Hyperdispensationalism, mid-Acts dispensationalism or Bullingerism) (to which ultradispensationalism properly applies) is a Protestant conservative evangelical movement that values biblical inerrancy and a literal hermeneutic. Opponents of hyperdispensationalism are traditional dispensationalists, like John Walvoord and Charles Ryrie, classic Acts 2 Pauline dispensationalists,[clarification needed] and ultradispensationalists.
Within the United States, some advocates of hyperdispensationalism refer to themselves as members of the Grace Movement and they reject the prefix "hyper" or "ultra" as pejorative or misinforming). Many affiliate with the Grace Gospel Fellowship, a church association, and its Grace Christian University or the more conservative Berean Bible Society.
Hyperdispensationalism holds that the early Christian Church lost four basic truths starting near the end of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. The four truths are (in order of loss):[not in citation given]
- The Distinctive Message and Ministry of the Apostle Paul
- The Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church, the Body of Christ
- The Difference between Israel and the Church, the Body of Christ
- Justification by Faith Alone, in Christ Alone.
The truths, advocates say, were gradually recovered in reverse order starting during the Reformation. For example, Martin Luther is credited with recovery of "justification by faith" and John Nelson Darby with "Church Truth".
Hyperdispensationalists reject water baptism, (along with charismatic gifts, prophets, and apostles) which divides them from mainstream dispensationalists who are often Baptists, like W. A. Criswell, or in earlier times Presbyterians like James H. Brookes. So instead of various water baptisms, they believe in the baptism made without hands and without water by the Spirit which occurs when one believes in Christ as their Savior whereby one is identified with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. While hyperdispensationalists reject water baptism like ultradispensationalists, they still practice the Lord's Supper as a memorial and not as an ordinance. (Ultradispensationalists also reject the Lord's Supper and water baptism.)
Hyperdispensationalists are not monolithic nor homogenous. There are two main positions, as well as a few other minor variations. The two main positions are Acts 9 and Acts 13. The differences are minor being only technical. They all see the dispensation of Grace which is the church age as beginning with the Apostle Paul. Also, within the movement is found King James only elements associated mainly with the teachings of Richard Jordan and Grace School of the Bible. While the Acts 2 position tries to distance itself from its more consistent dispensational brothers, as well as, ultradispensationalism (starts the church after Acts 28), they are all true dispensationalists and fully evangelical still tending towards fundamentalism. Furthermore, the differences separating the Mid-Acts position from the Acts 28 position are just as great as those separating the Acts 2 position from its more consistent Mid-Acts dispensational brothers.
Early ultradispensationalism (Acts 28 dispensationalism), like that promoted by E. W. Bullinger, emphasized a dispensational boundary, as in Acts 28:28, but did not apply this boundary line to the Pauline epistles. Unlike Bullinger, Robert Anderson posited a Pentecostal dispensation during the period covered by the Book of Acts. Bullinger considered that the Pauline epistles, as a whole, whether or not they were written before or after Acts 28:28 in almost all of his writings. Bullinger thus had not applied his Acts 28 position consistently to his exposition of Paul's epistles until later in life and then only in one book. Thus, most of his books had already been published, along with the writings of Robert Anderson, view Paul's epistles monolithically and are then quite compatible with Mid-Acts hyperdispensationalism.
The Mid-Acts position and the Acts 28 position differ mainly on when the normative portion of Paul's ministry to the church began. Both hyperdispensationalism and ultradispensationalism see the Gospel accounts as for Israel in the Mosaic dispensation. Mid-Acts types take all of Paul's epistles to be directly written to the church, thus accepting the practice of the Lord's Supper as for that dispensation of grace, but the Acts 28 position takes only Paul's prison epistles (those written while in prison after Acts 28) to be directly applicable to the church today, thus denying the Lord's Supper for today. There is only one baptism made without hands in which the believer is baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is held in contradistinction to Christ baptizing believing Israel in Acts 2 with the Holy Spirit. The pouring-out baptism of the Holy Spirit is in fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of the New Covenant to Israel. Thus, it has nothing to do with the newly-revealed mystery to and through the apostle Paul, who is not sent out until years later with the new ministry to the gentiles to establish a new church which is composed of both believing Israelites and believing gentiles, not just Israelites (which includes proselytes to Judaism), as in Acts 2.
Paul, it is specifically noted, was sent to preach the gospel but not to baptize, unlike notably the Lord's commission to his apostles. The new church is not obligated to any Jewish rituals (like water baptism), according to the determination of the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15.
Bullinger held that Paul's authoritative teaching began after the conclusion of the Book of Acts, a viewpoint that is now characterized as Acts 28 ultradispensationalism (chapter 28 being the concluding chapter of the book). The position was first suggested by J.B. Cole and later solidified by Charles H. Welch.
The Mid-Acts position was developed independently in America later by J.C. O'Hair and followed later by Cornelius R. Stam and Charles F. Baker, among others, and reflects their position that Paul's normative ministry began with Paul's ministry with his salvation in Acts 9 (Stam) or with Paul's commission in Acts 13 (O'Hair, Baker). A very few independent spirits have staked the beginning of the church in a few other chapters, but such differences are technical, preferences rather than disagreements. The hallmark is that the church is served uniquely with Paul's ministry and upon that, there is a complete agreement.
Acts is seen as a transitional period between dispensations, and the Mid-Acts position does not insert an extra dispensation there (contra Ryrie), as did Anderson.
John Nelson Darby, the father of dispensationalism, believes that the church began at Pentecost, but his dispensational scheme is not like Scofield's and later American dispensationalists (except classic Pauline dispensationalism). It is also unlike that of hyperdispensationalists. The church does not begin with a new dispensation for Darby, as the administrations upon Earth are not relevant for the heavenly church body. One can study R.A. Huebner, who sees the Church's advent at Acts 2, to get a better understanding of Darby's scheme of dispensations which is different than Scofield's. Also, Miles J. Stanford (classic Pauline dispensationalism) follows Darby's dispensational scheme and criticizes Acts 28 as well as Mid-Acts dispensationalists for not following Darby. Stanford drew heavily upon Darby's soteriology of "spiritual growth" and considered himself a "classic Pauline dispensationalist" in the line of the Plymouth Brethren Darbyite dispensationalists.
However, classic (Pauline) dispensationalism's earliest teachers (Darbyite) were the source for J.C. O'Hair's consistent dispensational doctrines, but he seems to have adopted Scofield's dispensational scheme, adapting it to the Mid-Acts position. Also, early Calvinism does not seem to be in evidence so much today and is being fully rejected in more and more churches.
If Darby appears to be followed more closely by hyperdispensationalism, Darby's dispensationalism and hyperdispensationalism are more consistent than American Acts 2 dispensationalism in marking Scripture's distinction between national Israel, with its earthly kingdom, from the Church, which is Christ's heavenly body. Here too, hyperdispensationalism and ultradispensationalism may be seen to make more than a mere distinction between Israel and the Church, but classic (Pauline) dispensationalism (Acts 2) is as extreme, if not more so, in making rather a separation between Israel and the Church.
"if Christianity were the new covenant, which it is not, the Holy Ghost is the seal of faith now as circumcision was then. Matthew 28 was never carried out. The mission to the Gentiles was given up to Paul explicitly (Gal. 2) who was not sent to baptize...."
"the outward symbol and instrument of unity is the partaking of the Lord's supper - for we being many are one 'bread, one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.' And what does Paul declare to be the true intent and testimony of that rite? That whensoever 'ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.' Here then are found the character and life of the church"
O'Hair followed more closely to the early American dispensationalists and abandoned denominational loyalties. Rejecting gifts for the Church age led to a rejection of water baptism and the Acts 2 position. He then began to explore Acts 28 as an alternative but eventually rejected that as well. It was then that H.A. Ironside wrote, "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth," confusing O'Hair with Bullinger's teachings. Later, O'Hair settled upon the Mid-Acts position.
Most notable proponents
The most notable proponents of the Mid-Acts view were J.C. O'Hair, Charles Baker, and C.R. Stam. The Mid-Acts dispensational viewpoint is also shared on many current television programs, including "Forgotten Truths" with Richard Jordan, "Through the Bible" with Les Feldick, and "Transformed by Grace" with Kevin Sadler.
- "Dispensational Theology" by Charles F. Baker, page 16, Grace Publications, 1971]
- Reisinger, E. (1992). Lordship, Non-Lordship and Dispensationalism. The Founders Journal: An Attempt at Self-Identification, Spring, (8), 11.
- J. C. O'Hair. "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Chapter 51: "Did the Church Begin with Pentecost of Acts Two?"".
- Dispensationalist theology#Traditional dispensationalism
- http://www.biblicaladvancedbasics.com/pdf/Grace.pdf[self-published source?]
- E. W. Bullinger. "The Loss and Recovery of Truth".
- E. W. Bullinger (1905). "The Loss and Recovery of Truth".
- J.C. O'Hair (1905). "The Loss and Recovery of Truth".
“Martin Luther,” he said, “recovered justification by faith.” John Darby recovered the Blessed Hope and something of Church Truth.
- J.C. O'Hair. "The Recovery of Lost Bible Truth" (PDF).
- John C. O'Hair. "THE RECOVERY OF LOST TRUTH: LET'S DE-JUDAIZE THE CHURCH OF CHRIST: THIS WILL BRING A MIGHTY REVIVAL" (PDF).
- Ernest Reisinger. "Founders Journal. A History of Dispensationalism In America".
- Ernest Reisinger. "Founders Journal. A History of Dispensationalism In America".
- "1944 PCUS Report on Dispensationalism".
- Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 1:12-14; Ephesians 4:5; Ephesians 4:30; Colossians 2:11-12; Hebrews 9:8-10
- Paul M. Sadler. "The Truth About the Truth".
- "The Acts of the Apostles Considered Historically and Dispensationally" in Things To Come Journal, Vol. 13, No.152, February 1907
- Juanita S. Carey, E.W. Bullinger: A Biography
- http://www.ggfusa.org/images/truthmag/GraceMovementOrigins.pdf, page 6 of pdf
- For the influence of the Grace Movement group, see the Grace History Project Lesson 124 pdf notes Addendum http://www.gracelifebiblechurch.com/SundaySchool/ChurchHistory/2014/012614/Lesson%20124%20The%20Life%20and%20Ministry%20of%20C.%20Richard%20Jordan%20The%20Formation%20of%20Grace%20School%20of%20the%20Bible.pdf, http://gracehistoryproject.blogspot.com/2014/02/lesson-125-life-and-ministry-of-c.html
- J. N. Darby, "The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Ecclesiastical Writings » The Collected Writings Of J. N. Darby, Ecclesiastical No. 4, Volume 20: A Reply To Defence Of The Doctrine Of Baptismal Regeneration"
- J. N. Darby, Considerations on the Nature and Unity of the Church of Christ
- "Dispensational Theology" by Charles F. Baker, p. 16, Grace Publications, 1971].
- Baker, Charles F., A Dispensational Theology, 1971, Grace Bible College Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- Stam, Cornelius R., Things That Differ, 1951, Berean Bible Society, Germantown, Wisconsin.