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A History of Dispensationalism

Rev. Michael J. Glodo, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Dean of the Chapel at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, speaks about dispensationalism and its development in light of several historical, sociological, and theological contexts. Rev. Glodo is the author of “Dispensationalism” in Covenant Theology: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Perspectives edited by Guy Prentiss Waters, J. Nicholas Reid, and John R. Muether.

John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) introduced dispensationalism as a theological system, which bears several key characteristics, including an insistence upon a “literal” hermeneutic or “plain reading” of the biblical text in addition to separate divine purposes for Israel and the church. Yet several features of “classic dispensationalism” have since been modified or altogether eliminated. Glodo remarks that “from its beginnings until the middle of the twentieth century, dispensationalism grew rapidly in popularity and underwent several refinements.”

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