What is Hyper Dispensationalism?
Dispensationalism is a religious interpretive system for the Bible. It considers Biblical history as divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles. According to dispensationalist theology, each age of God’s plan is thus administered in a certain way, and humanity is held responsible as a steward during that time.Wikipedia – Dispensationalsim
First of all, let me say that we at Discerning the World are classic-dispensationalist. We believe that Biblical history is divided by God into dispensations to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles. Throughout time circumstances change, and therefore, God’s instructions change. I believe in a consistent literal and plain interpretation of scripture; the distinctiveness of Israel and the Church; and that the underlying purpose of God in the world is the glory of God. You could certainly expand on that further, but I think that captures dispensationalism succinctly.
The question then becomes, what is meant by hyper-dispensationalism?
The term is not new or made up. Hyper-dispensationalist make a very sharp distinction between the ministry of Christ and the Apostles, with a further sharp dividing between Paul’s teaching and that of Peter and the other Apostles. Here are some (but not all inclusive) characteristics of hyper-dispensationalism:
1. Hyper-dispensationalist believe that the four Gospels are entirely Jewish and contain no direct teaching for the Church. However, Hebrews 2:3-4 says that the same gospel of salvation preached by the Apostles was preached by Christ. In addition, 1 Timothy 6:3 shows that Christ spoke directly to the Church age.
2. Hyper-dispensationalist also believe that the Book of Acts was also largely Jewish. Hyper-dispensationalist believe that Jews were given a second chance to receive the Gospel in Acts. They teach two different Churches are viewed in the Book of Acts and the true Pauline church started in either Acts Chapter 9, 13, or 28 (depending on who you talk to.) But at the end of Acts, Paul is still preaching about the Kingdom as seen in Acts 28:23. Paul also preached the Kingdom in the Epistles in 2 Thessalonians 1:5 and 2 Timothy 4:1.
3. Hyper-dispensationalist believe that the mysteries given to Paul are a different revelation from that give to Peter and the other Apostles. Only Paul’s writings are for the Church today (and not all of Hebrews, James, Peter, and John’s epistles.) However, Paul said that the church is built on the foundation of the Apostles (plural!) and not just himself in Ephesians 2:20. Paul also said the mysteries were revealed to the Apostles (plural!) and prophets in Ephesians 3:5. Peter saw no distinction 2 Peter 3:1-2, 15-16. Paul certainly had unique revelations about the Church, but it didn’t contradict the general epistles.
4. Hyper-dispensationalists believe the Gospel preached by Paul is different that the one taught by Peter. Peter preached salvation through the blood of Christ, by God’s free mercy, the new birth, and eternal security 1 Peter 1:2-4. Acts Chapter 15 plainly states that all the Apostles agreed on the Gospel. Paul said they all preached the same Gospel 1 Corinthians 15:11-14.
5. Some (not all) Hyper-dispensationalist believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper were given before Paul received the Church Age mysteries and thus are not for today. Certainly, baptism and receiving the Lord’s Supper are not necessary for salvation. Salvation is by grace alone apart from any works. And yet, Paul did baptize some (1 Cor 1:13-17) and Philip and Peter baptized two Gentiles (Acts Chapters 8 and 10). So why be baptized? Baptism is supposedly an outward action based on an inward reality. Baptism is a testimony that the participant has trusted in Christ as Savior and they are identifying himself/herself by submitting themselves to baptism. Baptism is not necessary. I think it is a matter for the individual to decide if they want to be baptized or not. I don’t think one should actively preach/teach AGAINST baptism.
6. Finally, some Hyper-dispensationalist believe that there are different ways of salvation based on faith plus works, in the Old Testament and for Tribulation saints.
Well, that’s enough for now. I could go into more detail but that adequately covers what hyper-dispensationalist believe for our purposes here. I guess the biggest problem I have with hyper-dispensationalism is the implication that Jesus’ own teachings in the Gospels are not binding or applicable to the Church. I cannot imagine calling myself a Christian and in the next breath saying the words of my Savior are not applicable to me. That is “wrongly dividing” the word of truth.
Thanks to John for allowing us to use his comment as an article.
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