Charles C. Ryrie explains the dispensational emphasis on consistently literal interpretation as follows:
The distinction between Israel and the Church is born out of a system of hermeneutics which is usually called literal interpretation. … The word literal is perhaps not as good as either the word normal or plain, but in any case it is interpretation that does not spiritualize or allegorize as nondispensational interpretation does. … Consistently literal or plain interpretation is indicative of a dispensational approach to the interpretation of Scripture. And it is this very consistency — the strength of dispensational interpretation — that irks the nondispensationalist and becomes the object of his ridicule.1
If plain or normal interpretation is the only valid hermeneutical principle, and if it is consistently applied, it will cause one to be a dispensationalist. As basic as one believes normal interpretation to be, to that extent he will of necessity become a dispensationalist.2
Dr. Walvoord captures the spirit of dispensational literalism in his dramatic statements:
“History is history, not allegory. Facts are facts. Prophesied future events are just what they are prophesied. Israel means Israel, earth means earth, heaven means heaven.”3
“A literal promise spiritualized is exegetical fraud.”4
Bark River Bible Church expresses Dispensationalism this way:
Dispensationalism – We believe that the Scriptures interpreted in their natural, literal sense reveal divinely determined dispensations or rules of life which define man’s responsibilities in successive ages. These dispensations are not ways of salvation, but rather divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to his purpose. Three of these – the age of law, the age of the Church, and the age of the millennial kingdom – are the subjects of detailed revelation in Scripture (John 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 2 Corinthians 3:9-18; Galatians 3:13-25; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2-10; Colossians 1:24-25; Hebrews 7:19; Revelation 20:2-6).5
1 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), pages 45-46.
2 Ibid., page 21.
3 John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, pages 129-130.
4 Ibid., page 200.