In this "Pre-Tribulation Truth" post we will pick-up from where I left off on early Christian Church leaders taught and believed in the Pre-Trib doctrine. I have another block of Biblical observations (currently in draft form being checked to avoid duplicate points) containing additional analysis of the Biblical text that points us to the belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Folks regularly ask me why I believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position. My short response usually addresses the issue by referring folks to Paul's words in Titus 2:13 and the "Blessed Hope". If they have time to listen I will reiterate and expound on the larger message of Titus 2. I don't often get the chance to share my messages anymore from the pulpit, but for a few meetings throughout the year. When I finish this series, I hope be able to tackle another adjunct related topic and aspect of the Pre-Tribulation Truth. "May I say", in the vernacular of the late J. Vernon McGee, this series of posts provides you with an abundance of Biblical evidence that offers a jury a verdict-decision. If you have a lost loved one, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, who are predisposed against the "Blessed Hope" encourage them to read the prosecutorial evidence that supports the "Blessed Hope". You can share any of the segments in this series as an email attachment, or simply recommend they 'google' the phrase "Pre-Tribulation Truth" with the # along with the phrase.
Back in the mid-1600's there was another church leader, nearly two hundred years before Margaret MacDonald and Charles Nelson Darby teaching a Pre-Trib view. So how is it that the anti-Pre-Trib folks continue to hype their lies that Margaret MacDonald and Charles Nelson Darby are responsible for contriving the view and blamed by the ignorant anti-Pre-Tribulation folks as originating the Pre-Trib doctrine. After 12 posts in this series you would think the low-information folks would have owned up to their errors and repent of their lies and disinformation. Whenever I read a post or article on the Rapture topic, the first mention of Margaret MacDonald and Charles Nelson Darby, I immediately delete it. This is the hallmark of another moron who does not know of what they speak or write, because it simply reveals their ignorance [lack of knowledge].
The individual that we will be looking at in this post is John Asgill (1659-1738). He wrote a book in 1700 AD on the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, more than 150 years before John Nelson Darby and Margaret MacDonald. He suggested a possibility of "translation" (i.e., Rapture) without seeing death. Many of the early Christians had an understanding of a basic framework but lacked the sophistication in putting the pieces together. So it is for this reason we have to recognize the basic rudiments and details were grasped and taught.
As a result of writing this book, Asgill was removed from the Irish parliament in 1703 and then from the English parliament in 1707. His book had been examined by the Church and pronounced blasphemous and had been burnt by order of the House without his having been heard in its defense. Asgill spent the last thirty years of his life in prison because of his book on the Pre-Trib Rapture. John Askill did not fully develop his Pre-Trib doctrine as much as others, however, he was right on, and, William Bramley-Moore said, "But he did not hold the truth in its relation to other truths. He was looking for an individual "translation", on which he expressed himself somewhat strongly, and to which he did not attain; for he failed to understand that the promised change or translation of the saints is not to be that of solitary individuals, but of a corporate body."
As to the Church's actions, the burning of his book, his imprisonment for 30 years, is an indicator of the Church's rigidity of theological dialogue and academic inquiry.
Another individual that we have much more information on is Morgan Edwards, a Welsh Baptist. Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) predates the proverbial MacDonald and Darby acclamation by over a hundred years as well. In the case of Morgan Edwards, we have a well-defined picture of a man who believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Born in Trevethan parish, Pontypool, Wales, Morgan was the founder of the Ivy League school, Brown University and graduated from Bristol Bible College in Bristol, England. He served several small congregations in England for seven years, before moving to Cork, Ireland, where he pastored for nine years. Edwards emigrated to America and May of 1761 he became the pastor of the Baptist Church in Philadelphia, upon recommendation of the famous hyper-Calvinist John Gill. After the Revolutionary War, Rev. Edwards became an educator and the premier historian of his day.
Morgan Edwards knew tragedy in his life, having outlived two wives, and most of his children as well. At one point he took to drinking and was excommunicated from his church. Edwards was a man of versatility and, a capable leader and a historian of some importance in his day. With his varied gifts, he was always evangelistic in spirit. Edwards wrote about his Pre-Trib beliefs in 1742 as a student at Bristol College as part of academic assignment. It was first written in Latin in 1742, but it was years later when it was published in 1788 in English.
Edwards took Scripture literally first, something that was not common for his day. Literal interpretation had been ignored for over fourteen centuries as a result of Augustine, such that Edwards was considered an original thinker. His views came out of the literal reading and interpretation of Scripture. Also, like Darby, Edwards developed his views early in life. He was between 20-22, while Darby was about 27 years old when he developed his Dispensational views.
Both these men reveal, that when you read the Bible literally, you come to the view of all Dispensationalists naturally. Did not God intend us to read the Bible literally? Proverbs 25:2 would be the departure or starting point in discovering the depth of the Scripture. But, none the less a literal reading is the intended direction that the Creator had in inspiring Holy Writ. Both Morgan Edwards and later John Nelson Darby developed and popularized a view of the Second Coming of Christ known as the Pre-Tribulationism, or the view that Christian believers will be raptured or translated to heaven with Christ before the events of the Tribulation. What is so unusual about these two, they came to a nearly identical view of the Pre-Trib doctrines early in their lives.
Make no mistake about the truth that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine was not something that originated in the 19th century and later. Those seeking to confuse and deny the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine predominantly come out of the Romanist institutional church, meaning they were raised in Romanism, educated in Romanist schools, have been exposed to the teachings of Augustine on the Allegorical interpretation of the Bible. They have been brain-washed by Catholic theology, and are psychologically damaged to the fear of God as a judge and the meaning of the legalistic aspects of the Mosaic Law. So many of these folks, when the come out of or leave Romanism gravitate towards becoming or joining Jehovah Witnesses or Seventh Day Adventists and former Armstrong sabbath-observing break-a-way cult churches. These cults are comfortable havens for former Roman Catholics. Where I reside seven months out of the year, I am about 13 miles from a Watchtower Kingdom Hall. This particular one we pass every Sunday morning on our way to where we worship about two miles further south. Their parking lot is filled to capacity on Sunday morning. I have gotten to know some of these folks, and all of them are former Roman Catholics. I currently live in a largely Roman Catholic region of Kentucky which provides a fertile area for evangelistic witnessing by the Jehovah Witnesses. Escaping from one pagan religion only to become a member of the cultic JW's and SDA's only blinds further their understanding of the Bible. This inability to become set free of legalism underlies the anti-Pre-Trib Rapture sites that continue their attack on Dispensationalism and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine. If you notice their rants, such folks attack theological education as if it were some toxic disease.
Morgan Edwards saw a distinct Rapture in his understanding of the Scriptures. He makes three key points that are consistent with modern Pre-Tribulationism. First, he clearly separates the Rapture from the Second Coming by an interval of three-and-a-half years. Second, he uses modern Pre-Trib Rapture verses -(1st Thess. 4:17; and John 14:2) to describe the Rapture and support his view. Third, he believes the judgment seat of Christ (rewarding) for believers will occur in heaven while the Tribulation is raging on Earth, as is common in contemporary Pre-Tribulationism.
The main difference between modern Pre-Tribulationism and Edwards is the time interval of three-and-a-half years between the Rapture and the Second Coming, instead of seven. Jonathan Burnham has pointed out that Darby held to a three-and-a-half year Tribulation until 1845. However, this does not mean that Edwards was a Mid-Tribulationist, since it is evident that he believed the total length of the Tribulation was three-and-a-half years. His sermons often alluded to the "seven" year span of Tribulation. Morgan Edwards penned 140 handwritten sermons that were never published. Other than his historical writings and ecclesiastical helps, his essay on Bible prophecy was his only other published work. It is significant that this essay written as a young man and not something else from his later and more mature ministry. His lecture were published later in his life in two books around 1788.
Edward's books on the Rapture was essentially lost as far as any popular, public knowledge of it. It came to light in the 1990's in order to satisfy a challenge made by Pre-Trib opponent John Bray who promised to pay $500.00 to anyone "who will furnish me with a documented statement by anybody (in a sermon, article, or commentary) in any country, published BEFORE LACUNZA'S TIME," which was cira-1812. John Bray acknowledge that the Edwards material satisfied his challenge and on March 21, 1995 he mailed a check for $500.00 to the individual who showed him Edward's book. Note the name "Lacunza", this is the Jesuit so often referred to as his creating the Futuristic doctrine we know as Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine a part of Dispensationalism. The ignorant folks continued to perpetuate their lies and disinformation about the truth by presenting only half the truth. They never tell you of the other Jesuit that is responsible for Preterism, that all prophecy is supposed to have been fulfilled by 70 AD. Remember, a half-truth, doctrinally speaking, is still a lie none the less!
In previous posts I have identified close to thirty men going back to the first century AD that taught the basic essential rudiments of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching. We will continue to share more names pre-dating MacDonald and Darby.
Even they, as the Early Church Fathers, lacked a total understanding of the details, were preceded by the Apostle Paul himself and I have stated explicitly that the Apostle Paul was the first to teach the concept or doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I provided the reader information on the missing "Definite Article" and the confusion of the English translation of the word "Apostasy". That information can be found in "Pre-Tribulation Truth - 3" in 'Five Dove Letters' for April 5th, 2015. Paul is the first to teach the Pre-Trib Rapture in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3. Search out that post and study it. This is the foundational concept's revelation. One need not look further to discover that Paul was given the teaching by God, and he first revealed it in Thessalonians, which by all accounts, was Paul's very first Epistles.
Edward's pre-Darby rapture statements are increasingly recognized by the scholarly world. Burnham in his Oxford University Ph.D. thesis said,"Darby was certainly not the first theologian to advance pretribulational premillennialism. As a recent study has revealed, Morgan Edwards, the founder of Brown University in Rhode Island, has articulated the concept during the eighteenth century, well before Darby and contemporaries". A copy of Morgan Edward's writings is on file at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Even though Edward's view of the Rapture is similar at many points to what Darby developed, there does not appear to be any reliance by John Nelson Darby on American sources. It is interesting that Edwards developed his view in Great Britain, but he does not appear to have left any traces of it behind.
Morgan Edwards rejected the Romanist "allegorical" approach to interpreting the Bible. He stated, "Miserable work do the Antimillenarians make of these texts." Edwards was writing 175 years before the Ottoman Empire's hold on the land of Israel and 200 years before the establishment of the modern state of Israel, yet he knew that these things would happen. In 1744, Edwards virtually described almost to the detail what would take place after 1917.
As I have shown in this series, a history of the Rapture is much more sophisticated and varied than one might initially think. That comes as a result of the deceivers that blame it on MacDonald and Darby. The Pseudo-Ephraem document, Brother Dolcino, and Morgan Edwards could very well fit into some form of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine. We can't forget the fact that most preachers do not leave a permanent record of their teachings. From Paul's day to ours, the vast majority of sound preachers have been common men as opposed to scholars. Typically, they are not writers and do not publish books. In the record of Church history, we have only a tiny glimpse into what was really happening, and that glimpse is based on the pittance that has survived of the little that was ever recorded.
From all the surviving documents from the period between 100 AD and 360 AD, the Early Church was Pre-Tribulational, and it wasn't until we got to Saint Augustine where allegoricalism widely replaced the earlier view. Romanism was not kind toward dissenters and prior to Augustine, the method of interpretation was to interpret prophecy literally. They believed that Christ Jesus would return literally (and imminently), bind Satan, and establish a literal millennial kingdom on Earth. It is an interesting fact but Augustine, "the father of amillennialism", once believed in a literal millennium himself. He acknowledges that in his writings. Unfortunately, Augustine was seduced by the Alexandrian school of mysticism and philosophy. He would be right at home today among the major Protestant churches and his own Romanist institution.
The allegorical interpretation was invented by false teachers after the apostolic era as apostasy was growing and spreading toward the formation of the Roman Catholic Institution. A school was established at Alexandria, Egypt, which became the headquarters for the allegorical method of interpretation. Egypt was a place where false teachings proliferated in the first century after Christ's crucifixion. Clement, who headed the school from 190 AD to 202 AD corrupted the Christian faith by mixing it with the worldly philosophy and allegoricalism of Philo. He taught many false doctrines, including purgatory, and believed that most men would eventually be saved even though Jesus said only a few would be -(ref, Matthew 7:14). Clement saw the literal interpretation only as a starting point for interpretation. Clement was followed by Origen (185-254 AD) was one of the chief fathers of allegoricalism. He led the school at Alexandria from 202 AD to 232 AD. Origen was laden with heresies. Like Clement, he mixed the truth of the Bible with pagan philosophy. He taught that celibacy was a holy state above marriage, contrary to the teaching of the Apostles. Just look at the damage celibacy has done for the Roman Catholic Institution over the centuries. Origen taught that the Holy Spirit was the first creature made by God, and denied the full Godhead of Jesus. He did not believe that the Scriptures are wholly inspired by God.
Origen claimed that "the Scriptures have little use to those who understand them literally". He described the literal meaning of Scripture as "bread" and encouraged the student to go beyond this to the "wine" of allegoricalism, whereby one can become intoxicated and transported to heavenly realms. Origen's commentaries contain a wealth of fanciful interpretation, that abound in "heretical revisals of Scripture", states Frederick Nolan, 'Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate'.
Clement and Origen were bad influences upon Saint Augustine for sure. Augustine lived from 354 to 430 AD, and is considered one of the major fathers of the Roman Catholic Institution. I have specifically NOT referred to Catholicism as a "church" because it falsely represents the Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ. I could list as many as a hundred heresies and false teachings of the Roman Catholic Institution throughout its existence even to this present day. Augustine invented the Inquisition that has been used by the Roman Catholic Institution against Bible believers for more than 1,000 years. Several German historian observed that Augustine's teaching "contains the germ of the whole system of spiritual despotism, intolerance, and persecution, even to the court of the Inquisition." Augustine instituted fierce persecution against the peace-loving, Bible-believing Donatists who were striving to maintain pure Biblical churches. He taught that "the sacraments", such as baptism, were the means of salvation. He taught that Mary did not commit sin. He taught the heresy of purgatory. He was one of the fathers of infant baptism, claiming that unbaptized infants are lost and calling all who rejected infant baptism "infidels" and "cursed". He exalted the authority of the Church over that of Scripture. He "institutionalized" the idea of "Tradition" in church authority.
When Martin Luther and others broke from the Romanists during the Reformation, one of the errors they brought with them was the allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and especially prophecy.
Do not let anyone rob you of a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, nor of the Bible itself. A full third of the Bible is prophecy. It can only be understood through a literal interpretation first. We think of the great Messianic prophecies of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Further, if we do not interpret prophecy according to the "normal literal" method, there is no way to determine for sure what it means. A literal interpretation of prophecy results in the doctrine that the Church is not Israel, and that Israel's covenants will yet be fulfilled after the Church is gone.
May blessings abound you in the coming of the Lord Christ Jesus, when He calls "come up hither"!