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There is an article on the Internet which professes among other things that a 15-year old girl named Margaret MacDonald is the real source of the doctrine of the Rapture. The article then associates Margaret's testimony with that of J. N. Darby's promotion of this same doctrine. Of course, all who teach against the Rapture do so by pointing out that Darby promoted the idea in the late 1800s and because this was such a "new" teaching, then it should be avoided like the plague. What's the truth though here? Is there any way to truly find out, or do we simply need to agree with the idea that Margaret MacDonald is the source of this hoax? (After all, if this is true that this young girl essentially created this whole idea, then can we put any more faith in her testimony than we would another 15-year old who created another religion entirely and whose followers wish more than anything to be accepted as Christians though their own doctrine keeps them far from it?) Let's look at history and see what we can find regarding the doctrine of the Rapture. For now, we'll set aside Scripture, not because we don't find validity in it, but because we would simply come back to the same old, worn out arguments that keep people arguing over text and meaning. We are all aware of Darby's belief regarding the doctrine of the Rapture. But is there really anyone prior to him (and of course, Margaret MacDonald) that espoused this same belief? If there is, then Margaret's incident is moot. Fortunately for us, there are a number of folks who believed that the Rapture was set to occur prior to the Great Tribulation and we can show from history that the entire doctrine does not rest in the lap of a 15-year old girl. In the year 1788 a Rev. Morgan Edwards, a Baptist pastor in Philadelphia put forth the idea in his "Millennium, Last Days Novelties" book. He stated that he first wrote about it in the year 1742. Was there anyone else who might have written about it even before Rev. Edwards did? Again, we are fortunate to have a number of people we can point to and can be shown historically that they also espoused the doctrine of the Rapture. A document referred to as the Pseudo-Ephrem document, dating back to the period A.D. 565 - 627 (or possibly even earlier) mentions the Rapture as a separate event: "...For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins." So here we see just two documents in which the concept of the Rapture were taught; one roughly 100 years prior to Darby and the other roughly 1300 years prior. But, we're not done yet. This view - the Rapture - was promoted by by Bishop Victorinus of Petau (3rd Century), who saw the church departing before the plagues during the time of God's wrath.
Salvation is not by grace and works. The author of the other article on this site who denounces the Rapture as having been made up states this: "(J. Unfortunately. through faith. What we have here are a number of individuals who were on the scene before Darby (and in some cases. They were then told what it meant.Later. when the religious horizon changed dramatically and detrimentally. This took place right around the start of the 16th/17th centuries when Bible translations became available for the common person. locked up and only read to them during church services. They succeeded and it wasn't until Luther hammered his document to the Wittenberg Door did people really begin to take note of just how far from Scripture the Roman Catholic Church had taken people. Zwingli. during the 15th .) that the doctrine of the Rapture took a back seat. Calvin and many others fought against continue to this day and show no signs of abating. It was not until the Roman Catholic Church came on the scene (after the 3rd century A. Once the Bible got into the hands of the everyday individual. through faith. Up until the 3rd century. they could now read it for themselves. This was the major tenet that they disagreed with concerning what the church taught." The response to this is to note the actual history and who believed what when. who believed and espoused the doctrine of the Rapture. The doctrine of the Rapture has been around for centuries. They no longer had to rely on some church official to tell them not only what the Bible said.D. through faith. This included men such as Luther. Darby or MacDonald) dreamed this notion up around 1830. 250 years before Darby. So why did Luther. Calvin and others seem to "miss" the Rapture and other aspects of Dispensationalism? The answer is quite simple really. so they pulled away. like salvation by grace alone. the Church became closely aligned with the state and felt that it was wrong to allow the common person to read the Bible. N. The left the church to form their own denominations because they could no longer agree that salvation was by grace and works. Bibles were taken away from people. N. but by grace alone. to be sure. Joseph Meade (1586-1638) wrote about the Rapture. the doctrine of the Rapture did not begin with a 15-year old girl. Shortly after this time period. This was the primary . Darby! The reality is that the doctrine of the Rapture was a doctrine that was held in high esteem by the early church until the 3rd century. and then get carried to new heights by J. Calvin. but was severely squelched until people began to read the Bible again for themselves. Knox. well before Darby). the Church believed that the Rapture was going to occur. but what it meant as well. This is the chief concern of the Reformers.16th centuries. Many other things took a back seat during this time also. Their calling was to extricate the church from the heretical teaching that salvation came by grace PLUS works. The Catholic Church took the upper hand in squelching those doctrines it did not agree with and attempted to vilify. They were convinced that the Roman Catholic Church had it wrong (and still does). That aside. It is also important to note that history shows the Church itself was Premillennial for the first three centuries. Tyndale and every other serious Bible student until it was unveiled in 1830. the things that Luther. It always bothered me that for 1800 years every bible scholar and theologian somehow missed the truth of the Dispensational teaching.
While on one hand it is certainly wonderful that God used the Reformers to accomplish what they accomplished. It should produce within the Christian the desire to be like Him in all aspects. as my sister breathed her last two weeks ago. but the idea that somehow believing in the Rapture creates weak Christians is patently incorrect. arguing about things like the Rapture made little sense. etc. . That Christian. This is the cause of problems for all Christians who wind up doubting the Word. It doesn't matter. but for how they lived. far from causing me to feel as though I am "escaping" something. If the remainder of my life is one in which God's purposes are best met by placing me in a situation that is too horrible to imagine. actually causes me to bow my knee in humble adoration to Him for His purposes. by becoming closely aligned with the state and in effect. That in and of itself is not any kind of reason for indicating that the doctrine of the Rapture could not be true. Are Christians shallow today? Absolutely and without doubt. The author's last statement: "Is the lure of an "easy out" before the great tribulation befalls this world compelling because today's Christian is really severely shallow in their faith?" has a great point. it is clear that the Reformers changed little else within what would become their own denominations. not least of which was the allegorical interpretation of Scripture when it came to prophetic events. while going to church on Sunday. not for their salvation. I could breathe my last today. I have no idea what tomorrow holds. They continued in the way of Catholicism in many ways. but undoubtedly the chief reason is to purify the believer (1 Peter 1:6-8. becoming state churches. My belief in and acceptance of the Rapture. When I do die. What creates weak Christians is their refusal to submit to Him and His authority. Regardless of all of it. His will and His life.). living a life that calls their own commitment to Him in question and essentially dragging His precious Name through the mud. Certainly there is an element within Christianity that would view the Rapture as an "escape clause" from experiencing any real trouble. If God chooses to send me to the mission field where I will be savagely attacked and killed for my faith. so be it. and I have misinterpreted Scripture so that I will actually go through a period of the greatest tribulation that the world has ever seen. The Rapture. It plays no part at all. on the other hand. far from feeling safe and secure about the Rapture should rather find their insides in knots knowing that they will face their Savior and they will be judged according to their works. joining in with the world here or there. We are shallow and our faith has very little root. A Christian is not much of a Christian who can live any way they want to live. I pray that He will be glorified in and through my life. the idea is that their life should then come to reflect His life. I will see my Savior and whether I am taken by Rapture or by natural death makes absolutely no difference. so be it. All one has to do is look at these individual denominations to see that they all fell into the same trap that the Catholic Church did. like all of prophecy is given for any number of purposes. If I am wrong about the Rapture. so be it. one thing is clear. The only thing that separated these new denominations from that of Catholicism was their understanding of the doctrine of salvation commonly referred to as Soteriology.concern of the Reformers and for them. As a person dwells on and even meditates on being with the Lord.
I have found a greater desire to serve Him in what may well be a shorter period of time in which to do so. If understood for what it truly is. salvation should promote a greater desire to serve and love Him as never before. The Rapture's origins are biblical. If it does not accomplish this. it is most definitely not the fault of the doctrine itself. The idea that the Rapture is a bad doctrine simply because it causes Christians to take their Christianity for granted is like saying that salvation by grace through faith should also be rejected because it tends to promote licentious living. Jesus alludes to this event as well. but of the individual who fails to truly understand it to begin with. It actually does not promote that type of living. The Rapture's origins are not extra-biblical and are certainly not found in the mind of a 15year old girl. .Far from the Rapture weakening my commitment to Him. espoused by the Apostle Paul himself.
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