Is Dispensationalism Legitimate?

You have seen the books: “Left Behind,” “Handbook of Bible Prophecy,” “Who is the Antichrist?”. These are the titles written by dispensationalist (pre-millennial, pre-tribulation) authors who believe the Rapture of the church will occur before the tribulation period. Dispensationalism has taken (mostly) non-denominational churches (and some others) by storm. Their system of thought provides an organized outline of interpreting Scripture and discerning the times in which we live.

“Dispensationalism and the History of Redemption” edited by D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn Kreider, provides a timely discussion of essays on the development, present state, and future of dispensationalist thought and hermeneutics withing Evangelicalism. It is paramount to note that the authors fully understand dispensationalism to be a top-notch scholarly approach to understanding the Scripture. Of course, not everyone understands it this way.

Within this work, the reader will find the definition of dispensationalism (as these authors understand it), the history of dispensationalism as a (legitimate) hermeneutic, and how dispensationalist thought organizes and, well, dispenses Christian thought to the modern age. There is, however, a downside.

If you have never heard of the words dispensation, dispensationalism, or dispensationalist, Charles Ryrie, Walvoord, or other prominent dispensationalist authors, you will find this book to be a bit problematic. What the authors do not include, and maybe they will if a second edition is released, is a primer, a beginner’s guide to what exactly dispensationalism and dispensationalist thought are at their core. If you have never heard of these terms, as one reviewer says, “it will be as if you walk into a classroom having missed part of the lecture.” My only recommendation is perhaps read a few basic works which cover the development of dispensationalism prior to picking up this book. It would also benefit the enquiring reader to familiarize him/herself with basic terms in dispensationalist thought (Rapture, Pre-Tribulational, Pre-Millenial, Tribulation, Second Coming, etc. to name a few) as the editors did not provide a glossary in the indexes.

In all, however, I do recommend this book on one of the most enduring traditions in Evangelical thought. Dispensationalism, regardless of how you understand it or find yourself along the theological spectrum, provides a legitimate hermeneutic (though disagreements are vast) and system to understanding Christian thought. I hope you find time to enjoy and digest this book.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Moody Press in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is my own.

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