Craig A. Blaising tells the following story,
Recently, one of my students wrote a paper on current issues in dispensationalism. At the beginning he quoted a prominent pastor who identified dispensationalism as that dangerous heresy of date-setting. The student, of course, dismissed this charge as simply uninformed. Dispensationalism is a futurist premillennialism. Its very reception in late nineteenth-century American Christianity was due in no small part to its distinction from the date-setting tendencies of historicist premillennialism.
A few days later, I was having lunch with a missionary who told me of various misperceptions about dispensationalism among missionaries and clergy he had encountered. These caricatures ranged from works salvation (or two ways of salvation) to cheap grace, from social pessimism (or hostility to social reform) to rejection of the local church! As I returned to my office, still shaking my head, I thought of the recent visit to our campus by a well-known evangelical theologian. In a discussion with some students he remarked that he disagreed with dispensationalism because it taught the gap theory interpretation of Genesis 1:1. The students were astonished, as he supported his creedal discovery solely by means of a note in the Scofield Reference Bible. Asked if he had ever read Charles Ryrie’s Dispensationalism Today (published in 1965), a standard definitional treatment lacking this confessional point, he said no but affirmed that he would try to make time for it.
Such examples could be multiplied. Sometimes dispensationalists find these caricatures quite bizarre, and their frequent repetition has a surrealistic quality.*
*[O]n the matter of sensational apocalypticism, many point to Hal Lindsey as if he typifies the meaning of dispensationalism. It might be said that Lindseyism is to dispensationalism as Reconstructionism is to Reformed Theology. . . Such extremes should not be taken as the defining types of the tradition to which they are related. But in the case of Lindseyism, besides many hermeneutical problems, there is the matter of compromising the futurism that has always been central to dispensational eschatology. . . It is not correct simply to identify the popular apocalyticism of Hal Lindsey with dispensationalism.
(Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition, edited by Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, 13–15. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.)