If anyone has every listened to the lectures, watched the broadcasts or read books by John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, D.L Moody, Tom Nelson, Bill Graham or his son and successor Franklin Graham, Chuck Swindall, David Jeremiah, Tim LaHaye, Cyrus Scofield, Jack and Roxella Van Impe,
John and Tammy Faye Baker, a number of scholars from the 700 Club, Jerry Falwell, Denver Seminary, Grace Theological, Trinity Evangelical, Denton Bible Church, Dallas Theological Seminary, Western Conservative Seminary or countless other schools and teachers, you have been exposed to dispensationalism.
Why does any of this matter to the Muslim? Of the Evangelical Christians in the United States, the most vocal and well funded dialectic is that of dispensationalism. Before we can speak of their impact, we must first establish a definition. Dispensationalism had its’ beginning with John Nelson Darby (1215-1300 AH (AD 1800-1882).
Darby, of Irish descent, attended the auspicious Westminster School in Dublin and also the Trinity School in the same city. He was known for his studious behaviour and focus on the Bible. In 1242 AH (AD 1827), after a horse riding accident, Darby saw a vision in which he believed that the kingdom of Heaven was to be established on Earth and it is utterly different from the Church.
He soon after rejected all forms of clergy and authority and considered it a sin against the Holy Spirit. As his preaching mission began, he became one of the most outspoken figures of what would later be Christian Zionism. People listened to this new teaching from the Bible and as curiosity grew, so did his ranks.
Soon he was holding meals and Bible classes in various locations. The original circle of people that gathered around him came to be known as the Plymouth Brethren. As the movement grew, so did the elements of opposition to Darby and the debates about the matter started.
Some of his most significant doctrines included 1) the secret rapture, in which the Messiah shall come before the Great Tribulation and the Anti-Christ and remove the church and 2) the national people known as Israel (referred to as Jews in English) are still under covenant and will have a physical state in the end times in the land of Palestine.
Great scorn and mockery was poured on the second doctrine more than the first as in his time, such a matter seemed fanciful, incredulous and remote from the chance of coming to fruition. All of this could not have been possible without the understanding of dispensationalism.
Dispensationalism, as preached by Darby, puts forward the assertion that the Lord revealing Himself to creation has consisted of a successive historical periods of dispensations. There were seven of these dispensations and every time man failed one test, another was brought. There seven dispensations were:
(1) Paradise and Life in the Garden of Eden, which was from the time in the Garden up until the fall, (2) human self determination, the duration of which was from the fall to the Flood of the Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him (Allah has revealed in His Book however that the Fall of the human race occurred in the time of the Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him, and the first idols), (3) human authority, the duration of which was from the flood to the time of the Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him,
(4) the age of the patriarchs and the promise, which lasted from the time of the Prophet Ibrahim to that of the Prophet Musa, peace be upon both of them, (5) Law and Governance with it, lasting from the time of the Prophet Musa to the time of the Prophet `Isa, peace be upon him,
(6) grace and the church age, beginning from the first coming of the Prophet `Isa, peace be upon him, to his Second Advent and (7) a literal kingdom of a thousand years, heralded in by the return of the Prophet `Isa, peace be upon him, the judgement, the revelation, the perfection of the world and the vanquishing of the Anti-Christ and destruction of Shaitan.
By the time of Darby’s death in 1300 AH (AD 1882), the doctrine had been honed, streamlined and had been taught and preached from Honolulu, Hawaii all the way to New Zealand by Darby or his disciples. The movement found its’ way to the United States not long after and coloured the churches there that had originally not held this view. The Calvinism that they preached was now given a new hue.
This understanding of world events and history always kept the dispensationalist Christian looking for fulfilment of Biblical prophecy in the newspaper, on television of in his daily life. The kingdom was all around and time was short. The strength in numbers of the movement and its’ vitality began to fade just at the onset of the ECW II and was set to be eclipsed when on 1367 AH (AD 1948) the unspeakable occurred.
Against all odds, the State of Israel was born. National Israel was back in the land of Palestine and the world had now set its’ gaze back on the Middle East. Dispensationalism was back in business and the people were listening.
The Scofield Bible, with its’ copious notes and dispensationalist slant, was well received and returning to major sales and in later decades Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth became a dispensationalist classic and handbook for introducing people to these doctrines.
This same dispensationalist slant contributed to a sort of Christian Zionism. Christians in their churches were urged by their pastors to donate handsomely to the State of Israel in order to be on “God’s Side” and not to feel any remorse for the Arabs who are not the “Children of Promise.”
A gaggle of Biblical forces so stinging against the Arabs as to make the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan blush were produced, with Ishmael being called a bastard, Hagar a whore and bondwoman and other horrific and despicable charges.
(It was one of the things that surprised me when Arab Christians tried to convert me to Christianity. I had them read the same racist diatribes to me in Arabic seven times and they did not understand what I was harping on. These Arabs were unable to see through the smoke of the master race. Still more disturbing is Christian Arabs like Walid Shoebat and Brigitte Gabriel who have embraced Christian Zionism without thinking the whole matter though.)
Christian Zionism was then used as a tool to force support for Israel, to uphold the Israel lobby in the US and tell people that their tithes were going to “God’s Chosen and Remnant in the Last Days.”
Jews in Israel looked on mirthfully as Americans, decked out in Bermuda shorts and tops, black socks and brown sandals, rushed to them and pumped their hands in a sincere handshake and said that they would do anything to “protect God’s people.”
Binyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians have been savvy (to their credit) in answering these Zionists that court them and telling them that they must help them against an aggressive “Arab foe.”
Keeping all of this in mind, when the reader watches Trinity Broadcasting Network, the 700 Club or any number of programmes by preachers on television or listens over the internet, it is dispensationalism that is the source of this rabid Israelism from religious Americans, many of whom haven’t even had Israeli cheese but support the country wholeheartedly.
Muslims have been looking on in wonder trying to process how Israelis have been able to muster so much political support, funding and military salvo when there are more Jews in New York City than in the entire state of Israel.
The great bulk of this (besides the ingenuity of the Israelis) has been longstanding partners from the Christian Zionist movement. Tour groups head over from the US every year and explore the land, filling the people’s hearts with desire, longing and hope for all the tribes of Israel to be gathered in the land.
Then when the third temple is built (which is curiously noted as the spot where Al-Masjid ul-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock sit), sacrifices will again be offered and the Jews will be fully installed in the land. However the Anti-Christ will persecute and slaughter them down to their last remnants that will then believe in Christ and be saved and lead the nations and all shall be blessed through Israel.
Christian Zionists were of great assistance to the Temple Mount Faithful (who every year try to lay the foundation for the third temple near the Dome of the Rock), Baruch Goldstein (the crazed Jewish shooter who killed many Muslims in a 1982 rampage in the burial place of Khalil Ibrahim),
Rabbi Meir Kahane and countless other organisations assisting some Orthodox rabbis with the making of curtains for the temple, blessing of cutlery and cups, the raising of a red heifer for the first sacrifice, cutting foundation stone blocks out of unhewn stone (all of these have been complete since 1994).
This movement that is less than 200 years old has crossed from Protestant lines to include some Catholics indulging in the same bizarre behaviour as their Protestant allies. Many Christian Arabs have told me how strange they find it that Christian Zionists will often visit the Holy Land and not come to see the Orthodox Arab churches (which were really the first in the Middle East and antedate Protestantism by 1500 years or so) and spend great fanfare to do Jewish rituals and visit Jewish sites.
More tour groups go to look at where the Battle of Armageddon will take place and where the Third Temple will be erected than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (the hometown and birthplace of the Messiah).
This is another reason why it is a mistake for some Muslims (in either their crass stupidity or pious naïveté) to go and sit and try to “trialogue” with the Christian Zionists and their Jewish allies.
The Muslim is the forerunner or helpmate of the Anti-Christ, so what will you accomplish? Many dispensationalists have now geared their books to include an apocalyptic showdown with the Muslim countries allied with the Anti-Christ (who it is believed with come out of the European Union and be a white man).
What Muslims in the United States and English speaking countries will need to do is combine their grass roots efforts and raise up authentic institutions that can meet the challenges posed by dispensationalism. This can be done through the following:
1. You will need a core of people, perhaps three to five that understand the cults and comparative religion.
2. Door to door visits by dispensationalists have to be met with righteous care by mature and well informed Muslims who will answer these questions.
3. Muslims must not allow themselves to be deceived by the good deeds that an unbeliever does with his eternal destination. People do not enter the Paradise because their good office workers and they don’t enter the Great Fire because they were late for their UPS job appointments.
We have to be wise and try to think carefully about addressing the wickedness that is around us. And with Allah is every success and we ask Him for our support.
Brother in Islam,
Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far al-Hanbali