Dispensationalism


#1

Today I had a discussion with an evangelical dispensationalist christian.

He told me that he knows of dispensationalist Catholics. Is it possible to be Catholic and dispensationalist? What is church teaching on this.

He also argued that the early church fathers were dispensationalists. I always thought it was a calvinist offshoot theology first espoused by Darby and the pilgrim bretheren, later popularized by Scofield.

Would someone with more knowledge than me please straighten this out?


#2

What definition are wanting to use for dispensationalism?


#3

If he means that these Catholics are dispensationalists in the sense of the “Left Behind” books or “The Late, Great, Planet Earth,” then these Catholics are in serious error as this theology is incompatible with Catholicism. Many Catholic Bible scholars recognize a loose pattern of different and subsequent “dispensations” in salvation history, but not in the strict sense as do hardcore dispensationalists whose theology only goes back 150 years or so.

There were no Early Church Fathers who were dispensationalist in the, modern Evangelical sense. A few of them may have believed in pre-millenialism, but it has never been a teaching of the Church.

Go here for more info:

carl-olson.com/rapture_articles.html


#4

[quote=Fidelis]If he means that these Catholics are dispensationalists in the sense of the “Left Behind” books or “The Late, Great, Planet Earth,” then these Catholics are in serious error as this theology is incompatible with Catholicism. Many Catholic Bible scholars recognize a loose pattern of different and subsequent “dispensations” in salvation history, but not in the strict sense as do hardcore dispensationalists whose theology only goes back 150 years or so.

There were no Early Church Fathers who were dispensationalist in the, modern Evangelical sense. A few of them may have believed in pre-millenialism, but it has never been a teaching of the Church.

Go here for more info:

carl-olson.com/rapture_articles.html
[/quote]

It would be important to note that the few catholics who did beleive in miilenarism did not beleive in a a rapture where christians were spared tribulation. At the early centureis of the church there was disagreemtn on the exact palement of the millinium however as the early creeds did not cover the exact placment. The creeds simply said Jesus was coming again. But again no matter what they though on this subject no rapture and no zionist interpretation of the end times. That is of a rather recent protestant innovation little less than 150 years old.


#5

Another good reference is Paul Thigpen’s book the “Rapture Trap”. I beleive it was published in 2003. The book traces the history of Dispensationalism during the last 150 years. The Forward was written by Marcus Grodi of EWTN.


#6

The dispensationalists I know hold roughly the following: After the resurrection, God expected Israel to convert through the teaching of the Apostles, whereupon Jesus would return and inaugurate an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem, under which obedience to the law would still be a requirement for salvation. This plan A didn’t work out, and after the stoning of Stephen God gave up (or at least postponed) plan A and implemented plan B, by converting Paul and giving him a different gospel to preach, the gospel to the Gentiles. The “plan A” gospel can be found in the preaching of Jesus and the letter of James and other places in the New Testament - pretty much anywhere you see the bible teaching good works play a role in our salvation. The “plan B” gospel, the “gospel of grace” is found in Paul’s writings, teaching that we are saved by grace apart from works.

The whole thing is an interesting variant on the standard Protestant theology, in that it gives it’s adherents the ability to come to grips with the clear teaching of Jesus, James, etc., on the necessity of good works (instead of trying to twist these to mean something else, as standard Protestantism does), but still say those teachings don’t apply to them, because they’re under the “dispensation of grace”. Unfortunately, the whole “2 gospels” theory is utterly unbiblical and totally without support in the early fathers.

“1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also… 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” 1 Cor 15

THE (singular) gospel, the one by which you are saved, is preached by “I or they”, that is , Paul, Cephas, James, the 12, and the 500.

“6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Gal 1


#7

The whole thing is an interesting variant on the standard Protestant theology, in that it gives it’s adherents the ability to come to grips with the clear teaching of Jesus, James, etc., on the necessity of good works (instead of trying to twist these to mean something else, as standard Protestantism does), but still say those teachings don’t apply to them, because they’re under the “dispensation of grace”. Unfortunately, the whole “2 gospels” theory is utterly unbiblical and totally without support in the early fathers

My mother actually follows much of this based on a Radio Bible teacher “J Vernon McGee”. I think there are more people follow this at least around me than we realize. It allows them to get around standard arguments against the Rapture. I found this out one time.
I used one of John Martinoni (EWTN) arguments against the Rapture from his free tape on the Rapture. Mr Martinoni suggest using Jesus discourse in Mathew 24:37 regarding the coming of the Son of Man being compared to the time of Noah and the flood where the ones “left behind” was Noah and those in the Ark. In other words when Jesus comes you want to be one of the ones left behind. People that follow the dispensationalism we’re talking about get around this by saying that Jesus is talking about his coming long after the Rapture, the pre-tribulational rapture of the church already having occurred. It seems whenever you point a specific verse that refutes this theology, they usually will answer you got to take the whole bible.

Another Problem I’ve encountered is these people claim to take the whole bible literally (Literallist). Their rule of Biblical exegisis is “Take Everything Literally unless its impossible to do otherwise”. Obviously they don not take Christ words in John 6 literally. The people that follow this even go so far as claim that St. Augustine is the first modernist “read liberal” biblical exegete because he interpreted the O.T Prophecies spiritually fulfilled in the Church. I once heard Dr. V McGee preach a sermon on this very thing while I was driving home from Mass. It wouldn’t be a concern to me if I did not have family members that follow it. They believe rather we should take them as literal events. The Jewish people will literally return to Palestine and rebuild the Temple and when Christ returns and rules on earth, following Ezekiel the Jews will be resacrificing bulls and other animals again in their newly rebuilt temple after Russia attacks Israel “The so-called invaders from the North”. This ties into Gospel A v. Gospel B above. I don’t completely understand it all yet.


#8

[quote=philipmarus]My mother actually follows much of this based on a Radio Bible teacher “J Vernon McGee”. I think there are more people follow this at least around me than we realize. It allows them to get around standard arguments against the Rapture…
[/quote]

In addition to the resources listed above, you need to get your mother to read “Rapture: The End Times Fiction That Leaves The Bible Behind” by David Currie, published by Sophia Books. Currie is a convert from Protestantism who was raised in a Dispensationalist home and taught the doctrine before converting to Catholicism. It is a pretty thick book (though easy to read and not expensive) and starting with the Old Testament prophets systematically dismantles the Dispensationalist interpretations and provides the Catholic interpretation based on the Early Church Fathers. The section on the Book of Revelation is especially good.


#9

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