What is it? What are “dispensations” in modern Christian thought? Keep it terse, please.
Dear Peter Dawson,
According to dispensationalists at least three dispensations (or economies) are seen in St. Paul’s writings: one preceding the present time (see Col. 1: 25-26), the present arrangement (see Eph. 1: 10), and a future administration (Eph. 1: 10). These three are said to require a fourth - one before the law, and a pre-law dispenstation would seem to need to be divided into pre and post-fall economies. Thus the five administrations are distinguished (at least within a pre-millenial understanding of the bible). Seven are counted to include the times after the Noahic flood and after the call of Abraham.
The dispensational scheme of biblical interpretation is arbitrary and fanciful and was unheard of before J. N. Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren sect.
Hope this is of some help to you. If you wish to read a critique of this system I would strongly recommend Dispensationalism by William Cox and published by Presbyterian and Reformed, It should still be in print in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Warmest good wishes,