As an aside, a comment on a previous post took exception that I make little distinction between a dispensation and a covenant. (As I replied, I never claimed that the dispensations mapped nicely onto the covenants, only that the meanings are the same, which renders a definition of dispensationalism based on dispensations pointless.)
Ryrie agrees. He wrote:
After rejecting the usual dispensational scheme of biblical distinctions, he [Covenant Theologian Louis Berkhof] enumerates his own schemes of dispensations or administrations reducing the number to two—Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Moody Press, 1966, p. 16.Ryrie uses the word dispensation interchangeably for covenant, the word that Berkhof would use in describing his two biblical distinctions.
Anyway, today we enumerate seven distinctive features of the dispensational view of the church, lifted from Mathison’s book. (Note: Mathison’s book is a critique of dispensationalism, but I am not reporting on his rebuttals of the features, just his enumeration, which I believe is beyond refuting, as evidenced by the accompanying quotes, all from ardent dispensationalists.)
- God has two distinct programs in history, one for Israel and one for the church.
The distinction between the purpose for Israel and the purpose for the church is about as important as that which exists between the two testaments—Lewis Sperry Chafer
This is why the dispensationalist recognizes two purpose of God and insists in maintaining the distinction between Israel and the church—Charles C. Ryrie
- The church does not fulfill or take over any of Israel’s promises or purposes.
That the Christian now inherits the distinctive Jewish promises is not taught in Scripture—Lewis Sperry Chafer
The church is not fulfilling in any sense the promises to Israel—Charles C. Ryrie
- The church age is a "mystery" unforeseen by Old Testament prophets.
…dispensationalists have regarded the present age as a parenthesis unexpected and without specific prediction in the Old Testament—John F. Walvoord
The church is a mystery in the sense that it was completely unrevealed in the Old Testament and now revealed in the New Testament—Charles C. Ryrie
- The present church age is a "parenthesis" or "intercalation" during which God has primarily suspended His primary purpose with Israel.
The evidence if interpreted literally leads inevitable to the parenthesis doctrine—John F. Walvoord
The church age is not seen in God’s plan for Israel. It is an intercalation. —Charles C. Ryrie
- The church age began at Pentecost and will end at the pre-tribulation rapture.
…the body of Christ, which properly began on The day of Pentecost and culminates in the transition of the true church—John F. Walvoord
The church did not begin until the Day of Pentecost and will be removed from this world at the rapture which precedes the Second Coming of Christ—Charles C. Ryrie
- The church, or Body of Christ, consists only of those believers saved between Pentecost and the rapture.
The church as the body of Christ is therefore a new entity, and the term ecclesia when used in this sense is used only of saints of the present dispensation. —John F. Walvoord
The true church is composed of all those in this age who have received Christ as Savior.—J. Dwight Pentecost.
- The church, as the Body of Christ, does not include Old Testament believers.
By spirit baptism the believer is placed into the body of Christ in the living union of all true believers in the present age. —Lewis Sperry Chafer
Nevertheless, dispensationalism insists that the people of God who have been baptized into the Body of Christ and who thus form the church are distinct from saints of other days or even of a future time. —Charles C. Ryrie
I present these without comment. Even though they look like low hanging ripe fruit.