systematic Dispensationalism is approaching two hundred years of expression and
development. We live at a time in which Dispensationalism and some of its
ideas have been disseminated and adopted by various theological traditions.
This is not surprising since our day is characterized by anti-systemization and
eclecticism in the area of thought. It may be surprising, to some, to learn
that Dispensationalism was developed and spread during its first 100 years by
those within a Reformed, Calvinistic tradition. It had only been in the last
75 to 50 years that Dispensationalism and some of its beliefs were disseminated
in any significant way outside of the orbit of Calvinism.
proceeding further I need to provide working definitions of what I mean by
Calvinism and Dispensationalism. First, by Calvinism, I am speaking mainly of
the theological system that relates to the doctrine of grace or soteriological
Calvinism. This would include strict and modified Calvinism (i.e. four and
five point Calvinism). I am referring to that aspect of Calvinism that speaks
of the fallen nature of man and the elective grace of God.
by Dispensationalism, I have in mind that system of theology that was developed
by J. N. Darby that gave rise to its modern emphasis of consistent literal interpretation, a distinction between
God's plan for Israel and the church, usually a pretribulational rapture of the
church before the seventieth week of Daniel, premillennialism, and a
multifaceted emphasis upon God's glory as the goal of history. This includes
some who have held to such a system by may stop short of embracing
pretribulationism. The focus of this article will be upon Dispensational premillennialism.
concert with the Calvinist impulse to view history theocentricly, I believe
that dispensational premillennialism provides the most logical eschatological
ending to God's sovereign decrees for salvation and history. Since
Dispensational premillennialists view both the promises of God's election of
Israel and the church as unconditional and something that God will surely bring
to pass, such a belief is consistent with the Bible and logic. A covenant
theologian would say that Israel's election was conditional and temporary.
Many Calvinists are covenant theologians who think that individual election
within the church is unconditional and permanent. They see God's plan with
Israel conditioned upon human choice, while God's plan for salvation within the
church is ultimately a sovereign act of God. There is no symmetry in such
logic. Meanwhile, Dispensational premillennialists see both acts as a
sovereign expression of God's plan in history which is a logically consistent
application of the sovereign will of God in human affairs.
H. Kellogg, a Presbyterian minister, missionary, and educator wrote of the
logic between Calvinism and "modern, futurist premillennialism,"
which was in that day (1888) essentially dispensational. "But in
general," notes Kellogg, "we think, it may be rightly said that the logical relations of premillennialism connect it more
closely with the Augustinian than with any other theological system."
His use of "Augustinian" is the older term for Calvinism. Kellogg
points out the different areas in which Calvinism and premillennialism are
theologically one. "Premillennialism logically presupposes an anthropology essentially Augustinian. The ordinary Calvinism
affirms the absolute helplessness of the individual for self-regeneration and
self-redemption." He continues, it is "evident
that the anthropological presuppositions on which premillennialism seems to
rest, must carry with them a corresponding soteriology." Kellogg reasons that "the Augustinian
affinity of the premillennialist eschatology becomes still more manifest. For
nothing is more marked than the emphasis with which premillennialists
constantly insist that, . . . the present dispensation is strictly
elective." "In a word," concludes
Kellogg, "we may say that premillennialists simply affirm of the macrocosm
what the common Augustinianism affirms only of the microcosm."
is not to say that Dispensationalism and Calvinism are synonymous. I merely
contend that it is consistent with certain elements of Calvinism which provide
a partial answer as to why Dispensationalism sprang from the Reformed womb. C.
Norman Kraus contends,
There are, to be
sure, important elements of seventeenth-century Calvinism in contemporary
dispensationalism, but these elements have been blended with doctrinal emphasis
from other sources to form a distinct system which in many respects is quite
foreign to classical Calvinism.
Dispensationalism did develop within the Reformed community and most of its
adherents during the first 100 years were from within the Calvinist milieu.
Kraus concludes: "Taking all this into account, it must still be pointed
out that the basic theological affinities of dispensationalism are Calvinistic.
The large majority of men involved in the Bible and prophetic conference
movements subscribed to Calvinistic creeds."  I
will now turn to an examination of some of the founders and proponents of
Darby and the Brethren
systematic dispensationalism was developed in the 1830s by J. N. Darby and
those within the Brethren movement. Virtually all of these men came from
churches with a Calvinistic soteriology. "At the level of theology,"
says Brethren historian H. H. Rowdon, "the earliest Brethren were
Calvinists to a man." This is echoed by one of the
earliest Brethren, J. G. Bellett, who was beginning his association with the
Brethren when his brother George wrote, "for his views had become more
decidedly Calvinistic, and the friends with whom he associated in Dublin were
all, I believe without exception, of this school."
were Darby's views on this matter? John Howard Goddard observes that Darby
"held to the predestination of individuals and that he rejected the
Arminian scheme that God predestinated those whom he foreknew would be
conformed to the image of Christ." In his "Letter
on Free-Will," it is clear that Darby rejects this notion. "If
Christ has come to save that which is lost, free-will has no longer any
place." "I believe we ought to hold to
the word;" continues Darby, "but, philosophically and morally
speaking, free-will is a false and absurd theory. Free-will is a state of
sin." Because Darby held to the bondage
of the will, he logically follows through with belief in sovereign grace as
necessary for salvation.
Such is the unfolding of this principle of
sovereign grace, without which not one should would be saved, for none
understand, none seek after God, not one of himself will come that he might
have life. Judgment is according to works; salvation and glory are the fruit
evidence of Darby's Calvinism is that on at least two occasions he was invited
by non-dispensational Calvinists to defend Calvinism for Calvinists. One of
Darby's biographers, W. G. Turner spoke of his defense at Oxford University:
It was at a much
earlier date (1831, I think) that F. W. Newman invited Mr. Darby to Oxford: a
season memorable in a public way for his refutation of Dr. E. Burton's denial
of the doctrines of grace, beyond doubt held by the Reformers, and asserted not
only by Bucer, P. Martyr, and Bishop Jewell, but in Articles IX- XVIII of the
Church of England.
an other occasion Darby was invited to the city of Calvin- Geneva,
Switzerland- to defend Calvinism. Turner declares that "He refuted the
'perfectionism' of John Wesley, to the delight of the Swiss Free Church."
Darby was awarded a medal of honor by the leadership of Geneva.
yet, when certain Reformed doctrines came under attack from within the Church
in which he once served, "Darby indicates his approval of the doctrine of
the Anglican Church as expressed in Article XVII of the Thirty-Nine
Articles" on the subject of election and
predestination. Darby said,
For my own part, I soberly think Article XVII to
be as wise, perhaps I might say the wisest and best condensed human statement
of the view it contains that I am acquainted with. I am fully content to take
it in its literal and grammatical sense. I believe that predestination to life
is the eternal purpose of God, by which, before the foundations of the world
were laid, He firmly decreed, by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from
curse and destruction those whom He had chosen in Christ out of the human race,
and to bring them, through Christ, as vessels made to honour, to eternal
and other Brethren brought dispensationalism to America through their many
trips and writings that came across the Atlantic. "In fact the
millenarian (or dispensational premillennial) movement," declares George
Marsden, "had strong Calvinistic ties in its American origins."
Reformed historian Marsden continues his explanation of how dispensationalism
came to America:
This enthusiasm came largely from clergymen with
strong Calvinistic views, principally Presbyterians and Baptists in the
northern United States. The evident basis for this affinity was that in most
respects Darby was himself an unrelenting Calvinist. His interpretation of the
Bible and of history rested firmly on the massive pillar of divine sovereignty,
placing as little value as possible on human ability.
post-Civil War spread of dispensationalism in North America occurred through
the influence of key pastors and the Summer Bible Conferences like Niagara,
Northfield, and Winona. Marsden notes:
The organizers of
the prophetic movement in America were predominantly Calvinists. In 1876 a
group led by Nathaniel West, James H. Brookes, William J. Eerdman, and Henry M.
Parsons, all Presbyterians, together with Baptist A. J. Gordon, . . . These
early gatherings, which became the focal points for the prophetic side of their
leaders' activities, were clearly Calvinistic. Presbyterians and Calvinist
Baptists predominated, while the number of Methodists was extremely small. . .
. Such facts can hardly be accidental.
of Marsden's point above is supplied by Samuel H. Kellogg- himself a
Presbyterian and Princeton graduate- with his breakdown of the predominately
dispensational Prophecy Conference in New York City in 1878. Kellogg
classified the list of those that signed the call for the Conference as
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Presbyterians . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
(Dutch) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Episcopalians . . . . . . . . . . . 10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
concluded that "the proportion of Augustinians in the whole to be
eighty-eight per cent." "The significance of this is
emphasized," continues Kellogg, "by the contrasted fact that the
Methodists, although one of the largest denominations of Christians in the
country, were represented by only six names."
Kellogg estimates that "analyses of similar gatherings since held on both
sides of the Atlantic, would yield a similar result."
Marsden divides Reformed Calvinism in America into three types:
"doctrinalist, culturalist, and pietist." He
then explains that "Dispensationalism was essentially Reformed in its
nineteenth-century origins and had in later nineteenth-century America spread
most among revival-oriented Calvinists." This is not to say
that only revival-oriented Calvinists were becoming dispensational in their
view of the Bible and eschatology. Ernest Sandeen lists at least one Old
School Presbyterian- L. C. Baker of Camden, New Jersey- as an active
dispensationalist during the later half of the nineteenth century.
Timothy Weber traces the rise of Dispensationalism as follows:
The first converts
to dispensational premillennialism after the Civil War were pietistic
evangelicals who were attracted to its biblicism, its concern for evangelism
and missions, and its view of history, which seemed more realistic than that of
the prevailing postmillennialism. Most of the new premillennialists came from
baptist, New School Presbyterian, and Congregationalist ranks, which gave the
movement a definite Reformed flavor. Wesleyan evangelicals who opposed
premillennialism used this apparent connection to Calvinism to discredit it
among Methodists and holiness people.
is safe to say that without the aid of Reformed Calvinists in America
dispensational premillennialism would have had an entirely different history.
Men like the St. Louis Presbyterian James H. Brookes (1830-1897), who was
trained at Princeton Seminary, opened his pulpit to Darby and other speakers.
Brookes, considered the American father of the pretribulational rapture in
America, also discipled a new convert to Christ in the legendary C. I.
Scofield. Others such as Presbyterians Samuel
H. Kellogg (Princeton trained), E. R. Craven, who was a Princeton College and
Seminary graduate and Old School Presbyterian, and Nathaniel West
provided great leadership in spreading dispensationalism in the late 1800s.
Scofield, Chafer and
I. Scofield (1843-1921), Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952), and Dallas
Theological Seminary (est. 1924) were great vehicles for the spread of
dispensationalism in America and throughout the world. Both Scofield and
Chafer were ordained Presbyterian ministers. The "Scofield Reference
Bible, is called by many the
most effective tool for the dissemination of dispensationalism in America."
Scofield was converted in mid-life and first discipled by James H. Brookes in
St. Louis. He was ordained to the ministry at the First Congregational Church
of Dallas in 1882 and transferred his ministerial credentials to the
Presbyterian Church in the U. S. in 1908. Thus, his ministry
took place within a Calvinist context.
Scofield was the major influence upon
the development of Chafer's theology. John Hannah notes that "it is
impossible to understand Chafer without perceiving the deep influence of
Scofield." In fact, "Chafer often likened
this relationship to that of father and a son."
This relationship grew out of Chafer's study under Scofield at the Northfield
Conference and from a life-changing experience in Scofield's study of the First
Congregational Church of Dallas in the early 1900s. Scofield told Chafer that
his gifts were more in the field of teaching and not in the area of evangelism
in which he had labored. "The two prayed together, and Chafer dedicated
his life to a lifetime of biblical study."
and Chafer were two of the greatest American dispensationalists and both
developed their theology from out of a Reformed background. Scofield is known
for his study bible and Chafer for his Seminary and systematic theology. Jeffrey
Richards describes Chafer's theological characteristics as having "much in
common with the entire Reformed tradition. Excluding eschatology, Chafer is
similar theologically to such Princeton divines as Warfield, Hodge, and Machen.
He claims such doctrines as the sovereignty of God, . . . total depravity of
humanity, election, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the
saints." C. Fred Lincoln describes Chafer's
8 volume Systematic Theology as
"unabridged, Calvinistic, premillennial, and dispensational."
its founding in 1924 as The Evangelical Theological College (changed to Dallas
Theological Seminary in 1936), it has exerted a global impact on behalf of
dispensationalism. Dallas Seminary' s primary founder was Chafer, but William
Pettingill and W. H. Griffith-Thomas also played a leading role. Pettingill,
like Chafer was Presbyterian. Griffith-Thomas, an Anglican, wrote one of the
best commentaries on the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church,
which is still widely used by conservative Anglicans and Episcopalians today.
The Thirty-nine Articles are staunchly Calvinistic. Both men were clearly
Calvinists. The Seminary, especially before World War II, considered itself
Calvinistic. Chafer once characterized the school in a publicity brochure as
"in full agreement with the Reformed Faith and its theology is strictly
Calvinistic." In a letter to Allan MacRae of
Westminster Theological Seminary, Chafer said, "You probably know that we
are definitely Calvinistic in our theology."
"Speaking of the faculty, Chafer noted in 1925 that they were 'almost
wholly drawn from the Southern and Northern Presbyterian Churches.'"
Further, Chafer wrote to a Presbyterian minister the following: "I am
pleased to state that there is no institution to my knowledge which is more
thoroughly Calvinistic nor more completely adjusted to this system of doctrine,
held by the Presbyterian Church."
so many early Dallas graduates entered the Presbyterian ministry, there began
to be a reaction to their dispensational premillennialism in the 1930s. This
was not an issue as to whether they were Calvinistic in their soteriology, but
an issue over their eschatology. In the late 1930s, "Dallas Theological
Seminary, though strongly professing to be a Presbyterian institution, was
being severed from the conservative Presbyterian splinter movement."
In 1944, Southern Presbyterians issued a report from a committee investigating
the compatibility of dispensationalism with the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The committee ruled dispensationalism was not in harmony with the Church's
Confession. This "report of 1944 was a crippling blow to any future that
dispensational premillennialism might have within Southern
Presbyterianism." This ruling effectively moved
Dallas graduates away from ministry within Reformed denominations toward the
independent Bible Church movement.
A Broadening of
though dispensationalism had made a modest penetration of Baptists as early as
the 1880s through advocates such as J. R. Graves, a
strong Calvinist, they were rebuffed by non-Calvinists until the mid-1920s when
elements of dispensational theology began to be adopted by some Pentecostals in
an attempt to answer the increasing threat of liberalism. Kraus explains:
Some teachers said explicitly that
premillennialism was a bulwark against rationalist theology. Thus it is not
surprising to find that the theological elements which became normative in
dispensationalism ran directly counter to the developing emphasis of the
to this point in history, those from the Arminian and Wesleyan traditions were
more interested in present, personal sanctification issues, rather than the
Calvinist attention in explaining God's sovereign work in the progress of
history. However, the rise of the fundamentalist/liberal controversy in the
1920s stirred an interest, outside of the realm of Calvinism, in defending the
Bible against the anti-supernatural attacks of the liberal critics. Dispensationalism
was seen as a conservative and Bible-centered answer to liberalism, not only
within fundamentalism, but increasingly by Pentecostals and others as well.
Timothy Weber notes:
But in time, dispensationalism had its devotees
within the Wesleyan tradition as well. More radical holiness groups resonated
with its prediction of declining orthodoxy and piety in the churches; and
pentecostals found in it a place for the outpouring of the Spirit in a
"latter-day rain" before the Second Coming.
of the first non-Calvinist groups to adopt a dispensational orientation can be
found among some Pentecostals in the mid-1920s. This development must be
understood against a backdrop of the Wesleyan and holiness heritage out of which
Pentecostalism arose at the turn of last century. The American holiness
movement of the 1800s was primarily postmillennial and if premillennial, then
historical premillennial. They were not in any way dispensational.
is at heart a supposed restoration of apostolic Christianity that is meant to
bring in the latter rain harvest in preparation for Christ's return. The
phrase " latter rain" is taken from Joel 2:23 & 28 and sometimes James 5:7
as a label describing an end-time revival and evangelistic harvest expected by
many charismatics and Pentecostals. Some time in the future, they believe the
Holy Spirit will be poured out like never before. The latter rain teaching is
developed from the agricultural model that a farmer needs rain at two crucial
points in the growing cycle in order to produce a bountiful harvest. First,
right after the seed is planted the " early rain" is needed to cause the seed to
germinate in order to produce a healthy crop. Second, the crop needs rain
right before the harvest, called the " latter rain," so the grain will produce a
high yield at harvest time, which shortly follows. Latter rain advocates teach
that the Acts 2 outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the " early rain" but the
" latter rain" outpouring of the Holy Spirit will occur at the end-times. This
scenario is in conflict with dispensationalism that sees the current age
ending, not in revival, but apostasy. It will be during the tribulation, after
the rapture of the church, that God will use the miraculous in conjunction with
the preaching of the gospel. Thus, latter rain theology fits within a
postmillennial or historical premillennial eschatology, but it is not
consistent with dispensationalism.
Christians are aware that the Pentecostal movement began on January 1, 1901 in
Topeka, Kansas when Agnes Ozman (1870-1937) spoke in tongues under the tutelage
of Charles Fox Parham (1873-1929). Yet, how many realize that in the " early
years Pentecostalism often took the name ' Latter Rain Movement' " ?
This is because Parham titled his report of the new movement as " The Latter
Rain: The Story of the Origin of the Original Apostolic or Pentecostal
Movements."  Many are also aware that William J.
Seymour (1870-1922) came under the influence of Parham in Houston, Texas in
1905 and then took the Pentecostal message to Azusa Street in Los Angeles in
1906, from where it was disseminated to the four-corners of the world. But,
how many are also aware that he too spoke of these things in terms of a latter
is no doubt that the latter rain teaching was one of the major components- if
not the major distinctive- in the theological formation of Pentecostalism.
" Modern Pentecostalism is the ' latter rain,' the special outpouring of the
Spirit that restores the gifts in the last days as part of the preparation for
the ' harvest,' the return of Christ in glory," says Donald Dayton.
David Wesley Myland (1858-1943) was one of the early Pentecostal leaders. He
wrote the first distinctly Pentecostal hymn entitled, " The Latter Rain" in
1906. The " first definitive Pentecostal theology that was widely distributed,
the Latter Rain Covenant"
appeared in 1910. Myland argued in his book that " now
we are in the Gentile Pentecost, the first Pentecost started the church, the
body of Christ, and this, the second Pentecost, unites and perfects the church into the coming of the Lord." 
concludes that the " broader Latter Rain doctrine provided a key . . . premise
in the logic of Pentecostalism."  In spite of having such a key place
in the thinking of early Pentecostalism, " the latter rain doctrine did tend to
drop out of Pentecostalism" in the 1920s " only to reappear, however, in the
radical Latter Rain revitalization movement of the 1940s."  One
of reasons that latter rain teachings began to wane in the mid-1920s was that
as Pentecostalism became more institutionalized it needed an answer to the
inroads of liberalism. As noted above, dispensationalism was seen as a help in
Latter Rain teaching developed out of the Wesleyan-Holiness desire for both
individual (sanctification) and corporate (eschatological) perfection. Thus,
early perfectionist teachers like John Wesley, Charles Finney, and Asa Mahan
were all postmillennial and social activists. Revivalism was gagged by
carrying the burden of both personal and public change or perfection. It
follows that one who believes in personal perfection should also believe that
public perfection is equally possible. Those who believe the latter are postmillennialists.
After all, if God has given the Holy Spirit in this age to do either, then why
not the other? If God can perfect individuals, then why not society?
as the 1800s turned into the 1900s, social change was increasingly linked with
Darwin' s theory of evolution. The evolutionary rationale was then used to
attack the Bible itself. To most English-speaking Christians it certainly
appeared that society was not being perfected, instead it was in decline.
Critics of the Bible said that one needed a Ph.D. from Europe before the Bible
could be organized and understood. It was into this climate that
dispensationalism was introduced into America and probably accounts for its
speedy and widespread acceptance by many conservative Christians. To many
Bible believing Christians, Dispensationalism made a great deal more sense of
the world than did the anti-supernaturalism conclusions of liberalism.
in contrast to Holiness teaching, taught that the world and the visible church
were not being perfected, instead Christendom was in apostasy and heading
toward judgment. God is currently in the process of calling out His elect
through the preaching of the gospel. Christian social change would not be
permanent, nor would it lead to the establishment of Christ' s kingdom before
His return. Instead a cataclysmic intervention was needed (Christ' s second
coming), if society was to be transformed.
Pentecostalism was born out of a motivation and vision for restoring to the
church apostolic power lost over the years. Now she was to experience her
latter-day glory and victory by going out in a blaze of glory and success. On
the other hand, dispensationalism was born in England in the early 1800s
bemoaning the latter-day apostasy and ruin of the church. Nevertheless, within
Pentecostalism, these two divergent views were merged. Thus, denominations
like the Assemblies of God and Foursquare Pentecostals moved away from
doctrines like the latter rain teaching and generated official positions
against those teachings. It was in the mid-1920s that dispensationalism began
to be adopted by non-Calvinists and spread throughout the broader world of
appealed to the average person with its emphasis that any average, interested
person could understand the Bible without the enlightened help of a liberal
education. Once a student understood God' s overall plan for mankind, as
administered through the dispensations, he would be able to see God's hand in
history. Thus, dispensational theology made a lot of sense to both Pentecostal
and evangelical believers at this point in history.
Post War Development
and Pentecostalism/Charismatic movements spread rapidly in America after the
second World War and since dispensationalism was attached to them, it also grew
rapidly. Many baby-boomers within Pentecostal and Charismatic churches grew up
with dispensationalism and the pre-trib rapture as part of their doctrinal
framework. Thus, it would not occur to them that dispensationalism was not
organic to their particular brands of restoration theology. Further, as
non-Calvinist Fundamentalism grew after the War, especially within independent
Baptist circles, there was an even greater disconnect of dispensational
distinctives from their Calvinist roots.
have seen that the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has a tradition of both
Latter Rain/restoration teachings as well as the later rise of a dispensational
stream. However, these are contradictory teachings which appear to be on a
collision course. Either the church age is going to end with perfection and
revival or it will decline into apostasy, preparing the way for the church to
become the harlot of Revelation during the tribulation. It is not surprising
to see within the broader Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, since the mid
1980s, a clear trend toward reviving Latter Rain theology and a growing
realization that it is in logical conflict with their core doctrine. Many, who
grew up on Dispensational ideas and the pre-trib rapture, are dumping these
views as the leaven of Latter Rain theology returns to prominence within
leaders like Earl Paulk and Tommy Reid, to name just a
couple among many, are attempting to articulate the tension over the struggles
of two competing systems. They are opting for the dismissal of dispensational
elements from a consistent Pentecostal/Charismatic and Latter Rain theology.
Tommy Reid observes:
This great Last
Day revival was often likened in the preaching of Pentecostal pioneer to the
restoration promised to Israel in the Old Testament. . . . Whereas
Dispensationalists had relegated all of these prophetic passages of restoration
only to physical Israel, Pentecostal oratory constantly referred to these
prophecies as having a dual meaning, restoration for physical Israel, AND
restoration for the present day church. WE WERE THE PEOPLE OF THAT
RESTORATION, ACCORDING TO OUR THEOLOGY. (emphasis in original)
the same time, the purge of Dispensationalism from Reformed Christianity, begun
in the late 1930s, has been pretty much completed. Typical of this
polarization is found in books like John Gerstner's Wrongly Dividing The
Word Of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism. While admitting on the one hand
that a "strange thing about Dispensationalism is that it seems to have had
its strongest advocates in Calvinistic churches."
Gerstner so strongly opposes dispensationalism, that it has blinded him to the
true Calvinist nature of such a God-centered theology. Gerstner claims that he
and other Reformed theologians have raised "strong questions about the
accuracy of dispensational claims to be Calvinistic." It
appears that since Dispensationalism arose within the Reformed tradition, as a
rival to Covenant Theology, some want to say that they cannot logically be
Calvinistic. This is what Gerstner contends. However, in spite of Gerstner's
sophistry on this issue, he cannot wipe out the historical
fact that dispensationalism was birthed within the biblical mindset of a clear
theocentric theology and by those who held strongly to soteriological
Calvinism. The fact that Dispensationalism arose within a Reformed context is
probably the reason why the Reformed community has led the way in criticism of
purpose of this article is to remind modern Dispensationalists and Calvinists
of the historical roots of Dispensationalism. It is precisely because
Dispensationalism has penetrated almost every form of Protestantism that many
today may be surprised to learn of its heritage. In our day of Postmodern
irrationalism, where it is considered a virtue to NOT connect the dots of one's
theology, we need to be reminded that the theology of the Bible is a seamless
garment. It all hangs together. If one starts pulling at a single thread, the
whole cloth is in danger of unraveling.
personally think that if systematic Dispensationalism is rightly understood
then it still logically makes sense only within a theocentric and
soteriologically Calvinists theology. After all, Dispensationalism teaches
that it is GOD who is ruling His household, as administered through the various
dispensations of history. However, the reality is that Dispensationalism, or
elements of Dispensationalism (i.e., pretribulationism, futurism, etc.), have
been disseminated throughout a wide diversity of Protestant traditions.
Dispensationalism is best seen as a system of theology that sees views God as
the Sovereign ruler of heaven and earth; man as a rebellious vice-regent (along
with some angels); Jesus Christ is the hero of history as He is saves some by
His Grace; history as a lesson in the outworking of God's glory being displayed
to both heaven and earth. Dispensationalism is a theology that I believe is
properly derived from biblical study and lets God be God.
 Samuel H. Kellogg,
"Premillennialism: Its relations to Doctrine and Practice," Bibliotheca
Sacra, Vol. XLV, 1888, p. 253.
"Premillennialism," p. 254.
"Premillennialism," p. 257.
"Premillennialism," pp. 258-59.
"Premillennialism," p. 256.
 C. Norman Kraus, Dispensationalism
in America: Its Rise and Development (Richmond:
John Knox Press, 1958), p. 59.
 Kraus, Dispensationalism, p. 59.
 Harold H. Rowdon, Who Are The
Brethren and Does it Matter? (Exeter,
England: The Paternoster Press, 1986), p. 35.
 George Bellett, Memoir of the Rev.
George Bellett (London: J. Masters, 1889),
pp. 41-42, cited in Max S. Weremchuk, John Nelson Darby (Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1992), p. 237,
 John Howard Goddard, "The
Contribution of John Nelson Darby to Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and
Eschatology," (Th. D. Dissertation from Dallas Theological Seminary,
1948), p. 85.
 J. N. Darby, "Letter on
Free-Will," in The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby (Winschoten, Netherlands: H. L. Heijkoop, 1971),
Vol. 10, p. 185.
 Ibid., p. 186.
 J. N. Darby, "Notes on
Romans," in The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby (Winschoten, Netherlands: H. L. Heijkoop, 1971),
Vol. 26, pp. 107-08.
 W. G. Turner, John Nelson Darby:
A Biography (London: C. A. Hammond, 1926),
 Ibid., p. 58.
 Rowdon, Who Are The Brethren, pp. 205-07.
 Goddard, "The Contribution of
Darby," p. 86.
 J. N. Darby, "The Doctrine of
the Church of England at the Time of the Reformation," in The Collected
Writings of J. N. Darby (Winschoten,
Netherlands: H. L. Heijkoop, 1971), Vol. 3, p. 3. (Italics are original.)
 George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism
and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism:
1870-1925 (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1980), p. 46.
"Premillennialism," p. 253.
 Ibid., p. 254.
 George M. Marsden,
"Introduction: Reformed and American," in David F. Wells, ed., Reformed
Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), p. 3.
 Ibid., p. 8.
 Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of
Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800- 1930 (Grand Rapids: Baker, , 1978), p. 94.
 Timothy P. Weber,
"Premillennialism and the Branches of Evangelicalism," in Donald W.
Dayton and Robert K Johnston, editors, The Variety of American
Evangelicalism (Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 1991), pp. 14-15.
more on the life of Brookes see Larry Dean Pettegrew, " The Historical and
Theological Contributions of the Niagara Bible Conference to American
Fundamentalism," (Th. D. Dissertation from Dallas Theological Seminary,
1976). David Riddle Williams, James H. Brookes: A Memoir, (St. Louis: Presbyterian Board of Publication,
 Samuel Macauley Jackson, ed., The
New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952), Vol. III, p. 296.
 Larry V. Crutchfield, The Origins
of Dispensationalism: The Darby Factor,
(Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992), preface.
 Daniel Reid, ed., Dictionary of
Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 1990), pp. 1057-58.
 John David Hannah, "The Social
and Intellectual History of the Origins of the Evangelical Theological
College," (Ph. D. Dissertation from The University of Texas at Dallas,
1988), pp. 118-19.
 Jeffrey J. Richards, The Promise
of Dawn: The Eschatology of Lewis Sperry Chafer, (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991), p. 23.
 Ibid., p. 3.
 C. F. Lincoln, "Biographical
Sketch of the Author," in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology
(Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), Vol. VIII, p. 6.
 W. H. Griffith Thomas, The
Principles of Theology: An Introduction to the Thirty-nine Articles (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979 .
 Cited in Hannah, "Origins of
the Evangelical Theological College," pp. 199-200.
 Cited in Ibid., p. 200.
 Cited in Ibid., p. 346.
 Cited in Ibid., p. 346, f.n. 323.
 Ibid., pp. 357-58.
 Ibid., p. 364.
 See J. R. Graves, The Work of
Christ Consummated in 7 Dispensations
(Memphis: Baptist Book House, 1883).
 Kraus, Dispensationalism, p. 61.
 Weber, "Premillennialism,"
 Donald Dayton, Theological Roots
of Pentecostalism, (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1987), p. 27.
 Dayton, Roots, pp. 22-23.
 Ibid., p. 27.
 Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B.
McGee, editors, Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), p. 632.
 Cited by Dayton, Roots, p. 27.
 Ibid., p. 33.
 See Earl Paulk, Held In The
Heavens Until . . . God's Strategy For Planet Earth (Atlanta: K Dimension Publishers, 1985). Earl
Paulk, Spiritual Megatrends: Christianity in the 21st
Century (Atlanta: Kingdom Publishers,
 Tommy Reid, Kingdom Now . . . But
Not Yet (Buffalo: IJN Publishing, 1988),
 John H. Gerstner, Wrongly
Dividing The Word Of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers,
 Ibid., p. 106.
 Ibid., pp. 105-47.