Dispensational Dementia1
A Different Gospel - God’s "Plan B"?

By Ed. F. Sanders

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed……..or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Cor 11:4)2
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9).

When I was a young Christian I was throughly indoctrinated in dispensational theology and the teachings of the Scofield Bible. In spite of that I always maintained  the understanding that Jesus brought us the Gospel (Mk 1:14-15), and that there was only one Gospel (Gal 1:6). Unfortunately many think that is not true based on  their distortion of certain Bible teachings.

Recently I was reading posts on theologyweb.com and found postings by an ‘ardent dispensationalist’ who quite clearly shows the true nature of Dispensational theology. Most casual readers of the Bible and evangelical literature who accept the pretrib rapture and dispensational theories are quite unaware of the implications of this erroneous teaching. Dispensationalism, taken to its logical conclusion, requires two peoples of God, two plans of God, and two Gospels, ie. the Gospel that Jesus and his 12 Apostles preached (Gospel of the Kingdom) and a different gospel that Paul taught (Gospel of Grace)! But if you read the verses cited above (and others could be given) it is quite clear that Paul clearly rejected any different Gospel other than the one Jesus taught!

Dispensationalism also ‘wrongly divides’ the Word Of God by making Jesus teachings in the Gospels, and the writings of the apostles other than Paul, only for the Jews – not the Church. This is the fundamental basis of Dispensational theology, ie. Israel vs. the Church. It is quite inconceivable to me that anyone could teach that the Gospels and many of the other NT books are written for the Jews and not the Church but that is exactly what many leading Dispensational theologians have taught or implied (L.S. Chafer, J. Dwight Pentecost, C. I. Scofield, Miles Stanford, Clarence Larkin, E. W.Bullinger, etc., etc.)!3

Read the following statements that are typical of those who have followed Dispensational theology to its unavoidable conclusions. I think it is too kind to say it is erroneous, to me it is borderline heresy!

The statements of the Sermon on the Mount "have no application to the Christian, but only to those who are under the Law, and therefore must apply to another Dispensation than this"4

“…….God's original plan was for Israel to accept her election. But she failed. So God used Plan B -- Paul went to the Gentiles with a different gospel that didn't include God's covenant with Israel. After all, by definition, Gentiles didn't have this covenant. And when this happened, it changed eschatological matters as well. The Tribulation (which as any praeterist can tell you) began back then. But (and this is where a praeterist and I part company), when Israel failed her election, God cut her off, and consequently, the Tribulation was cut short after only a year or so. Therefore, the "End Times" plan was rewritten to take into account the age of the Mystery of the Gentiles, which would end upon the fulfillment of the "fullness of the Gentiles," whatever that means.”

”The Tribulation has or nothing to do with the Gentiles, directly. So there's no reason for the Gentile "Body of Christ" to be around when it occurs. Hence the (pretrib) Rapture, which removes the Body from the situation, at which point God returns to working with Israel on a corporate level again.” 

“…….The reason the Rapture is relevant only to Paul is because the Rapture is only for the Gentiles, and Paul is the only person in the entire Bible (with the possible exception of Luke, who worked for Paul) who wrote specifically to us -- the Gentiles. The gospels were written for the Jews. The epistles of Peter, James, John and Jude, and the book of Revelation, are written to the Jews. Their authors said they would only minister to the Jews, and I take them at their word. I'm not a Jew. So, while ALL of the Bible is useful for study, for correction... is beneficial to study... one should always go to Paul first for teaching”.

“……….We believe Paul when he says he brought a different gospel than that of Peter and the Twelve. We believe Luke when he says in Acts that the believers under Peter were "zealous for the Law," and this being mentioned in a good light, not a bad one. We believe Peter when he said he had a hard time understanding Paul's teachings. And most of all, we believe Paul, Peter, James and John when they all agree that Paul will go ONLY to the Gentiles, and Peter and the Twelve will go ONLY to the Jews”.

“……..Jesus taught a particular gospel message in His earthly ministry, and He passed that on to His apostles “the Twelve”, who continued to teach what they learned from Him. But Jesus' message in His earthly ministry was meant only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Not for the Gentiles. In fact, Jesus forbade the disciples from going to the Gentiles. Kind of goes against the principle of the Great Commission, doesn't it? Of course, the Great Commission came later”.5

"So, what is the Gospel?.....The gospel is not the same in every age......There are several "gospels" in the Scripture.......One can easily discern that the gospel of the Kingdom, which Christ preached long before his death and resurrection, is not the same as that which Paul calls "my gospel"......There are "other" gospels in the Scripture...You attempt to follow them and you will wind up in hell.......So what then is this dangerous "other gospel"? It is... (the) Gospel of the kingdom - Matthew 24....(the) Everlasting gospel - Revelation 14...."(6)

John Gerstner has put the issue in strong terms:

"What is indisputably, absolutely, and uncompromisingly essential to the Christian religion is its doctrine of salvation... If Dispensationalism has actually departed from the only way of salvation that the Christian religion teaches, then we must say it has departed from Christianity. No matter how many other important truths it proclaims, it cannot be called Christian if it empties Christianity of its essential message. We define a cult as a religion that claims to be Christian while emptying Christianity of that which is essential to it. If Dispensationalism does this, then Dispensationalism is a cult and not a branch of the Christian church. It is as serious as that. It is impossible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation."(7)

If you are one of those who have bought into the hyper-dispensational “Left Behind” two-gospel theology you might want to reconsider in view of the serious implications of this teaching (Gal 1:6-9)!


(1) This article is mainly addressed to "hyper" or "ultra" dispensationalism theology, sometimes called "Pauline" dispensationalism. Most progressive dispensationalists and all reformed theologians reject their views and many consider it borderline heresy! Also see the articles: Paul's Reply To Dispensational Error and Hyperdispensationalism.

(2) Quotations from the ESV unless noted. The KJV translates 'another Gospel'. The Greek word is 'heteros' meaning "pertaining to that which is different in kind or class from all other entities - different, differently, other than" (Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon)

(3) See the interesting essay on Ultradispensationalism by Harry Ironside who is himself an avowed Dispensationalist! Ultradispensationalism is merely Dispensationalism taken to it's logical conclusions. Some Dispensationalists attempt to soften or explain away the implications of their theology but merely confound the issue. Dispensationalism is in error as long as the position of two separate peoples, plans, and Gospels are held.

(4) ie. the "Jewish" dispensation of Law. (Clarence Larkin, Dispensational Truth, p. 26).

(5) Quotes from postings on theologyweb.com

(6) Quotes from article Danger - Another Gospel! by David Rowley

(7) John H. Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism (Brentwood TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), 150.

Updated 5-4-2006