Revisers of Pre-Trib Rapture History

By: Dave MacPherson, B.A. (emphasis added) 

(BREAKING NEWS: Grant Jeffrey is admitting on his website that the “argument that no one ever saw this [pretrib] ‘truth’ throughout eighteen hundred years of Church history has been very effective, causing many Christians to abandon their belief in the pretribulation Rapture”! Since Thomas Ice has been claiming on Todd Strandberg’s site that I’m the one who’s been “fabricating a false history of the pre-trib rapture” for “thirty-plus years” in order to promote the same 1800-year argument, it’s time to see what pretrib leaders have actually been claiming—and are still claiming—-about their own view’s history, plus my responses to them. By hearing both sides, you can determine who the real fabricators are!)


CLAIM: Since the early 1900's many pretrib rapture promoters (and indolent copycats) have given credit for the pretrib rapture to early Plymouth Brethren leader John Darby (whom John Walvoord truthfully viewed as one of the “early” pretribs!), have also claimed that Darby first “understood” pretrib in either late 1826 or early 1827, and that Darby based his earliest development primarily on the “distinction” between the “church” and “Israel” which, he said, would necessitate a separation between both groups that only a pretrib rapture could attain.


MY RESPONSE: Darby’s earliest paper (1827) emphasized only the “heavenly church” and he expected to be on earth until the start of a future millennium, and his 1828 paper focused on only the church’s “unity.” His 1829 paper looked for only the Rev. 19:11 coming while his 1830 paper expected only the Matt. 25:31 coming. As late as 1837 his church/Israel “dichotomy” that he supposedly discovered 10 years earlier was still nonexistent when he described the church as “going in with Him to the marriage, to wit, with Jerusalem and the Jews”! Not until 1839 (“Notes on the Revelation”) did Darby have clear pretrib teaching! Basing it on Rev. 12:5's “man child” who was “caught up,” he wrote: “If we apply it to the saints, who overcome here...then we find that...they are caught up out of his [the dragon’s] way....; and the trial and persecution fall on those who are left here—upon the woman.” (Amazingly, eminent “doctors” either haven’t known, or have covered up, the fact that the “man child” symbol—and not Rev. 4:1 with its seven-year “gap”—was Darby’s beginning pretrib basis for three decades while he held to only a 1260-day tribulation! And he wasn’t original on ANY of dispensationalism’s crucial aspects!)


CLAIM: In the early 1970's I shared some of my research evidence with pretrib R.A. Huebner, a Darby-obsessed member of the Plymouth Brethren—evidence that London preacher Edward Irving and some of his friends taught pretrib long before Darby did. Huebner was aware that a few in Irving’s orbit quickly accepted the new pretrib view while others either delayed accepting it or rejected it. In 1973 Huebner self-published a booklet dedicated to distorting my uncovered information about Darby and some of his contemporaries. In order to back up his outrageous claim that the “Irvingites (1828-1834) never held the pretribulation rapture or any ‘any-moment’ views,” he quoted only Irvingites who hadn’t yet accepted pretrib including historicist John Hooper who in late 1831 wrote in the Irvingite journal (“The Morning Watch”) that “the seventh seal has been opened, the seventh trumpet sounded, and seventh vial commenced.” Walvoord’s 1976 book, echoing Huebner’s outrageous claim while muddying my evidence, quoted the same Hooper words—never dreaming that Huebner had concealed Irvingites who HAD been teaching pretrib!


MY RESPONSE: In the Sep., 1830 Irvingite journal, a writer discussing Revelation’s seven churches taught that “Philadelphia” will be “caught up” before a future “period of great tribulation” while the “Laodicean church” will be left behind “on earth” to face that period—the first clear public teaching of pretrib that I’ve found. Knowing that he could keep crediting Darby with pretrib if he kept covering up or distorting Irvingite doctrine, Huebner’s 1991 book claimed that the phrase “period of great tribulation” meant nothing more than “the pouring out of the seventh vial”—evidence, he said, that only a posttrib coming was being projected. But this was just another of Huebner’s many cover-ups; he omitted telling readers that three pages later the Irvingite writer mentioned twice that “the great tribulation” would FOLLOW the rapture—proof that his rapture was a pretrib one! (The paper you’re now reading includes Huebner, a retired electrical engineer who never attended any college or Bible school, simply because his dishonest material was hurriedly appropriated by Walvoord and Ryrie whose books in turn have had incredible influence on many including Lindsey, LaHaye, and Ice! Huebner’s writings, by the way, have HUNDREDS of copying errors that I’ve counted, but he compensates for his unscholarliness by burying or twisting historical data!)

     In the June, 1831 issue of the same Irvingite journal, Irving himself wrote, while discussing the “man child” of Rev. 12: “...though the child is spoken of as one (ver. 5), it is also described as many (ver. 11), who overcame the accuser; and when that number is accomplished, there are still a remnant of her seed, whom the dragon doth persecute and seek to destroy (ver. 17). This two-fold company—the one gathered before, and the other after the travailing woman is cast out into the wilderness....” (So Darby’s initial Biblical basis for pretrib in 1839—the “man child” symbol, as we noted a short time ago—was actually Irving’s which had been published eight years earlier! Darby, moreover, admitted in his writings that he had been an avid reader of that Irvingite publication!)

     My book “The Rapture Plot” has seven pages of short quotes from the same Irvingite mouthpiece (1831-1833) which indisputably disclose a pretrib rapture as well as pretrib-type imminence—all appearing in print years before Darby expressed such concepts! The same book of mine also lists 21 short quotes that pretrib dispensationalists agree were Darby’s earliest prophetic thoughts—“truths” they claimed he alone derived from Scripture, “truths” that supposedly led him to come up with the pretrib idea before anyone else. After I quoted them, I revealed that ALL of them were actually Irving’s words in his preface to Manuel Lacunza’s 1827 work and added that Irving revealed that he had held to those “truths” since 1825! (Absolutely no one, whether pre or post, has ever claimed that Darby believed in either pretrib or in any supporting “truths” as early as 1825!!!) My “Plot” volume also fully analyzes Margaret Macdonald, a young woman in Scotland that the Irvingites admitted was their pretrib inspiration. A number of them (and even Darby himself!) visited her in her home in mid-1830 several months after she claimed to find a pretrib rapture in the Bible.


CLAIM: If I were to put into one sentence the gist of what some of my critics have claimed about Margaret Macdonald, it would look something like this: “Since Margaret was a partial rapturist, she couldn’t have been a pretrib, especially since she wrote that ‘The trial of the Church is from Antichrist’—clearly a posttrib statement!”


MY RESPONSE: In his 1979 book “The Rapture Question—Revised” (p. 97) Walvoord correctly states that partial rapturists are “pretribulationists”—pretribs who see only PART of the church participating in a pretrib rapture. By deliberately isolating Margaret’s Antichrist statement (above), my critics demonstrate either their laziness or deviousness. Every leading 19th century partial rapturist (my “Plot” quotes several) looked for a pretrib rapture of only “worthy” Christians and referred to the ones left behind as the “church”—the term Margaret used for those not worthy enough to be raptured. Even Darby, when analyzing partial rapturism, wrote that the ones left behind in that scheme are called the “church”! (See my internet articles “X-Raying Margaret” and “Humbug Huebner” for light on the last two claims here. Or type in my name on search engines to see all of my internet items.)

     Only after my published evidence (on Margaret as the pretrib originator, on Irving and his disciples as further innovators, and on Darby and his editor, William Kelly, the latter being the culprit who, between 1890 and 1903, quietly changed early Irvingite and Brethren documents to wrongfully give credit to Darby for pretrib—the never-before-told discovery in my “Plot” book) did a few dispensationalist diehards begin frantically fishing for pre-1830 “hints” of pretrib! If you were to find a “hint” they don’t know about, no one would be more rapturous than Thomas Ice and Tim LaHaye! But if you were to find 100 such “hints,” it wouldn’t change the fact that 99 percent of all Christians before the year 1830 never heard of, or even smelled, a pretrib rapture! (See my internet piece “Deceiving and Being Deceived” which exposes some “hints” that some claim to have found.)


THE END IS HERE: As you can tell, I’d rather be an honest B.A. (Better Author) than a lazy or lying Ph.D. (Pretrib History Distorter)! You have just read perhaps 1 percent of my No. 1 book “The Rapture Plot.” You can obtain the other 99 percent by calling 800-967-7345 or by contacting Armageddon Books. (All of my book royalties have always gone to a nonprofit organization which has never paid salary to anyone.) Right now I’m going to do something out of character. I’m going to predict that one of these days some unthinkably horrendous event (or events) will cause many Laodicean-type Christians to not only abandon pretrib in droves but even become physically violent toward their pretrib teachers! Some of those “Laodiceans” may fall away to such a degree they may even kill some of those teachers!

     Years ago my wife and I visited an elderly fellow believer in his home in Alberta, Canada who told us, from firsthand knowledge, that soon after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917, a man in that country went to his pastor, angrily threw down his Bible, and shouted: “You lied to us! You said we would be raptured away first!” The Dutch heroine Corrie ten Boom declared in a 1974 article that when communism took over in China “millions of Christians were tortured to death” who had previously been assured: “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated—raptured.”


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