Pre-Trib Rapture Desperados

by Dave MacPherson

Many of you know that the well-known pretribulation rapture view began in 1830 and that no Christian theology book before that date taught such a concept. You also know that all of the earliest pretrib rapture developers including John Darby stated that it was then a brand-new idea. Aware that the new escapism was not explicitly stated in the Bible, they initially based the same view on only types and symbols, a practice that is still popular today.

Interestingly, it took the earliest British developers several decades to decide which symbolism in the book of Revelation was the best basis for their pretrib. Hoping to be raptured away before the greatest amount of tribulation in that book, they finally settled on the 'Philadelphia' feeling accompanied by the 'come hither' sound. Before the same novel view came to America and was popularized by means of marginal notes in the Scofield Reference Bible, it had simmered on the coal stove back burners of two tiny British sects: the Irvingites (followers of London preacher Edward Irving) and the Plymouth Brethren (the best known teacher of which was Darby).

The recently uncovered 19th century plot to quietly change early 'rapture' documents in order to steal credit for pretrib away from the Irvingites and falsely credit Darby with it (monumental and brazen revisionism which somehow had been overlooked by all books before 1995) is the focus of my book 'The Rapture Plot' - but I dare not spoil your reading by revealing the name of the plotter!

Speaking again of Scofield of Bible fame, CIS (his initials) has become a CSI of his recently uncovered misdeeds (lack of theological training, money fraud, abuse of his wife and children, jail term for forgery, unScriptural divorce and remarriage, self-conferred D.D., and money greed!).

For 1800 years everyone had tied together I Thess. 4:17's 'caught up' with the 'day of the Lord,' a day commencing at the great tribulation's end. Even Darby and Scofield saw a posttrib DOL (see CIS's Rev. 19 notes on this 'day').

After posttribs began publicizing the unBiblical 'divorce' of the rapture from the DOL, early 20th century pretribs, unwilling to abandon their 'golden goose,' were seen desperately stretching forward the DOL and tying it with their already-stretched-forward rapture.

To get around the predictable criticism of this double stretch a few pretrib desperados (reportedly echoing SRB consulting editor William Pettingill) began claiming that II Thess. 2:3's 'falling away' was really Bible 'code' for a pretrib rapture! However, since they'd admitted that the 'gathering' (two verses earlier) refers to their rapture, they were actually saying that the rapture (vs. 3) must happen before the rapture (vs. 1) can happen - a 'truth' that only desperate, self-deluded pretribs can embrace!

Much of the pretrib desperation in recent years has focused on their view's short history - that is, frantically trying to either cover it up or muddy it up. After my 1975 book 'The Incredible Cover-up' detailed pretribism's 1830 birth, pretrib leader John Walvoord's 1979 book 'The Rapture Question (Revised)' turned to early church fathers in order to squash the 1830 claim.

Walvoord, however, could find only three sources (Clement; the Didache; and the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), and he admitted that pretrib wasn't actually taught in them but only the sort of 'any-moment imminence' that can support pretrib! The 'imminence' he supposedly found there rested only on warnings to 'watch' because Christ will return 'speedily' at an 'unknown hour'! But right after the 'watch' quotation, Walvoord chopped off the rest of the passage which was posttrib through and through - and other pretribs including Pentecost and Stanton have slavishly echoed Walvoord and chopped off the same quotation at the same spot!

Is a 'watch' command proof that an event is imminent? II Pet. 3:12 says we should be 'looking for' the 'day of God' which premills admit is at least 1000 years ahead of us. If a pregnant woman can be 'looking for' a birth while expecting labor pains first, then believers can look for Christ while expecting tribulation pains first.

Nowadays the desperados are out-Walvoording Walvoord and finding 'proof' for pretrib rapture teaching in all kinds of pre-1830 writers just because the word 'rapture' (or the concept) was used as if pretrib has a monopoly on 'rapture' usage!

If you are interested in the long-covered-up (but recently uncovered) facts about the bizarre history of the pretribulation rapture view (which celebrated its 177th birthday not long ago), see my bestselling, 300-page book 'The Rapture Plot' (via Armageddon Books online which has an amazingly great price) which has been publicly endorsed by a galaxy of leading Christian scholars, none of whom has had an axe to grind either for or against a pretrib rapture. (All of my book royalties, BTW, have always gone to a nonprofit group and not to any individual.) Remember - The endtimes view that features 'Millions Missing' after a pretrib rapture was totally missing from all theology books and all organized churches prior to 1830!

(Want to copy and air this paper? Be my guest.)