During the time of advent, as we focus upon the coming of Jesus Christ (both in the Incarnation, and His glorious return to Judge the living and the dead); it is a time that reminds me also of the confusion that surrounded me for so long on this subject. For those who are raised from young children in the Lutheran church, and in fact probably most churches that seek to align their doctrine with the historic Christian faith, this same confusion will be utterly alien to them, and I truly give thanks to God for that fact.
As someone whose faith was pretty much neglected through childhood (apart from being baptised as a baby), I was an adult convert to Christianity, and my entry point into the Christian faith was through the charismatic church. Although I cannot say all of my memories were bad ones, what I vividly remember was the way in which there was such confusion over the return of Jesus, and what events would accompany that time to come. What’s more is that, even though there were quite often huge differences of opinion over these matters, these personal opinions were defended with a viciousness that was nowhere to be seen regarding other doctrine.
Anyway, over a number of years spent reading the Bible and becoming more and more familiar with the text, I became more convinced something was quite wrong. As I came out of the hyper charismatic church via the pathway of Calvary Chapel, I suddenly became aware of the underlying foundation of all the confusion that had bothered me for so long previously, and that foundation is known as dispensationalism. Although I am fully aware that eschatology is not a point of doctrine that defines whether or not we possess true saving faith in Christ, I am utterly convinced that dispensationalism (in all its forms) goes far beyond being simply a matter of eschatology. I believe it is instead a theological framework that has the potential to skew all aspects of Christian doctrine.
If you have a similar experience to myself, if you know someone still strongly in the grips of dispensationalism, or even if you are someone who hasn’t the foggiest idea what dispensationalism its dangers are, then I cannot recommend the following book enough:
It is written by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, who spent many years as a co-host on the popular podcast White Horse Inn. Kim Riddlebarger is Reformed as opposed to Lutheran, but in his teaching on this subject I believe he is fantastic, especially to those who are new to the subject.
He has also recorded a series of lectures that are based upon the various sections of the book, and are free to listen to and download on his website. They can be found on by visiting the site and scrolling down the right hand sidebar to the section titled “Amillennialism 101”. http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com . I have taken the liberty of attaching the first audio lecture of this series to this post.