Brian Schwertley on the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine

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Whenever a Christian encounters a doctrine that has not been taught by anyone in any  branch of Christ’s church for over eighteen centuries, one should be very suspect of that teaching. This fact in and of itself does not prove that the new teaching is false. But, it should definitely raise one’s suspicions, for if something is taught in Scripture, it is not unreasonable to expect at least a few theologians and exegetes to have discovered it before. The teaching of a secret pretribulation rapture is a doctrine that never existed before 1830. Did the pretribulation rapture come into existence by a careful exegesis of Scripture? No. The first person to teach the doctrine was a young woman named Margaret Macdonald. Margaret was not a theologian or Bible expositor but was a prophetess in the Irvingite sect (the Catholic Apostolic Church). Christian journalist Dave MacPherson has written a book on the subject of the origin of the pre-tribulation rapture. He writes, “We have seen that a young Scottish lassie named Margaret Macdonald had a private revelation in Port Glasgow, Scotland, in the early part of 1830 that a select group of Christians would be caught up to meet Christ in the air before the days of Antichrist. An eye-and-ear witness, Robert Norton M.D., preserved her handwritten account of her pre-trib rapture revelation in two of his books, and said it was the first time anyone ever split the second coming into two distinct parts or stages. His writings, along with much other Catholic Apostolic Church literature, have been hidden many decades from the mainstream of Evangelical thought and only recently surfaced. Margaret’s views were well-known to those who visited her home, among them John Darby of the Brethren. Within a few months her distinctive prophetic outlook was mirrored in the September, 1830 issue of The Morning Watch and the early Brethren assembly at Plymouth, England. Early disciples of the pre-trib interpretation often called it a new doctrine.”2

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), who was the leader of the Brethren movement and the “father of modern dispensationalism,” took Margaret Macdonald’s new teaching on the rapture, made some changes (she taught a partial rapture of believers while he taught that all believers will be raptured) and incorporated it into his dispensational understanding of Scripture and prophecy. Darby would spend the rest of his life speaking, writing and traveling, spreading the new rapture theory. The Plymouth Brethren openly admitted and were even proud of the fact that among their teachings were totally new ones which had never been taught by the church fathers, medieval scholastics, Protestant Reformers or the many commentators.

The person most responsible for the rather widespread acceptance of pretribulationalism and dispensationalism among Evangelicals is Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921). C. I. Scofield published his Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. This Bible, which espoused the doctrines of Darby in its notes, became very popular in Fundamentalist circles. In the minds of many a Bible teacher, fundamentalist pastor and multitudes of professing Christians, Scofield’s notes were practically equated with the word of God itself. If a person did not adhere to the dispensational, pretribulational scheme he or she would almost automatically be labeled a modernist.

Brian Schwertley, “Is the Pretribulation Rapture Biblical?,” pp. 2-3

991609_23897016A Puritan Board discussion on the origins of the pretribulation rapture doctrine: http://www.puritanboard.com/f46/where-did-rapture-theology-originate-56088/

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15 thoughts on “Brian Schwertley on the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine”

      1. When people’s beliefs are threatened and long-cemented ideology is rocked, people get defensive. I was a fence rider and prayed that God would open my eyes to the truth…He just did! Let’s hope others approach this issue with humility as well. Our salvation doesn’t hinge on it, but it will sure help us from following the wrong track.

      2. All I care about is the truth. Whatever it is, I will like it or lump it. I seek not to conform the truth to my beliefs but to conform my beliefs to the truth.

      3. Very true. As Dr Martin said, I hope the pre-trib people are right! I don’t want to see the antichrist. I don’t want to go through the tribulation, but if we have to then let’s get it on.

      4. In the end, no matter what happens, it’s all for His glory. I am trying to listen to Martin’s videos now to see if I need to add comment before I reblog. Was he a futurist?

  1. By the way, for those taking a Futurist position, Pat Robertson had a book published in the early 2000’s that took a Futurist view but did not have a pre-trib Rapture. I think it was his “The End of the Age” book but I’m not sure. It was left in a cottage I was once staying in so I read it then 🙂 Ah, yes…I found a preview at Christianbook.com and I’m pretty sure that’s the one I read: The End of the Age

    1. It’s amazing how it seems the other bunch whether it be on this subject or other subjects that are differ with truth–are hostile and sarcastic. It’s sad that as Martin said, why can’t we have a difference of opinion with all the anger? I shake my head sometimes.

      1. I agree. I am also saddened by the insistence on making blanket statements along with the refusal to back them up. The truth can withstand scrutiny. Our goal as Christians should be to conform ourselves to what the Word of God says, always bearing in mind that we could be wrong and could need correction on a matter or two. I have many dear friends with whom I disagree on a great many theological matters, but we are still able to love each other nonetheless.

      2. Yeah, we have to love them, however our love seems judgmental and divisive to them and they end up spurning us. My concern, as I said to someone else, if Jesus is coming back for us at the END of the Tribulation, what happens when an instead of Christ (or Antichrist) comes on the scene…who will he deceive into thinking he’s the real deal? It will be wholesale deception of a global magnitude…I feel very sorry for them.

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