- A man named Darby originated the doctrine of the Rapture.
- It began with the prophecy of a teenage girl.
- It is only an American doctrine.
- The doctrine is only about 150 years old.
Let’s take a look at these claims. (Some of the following points were gleaned from the writings of Tim LaHaye.)
Darby was born in London in 1800 and was trained in law, having graduated with highest honors in 1819 and later became an Anglican minister, who then became an evangelist. His historians say he became a powerful preacher and was supported by Baptists, Methodists and others as he preached a Pre-Tribulation Rapture in Europe, Canada and America.
Darby originated neither the doctrine nor the term “RAPTURE,” for it is evident from Scripture the early church expected the Rapture any time. Also, there are records of the term rapture being used as early as the 17th century by a minister named Joseph Mede.
Dr. James Brooks, an outstanding Presbyterian pastor of Darby’s day, said he was one of the greatest Bible teachers of his day.
Darby did more than any other person to spread the belief in the Rapture, and he based his messages squarely on the Scriptures.
Great preachers like D. L. Moody in America and C. I. Scofield in England heard his Pre-Tribulation messages and embraced his Rapture position.
A Teenage Girl Originated the Rapture Doctrine
This point is hardly worthy of discussion. The argument is that a 15-year-old girl gave a prophecy in 1832 in Edward Irving’s church in Scotland, giving rise to the Rapture position. This seems to be groundless and a pernicious charge.
The Rapture — An American Doctrine?
Praise God it IS an American doctrine, but it is also believed worldwide. I do find the America-only concept fairly widespread among believers from Europe.
Some say the Rapture belief is American escapism; that is, we believe in the Rapture before the Tribulation in order to escape that awful time.
I read in a secular European magazine where the writer gave belief in the Rapture the same credence he did to flying saucers! No, belief in the Rapture does not equate with flying saucers. It is much more out-of-this-world than that!
Concerning the Rapture being an American doctrine, a Christian journalist in Jerusalem wrote: “Many Christians (especially my fellow Americans) simply won’t face the possibility that we believers might experience some of the end-time upheaval described in the Bible.”
He continued, “Yes, let us always be ready to meet the Lord in the air. But let us also be ready to be persecuted, and even die, for His name’s sake, for He is entirely worthy.”
The Pre-Tribulation belief is not a means of escaping what follows. Thank God, we will escape the Tribulation, but we don’t just sit and wait for the Rapture to come.
The Rapture Doctrine Is Only About 150 Years Old
This is not true. The early church supported the Rapture in the first century and the New Testament writers discussed it often.
Darby helped resurrect the doctrine and was studious enough and committed to the Scriptures enough to present it logically. He put concepts in order which we follow today, and each of the following points has strong scriptural support:
- The Rapture
- The Tribulation
- The Second Coming
- The Millennium
- The New Heaven and Earth
The question is, if you and I don’t put events and Biblical references in the order that we teach and preach, where will we put them?
Are we going to ignore hundreds of passages relating to those times just because God used a man to emphasize them?
We certainly will not! We will prayerfully search the Scriptures ourselves and apply them as the Holy Spirit leads.
The root of almost all the misunderstanding of prophetic Scripture is because some people spiritualize the references; they say the passage has a different meaning from what it says.
Darby and others believed in and practiced a literal interpretation of God’s Word, and that is the only method that makes sense.