Saturday, November 20, 2010

Satanic Deception?

One of the things I find annoying about the rapture debate is that people commonly accuse Darby of deriving his idea from Margaret MacDonald’s vision, yet never supply evidence. As a result they often call pretribulationism a “satanic deception”.

John Darby says he got the concept from studying Scripture. If he really got it from MacDonald’s vision then he’s a liar. However, if Darby is correct then his detractors are encouraging lies and bearing false witness. It’s as simple as that.

Quote: Tregelles, was a Greek scholar, also of the Plymouth Brethren, who adamantly opposed John Darby's new theology. Apparently, there was a local charismatic church where there was some sort of utterance concerning a secret rapture of the church. John Darby took it and popularized it, but not without stirring quite a controversy.

The above quote is a statement taken from someone who is arguing for a different rapture view. He evidently felt it necessary to indirectly promote the idea of a Darby/MacDonald connection to bolster his argument. I can guess where he got his information from but it’s a pity he didn’t bother doing his own research because Margaret’s vision clearly wasn’t about a pretribulational rapture.

According to Margaret:

Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that if it
were possible the very elect will be deceived - This is the fiery trial which is to try us.

The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept.

What many people don’t realize is that Tregelles had personal issues with Darby revolving around Tregelle’s cousin, Newton. Dr Paul Wilkinson goes into the details in his book.

Hand in hand with the Darby canard goes the charge of newness. To counter pretribulationism, several early Church fathers are usually cited to demonstrate that they were posttribulational. This is interesting because the person I quoted above believes in a system that was discovered and became popularized in the nineties and it, also, created a controversy. It adds new facets to that posttribulationism and shortens it.

So when he picks an 1830 date for pre-trib I can point to a late 20th century date for his system, and via a specific person and book. Before that time and that book, that view was virtually unknown. Defenses for that system have sometimes incorporated the excuse that it was still under refinement. Presumably the early Church fathers don’t help in that area.

The newness issue is specifically related to the idea that the Church will avoid the tribulation and/or the wrath of God. James Stitzinger shows that the early Church fathers had a less than sophisticated eschatology. In fact an examination of a number of beliefs regarding the relationship between the Church and Israel (Justin Martyr etc) and even subjects like baptism preparation reveals that the Church had already been departing from apostolic tenets.

Tied in with the erroneous idea of satanic deception is the claim that pretribbers believe out of fear and are woefully unprepared for the Tribulation. I agree that believing in pretribulationism out of fear is silly. It should be an academic issue. But I think it’s telling that preterists and non-Premillennialists aren’t targeted. Aren’t they also unprepared?

I’ve been through all this before in previous posts. How does one prepare for the Tribulation? If you think you can you’re probably kidding yourself. Our focus and faith should be in Christ’s ability to see us through, not our own power. In that respect, sincere pretribbers are at no disadvantage.

Years ago I participated in a group event where we did a static line jump from a light aircraft. One of the organizers was an A type fearless personality who breezed through her training. It was thoroughly drilled into us that once we were able to make visual contact with the grounds-man, we had to keep our eyes on him and follow his directions. Despite all that preparation and confidence she panicked at the last moment, failed to heed instructions and dropped too quickly. Fortunately she only sustained fractures in her foot.

How do you prepare for Tribulation?


lounorm said...

I've done some research on Darby etc. and found that Darby's first exposure to pretrib rapturism was at Miss MacDonald's home in early 1830, which visit he discussed at length in an 1853 book of his. But apparently he didn't take it seriously until some writers for Rev. Irving's journal visited her and then echoed her new view in print in the fall of 1830 - in the same journal Darby said he avidly read. So different persons apparently influenced Darby over a period of months. In an 1834 letter (which I'm looking at in his reprinted Letters), Darby discussed the same new view: "I think we ought to have something of direct testimony as to the Lord's would not be well to have it so clear...the thoughts are new." In other letters of his he spoke of this new view as the "new wine" and in 1843 spoke of the same view "spreading on the right hand and on the left, without [uninformed persons] knowing whence it came or how it sprung up all of a sudden...." I am fortunate in owning many of Darby's reprinted works and am surprised that they are not quoted by many prophecy writers for they are full of many great thoughts. If anyone is curious, they can visit the web and type in "pretribulation rapture" to find out more about Darby and his contemporaries. God bless.

Alf Cengia said...

That's interesting, lounorm. If those letters aren’t public property you may want to catalogue them and write your own book.

In the meantime I did ask you to provide a definitive pre-trib statement from posttribber Margaret’s vision.

Speaking of research, have you even bothered reading Paul Wilkinson’s book? He discusses the whole Darby-MacDonald subject and produces historical statements that debunk your accusation. Read especially chapters 3 and 4 – it may help your research.

BTW, the book came as a result of Dr Wilkinson’s thesis. It has extensive notes, references and bibliography.

So, come on – give me a MacDonald pre-trib statement.

Alf Cengia said...

Lounorm, I noticed you posted a few comments about Hal Lindsey HERE.

For the record, Hal is right about post-trib’s population problem. However, it’s not the single best proof for pre-trib - there are many other strong points. We still have to consider the pre-wrath and mid-trib alternatives insofar as providing people for the Millennium. But quoting Zech 12-14 just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t answer the problem of how unsaved people enter the Millennium after the post-trib rapture and the Sheep & Goats judgment.

”In Old Testament days false prophets were stoned to death. Now they're just stoned!”

Hal Lindsey wasn’t a prophet and never claimed to be. I read a similar comment at Prewrath Rapture Dot Com from someone who is otherwise a fine and intelligent Christian. It’s sad that people who have different eschatological views resort to these sorts of conversations.

All Hal did was look at what was happening around him and suggest that Christ could be coming soon – at that time it was the eighties.

The late Herb Peters and those who still hold onto the ENP theory have done exactly the same thing and yet there have been no “stoning” statements aimed at them. Which is a good thing…but also inconsistent.