My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

My friends have often heard me say, “The more I read my Bible the less dispensational I become.” This statement comes from someone who was spiritually nurtured in churches with dispensational theology, who graduated from a Christian university steeped in dispensational theology, who received his first graduate degree from a dispensational seminary, and who—for twelve years—preached sermons that reflected dispensational theology. For the first sixteen years of my Christian life, I rarely questioned the fundamental distinctions of dispensational theology. What are those distinctions? In his discussion of what he called the “sine qua non of dispensationalism,” Ryrie asserted:

A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct … This is probably the most basic theological test of whether or not a man is a dispensationalist, and it is undoubtedly the most practical and conclusive (Ryrie 44-45).

Later he concluded, “the essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the Church” (Ryrie 47).

As a dispensationalist I studied my Bible with the understanding that God had dual and separate plans for Israel and the church. I understood this “church age” to be somewhat parenthetical until God resumed His plan with the nation of Israel. I believed that the Abrahamic covenant and all the other Old Testament covenants were essentially for national Israel, and that only the soteriological benefits of the covenants belonged to the church.

As I continued to pastor and preach, I realized that my training in the Old Testament was weak. I decided to pursue a Master of Theology in Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. My dispensational comrades in ministry assured me that Westminster would ruin my theology. I suppose many of them believe that has happened. Nevertheless, I was drawn to Westminster primarily because Bruce Waltke was teaching there. I had read books and articles by Dr. Waltke and had profited immensely from them.

While at Westminster I had the privilege of learning from Vern Poythress, Tremper Longman, and Raymond Dillard, along with Bruce Waltke. At first I listened as an antagonist, but I was soon won over by their personal graciousness and their commitment to Scripture. I began to experience discomfort as I realized that my commitment to dispensationalism was often unyielding, even when contradicted by the results of exegesis. These words from the introduction to my Th.M thesis summarize my response at that time:

Exegesis often eviscerates one’s theological presuppositions. When a theological bulwark withstands the penetration of biblical exegesis, its tenets remain secure. However, if its walls crumble beneath the weight of incisive and precise exegesis, then one must abandon the fortress and construct a better one (Davis, 1990, 1).

During the course of my study at Westminster, Bruce Waltke was my faculty advisor. I was privileged to have a number of personal discussions with him regarding the uneasiness I felt in questioning dispensationalism. As I considered what to research for my Th.M thesis, he suggested a topic that would be beneficial to me on my journey and helpful to others. I wrote “A Critical Evaluation of the Use of the Abrahamic Covenant in Dispensationalism.” The writing of that thesis opened a door and gave me a gentle push toward my eventual departure from dispensationalism.

As I worked through the exegesis of the Abrahamic Covenant and the hermeneutical issues surrounding it, I came to this conclusion:

Through an inductive study, this paper has arrived at a position that approximates covenant theology, namely, that that covenants confirm and explicate the program by which God redeems a people for Himself. It has been established that Israel and the church need to be perceived as sub-categories of a larger concept, i.e. the people of God. The Abrahamic covenant is not the beginning of the people of God, but rather God’s redemptive means, after the rebellion at Babel and the dispersion, to reclaim a fallen world to Himself. The Abrahamic covenant needs to be viewed in its relation to God’s purposes for the entire world, not simply His purposes for a nation. The Abrahamic covenant needs to viewed in light of the inauguration of eschatological times with the first advent of Jesus Christ, as well as the consummation of eschatology at the second advent (Davis 109).

Since those years at Westminster, I have continued to think about these issues and have become more and more convinced that exegesis and biblical theology do not support the sine qua non of dispensationalism (i.e., the distinction between Israel and the church). Since Christ is the final and fullest revelation of God, I now see that the Old Testament anticipated Christ and finds its interpretation and fulfillment in Christ.

In the New Testament—apart from well-debated text in Romans 11:25-27—there is not even a hint of a future restoration of the nation of Israel to the land. Of the seventy four references to Abraham in the New Testament, not one clearly focuses on the “earthly” elements of the covenant. Even the acceptance of a mass conversion of Israelites at some future time does not demand a return to a former order of things.

Take, for example, the Apostle Paul’s discussion of the relationship of the law to saving faith, in Galatians 3. He introduces Abraham as a paradigm of saving faith and of inclusion in the promises of God. In the course of his discussion, the apostle makes interpretive statements based on his understanding of the Genesis passages. These reflect on the Abrahamic covenant. These statements are as follows:

  1. “Those who believe are children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7).
  2. “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ’All nations will be blessed through you’” (Gal. 3:8).
  3. “Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham” (Gal. 3:9).
  4. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:14).
  5. “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).
  6. “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe” (Gal. 3:22).

Paramount in these verses is the redemptive significance of the Abrahamic covenant as it finds its consummation in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ, as the quintessential seed of Abraham, is both the guarantor and inheritor of the promises of the covenant.

Relationship with Christ, established by emulating the faith of Abraham, guarantees one’s participation in the promises of the covenant. It is not the keeping of the law or physical descent from Abraham that constitutes one as a child of Abraham, but rather faith in Jesus Christ.

These verses sanction the redemptive nature of the Abrahamic covenant. They confirm that covenant as the unifying factor between Jews and Gentiles, and they substantiate the view that there is one people of God of all ages that share the covenants of Scripture which find their consummation in Christ.

Strikingly, Paul perceives redemption in Christ to be the dominant, though not exclusive, feature of the Abrahamic covenant. He finds the consummation of the covenant in Christ and participation in the covenant to be predicated on relationship to Christ. Though, admittedly, I argue from silence here, the “material” nature of the promises to Abraham appears to be somewhat idealized in Christ. Though not necessarily removing those “material” elements of the Abrahamic covenant, Paul’s treatment certainly places them in a new light.

Consequently, due to the advent of Christ as the seed of Abraham, the New Testament sees a semi-realized fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant in New Testament believers and the church and an ultimate eternal fulfillment in the New Heavens and Earth for all those who are “seed” of Abraham by faith.

In Christ we have our “landedness” as we are “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” (Eph. 1:3) and are assured that we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:3).

The New Testament texts that consider the question, “Who are the legitimate heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant?” unequivocally answer, “All of those who are in Christ Jesus.” In reference to the unity of believing Jews and Gentiles, George N. H. Peters cogently concludes:

Both elect are the seed, the children of Abraham; both sets of branches are on the same stock, on the same root, on the same olive tree; both constitute the same Israel of God, the members of the same body, fellow-citizens of the same commonwealth; both are Jews “inwardly” (Romans 2:29), and of the true “circumcision” (Phil. 3:3), forming the same “peculiar people,” “holy nation,” and “royal priesthood”; both are interested in the same promises, covenants, and kingdom; both inherit and realize the same blessings at the same time (Peters 404).

In conclusion, may we all continue to “do theology” rooted in humility, exegesis, biblical theology, and community. Though I do not agree with many of Clark Pinnock’s theological conclusions, I do appreciate his delightful approach to the theological enterprise. He said,

I approach theology in a spirit of adventure, being always curious about what I may find. For me theology is like a rich feast, with many dishes to enjoy and delicacies to taste. It is like a centuries-old conversation that I am privileged to take part in, a conversation replete with innumerable voices to listen to…. More like a pilgrim than a settler, I tread the path of discovery and do my theology en route (quoted in Grenz 134).

Works Cited

Davis, John P. “A Critical Examination of the Use of the Abrahamic Covenant in Dispensationalism.” Master of Theology Thesis, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990.
Grenz, Stanley J. Renewing the Center. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000.
Peters, George N. H. The Theocratic Kingdom. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, Kregel Publications, 1952.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Dispensationalism Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.

Dr. John P. Davis is currently planting a church in Sunnyside (Queens), New York. Grace Fellowship Church is a gospel-centered city church seeking to reach people of all nations. John received the Bachelor of Arts in Bible with a minor in Greek at Bob Jones University, a Master of Divinity from Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, the Master of Theology in Old Testament from Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Ministry from Biblical Theological Seminary. His Th.M. thesis was A Critical Evaluation of the Use of the Abrahamic Covenant in Dispensationalism. His D.Min. project/dissertation was Common Factors in the Practice of Ongoing Personal Evangelism. In addition to Sunnyside, NY John has pastored churches in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, in Brooklyn, New York, and in Roslyn, Pennsylvania. Two of the churches were new church-plants.



There’s no hidden meaning to my question or special ‘gotcha’ that I’m aiming at. As I said before, this is not the first time that I’ve asked about how you define orthodoxy or why you disparage a literal hermeneutic. I could cite several other instances, but it’s obvious now that you have no intention of answering and have sadly chosen the path of ad hominem attacks. I’ve also tried to contact you personally about this matter, but you haven’t replied to those messages either, so I’m not sure what to do.

I’m not advocating Wikipedia as anything “scholarly”…I’m using Wikipedia because it’s a convenient resource that anyone has access to, as opposed to some of the hermeneutical texts that you cite and approve of. Forgive me this wrong! Here I was thinking that ShaperIron was a place for all Fundamentalists to discuss theology. Maybe I’ll learn now that some of us don’t actually belong in the discussion.

In any case, we’re off topic, so I’m going to let this go.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay C,

Someone else mentioned messaging me, and I never got their’s either, so I’ll have to contact SI about that because I don’t have any messages from you.

Try pm’ing if you tried email; I think the SI switch makes all SI emails go into my spam folder, so I never see them. If you tried pm’ing let me know, as I have not had problems with those yet.

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by Ad hominem; if you quote me, I’ll know what you’re talking about. But my last post does not seem to be an ad hominem as I did not argue against some position by attacking you. Moreover, I did respond to your post specifically, so you must have something different in mind by “answer,” seeing as my last post was an explanation of why I take you to be reading things into or out of my posts that aren’t what I was getting at or addressing.

Anyway, like I said, try pm’ing your messages, and I’ll go rummage through my email, see if I can find anything.

[Joseph] You should at least read the chapter by Poythress; it’s quite brief, would probably take no more than ten or so minutes (I’m estimating roughly), and would clarify the kind of problems I was getting at with the naive use of the word “literal.”
I read the article, and I found it quite helpful. Jay C, it would be wise to read it to understand what Joseph is talking about. Joseph, thanks for the link. Poythress expressed exactly where I’m at regarding the vagueness of the term “literal”. This is why I wrote what I did in the “Why I am a disp” thread in critique of the “literal” method.

I have read Poythress’ chapter quickly and find that it adds nothing new or definitive to the debate. Most dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists alike would agree with his basic exposition of historical grammatical exegesis (a term which dispensationalists do, in fact, use freely). Dispensationalists have answered the questions which Poythress raises “literally” thousands of times in dissertations, theses and lectures :).

In my opinion, dispensationalists really won the debate over literal interpretation in this broad sense 50 to 60 years ago. The crux of the debate between dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists (including Preterists and Covenant Theologians) at this point, as I state in my article “Why I Am a Dispensationalist,” is as follows:

“Literal interpretation involves the idea that there is no allowance for interpreting a text on the basis of any subjective influence, including the meaning of metaphors or images in a non-parallel passage.”

An example of violating this principle would be when Preterists appeal to a passage like Isa. 19:1 to interpret Matt. 24:30.

It has also been discouraging to see some pick up the mantra of “common sense” in disparaging dispensationalism in these threads — saying dispensationalsm is a product of common sense rationalism. This too is an anacrhonistic argument which has oft been answered.

If one actually examines the way in which dispensationalists themselves have used this term, he will find that it is a technical term which relates to “the (common) sense of the passage as taken in its context” (my off the cuff definition). In other words, it is the sense which a particular word has in “common” with the related words in the passage — not the interpreter’s “horse sense.”

It is non-dispensationalists, with their reliance on afore-mentioned subjective influences in interpreting passages, who bring rationalism (and mysticism) into the interpretive process.

Case in point: I once heard an educated, skillful Lutheran teacher say that the “angel” of Rev. 14:6, 7 was (literally) Martin Luther. Need I say more?

(I became a dispensationalist shortly thereafter :).)

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

[Ted Bigelow] I have traveled the opposite path, from a covenantal approach to a dispensational awareness in Scripture. It would be nice to see someone with a background like mine write up his own theological understanding. I would love to, but am already too involved in ministry and other book projects. I even posses the same theological degrees on my wall you do. But since I’m here now, let me snipe in a little, OK, John ;)

You write: “In the New Testament—apart from well-debated text in Romans 11:25-27—there is not even a hint of a future restoration of the nation of Israel to the land. ” Are you kidding, John?

Let me start with a more obscure text. Check out James 5:17-18 in context - written to godly Jews expereincing God’s judgment on Israel by being removed out of the land of Israel - just like Elijah did, who also was removed out of the land of Israel for being faithful to the God of Israel (1 Kings 17:8ff). Notice the repeitiion of “land” in 17-18, and the promise at the end of v. 18 of future fruit. BTW, Elijah’s removal from the land resulted in Getnile salvation, (widow from Sidon and family), even as the Jews being scattered (James 1:1) resulted in the same. The point of the text is to pray that God will end his judgment on Israel, just as Elijah prayed for an end to rain on the land of Israel. I trust you know the OT significance of rain in relation to God’s cov’t with Israel (Lev. 26:3-4, Deut 8, 1 Kings 8:35ff).

Or, moving to those texts we are more familiar with, check out Mark 9:9-12, in which Jesus assures the 3 disciples that Elijah does come and fulfill Malachi. 4. He came in John the Baptist, but the people rejected him. JB never did “restore the hearts of the father to the sons,” etc., which in context is covenant promise to the nation, not merely families within the nation. Elijah’s ministry is yet to be fulfilled, since the people did not receive John the Baptist any more than they received Jesus (c.f. Matthew 11:14). Elijah even shows up on the Mt. of Transfiguration in connection with the Kingdom in the promised land (Mark 9:1-4). The disciples recognize that Elijah, the future land of Israel, and bodily resurrection, all go together - and Jesus does not correct their understanding of this (Mark 9:9-13).

Perhaps the best known is the discussion of land in Acts 1:6ff. It is an assurance from the Lord that the kingdom will be restored to Israel, but not at this time. To see this, trace out what Jesus leaves out in 1:5 - “fire.” He left it out since the baptism of fire is eschatological fire on Israel, not the tongues of fire at Pentecost (see Mat. 3:11-12, Luke 3:16-17). Since Jesus told the disciples that the only baptism coming was that of the Holy spirit, and not fire (eschatological fire) in Acts 1:5, it prompted their correct question of Acts 1:6 - an eschatological question.

That’s enough for now. All that to answer a statement you made which has an apriori commitment you have about what you want the NT to say so it reflects the larger schema of theology that you embrace. Of course, if the apostles and NT prophets did not share your covenantal stance, they would see no reason to reiterate the land promise since they embraced it by the equally as inspired OT. They were writing to churches, were they not?

Apart from all that - may God send His Beloved Holy Spirit, in direct connection with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, to draw sinners to Christ and thereby bless immensely the new church you are laboring to establish. All for His eternal glory.

Ted Bigelow,
I fail to see what you see in these texts. To use your words, “are you kidding?” It is this kind of dispensational textual maneuvering that gives impetus to my journey.
Thanks for responding, John. All I wanted was raise to your awareness that dispensationalists are unwilling to cede your argument that the NT does not mention the land. You are free of course to dismiss my exegesis as textual maneuvering and be done with it, that is certainly your privilege. But answer me question: When “the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him”, from where does He come, and where is then that He judges the nations?” (Mat. 25:31-32).

[Paul J. Scharf] I have read Poythress’ chapter quickly and find that it adds nothing new or definitive to the debate.

“Literal interpretation involves the idea that there is no allowance for interpreting a text on the basis of any subjective influence, including the meaning of metaphors or images in a non-parallel passage.”

It has also been discouraging to see some pick up the mantra of “common sense” in disparaging dispensationalism in these threads — saying dispensationalsm is a product of common sense rationalism. This too is an anacrhonistic argument which has oft been answered.

If one actually examines the way in which dispensationalists themselves have used this term, he will find that it is a technical term which relates to “the (common) sense of the passage as taken in its context” (my off the cuff definition). In other words, it is the sense which a particular word has in “common” with the related words in the passage — not the interpreter’s “horse sense.”

Given that you quoted your earlier definition, I gather you read Poythress’s article too “quickly” to read what he said, else you would not have claimed to read it than post a definition that illustrates one of the things he was criticizing. I have no idea how metaphor is a “subjective influence” or what constitutes a “parallel passage” but, again, Poythress makes a number of points that call into question (to put it mildly) the definition you offer, among the most obvious of which is the levels of context that determine meaning, which in Scripture extend to the canonical level at least, not just “parallel passages.”

[Your first reaction to the web item that follows that I recently ran across may well be one of astonishment or even anger. But the author, an evangelical historian who has spent several decades focusing on dispensationalism’s roots, states that Timothy’s qualifications for church leaders, though often not enforced, are still in the Word, adding that when cult watchers compare, for example, Mormonism with evangelicalism they don’t merely compare the Bible with the Book of Mormon but also critically air the “dirty linen” in the lives of Smith and Young. I would like to get some in-depth reactions to this web piece but only after the sources in it are checked out and discussed in scholarly fashion. If Darby wasn’t first on any crucial aspect of dispensationalism (including the pretribulational rapture) but quietly rewrote others who preceded him, as the author’s 300-page work “The Rapture Plot” backs up with much documentation, is it not a matter of vital interest to scholars today? Here then is the web article in question:]


by Dave MacPherson

When I began my research in 1970 into the exact beginnings of the pretribulation rapture belief still held by many evangelicals, I assumed that the rapture debate involved only “godly scholars with honest differences.” The paper you are now reading reveals why I gave up that assumption many years ago. With this introduction-of-sorts in mind, let’s take a long look at the pervasive dishonesty throughout the history of the 179-year-old pretrib rapture theory:

Mid-1820’s - German scholar Max Weremchuk’s work “John Nelson Darby” (1992) included what Benjamin Newton revealed about John Darby in the mid-1820’s during his pre-Brethren days as an Anglican clergyman:

J. N. Darby was a very subtle man. He had been a lawyer, or at least educated for the law. Once he wanted his Archbishop to pursue a certain course, when he (J.N.D.) was a curate in his diocese. He wrote a letter, therefore, saying he had been educated for the law, knew what the legal course would properly be; and then having written that clearly, he mystified the remainder of the letter both in word and in handwriting, and ended up by saying: You see, my Lord, such being the legal aspect of the case it would unquestionably be the best course for you to pursue, etc. And the Archbishop couldn’t make out the legal part, but rested on Darby’s word and did as he advised. Darby afterwards laughed over it, and indeed he showed a copy of the letter to Tregelles. This is not mentioned in the Archbishop’s biography, but in it is the fact that he spoke of Darby as ‘the most subtle man in my diocese.’ “

This reminds me of an 1834 letter by Darby which spoke of the “Lord’s coming.” Darby added, concerning this coming, that “the thoughts are new” and that during any teaching of it “it would not be well to have it so clear.” Darby’s deviousness here was his usage of a centuries-old term - “Lord’s coming” - to cover up his desire to sneak the new pretrib idea into existing posttrib groups in very low-profile ways!

1830 - In the spring of 1830 a young Scottish lassie, Margaret Macdonald, came up with the novel notion of a catching up [rapture] of Spirit-filled “church” members before Antichrist’s “trial” [tribulation] of non-Spirit-filled “church” members - the first instance I’ve found of clear “pretrib” teaching (which was part of a partial rapture scheme). In Sep. 1830 “The Morning Watch” (a journal produced by London preacher Edward Irving and his “Irvingite” followers, some of whom had visited Margaret a few weeks earlier) began repeating her original thoughts and even her wording but gave her no credit - the first plagiarism I’ve found in pretrib history. Darby was still defending posttrib in Dec. 1830.

Pretrib promoters have long known the significance of her main point: a rapture of “church” members BEFORE the revealing of Antichrist. Which is why John Walvoord quoted nothing in her revelation, why Thomas Ice habitually skips over her main point but quotes lines BEFORE and AFTER it, and why Hal Lindsey muddies up her main point so he can (falsely) assert that she was NOT a pretribber! (Google “X-Raying Margaret” for info about her.)

NOTE: The development of the 1800’s is thoroughly documented in my book “The Rapture Plot.” You’ll learn that Darby wasn’t original on any chief aspect of dispensationalism (but plagiarized the Irvingites); that pretrib was initially based on only OT and NT symbols and not clear Scripture; that the symbols included the Jewish feasts, the two witnesses, and the man child - symbols adopted by Darby during most of his career; that Darby’s later reminiscences exaggerated his earliest pretrib development, and that today’s defenders such as Thomas Ice have further overstated what Darby overstated; that Irvingism didn’t need later reminiscences to “clarify” its own early pretrib development; that ancient hymns and even the writings of the Reformers were subtly revised to make it appear they had taught pretrib; and that after Darby’s death a clever revisionist quietly made many changes in early Irvingite and Brethren documents in order to steal credit for pretrib away from the Irvingites (and their female inspiration!) and give it dishonestly to Darby! (Before continuing, Google the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site and read “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers” - a sample of the current exciting internetism!)

1920 - Charles Trumbull’s book “The Life Story of C. I. Scofield” told only the dispensationally-correct side of his life. Two recent books, Joseph Canfield’s “The Incredible Scofield and His Book” (1988) and David Lutzweiler’s “The Praise of Folly” (2009), reveal the other side including his being jailed as a forger, dishonestly giving himself a non-conferred “D.D.” etc. etc.!

1967 - Brethren scholar Harold Rowdon’s “The Origins of the Brethren” quoted Darby associate Lord Congleton who was “disgusted with…the falseness” of Darby’s accounts of things. Rowdon also quoted historian William Neatby who said that others felt that “the time-honoured method of single combat” was as good as anything “to elicit the truth” from Darby. (In other words, knock it out of him!)

1972 - Tim LaHaye’s “The Beginning of the End” (1972) plagiarized Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970).

1976 - Charles Ryrie”s “The Living End” (1976) plagiarized Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970) and “There’s A New World Coming” (1973).

1976 - After John Walvoord’s “The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation” (1976) brutally twisted Robert Gundry’s “The Church and the Tribulation” (1973), Gundry composed and circulated a 35-page open letter to Walvoord which repeatedly charged the Dallas Seminary president with “misrepresentation,” “misrepresentations” (and variations)!

1981 - “The Fundamentalist Phenomenon” (1981) by Jerry Falwell, Ed Dobson, and Ed Hindson heavily plagiarized George Dollar’s 1973 book “A History of Fundamentalism in America.”

1984 - After a prof at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Florida told me that the No. 2 man at the AG world headquarters in Missouri - Joseph Flower - had the label of posttrib, my wife and I had two hour-long chats with him. He verified what I had been told. But we were dumbstruck when he told us that although AG ministers are required to promote pretrib, privately they can believe any other rapture view! Flower said that his father, an AG co-founder, was also posttrib. We also learned while in Springfield that when the AG’s were organized in 1914, the initial group was divided between posttribs and pretribs - but that the pretribs shouted louder which resulted in that denomination officially adopting pretrib! (For details on this and other pretrib double-mindedness, Google “Pretrib Hypocrisy.”)

1989 - Since 1989 Thomas Ice has referred to the “Mac-theory” (his reference to my research), giving the impression there’s no solid evidence that Macdonald was the real pretrib originator. But Ice carefully conceals the fact that no eminent church historian of the 1800’s - whether Plymouth Brethren or Irvingite - credited Darby with pretrib. Instead, they uniformly credited leading Irvingite sources, all of which upheld the Scottish lassie’s contribution! Moreover, I’m hardly the only modern scholar seeing significance in Irvingism’s territory. Others in recent years who have noted it, but who haven’t mined it as deeply as I have, include Fuller, Ladd, Bass, Rowdon, Sandeen, and Gundry.

1989 - Greg Bahnsen and Kenneth Gentry produced evidence in 1989 that Lindsey’s book “The Road to Holocaust” (1989) plagiarized “Dominion Theology” (1988) by H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice.

1990 - David Jeremiah’s and C. C. Carlson’s “Escape the Coming Night” (1990) massively plagiarized Lindsey’s 1973 book “There’s A New World Coming.” (For more info, type in “Thieves’ Marketing” on MSN or Google.)

1991 - Paul Lee Tan’s “A Pictorial Guide to Bible Prophecy” (1991) plagiarized large amounts of Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970).

1991 - Militant Darby defender R. A. Huebner claimed in 1991 to have found new evidence that Darby was pretrib as early as 1827 - three years before Macdonald. Halfway through his book Huebner suddenly admitted that his evidence could refer to something completely un-rapturesque. Even though Thomas Ice admitted to me that he knew that Huebner had “blown” his so-called evidence, prevaricator Ice continues to tell the world that Huebner has “positive evidence” that Darby was pretrib in 1827! Ice also conceals the fact that Darby, in his own 1827 paper, was looking for only “the restitution of all things” and “the times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19,21) - which Scofield doesn’t see fulfilled until AFTER a future tribulation!

1992 - Tim LaHaye’s “No Fear of the Storm” (1992) plagiarized Walvoord’s “The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation” (1976).

1992 - This was when the Los Angeles Times revealed that “The Magog Factor” (1992) by Hal Lindsey and Chuck Missler was a monstrous plagiarism of Prof. Edwin Yamauchi’s scholarly 1982 work “Foes from the Northern Frontier.” Four months after this exposure, Lindsey and Missler stated they had stopped publishing and promoting their book. But in 1996 Dr. Yamauchi learned that the dishonest duo had issued a 1995 book called “The Magog Invasion” which still had a substantial amount of the same plagiarism! (If Lindsey and Missler ever need hernia operations, I predict that the doctors will tell them not to lift anything for a long time!)

1994 - In 1996 it was revealed that Lindsey’s “Planet Earth - 2000 A.D.” (1994) had an embarrassing amount of plagiarism of a Texe Marrs book titled “Mystery Mark of the New Age” (1988).

1995 - My book “The Rapture Plot” reveals the dishonesty in Darby’s reprinted works. It’s often hard to tell who wrote the footnotes and when. It’s easy to believe that the notes, and also unsigned phrases inside brackets within the text, were a devious attempt by someone (Darby? his editor?) to portray a Darby far more developed in pretrib thinking than he actually had been at the time. I found that some of the “additives” had been taken from Darby’s much later works, when he was more developed, and placed next to or inside his earliest works! One footnote by Darby’s editor, attached to Darby’s 1830 paper, actually stated that “it was not worth while either suppressing or changing” anything in this work! If his editor wasn’t open to such dishonesty, how can we explain such a statement?

Post-1995 - Thomas Ice’s article “Inventor of False Pre-Trib Rapture History” states that my book “The Rapture Plot” is “only one of the latest in a series of revisions of his original discourse….” And David Reagan in his article “The Origin of the Concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture” repeats Ice’s falsehood by claiming that I have republished my first book “over the years under several different titles.”

Although my book repeats a bit of the Macdonald origin of pretrib (for new readers), all of my books are packed with new material not found in my other works. For some clarification, “The Incredible Cover-Up” has photos of pertinent places in Ireland, Scotland, and England not found in my later books plus several chapters dealing with theological arguments; “The Great Rapture Hoax” quotes scholars throughout the Church Age, covers Scofield’s hidden side, a section on Powerscourt, the 1980 election, the Jupiter Effect, Gundry’s change, and more theological arguments; “The Rapture Plot” reveals for the first time the Great Evangelical Revisionism/Robbery and includes appendices on miscopying, plagiarism, etc.; and “The Three R’s” shows hypocritical evangelicals employing occultic beliefs they say they have long opposed!

So Thomas Ice etc. are twisting truth when they claim I am only a revisionist. Do they really think that my publishers DON’T know what I’ve previously written?

Re arguments, Google “Pretrib Rapture - Hidden Facts” and also obtain “The End Times Passover” and “Why Christians Will Suffer ‘Great Tribulation’ ” (AuthorHouse, 2006) by media personality Joe Ortiz.

1997 - For years Harvest House Publishers has owned and been republishing Lindsey’s book “There’s A New World Coming.” During the same time Lindsey has been peddling his reportedly “new” book “Apocalypse Code” (1997), much of which is word-for-word the same as the Harvest House book - and there’s no notice of “simultaneous publishing” in either book! Talk about pretrib greed!

1997 - This is the year I discovered that more than 50 pages of Dallas Seminary professor Merrill Unger’s book “Beyond the Crystal Ball” (Moody Press, 1973) constituted a colossal plagiarism of Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (1970). After Lindsey’s book came out, Unger had complained that Lindsey’s book had plagiarized his classroom lecture notes. It was evident that Unger felt that he too should cash in on his own lectures! (The detailed account of this Dallas Seminary dishonesty is revealed in my 1998 book “The Three R’s.”)

1998 - Tim LaHaye’s “Understanding the Last Days” (1998) plagiarized Lindsey’s “There’s A New World Coming” (1973).

1999 - More than 200 pages (out of 396 pages) in Lindsey’s 1999 book “Vanished Into Thin Air” are virtually carbon copies of pages in his 1983 book “The Rapture” - with no “updated” or “revised” notice included! Lindsey has done the same nervy thing with several of his books, something that has allowed him to live in million-dollar-plus homes and drive cars like Ferraris! (See my Google articles “Deceiving and Being Deceived” and “Thieves’ Marketing” for further evidence of this notably pretrib vice.)

2000 - A Jack Van Impe article “The Moment After” (2000) plagiarized Grant Jeffrey’s book “Final Warning” (1995).

2001 - Since 2001 my web article “Walvoord’s Posttrib ‘Varieties’ - Plus” has been exposing his devious muddying up of posttrib waters. In some of his books he invented four “distinct” and “contradictory” posttrib divisions, claiming that they are either “classic” or “semiclassic” or “futurist” or “dispensational” - distinctions that disappear when analyzed! His “futurist” group holds to a literal future tribulation and a literal millennium but doesn’t embrace “any day” imminency. But his “dispensational” group has the same non-imminency! Moreover, tribulational futurism is found in every group except the first one, and he somehow admitted that a literal millennium is in all four groups! On the other hand, it’s the pretribs who consistently disagree with each other over their chief points and subpoints - but somehow end up agreeing that there will be a pretrib rapture!

2001 - Since my “Deceiving and Being Deceived” web item which exposed the claims for Pseudo-Ephraem” and “Morgan Edwards” as teachers of pretrib, there has been a piranha-like frenzy on the part of pretrib bodyguards and their duped groupies to “discover” almost anything before 1830 walking upright on two legs that seemed to have at least a remote hint of pretrib! (An exemplary poster boy for such pretrib practice is Grant Jeffrey. To get your money’s worth, Google “Wily Jeffrey.”)

********* Moderator Note************

Edited to remove solicitations to buy. Interest in advertising should be pursued by contacting the site administrator.

Prophecy Person!


I imagine that most people will be more interested in exegetical arguments rather than long cut-and-pastes making dubious charges that are not really relevant to the issue. If a pretrib position is wrong, it is not because someone plagiarized someone else, or misrepresented them. I think the audience here would be better served by a more exegetical interaction with the issues of the text.

Furthermore, in accordance with the policies of the site, if you would like to advertise, please contact the site administrator to work something out.

Hmm… Isn’t this the book I’ve been getting SPAM about for the last six months?

We’ve already heard a good bit from those who want to dismiss dispensationalism on the grounds that it’s systematizers lacked the proper credentials (see

I suspect that those who dismiss ideas based on the source rather than the arguments are all convinced already, and probably don’t need reams of alleged plagiarism. And those who are adherents to dispensationalism because they find the biblical evidence persuasive are not generally going to find the plot idea very interesting.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.


I have no idea how metaphor is a “subjective influence” or what constitutes a “parallel passage” but, again, Poythress makes a number of points that call into question (to put it mildly) the definition you offer, among the most obvious of which is the levels of context that determine meaning, which in Scripture extend to the canonical level at least, not just “parallel passages.”

As I state in my last post: “An example of violating this principle would be when Preterists appeal to a passage like Isa. 19:1 to interpret Matt. 24:30.” In Isaiah, the LORD is riding on a cloud against Egypt. Preterists wrongly use this passage as a basis of saying that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70 when Christ “returned” and smashed Jerusalem via the Roman armies — in a spiritual “cloud coming.”

This is a subjective use of a metaphor or image in a non-parallel passage which has no direct bearing on the passage they want to use it to interpret. For one main thing, in the OT such cloud comings are always on behalf of Israel against her enemies, never against Israel!

If you cannot determine what a parallel passage is to the passage at hand, then, frankly, you cannot go far in the interpretive process. Do we make this type of judgment with infallible accuracy? Obviously not — but make it we must, or our search goes nowhere (cf. Deut. 29:29).

Of course the entire Bible is the ultimate level of context in which any passage is found. Does that mean that any and every passage informs us about any other passage equally? Of course not.

I do not have time to do a thorough, academic review of Poythress. For whatever it is worth, dispensationalists have answered him at length — so maybe someone favorable to dispensationalism can paste some of that here. In my limited experience, however, I can say that I have found dispensational Bible teachers (as a general rule) to be far more concerned about the importance of context than non-dispensational teachers. And I do listen regularly to numerous non-dispensationalists who I respect, admire and learn from.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

OK … I’m not arguing for anything … or against anything; I’m just offering a link to a piece from Spurgeon’s The Sword and the Trowel (July 1869) that describes his angst and animosity for the Darby Disciples!

[Quote] Dear SIR,—If any more testimony were needed in confirmation of the admirable and truthful article in this month’s Sword and Trowel, I could give much from personal experience, and the more so that I had a narrow or rather providential escape from falling into the meshes of this truly Jesuitical system, which would probably have dried up every loving feeling in my heart, and sapped away every earnest desire for winning perishing souls for Jesus. I can endorse from personal observation almost every sentence in your article as to the effect of Darbyism on personal character, though I was not aware before of the extent of the unscripturalness of their doctrines. It would be well if your article could be put into the hands of every Darbyite not too deeply inoculated with the pernicious principles of Darbyism, and circulated far and wide in every evangelical congregation of Christians.[/Quote]

Continue reading here:

Ken Fields

Two theads concerning dispensationalism, and very little except attacking the doctrine’s newness, or founders, or supposed lack of intellectualism—all of which have been answered time and again. And yet, very little Scriptural debate…

Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Not really, but you know those Dispensationalists….

Seriously, though, I would like to know if there have been any works done on the development of Darby’s theology, or on the rise of Dispensationalism in the early brethren movement. I’ve heard about the McPherson story and some other things, but I’m looking for, um, academically credible sources.

My Blog:

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

[Greg Long] Two theads concerning dispensationalism, and very little except attacking the doctrine’s newness, or founders, or supposed lack of intellectualism—all of which have been answered time and again. And yet, very little Scriptural debate…
I’m a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned Scofield’s run-in with the law … time in a St. Louis jail for forgery … his apparent alcohol abuse … his divorce and desertion of his wife and two daughters and remarriage soon thereafter.

These were all apparently pre-conversion episodes, but interesting fodder to further Greg’s point!!! Interestingly, a divorced and remarried man was an ordained Congregationalist minister and editor of the study Bible many dispensationalists carry!!

Evidence here:…

And here:

Again, I am not making an argument for or against anything … just offering more SPAM!

Ken Fields


These subjects you attempt to call to our attention to are very old news. MacPherson’s claims regarding Dispensationalism have been reviewed and discussed by several scholars over several years. Dave McPherson is not an “Evangelical Historian.” He was kicked out of BIOLA for obsessively seeking to denounce the Pre Trib. rapture to the point of causing disruption in several classes and showing disrespect toward faculty. He was also a poor student. He has no graduate degrees. He has no historical or theological training. His books have been reviewed by competent historians and found to have made up stories without proper verifiable sources or documentation. Church historians of all Eschatological viewpoints have denounced his claims regarding the origin of the Pre-Trib rapture view. You will not find competent scholars focusing their discussion of the Rapture question from the standpoint of history or persons. Most deal with the exegetical and theological facts.

One of the most influential scholars in promoting and popularizing the “Historic Premillennial” position with the Post tribulation view was George Ladd. However, he was an incurable alcoholic until his death and lost his wife and children who hated him. A recent Biography discussed this. Fuller seminary disciplined him but did not dismiss him. However, even his theology must be dealt with from the standpoint of Biblical exegesis not his personal problems. I personally studied under him and knew him.

The subject of Dispensational theology must be approached from the standpoint of Sola Scriptura.