Is The Pre-Trib Rapture Too New To Be True? (Part 3 of 3)

Chris

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Is The Pre-Trib Rapture Too New To Be True? (Part 3 of 3)
By Dr. David Reagan

The Development of The Pre-Trib Viewpoint​

The Pre-Trib Rapture concept is not a “Johnny-come-lately idea.” The concept began to gain momentum in the aftermath of the Reformation, when people got copies of the Bible in their own languages and started once again interpreting the Bible literally. This resulted in the revival of Historical Premillennialism, together with the concept of a Pre-Trib Rapture.

For example, the Puritan leader, Increase Mather (1639-1723), attempted to prove in his writings “that the saints would be caught up into the air beforehand, thereby escaping the final conflagration.” Likewise, Peter Jurieu, in his book, Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ will come in the air to rapture the Saints and return to Heaven before the battle of Armageddon.

In the 1740s, a Baptist pastor in England named Morgan Edwards began to espouse a Rapture 3½ years before the beginning of the Millennium. Although his concept was really a mid-Trib Rapture, it clearly shows that there were people at that time who taught a Rapture separate and apart from the Second Coming.

Recent historical research revealed in a book titled Dispensationalism Before Darby (2015) proves beyond doubt that the idea of a Pre-Trib Rapture had been around a long time before John Darby systematized it and began to popularize it in the early 1800s. The book’s author, Dr. William Watson (died in 2020), was a professor of History at Colorado Christian University. He used more than 350 primary sources from the 17th and 18th Centuries in compiling his new book.

He pointed out that most of the sources that he quotes in the book have not been previously cited in the debate about the origin of the Pre-Trib Rapture — “most likely because they have not been read for centuries.” Concerning the concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, he concluded that “very little of what John Nelson Darby taught in the mid-nineteenth century was new.”

His research clearly shows that by the end of the 17th Century, the idea of a Rapture that is separate and apart from the Second Coming had become a commonplace concept. He named seven authors who held a “pre-conflagration” view of a rapture that would take the saints out of the world before it was consumed by fire. He identified six other authors who were “clearly Pre-Trib.” And he named four who were not Pre-Trib but who refer in their writings to the existence of others who were. He noted that the use of the word, Rapture, was also widespread, with some even referring to those who would be “left behind.”

This interpretation of a Rapture, separate and apart from the Second Coming, continued to be espoused by Bible prophecy experts throughout the 18th Century. Their timing of the Rapture varied, but by the end of the 18th century, “more than a generation before Darby, belief in a Rapture of the Church before the great tribulation was commonplace in Britain.” In fact, Dr. Watson demonstrated that “the belief was held not only by Baptists…but also by leading Anglicans…and even by Scottish Presbyterians…”

Without all of Dr. Watson’s detailed evidence, secular historian Dr. Paul Boyer had already come to this conclusion in his book, When Time Shall Be No More; Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture, which was published by Harvard University Press, in 1994. He wrote:

In a sense, Darby’s system contained nothing new. His focus on the future fulfillment of prophecy followed the eschatology of the early Christians. Premillennialism had been an option for Protestant evangelicals since Joseph Mede’s day (1586-1639), while rudimentary forms of “Dispensationalism” go back at least as far as Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202).

Even Rapture doctrine…can be found in the writings of early interpreters, including Increase Mather (1639-1723). But Darby wove these diverse strands into a tight and cohesive system that he buttressed at every point by copious biblical proof texts, then tirelessly promoted through his writings and preaching tours.


The point is that the concept of a Pre-Trib Rapture did not simply drop from the sky into John Darby’s lap in the 1830s. It was a concept that had been held by some of the early Church Fathers, and following the Reformation, it slowly developed over several hundred years in the writings of Bible prophecy scholars from a variety of Christian traditions.

The Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine quickly spread around the world through publications like William Blackstone’s Jesus is Coming (1878), The Scofield Study Bible (1909), Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth (1970) and Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series of books (16 volumes from 1995 to 2007).

The Bottom Line​

Actually, the historic development of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine is irrelevant. The only thing that is important is whether or not the doctrine is scriptural. Is it based on the Scriptures? The answer is “Yes!”

https://www.raptureforums.com/rapture/is-the-pre-trib-rapture-too-new-to-be-true-part-3-of-3/
 

mattfivefour

Well-Known Member
What a great service Dr. Reagan has performed for average Christians in bringing all of these diverse sources together to show that the Pre-Trib Rapture is not some modern concept springing from the mind of one man, but a scriptural truth that has been held by many from the days of the first Church. Thank you!
 

Reason & Hope

Well-Known Member
I had never known that Increase Mather wrote about the rapture. It makes sense that after people had access to their own Bibles for a while that they would start to look into these things. Too many people think that theology ends with Martin Luther and the Reformation. However, the Reformation was focused on reforming the Catholic Church, and there is only so much that one generation or even two can do. Of course our Bible knowledge has increased since then. I wish more Reform churches would realize this.
 

Hidden

Well-Known Member
Someone said that if you study church history, you will recognize there are certain areas of doctrine that the church honed in on in specific time periods. In 2nd to 4th century, the focus was on the Innerrancy of Scripture, 4th century the doctrine of the Trinity, 5th century the doctrine of Christ, 5th to 7th century the doctrine of man, 16th and 17th century the doctrine of salvation, 18th century to date the doctrine of the last things. So it makes sense that our generation is specifically the generation that has a clearer understanding of eschatology.
 

Reason & Hope

Well-Known Member
Someone said that if you study church history, you will recognize there are certain areas of doctrine that the church honed in on in specific time periods. In 2nd to 4th century, the focus was on the Innerrancy of Scripture, 4th century the doctrine of the Trinity, 5th century the doctrine of Christ, 5th to 7th century the doctrine of man, 16th and 17th century the doctrine of salvation, 18th century to date the doctrine of the last things. So it makes sense that our generation is specifically the generation that has a clearer understanding of eschatology.
This is a really good point.
 

Bedra1958

Well-Known Member
1 Thess 5:9
because God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

I have been taught this verse many years by My Dad and Mom.
Thank you, Kenny64, for reminding me of this verse... I have clung to it because so many have tried to convince me that the rapture is later during the Tribulation rather than before it.
 
Cyprian of Carthage, a third century Christian writer and martyr, wrote in his Treatise VII, "And this, as it ought always to be done by God's servants, much more ought to be done now - now that the world is collapsing and is oppressed with the tempests of mischievous ills; in order that we who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible. If in your dwelling the walls were shaking with age, the roofs above you were trembling, and the house, now worn out and wearied, were threatening an immediate destruction to its structure crumbling with age, would you not with all speed depart? If, when you were on a voyage, an angry and raging tempest, by the waves violently aroused, foretold the coming shipwreck, would you not quickly seek the harbour? Lo, the world is changing and passing away, and witnesses to its ruin not now by its age, but by the end of things. And do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an earlier departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent?"
 
Other early Church leaders also taught about this same earlier departure and about being taken away before tribulation. Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies circa 180 A.D. and it says, "And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, 'There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.'"
 
I realize now that this third part of the series covers the time after the Reformation and therefore Cyprian of Carthage and Irenaeus belong to the second part of the study. Lately, I have been interested in learning more about the Church in the 18th and 19th centuries so this is perfect.
 
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