What is ultra-dispensationalism?
Question: "What is ultra-dispensationalism?"
In order to understand what ultra-dispensationalism is (also known as
hyper-dispensationalism) let’s first begin by defining what the word
dispensationalism means. The word dispensation means stewardship or
administration and dispensationalism is simply a system of biblical
interpretation that recognizes a distinction between the Church (i.e.
the body of Christ) and Israel. Dispensationalism carries with it the
idea that throughout the history of redemption God has given man
specific revelation and commands and that man is tested with respect to
his obedience to God’s commands or revelation. Therefore dispensations
are different administrations in the eternal outworking of God’s purpose
and plan. However, it is very important to realize normal
dispensationalism acknowledges the fact that the way of salvation—by
grace through faith—is the same in every dispensation. Generally many
dispensationalists will recognize seven dispensations: Innocence
(Genesis 1:1 – 3:7), Conscience (Genesis 3:8 – 8:22), Human Government
(Genesis 9:1 – 11:32), Promise (Genesis 12:1 – Exodus 19:25), Law
(Exodus 20:1 – Acts 2:4), Grace (Acts 2:4 – Revelation 20:3), Millennial
Kingdom (Revelation 20:4 – 20:6). Again, these dispensations are not
ways of salvation, but manners in which God relates to man.
One of the inherent dangers of dispensationalism is that it can become
easy to overly divide the Bible and see divisions and discontinuity
where there shouldn’t be any. This is exactly what the
ultra-dispensationalist does. Therefore ultra or hyper dispensationalism
would be an extreme form of dispensationalism that takes the basic
tenants of dispensationalism to the very extreme resulting in unbiblical
and often heretical teaching and doctrine. Some of the other names of
this movement known as Hyper or Ultra-Dispensationalism are: Mid-Acts
Dispensationalists, Acts 9 Dispensationalists, Acts 13
Dispensationalism, or Acts 28 Dispensationalism.
Instead of recognizing that the Church began in Acts 2 on the Day of
Pentecost when the disciples received the promised Holy Spirit the
ultra-dispensationalist would insert another dispensation or division
into the Bible and would hold that the Church did not begin till later
after Paul’s conversion. The three most common ultra-dispensationalist
views see the church beginning in Acts 9, Acts 13 or Acts 28. Some
ultra-dispensationalists place the beginning of the church with Paul’s
conversion others like one of the first ultra-dispensationalists,
Ethelbert W. Bulinger place the beginning of the church even later with
Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. In doing so they see the church in Acts as
being a separate “Hebrew or Jewish Church” than the “mystery” church to
which Paul wrote his prison epistles. They believe that the books of
Peter, James, Jude, Hebrews and the epistles of John are all addressed
to the Hebrew Church, which is different from the “body of Christ.” This
Jewish Church, which is built on Kingdom promises, will be
reestablished during the millennium and will worship at the rebuilt
Temple with atoning sacrifices.
However the greatest problem with Ultra-dispensationalism is not when
they believe the church began but with the many other errors that come
from their approach to Scripture. For example at the heart of most forms
of ultra-dispensationalism is the belief that Paul preached a different
gospel than what the other Apostles taught. Paul’s prison epistles only
apply directly to the “body of Christ” or Gentile church, the
sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are relegated to the old
dispensation and are not to be practiced by the church today. In reality
what ultra-dispensationalists do is wrongly divide the Word of God and
end up chewing the Bible up and splitting it into little pieces.
Other heresies that are common to some types of ultra-dispensationalist
include such things as soul sleep and annihilationism. Still others
proclaim a brand of universalism that grants salvation even to Satan
himself. Without a doubt whatever name you want to call it
ultra-dispensationalism is a dangerous error that almost always leads to
other even worse errors and often outright heretical teachings.
H. A Ironside, a strong dispensationalist himself wrote a very good
booklet outlining some of the dangers of ultra-dispensationalism and in
it says that he has “no hesitancy in saying that its fruits are evil. It
has produced a tremendous crop of heresies throughout the length and
breadth of this and other lands; it has divided Christians and wrecked
churches and assemblies without number; it has lifted up its votaries in
intellectual and spiritual pride to an appalling extent, so that they
look with supreme contempt upon Christians who do not accept their
peculiar views; and in most instances where it has been long tolerated,
it has absolutely throttled Gospel effort at home and sown discord on
missionary fields abroad. So true are these things of this system that I
have no hesitancy in saying it is an absolutely Satanic perversion of
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