Archive for March 31st, 2009

The Rapture

I thought I would post an explanation of the origin of the rapture doctrine for informational purposes.   I realize that there are many who believe in a pre-tribe rapture; however, I do not believe that the NT shows us this.  One of the problems, perhaps the most puzzling is that it comes through Dispensationalism, which places the Jews outside of salvation until after the rapture [dispy also replaces the Jews with the church as if God has disassociated Himself of them – which is completely opposite of what Paul taught – they come to God through Christ, just as the gentiles do].

Dispy/rapture presents two brides and two returns of Christ, which cannot be found in Scripture.  Jesus only returns once – with the sound of one Trump and one shout.  The dead in Christ rise first, then believers who are alive meet Christ in the air, as they with Him, descend to earth where we will dwell in the New Heaven and New Earth.  Truly this is how we will be forever with the Lord.  It is during His appearance that EVERY eye will see Him, and EVERY tongue will declare that He is The Lord of lords and The King of kings.   Christianity’s deception in this area is that Christ will appear to only a select group and zap them off to Heaven, while people stand around scratching their heads at the “disappearance” of these select Christians.  That was never a NT concept.

Although the rapture doctrine took hold in 1830 with the vision of Margaret McDonald and then further published by Edward Irving, there is some historical evidence that Manuel Lacunza, in 1761, wrote a book hinting that Jesus would return twice – the first time to take the church out of the world before God would pour out His wrath. Irving was familiar with Lacunza’s book as he translated it into English. Irving appears to have taken some of his theories along with the rapture vision to promote this doctrine.

Lacunza’s contribution to present day Evangelicalism was to go back to the literal truth of Scripture; to reassert the restoration of the Jews in the end-times; the two-fold coming of the Lord; the millenial reign; the setting up of the temple sacrifice once again; and, the restoration of the earth following the yet future and final defeat of Satan. His position has been described technically as ‘futurist post-tribulational’.


Please note, that no early church fathers or early christian writings refer to a rapture – this is a very late “new” doctrine that has taken hold of a great share of the christian community.  To presume that this “revelation” came to a “select” group of people is, to say that God “hid” this “knowledge” – for such a time as this – from the bulk of Christians for the last 2,000 years.  We read that God does not have favorites or special revelation to a select group.

I have taken a few quotes, just a sampling, from a rather lengthy but interesting article with the whole history and how this doctrine made its way into the church at large. It’s excellent reading full of history and the associations between major church theologians.


Quote:The origin for the pretribulation rapture is well documented. The doctrine was publicly revealed first by a London preacher named Edward Irving. After receiving information by a woman named Margaret McDonald, who claimed to receive a revelation from God, Irving began to publish teachings about the pretribulation rapture in his journal, The Morning Watch, about 1830.

About the same time period, an Anglican minister by the name of J. N. Darby came up with the idea of Dispensationalism while studying the Book of Revelation during a time of recovery after falling from his horse. Even though many have wrongly credited John Darby of the Brethren with originating the pretribulation rapture doctrine, he was still defending the historic posttribulation rapture view in the December, 1830 issue of “The Christian Herald.” As late as 1837 Darby saw the church “going in with Him to the marriage, to wit, with Jerusalem and the Jews. And we now know that he didn’t clearly teach the pretribulation rapture doctrine before 1839. It was not until 1839 that Darby finally began to clearly teach a pretribulation rapture. Later on in the nineteenth century Darby incorporated the idea of the any-moment secret into a last-days scheme which has come to be known as Dispensationalism.

A little over a half a century later, C. I. Scofield took a fancy to the doctrine and thought up the plan for a reference Bible that would help to explain the complicated structure of Dispensationalism to the masses. He constructed his reference Bible to include Darby’s dispensational error, which included the doctrine of pretribulation rapture. The Scofield Reference Bible introduced Dispensationalism into the American church shortly after the turn of the 20th century. It was first met with great resistance, and caused much confusion and conflict among professing Christians. Throughout time, it has gradually become accepted and defended by many as true, Biblical doctrine.

Quote:Manuel Lacunza

Manuel Lacunza was a Spanish Jesuit Priest. Lacunza was banished from Chile in 1767 with other Jesuits. Shortly after, he fancied himself to be a converted Jew and changed his name to Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra. In about 1791, Lacunza finished writing a book entitled “The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty” under the name of Ben-Ezra. In his book, Lacunza hinted that Jesus would return two times for the Church. His first return would be to get His Church out of the world so that God the Father could pour out His wrath. This may be the portion from which came the idea of a pretribulation rapture.

The book never became very popular. In fact, it would probably have slipped into oblivion as so many unpopular books have done throughout the years. However, Lacunza’s book somehow made its way to England, where Edward Irving—whom we will discuss later in this chapter—found it in the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London. Irving translated Lucunza’s book into English and became enamored by some of the doctrine in it. However, it is most likely that Irving did not get the pretribulation rapture from Lacunza’s book.

However, I believe that Irving gleaned some information form Lacunza that helped him to form his doctrine. There were theories in Lacunza’s book that were not traditional. Irving took a bit from here and there to feed his active imagination. Lucunza helped to provide some fodder for his thoughts.

Quote:Not long after reading Lacunza’s book, Irving began to preach the secret rapture of the saints, claiming that he heard a voice from heaven commanding him to do so. This may be the reason that some people attribute the origin of PTR to Lacunza. Some of his meetings during 1828 in Scotland brought crowds of approximately10,000 people. Irving’s church in London was famous for his prophetic declarations and for attracting famous, influential people of society. The building seated one thousand people, and was filled to capacity each week. The many prophetic declarations that Jesus was coming soon that produced great excitement. A person might see from this a parallel to the exciting Charismatic and Pentecostal churches today who revel in prophesies and sensationalism and draw huge crowds.

However, he [Irving] may also have been influenced by a woman named Mary Campbell, who was a friend of Margaret McDonald. Mary Campbell sought the gift of the Holy Spirit and she spoke in tongues about March of 1830. Later, she “received the gift of automatic writing, which is writing while in a trance. The letters were often unintelligible. But just as unknown tongues were interpreted, one could also interpret automatic writing. Campbell and her husband, a Scottish clergyman, visited Irving in his home. It is reported that they were Irving’s guests for a considerable time. During that visit, Mary Campbell spoke frequent messages to Irving that were allegedly from the Holy Spirit. Although Campbell spoke the prophecies in the church meetings, she spoke them in the meetings in Irving’s home.

Quote:Margaret McDonald

Now we come to Mary Campbell’s friend, Margaret McDonald. What hadn’t been widely known until recent time was that the Irvingites had been influenced by a young Scottish woman who had privately told Irving, John Darby, and some other clergymen in early 1830 that the Lord had revealed to her that part of the Christian church would be raptured before the revealing of the Antichrist during the tribulation while the rest of the “church” would endure that period. However, the first public teaching of the pretribulation rapture was in a September, 1830 article in The Morning Watch, a British journal published by Irving. After Irving received Margaret McDonald’s handwritten account of her revelation, The Morning Watch began echoing her novel view. The article clearly stated that part of the Christian church (described as the “Philadelphia” of Revelation 3) will be raptured to meet Christ in the air before the “great tribulation,” adding that “Laodicea” (described as the “church” that will face the Antichrist) will be left behind to go through it.

The Vision:

Quote:Here is the McDonald vision in totality that is being circulated as the one Irving is supposed to have gotten his theory of a secret rapture from.

“It was first the awful state of the land that was pressed upon me. I saw the blindness and infatuation of the people to be very great. I felt the cry of Liberty just to be the hiss of the serpent, to drown them in perdition. It was just ‘no God.’ I repeated the words, Now there is distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear. Now look out for the sign of the Son of Man. Here I was made to stop and cry out, O it is not known what the sign of the Son of Man is; the people of God think they are waiting, but they know not what it is.

I felt this needed to be revealed, and that there was great darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was burst upon me with a glorious light. I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from Heaven with a shout, just the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father’s glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but ’tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people.

Many passages were revealed, in a light in which I had not before seen them. I repeated, ‘Now is the kingdom of Heaven like unto ten virgins, who went forth to meet the Bridegroom, five wise and five foolish; they that were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them; but they that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.’
‘But be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is; and be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.’ This was the oil the wise virgins took in their vessels – this is the light to be kept burning – the light of God – that we may discern that which cometh not with observation to the natural eye. Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of his appearance.

No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for his day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. ‘Tis Christ in us that will lift us up – he is the light – ’tis only those that are alive in him that will be caught up to meet him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven. But I saw that the glory of the ministration of the Spirit had not been known. I repeated frequently, but the spiritual temple must and shall be reared, and the fullness of Christ be poured into his body, and then shall we be caught up to meet him. Oh none will be counted worthy of this calling but his body, which is the church, and which must be a candlestick all of gold. I often said, Oh the glorious inbreaking of God which is now about to burst on this earth; Oh the glorious temple which is now about to be reared, the bride adorned for her husband; and Oh what a holy, holy bride she must he, to be prepared for such a glorious bridegroom. I said, Now shall the people of God have to do with realities – now shall the glorious mystery of God in our nature be known – now shall it be known what it is for man to be glorified. I felt that the revelation of Jesus Christ had yet to be opened up – it is not knowledge about God that it contains, but it is an entering into God – I saw that there was a glorious breaking in of God to be. I felt as Elijah, surrounded with chariots of fire. I saw as it were, the spiritual temple reared, and the Head Stone brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace, unto it. It was a glorious light above the brightness of the sun that shone round about me. I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, while those who had not the Spirit could see nothing – so that two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left, because the one has the light of God within while the other cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation, surrounded by nets and entanglements, about to be tried, and many about to be deceived and fall. 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. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul will he shaken to the very centre. The enemy will try to shake in every thing we have believed – but the trial of real faith will be found to honour and praise and glory. Nothing but what is of God will stand. The stony-ground hearers will be made manifest – the love of many will wax cold. I frequently said that night, and often since, now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth, and nothing but the living Christ in us can detect this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive – for it is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness he will work – he will have a counterpart for every part of God’s truth, and an imitation for every work of the Spirit. The Spirit must and will be poured out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God – and just in proportion as the Spirit of God works, so will he – when our Lord anoints men with power, so will he. This is particularly the nature of the trial, through which those are to pass who will be counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There will he outward trial too, but ’tis principally temptation. It is brought on by the outpouring of the Spirit, and will just increase in proportion as the Spirit is poured out. The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit – have the light of God in you, that you may detect Satan – be full of eyes within -be clay in the hands of the potter -submit to be filled, filled with God. This will build the temple. It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. This will fit us to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. I saw it to be the will of God that all should be filled. But what hindered the real life of God from being received by his people, was their turning from Jesus, who is the way to the Father. They were not entering in by the door. For he is faithful who hath said, by me if any man enters in he shall find pasture. They were bypassing the cross, through which every drop of the Spirit of God flows to us. All power that comes not through the blood of Christ is not of God. When I say, they are looking from the cross, I feel that there is much in it – they turn from the blood of the Lamb, by which we overcome, and in which our robes are washed and made white. There are low views of God’s holiness, and a ceasing to condemn sin in the flesh, and a looking from him who humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation. Oh! it is needed, much needed at present, a leading back to the cross. I saw that night, and often since, that there will be an outpouring of the Spirit on the body, such as has not been, a baptism of fire, that all the dross may be put away. Oh there must and will be such an indwelling of the living God as has not been – the servants of God sealed in their foreheads – great conformity to Jesus – his holy holy image seen in his people – just the bride made comely by his comeliness put upon her. This is what we are at present made to pray much for, that speedily we may all be made ready to meet our Lord in the air – and it will be. Jesus wants his bride. His desire is toward us. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Amen and Amen Even so come Lord Jesus.”

Quote:Even though one may conclude that Margaret McDonald did not expressly state a pretribulation rapture in her revelation, it is for certain that she presents the idea of a secret rapture. It is also clear what Irving understood her to mean. She evidently thought that it was very important since she sent hand-written copies to various clergymen and Christian leaders. Not long after receiving her hand-written copy, Irving published her revelation in The Morning Watch. (It was also published in 1840 in Robert Norton’s Memoirs of James and George Macdonald. It was again published in 1861 by Norton in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church.) After publishing McDonald’s revelation, Irving began to publicly teach the idea of an invisible secret appearing of Christ to gather His saints, then another appearing when He brings judgment on the earth.

Read Full Post »