Friday, 12 November 2010

Dispensational pre-millennialism

Guest blogger Mick Taylor continues his series on ‘the Last Days’

Dispensational Pre-millennialism is a much more recent teaching and began with J N Darby, a founder of the Brethren Movement in the in the early 19th century. It became hugely influential through the notes in the Schofield Reference Bible and is a dominant perspective of many Christian fundamentalists, especially in the USA.

A particular distinctive of the Dispensational Pre-millennialist view is the secret return of Christ at the Rapture. In this teaching (at least in its original form) Christians will not endure the tribulation but will be secretly raptured before it starts - as portrayed in the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Non-Christians will not see Christ appear but will be shocked by the disappearance of all true Christians. During the ensuing period of Tribulation the Anti-Christ will appear and will at the end of a period of seven years wage war on those who have become Christians during this time. This will include the vast majority of the Jews. The conflict will reach its climax at the battle of Armageddon (Rev 16:16) and when defeat looks inevitable Christ will return in glory with the raptured saints. This time every eye will see him. Then begins the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth in which the Jewish Christians will take a leading role and all the unfilled promises of the Old Testament concerning Israel are fulfilled, including the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

So for Dispensational Pre-millennialists the scheme is:


Behind this slightly different scheme lie less obvious but even more significant issues. Key to this view is that the Old Testament promises about Israel have to have a literal fulfilment. So the apostolic interpretation, that many of these are fulfilled in the coming of Christ and His resurrection, is downplayed. (Acts 13:32-34). Along with this, dispensationalists conclude that God has, in a sense, two people. The Jews and the Church both have a destiny but they are different. Israel has an earthly destiny, the church has a heavenly one. Often those who hold this view also adopt an uncritical pro-Israeli attitude in regard to present day tensions in the Middle East.

To be continued…