This is an audio version of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL article “Is Dispensationalism Indispensable?” by Steve Gregg. This article first appeared in the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, print issue volume 35, number 04 (2012).

Many Christians today read Scripture through a theological paradigm that was unknown prior to the nineteenth century. This view, called dispensationalism, introduced such concepts as the pre-tribulation rapture and third-temple Judaism in the millennium. However, eschatological novelties are not the most important differences between dispensationalism and historic Christian theology, many of which are not trivial. The controversy raises questions about the nature of the kingdom of God, of the church, and of the gospel itself.

Though originally viewed with suspicion by many conservative Christians, dispensationalism subsequently acquired mainstream status among evangelicals and is seen by many as the very definition of biblical conservatism.

The views of John Nelson Darby, the system’s founder, have been propagated through annotated study Bibles, best-selling novels, radio and TV personalities, numerous Bible institutes, and seminaries. Dispensationalism has become the official theology of some of America’s largest evangelical denominations. To some, its presuppositions have come to be seen as the indispensable foundation for correct biblical exegesis. Since its introduction in 1830, dispensationalism has branched into more than one variety.