The shaping of John Nelson Darby’s Eschatology

Lee, Peter David (2010) The shaping of John Nelson Darby’s Eschatology. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales, Lampeter.

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The Albury and Powerscourt prophetical conferences saw the birth of a new form of premillennial dispensationalism that has shaped evangelical eschatology ever since. It owed its debut to John Nelson Darby, who espoused the centrality of the “two peoples of God.” Dispensationalism affirmed three cardinal doctrines: first, a sharp dichotomy between the two peoples of God—national Israel and the church; second, God’s glory rather than the covenant of grace defining His purpose in history; and third, the hermeneutical principle of a literal interpretation of Scripture. This dispensationalism was indeed revolutionary, displacing the traditional historicist hermeneutic, with its system of date-setting, in favour of futurism, with its doctrine of imminency. This forced Darby to deal with the problem of what to do with the church so that God could fulfil his redemptive plan regarding national Israel. He resolved this by providing for a rapture of the church and by inserting a gap of an indeterminate number of years in the last part of Daniel’s seventy-week prophecy. The question that arises over this new doctrine of premillennial, pretribulational dispensationalism concerns its provenance, since Darby is widely credited as its originator. There is good reason for this. His influence can be seen in C. I. Scofield’s Reference Bible, as well as such popular novels as Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth and Timothy LaHaye’s Left Behind series. There are two dominant schools of thought regarding Darby and the origin of dispensationalism. One traces his dispensationalism back to the Patristic Writings, and the other sees Darby as “inventing” his system. Both are incorrect, as I will demonstrate by tracing his eschatology to earlier thinkers to show that Darby “adapted” extant doctrines to form his unique system. This dissertation will establish a much more coherent picture of Darby and his contribution to the field of eschatology by identifying the sources that were available and were adapted by him to form his premillennial dispensationalism. This will also provide a greater understanding of the modern “revisionist” and “progressive” forms of dispensationalism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2023 15:54
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2023 08:40

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