Does dispensationalism promote a view of the “evolution” of doctrine, or the concept of “progressive revelation”?

The answer is “Yes.” We must be careful in saying this, however, because some denominations “progressively developed” many doctrines contrary to and apart from Scripture. But the dispensational concept of “progressive revelation” is very different than the standard concept of “doctrinal development,” because the former is based on God’s inspired written Word and the latter based on His supposed working through the leaders of the Church. The concept of progressive revelation gives us a way to deal with what would otherwise be inconsistencies or contradictions in what both Jesus and Paul taught. Indeed, it gives us a way to deal with the development of doctrine throughout Scripture. We also have an opportunity to expand our perspective of “the inspiration of Scripture” into an understanding that better fits the biblical evidence.

What we see within Scripture, in addition to the many places where God speaks directly, or the words of Christ are quoted, is an inspired and accurate recording of events as they actually transpired. There are also many examples of fiction, allegory and storytelling that reveal profound truths without being literally true themselves. Such inspired use of literary forms places the Bible at the pinnacle of world literature.

We also have an accurate record of the growth of individuals like Paul, who underwent a transformation of spiritual understanding within the time period spanned by his Epistles. To think that Paul did not begin writing until he was totally “tapped in” to God’s heart and could completely articulate every aspect of what he came to call in Ephesians “the unsearchable riches of Christ” does not do justice to the evidence. To be legitimately “moved by holy spirit,” it was not necessary for one to perfectly understand everything that he wrote. Yet the following statement is still profoundly true: God has a purpose for everything that is written. What that purpose is must be patiently and carefully sought out against the backdrop of the whole Word of God.

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