First, please understand that many committed Christians believe what I'm concerned about.
If you are one of them, check out my thoughts which I offer in love, not criticism.
A dispensation is "The charge of proclaiming the gospel of Christ, 1Co 9:17; Eph 3:2. Also the scheme or plan of God's dealings with men. In the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations, God [was thought to have] commenced, enlarged, and perfected his revelation of himself and his grace to this world, Eph 1:10; Col 1:25. The whole development of his great plan has been gradual, and adapted at every stage to the existing state of the human family." (ATS Dict.). Modern dispensationalism recognizes three distinct eras or dispensations: Israel, Church, and Israel again. It defines ways of interpreting Scripture which have thoroughly infiltrated Protestant theology. We are supposedly in the "church" dispensation.
We do see a difference in the time after the cross where ceremonial laws pointing forward to the Lamb of God were no longer in effect although Christ did not change any law Matt. 5:17, 18.
Modern, liberal, progressive scholars divide many of the Bible books into pieces written, they suppose, by different authors expressing their own understanding and viewpoints. Thus, it is no longer viewed as the record of God's authoritative plan for humanity given to prophets under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These scholars effectively doubt that "... prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:21. The new method is known as "historical criticism." The result is the same as for dispensationalism where human wisdom is superimposed on each of the three eras defining for each, a way of salvation (See Gal. 1:8). Both systems rob the Scriptures of their divine authority. They reject the sola scriptura concept of the Protestant Reformation where the Bible interprets itself and is seen as consistent (because God is) and is profitable for doctrine and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
Dispensationalism is relatively new. John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) left the Church of England in 1827. He doubted the authority assumed by the church. For seven years he ignored God's requirements. Then he found at Ephesians 3:10 and concluded that "the principalities and powers in heavenly places" where Christians were made them above the law which he thought applied only to the former "dispensation." His contact with C.I. Scofield resulted in his ideas being included in the Scofield Study Bible.
principles of interpretation
There is disagreement about the number of dispensations and what they should be called but these are considered of minor importance. There, however, must be at least three for the church or grace age to be a parenthesis when the salvation of Israel is on hold. Charles Ryrie believes in there being only three with the third one being the Millennial Kingdom. (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, p. 50.)
"The essence of Dispensationalism is (1) the recognition of a distinction between Israel and the Church, (2) a consistently literal principle of interpretation, and (3) a basic and working conception of the purpose of God and His own glory rather than as a single purpose of salvation." (Ryire, p.48). Turning to the salvation of Israel is marked by the rapture. On the rapture, see re0107b.
Scofield appealed to 2nd Tim. 2:15 for support for dividing the Bible and time into dispensations. The text, however, is of little help. See on 2ti0215.
between Israel and the church
Beginning with the first of the three pillars of dispensationalism above, let's consider Abraham who is a key person for any designations of dispensations. According to Heb. 11:10, he was not looking for a city built by God, not a temple in the modern nation of Israel. Also how could the modern secular Israel qualify for fulfillment of the covenant promises. It is hard to imagine them as holy. In fact Paul says that the promises given to Abraham were to be fulfilled for the church Gal. 3:28,29!
Steven Charles Ger, a Jewish Christian and founder and director of Sojourner Ministries, argues that "God is working with Jews during this present dispensation, both within the church and even outside of it as a national entity." It is obvious that God has not placed all ethnic Jews in the freezer until some future date. He is reaching many now. (http://www.according2prophecy.org/53colleague.html, Jan. 22, 2004.).
A consistently literal principle of interpretation
Our dispensational literalist friends accept what seems obvious. This would include idioms. However, they may be forgetting some things. The NT (New Testament) shows the fulfillment of many OT symbolic passages. To claim that the OT is totally literal would require ignoring this vast number of prophecies. To justify killing Jesus Christ, the Jewish leaders claimed interpretations. Matt. 23:13-39; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 12:56.
Christ was described as a lamb Rev. 13:8; John 1:29. He will come on a white cloud Rev. 14:14 and on a white horse Rev. 19:11. The OT is full of types (symbols) of the events of the NT.
of the 70th week
Seeing the last week as far into the ignores the plain meaning of the text. See on Dan. 9:24-27. This strange interpretation is required to support their idea that the Jews will have a future time of salvation. This is explained by the fact that the promises of the OT were not fulfilled to them and supposing that they must be fulfilled at some future time. The Bible plainly states that the promises (as well as the curses) were conditional. See de28. Some may have fulfillment in the new earth but not necessarily except when the text clearly implies as much.
of a modern nation taking the name "Israel"
This occurred in 1948. Many rejoiced at this event as the beginning of the fulfillment of all the OT prophecies. They see promises to Abraham as unconditional but see Gen. 18:19; 22:16-18. The required faithfulness of humanity is very clear in Gen. 26:5. A similar case can be made for the Mosaic covenant. David was promised that his throne would be "established forever" (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps 89:3,4) But the promise was conditional (Ps 89:28-32).
Did God specify conditions for returning to the land? "And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; "... That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee." (Deut. 30:2, 3. Also 2 Chron. 6:24, 25 and 2 Chron. 7:11-22).