Dispensationalism is more than just one doctrine. It is a doctrinal system.
- Doctrine refers to something taught.
- Bible doctrine is something that is taught in scripture no matter how simple or complex.
- A major doctrine is a doctrine about which the Bible says much, like the blood atonement or prayer.
- A doctrinal division results from a manmade division of the teachings of the Bible. Doctrinal divisions would include the doctrine of Christ, also known as Christology, or the doctrine of prophecy, also known as Eschatology.
Dispensationalism deals with all of the above but is none of the above. It is a doctrinal system. This is an organized framework designed to give greater meaning to the entire body of biblical doctrine. It acts as a lens through which the truth of scripture is viewed.
In all doctrinal systems, there is an element of human invention. In other words, God has not done all the organizing for us. Man may attempt to organize Bible doctrine with all honesty and integrity, but he cannot avoid being human. So, whereas the text of scripture is infallible, no doctrinal system can make that claim.
Doctrinal systems are built around some unifying theme. Dispensationalism declares that the most central purpose of history is to bring glory to God. Dispensationalism looks at history as a series of tests in which man is given a particular set of circumstances. Each set of circumstances is different from all that have come before it and in each man is given an opportunity to serve God and know Him. In each testing period, mankind fails and rebels against God. But God gets His glory in the judgment He bestows and in the remnant who are saved by His wondrous grace and love.