Land accepts influence of dispensationalism on early Pentecostals

Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom

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STEVEN LAND. In a book originally published in 1993, Land accepts the influence of dispensationalism  on  early  Pentecostals  but  differentiates  them  from  the  ‘traditional fundamentalist dispensationalist who, in agreement with Augustine, Warfield and others, believed that the gifts of the Spirit, the so called “sign gifts”, were limited to the Apostolic era.’ He states, ‘Though influenced by Scofieldian dispensationalism, they put a different twist  on  it.’  These  twists  include  a  belief  in  three  dispensations  instead  of  seven,  an acceptance of ‘overlap and interpenetration of these dispensations’ and the belief in the miraculous gifts for today. According to Land, early Pentecostals distinguished between ‘new Israel’, the Church, and ‘national Israel’, although both shared a common ‘spiritual destiny’.27 Land  gives  evidence  of  familiarity  with  the  primary  sources  of  Pentecostal eschatology   but   shows   reticence   towards   the   term   dispensationalism   because   he conceives  of  it  in Scofieldian  terms.  Given  his  interest  in  Pentecostal  spirituality  rather than   history,   he   does   not   discuss   whether   Pentecostals   modified   their   views   on eschatology after the first decade.

PETER ALTHOUSE. Althouse places eschatological viewpoints in four quadrants based on their relationship to four factors: ‘present hope’, ‘future hope’, ‘present despair’ and ‘future despair’. He locates Pentecostals in the quadrant of ‘future hope’ as proponents of the ‘Latter Rain eschatology’ rather than of premillennial dispensationalism, which he places in the ‘future despair’ quadrant.28 He follows closely the views of Sheppard, writing that

Pentecostals did not generally hold a dispensational fundamentalist eschatology in the early history of the movement. Over time, however, Pentecostals embraced a fundamentalist version of dispensational eschatology with such tenets as a pretribulation ‘secret’ Rapture.29

26 Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, 147.

27 Steven Jack Land, Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010), 71–72. Kindle.

28  Peter    Althouse,    ‘An    Introduction’,    in    Althouse;    Waddell,    Perspectives    in    Pentecostal Eschatologies, 14.

29 Althouse, Spirit of the Last Days, 36.



He recognises the influence of dispensational premillennialism on Pentecostals but equates their early views more to Joachim of Fiore than to Darby or Scofield. He states,

Fundamentalist  forces  would  soon  be  felt  among  Pentecostals  and  they  would abandon  their  latter  rain  eschatology  for  dispensational  premillennialism,  yet  at the  cost  of the  foundation  of  their  dearest  doctrine—speaking  in  tongues  as the expression of the baptism of the Spirit. … The meaning of the Blessed Hope thus changed from the advent of the Second Coming to this new view of the rapture.30


Throughout his writing Althouse provides another clear expression of the ‘latecomer to dispensationalism’ view.

FRANK MACCHIA. Macchia also follows Sheppard’s analysis and accepts the ‘latecomer to dispensationalism’ view. As may be noted in the following passage, he equates dispensationalism with the cessationist version of the system:

I   essentially   agree   with   Sheppard’s   effort   to   distance   Pentecostalism   from dispensationalism.    My    reading    of    early    Pentecostal    literature    shows    a nondispensationalist  openness  to  different  understandings  of  end–time  events, even a certain lack of interest in such questions. … Sheppard argues persuasively that  Pentecostalism  accepted  certain  features  of  the  end–time  schema  from  the dispensationalists   early   on   but   did   not   swallow   its   larger   hermeneutical implications  until  they  attempted  later  to  gain  the  acceptance  of  conservative evangelical churches.31


His comments on ‘a certain lack of interest in such questions’ raise questions relevant to this dissertation. Were early Pentecostals concerned with eschatological issues, or was this an interest that was later fomented by their interaction with fundamentalist dispensationalists?

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