Home > Apologetics, Doctrine, Israel, Israel and the Church, Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Preterism Refuted, PreWrath Rapture Refuted, Prophecy, Prophecy and Mystery, Rapture, Tribulation > Fake News Headline: “The PreTrib Rapture is a Giant Hoax that didn’t exist until 1830”

Fake News Headline: “The PreTrib Rapture is a Giant Hoax that didn’t exist until 1830”

Dr. Mike Johnston

We’ve established in this dissertation that right division systematically dismantles any attack against the PreTrib rapture, including this one. Therefore, discussions with those pushing this narrative are unproductive and inconsequential; especially when the truth is known about their own fake news story.

While researching charges that the PreTrib rapture is a giant hoax, I discovered the 1830 rapture origin story attack is itself a giant hoax invented some 40 years ago by a disingenuous and disgruntled rapture-loathing anti-Zionist[1] named Dave MacPherson (DM). [2] Oddly, what MacPherson – a marketing mastermind – lacks as an honest journalist, he possesses as a crafty book peddler incorporating half-truths mixed with character assassinations reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s ruthless secret police chief, Lavrentiy Beria who bragged, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”

In case you’re not familiar with MacPherson, he has successfully nurtured from nothing a culture of cretins as disrespectful to the brethren as they are to the facts. His shtick, underwritten by imaginative innuendo, represents the rapture as a pervasive fraud with an elaborate cover up on the part of the Plymouth Brethren to hide a dubious origin MacPherson claims [3] didn’t exist until 1830. According to the MacPherson mythos, that was the year a demon-possessed charismatic member of Edward Irving’s[4] Catholic Apostolic Church by the name of Margaret MacDonald [5] conjured it up in a vision; recorded and published later by her apostolic husband Robert Norton. [6] Without a smidgeon of conviction or conscience, MacPherson glides effortlessly from story teller to character assassin by picturing a Plymouth Brethren [7] scholar named John Nelson Darby [8] as a compromising theological thug who jettisoned his integrity to pilfer MacDonald’s vision even though Darby had publicly labeled it of demonic origin.[9] He then charges Pastor Darby with stealing it to take credit for it, then propagate it to the world through the reference Bible of another nemesis, CI Scofield.[10] All rumored in DM’s multi-volume fantasy franchise to be part of an arcane scheme Darby, Scofield[11] and the Plymouth Brethren cooked up in some dimly lit room for no earthly reason other than the back slapping joy they all shared in knowing they were deceiving innocent Christian people.

Dave didn’t tell the whole truth

Evidence is overwhelming that MacPherson constructed his rag tag empire from not much more than imagination and ingenious book marketing methods. This he accomplished by publishing the same fact flouting manuscript under a variety of seductive titles making allegations devoid of credible corroboration.

While conducting my due diligence for this book, I found several great and godly scholars who after fact checking MacPherson were less than convinced by the sources he offers for the conclusions he retails. While many could be cited, I’ll quote two here to save space.

In Kept from the Hour, Dr. Gerald Stanton makes this observation: “It will immediately be apparent that his book titles are provocative, if not abusive. There has been no “cover-up” or “hoax,” for Pretrib authors and leaders have arrived at their conclusion from Biblical exegesis rather than from any presumed history of the doctrine, and most certainly with no desire to defraud. Furthermore, to attack the morality and integrity of fellow believers just to further an eschatological opinion is a disgrace to the Name and cause of Christ.”

Another observation of MacPherson’s distortions comes from respected theologian and former President of Dallas Theological Seminary, the late Dr. John Walvoord, “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.” [12]

Although evidence is not favorable to MacPherson, his musings for four decades have been pounded like a jungle drum nonstop; first by him and then through the list of loquacious lackeys pushing his suppositions underwritten by a daisy chain of unknown bibliographical references featuring his name atop the catbird seat. Wondering how a man can command such blind loyalty the Holy Spirit led me to re-reading this old proverb under new light with a fresh application for Mac’s mob: “A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue” (Proverbs 17:4).

Consideration by contrast

MacPherson’s literature is clumsy, condescending, and combative. He has no use for anyone believing in the PreTrib rapture implying they are of subpar intelligence and in a conspiracy only Satan could orchestrate. His nastiness notwithstanding, here’s a small list of impeccable Biblical scholars he consigns to Hell simply for disagreeing with him.

Isaac Watts, JN Darby, CI Scofield, John Gill, Morgan Edwards, DL Moody, RA Torrey, Clarence Larkin, Lewis Sperry Chafer. William R. Newell, J. Vernon McGee, David Jeremiah, Lehman Strauss, Jack Van Impe, Merrill Unger, Dave Reagan, Sir Robert Anderson. Charles Swindoll, Jerry Falwell, Jack Hyles, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, Dave Hunt, Noah Hutchings, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zola Levitt, J. Randall Price, Dave Breese, Jimmy DeYoung, AC Gaebelein, MR DeHaan, JR Church, HA Ironside, Gary Stearman, Tommy Ice, Hal Lindsey, Ed Hindson, Grant Jeffrey, Chuck Missler, and many more. [13]

The following links provide a partial list of additional research information from Biblical scholars who have themselves thoroughly researched and refuted most every misrepresentation, misquote,  and misapplication MacPherson has made over the past 40 years of attacks against the “blessed hope”.

  • Church, JR (deceased) Founder of Prophecy in the News


  • Ice, Dr. Thomas: Director of the PreTrib Research Center



  • Examining a PreTrib Rapture Statement


  • Marotta, Frank: Brethren scholar


  • Missler, Dr. Chuck: Byzantine Text Discovery: Ephraem The Syrian


  • Reagan, Dr. David: Director of Lamb & Lion Ministries



  • Strandberg, Todd: Director of Rapture Ready


  • Stunt, Timothy CF: Brethren scholar


  • Wilkinson, Dr. Paul: Brethren scholar


[1] MacPherson fails to mark the clear distinction between Israel and the church Body, often painting Christians supporting Jews as evil “pretrib rapture merchandisers and Christian Zionists” who DM claims are more interested in the government than in the gospel.


[2] MacPherson’s venom contaminates everything he touches. I’ve studied his feckless philosophy cover to cover and frankly the spirit driving him makes my skin crawl. Therefore, I’ll not pull any punches in unmasking him and the nasty things he writes about decent men whose only “crime” is in disagreeing with him (Rom. 16:17-18).

[3] MacPherson offers what he swears is proof, but since he is the only person having the sources, scholars have concluded his “findings” are NOT to be trusted.

[4] 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]

[5] If Margaret MacDonald is the originator of the PreTrib rapture, why are there no records of her contesting Darby’s theft?

[6] “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]

[7] Pastor Darby is known as the father of modern dispensationalism. MacPherson’s hatred for dispensationalism (calling it a heresy) stems from his refusal to rightly divide the Word and allow Israel her rightful place in God’s overall economy. His writings are inexorably anti-Semitic.

[8] In his commentary on Revelation, William R. Newell called Darby the greatest interpreter of the Bible since Paul – http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/proph/newelltr.pdf. A collection of Darby’s writings are available at Plymouth Brethren archives: http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/byauthor/5/john_nelson_darby

[9] Researcher Billy Crone traveled to Europe including Scotland where he discovered Darby no doubt heard about MacDonald’s 1830 charismatic manifestation, but considered them demonic and not of God. It also appears in the book by Wilkinson, Paul Richard (2007). For Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby. Paternoster. pp. 192–93.

[10] If Darby laid claim to MacDonald’s vision – which incidentally was partial mid trib and post trib, why didn’t Scofield give him credit?

[11] MacPherson loathes both Darby and Scofield. For a clear report on the life of Scofield, may I suggest Dr. Robert Sumner’s piece: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/dispen/canfield.pdf

[12] More information available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret: MacDonald: (visionary)

[13] Once again, if you buy MacPherson’s narrative, you have to believe as he does that he’s the chosen and enlightened one and EVERY ONE else including this list of renowned PreTrib Bible scholars are half baked malevolent morons deceiving the church with the devil’s lie.

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