Home > End Times, Misc, Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Prophecy and Mystery > The MacPherson MacDonald 1830 Rapture Origin Hoax

The MacPherson MacDonald 1830 Rapture Origin Hoax

Dr. Mike Johnston

 

You can’t discuss the tribulation without discussing the rapture. [1] Moreover, you can’t discuss the rapture without hearing that it’s a satanic plot that never existed until 1830. (see rebuttal in Appendix [i]). This argument forms the crux of a hook or crook campaign waged by rapture antagonists wishing to wedge the church into the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) – where she can’t be seen and doesn’t belong. Paradoxically, while their battle boasts strict Biblical auspices it hasn’t been waged sola scriptura. It has risen instead on the back of untruthful accusations disguised as “scholarship” from men conflating God’s plan for Israel with His plan for the church that over time has proven to be part of the an unhinged scheme with impure motives.

The plot began as an allegation beaten like a jungle drum since the 1970s by a neurotic [2] rapture-loathing newsman named Dave MacPherson.[ii] Borrowing and twisting the undocumented claims of Textus Receptus enemy Samuel Tregelles – MacPherson has amassed a cult like following for what has become a franchise of slanderous [3] writings [4] presenting the rapture [5] as a pervasive fraud with an elaborate cover up hiding a dubious origin.[6]

Paltry Presumption Peddling

The alleged conspiracy – unverified yet ballyhooed by a crowing coterie of contrarians – centers around a demon possessed charismatic girl named Margaret MacDonald [7]  who in 1830 is said to have conjured up the PreTrib rapture [8] in a dream while she was a member of Edward Irving’s [9] Catholic Apostolic Church. [10] According to MacPherson’s mythos, that’s when the great Bible scholar and dispensationalist John Nelson Darby pirated it for his own use 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.[11] To make matters worse, no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor any of their lackey loyalists – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking Darby or Scofield directly to plagiarizing MacDonald or to any of these appalling activities. Commenting on the entire charade, Dr. John Walvoord wrote, “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.” Walvoord continues, “Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.”

Sadly, truth is meaningless to an activist with an agenda. In the absence of evidence, MacPherson’s minions fill their books and blogs with a daisy chain of chicanery from bibliographical references listing him and one another as their sources. [12] This then is glibly passed off as scholarship to their low information audience who don’t give a rip about Biblical integrity as long as it comes to the agreed upon anti-rapture conclusion their contentious cabal coagulates around.

After a lengthy and fair examination of the “facts” linking Darby to a demonic charismatic vision, post-trib proponent even John Bray conceded, “He [Darby] rejected those practices, and he already had his new view of the Lord coming FOR THE SAINTS (as contrasted to the later coming to the earth) which he had believed since 1827. It was the coupling of this “70th week of Daniel” prophecy and its futuristic interpretation, with the teaching of the “secret rapture,” that gave to us the completed “Pre-tribulation Secret Rapture” teaching as it has now been taught for many years. . . . (and) makes it impossible for me to believe that Darby got his Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching from Margaret MacDonald’s vision in 1830. He was already a believer in it since 1827, as he plainly said.”[13]

Hearkening to Haman

The entire MacPherson 1830 rapture ruse reminds me of the book of Esther. Haman was a pompous prevaricating political insider who over estimated his value to the king. He was also a rabid anti-Semite who in a fit of rage ordered gallows built to lynch his nemesis, Esther’s uncle Mordecai. Ironically, once the king discovered Haman’s lies, the nefarious accommodations he’d built for Mordecai served quite adequately to hang Haman and his household instead. Divine reciprocity at its best!

In my opinion, Mr. MacPherson did the same thing using his mendacity as the gallows to destroy the rapture. Surely as a seasoned reporter, he must have expected the scrutiny from PreTrib scholars like Dr. Walvoord and others [14] he received. However, how could he foresee the backlash from fellow post trib journalists he thought would cover for him? After examining his spurious allegations, they did the unthinkable; they stood him up by unmasking his deception in full view of everyone paying attention. [15]

The irony here is like a well scripted play. MacPherson’s elaborate scheme representing the rapture as a big lie was in the end itself unmasked using a bigger lie to do it; eerily similar to the strategy outlined in the Josef Goebbels Propaganda Playbook [16] don’t you think?

I’ll close this section with a final though from MacPherson researcher Frank Morotta,

“It is significant that MacPherson is the lone ‘historian’ who has argued a connection between MacDonald and Darby. [17] Considering that there have been numerous historical examinations of both the Irvingites and the Brethren, yet MacPherson stands alone in exposing the “plot,” is rather a testimony to polemical bias, not the facts. Those anti-pretribulationists who have adopted MacPherson’s revision have done so merely on the basis of his word, not as a result of original research.”

The end of it? Hardly. As long as Dave can sell books containing his twaddle, the satanic plot masking the real circumstances surrounding the origin of the rapture will continue virtually unimpeded.

[1] When using the term “rapture” I mean PreTrib removal of the Body of Christ by Jesus in the air.

[2] If you‘ve read his materials you would know what I’m talking about. 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

[3] 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. Egregious assumptions and accusations often earmark a desperate person on the wrong side of a debate. Such is the case with the tribulation and the rapture. Those of us holding to the historic Biblical position (see Appendices) of a rapture before the tribulation are verbally vandalized by unscrupulous men thinking nothing of consigning souls to hell simply for daring to impugn their “creative” scholarship with facts. Think about the far-reaching scope of these unsavory and unchristian epithets implicating Bible scholars throughout history who taught the Word with integrity Paul, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus. More recently, John Nelson Darby, CI Scofield, Charles Spurgeon, DL Moody, HA Ironside, RA Torrey, Arno C. Gaebelein, J. Dwight Pentecost, Harold Willmington, Ed Hindson, Zola Levitt, Renald Showers, Randell Price, David Hocking, John Walvoord, Mark Hitchcock, Tommy Ice, Chuck Missler, Lehman Strauss, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, JR Church, Dave Hunt, Gary Stearman, Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe and on and on. And while this impressive list does not in itself prove the dispensational, PreTrib position, it certainly makes a strong statement in favor when compared with the host of unfamiliar names attached to the roster of those opposing it. Enter Dave MacPherson.

[4] Titles include “The Incredible Cover-Up”, “The Great Rapture Hoax”, “The Rapture Plot”, ad nauseum.

[5] Since our opponents’ case is weak, they grab for straws. One tactic they love to employ is the notion that “rapture” isn’t found in the Bible as if that would disqualify it as a doctrine. We remind them neither is the word Bible in the Scriptures. Rapture is transliterated from the Latin repere or rapto found in 1 Thess. 4:17 where the King James renders it “caught up.”

[6] The outrageous nature of MacPherson’s prevarications have increased over time as books emerge under his name charging new cover ups that unbiased scholarship finds laughably ludicrous. Frank Marotta of according2prophecy.org writes: His latest book is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret Macdonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.

[7] The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a (alleged) spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, “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” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept” [Hommel, Jason. “Margaret MacDonald’s Vision” – Jason Hommel’s Bible Prophecy Study on the Pre Tribulation Rapture. Grass Valley, California. Retrieved 23 January 2011. Quotes the account in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861).]

[8] “It is only with some difficulty that one can identify what MacPherson calls her ‘pretribulationist’ teaching in the transcript of 1840, and when in 1861 Norton quoted from her prophecy he omitted the passage which referred to ‘the fiery trial’ which ‘will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus’—a passage which clearly assumes that Christians will go through the tribulation.” [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[9] Edward Irving was a Scottish clergyman, generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church which believed in modern day apostles and sign gifts. In other words they were charismatics. [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[10] 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, according to biographer historian Roy Huebner R. A. Huebner, “Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby”, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991), 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).

[11] This is another desperate and disingenuous deception from the other side. Roy Huebner documented from Darby’s writings beginning as early as 1827 that he was teaching a PreTrib rapture.

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

[13] Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching, pp. 24-25, 28.

[14] Drs. Thomas Ice and Gerald Stanton among them.

[15] Post tribulation rapture author Ernest Sandeen wrote: “This seems to be a groundless and pernicious charge. Neither Irving nor any member of the Albury group advocated any doctrine resembling the secret rapture. . . . Since the clear intention of this charge is to discredit the doctrine by attributing its origin to fanaticism rather than Scripture, there seems little ground for giving it any credence. Others include Robert Reiter, Ian Rennie, William Bell, John Bray, and Timothy Weber to name a few. Source: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/part-2-myths-of-origin-rapture

[16] 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.

[17] Excuse my reiteration of some of this material, but it is vital that you recognize and refute the prejudicial arguments these people have invented. Brethren writer, Roy A. Huebner claims and documents his belief that J.N. Darby first began to believe in the pre-trib rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827.12 If this is true, then all of the origin-of-the-rapture-conspiracy-theories fall to the ground in a heap of speculative rubble. Darby would have at least a three-year jump on any who would have supposedly influenced his thought, making it impossible for all the “influence” theories to have any credibility. Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended. Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) “he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.” 2) “During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.” 3) “In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘the ruin of the Church.'” 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827. 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago.” “With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby “had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” [Dr Thomas Ice-  https://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/tt11.html%5D

[i] The PreTrib Rapture Teaching
is NOT NEW

After animated author and apologist Doc Marquis had his fill of this feckless flimflam he wrote, “The blatant lie (knowingly or unknowingly) that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is a new concept that can only be traced back to 1830 is simply that … a lie! I shall now present to you good people another literary list and, this one will prove, once and for all, that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is “not” a new concept, but was a teaching that came directly from the Apostles themselves (dating back) “before” 1830” . . . to the 1st Century A.D.”

1) 1792 – Thomas Scott – he taught that the righteous will be carried to Heaven where they will be secure until the time of the judgment is over.

2) 1763 – James Macknight – he also taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven until the judgment is over with.

3) 1748 – John Gill (Commentary on the New Testament) – teaches of the imminent return of Christ, firstly in Rapture, and then He will return again to judge the earth (Armageddon).

4) 1744 – Morgan Edwards (founder of the Ivy League School, Brown University) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” beliefs.

5) 1738 – Phillip Doddrige (Commentary on the New Testament) teaches along the same lines of John Gill; a “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” perspective.

6) 1687 – Peter Jurieu – (“Approaching Deliverance of the Church”) Christ would return during the Rapture and take His saints to Heaven and later return at the Battle of Armageddon.

7) 1674 – 1748 – Isaac Watts (known as the Father of the English Hymn) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” belief. (As a side note, Isaac Watts was solely responsible for writing over 1,000 Christian hymns if I recall the numbers correctly. Study his life because it was truly a miraculous one by all definitions of the word).

8) 1674 – Thomas Collier – makes reference in the belief to the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture”.

9) 1532 – 1591 – Francisco Rivera wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church beliefs

10) 431 – 1500 – Any mention of Pre-Tribulation (Millennial) Rapture of the Church perspectives are outlawed by the Catholic Church and deemed heretical and punishable by death!!!

 

11) 431 – The Council of Ephesus; the Catholic Church decrees and condemns Pre-Millennial views as heresy. Books and such are destroyed or altered.
The following all wrote of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church:

12) 354 – 430 – Augustine, Bishop of North Africa

13) 306 – 373 – Ephraem of Nisibus

14) ? – 204 – Victorinus, Bishop of Petau

15) 200 – 258 – Cyrian

16) 170 – 236 – Hippolytus of Rome

17) 150 – 272 – Apocalypse of Elijah (an Extra-Biblical book)

18) 120 – 202 – Ireaneus (“Against Heresies”)

19) 36 – 108 – Ignatius of Antioch, the Third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch (who as a student of John the Apostle) – His “Letters of Extra-Biblical works are:

  1. Letter to the Ephesians
  2. Letter to the Magnesians
  3. Letter to the Trallians
  4. Letter to the Romans
  5. Letter to the Philadelphians
  6. Letter to the Smyrnaeans
  7. Letter to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna
  8. ? – 99 A.D. – Clement of Rome, “Letter to the Corinthians” also known as “I Clement” (an Extra-Biblical book).

 

 

 

 

John Bray’s $500 Folly

 

Arrogant and antagonistic describes the majority of the anti-PreTrib gang I’ve encountered, personally and by reading their books and blogs. Most are so certain of MacPherson’s unproven allegation of an 1830 rapture origin they link their entire journalistic integrity to it by making outlandish statements that have been refuted hundreds of times by PreTrib rapture scholars.

 

One of the more foolhardy stunts came from John L. Bray, a Southern Baptist evangelist, who offered $500 to anyone who could prove that someone taught the rapture doctrine prior to MacDonald’s 1830 vision. Interestingly, Bray displayed a modicum of integrity when his own research proved himself wrong. He wrote, “Then my own research indicated that it was Emmanuel Lacunza, a Jesuit Catholic priest, who in the 1812 book The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, first taught this theory.”

 

However, Bray – like those of his stubborn ilk – was determined to win the bet and he  stuck his neck out again with another $500 offer to anyone who could provide a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s 1812 writings. Apparently he had to cough up the 500 bucks. I quote him again: “I offered $500 to anyone who would give a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s time which taught a two-stage coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time.” No one claimed that offer until someone found writings that forced Bray to write the following: “Now I have the Photostat copies of a book published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1788 but written in 1742-1744 in England, which taught the pretribulation rapture before Lacunza.” [i]

 

 

[ii] Dave MacPherson’s Book
“The Rapture Plot” – weighed and found wanting

by Frank Marotta

 

Since the early 1970’s, Dave MacPherson has aggressively attacked the pretribulation rapture by attributing its origin to Margaret Macdonald, whom MacPherson considers to be occult influenced. He claims J.N. Darby derived the pretribulation rapture from her and this was done secretly, lest the true origin of the rapture be discovered. MacPherson develops this idea in his books The Incredible Cover-Up and The Great Rapture Hoax. It has been successfully demolished in works by R. A. Huebner, Thomas Ice, and Gerald Stanton,1 to name a few.

 

MacPherson’s Seventh Version

 

(One of) MacPherson’s latest (books) is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret Macdonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.

 

In our research on Catholic Apostolic and Irvingite works, we have never found a claim that anyone outside their group “stole” their doctrines. Consider the Catholic Apostolic apologist William Bramley-Moore, a contemporary of William Kelly. In his work The Church’s Forgotten Hope, (a significant work never discussed by MacPherson) Bramley-Moore skips over Margaret Macdonald and credits John Asgill in 1703 as “. . . the only individual who, since the Reformation [until 1830] had given a clarion testimony” to the hope of translation (p. 251)! We will not manufacture a “plot” or “cover-up” regarding the failure of MacPherson and others to credit Asgill. (Asgill taught that individual translation was possible, similar to Enoch or Elijah. His view is distinct from pretribulationism.) More relevant to our discussion, Bramley-Moore never claimed the brethren or anyone else “stole” the Irvingite prophetical views.

 

Recently, the most extensive critical analysis ever produced on Irvingite doctrine declared that they were still primarily historicist, while Darby and the Brethren had become futurist. Further, Columba G. Flegg notes that the Brethren teaching on the rapture and the present invisible and spiritual nature of the church, were in sharp contrast to Catholic Apostolic teaching, . . . There were thus very significant differences between the two eschatologies, and attempts to see any direct influence of one upon the other seem unlikely to succeed-they had a number of common roots, but are much more notable for their points of disagreement. Several writers [referring specifically to MacPherson] have attempted to trace Darby’s secret rapture theory to a prophetic statement associated with Irving, but their arguments do not stand up to serious criticism. Source: http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html

 

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