In the first part of this series I focused my remarks on the deception that has been spread within the Christian community and even the non-Christian audience as well. However, you might simply perceive this simply as slander of God, but regardless, one comes away with the impression that it has been an orchestrated well-planned and executed packaged plan of disinformation, deception, lies, and propaganda to discredit the idea of a Biblical Pre-Tribulation Rapture. One of the important aspects of theological education is to see the larger scheme of things at work on any given issue.
To correct the facts in the origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, first one has to recognize that it did not begin with Margaret MacDonald or John Nelson Darby. Anyone that states that is either ignorant of the historical facts or is an unabashed deceiving liar. My initial post of this series exposed this fundamental lie, which every anti-Pre-Trib critic hang their hat on. Shame on them for not doing their research.
I went to college on the G.I. Bill, and was five-years older than most of my classmates. I could have never afforded or went to college right out of high school. Also, I would have never been able to take advantage of my military experience, i.e., self-discipline, determination, self-confidence, etc. I had the benefit of letting education rub off, so to speak, as most of my Army buddies were draftees and had bachelor's and some even had master's degrees. By the time I was beginning my freshman year of college, I had already read Edward Bernays 'Propaganda', 'Crystallizing Public Opinion', and 'Public Relations'. I am extremely grateful for having graduated from a top tier Christian college where nearly all my courses were graded by the use of written essay exams. The reason being for written essay exams was the college was preparing students for graduate school where communicating through and by writing intelligently is considered both essential and critical in the real world.
Dr. Charles Ryrie, a Pre-Trib and Dispensational scholar has rightly said, "The fact that the church taught something in the first century does not make it true, and likewise if the church did not teach something until the twentieth century, it is not necessarily false." Critics of the Pre-Trib Rapture often assert their criticism on the basis of opposing either side of that statement. In that I was a pre-ministry major in college, my curriculum was structured to take advantage of specific academic areas to relate to the real world. My training in the disciplines of debate, polemics, apologetics, logic, reason, has enabled me to confront and expose the lunacy of many statements that are simply untrue, or meaningless. I've recognized for some length of time there are illiterates out there making statements that other idiots own for themselves and through the process of repetition sustain their lies to the uneducated. Mark Twain was the one that said, "that a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on."
Even though Pre-Tribulationists have always emphasized the priority of Scripture as the sole basis for establishing Biblical orthodoxy, it is buttressed by history, specifically church history. We have eighteen hundred years of it at the fingertips of those dedicated to truth, that is, provided you are willing to get your hands dirty from opening old and dusty pages of books and documents in theological libraries. There are over 5,600+ existing copies of the Greek New Testament ("Textus-Receptus") that specifically date to the first century Christian Church. That is precisely what I have been doing the past seven weeks, i.e., establishing the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Truth! I've been doing academic library research.
Many of you are unfamiliar with Marvin Rosenthal, or Dave MacPherson, but you may be familiar with Robert Van Kampen and his videos at another web site that hypes the "Pre-Wrath Rapture Babble", and where he seems to get top billing along with SDA' Mark Wohlberg. Dave MacPherson has a vendetta against the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching because he was expelled from BIOLA University in California because of his anti-Pre-Trib activist efforts. As a journalist he has since devoted three decades+ of his life to discredit and destroy the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching by lies, disinormation, and slander. Dave MacPherson has been a key player in communicating the lie that Margaret MacDonald and John Nelson Darby originated the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching.
Many people, that for their own reasons, in rejecting the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, simply cannot exist or thrive without relying on people like Marvin Rosenthal, Robert Van Kampen, Mark Wohlberg, Dave MacPherson, to validate their own belief system, no matter how wrong they are, and will eat your lunch (joy). They simply cannot offer an intelligent case analysis of the Word of God on their own limited understanding of the Bible. All they offer is trite cliches with no intelligent basis or substance to support their verbal attacks. Dave MacPherson never established a connection between John Nelson Darby and Margaret MacDonald, and yet his lies continue to be repeated, over and over and over again. That is a fact that even Dave MacPherson has admitted to theologians who have challenged him publicly. It is still an untruth no matter how many times it is repeated.
It's one thing to state one's opinion for not believing in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture; however, to arrogantly call the Pre-Tribulation Rapture a lie, is to posit a position that you cannot prove, even in a court of law, unless you are God or His anointed spokesperson. I will remind you that there are Pre-Trib theologians who in addition to having earned doctorates in Theology are holders of doctor of Law degrees as well. Pre-Trib scholars are not uneducated in the Word of God. Likewise, to say that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is 'dead' infers an anointing of some sort. I leave that for you to ponder. In my way of thinking, such statements are nothing more than the bluster of folks that Paul described in Colossians 2:18, "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." Paul uses the word "puffed up", (Greek "phusa"), distinctively a Pauline word in the New Testament and of its seven appearances, six occur in his first letter to the Corinthians. The seventh occurrence in Colossians 2:18 used by Paul reflects a narrowing of the definition to a solely figurative sense. As such it means to be "puffed up" in the sense of pride, arrogance, or conceit. "Being puffed up" was specifically a spiritual problem, a serious problem from Paul's viewpoint. Paul's problems with the Corinthian Church are notorious.
Remember what Paul said about fear in 2nd Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." If that isn't enough to build up your faith, then how about Romans 8:15, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Let's not forget 2nd Corinthians 7:1: "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God." To address Deity as "Abba", i.e., "daddy", was radical by Old Testament Temple practices and teachings or by synagogue protocols. Even many Jews today still spell the title "G-D" and in reverence omit the vowel "o", so New Testament references to Deity was not a casual thing to be taken lightly by any means. Readers of the Bible miss the larger significance of Paul's words here because of the implications of the Mark Gospel account -(Mark 15:38) of the tearing of the inner curtain in two from top to bottom, theologically seen symbolically as the breaking down of the inner divide between God and man at the crucifixion of Jesus, which occurred simultaneously as Jesus gave up His last breath on the Cross. That Temple curtain or veil is estimated at being the width of the palm, (in thickness), of the hand, between 5" and 7" thick. This has a much larger story than I want to address in this post, but Paul's words were radical to say the least.
As 'Pre-Tribbers' we know the importance of a dedicted life of holiness and righteousness and do not require any admonishment by the fear-mongers. So long as we are being cleansed by the Holy Spirit in holy living I would not say that our belief in or the existence of the Pre-Tribulation is in vain or dead! I spent four years at a seminary where its motto was "holiness of heart and holiness of mind". One of my favorite little books is Jerry Bridges, 'The Pursuit of Holiness'. As a 'Pre-Tribber', I am a life-long believer immersed and sanctified in the holiness of heart and mind ethos. I have never sensed a need to broadcast that fact as proof of anything.
Last year I presented many posts supporting the belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine and for those of you in the choir, you can expect forthcoming even more insightful substance from the Bible to strengthen and provide encouragement for your reason to continue to hold onto the "Blessed Hope". I trust that you will not be shy in the sharing of the blessings at this site. For those of you who do not know me personally, I have spent the last twenty-five years of my pastoral ministry driven by the point that I was concerned that people "knew why they believed what they believed". There are millions in the cults today because they were unprepared to give a reason for their faith as a result of inept Biblical teaching.
The anti-Pre-Tribulation Rapture folks will hang their hat on anyone that attacks the Pre-Trib Rapture, a recent example being that of the confused celebrity-pastor/writer Carl Gallup, who wants you to believe every way to Sunday that the Church will go through the Biblical "seven" year Tribulation, or some portion of it. In their demented way of analysis they twist Scripture so that they can justify their position, rather than to take the plain sense reading of the text to mean what it says. Regarding Carl Gallup, I suggest you read Dr. David Reagan's 6-page book review on his web site Lamb & Lion Ministries, which was included in his latest (March/April 2014) issue, which can be read by simply searching the title of his web site. Sign up for his posts. Dr. Dave Reagan was a college professor with a Ph.D. in international government studies, and began his ministry on radio thirty years ago and now can be seen weekly on several faith networks on television or the Internet.
I will, in this series, share a series of examples, from throughout church history, of individuals that wrote and spoke clearly on this issue of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, going back even to the first-century Christian community. They will not be listed in any particular sequence, but as you will see here with the first of a litany of historical believers and teachers in the Pre-Tribulation belief construct. I will illustrate and prove that John Nelson Darby and Margaret MacDonald could not and did not originate the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine as the anti-Pre-Tribbers continue to insinuate and proclaim in their lies.
An individual that as best I can recall and has not been mentioned in books or articles has been that of Brother Gerard Sagarello. He died around 1300 AD. According to church history he founded a group known as the 'Apostolic Brethren' in northern Italy. He founded the order after being turned down by the Franciscan Order. The monastic movement was a powerful movement for centuries. The Roman Catholic Church had put a ban on any new church orders, and those that attempted to begin a group were subjected to severe persecution. Gerard Sagarello was burned at the stake, and with his death, a member of the Order by the name of Brother Dolcino assumed the leadership position of the movement. Under his leadership, the Order grew with membership in the thousands. End-time prophecy apparently held an important place in the study and teaching of the Apostolic Brethren more than 700 years ago.
Brother Dolcino died in 1307 AD, and an anonymous notary of the diocese of Vercelli in northern Italy, at the foothills of the Italian and French Alps, wrote a booklet treatise in Latin that set forth the deeds and beliefs of the Apostolic Brethren. The booklet was called 'The History of Brother Dolcino', and it was discovered by Francis Gumerlock, who himself is not a Pre-Tribulation advocate, but he did discover Brother Dolcino's Rapture writings and teachings. Interestingly, Brother Dolcino believed the Pope to be the Antichrist in 1300 AD, which speaks volumes about the state of the Roman Catholic institution back even then. Brother Dolcino was of the opinion, he, Dolcino, would, along with his followers, will descend on the Earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ.
Several points in the booket's statement were very similar to modern Pre-Tribulation teaching. While Francis Gumerlock is not Pre-Trib, he identified specific statements that confirmed that Brother Dolcino was Pre-Trib. in his theology. I can't read Latin but Francis Gumerlock translated what he believes are Pre-Trib statements written around or about between 1250 and 1300 AD. Note that date because it was more than 600 years before that Scottish young girl Margaret MacDonald or John Nelson Darby. The following are examples of Brother Dolcino's booklet:
1. The Latin word "transferrentur", meaning "they would be transferred", it is the same word used by medieval Christians to describe the Rapture of Enoch's Translation/Rapture to heaven.
2. The subjects of this Rapture were to be Brother Dolcino and his followers. This was not a partial rapture theory because Brother Dolcino considered the Apostolic Brethren to be the true church in contrast to the Roman Catholic Church of the day, which he believed to be of the Antichrist.
3. The purpose of the 'Rapture' or 'Translation' was to preserve the people from the persecution of the Antichrist.
4. The text preserves the concept of "transference" of the believers to heaven and the "descent" of believers from heaven as two separate events.
5. The text also shows that quite a long gap of time must intervene between the Rapture of the saints to heaven and the return of the saints from heaven. We know that as the "seven" year Tribulation.
Dr. Francis Gumerlock clearly believes that this is a Pre-Trib Rapture statement. He concluded with this statement: "This paragraph from 'The History of Brother Dolcino' indicates that in northern Italy in the early fourteenth century a teaching very similar to modern pretribulationalism was being preached. Responding to distressing political and ecclesiastical conditions, Dolcino engaged in detailed speculations about eschatology and believed that the coming of the Antichrist was imminent. He also believed that the means by which God would protect His people from the persecution of the Antichrist would be through a translation of the saints to paradise."
Dr. Francis Gumerlock is a respected theologian from Providence Theological Seminary located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He does not himself ascribe to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture as such, but he does affirm that Brother Dolcino clearly did believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, over 700 years ago. Thus, just from the evidence that I have shared in this post clearly refutes the simplistic statements of Marvin Rosenthal, Dave MacPherson, Stephen Mark Wolhberg, and the "Pre-Wrath Rapture" sites, and others that mislead folks to believe that John Nelson Darby and Margaret MacDonald were the originators of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine.
It simply is not true!
The "Blessed Hope" and Pre-Tribulation began FIRST with the Apostle Paul. Paul called the Rapture a "Mystery" because it had never been revealed previously, even by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, no, not even in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24-25. Jesus had no reason to reveal it even when He delivered his Olivet Discourse. Even if He had, regardless, they would not have been affected by it, so there was no reason to tell those present at His giving the Olivet Discourse or to be told something that would be irrelevant to or for them. This was very much like the case when Daniel was told to shut up the book in Daniel 12:4 and 12:9 that he had no need to know what it meant. I think most of you understand the phrase "on a need to know basis" and what that means. To attempt to disprove the Pre-Tribulation Rapture by negation that the Lord didn't teach it, therefore it must not be true, is an example of faulty logic.
Dr. Gumerlock is an established scholar, and has published papers in several scholarly theological journals, and is an authority on the 'Patristic' literature period of the Church [100-450 AD], and the medieval and renaissance studies. He is professor of Historical, Biblical, and Systematic Theology. His research and the men like him, do not receive a great deal of attention, but none-the-less their work has served as foundational source-material on a period where many of the early church's doctrines were clarified and contextualized. Their work brings them into contact with the writings following the death of the Apostle John, to the 'early church fathers', which in another way might be referred to as the 'early church children'.
Next time we will look at another example of an early Christian writer/theologian/pastor/priest that believed and taught the concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. As best I can suggest, and it would strictly be a guess on my part, but from the time of the Apostle John to Morgan Edwards in the 1700's, we know of upwards of 100 or more individuals that believed and taught the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view; a fact ascertained by their writings. I do not plan to cover all of them, but will present sufficient historical background on enough to support my contention that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is not a recent idea as so often is claimed by those that seek to discredit the Pre-Tribulation teaching.
Brother Dolcino even used the Biblical word "translated" for our word 'Rapture' as "translate" and "translated" is Biblical. Check out 2nd Samuel 3:10; Colossians 1:13; and Hebrews 11:5. The two words occur a total of four times in those passages. The Greek word for "translate" or "translated" is "methistemi" and while it is not as familiar as our favorite word "harpazo" but "methistemi" will do just fine. It is not as emphatic or powerful as "harpazo".
How would you like an extra treat since I am focused on the "Blessed Hope"? Those two words appear [only in the New Testament], that's correct, only the New Testament:
"Blessed" appears 54X in 48 verses [New Testament exclusively]
"Hope" appears 50X in 49 verses [New Testament exclusively]
The combined words of the phrase "Blessed Hope" together appears just Once in Titus 2:13. I'll have a lot more to say on this passage in a future segment of "Pre-Tribulation Truth. Over the past seven weeks I have gleaned so much data that I could write a book on what I will have to share with the reader.
Do I see a message of any significance in the fact they are found exclusively in the New Testament and not a single use in the Old Testament? You bet I do!
In closing, DO NOT let anyone mislead you by telling you the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is only dated back to the late 1800's or to John Nelson Darby and Margaret MacDonald. They simply reveal their ignorance (lack of knowledge) or have an agenda seeking to deceive you on the entire subject matter. Keep before your eyes somewhere on your computer or monitor screen these two verses of Scripture: Acts 17:11 and 1st Thessalonians 5:21. Use a sticky note or an index card taped to your computer. I'm looking into ways on how I can share with the reader my nearly 300 transparency format teaching on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. It is part of my huge teaching seminar entitled "Mining the Diamonds and Nuggets of the Bible!"
Blessings and keep looking up, waiting, watching, and working til our "Blessed Hope".