Home > Israel and the Church, Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Prophecy, Prophecy and Mystery, Rapture, Tribulation, Tribulation Trilogy > The Dave MacPherson and Margaret MacDonald 1830 Rapture Hoax

The Dave MacPherson and Margaret MacDonald 1830 Rapture Hoax


Dr Mike Johnston

Conversing about the tribulation is impossible without discussing the rapture. Moreover, discussing the rapture is impossible without hearing it’s a giant hoax less than 200 years old. I ran into this again researching material for this treatise. Selective end time’s blog and book writers have galvanized around allegations first popularized in the 1970s by Dave MacPherson, a neurotic[1]  newspaper reporter who has devoted his life to painting the PreTrib rapture as a big hoax. Borrowing heavily from the undocumented allegations from Textus Receptus enemy Samuel Tregelles – MacPherson contends in a slew of slanderous [2] writings that the rapture is a pervasive fraud with an elaborate cover up hiding a “dubious origin”. Both MacPherson and Tregelles maintain the rapture didn’t exist until 1830 when dispensational scholar John Nelson Darby [3] pirated it from a demon possessed charismatic girl named Margaret MacDonald [4] who conjured it up in a dream. According to the narrative, Darby then gave it to CI Scofield to publish in his reference Bible as part of a sinister plot to deceive Christians for no apparent reason other than the indescribable joy both men received from misleading people. It’s important to point out here that no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor any of their followers – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking Darby or Scofield to any of these activities. Instead, they fill their books with a daisy chain of bibliographical references quoting one another as their authorities.[5] Dave must have known PreTrib scholars would expose his sham allegations – which they did. What he didn’t count on was the number of honest theologians who investigated him; many of whom did not hold the PreTrib rapture position yet felt compelled to speak up anyway. [6] Ultimately, when the ink dried, MacPherson’s “scholarship” shriveled under a scrutiny it hadn’t anticipated and couldn’t withstand.

So what does this mean? It means MacPherson’s hoax is an irony. The man who has spearheaded an elaborate 40-year scheme representing the rapture as a lie has himself been exposed for using a big lie to do it; a tactic eerily reminiscent of one outlined in the Josef Goebbels Nazi propaganda playbook. [7]

The rapture is not a hoax molded from an elaborate myth. It’s part of the mystery program Jesus revealed to Paul (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 15:51) for the Body of Christ which marks yet another distinction between the church and Israel. However – as MacPherson demonstrates – those who won’t accept Pauline mysteries fight them tooth and nail because they contain “things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3: 16). Taking that into consideration, I offer this treatise, set in a church Israel distinction, filled with Scripture, annotations, and appendices juxtaposing for our less precocious Christian friends, The Tribulation Trilogy pictured in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ, [8] the way God intended: in its proper Jewish setting.

[1] MacPherson actually blames proponents of the PreTrib rapture for all of his misfortunes, beginning with his expulsion from Bible college, a drunken binge in Mexico, a car accident, his mom’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, the demonic possession of his dog, and all his father’s woes. https://www.raptureready.com/who/Dave_MacPherson.html

[2] Dave vilifies all who disagree with his questionable conclusions in a signature unchristian assault. It begins by impugning the person’s character and credentials and ends with condemning their souls to Hell forever.

[3] Darby taught PreTrib rapture in 1827. Roy A. Huebner (Precious Truths Revised and Defended JN Darby).

[4] Here’s a few problems. First, Miss MacDonald’s “prophecy” doesn’t contain any elements related to a pre-trib rapture [Read her prophecy and you’ll find she believed in several raptures and that the church would suffer under Antichrist]. Therefore, in order to get his theory in line with the narrative, he had to conflate the two accounts of Margaret’s vision. Second, no one has ever demonstrated from actual facts of history that Darby was influenced by MacDonald’s “prophecy” even if it had contained pre-trib elements – which it certainly did not. There is evidence that Darby heard about Miss MacDonald’s strange vision and labeled it demonic. Third, Darby clearly held to an early form of the PreTrib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’s claim of 1830. John Walvoord has said, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.” More information available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_MacDonald_(visionary).

[5] And this they want you to believe is scholarly reporting.

[6] Ernest Sandeen, Robert Reiter, Ian Rennie, William Bell, John Bray, and Timothy Weber.

[7] One of the most successful strategies Josef Goebbels facilitated in the Nazi rise to power over Germany was the “Big Lie” propaganda ploy. Briefly, he believed if a lie was big enough and told often enough the people would eventually embrace it. The fact that Hitler slaughtered 6 million Jews virtually uncontested by Germans proves just how powerful this strategy is.

[8] This is the glorious, triumphant and visible return of the Lord Jesus when He comes to earth in full view of the world (Zech 14:4-5; Matt 16:27; 24:29-31; Rev 1:7) with the armies of heaven (Rev 19:11) following. This is the moment of victory with the inauguration of the covenanted Davidic Kingdom prophesied all through the Old Testament (1 Sam. 7:16; Dan. 2:44; Matt. 25:31-34). Unlike the rapture – which along with the Body of Christ is a mystery they knew nothing about (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 15:51) – the prophets had full knowledge about the coming of the Messiah to earth (1 Chron. 16:33; Job 19:25-26; Psa. 102:16; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:4; etc).

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