Periodical Reviews -- By: Jefferson P. Webster
BSac 167:665 (January-March 2010) p. 107
By The Faculty and Library Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary
“Premillennial Dispensationalism: Its Origins,” LeAnn Snow Flesher, Review and Expositor 106 (winter 2009): 21-34.
This essay is part of a book-length criticism of the Left Behind series (Left Behind: Facts Behind the Fiction [Valley Forge, PA: Judson, 2006]). Flesher is professor of Old Testament at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, California. She briefly overviews the diversity of Christian eschatological views and then attempts to “locate the system of belief, Premillennial Dispensationalism, adhered to by the authors of the Left Behind series within that larger context” (p. 22).
Her treatment of premillennialism largely ignores the biblical support, except for the assertion that “literal readers” see a millennium in “Rev 20:5 when those martyred for the faith come to life and reign with Jesus for a thousand years” and “believe this verse is saying that Jesus will return to earth and establish a literal physical kingdom over which he will reign as king for a thousand years” (p. 23). “Fundamentally,” she asserts, “premillennialism flows from a pessimistic view of the human potential for reform” (p. 24). Premillennialists, however, assert that their position is based on the teaching of the Scriptures.
Her treatment of dispensational eschatology is quite brief and is quoted here in its entirety: “Dispensationalism is a systematized eschatology, in which each particular tenet is intertwined with the others. While Dispensationalists find in the Bible evidence of a series of dispensations, or economies, under which God has ordered and managed this world, they think of their system primarily as a method for interpreting Scripture. At the core is the conviction that Scripture is to be taken literally, which does not necessitate that all symbols are to be taken literally. The fundamental premise and guiding rule of dispensational interpretation, however, is that if the plain meaning makes sense then look no further. Thus, much of Scripture, especially the prophetic books, is taken very literally. As a result, passages about the second coming of Jesus are not only taken as literal, but are interpreted through Dispensationalism’s complex systematized eschatology. For the dispensationalists the Kingdom of Heaven constitutes the fulfillment of Scripture for the Jews, and is a literal, physical theocratic kingdom with Jesus as monarch” (p. 30).
Surely dispensationalism deserves more than such an abbreviated account, particularly in a work purp...
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