Charles Swindoll is a renowned evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. He founded “Insight for Living,” which airs a radio program of the same name on more than 2,000 stations worldwide in various languages. Many people wonder if he is Reformed.
Swindoll is not Reformed. He is known for dispensationalism, which is distinct from Reformed theology in various ways, including its understanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments and the interpretation of biblical prophecy.
What does Swindoll believe about salvation? How is it different from the Reformed understanding? how does dispensationalism interpret the Bible? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
What Does Charles Swindoll Believe?
Swindoll is a conservative evangelical. His theology emphasizes the centrality of scripture, personal faith in Jesus Christ, and living out the moral principles of the Bible.
Biblical Authority: Swindoll believes in the authority and inerrancy of the Bible. He emphasizes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and the ultimate source of truth and guidance for Christians.
Grace and Salvation: Swindoll emphasizes God’s grace in his teaching. He believes salvation is a gift from God received through faith in Jesus Christ, not achieved by human effort or good works.
Dispensationalism: Swindoll, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, adheres to dispensational theology, which distinguishes between different eras or “dispensations” in God’s dealing with humanity.
Premillennialism: Like many dispensationalists, Swindoll holds a premillennial view of the end times, anticipating a future literal thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth after a period of tribulation.
Personal Relationship with God: Swindoll emphasizes the importance of a personal relationship with God and living a life that reflects the love of Christ.
Practical Christian Living: Much of Swindoll’s work focuses on the practical application of biblical principles in everyday life. He often addresses topics like coping with life’s difficulties, building strong relationships, and growing in personal character.
Swindoll Was Dispensational
Dispensationalism is a system of biblical interpretation that sees a distinction between God’s plans for Israel and for the Church. In contrast, Covenant Theology is a system of biblical interpretation that sees one single, unified covenant of grace running through the Old and New Testaments.
|Understanding of Scripture||Generally interpret Scripture in a more literal sense, particularly prophetic passages and promises to Israel.||Generally interpret Scripture in a more symbolic or spiritual sense, especially in regards to Old Testament promises.|
|God’s Relationship with Humans||God’s relationship and dealings with humans are divided into different “dispensations,” or periods of time.||God’s relationship with humans is consistent across the Old and New Testaments, expressed through different “administrations” of a single covenant of grace.|
|Israel and the Church||Israel and the Church are separate entities with distinct destinies. Promises to Israel will be literally fulfilled in the future.||Israel and the Church are different expressions of a single people of God. Old Testament promises to Israel to find their fulfillment in Christ and the Church.|
|View of the End Times||Typically hold to premillennialism and a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.||Views can vary, but amillennialism and postmillennialism are common.|
|Typical Adherents||Many evangelical, fundamentalist, and Baptist churches, along with some Pentecostal and charismatic groups.||Mostly Presbyterian and Reformed churches, along with some Baptist and Congregational churches.|
How Does Dispensational Understand the Old Testament?
Dispensationalism is a method of interpreting the Bible that gives a unique framework to both the Old and New Testaments, emphasizing a literal interpretation of scripture and the distinction between God’s plans for Israel and the Church. Below are key characteristics of how dispensationalism interprets the Old Testament:
Literal Interpretation: Dispensationalism generally opts for a literal interpretation of Old Testament texts, particularly prophetic passages. This means that the promises and covenants made to the nation of Israel, including the land promises, are expected to be fulfilled literally.
Distinction Between Israel and the Church: Dispensationalists believe that God has two separate but parallel means of working, one through the Church and the other through Israel. They assert that the Old Testament prophecies related to Israel are not fulfilled in the Christian Church but in the Jewish nation.
Dispensations: Dispensationalists interpret the Old Testament in the context of specific dispensations or periods in which God interacted with humans in different ways. These dispensations help structure the narrative and laws found in the Old Testament.
Future Focus: Dispensationalism often sees a future focus in Old Testament prophecy, anticipating a time when promises to Israel will be fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom.
Understanding of Law: Dispensationalists see the Old Testament Law as a separate entity from New Testament grace. They believe the Law was given to Israel for a particular time, and with the coming of Christ and the Church Age, believers are under the law of Christ rather than the Mosaic Law.
Prophetic Emphasis: Dispensationalists pay significant attention to Old Testament prophecy, seeing in it detailed predictions about the end times, including the return of Christ, the role of Israel, and a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (premillennialism).
Swindoll’s Ministry Career
Swindoll’s early ministry began in the 1960s after graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary. He served as a pastor in several churches in Texas, Massachusetts, and California.
In 1977, he established the radio broadcast “Insight for Living,” which aired his sermons and reached a global audience in multiple languages. The broadcast’s practical, down-to-earth application of Bible principles became very popular and remained an influential Christian radio program.
In the late 1990s, Swindoll founded Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. He served as the senior pastor there until 2017 and continues to hold the title of pastor emeritus.
Swindoll was also the president of Dallas Theological Seminary from 1994 to 2001. His commitment to theological education and to the Seminary’s dispensational and premillennial doctrines is noteworthy.
Swindoll has written over 70 books on various aspects of the Bible and Christian living. His writings emphasize practical Christian life, facing life’s challenges, and understanding God’s grace. He received the Christian Book of the Year award for his book, “The Grace Awakening.”
Also, see Best Christian Commentaries for more.