"Progressive Dispensationalism," by Craig A. Blaising and Darrel L. Bock (Victor/Bridgepoint, 204 pp.; $15.99, hardcover); "The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism," by Robert L. Saucy (Zondervan, 304 pp.; $19.99, paper). Reviewed by Walter A. Elwell, professor of biblical and theological studies at Wheaton College Graduate School.

For many people outside its camp, dispensationalism represents a confusing mixture of special Bibles, elaborate charts, secret information about the end times (sometimes with inside knowledge as to when the Second Coming would occur), and a complicated hermeneutic that is anything but apparent from a simple reading of the Bible. The appearance of a new Scofield Bible in 1967 indicated that something was afoot in this Christian enclave, but only the experts could tell you what. Now two important books on the subject throw the doors wide open. Both are well written and highly recommended to those who want to know the state of dispensationalism today.

Those who thought that dispensationalism was a monolithic system should begin with Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock's chapter the "Extent and Varieties of Dispensationalism," where three major stages of dispensationalist thinking along with several subvarieties, are carefully traced: from classical through revised to progressive. The latest phase is described as "a developing tradition of biblical interpretation" rather than a static, unchanging system—a point that will come as news to those who were told that dispensationalism was true (presumably truth does not keep changing as time moves on).

The first thing that stands out in progressive dispensationalism is how different the whole atmosphere is from the older varieties. The earlier movement ...

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