†he Burros of Berea

The Cults, The Dispensationalists, and the End of the World

Copyright © Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr (May 27, 2023)

All Rights Reserved


Guilt by association is a fallacious way to argue, especially when the accuser is closer to the alleged association than the accused. Case in point: a Dispensational response to the previous blog post on this forum.


That post dealt with the fact that the biblical Antichrist was a thing of the past; consequently, John couldn’t have been talking about a modern-day figure like the Pope or King Charles III.[1]  In the Facebook version of the post, a Dispensationalist called this view a lie which is in line with the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The problem with this reasoning is that the eschatology of both the groups mentioned has much more in common with Dispensationalism than it does with those who believe in the past fulfillment of New Testament prophecy.


This is especially the case regarding their views on the Olivet Discourse, the “last days,” the “thousand years” of Revelation 20, the end of the world, and the eternal destiny of believers beyond this. The futuristic understanding of already fulfilled prophecy (something all three groups share in common) has held the Church back from accomplishing Her mission in this world ever since all three of these systems entered the stage in the 1800s.


The Olivet Discourse


As Gary DeMar writes, “The JWs follow an end-time scenario that is not much different from the one outlined in the Left Behind series and in so many books dealing with Bible prophecy.”[2]  For example, on the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ official website there is an entry entitled, “What Is the Sign of ‘the Last Days,’ or ‘End Times’?”[3]  The writer lists all the typical things a Dispensationalist would list from Jesus’ Olivet Discourse: war (Matt. 24:7), famine (Matt. 24:7), earthquakes (Matt. 24:7; Lk. 21:11), disease (Lk. 21:11), crime (Matt. 24:14), etc.  For a comparison to Dispensationalism, see David Jeremiah’s “4 Signs of the End Times.”[4]


Like Jeremiah and other Dispensationalists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses completely ignore Jesus’ explicit statement that He was talking about “this generation,” His own generation (Matt. 24:34; Lk. 21:32) For them, Jesus’ words refer to our current generation.  Clearly, the Dispensationalists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the same narrative regarding the Olivet Discourse. A Jehovah’s Witness could write the script for the next Left Behind movie or the outline for Jeremiah’s next book.


The Last Days


Just as both groups misunderstand and misapply “this generation” (Matt. 24:34), they do the same with the biblical phrase the “last days.” Rather than seeing the “last days” as the days in which the first generation of Christians lived as the Old Covenant era came to a close (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2), Jehovah’s Witnesses and Dispensationalists understand the expression in terms of the “last days” of human history.


This approach is commonplace among Mormons, as well. Mormonism teaches that “the Last Days is the time in which we now live.”[5]  Biblically speaking, however, the “last days” were the times in which the original generation of Jesus’ followers lived. Those days are behind us. Their “last days” are our “past days.”  Neither the Dispensationalists, the Mormons, nor the Jehovah’s Witnesses see it this way.


The Jehovah’s Witness poses the question: “Are we living in ‘the last days,?”  The answer given is conclusive: “Yes. World conditions as well as Bible chronology indicate that the last days began in 1914, the year World War I began.” For the Dispensationalist, the pivotal year was 1948. In that year Israel became a nation again, and this is known as the “super sign” that kicked the world into “last days” mode.[6]  For all three groups then, we are now living in “the last days.” The only difference between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Dispensationalists, in this regard, is determining exactly when the “last days” started. It seems the Jehovah’s Witnesses beat the Dispensationalists to the punch by 34 years (1914 instead of 1948).


The “last days” also becomes a shared and common evangelistic theme among them, as well.  In “Jehovah’s Witnesses and the End Times,” Chris Morton explains: “The imminence of Armageddon is used to encourage conversion since those who respond favorably to the good news can survive Armageddon and live forever in perfection on a paradise earth.”[7] Replace the words “survive Armageddon” with the words “get raptured,” and you have the Dispensationalist’s favorite evangelistic tool: “Get saved or get left behind.”[8] In both groups, the end of the world serves as the motivating factor to solicit conversion.


The Thousand Years


The Jehovah’s Witness speaks of “a paradise on earth,” and their earthly paradise isn’t much different from the Dispensationalist’s version of the same. For the Jehovah’s Witness, it is a literal “Thousand Year Reign” of Christ on earth wherein “marvelous things presently ‘unseen’ will be brought to reality.”[9]  This bears a close resemblance to the description of the Millennium on the Dispensational website Rapture Ready: “The Millennium is the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth after He returns at the second coming (Rev. 20:1-10). During this time, Jesus will set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem and people will continue to live on earth until the earth is destroyed at the end of the millennium.”[10]


Likewise, Mormonism teaches the same thing: “At the culmination of this dispensation, the Millennium will be ushered in. The Millennium will be 1,000 years of peace wherein all people will confess that Jesus is the Christ, and wherein the fulness of His gospel will fill the earth. During the Millennium, there will be no evil (for Satan will be bound), and no sickness nor death. Children will grow up in righteousness.”[11]


As mentioned, this is a period of earthly peace for those who “survive Armageddon,” according to Jehovah’s Witness theology. In like manner, the Dispensationalist says, “…the millennial kingdom will be initially populated by only the holy ones who came with Christ at the battle of Armageddon and the Christians who were still alive at the end of the tribulation.”[12]  All of these approaches take the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 in an overly literalistic manner and amount to the same scenario, for all intents and purposes.


Eternity in Outer Space


For the Dispensationalist, however, a thousand years of paradise on earth isn’t enough, and this is where their approach is strikingly similar to that of Mormonism. Everyone is familiar with the Mormons’ belief that they will “get their own planet” someday.[13]  Mormon leaders inform their followers: “The Lord told Moses that there is no end to His works.  If all goes well, neither will there be an end to ours.”[14]  “The idea that we get our own planet,” says the Mormon, “derives from the implication presented in that scripture: that as children of God we are heirs to God and can be blessed with all that he hath (and we take that quite literally).”[15]


Compare this to the words of Dispensationalist Erwin Lutzer in an interview on The John Ankerberg Show: “I tend to think, too, that the universe is a big place. Hundreds of trillions of stars. The experts tell us more [sic] stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on the seashores of the world. I don’t know about you, John, but I can’t believe that God would create all of these without each one of them giving Him glory. Who knows? I don’t know. Maybe we are going to be ruling over galaxies and have huge responsibilities in the universe. Travel is going to be effortless. We’ll be able to travel from one place to another even as Jesus did.”[16]


It seems Lutzer has upped the ante here far beyond what even the Mormons teach. While Mormons can promise their followers they’ll get their own planet someday, he’s offering prospective converts even more: their own galaxies!


In like manner, Randy Alcorn writes, “God says of the reigning Messiah, Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end’ (Isaiah 9:7). What does this mean?… How could that be? Even if the New Earth were many times the size of the present one, wouldn’t every inch of it immediately or eventually be under his control and under ours as his representatives? If so, it wouldn’t be ever-expanding. So what can it mean?… It may be that Christ’s government will always increase because he will continually create new worlds to govern (and, perhaps, new creatures to inhabit those new worlds)….The restoration of the current universe alone will provide unimaginable territories for us to explore and establish dominion over to God’s glory.”[17]


This theology of imaginative speculation takes our eyes completely off the here and now and directly impacts our perceived role in the grand scheme of things. This has practical, real-life consequences. Instead of focusing on “new worlds to govern,” “new creatures” to rule, and “unimaginable territories” over which we will “establish dominion,” we should be focusing on establishing dominion in the world in which we currently live by being the salt and light that Jesus has called us to be here on this earth.  The truth is: while those of us who believe this way are being compared with Mormonism, the sci-fi scenario of Dispensationalism has far more in common with Mormonism than the position we espouse.


The Rapture and Recent Origins


Despite the similarities, however, Mormonism itself attempts to distance itself from Dispensationalism by focusing on the fairly recent origin of Dispensationalism’s unique version of the Rapture.  Mormons are quick to point that the doctrine of the pretribulation Rapture was “developed in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren.”[18]  According to Mormonism: “The early original Christian church, as well as the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican Communion and many Protestant Calvinist denominations, have no tradition of a preliminary return of Christ and reject the doctrine.”[19]  While the Mormons are correct in that this was a novel invention with no prior precedent in Church history,[20] the history of their own doctrine can make no greater claims to antiquity than that of Dispensationalism.


The Book of Mormon was published in the same year that Dispensationalism was born (1830),[21] and the origins of each doctrine are remarkably alike.  According to Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon was the result of several angelic encounters and visions he experienced in 1823.[22] Similarly, a young Scottish girl named Margaret Macdonald would fall into a trance in 1830 and have a vision of Jesus secretly removing His Church from the world prior to the Tribulation.[23] In the years following, John Nelson Darby would add the details, C.I Scofield would develop the doctrine, and Dispensationalism would be unleashed upon the world. During this same period, the Jehovah’s Witnesses would hit the scene as well, making their debut in the 1870s.[24]  In that same year, Dispensationalism would hit a height of popularity which it still enjoys today.


It seems that these eschatologies are similar in more ways than one. Not only do they resemble each other in terms of doctrine, but they all originated around the same time, and everything went downhill from there.


The Results


By the late 1800s, Dispensationalism would dominate the Evangelical landscape, and the Church still hasn’t recovered. In terms of the Church’s impact on the world, the results have been devastating. The cultural decline of Christianity is the bitter fruit of the seed that was sown over a century ago. No longer do we expect to impact the world through the comprehensive and leavening effects of the Gospel. Our goal has now become to escape the world, not change it. Whereas God’s People once embraced a vision of victory by applying the Bible to every area of life, we’ve spent the last 153 years expecting defeat and waiting for the rapture. As one popular Dispensationalist has famously said, “We lose down here.”[25] For all intents and purposes, the vision of victory has faded as Dispensationalism has shined.


The late Dr. Gary North wrote, “Christians haven’t taken seriously this vision of victory since the 1870’s. For over a century, this vision faded in the hearts and minds of regenerate people. A vision of defeat, in time and on earth, replaced the older vision of victory. The churches went into hiding, culturally speaking. They left the battlefield, and the humanists won by default.”[26]


As one living in the 1800s, Charles Spurgeon was an eyewitness to Dispensationalism’s ascent, and his reaction to it was priceless: “We never know what we shall hear next, and perhaps it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed one at a time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement.”[27] Perhaps the greatest of these “absurdities” is Dispensationalism’s penchant to misunderstand already fulfilled prophecy as yet unfulfilled. As Vishal Mangalwadi recently said in a Facebook comment: “The ‘misinterpretation’ of ‘EndTimes’ is among the top ten reasons why Christianity lost the West, paralyzed the Church and made global Christianity NONlight.”[28]


Before any of these novel innovations were thrust upon the world, George Peter Holford wrote the book, The Destruction of Jerusalem: An Absolute and Irresistible Proof of the Divine Origin of Christianity, in 1805.[29]  This book captures the approach of what believers taught regarding Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Lk. 21: Mk. 13) prior to the rise of Dispensationalism, Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ movement. Rather than being signs of the end of the world, Jesus’ prophecy was all about the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Holford’s book is an excellent resource demonstrating this.


Returning and Moving Forward


Believers need to return to the approach of Holford, Spurgeon and those who went before and ditch the doomsday approach of the Dispensationalists, the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Only by putting these New Testament prophecies in their proper context (i.e., the past from our perspective) can we move forward and recapture the vision of victory that should motivate us to be what God called has called us to be in this world.


With a pulse on what was coming down the pike, Spurgeon also foresaw the predicament we are now in: “It would be easy to show that at our present rate of progress the kingdoms of this world never could become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Indeed, many in the Church are giving up the idea of it except on the occasion of the advent of Christ, which, as it chimes in with our own idleness, is likely to be a popular doctrine.”[30]


It has become a “popular doctrine” indeed, and this “popular doctrine” has far more in common with modern-day cults than the doctrine that sees the “last days” as behind us. While Dispensationalists are true believers in that they hold to all the essentials of the Christian faith, the same can be said for those who see the prophecies of the New Testament as fulfilled in the past. Eschatology does not put one outside the Christian faith. If one however wishes to make eschatology the standard of orthodoxy and play the “guilt by association” card, he/she would have a hard time finding a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness who views the “last days” or the Antichrist in terms of past fulfillment.  The Dispensationalist would have an equally hard time finding a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness who doesn’t view the Millennium and the eternal state in much the same way as they do themselves.



[1] https://burrosofberea.com/index.php/2023/05/21/will-the-real-antichrist-please-stand-up/

[2] https://americanvision.org/posts/what-jehovah-s-witnesses-and-last-days-advocates-have-in-common/?fbclid=IwAR0H-4HGrLEupakKEjlm6Ob_YGvh7y7VyA04ifBUMSdmaPrb6RUOntXM2m4

[3] https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/last-days-sign-end-times-prophecies/?fbclid=IwAR1Dm3-BssT_JkTINZtFn-GiiyoXjEWB8WRyseJRNp6weg71Mdas7uQ3xaU


[5] read://https_www.mormonwiki.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mormonwiki.com%2FLast_Days

[6] https://www.christianevidence.net/2017/09/matthew2432-34-version-niv-32-now-learn.html For my response, go to: https://burrosofberea.com/index.php/2023/04/15/four-signs-that-a-bible-teacher-doesnt-understand-the-signs/

[7] https://exploregod.com/articles/jehovahs-witnesses-and-the-end-times?fbclid=IwAR2bvGqHP_Hn-wBZDREu4hKzuw40EiXf-N4dqI1gvt2py_vHwXrZ98Bhf08 See also: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, “Armageddon—A Happy Beginning,” Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY, http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2005881

[8] For example, See: Jack Hibbs, “Israel is at War” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfXz_VBvYhc  For my response, go to: https://burrosofberea.com/index.php/2023/05/21/will-the-real-antichrist-please-stand-up/


[9] https://www.jw.org/en/library/magazines/w20120915/peace-for-a-thousand-years/

[10] https://www.raptureready.com/will-populate-millennium-kent-crockett/

[11] https://www.mormonwiki.com/Last_Days

[12] https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-qa/qa-archives/question/during-the-thousand-year-reign-of-christ-will-christians-live-in-heaven/

[13] https://thirdhour.org/blog/faith/defending-the-faith/mormons-planet/

[14] https://thirdhour.org/blog/faith/defending-the-faith/mormons-planet/

[15] Ibid.

[16] https://www.jashow.org/articles/general/what-happens-one-minute-after-you-die-program-4/

[17] https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/28/it-possible-ages-come-we-will-travel-other-planets/

[18] https://www.mormonwiki.com/Mormon_Doctrine:_The_Rapture

[19] Ibid.

[20] See: Gary North, Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1993), pp. 137-138).

[21] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Mormon

[22] Ibid.

[23] See: North, Rapture Fever.

[24] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jehovah%27s_Witnesses

[25] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLn-F85FPeg

[26] Gary North, Backward, Christian Soldiers?, pp. ix-xi

[27] https://bereansdesk.blogspot.com/2018/05/the-stupidity-of-dispensationalism.html

[28] Post: “Can Atheism, Theism, Pantheism be relatively True? What about AMil, PreMil, PostMil & Preterist End-Time theories?” (May 26, 2023) https://www.facebook.com/VishaMangalwadi

[29] https://www.amazon.com/Destruction-Jerusalem-Absolute-Irresistible-Christianity/dp/0967831725

[30] https://pulpitandpen.org/2019/10/06/spurgeon-on-the-coming-of-the-son-of-man/