Odds are that you have only recently heard of Mid Acts Pauline Dispensationalism. One must ask the question, “why is that?” The fact of the matter is that our chief adversary, Satan, is opposed to the clear teaching and the clear understanding of Scripture. Deception began in the Garden of Eden and has only grown in size and strength since then. Deception exists within virtually every aspect of our lives and unfortunately, that includes within the Church itself.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
There are those who deceive because they are agents of our chief adversary. There are also those who perpetuate deceptions, inadvertently, while still being Godly individuals with the best of intentions. Through it all, one fact remains – it is your responsibility to study the Scriptures, to listen to the competing positions, to test all claims against Scripture, and to discern for yourself what it is that the Bible actually says.
With that in mind, we must listen to what it is that the critics of Mid Acts Pauline Dispensationalism have to say. We should investigate their arguments and test their positions against Scripture. While approaching such an exercise, we must avoid the naive thought that all teachers of the Bible teach the same thing, we must be aware that pejoratives will be used in an attempt to dismiss certain positions, and we should view all critiques as a blessing from God, designed to make us dive deeper into His word while strengthening our understanding of Scripture.
The following are four critiques of Mid Acts Pauline Dispensationalism:
“Mid-Acts Dispensationalism is one of several theological variations associated with Hyperdispensationalism. This cult-like group does not believe the church began at Acts 2. There is even one variation that teaches the church did not begin until Paul reached Rome in Acts 28. They teach that the writings of John, James, Peter, and Jude do not apply to the NT church. There are variations on whether believers baptism and/or the bread and the cup was intended for the NT church.”
Dr. Richard Mayhue
Research Professor of Theology Emeritus
Dean of The Master’s Seminary (1990-2014)
M.Div., Th.M., Th.D., Grace Theological Seminary
“They also teach that Peter’s gospel message was not the same as Paul’s….These people are sometimes called ultra-dispensationalists or Bullingerites (after a teacher named E. W. Bullinger). Their extreme view of dispensationalism should be rejected.”
“Distinguishing things that differ”
Up-look Magazine, July/August 1999, pp. 11-12.
“Virtually all ultradispensationalists, of whatever school, agree that it [the body of Christ] did not begin at Pentecost. All dispensationalists agree that it did. Therefore, ultradispensationalism may be defined, or certainly characterized rather definitively; as the school of interpretation that places more than one dispensation between Pentecost and the end of the church age.”
Dr. Charles C. Ryrie
Dispensationalism, Moody Press, 1995
“Ultradispensationalism” pp. 197-207
“Mid-Acts dispensationalism is opposed to several elements of orthodoxy. Its downplaying of half of the New Testament, its unwarranted exclusion of early Jewish believers from the body of Christ, its disregard of water baptism, and its allowance for a faith-plus-works gospel make the Grace Movement an unbiblical view.”
“What is mid-Acts dispensationalism?”
The four critiques provided above offer their reader an assortment of confusion, pejorative labels, deception, and an instinctive desire to protect one’s legacy. Often, Christians who are ignorant of Pauline principles of Right Division succumb to a fear of the unknown and depend upon tradition as opposed to the words on the page. When the Scriptures declare something clearly, tradition and opinion must be abandoned.
Tragically, human nature is such that when a person discovers that he or she has been wrong about something, that person will not admit their error if either reputation or income depends upon that wrong position. Legacy, reputation, and the possibility for impacts to one’s income are powerful deterrents against one admitting that he or she has been wrong. It is a rare case when one finds an individual who has forsaken much in pursuit of the truth.
Many who call Mid Acts Pauline Dispensationalism either “hyper” or “ultra” do so in order to disparage the concept while using those pejorative prefixes. No one who calls himself or herself a Christian would want to be guilty of wrongly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15) or of rejecting all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27), but one will find themselves guilty of both of those indiscretions if they fail to recognize and respect the revelation of the mystery which the Lord Jesus Christ delivered to the apostle Paul, beginning in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts. It is much easier to label a teaching as “hyper” or “ultra” and to dismiss the teaching than it is to address it based upon the Scriptures.
Do realize, however, that Dr. Ryrie’s “ultradispensationalist” label used above includes the Acts 28 position which should be separated from the Mid Acts Pauline Dispensational position which this Primer holds as true and accurate. The primary problem with Dr. Ryrie’s critique is that he has joined together all Dispensationalists that go beyond Acts 2 as the birth of the Church, the body of Christ, into one pejorative label of “ultradispensationalist.” While we should join Dr. Ryrie in his critique of the Acts 28 position held by Bullinger, Welch and modern variations of separating Paul’s epistles, one must also see clearly an ounce of deception that is, no doubt inadvertantly, provided to steer the reader away from the Mid Acts teaching.
This example from Ryrie highlights the fact that the defining of terms is both helpful and necessary.