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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition 1998

Dispensationalism: A Calvinistic Viewpoint?

 Dispensationalism has been widely equated with Calvinism by scholars of the Wesleyan tradition in recent years. The records tell us that John Nelson Darby, the nineteenth century Anglican dissenter who originated many of the modern dispensational distinctives, was indeed a hyper-Calvinist in his general theology.

More importantly, however, was Darby's personal antagonism toward, and opposition to, the Wesleyan message of entire sanctification by faith as full cleansing of the heart from inbred sin. Darby was a strong advocate of the two natures theory of Christian holiness, that is, that the believer must struggle with the carnal nature as long as he is in this life.
    Nazarene theologian H. Orton Wiley classified Darby's Plymouth Brethren Movement as "antinomians of the strictest sect" (2:462-463). And Purkiser's Exploring Our Christian Faith, pp. 424-425, remarks how strange it is that the architects of dispensationalism, who had so strongly opposed the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification, should have had such influence in the Holiness movement.
    Aside from that, it is not fair to say that Darby and his dispensational theory are in any sense representative of Reformed, or Calvinistic, theology, which was decidedly cast, historically speaking, in the covenant theology tradition. Rather, quite ironically, friends, the theology that dispensationalism represents is pure and simple antinomianism, not historic Calvinism, which, like Wesleyan-Arminianism, has built-in safeguards against the theological and practical fallacies of antinomianism.
    Our point? Sir Robert Anderson's Roman Antichrist identification of the covenant-maker in Daniel 9:27--so germane to the whole logical structure of popular dispensational premillennial end-time Bible prophecy theory, so said John Calvin in his commentary on the book of Daniel, is "trifling." And so agreed John Wesley, Adam Clarke, and the greater body of the Church's exegetes for eighteen hundred years.
    Now here is our catch-line: dispensationalism is based on a fraudulent interpretation of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, and on the back of this impressive system of interpretational fraud a gigantic hoax of end-time Bible prophecy expectations has been erected.
    Now that hoax is logically imploded in our book How To Interpret End-time Bible Prophecy: A Wesleyan View.The penetrating logic in this book completely delivers the rational mind from all lingering deceptive enamorations with popular Darbyism--I challenge you to try it.
    Friends, there is a strength in KNOWING, much more than in ASSUMING. And you can KNOW the truth if you are willing to go beyond the shallow thinking of much popular end-time Bible prophecy hearsay of today, plumb the depths of Daniel 9:27, and then think logically straight on from there.

So, if even good logically-consistent Calvinists, including John Calvin himself, would, by their own writings, reject the maverick invention of modern dispensationalism, then why should any Wesleyan-Arminian want to cling to it? The ignorance, naivety, and blindness therein is truly amazing!
    Dispensationalism is not a denomination, for it cuts across many otherwise dividing ecclesiastical barriers. Not unlike the message of heart holiness, it is, in that sense, truly non-sectarian. If it were the truth, it would be a wonderful unifying influence on the modern church.

The disunity among the sectarian groups calling themselves the Wesleyan Holiness movement today, however is proof that the Darbyite system of ideology which so many of these sects have embraced, has had the opposite effect. That effect, in our opinion,  has brought us to the quagmire of legalistic divisiveness over conservativism, that so many are so haplessly mired in today.
    Though the symptomatic issues may change over time (from radio and TV to the internet, for example) the polarizing divisiveness will never end until we return to a more unifying theology. True Bible Holiness is just such an ideology. And it still has the effect of producing the unity among God's people for which it was originally designed (John.17:21-23).
    When will we ever learn that dispensationalism is not true Bible Holiness! Rather, it is exactly what Dr. Daniel Steel said it was: "a substitute for holiness: or antinomianism revived."  
Learn that  lesson well, and you are already far ahead of most!

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