Monday, September 7, 2009

Darby, Scofield, And Pre-Tribulation Theology

As one looks through church history, he is astounded at the nearly total silence about a "pre-tribulation" rapture. But in 1830, a single "prophecy" was picked up by one movement leader and began to spread. At about this same time, the one called the "father of modern Dispensationalism" got wind of Margaret Macdonald's dream, and paid her a visit. He listened well, then went home and made some changes, incorporating it into his own theories about the end times.

John Darby was also the father of the Plymouth Brethren movement, a church which was openly proud of what they called this "new doctrine," once they got hold of it. Brian M. Schwertley, in Is the Pretribulation Rapture Biblical? says "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 scholars, Protestant Reformers, or the many commentaries."

It is not clear to me about whom "prince of preachers" Charles Spurgeon was speaking in the following quote, but one wonders if it was not the "Brethren" themselves. Spurgeon lived in the day when the pre-tribulation rapture was freshly hatched. It is obvious what he thought of the idea. Hear him well:

"...there is a certain troublesome sect abroad nowadays," said he, "to whom the one thing needful is a perpetual speculation upon prophecy...They plume themselves upon an expected secret rapture , and I know not what vain imaginings beside..."

The creator of the "Scofield Reference Bible" (1917) included Darby's teachings in his notes. Seeing such things "in the Bible" emboldened many other saints to trust this doctrine as though God had said it Himself. There followed the inclusion of pre-tribulationism in the curriculums of well-known and greatly loved institutions such as Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary, and in the 1970's, a book and movie by young people's theologian Hal Lindsay.

There seemed to be no stopping it after that. Today it has permeated much of the western evangelical world. It is far from universal in the church today, and far from historical, as I have shown, but there is as we say a very "vocal minority" of believers, mostly Western/American, who swear by this doctrine.

Thankfully, history is not our final, or even our major appeal when deciding upon the truth of a teaching. History has spoken its clear word, but God Himself has spoken on this and every issue that matters to a believer. Let us hear what His Word says about it, and let all of men's theories be gone. is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.

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