dispensationalism -- By: Charles C. Ryrie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 114:455 (Jul 1957)
Article: The Necessity of Dispensationalism
Author: Charles C. Ryrie

The Necessity of Dispensationalism

Charles C. Ryrie

One of the evident features of the history of Christian doctrine is the fact that the church generally focused its discussions on one area of theology at a time. In our own day the area is eschatology, and discussions of eschatology are being heard in all groups. In conservative circles these discussions are raising questions in another field—dispensationalism. This is not to say that the liberals are unaware of the growing prominence being given to dispensationalism, but it is to affirm that evangelicals are having to give their attention increasingly to the dispensational question. This is shown by John Wick Bowman’s pronouncement that the Scofield Bible because of its dispensational teaching “represents perhaps the most dangerous heresy currently to be found within Christian circles” (“The Bible and Modern Religions. II. Dispensationalism,” Interpretation, 10:172, April, 1956).

Recent and current interest in eschatology is only one of the reasons for the increased interest in dispensationalism. One ventures to predict that if current discussions concerning the rapture question continue, posttribulationists will be forced to do more than just reiterate the usual arguments against pretribulationism, for they will of necessity have to reckon with the entire dispensational approach to the Scriptures. They will be forced to deal with that which they recognize—namely, that pretribulationism is “an essential element” in dispensationalism (George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope, p. 37).

In addition, the rise of ultradispensationalism has

focused increased attention on the whole question. The proponents of this view have propagated it widely and in doing so have accomplished at least two things. They have added to their own numbers, and they have done those of us who consider ourselves true dispensationalists the service of causing us to present more detail concerning our position in order that we may distinguish it from their teaching.

Too, those who embrace covenant theology have contributed and doubtless will continue to contribute to the discussion of dispensationalism. The many individuals and groups which follow the covenant theology tradition will surely not stand by if discussions of the dispensational question increase in the coming days, and by that very participation the whole matter will be brought into more prominence. Therefore, because of the increasing interest in eschatology and especially in pretribulationism, because of the aggressiveness of the ultradispensationalists, and because of the ever-present protagonists of covenant theology, one can scarcely agree with the idea...

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