Thursday, December 31, 2009

Southern Baptist Heresy: Rapture and Premillennial Dispensationalism

This week Baptist Press, the public relations / promotion arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, explores and explains why Southern Baptists must place their faith in the 1830s-era religious heresies of Rapture and Premillennial Dispensationalism.

Almost all Southern Baptist college and seminary professors believe in Dispensationalism and Rapture, with variance on minor details, according to Baptist Press. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, declares thus: "The truth of the rapture is not up for debate, but its timing is something we can graciously disagree on." Lamar Cooper, the interim president of Criswell College in Dallas, insists "premillennial dispensationalism is a logical conclusion from the simple exegesis of the inerrant Word of God."

For the uninitiated, contemporary theories of the Rapture and Premillennial Dispensationalism were created in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby, a renegade minister in the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. A few historians also credit a contemporary of Darby's, and a handful of obscure individuals in the decades prior to Darby wrote vaguely of a secret coming of Christ for the faithful. Going further back, Joseph Mede in the 17th century proposed a two-stage return of Christ, but not in secret form, and without a period of tribulation in between. In short, Mede and some later Christian thinkers influenced by Mede, spoke of Christ suspending believers in the sky for a matter of hours (perhaps a day or two) while God destroys evil on the earth and lowers believers back down to the planet.

But to Darby goes the public credit for the formal concepts of Rapture and premillennial dispensationalism, for which he is justly known as the "father of premillennial dispensationalism."

In short, while most Christians prior to Darby believed that Christ would one day return and judge the world, Darby crafted the formal theory of a "secret" second coming of Jesus in which Christ removes believers entirely from the earth, prior to an extended period of earthly troubles, followed by a traditional second coming.

But Darby did not stop there. He also invented an entirely new system of eschatology (a word that means "end times") based upon his creation of a seven-age "dispensationalism" of world history (in effect, a dividing of human history into seven periods of time, each characterized by a different manner in which God interacted with humanity, and culminating in the Rapture, followed by a seven-year period of intense tribulation on earth and the final second coming of Christ in triumph). Although neither dispensationalism nor rapture were biblical concepts, Darby taught that the Bible must be interpreted in light of his personal theories.

Collectively, Darby's theories became known as premillennial dispensationalism ... and outside of his little circle of followers, were immediately dismissed by Christians as heresy.

But then a very strange thing happened: Darby's heresy began a slow journey to orthodoxy. His followship grew slowly but steadily, and although Darby died in 1882, in the early 20th century his heretical creations were blessed by Christian fundamentalists (who arose in the late 19th century, but that's another story!) as ... biblical truth. The final seal of approval arrived in the form of C. I. Schofield's Study Bible, which in 1917 presented Darbyism as orthodoxy.

Yet the transition from heresy to truth must be understood against the backdrop of history. In the first half of the 19th century, many Western Christians believed that world conditions were getting better, and therefore the (one) second coming of Christ would come after a thousand year period of peace and prosperity (a view known as "postmillennialism"). By the early 20th century, however, many fundamentalist Christians were convinced that the world was succumbing to evil, and the concept of a pre-second coming Rapture to rescue Christians from the evil world seemed rather appealing.

Now, almost a century after the transformation of Darby's heresies into orthodoxy, fundamentalist Southern Baptist theologians and leaders pledge almost universal allegiance to an 1830s fabrication. Yet this is simply another example of the post-biblical nature - if not simple biblical illiteracy - of fundamentalism in the upper echelons of Southern Baptist life.

23 comments:

Barry K. Creamer said...

Wow. This is a remarkably shallow treatment of the issues of premillennialism and dispensationalism. The superficial origins of an idea's expression have little-to-nothing to do with its truth value. And it is entirely wrong to attribute dispensationalism to "practially all Southern Baptist" theology profs simply because they are premillennial. Some are dispensational. Some are not. I teach at Criswell College, as conservative as they come, and even here there is substantial variety on dispensationalism among the faculty.
By the way, the ultimate question regarding that topic is NOT whether there are so many periods of discrete revelatory history NOR when the rapture occurs, but RATHER whether there is a distinct future for ethnic Israel.
The men you named are neither stupid nor sycophantic followers of Darby. They have studied scripture, know it backward and forward, actually live their faith, and can justify their positions. Yes, I have known Akin and currently work under Cooper. If you want to deal with them about whether their ideas are right, then talk about the ideas. If you don't like for doctrine to be established as orthodox over time, then attack Luther.

Bruce Gourley said...

Barry:

Luther drew (most of) his theological concepts from scripture; Darby created his own personal belief system and forced it upon scripture.

I am glad to know that at least some of the young faculty at Criswell are not committed to Darbyism.

As to "knowing scripture," anyone who knows scripture is well aware that it makes no claims to textual inerrancy (yet another modern belief system invented by men and forced upon scripture). What Akin and Cooper know backward and forward (and place their faith in) are their own personal interpretations of scripture; whether they have ever dared to allow scripture the freedom to live and breath apart from their personal agendas is another question entirely.

Anonymous said...

For the real skinny on pretrib dispensationalism's roots, read journalist/historian Dave MacPherson's 300-pager "The Rapture Plot" (see Armageddon Books & Google "Scholars Weigh My Research" for scholarly reactions to his findings). He has focused for 40 years on this one topic, producing several books and many web articles including "Famous Rapture Watchers" (note how top Greek experts have interpreted Rev. 3:10), "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," "X-Raying Margaret," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)" and "Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)" (the "genius" LaHaye etc. lean on!), "Deceiving and Being Deceived" (Dave demolishes the claims for Pseudo-Ephraem and Morgan Edwards!), "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal" (plagiarism in Falwell, Hindson, LaHaye, Ryrie etc.!), "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism" (anti-Jewishness in dispensationalism's foundation), "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "Pretrib Expert John Walvoord Melts Ice," and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty." Mac has shown that Darby wasn't first on any crucial aspect of d-ism, that pretrib sprang from only OT and NT symbols, that Darby's pretrib basis for 30 years was the "man child" symbol in Rev. 12 (what Irving had already been teaching for eight years; JND merely plagiarized him!), and that Wm. Kelly after JND's death quietly and massively changed early Irvingite and Brethren documents in order to falsely credit JND with pretrib! Sure, Mac has only a B.A., but a high school student could have found what Mac has found if he had spent lots of years researching! Mac is living proof that "God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise"! BTW, one of the 6 SBC seminaries has the Dave MacPherson Papers consisting of Mac's collection of thousands of rare, rapture-related documents. Jim

Anonymous said...

Bruce, I would encourage a less hostile tone.

Bruce said...

Hello Anon, thanks for the advice, seriously. The post is not intended to come across as hostile (sorry!), but rather as IRONY:

Southern Baptist fundamentalist leaders have (ruthlessly?) sought for the past 20 years to weed out all heresy from within Southern Baptist life, yet many of these same witch-hunters place their own faith in beliefs which are historically heretical and/or the product of modern, rationalistic thought.

Would you agree?

Anonymous said...

Good article! I was raised in a SBC church and accepted dispensationalism only because I believed that they (the educated and scholarly preachers) knew more than I did about the Holy Scriptures. They were supposed to, right?
Now I know why the Lord Jesus called common people for His disciples instead of calling them from the University of Jerusalem.
After studying the Scriptures and church history, I agreed with Reformation theology which was a mighty work of God. It also put me in "good" company.
I was now amazed how dispensationalism and pretrib rapture stories could be accepted as gospel and never questioned. Could it be to much reliance on mere men instead of on the Holy Spirit and His Holy Scriptures?

Benjamin said...

Good work Bruce. Too long have we had to "not be hostile" and swallow the eisegesis of the big bad lie of dispensationalism.

Marylee said...

For dessert I recommend that all interested parties turn to Google and type in "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" by the same MacPherson. Not only is that brief article tasty (in certain circles) but it is highly nourishing.

Anonymous said...

A PRETRIB RAPTURE FIRST !

An American researcher has discovered a copy of Scottish lassie Margaret Macdonald's handwritten account, on 23 sheets of paper, of her "discovery" in 1830 that the Bible teaches a "pre-tribulation rapture."
A facsimile copy of her penned account was obtained from the British Library which has long catalogued it as "Margaret McDonald's Vision" - one of many items in an old collection of Irvingism memorabilia.
Portions of this facsimile can now be viewed on the March 9, 2010 edition of "The End Times Passover" blog (hosted by media luminary Joe Ortiz) which has the honor of being the first to air all of this.
The most accurate and detailed documentation on the long hidden beginnings of this 19th century prophetic innovation - which today is a very protective and lucrative American industry - is found in the 300-page book "The Rapture Plot" which is available at internet bookstores such as Armageddon Books.

(Saw above item on the web. Anna)

AlaLandMan - Robert King said...

Careful examination of the scriptures can put this entire issue to bed. The Bible is complete in and of itself. It needs no writings and thoughts of scholars to be understood by the careful student. Careful examination will show you that we are currently living in Christ's kingdom. When he returns it will be to deliver up His kingdom (the church), and to lay down His authority. Placing it back with God the Father. At the time of Christ's return, the earth will be destroyed, (the elements will be melted with fervent heat). How would we live and reign with Christ on an earth that has been destroyed? Let me encourage you to read your Bible and test what I and these other men are telling you. If you are to be a faithful Christian, you have a duty to understand God's word, not a duty to have some other fallible man interpret it for you.

Albert Alexander Lucio said...

Isn;t historicity the test of orthodoxy? And, if so, then isn't a review of the first and second centry patristical literature critical to proper scriptural exegesis?

It seems that there is an utter silence in some denominations to even consider the historical pedigree of a teaching. And, I suppose that is wrapped up in a fear that many accepted interpretations wouldn't survive the historical test for orthodoxy.

Rocky2 said...

[Dear Bruce: Here's what I read on the net. Any reactions?]


PRETRIB RAPTURE SECRETS

How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He's now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34,35 echo this), the rapture therefore can't take place before the end of the trib! (The same Acts verses were also too hot for John Darby - the so-called "father of dispensationalism" - to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)
Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel's posttrib resurrection!)
Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).
Other Google articles on the 181-year-old pretrib rapture view include "Pretrib Rapture Scholar Wannabes," “Famous Rapture Watchers,” "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," “X-Raying Margaret,” "Edward Irving is Unnerving," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” "Walvoord Melts Ice," “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books).

Wind_Sage said...

mYou need to stop being hostile. I don't like amillenialism because it "spiritualizes" scripture instead of consistently applying hermenutics. The first 300 years of the church was premillenial. It was Origen and Augustine who developed amillennialism. Origen believed all scripture interpreted allegorically was the deeper meaning. Augustine believed that only unfulfilled prophecy must be interpreted allegorically. I don't like postmillennialism either, but you dont see me badmouthing it. Premil, postmil and amil are believed from bible believing Christians. Also Darby didnt start the pretrib rapture.

Here is you something to look at, "I will add this more, namely, what may be conceived to be the cause of this RAPTURE of the saints on high to meet the Lord in the clouds, rather than to wait his coming to earth....What if it be, that they may be PRESERVED during the Conflagration of the earth and the works thereof, 2 Pet.3:10, that as Noah and his family were preserved from the Deluge by being lift up above the waters in the Ark; so should the saints at the Conflagration be lift up in the clouds unto their Ark, Christ, to be preserved there from the deluge of fire, wherein the wicked shall be consumed?" ("The Works of Joseph Mede," 1672, London edition, Book IV, p.776)

Bruce T. Gourley said...

Wind_Sage: You are only partly right about Mede. Mede proposed that Christ would suspend believers in the sky (in a non-secret fashion), for a space of hours or a few days, while God defeated the forces of evil on earth and then lowered believers back to earth ... with no period of tribulation taking place in these few hours. Some Christian thinkers who followed Mede parroted him, essentially. This was a rapture only of sorts, far different than what Darby and we envision today. Hence, Darby gets public credit (as I noted) for envisioning full - and secret - rapture followed by an extended period of tribulation prior to a traditional second coming. But you are right, Mede is worth noting, and I have revised my essay to include a line about him. Thanks!

Rocky2 said...

The "Conflagration of the earth" is at either the end of the tribulation or after its end - either a far cry from a pretribulation rapture. One can find historicists of that period of time talking much the same way.

Rocky2 said...

[Hi again. Saw this on the net.]

Pretrib Rapture Pride


Pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice give the impression they know more than the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the greatest Greek New Testament scholars including those who produced the KJV Bible, the founders of their favorite Bible schools, and even their own mentors!
Ice's mentor, Dallas Sem. president John Walvoord, couldn't find anyone holding to pretrib before 1830 - and Walvoord called John Darby and his Brethren followers "the early pretribulationists" (RQ, pp. 160-62). Ice belittles Walvoord and claims that several pre-1830 persons, including "Pseudo-Ephraem" and a "Rev. Morgan Edwards," taught a pretrib rapture. Even though the first one viewed Antichrist's arrival as the only "imminent" event, Ice (and Grant Jeffrey) audaciously claim he expected an "imminent" pretrib rapture! And Ice (and John Bray) have covered up Edwards' historicism which made a pretrib rapture impossible! Google historian Dave MacPherson's "Deceiving and Being Deceived" for documentation on these and similar historical distortions.
The same pretrib defenders, when combing ancient books, deviously read "pretrib" into phrases like "before Armageddon," "before the final conflagration," and "escape all these things"!
BTW, the KJV translators' other writings found in London's famed British Library (where MacPherson has researched) don't have even a hint of pretrib rapturism. Is it possible that Ice etc. have found pretrib "proof" in the KJV that its translators never found?
Pretrib merchandisers like Ice claim that nothing is better pretrib proof than Rev. 3:10. They also cover up "Famous Rapture Watchers" (on Google) which shows how the greatest Greek NT scholars of all time interpreted it.
Pretrib didn't flourish in America much before the 1909 Scofield Bible which has pretribby "explanatory notes" in its margins. Not seen in the margins was jailed forger Scofield's criminal record throughout his life that David Lutzweiler has documented in his recent book "The Praise of Folly" which is available online.
Biola University's doctrinal statement says Christ's return is "premillennial" and "before the Tribulation." Although universities stand for "academic freedom," Biola has added these narrow, restrictive phrases - non-essentials the founders purposely didn't include in their original doctrinal statement when Biola was just a small Bible institute! And other Christian schools have also belittled their founders.
Ice, BTW, has a "Ph.D" issued by a tiny Texas school that wasn't authorized to issue degrees! Ice now says that he's working on another "Ph.D" via the University of Wales in Britain. For light on the degrees of Ice's scholarliness, Google "Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "be careful in polemics - Peripatetic Learning," and "Walvoord Melts Ice." Also Google "Thomas Ice (Hired Gun)" - featured by media luminary Joe Ortiz on his Jan. 30, 2013 "End Times Passover" blog.
Other fascinating Google articles include "The Unoriginal John Darby," "X-raying Margaret," "Edward Irving in Unnerving," "Pretrib Rapture Politics," "Pretrib Rapture Secrets," "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," and "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism" - most from the author of "The Rapture Plot," the most accurate documentation on pretrib rapture history.
Can anyone guess who the last proud pretrib rapture holdout will be?
(Postscript: For another jolt or two Google "The Background Obama Can't Cover Up.")

jd4en6 said...

The lack of reasoning here I don't get at all. The rapture and 7 year tribulation were dreamt up by a Jesuit priest in an effort to keep the catholic church from being identified as the antichrist period this is well documented. Someone in here please show mien the Bible where it says anything about a secret rapture. In fact, its quite the opposite. According to the Bible, when Jesus returns everyone will have no doubt. With the sound of a trumpet and the roar of an archangel. Doesn't sound secret to me. Please show me Biblical evidence of rapture or a 7 year trib.

Rocky2 said...

The previous writer might enjoy reading "Catholics did NOT Invent the Rapture." I found it on Google.

Irv said...

PRETRIB RAPTURE STEALTH !

Many evangelicals believe that Christ will "rapture" them to heaven years before the second coming and (most importantly) well BEFORE Antichrist and his "tribulation." But Acts 2:34, 35 reveal that Jesus is at the Father's right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His earthly foes at the second coming. And Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father "until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! They were also too hot for John Darby - the so-called "father of dispensationalism" - to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)
Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel's posttrib resurrection!) It's amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the "great commission" for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
Many don't know that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into an idolized separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which evangelical scholars overwhelmingly rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google "Walvoord Melts Ice" for more on this.
Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “X-Raying Margaret,” "Margaret Macdonald's Rapture Chart," "Pretrib Rapture's Missing Lines," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "The Unoriginal John Darby," "Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "The Real Manuel Lacunza," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Famous Rapture Watchers," and "Morgan Edwards' Rapture View" – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).

[Preceding item found on the web.]

Jeremy Walsh said...

Rapture, pre-trib, post-trib, pre-wrath, pre-millennial, post-millennial...all of these diversions are in my estimation designed to keep men from the truth that at the 2nd coming of Christ, He will judge the world in righteousness. The wicked to everlasting destruction and the righteous to eternal life. The 2nd advent of our Lord is the Day of the Lord, the final judgment and the beginning of eternity. There is no other way to interpret the plain teachings of the New Testament.

Faith BaptistKharkov said...

Absolutely AMAZING the pseudo-scholarship displayed here and the gross distortion of both Biblical as well as historical truth!
Truly God is right: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
To dismiss so callously the Biblical doctrine of the Pre-Trib rapture of the NT Church shows very poor exegesis and a shallow understanding of Scripture as a whole, readily confusing the uniqueness of Christ's bride.
Everything I see written here is wholly Protestant, based exclusively in RCC teachings.
How typical!

Rob Jones said...

I am shocked to see the ignorance of most bible teachers. The problems they make for themselves, when an honest unbias reading of GOD's word in kjv bible has the answers right in plain sight.
For example: we will enter into heaven through many tribulations. All preaching of get saved and you will lose all your troubles. This is and many other confusions are not of God. Only reading the bible kjv will set these things straight. When you come to Christ with your FULL heart putting aside all bias and pride REPENTING of your Adamic nature as well as overt sins HE will receive you. Godbless you in your struggles for salvation by exercising SAVING FAITH which requires God's word.

Victoria Day said...

I used to care. Debate upon debate upon debate. Then I looked in the mirror and realized it was more important to be READY for the rapture than to obsess over the timing. One thing I do know....1st Thessalonians 2 states that it will not happen until the apostasy comes and the "man of sin" will be revealed. Revealed to whom? The world? Or us. It seems to me that the world will not recognize him as this personage but Christians will. There are so many opinions on timing, all using the Word of God as proof. I could go in many directions with this but the most important thing is to follow Jesus in holiness NOW. I need to give my brain a rest (in Jesus)