by Jerry Shugart

The Beginning of a Dispensation

Again, Dr. Ryrie states that "the question that decides the beginning of this dispensation is, When did God begin to do this? Not, When did man understand it?...Therefore, whether Peter and the others understood it then does not determine the beginning of the present dispensation" [emphasis added] (Ibid., pp. 201-202).

He also says: "In this book a dispensation has been defined as a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God's purpose...What the ultradispensationalist fail to recognize is that the distinguishableness of a dispensation is related to what God is doing, not necessarily to what He reveals at the time, and least of all to what man understands of His purposes" [emphasis added] (Ibid., p.201).

According to Dr. Ryrie a dispensation can begin without God revealing anything to man. However, Dr. Ryrie himself contradicts this idea in the same book:

"Therefore, we conclude that a new dispensation was inaugurated, since the economy and responsibility changed and the new revealation was given" [emphasis added] (Ibid., p.34).

He lists the things that are necessary to effect a change from one dispensation to another:

"Thus, the distinguishing characteristics of a different dispensation are three: (1) a change in God's governmental relationship with man (though a dispensation does not have to be composed entirely of completely new features); (2) a resultant change in man's responsibility; and (3) corresponding revelation necessary to effect the change" (Ibid.).

Dr. Ryrie is correct that before there can be a "change in God's governmental relationship with man" there must be a corresponding 'revelation' necessary to effect the change. Of course a person cannot be held responsible for carrying out a stewardship or dispensation unless he is given a revelation which spells out the new dispensational responsibilities. Dr. Ryrie understands this to be correct, using the "dispensation of the law" as an example to illustrate this principle:

"At the giving of the law to the Israelites through Moses, God's government was mediated through the various categories of the law...His principal mode of government was the Mosaic code, which was a new thing introduced at that time. It also means that the responsibility upon mankind was conformity to that code...again a new responsibility, for prior to the giving of the law people were obviously not held responsible for something that did not exist" [emphasis added] (Ibid., pp.33-34).

Despite the clear writing of Dr. Ryrie on this point he turns around and says that a new dispensation can begin without God revealing anything to man:

"In this book a dispensation has been defined as a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God's purpose...What the ultradispensationalist fail to recognize is that the distinguishableness of a dispensation is related to what God is doing, not necessarily to what He reveals at the time, and least of all to what man understands of His purposes" [emphasis added] (Ibid., p.201).

Why would Ryrie contradict himself in regard to whether or not a new revelation from God to man is essential to effect a change from one dispensation to another? Dr. Ryrie is intent on proving that the present dispensation began on the Day of Pentecost, the day that he believes marks the beginning of the Body of Christ.

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