Next July, Charles Swindoll will become a commuter. Already the motorcycle-riding senior pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California—not to mention a popular author and radio preacher—he has accepted an invitation to add another line to his already-crowded business card: president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Here Swindoll talks to CT about how he plans to lead Dallas from a distance—and where he will lead it.

Presidentelect Charles Swindoll says get ready for a kinder, gentler Dallas Seminary.

Dallas Theological Seminary is known as the flagship of the dispensational movement. How would you evaluate the state of dispensational theology? And what is its future there?

I’m going to be very vulnerable with you: I think dispensations is a scare word. I’m not sure we’re going to make dispensationalism a big part of our marquee as we talk about our school. I like to think of Dallas Seminary as first and foremost a biblical school. And when you take the Scriptures as they are, dispensations take care of themselves. Most people are dispensationalists, but they don’t know it.

I’m a 1963 graduate of Dallas. Most graduates I’m in touch with were not rammed into a mold or made to sign on the dotted line. The scuttlebutt has always been that at Dallas you’re going to get dispensationalism crammed down your throat. Usually it’s coming from people who have never been in the school. The word is out that Dallas is where you go if you’re a little extreme on dispensationalism. That’s not true at all.

When Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas seminary, used the term dispensationalist, he had something very specific in mind. He probably wouldn’t recognize the dispensationalism being taught today at Dallas. Do you think ...

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