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Dispensationalism is an idea invented in the 19 century by John Nelson Darby and promoted through the Schofield Reference Bible. Darby believe that history was divided into seven periods in which God dealt with mankind in seven different ways: 1. Innocence - before the fall 2. Conscience - from the fall to Noah 3. Human Government - from Noah to tower of Babel 4. Promise - From Abraham to Moses 5. Law - from Moses to Jesus 6. Grace - from Jesus to second coming 7. Millennial Kingdom - from second coming to a thousand years Ultradispensationalists add to this the idea that the Church began with Paul. The best that can best said about Dispensationalism is that it is a fairly modern human framework laid down on top of the Bible and through which the Bible is interpreted. The danger of approaching the Bible in this way is the framework can be seen as being just as true as the Bible. (Some treat the notes of the Schofield Reference Bible as being as valid as the scripture itself) At worst, the dispensational view has been described as contrived, fanciful, and lacking Scriptural support. There is for example no mention in the Bible of "a dispensation of human conscience" during the period before the flood. Nor is there mention of "a dispensation of human government" from the flood to Abraham. Further the grace of God is not limited to "Dispensation of Grace" but is present throughout history. Viewing the Bible through the distorted lens of any man-made framework will always lead to errors. In the case of Dispensationalism those errors include the false ideas of the restoration of the Jews, a secret rapture, misconceptions about the antichrist and a false view of the kingdom of God. We can avoid all these problems if we simply stick to the Bible and add nothing of our own, not even John Nelson Darby's novel ideas. Philip
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