Evangelical leaders sat by wordless while narcissistic self-serving false teachers covertly, and in some cases overtly, infiltrated the visible Church. What can only be described as laboratory experiments on evangelicals has been carried out by purveyors of poisonous teaching. For decades, many in the evangelical community, like caged lab rats, have been jabbed full of every theological toxin imaginable. It is almost impossible to keep up with all the toxic teaching that’s spreading throughout the Church. What’s even more difficult is to ferret out the men and women who are spreading half-truths and outright lies.
Even so, some of us involved in online discernment actually do try to uncover the dung that’s being fed to undiscerning sheep. On my wolf hunting expeditions, I often sniff them out on YouTube (YT) where a gazillion wolves host their own channels. To be fair, there are also many excellent Christian teachers, godly men and women, whose sole aim is to bring biblical truth to their viewers.
Something else you should know about YT is that you’re bound to come across a LARGE and ever-growing number of online “Watchmen.” (Who are these people? Scroll to the end and you’ll see some of them on “Watchmen Greatest Hits”) The Watchmen are men and women who propound their own personal view of eschatology. Their focus is mainly on the Rapture of the Church that they claim is “imminent.” So, day in and day out (some for several years now) these crystal ball gazers lean into a desktop computer camera speculating about the return of Christ for His church, i.e. the rapture, that will be soon—very soon—could be any day now—might even be before Thanksgiving 2020—oops! Maybe Christmas—nope. To the Watchmen’s shame, as 2020 came and went, their faithful followers hadn’t been “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Alas, here we are mid-2022 and the Watchmen followers remain Earth bound, most likely feeling a bit bewitched, bothered, bewildered and totally discombobulated.
Woe to the Watchmen.
From my own personal experience, I know that YT prognosticators have led professing Christians far away from the sheep fold, to places they ought not inquire into. But it’s not as if the sheep haven’t been warned – they have. Plenty. Some of you may recognize my warning to them: Wolf! RUN!!
But some believers choose to ignore Acts 17:11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
There are literally thousands of professing Christians who never examine the Scriptures. Instead they hang out with and hang on every lying word the Watchmen proclaim because this is what their itching ears want to hear. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Tim 4:3).
Self-Professed Prophets Portending The Future
Last, but not least, there are a growing number of youtubers who believe themselves to be modern day prophets and apostles. These counterfeits are not just on YT; they’ve also infiltrated churches and are spreading their manure to the gullible. People who have never read and studied the Bible often find themselves involved in rank heresy. Before they know it, they’ve been led down a path filled with dangerous potholes that can cause a lot of harm to those who stumble into one. I’m talking about those self-professed prophets who portend the future, the prophets who utter prophecies that never come to pass (which makes them false prophets), the prophets who confidently assert that the God of Scripture reveals things to them on a regular basis! These people are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck your faith. They are “waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted” (Jude 1:12).
False teachers always promise financial gain. Prosperity! Health! A chicken in every pot! Good karma!
What Christians once recognized as pseudo-Christian cults, strange sects and fringe movements have gained credibility. For example, the hyper-charismatic movement, which was once “out there” has become mainstream. These new kids on the block have zero interest in the historic biblical Christianity that martyrs literally shed their blood for. The authority of Scripture means nothing to cultists and those who aspire to deceive people for financial gain. Moreover, they care nothing for those who they’re leading to the very gates of hell.
One of the things those of us in a counter-cult ministry must deal with day in and day out are professing Christians who believe they are “in the faith” but are actually well established in a cult. To them we are the ones who must have our eyes opened to the truth, not them. Many of us have spent enormous amounts of time contending for the faith with Roman Catholics, Mormons (LDS), Jehovah’s Witnesses and New Agers, plus those ensnared in movements such as Word of Faith/Prosperity gospel, Emergent/Emerging Church, Spiritual Formation, Hebrew Roots, Purpose Driven/Seeker, New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism, Social Justice/Progressivism and the list continues to grow! We’ve all spent untold hours attempting to guide the sheep back to the fold. Our principal focus is to share the Gospel of Christ with those who are perishing and point lost souls to the Truth found only in the pages of the Bible.
It's really that simple.
Patty’s Curve Ball
So, with this backdrop in place, I’ll move on to my reason for writing this piece. Several weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends, Patty (fake name) and I got into a discussion about the “Rapture of the Church” which is a belief held by dispensationalists. Before you roll your eyes and assume this article is about the rapture, I urge you to hang in there. What I’m going to cover is a growing movement within the visible Church many may be unaware of. Ever heard of Mid-Acts dispensationalism? No? I admit that I’m not surprised. Until recently I knew very little about this movement. I was, however, familiar with hyper-dispensationalism. However, the term its adherents prefer is ultra-dispensationalism. (For the remainder of this article I’ll refer to it as h-dispy.) Sound complicated? Continue reading and it won’t be.
As I stated, the cult of h-dispy (yes, it’s a cult) is a belief most Christians are unfamiliar with. In one of our discussions, Patty threw me a curve ball when she claimed that Church doctrine is found only, I repeat only, in Paul’s epistles, specifically in Romans through Philemon.
I replied something to the effect, “what you’re suggesting is unbiblical.” Patty’s response to that was lengthy for a Facebook post. After pondering what she shared (I’m coming to that), I could only conclude that her belief was outside the pale of orthodox Christian belief. In fact, a lot of what she later shared on my page and in many subsequent private messages wasn’t traditional, biblical Christianity at all. So where did her theology emanate from?
Patty laid out her view of the rapture mostly in private messages. What she believes seems to follow closely with what many Christians would agree is the traditional view of the rapture. What caught me off guard, though, was her untraditional views regarding the early Church. For example, she claimed that there is more than one gospel. According to Patty, Paul had his own gospel which was different than that of Jesus and the twelve apostles before he first began to associate with them. I out right dismissed that claim, telling her that nowhere does the Bible teach that there is more than one gospel. Patty tried to persuade me that Paul’s gospel is the only gospel that counts for New Testament believers. Moreover, she claimed that the Church didn’t begin at Pentecost (Acts 2). According to her understanding of Scripture, the Church began at the end of Paul’s ministry (Acts 28) when Israel pig headedly rejected the Kingdom of God and God's offer of salvation to Israel’s bitter enemy, the gentiles.
Before I move on, you need to know that when our conversation first launched, I knew full well that I was wading into deep murky water and I wasn’t sure what I was going to find “down there.” But I couldn’t let it go. I wanted to pull Patty out of the muck and mire into the glorious light of God's truth.
Out of frustration I’d share with my husband what she and I were arguing about. He’d listen attentively but chose not to offer any advice. Then one night he realized how frustrated I was becoming. So, he gave me this advice: “You’ve planted the seeds. Maybe it’s wise to move on.” Easy for him to say! But I knew he was right. I had done what the Lord requires of His people. In 1 Cor 3:6 Paul makes clear what my husband had remind me: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” I had planted the seeds of biblical truth in Patty’s field. My work was finished!
Although Patty’s view of the rapture is on board with the view that is widely held among dispensationalists, the rest of what she shared with me is not rooted in Scripture. Thus, I can safely say that Patty’s theology is heretical, as you are about to see.
Acts 28, Ultra/Hyper-Dispensationalism
A heretic/false teacher is someone who chooses to ignore biblical correction and continues teaching the sorts of things that are not found in Scripture. Generally, their teaching doesn’t line up with historic orthodox biblical Christianity. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:9). Heretics/false teachers are given no slack. Truth or consequences.
So – who are these hyper-dispensationalists and what exactly do they believe? For the last few weeks, when time allows, I’ve been researching h-dispy and its influencers. Space does not allow for an in-depth explanation, so my hope is that a condensed version will be sufficient. If you wish to take a deeper dive into h-dispy’s murky waters, you’ll find links under Research at the bottom of the page. Got Questions created a condensed version that readers will find helpful:
[It] is the teaching that Paul’s message was unique from the other apostles’ and that the church did not begin until Acts 28 or later. For this reason, ultra-dispensationalism is sometimes called “post-Acts dispensationalism.”
GQ first explains Dispensationalism then returns to h-dispy. All links are theirs:
Hyper-dispensationalism takes the basic tenets of dispensationalism to an extreme, resulting in unbiblical teachings. Another movement, known as mid-Acts dispensationalism, the Grace Movement, Acts 9 dispensationalism, or Acts 13 dispensationalism, takes a half-way position between classic dispensationalism and ultra-dispensationalism.
Instead of recognizing that the church began in Acts 2 when the disciples received the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the ultra-dispensationalist inserts another dispensation and holds that the church did not begin until Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Specifically, the seed of the church is found in Acts 28:28 when Paul says to the Jews in Rome who rejected the gospel, “I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” This was the view of one of the first ultra-dispensationalists, Ethelbert W. Bullinger of the Church of England.
Because ultra-dispensationalists believe in a late start to the church, they view the church in Acts as a “Hebrew” or “Jewish” church, separate from the “mystery” church to which Paul wrote his Prison Epistles. They believe all [were] addressed to the Hebrew church, which is different from the “body of Christ.” This Jewish church, which was built on Kingdom promises, will be reestablished during the millennium, and will worship at the rebuilt temple with atoning sacrifices.
According to ultra-dispensationalism, the four Gospels are for Jews only and have no bearing on the church [emphasis added]. The book of Acts deals with a different “church” and not the body of Christ. Only the Prison Epistles of Paul are directed to the body of Christ or “mystery” church. Not even the book of Revelation addresses the church—the letters to the seven churches are written to the “Jewish” church of the tribulation. Also, most ultra-dispensationalists reject the ordinances of the church: water baptism and the Lord’s Supper were for the “Hebrew” church.
The greatest problem with ultra-dispensationalism is not its teaching about when the church began but the many other errors that come from its approach to Scripture. For example, at the heart of most forms of ultra-dispensationalism is the belief that Paul preached a different gospel from what the other apostles taught [emphasis added].
Les Feldick, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13-15) and secretly brings in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1), teaches what is known as the “Two Gospel” heresy. His destructive teaching is that,
God kept Paul away from the Twelve in order that He might reveal a new and different program to him than the prophetic program He had revealed to the Twelve…. These events took place 14 years after Paul was saved. During this period Paul preached his gospel, the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24) and the Twelve preached the gospel of the kingdom, inaugurated by John the Baptist and continued by Jesus and the Twelve.” (Source)
Returning to GQ:
Other false doctrines common in some forms of ultra-dispensationalism include soul sleep and annihilationism. Still others proclaim a brand of universalism that grants salvation even to Satan himself. Without a doubt, whatever name ultra-dispensationalism goes by, it is a dangerous error that almost always leads to other, even worse errors. (Source)
H.A. Ironside commented that h-dispy’s fruits are evil. No Bible believing Christian could come to any other conclusion.
Caught Up In A Cult?
How do people get caught up in Christian cults? Those who do not have a firm grasp of Truth cannot possibly recognize error when it looms on the horizon. I know this first-hand as I, too, have been involved in error. Over the years, I’ve been influenced by some of the worst false teachers imaginable. Therein lies the reason I feel compelled to spend valuable time debating with, not only Patty, but other misled Facebook friends. But that’s another article. What I wish to accomplish here is to lead those who are caught up in the cult of hyper-dispensationalism out of false teaching and away from the ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing who teach it. Let me be clear. Unless a person has a saving knowledge of Christ and is Spirit-filled and Spirit-led….unless a person has “studied [the Bible] to show himself approved”….unless a person has a clear understanding of Church doctrine so that he knows exactly what he believes and why he believes it ….unless a person spends time in the Bible with a desire to understand who God is and His ways, she is bound to fall prey to “every wind of doctrine.” To be more precise, he/she will fall prey to demonic deception that will lead to the very gates of hell.
The Lord Jesus addressed false teaching numerous times. And when He addressed it, He made it abundantly clear that those who teach falsely are of the devil: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Our Lord did not mince words. He looked the pharisees square in the eye and told them that what they were teaching was a lie….a lie that came from somewhere. Where? It came from their father the devil. Why is Jesus’ rebuke in the (Holy Spirit inspired) Gospels for all to read? It is there as a warning!
What we’re to learn from Jesus’ harsh words to the pharisees is this: false teaching does not come from well-meaning, albeit confused men and women. No. False teaching is introduced into the minds of men by none other than the enemies of the cross – Satan and his demons.
Let that sink in.
I’ll close with a warning of my own, that may surprise you: Patty once told me that she came out of the New Apostolic Reformation. What saddened me to learn was that she fled from the NAR cult, only to embrace an equally egregious cult, hyper-dispensationalism.
Musings on the High Watch Nature of May and June of 2022 – Barry Scarbrough – slide the bar to 48.0 to hear “Watchman” Barry speculate about when the rapture “could” occur.
We will know the time of the rapture – Barry Scarbrough
Could The Rapture Finally Come in 2022? – Robert Breaker
Hyperdispensationalism and the Authority of Christ By Bob DeWaay© Marsha West
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.