The Deep Roots of Dispensationalism

With the dawning of the Scofield Study Bible dispensationalism has had a massive influence on conservative evangelicals. Sam Storms notes that “virtually all well-known TV preachers (at least those who appear on TBN and most on the 700 Club) and radio teachers espouse the dispensational view of biblical prophecy . . . [which] lends an aura of evangelical credibility to the movement.” (47) Here are some of the names:

  • W.A. Criswell (former Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas)
  • M.R. and Richard DeHaan (Radio Bible Class)
  • Warren Wiersbe,
  • Charles Stanley
  • Adrian Rogers
  • Jack Van Impe
  • Chuck Swindoll
  • Billy Graham
  • Luis Palau
  • Bill Bright
  • James Dobson
  • Jerry Falwell
  • David Jeremiah
  • John Ankerberg
  • John Hagee

The lone exception that Storms could think of was the late D. James Kennedy.

Among the seminaries and Bible colleges that “include dispensationalism in their doctrinal statement or espouse its basic ideas are”:

  • The Master’s Seminary
  • Grace College
  • Grace Theological Seminary
  • Philadelphia Biblical University
  • Moody Bible Institute
  • Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
  • Cornerstone University
  • Criswell College
  • Biola University
  • Talbot School of Theology
  • Multnomah Biblical Seminary
  • Liberty University
  • Every college or seminary affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination.

Next come all the para-church organizations such as:

  • Youth for Christ
  • Young Life
  • Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru)
  • InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
  • Navigators

Now include high-profile Bible teachers such as Kay Arthur and Beth Moore and you begin to see that dispensational thought is deeply rooted in the evangelical mindset.

Storms says “[m]any Christians are unaware that there are other interpretive options that remain true to Scripture. Thus for many believers the dispensational view of the end times is a much a foundational fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion as is the deity of Christ or salvation by grace alone. To question dispensationalism, therefore, is often perceived as an indication that one is ‘going soft’ on the authority of Scripture.” (48)

Sadly, this is very true.


About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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5 Responses to The Deep Roots of Dispensationalism

  1. Laura says:

    Dallas Theological Seminary is not on the list? Seems a big one not to include. haha. : ) As a recent grad of DTS, I found that a more progressive dispensationalism was frequently taught and I was surprised at some of the more moderate views on certain eschatological issues. Dispensationalism (like other theological systems) has progressed over time since Scofield days. It is not fair, I think, to judge “dispensationalism” based on what it was 100 years ago rather than what it is today. But the more classic view holds sway in popular evangelical culture and this is a problem. Sadly, I agree, that dispensationalism is responsible for some evangelical obsessions. It is an interesting case study the tremendous influence of dispensationalism.


    • Louis says:

      Hi Laura,
      On the very next page from this list Storms treats “Dispensationalism at Dallas Seminary.” Since he is a graduate of Dallas I think he singles it out for special treatment. I would agree that progressive dispensationalism is growing in popularity although I have a lot of customers who are devoted to Scofield, Walvoord and Ryrie. The “old school” dispensational thought is still popular in some circles. When I was trying to decide on what seminary to attend Dallas was a front runner. I ultimately decided on Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I have no regrets. Did you have a favorite professor while at Dallas?


      • Laura says:

        Ahhh…that makes sense! Special treatment for DTS. : ) My favorite Prof was Dr. Glenn Kreider, who taught systematic theology classes. He did not tell you what to think, but taught you how to think. He had a unique way of using questions or hyperbolic statements to make points – which was very effective. By the way, I was raised in the obscure group the Plymouth Brethren (John Nelson Darby) and my father was an itinerant Bible teacher among them…so dispensationalism is in my blood I joke. While I’m of the progressive variety, I think it would be hard for me to completely abandon it as a system.


  2. Dick Probert says:

    You cite Master’s Seminary but not Dr. MacArthur. Why?


    • Louis says:

      Hi Dick,
      The list is not mine but Sam Storms. I suspect the reason he omitted MacArthur is the list was showing “TV” evangelists. MacArthur doesn’t really fall into that category. While he does have a popular radio show he does not have a TV presence. You are certainly right that he is a contemporary advocate for dispensational theology.


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