Hyper-dispensationalism (or sometimes ultra-dispensationalism), as opposed to traditional (or classic) Dispensationalism, views the start of the Christian church as beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul after the early part of the book of Acts. Although variations exist in specifics, all hyper-dispensationalists view the four Gospels and many of New Testament Epistles as applying to the pre-Pauline Jewish-Christian church or to the future Davidic Kingdom; not directly applicable to the predominantly Gentile Church of today.
"Dispensationalists distinguish Israel from the church and so look for a point in history at which God's redemptive program changed from the one form of administration to the other. The most common dispensationalism finds the beginning of the church in Acts 2 with the Spirit's coming at Pentecost. From the standpoint of Acts 2 dispensationalism two other views seem extreme, or "ultra." According to Acts 13 dispensationalism the church began when Paul started his mission to Jews and Gentiles (Acts 13:2). According to Acts 28 dispensationalism the church began toward the end of Paul's ministry with his reference to Israel's rejection of the kingdom of God and the sending of God's salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 28:26-28)."^^
The most notable proponent of Acts-28 Dispensationalism was E. W. Bullinger (1837-1913). Other writers holding this position include Charles H. Welch, Vladimir M. Gelesnoff, and Otis Q. Sellers. Spokesmen for the Acts-13, or Mid-Acts Dispensationalists, include J. C. O'Hair, C. R. Stam (Things That Differ), Charles F. Baker (A Dispensational Theology), and Bob Enyart (The Plot).
Hyper versus Ultra
While Hyper-dispensationalism is a not a label most Mid-Acts Dispensationalists would readily accept, they prefer that the term "Ultra-dispensational" be reserved for Bullinger and the Acts-28 end of the spectrum.^^ In fact, if the classical Scofield variety may be termed as Acts-2 dispensationalism, then there is indeed a spectrum of views to be acknowledged. By way of distinctions, it is noted that classical dispensationalists accept both baptism and the Lord's Supper as applicable to the church. The Mid-Acts (Hypers) reject baptism and the Acts-28 (Ultras) reject both. Additionally, for the Hyper, the doctrine for the church is contained solely in the Pauline epistles. For the Ultra, doctrine for the gentile church is contained only in Paul's post-Acts 28 (prison) epistles.
Norman Geisler uses the terms interchangeably in volume 4 of his Systematic Theology.^^ On page 27, he refers to Bullingerites as "extreme ultradispensationalists"; while Baker, Stam and O'Hair are called "less-extreme ultradispensationalists". On pages 680-681, under the section of Ultra-Dispensationalism, Dr. Geisler again includes Baker in his description of ultra-dispensationalists, while Bullinger is again called an extreme ultradispensationalist. He states: "Ultradispensationalists call themselves the grace movement... Compared to even more moderate dispensationalists like John Walvoord (1910-2002) and Charles Ryrie (b.1925), the grace movement is ultra- or hyperdispensational."
- ? G R Lewis, Elwell Evangelical Dictionary.
- ? Are We Hyper-Dispensationalists? by David M. Havard at Berean Bible Society
- ? Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology in 4 volumes, (Bethany, 2005). See vol 4 for the quotes above.
- Stam, Cornelius R., Things That Differ, 1951, Berean Bible Society, Germantown, WI
- Bullinger, E.W.,The Foundations of Dispensational Truth, Reprinted 1972, Samuel Bagster & Sons LTD 72 Marylebone Lane, London. W.I.
- Baker, Charles F., A Dispensational Theology, 1971, Grace Bible College Publications, Grand Rapids, MI
- Ultra-dispensationalism from Elwell Evangelical Dictionary
- A Mid-Acts website
- Mid-Acts Dispensationalism: Which books are for Christians, the body of Christ?