Birds of a feather .... most cults do very little actual intense Biblical Study and attempt "approval" of many main-line denominational individuals for membership and thus embrace many beliefs of these so-called main-line philosophies, otherwise they may appear cultic.<br><br>If one looks where many of the dispensational views originated from and have been given "new life" it is not hard to see why the cults would be drawn to them as well. Dispensationalism as a religious belief system has it's origins in the 1830s in England, when one Mr. John Nelson Darby (1800-1880) further developed the ideas of various dispensations under which God tested man through human history. Side by side with the development of this system was a revelation given to 20- year-old Margaret MacDonald at a prayer meeting, in Port Glasgow Scotland, where she had a vision of the "rapture"................thus, we have at least part of the "revelation" of this system embedded in a "vision" instead of the Word of God.....<br><br>The History of Dispensationalism<br>Dispensationalism<br><br><blockquote>[color:blue]Pre 19th century<br><br> Some isolated superficial ‘dispensational’ statements have appeared throughout history. Some 18th century writers began to systematise some of these ideas e.g: Pierre Poiret and Isaac Watts. No one, however, taught a pretribulation rapture. Everyone believed that the church would go through the Great Tribulation. Claims, of some, to find it in the early church fathers are false. There is some Premillennialism there, but none of the key distinctives of Dispensationalism: there is no separation of the church and Israel and no idea of Christians escaping the tribulation or antichrist by a rapture.<br><br> The earliest form of a ‘secret’ rapture was the idea of a partial rapture which separated some saints from others after the tribulation. This really was about prioritisation at the second coming, spiritual believers being given priority over less worthy ones. No one saw a place for Jews until the very end and there was no form of Church/Israel dichotomy.<br><br>19th century prophetic conferences<br><br> During the 18th century there was very little teaching on the Lord’s return. As a result, a reaction began in the 1820’s and 30’s. Prophetic periodicals and conferences abounded. Most important were the Albury conferences established by Henry Drummond in 1826-30, but the Powerscourt Conferences, instituted by Lady Powerscourt, were also significant. Anglican S.R Maitland began to teach a future rise of Antichrist and a 3½ year great tribulation in 1826. His follower, James Todd, also wrote extensively on the subject. William Burgh converted to this ‘futurist’ view of Revelation and wrote systematically upon it in 1835.<br><br> Edward Irving<br><br> Before we continue, we must explain the person of Edward Irving. Originally a Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) minister, he moved to London in 1822 and became a very famous preacher. He was such a powerful and stimulating speaker, who attracted great crowds, that in 1827 the large Regent Square church was erected for him. This was the first to adopt modern charismatic practices (including tongues) following Irving’s belief that the gifts of the Spirit were about to be given again. Tongues first appeared in the west of Scotland in Spring 1830 but were soon present in Irving’s church. Being expelled by the Church of Scotland in 1833 he established the Catholic Apostolic Church which was fully charismatic, including a belief in the vital role of prophets and apostles. Events soon took a turn for the worse with the gifts being abused and overruling common sense. Irving himself was ousted by men with gifts of supposed greater (apostolic) authority, and many serious doctrinal and ethical aberrations resulted. Irving himself taught a false Christology. As a result, Irving died a demoralised man and the whole movement was vilified.<br><br> In 1830, however, Irving was at the height of his fame, and spoke at the Albury conferences. His journal The Morning Watch, which had a high eschatological content, was widely distributed. We should note that this journal was susceptible to many weird teachings in its desire to undergird a new wave of spiritual gifts. Some examples follow.<br><br> [color:red] • Human pre-existence, author: ‘WL’. March 1830.<br><br> • The church will give birth to generations of new people in heaven to inhabit other worlds, author: ‘C’. Sept 1830.<br><br> • The Jewish occult Cabbala rested on a ‘stable’ foundation, author not named. Sept 1830.<br><br> • Christ will multiply human beings, from the church in heaven, not by creation, but by mysterious generation in the same way that Christ was generated, author: Irving, March 1833.<br><br> • The Zodiac will bring out from secular science a conclusive demonstration of scripture chronology, author not named. March 1833.</font color=red><br><br> These sorts of doctrinal aberrations were felt to be: ‘mysteries heretofore unknown’ (Morning Watch June 1833). The same issue derided great theologians of the past, denigrated Christians that studied their writings as ‘idolaters’ and called the Evangelical World: ‘modern Moabites’. <br><br> Like many other cults, it was deemed necessary that one must join them and be initiated to be safe. Irvingite historian Edward Miller explains that it was necessary to be sealed by the apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church in order to escape the imminent Great Tribulation. Each of the Irvingite apostles had to seal 12,000 before he died, but failed to do so in time (and insufficient volunteers). A helpful prophet declared that the sealing would thus be carried on in Paradise.<br><br> Roman Catholic influence<br><br> The Irvingite church journal (The Morning Watch) carried an article in September 1830 that posited a two phased coming of Christ. This icritical dea is originated from a Roman Catholic Jesuit Spanish writer, called Manuel Lacunza. His book, The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty, was translated by Irving in 1827 and studied at the Albury conference, and especially at the later Powerscourt meetings. This is important - one of the key spurs to the foundations of Dispensationalism was the study of the imaginations of a Roman Jesuit, the ideas of another Jesuit, Ribera, were also considered. <br><br> So, by about 1830 we have a high degree of eschatological speculation in conferences, books and journals; a futurist view of Revelation; a growing acceptance of extreme ideas including charismania; a Jesuit view of two second comings of Christ; ideas about the separation of the church and Israel; a parenthesis of the Jewish kingdom (see later); and the expected rise of antichrist and the Great tribulation. It is also interesting to note that [color:red]Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, teaching a regathering of Israel, in 1830.</font color=red> In [color:red]1831 William Miller (the founder of Adventism)</font color=red> began teaching his ‘findings’. [color:red]Jehovah’s Witnesses also started soon afterwards.</font color=red> Chiliasm (millennialism) was in the air in the mid 19th century. The missing ingredient, however, is a secret rapture.<br><br> Margaret Macdonald<br><br> The first person to speak about a pretribulation rapture was a young girl named Margaret Macdonald from Port Glasgow (15 miles from Glasgow) who was familiar with The Morning Watch and Edward Irving. The vehicle of this idea was a vision which was written down and read by Irving. In the early 1800’s, some people were beginning to think of a future tribulation and Antichrist. Earlier, most had been historicists who saw the 1260 days of Revelation as years, viewing tribulation as present or past and seeing the Antichrist in the pope, or Napoleon, and the beast as Jews, pagans, Arians, Saracens etc. In 1829 The Morning Watch represented the most advanced prophetical ideas, including:<br><br> [color:red] • a future tribulation and Antichrist. <br><br> • a literal rapture<br><br> • a partial rapture (only those filled with the Spirit)<br><br> • however, the man-child of Rev 12 was not seen as a church symbol<br><br> • an emphasis upon the witnesses of Zech 4 tied in to the witnesses of Rev 11. [Historically, these witnesses had been seen as the Old and New Testaments, or alternatively as Enoch and Elijah (who had been raptured)]. </font color=red><br><br> Margaret saw these witnesses as a symbol of the church which introduced a completely new eschatological idea. Irving (as a historicist) had come close to this in seeing the Rev 11 witnesses as a succession of chosen men faithful to God. This is found in his introduction to the translation of Lacunza’s: The Coming of the Messiah’. (Although he later in the same work states that they are a symbol of the scriptures.) Lacunza also saw them as two congregations of faithful ministers, but neither saw them as being secretly raptured before the Tribulation. Irving, like many others, believed he was already in the 1260 year Tribulation. <br><br> Young Margaret Macdonald, who had such a critical influence in the formation of pretribulation was a poor foundation on which to rest. Her insight came in a lengthy vision after prolonged sickness which required bed-rest for 18 months. This was written down and passed to ministers, including Irving at a time when he was very susceptible to such charismatic revelation. Margaret had also only been a Christian for a year and was uneducated. It was probably these facts which led to the origin being obscured and publicised by more educated men.<br><br> [color:red] Margaret was also particularly open to the occult</font color=red>. Robert Norton wrote of her and a friend, ‘I have seen both her and Miss Margaret Macdonald stand like statues scarcely touching the ground, evidently supernaturally’. Andrew Drummond tells us that Margaret’s close friend [color:red]Mary Campbell practised automatic writing and had intense psychical power and was a medium</font color=red>. Margaret also predicted that socialist Robert Owen was the Antichrist at the time she had her pretribulation vision.5 Margaret herself began to speak in tongues about four months after her vision in August 1830.<br><br> The Morning Watch<br><br> The Morning Watch did not credit Margaret Macdonald as its inspiration, although it does mention ‘several young women’ having given [color:red]deep revelation</font color=red> in a few broken sentences. Robert Baxter, a lawyer who became disillusioned with the Irvingites and left them wrote about Margaret in his Narrative of Facts. He states that: [color:red]‘the delusion first appeared in Scotland’ but ‘it was not until adopted and upheld by Mr Irving, that it began to challenge much attention.</font color=red>’ Margaret’s (uncredited) vision appeared in 1840 in the Memoirs of James & George Macdonald of Port Glasgow written by Robert Norton. In 1861 he published her vision and named her specifically, identifying her as the source of the new doctrine. The fact that the Irvingites initiated the teaching of pretribulation is also asserted by several contemporaries, including eminent Brethren writers, such as: S. P. Tregelles, J. P. Lange, Thomas Croskery, Edward Miller (Irvingite historian), William Reid, George Stokes and J. S. Teulon.<br><br> [color:red] Subsequent to receiving a copy of Margaret’s vision, The Morning Watch went into overdrive in explaining their modification of eschatology.</font color=red> The caught up of 1 Thess 4 is now separated from the gather of Matt 24. An article by ‘Fidus’ in June 1830 clearly states that ‘Philadelphia’ (spiritual believers) will be raptured and ‘Laodicea’ (non-spiritual Christians, and Jews who follow Antichrist) will be left on earth to endure the Great tribulation. Margaret had rested on the ‘two witnesses’ symbol, Fidus on the 7 churches. Later, others (especially Darby) would rest upon the ‘man-child’ symbol. Pretribulation must lean upon these symbols from Revelation because there is absolutely no clear, non-symbolic statement in the Bible to defend it.<br><br> The pretribulation rapture became known as ‘the secret rapture’. This has tendencies of developing an elitist, arcane society of adherents, those who are privileged to know about the secret or are especially spiritual in order to take part in it. In June 1832, it was stated that the Lord’s coming was only a joy for those prepared and looking for it. Only they would see the Lord, the rest of the church would only see this first appearance as a meteor or cloud. <br><br> Other ideas began to emerge. In June 1832 an article on the feast of Tabernacles saw the seven days of the feast as seven years, the thirteen bullocks slain indicated a confederacy of thirteen hostile powers, during the rise of Antichrist, Gog and Magog etc. This appears to be the first mention of a seven year tribulation period. Out of interest, Darby was teaching a tribulation of three and a half years as late as 1868.<br><br> Because the symbolism of types can be interpreted according to other influences, once sound Biblical hermeneutics are ignored, the interpretation of the feasts varied significantly from year to year. Irvingites shifted the rapture from feast 6 (of Lev 23’s 7 feasts) to feast 5, then feast 4 and even feast 3 within the first few years. Modern Dispensationalists have the same problems. Scofield based his pretribulation rapture on feast 3 (firstfruits). Hal Lindsey has a rapture somewhere between feast 3 and 7. Edgar Whisenant based it upon feast 5, stating that it would occur in 1988. Another recent author stated that it would occur in May 1997.<br><br> Irving’s man-child ideas began to emerge in June 1831; repeated by Darby in 1839. He took Paul’s teaching on the union of believers with Christ and transferred it to the the interpretation of OT prophecy and Revelation symbolism. References to ‘Christ’ became corporate, especially the veiled reference of the man-child in Rev 12. With appalling exegesis he sees a first company gathered (rapture of the singular child) before the others of the church who suffer in the Great Tribulation (a remnant of the woman’s seed). Questions raised by this nonsense include: <br><br> • Part of the symbol is literal (‘caught up’), and part is taken spiritually (‘man-child’).<br><br> • If the man-child literally referred to Christ as claimed, why did the disciples not accompany Christ into heaven at his ascension?<br><br> • If the man-child symbolises a pretribulation rapture at Rev 12:5, the head needs to be on earth for the whole body and members to be caught up together.<br><br> • If the church is already mysteriously (spiritually) joined to the head, why does the church need to be with him in person at Rev 12:5?<br><br> Development by Darby<br><br> Dave MacPherson has catalogued Darby’s main eschatological beliefs in 21 tenets. He then demonstrates that all of these are present, using the same wording, in Edward Irving’s preliminary discourse to Lacunza’s work published in 1827. In 1829, Darby himself was only voicing 6 of the 21 items. For instance, in 1829 Darby had a Post-tribulation outlook and only saw a distinction, not a dichotomy (separation) between Israel and the church. Darby also quoted Irving, Lacunza and The Morning Watch in 1830.<br><br> Furthermore, Darby’s idea of the parenthesis (where the Jewish kingdom is put on hold while the Gentile church is developed) appeared in 1830; but the same thought in very similar wording appeared in The Millennium by W C Davis of South Carolina in 1811. Lacunza also frequently mentioned this word in explaining prophetic scripture.<br><br> It was only in 1870 that Darby’s development led to the position now held by modern dispensationalists. He ceased to emphasise the man-child symbol in favour of the Philadelphia symbol, or even the apostle John who heard ‘Come up hither’. All these had been previously stated by Irvingites, even using John as a church symbol.<br><br> Darby’s later reminiscences show signs of misrepresentation and plagiarism. For example, his observations of an 1830’s Scottish prayer meeting conducted by the Macdonalds, and which included tongue speaking, is almost identical to the report given by John B. Cardale printed in The Morning Watch, Dec 1830, except for one item. Darby omits Margaret’s utterances regarding a pretribulation deliverance. Other writers noted this. F. Roy Coad called it, ‘disingenuous tactics’ and ‘descended to the disreputable’. Benjamin Newton wrote that [color:red]Darby was most subtle (i.e. sly)</font color=red>. Darby can be claimed as a populariser of other’s thoughts on pretribulation Dispensationalism, but not the originator - as is everywhere claimed. <br><br> Earlier historians and theologians were not in the dark on this. George Stokes wrote: ‘Darby ... imbibed the Irvingite theories about prophecy, which coincided with his natural turn of mind.’ Samuel Tregelles, one of the ablest 19th century scholars and a Brethren leader, said that the Secret Rapture doctrine was developed by Irvingites, that Darbyites wrote heterodox tracts, misrepresented historic writings to suit their ideas, and added unsound thoughts to quotes of existing writers, all excused as being done for the honour of God. In editing Darby’s works, William Kelly deliberately revised them to give the impression that Darby originated the key doctrines and used editing techniques to misrepresent the Irvingite position. Modern Dispensationalists have continued this error, by accident or design.<br><br> After being taken on board by the Brethren leader, John Darby, some Brethren leaders (like B. W. Newton, George Muller) rejected it. [color:red]S. P. Tregelles added that the idea came from a false spirit prompting a vision in Irving’s church. Other contemporary leaders, like Charles Spurgeon and William Booth also condemned the teaching.</font color=red></blockquote></font color=blue> But, Oh, did you open a can of worms [Linked Image]


Reformed and Always Reforming,