Was the early church, after apostles, dispensational?

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Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
My good friend, who is a Hyper Dispensationalist, shared this with me today.
He sent this because I told him “I wouldn’t feel safe believing something that went from Apostle Paul to Darby, with no others in between. We know God loves fellowship, unity, and communion. So that would be strange if the last dispensational before Darby was Apostle Paul.”

he immediately said “that doesn’t bother me at all.”

but apparently it did, because 2 days later he sends me this text.
Can y’all help me with a response?

I don’t know church history all that well to know nitty gritty details and nuances to respond to this.


“Some of the earliest church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Victorinus of Petau all adhered to different dispensations or God’s different dealings with man throughout different ages.

More specifically, they all believed in a literal earthly millennial kingdom where Christ would rule and reign over Israel for 1,000 years, and they all said the church (the body of Christ) was not the same as Israel.

Darby just made an in-depth systematic structure to Dispensationalism.

It actually wasn’t until Origen and Augustine that non-literal and allegorical interpretations began which is what is the basis for covenant theology.


Hippolytus and Eubeus also were in the first and second century and taught dispensationally.

Hippolytus even has writings about a future tribulation that would be 7 years in
the future, and coincides with the 70th week of Daniel that has yet to be fulfilled.

And Papias who was a direct disciple of John the Apostle. “
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
@C. Matthew McMahon

Some as premillennial, sure. Dispensationalism, no way. Saying something akin to republication is not dispensationalism.
While Origen had his flaws, he was, in many places, trying to find Christ in thE OT. Augustine had a great mind to interpret the Bible. There is so much to get into but, I have found that dispensationalists In many places are so woefully ignorant of, that they are barely worth my time.
They might as well blame Paul and the Apostles for taking the OT out of context or seeing things that weren't there.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Trouble is, of course, none of those things is unique to dispensationalism.

An understanding of "two peoples of God" (Israel and the Church, which is a divine parenthesis), a "consistently-literal hermeneutic," and some form of secret rapture theory, usually pre-trib.

Those are the unique traits of dispensationalism (the second being the sine qua non, as one dispensational professor of mine affirmed, the last flowing from the first, and the final being the rationale and historical impetus for the whole system).

Find those clearly taught in church history.
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Justin Martyr and Irenaeus used the term "dispensation" (or oekonomia), but they had their own meaning to it. It's funny because these same guys openly taught replacement theology, so I don't know why Dispensationalists claim them.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
"Find those clearly taught in church history."

And you are saying that I wont?
I'm no church historian, but I should think not.

As for allegorical interpretation being the basis of covenant theology, that's patently absurd. Even dispensationalists I've read typically praise covenant theology as a break from the allegorical interpretation of text (which as they have it, simply didn't go far enough), and a return to attempting to understand the text on its own terms.
 
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Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Incidentally, just a word of warning: I have many friends who are classical dispensationalists, and some progressive dispensationalist, whom I respect a great deal. They are stable, mature people who love our Lord very much.

When it comes to hyper-dispensationalism, however, in every case I've encountered, it always seems to be a last stop on the road to full-blown heresy or apostasy. :(
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
The Westminster Standards also describe the workings of God with the term “dispensations”, however there is a big difference in the Reformed usage and the now contrasting theological lens of “D”ispensationalism.

Your friends claims are about a valid as a Mormon claiming Tertullian upheld Mormonism because he taught we should follow the example of Christ. Sure our forefathers may have used language of dispensations, but it is a huge leap to say “See our church fathers were all Dispensationalist”.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
My good friend, who is a Hyper Dispensationalist, shared this with me today.
He sent this because I told him “I wouldn’t feel safe believing something that went from Apostle Paul to Darby, with no others in between. We know God loves fellowship, unity, and communion. So that would be strange if the last dispensational before Darby was Apostle Paul.”

he immediately said “that doesn’t bother me at all.”

but apparently it did, because 2 days later he sends me this text.
Can y’all help me with a response?

I don’t know church history all that well to know nitty gritty details and nuances to respond to this.


“Some of the earliest church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Victorinus of Petau all adhered to different dispensations or God’s different dealings with man throughout different ages.

More specifically, they all believed in a literal earthly millennial kingdom where Christ would rule and reign over Israel for 1,000 years, and they all said the church (the body of Christ) was not the same as Israel.

Darby just made an in-depth systematic structure to Dispensationalism.

It actually wasn’t until Origen and Augustine that non-literal and allegorical interpretations began which is what is the basis for covenant theology.


Hippolytus and Eubeus also were in the first and second century and taught dispensationally.

Hippolytus even has writings about a future tribulation that would be 7 years in
the future, and coincides with the 70th week of Daniel that has yet to be fulfilled.

And Papias who was a direct disciple of John the Apostle. “
The Plymouth Brethren saw themselves as restoring Primitive Christianity. Unlike some others of that era, they managed to avoid veering off into outright unorthodoxy or cultism the way that the SDA and the Mormons did, for example, and perhaps the Stone-Campbell movement to a lesser extent. That's not to say that some Brethren groups, especially the Exclusives, haven't arguably done that even if their formal doctrine may remain more or less orthodox.

It seems to me that, to varying degrees, various non-Catholic and non-EO groups pretty much have to believe that the early church went off the rails early on when it comes to one or more doctrinal issues such as sacramentology, ecclesiology, soteriology, worship, eschatology, etc.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The Plymouth Brethren saw themselves as restoring Primitive Christianity. Unlike some others of that era, they managed to avoid veering off into outright unorthodoxy or cultism the way that the SDA and the Mormons did, for example, and perhaps the Stone-Campbell movement to a lesser extent. That's not to say that some Brethren groups, especially the Exclusives, haven't arguably done that even if their formal doctrine may remain more or less orthodox.

It seems to me that, to varying degrees, various non-Catholic and non-EO groups pretty much have to believe that the early church went off the rails early on when it comes to one or more doctrinal issues such as sacramentology, ecclesiology, soteriology, worship, eschatology, etc.

To go off of what he said, you will find numerous "beliefs" that you hold today that weren't held by the early church. Why or how one comes to these beliefs may or may not be problematic. For instance, none of the ecumenical councils worked out a specific view on the atonement, so while NO ONE systematically taught limited atonement in the early church, adherents of LA aren't departing significantly from any conciliar view.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
No. The beginning of this documentary touches upon the premil beliefs of the early church.

 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
The Westminster Standards also describe the workings of God with the term “dispensations”, however there is a big difference in the Reformed usage and the now contrasting theological lens of “D”ispensationalism.
Agreed.

By the way I love your family photo. Very nice. But 2 family members appear to be missing - Gollum and your family dog? ;)
 
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