THE PRESENT CHRISTIAN DELUSION A DOCTRINE OUR FOUNDERS NEVER KNEW
By: Dorothy Anne Seese
This might come as a shock to many serious, Bible-believing Christians, but the doctrine of dispensationalism was totally unknown to the Puritans, Pilgrims, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and others who were the early religious settlers of our nation. It was unknown to our founding fathers who were Christians. In fact, it was an unknown doctrine until the middle of the 19th century, yet almost all fundamental Christian denominations are espousing this product of John Nelson Darby and Dr. C. I. Scofield.
Basically, the idea that national Israel has a key role in all end times events, that Israel must exist as a nation to bring about the end of this present age and the second advent of Christ comes straight out of the dispensational handbook as written by Dr. Scofield and promulgated by Dallas Theological Seminary. No such ideas ever prevailed in the early Church, the Reformation, or the Christian faith as practiced in the first hundred years of this nation's existence. Darby's theory of a "secret rapture" of the Church and of the separation of Israel and the Church were treated as oddities in Biblical teaching by his own Plymouth Brethren in England. Prior to that time, established doctrine treated national Israel's mission as bringing forth the Messiah and once that was accomplished, there was nothing more for national Israel to do in the service of the Kingdom of God. The Resurrection of Christ, as explained in the New Testament in detail by the Apostle Paul, had brought forth "one new man" from among Jews and Gentiles, and henceforth the earth consisted of two groups of people, those who were in God's Kingdom (the saved) and those who were not (the lost). Even St. Paul, in Romans, laments the fate of his Jewish brethren for rejecting their Messiah.
What Darby produced was a doctrine of two "second comings" of Christ, one secret for the purpose of "rapturing" the church to heaven prior to the end times, and the second advent at the finale of end times prophecies for the judgment of the world. No hint of any such double advent is given by Jesus in His description of the end times given in Matthew chapter 24 or Luke chapter 21.
From Darby's work, Dr. C. I. Scofield set about to advance his theories and produced an annotated "Scofield Bible of 1909" in which his dispensationalist doctrines, first devised by J. N. Darby, are set forth in the form of notes "explaining" the meaning of various passages of the Bible. For the past seventy years or so, the dispensationalist explanation of the book of Revelation and the 70th week of Daniel have dominated nearly all fundamental Christian denominations. They are, as a rule, rejected wholly by the liturgical churches that retain the Christian faith in its post-Reformation state of believing in the Church as God's people, whether in heaven or on earth (sometimes called the Church Universal), including both Jew and Gentile, and rejecting any role of a national Israel in Bible eschatology (end-time events).
Having begun in late 1968 to find out about Christianity, my schooling has included just about every form of belief and doctrine being taught, but today the dominance of dispensationalism is influencing not only forms of belief in the Church, but in the way that Christian people look at Israel and the duties of the United States of America with regard to the nation of Israel.
Do I anticipate a one-world government? Yes. That is entirely possible whether Israel exists as a nation or not. Would I be surprised at the rise of an antichrist at the helm of the one world government? No. Various forms of antichrists have existed since the birth of the Christian church, so to have one final world ruler, a position to which many have aspired throughout the ages, is not dispensationalist. Do I believe in a "zap rapture" of the church before all the troubles begin? No. I find that most people who are preoccupied with such a rapture are people with deep and serious problems on earth and who find that path of escape the most desirable idea presented in the churches that adhere to dispensationalism. It would be a magnificent exit to simply be swooped up by the Lord with all His people on earth and carried away from all our problems, pains and other sufferings here in this short lifetime. I simply do not believe that such a secret "second advent before the real second advent" is in the Bible. It has been put there by Dr. Scofield and taught with absolute authority by some of the most prominent Bible teachers and theologians in America, particularly those from Dallas Theological Seminary. Authors Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye have advanced the cause of dispensationalism with their books, some of which have gained the status of a latter-day gospel among their fans.
While that's a normal flow of religion and delusion, it is not "the faith once delivered" or rightly dividing the word of truth. As a matter of fact, it is a form of "Christianity" that would have been labeled total apostasy during and after the Reformation and until the early 20th century when it took hold in America.
All of this information regarding Scofield, Darby, dispensationalism and Christian thought is for a single purpose. It is to demonstrate that if American Christian churches had stuck to the faith of our fathers and the early Christian settlers in the colonies, even the faith preached from the pulpits through most of the nineteenth century, the United States would not be under the pressure it is today from the Christian churches whose adherents are ardent dispensationalists and believe in a restoration of Israel, the building of a third temple, and dozens of other tenets of dispensationalism.
Without dispensationalism, we would have a nation still largely believing in the theology of the Reformation and hence Israel as a nation and political entity would have no influence on the Church, "the Israel of God" and the "one new man" of God's Kingdom, bought with His own blood.
Dispensationalism places the Church under the delusion that Christians must support the nation of Israel at all costs in order to put things in place for Christ's secret return and eventually, at Armageddon (one of the most misunderstood words/ideas in the Bible) the final conflict between good and evil, Satan's minions and God's people. Almost every major error in the Church has either originated with a misunderstanding of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John on the Isle of Patmos. Other errors do occur, such as the snake handlers who "prove" their faith by handling vipers, but essentially the Book of the Revelation has been the source of most of the major doctrinal errors in the Christian faith, at least those arising after the Reformation.
The theology of the Reformation as held by the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, of which I became a member some years back) is basically the same doctrine as held by the founders of our nation, who were largely Calvinists. Luther and Calvin were contemporaries and had their differences, so the Lutheran church has some doctrinal differences with the Calvinist theology. But both reject the dispensationalist view as a latter day delusion brought about first by the popularity of a "rapture" that would allow Christians to escape all the world's evils, and then developing into a complete reliance of the Church's mission on the existence of a national Israel. This persuasion is so strong among fundamental Baptists and Pentecostals, Nazarenes and unaffiliated Bible and charismatic churches as to be the primary Christian doctrine in America today.
The tragedy of all this lies in the influence of Darby and Scofield not only on the basic theological construct of the Christian faith as taught in fundamental Christian churches today, but in the influence those churches have on the national policies of our nation, without which the United States may very well not have the commitment it does to the Middle East and its myriad problems.
Of course the commercial interests regarding oil would still influence both our foreign policy and our foreign strategy, but undergirding the US policies abroad are the dispensationalist Christian beliefs, just as fundamental Islamic beliefs underlie and provide underpinnings to their Jihads.
Unfortunately, most Christians who go to church haven't a clue as to what the above essay says because they haven't the foggiest notion of theological constructs, never heard of Darby, might have heard of Scofield, and are just seeking the Kingdom of God and following their leaders. Come to think of it, that seems to be the reason we still have Republicans and Democrats who have changed their political constructs and no one notices or thinks it matters.
Religion and politics really shouldn't mix with one another, but they do because of human nature. It is just well to remember that both are inflammatory and can produce, in fact will produce, a new holocaust on earth. Just give them a little more time.
"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."
Dorothy Anne Seese is a freelance political writer for Patch Work papers and a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
We invite you to visit her website at Flagship
Dorothy Anne Seese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the April 23, 2004 issue of Ether Zone. Copyright © 1997 - 2004 Ether Zone.