Appendix A: Recent [Mis]Copying

By: Dave MacPherson  

(adapted from MacPherson’s book, “The Rapture Plot”; some emphasis added.)

TIM LAHAYE did me a great favor. He wrote No Fear of the Storm.1 It includes a 20-page chapter entitled “MacPherson’s Vendetta”—his reaction to my decades of research on the 19th century origin of Protestant evangelicalism’s famous and lucrative pretribulation rapture view of the second coming.

     While flipping LaHaye’s pages in order to spot his comments on the pretrib origin, I quickly found one sentence on page 180 that has four historical errors.

     In it he asserts that 19th century (Plymouth) Brethren scholar S. P. Tregelles claimed in two of his books, spaced 11 years apart, that fellow Brethren member J. N. Darby derived pretrib from the Jews and Margaret Macdonald. Since Margaret wasn’t Jewish, LaHaye sees Tregelles naming two different sources and contradicting himself.

     If you’ve been totally immersed in pretrib rapture origin research since 1970 (as I have), you’ll soon find (as I did) these four errors:

     1. The two Tregelles works were not two books but an article (1855) and a book (1864). 2. They were nine years apart. 3. The article spoke only of “Judaisers” within Christianity. (This was the first time I’d ever found anyone claiming that the Jews had been blamed for originating pretrib!) 4. The book referred to “an ‘utterance’ in Mr. Irving’s Church.” (Margaret never even visited Edward Irving’s church!)

     LaHaye obviously had been influenced by other writers, including R. A. Huebner and John Walvoord, who had previously aired the supposed Tregelles contradiction. [Elsewhere in The Rapture Plot, MacPherson shows that Tregelles did NOT contradict himself.]

     After being flabbergasted by this blunder-packed sentence, I decided to check the accuracy of LaHaye’s reproduction of Margaret Macdonald’s key 1830 revelation, which appears in the back of his book as an appendix. This now-famous statement of hers had been included in several of my books, and I had aimed for 100 percent accuracy when copying 19th century historian Robert Norton’s initial publishing of it.

     After my writings of the early 1970's had seen the significance of Margaret’s monumental contribution, her handwritten account of her revelation had been discussed in some of the later works of R. A. Huebner, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, John L. Bray, Hal Lindsey, Thomas Ice, Gerald Stanton, and many others. Now it was LaHaye’s turn to record and analyze her.

     With all 117 lines of her revelation in front of me (as found in my books including The Incredible Cover-up and The Great Rapture Hoax), I began comparing LaHaye’s version with it. Everything matched perfectly during the first few lines. But when I got to lines 10-11, LaHaye’s copy spoke of Margaret’s “great burst.” Was this a reference to the “inbreaking of God...about to burst on this earth” (lines 42-43)? Or perhaps her vision of the final collapse of the pretrib view? Well, neither. Between the words “great” and “burst” LaHaye had omitted “darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was.” This omission can keep his readers in the dark concerning her cultic pride in thinking that only she could really explain “the sign of the Son of man” (Matt. 24:30)!

     In lines 16-17 Margaret, referring to a secret (invisible-to-outsiders) prior rapture, wrote that “men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but ‘tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people.” Here she viewed the “natural eye” as the opposite of the “eye of God.” At this point LaHaye omitted “eye; but ‘tis spiritual discernment that is needed” and ran together “seen by the natural, the eye of God”—thus making the “natural” the same as the “eye of God”!

     In addition to a variety of other copying errors, LaHaye also omitted a word in line 51, another word in line 58, 11 words in lines 74-75, nine words in lines 76-77, and eight words in lines 111-112—sins of “omission” that can easily result in faulty analyses of Macdonald’s prophetic words! (I wrote LaHaye in regard to his many copying errors. He never responded.)

     Was it possible that LaHaye’s incomplete version of Margaret’s key revelation was influenced by some earlier writer who had made the same copying errors? He gave no indication that he had obtained it from some modern source. I was confident that he couldn’t have copied any of my published reproductions.

     LaHaye’s version is actually found in Robert Norton’s Memoirs of James & George Macdonald, of Port-Glasgow (1840). But somehow he had prefaced it as being part of Norton’s The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861). All I had to do was find someone who had carelessly combined the 1840 text with the 1861 title.

     Within minutes, while going through my files, I ran across a 1989 publication that had the same combination. And it had the same copying errors—including the same 48 omitted words—in the same places! The author was Thomas Ice.2

     Although Ice’s version had the glaring copying errors appearing later on in LaHaye’s version, and even though some Dallas Seminary professors had greater expertise in church history, Ice was the only one chosen to provide a full-length refutation of my origin research for Dallas Seminary’s journal, the full-length title of which was the article’s conclusion (in case readers didn’t have time to read everything Ice had written!).3 Ice never responded after my letter to him asked about his many copying errors.

     In case you’re wondering right now if I’ve spent my decades of origin research looking for copying errors in others—well, I haven’t. I had always given others the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they at least knew how to copy accurately when quoting various sources. One of the first things an infant learns is to imitate and copy even before he or she can speak or write or think logically. I had never even thought that my opponents could be deficient when copying—one of the simplest chores for a beginning writer!

     If you were me, and if you had discovered what I’ve just outlined, do you think you’d want to examine other pretrib origin writings for such errors? If you would, then you know that no time was lost on my part. I took my fine-toothed comb and started going through R. A. Huebner’s The Truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Recovered (1973); to my knowledge this was the first work faulting my findings on the origin.4

     I counted 95 errors when Huebner was quoting others on its 81 pages. These included omitted words, added wording, and changed words. On page 36 he omitted ten words while quoting Darby. On page 42 he omitted four words while briefly quoting Brethren historian Harold Rowdon. (We will continue to see how miscopying can result in mistaken analyses and conclusions. I should add that all word omissions by Huebner and others being discussed in this appendix are careless omissions and not allowable ellipses marked by three or more spaced points.)

     John Walvoord’s The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (1976) showed unmistakable Huebner influence in its brief run-down of the pretrib origin.5 On page 43 he said that Huebner had been carefully analyzing various historical documents. Walvoord included four short quotes including three from Huebner and one from myself; his quotation had five copying errors which consisted of omitted words and changed wording. On page 45 while quoting the December 1831 issue of The Morning Watch, Irving’s journal, Walvoord failed to italicize “the commencement of the seventh vial” which this British publication had emphasized in this manner; but Walvoord was merely copying Huebner who had also failed to do the same thing while copying this phrase!

     Three years later Walvoord had a basic rewrite of the above in his revised edition of The Rapture Question.6 This time, while quoting Huebner only, he had seven copying errors including the changing of several words. He again failed to italicize the “seventh vial” phrase for the same reason.

     Following in Walvoord’s footsteps and showing the same Huebner influence was Charles Ryrie’s What You Should Know About the Rapture (1981).7 In his four-page section on the birth of the pretrib doctrine I counted four copying errors.

     In 1982 John Bray devoted about three dozen pages in a booklet to the origin of pretrib.8 He attempted to revive Duncan McDougall’s earlier proposal that 18th century Jesuit priest Manuel Lacunza had been the first to teach the pretrib view. On page three he admitted that his short work was the result of only two days of research on his part at England’s Oxford University.

     I soon noted his flagrant misspelling: Robert Cameron’s last name became “Aameron.” Charles Erdman’s last name was spelled “Eerdman.” Seven times on page 25 the last name of H. A. Ironside appeared incorrectly as “Ironsides.” If readers aren’t aware that Bray has misspelled Cameron, Erdman, and Ironside in the same way in more than one of his booklets, an innocent printer can easily be blamed.

     Even more serious was Bray’s inability to present error-free quotes from others, and in some instances his apparent unwillingness to credit his sources. In his booklet’s 34-page discussion of the pretrib origin, I tallied a total of 69 copying errors, as follows: five when quoting Darby, five when quoting Irving, ten when quoting Margaret, 37 when quoting Lacunza (on whom he majored), and 12 when quoting others. These involved a total of 38 omitted words; on pages eight and ten he omitted 23 words from two Lacunza quotes, while on page 16 he omitted 15 words from an Irving quote.

     Now a word about outside influence on Bray. Huebner (1973, p. 69), in order to assert that Margaret was a posttrib, isolated five phrases beginning in lines 37, 64, 72, 81, and 91 in her major revelation and then quoted them, in this order, in one paragraph. The same Bray booklet, in order to assert that Margaret was a posttrib (and with no reference to this Huebner work), used the same five phrases in two paragraphs on pages 20 and 21—but in exactly reverse order! (A coincidence perhaps? Then think of the vast number of possible five-line combinations other than this one in this 117-line account, not to mention various phrases in the lines!)

     For quite some time after his booklet was published, and while I was working on my Hoax book, Bray regularly swamped me with individual sheets containing his lengthy, typed after-thoughts, each with an instruction as to where in his booklet it should be inserted. At times I was receiving several a week. It was apparent that he had more time to think about his work after its completion than before its completion!

     The date set for The Rapture, by Hal Lindsey, was 1983. But I was hardly in a rapturous mood after I checked his six-page section on the origin.9 His “millions missing” promotion I didn’t mind as much as the missing accuracy in his version of Margaret’s vision which included four copying errors including missing wording.

     Credit for my book The Incredible Cover-up, which Lindsey drew from, was also missing since footnote three in the same chapter was missing—The Rapture’s only missing footnote. I wrote both Lindsey and his New York publisher about this, but all remained quiet on the eastern as well as the western front. After some pressure, every eye was finally able to see footnote three’s unveiled “apocalypse” in Lindsey’s second printing.

     John Bray’s 1985 booklet The Second Coming of Christ and Related Events included 12 pages focusing on Lacunza and Margaret.10 He had 17 errors while copying Lacunza including three errors consisting of nine omitted words. In one Lacunza quote he had seven missing words; his 1982 booklet had featured the same quote with the same omitted words. While copying Margaret’s key revelation Bray made 11 errors including four word changes.

     Earlier we noted that Thomas Ice had somehow achieved seven errors adding up to 48 OMITTED WORDS while airing his 1989 version of Margaret’s now-famous statement, and that Tim LaHaye’s 1992 reproduction of it had the same omissions in the same lines. I soon discovered that Ice’s version also had the same four distinctive errors appearing in Hal Lindsey’s 1983 published version, plus four others Ice had made which consisted of four word changes—a total of 15 copying errors when Ice had published what he called her “complete prophecy”! The same Ice issue quoted Bray for support much more than it quoted anyone else including Gary North, John Walvoord, R. A. Huebner, Ernest Sandeen, Timothy Weber, Richard Reiter, F. F. Bruce, and William Bell—and Ice had two copying errors when quoting Bray!11

      As already observed, when the Dallas Seminary journal Bibliotheca Sacra was willing to let someone challenge my origin research on its pages—someone able to maintain this journal’s level of scholarship when analyzing pretrib dispensationalism’s roots—it chose no Dallas Seminary professor but instead gave the honor to Thomas Ice, a pastor of a small Bible church in the Austin, Texas area.

     Ice’s 14-page Bib Sac article, published in 1990, was basically a rewrite of what he had aired the previous year in his own Biblical Perspectives publication.12 He had eight copying errors when quoting others: Margaret (2), Bray (3), Huebner (2), and Walvoord (1). His quotation again leaned heavily on Bray. When quoting selected lines in Margaret’s revelation, he had added wording and changed wording. Concerning the latter, he had her saying that “the Spirit must and will be purged out”—which, if she had actually written this, would be blasphemous; Ice had changed her original sentence which said: “The Spirit must and will be poured out.”13

      Eighteen years after he issued The Truth, on which Walvoord, Ryrie, and other pretribs had long based their opposition to my conclusions, Brethren layman R. A. Huebner published his Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby (1991).14 Neither of these two Huebner works carried a copyright notice.

     As I began going through Precious Truths I felt I was opening the lid of the ultimate in miscopy machines. My tabulation of Huebner’s quotation mistakes in this 1991 book reached the grand (or not so grand) total of 257 copying errors! These included 53 omitted words, 41 changed words, and nine added words while quoting 19th century as well as 20th century writers.

     In both of these books Huebner’s primary aim has been to promote Darby as the first one in modern times to teach pretrib. At the same time he has sought to debunk what many have concluded since the 1830's: that either Irving or someone in his orbit should be credited with this end-time view.

     Since these two books major on elevating Darby and demoting the Irvingite journal The Morning Watch, it isn’t surprising to find Huebner extensively quoting both Darby and this British journal. The real surprise, considering the time he has obviously spent to uncover documents boosting Darby and bashing Darby’s greatest competition, is to discover that his two greatest totals of copying errors (in both books) have to do with his quotation of these two sources!

     In this regard, Huebner’s 1991 book has 65 errors during just its quotation of various issues of The Morning Watch; these include omitted, added, and changed wording. When quoting Brethren leader Darby, he manages to come up with the astounding amount of 100 copying errors including 37 omitted words, 21 changed words, and two added words. In addition, I also counted 92 other errors he made in the same book while quoting other writers of the past two centuries, writers ranging from Robert Norton to Gary North.

     You may be wondering how serious the copying mistakes are in this Huebner book. In his second section, under “Dispensational Truth,” he writes that Darby “saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming.”15 He then quotes, for support, a letter Darby wrote in 1855. But right after the words “God’s behalf,” he somehow omits “that there was still an economy to come, of His ordering”—the support from Darby he was seeking in order to establish that Darby was embracing the premill view as early as 1827 (support needed for his additional claim that Darby then also held to the pretrib view)!

     While quoting a key phrase in the March 1832 issue of The Morning Watch, Huebner subtracts three words and adds a word, thus reversing its meaning. The phrase: “after he shall have been met by his saints in the air.” The way it appears in this Huebner work: “after he shall have met the saints in the air.”16

     What’s the difference? Just the difference between the posttrib view and the pretrib view! Prophecy books often have charts or diagrams of the two views. The chart showing what pretribs look for has the church going up; Christ meets the church in the air, He makes a U-turn, and then escorts the still upward church. The chart showing what posttribs wait for has Christ coming down; the church meets Christ in the air, the church makes a U-turn, and then escorts Him while He continues downward. With his misquotation here, Huebner changes the saints meeting Christ (the lesser always meets the greater) into Christ meeting the saints!

     This same misquotation clashes with final conclusions in Huebner’s 1973 and 1991 titles. In both books he claims that The Morning Watch (published from 1829 to 1833) never taught a pretrib rapture. But at this point he has this Irvingite journal teaching in 1832 that when the rapture happens, the greater (Christ) will meet the lesser (the saints)—the action shown in a pretrib chart—and thus he somehow has the Irvingites teaching what he claims they were ignorant of at that time! (Elsewhere in [The Rapture Plot] you will discover that Huebner, echoed by some of today’s prophecy popularizers, has avoided very clear pretrib teaching in the same journal, teaching that Darby adopted years later!)

     (A copy of Huebner’s 1993 work on Darby’s teachings recently came my way.17 Almost as soon as I began going through this book, I spotted an error he made while reproducing a short Darby quote—an omission of 31 words!18 I counted a total of 82 copying errors in this latest Huebner production which, like his previous offerings, continues to credit Darby for the pretrib idea.)

     The same period of time also saw an expanded reprint of Gerald B. Stanton’s 1956 book Kept From the Hour which includes several pages of discussion on the pretrib rapture origin.19 On three pages, while quoting Huebner, Walvoord, Ice, and myself, he makes nine copying mistakes including omitted words. In addition to these, he also repeats an error Huebner made while copying The Morning Watch.

     In the early part of this appendix I revealed Tim LaHaye’s errors while reproducing Margaret’s epic revelation—17 errors including 48 omitted words. (I also disclosed that three years earlier Thomas Ice had the same deleted words in the same places when he published the same revelation.) In addition to these “bumped” words, I tallied 84 other errors LaHaye makes when quoting various writers on 27 other pages discussing pretrib beginnings.20

     Can LaHaye’s miscopying result in misinterpretation by his readers? Here are examples of just two of his mistakes in copying:

     LaHaye omits 11 words when quoting Walvoord’s The Rapture Question: Revised. Walvoord, echoing Huebner, was asserting that my evidence has not proven that Margaret and Irving taught the pretrib view. But readers are kept in the dark about the assertion in the book in question because LaHaye somehow deletes what Walvoord was concluding! 21

     When quoting a short paragraph in Huebner’s Precious Truths, again LaHaye has a sizable omission. What Huebner wrote: “G. North no longer needs to wait for Professor Hannah to show from original documents that D. MacPherson’s thesis is false. Here G. North seems to mean that if D. MacPherson’s thesis is false it ‘is nothing but a sham.’” 22

     From this quote LaHaye omits “Here G. North seems to mean that if D. MacPherson’s thesis is false,” changes the period after the first “false” into a semicolon, and then adds: “it ‘is nothing but a sham.’” LaHaye’s readers can think that Huebner concludes that my research is nothing but a sham. But the word “if” in LaHaye’s deletion means that neither Huebner (at this point) nor North or Hannah has attached the word “sham” to my research—an example of how carelessness can turn serious historical study into a game of “Gossip”!

     On page 169 LaHaye says that at the Library of Congress he obtained photocopies of Manuel Lacunza’s work, the title of which is The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty. Perhaps he can explain why on two pages this title appears as The Coming of Messiah in Power and Glory and is listed on a later page as The Coming of Christ in Power and Great Glory.23 Equally serious are his book’s other copying errors including erroneous sources and page numbering in footnotes as well as inaccurate historical dates in the text.

     Before I end this appendix, let me add that I was able to check only portions of the above works for copying errors. Some of them had only a few pages on pretrib rapture history and so I had no need to go over unrelated quotes in the rest of their material. While Huebner’s 1973 and 1991 titles did major on early pretrib development, still there were some very rare items he cited that couldn’t be obtained through an inter-library loan system.

     Since my checking was necessarily very incomplete, readers can easily assume, based on what is now revealed, that the unchecked parts of the above works most likely exhibit the same “comedy of errors.”

     Even flaws in punctuation can alter meanings. Years ago one of the items in Ripley’s Believe It or Not told about a disaster that occurred because of a misplaced period in an emergency message!

     We’ve already seen how missing words can result in wrong analyses and conclusions. Would you be upset if some future dictator wanted to eliminate just three words from the Bill of Rights’ first amendment—words like “religion,” “speech,” and “press”?

     Concerning the stunning percentage of words that some have deleted from Margaret’s 1830 revelation, would you be concerned if the same percentage of words was deleted from your Bible?

     In a recent article on today’s Christian scholarship, Gary DeMar refers to “the usual poor scholarship that seems to be rampant in Christian circles,” speaks of “poorly researched secondary sources,” and then asks: “Is it any wonder that Christian scholarship is routinely scorned by the secularists of our day?” 24

     And why should we expect our political leaders to be better than our Christian leaders?


1. Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm (subtitle: Why Christians will Escape All the Tribulation) (Multnomah Press Books, 1992).

2. Thomas D. Ice, “The Origin of the Pretrib Rapture,” Part I (Biblical Perspectives, Jan./Feb., 1989), pp. 3-4.

3. Thomas D. Ice, “Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret Macdonald” (Bibliotheca Sacra, Apr.-June, 1990), pp. 155-168.

4. R. A. Huebner, The Truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Recovered (Millington, New Jersey: Present Truth Publishers, 1973).

5. John F. Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), pp. 42-48.

6. John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question: Revised and Enlarged (Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), pp. 151-155.

7. Charles C. Ryrie, What You Should Know About the Rapture (Moody Press, 1981), pp. 69-72.

8. John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (Lakeland, Florida: John L. Bray Ministry, 1982), pp. 1-34.

9. Hal Lindsey, The Rapture: Truth or Consequences (Bantam Books, 1983), pp. 169-174.

10. John L. Bray, The Second Coming of Christ and Related Events (Lakeland, Florida: John L. Bray Ministry, 1985), pp. 18-24, 51-55.

11. Thomas D. Ice, “The Origin of the Pretrib Rapture,” Part I (Biblical Perspectives, Jan./Feb., 1989).

12. Thomas D. Ice, “Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret Macdonald” (Bibliotheca Sacra, Apr.-June, 1990), pp. 155-168.

13. Ibid., p. 160.

14. R. A. Huebner, Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby (Morganville, New Jersey: Present Truth Publishers, 1991).

15. Ibid., p. 17.

16. Ibid., p. 197.

17. R. A. Huebner, J. N. Darby’s Teaching Regarding Dispensations, Ages, Administrations and the Two Parentheses (Morganville, New Jersey: Present Truth Publishers, 1993).

18. Ibid., p. 15.

19. Gerald B. Stanton, Kept From the Hour (Miami Springs, Florida: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1991), pp. 326-331.

20. Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm. The sources (and the times he miscopies them): Stanton (16), Walvoord (4), Huebner (21), Bray (8), Darby (3), Sandeen (1), Ice (31). He also repeats 21 copying errors made earlier by Stanton, Walvoord, Huebner, and Ice.

21. Ibid., p. 123.

22. Ibid., p. 126.

23. Ibid., pp. 168, 170; 207.

24. Gary DeMar, “The Sorry State of Christian Scholarship,” Part 2 (Biblical Worldview, April, 1993), pp. 6-7.


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