Dispensational Theology -- By: Phillip Heideman

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 04:3 (Jul 1998)
Article: Dispensational Theology
Author: Phillip Heideman

Dispensational Theology

Phillip Heideman, Th.M.*

Chafer Theological Seminary

[*Editor's note: Phillip Heideman earned his B.B.A. degree at the University of Wisconsin, a Th.M. degree in New Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary, and has done work toward a Th.D. at DTS. He has been a pastor, educator, and conducts the correspondence division of studies at Chafer Theological Seminary. ]

The purpose of this article is to present a view similar to what Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer taught on the subject and to identify some weaknesses in traditional Dispensational theology. This author holds firmly to Dispensational theology, since that is the only system of theology that adequately accounts for the differences from one time period to another and from one testament to another. Therefore, this article will uphold the distinctives and essential features of Dispensationalism but present a different focus, a different basis for naming them, and suggest a few additional Dispensations. This article does not consider either progressive or ultradispensationalism.

Definition of Dispensationalism

Dr. Charles Ryrie cites Clarence Mason for his definition.

“Dispensation means a stewardship or administration. In the Bible a dispensation is a divinely established stewardship of a particular revelation of God’s mind and will which brings added responsibility to the whole race of mankind or a particular portion of the human race.”1

Another definition cited by Ryrie goes like this, “A dispensation is God’s distinctive method of governing mankind or a group of men during a period of human history, marked by a crucial test, failure, and judgment.”2

The first definition emphasizes stewardship, and the second one emphasizes God’s governing. Since both definitions have some merit, I included both.

The Distinctives of Dispensationalism

The main distinctives of Dispensationalism are, first, the consistent use of the grammatical-historical hermeneutic; second, the distinction between Israel and the Church; and, third, the reign of Jesus Christ and His saints in the Millennial Kingdom. The latter is the goal toward which God providentially works in human history. The fourth distinctive is that the unifying thread from the beginning to the end of the biblical record is the manifestation of God’s attributes, namely, His love, justice, faithfulness, and sovereignty. In particular, God demonstrates throughout the ages that He is in control, although

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