"You've probably heard that the pretribulation
rapture view was published by a Rev. Morgan Edwards in 1788 and also by
a Medieval writer called Pseudo-Ephraem 1000 years earlier.
The Edwards claim (promoted by John Bray and copied by
Frank Marotta, Thomas Ice, Tim LaHaye etc.) is based on a 1980 book by
Thomas McKibbens and Kenneth Smith, while the claim for Pseudo-Ephraem
(promoted by Grant Jeffrey and copied by Thomas Ice, J. R. Church,
Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Chuck Missler, Dave Hunt, Hal Lindsey etc.)
rests on a 1985 book by Paul Alexander.
Not only have these promoters covered up and twisted what
McKibbens/Smith and Alexander have written, but they've also concealed
and perverted Morgan Edwards' and Pseudo-Ephraem's own words!
Let's focus first on Morgan Edwards (hereafter: M.E.).
Promoters see a pretrib rapture in the following words by
"...the dead saints will be raised, and the
living changed at Christ's 'appearing in the air' (I Thes. iv, 17); and
this will be about three years and a half before the millennium...."
If promoters had been sure of their pretrib claim, they
never would have had to collusively cover up the following M.E.
statements that contradict their claim:
On p. 14 M.E. described the "Turkish or Ottoman empire"
(which began around 1300 A.D.) as the "beast that started out of the
earth" (Rev. 13's second beast). (Since Bray etc. repeatedly claim that
M.E. had only a "futurist" outlook, without which M.E. couldn't have
logically expected a pretrib rapture, Bray deliberately skips over the
historicism in M.E.'s "Ottoman" remark - historicism being the belief
that the tribulation, covering many centuries, began at some point in
the distant past.)
On p. 20 M.E. wrote that the "wicked one" (II Thess. 2:8)
has "hitherto assumed no higher title than 'the vicar general of Christ
on earth'" and described "Antichrist" as "popery" and a "succession of
persons." (Promoters emphasize M.E.'s comments about the "last" Pope
and ignore M.E.'s view that "popery" had "hitherto" (for many
centuries) been playing the role of II Thess. 2:8's "wicked one" while
wearing a "mask" (as he put it) - a first beast that historicism could
easily see during the second beast's reign!)
Since historicism - and not preterism or futurism - is the
only one of these three schools which often thinks "years" when reading
"days" in the Bible, it isn't surprising to find such year/day
historicism in M.E.
On p. 19, for example, while discussing Rev. 11's two
witnesses, M.E. says "there are no more than about 204 years between
now and their death: I should therefore expect that their appearance is
not far off." (Bray quotes M.E.'s very next sentence, on another
matter, but ignores this one! Could a futurist ever apply a couple of
centuries - instead of only 1260 days - to those witnesses?)
Something else. The authoritative 1980 book about M.E.
that inspired the claim promoted by Bray, Ice, LaHaye etc. never
classified M.E.'s view as "pretrib," or even remotely resembling it,
and the book's authorship had the same conclusion when later
interviewed by both phone and correspondence!
And when Thomas Ice's "Pre-Trib Perspectives" newsletter
(Sep./Oct., 1995) ran his own article promoting Edwards as a teacher of
"pretribulationism." he couldn't find any of the heavyweight
authorities on Edwards, that he listed and quoted, evaluating that 18th
century pastor as a pretrib!
In light of the fact that Edwards embraced historicism
(which can see some future things yet to be fulfilled) and not pure
futurism (which sees no past tribulational fulfillment), it's easy to
believe that Edwards, like some other historicists of that period, saw
a three-and-a-half-year period at the end of a 1260-year tribulation -
the same percentage a futurist would have if he were to see a period of
three and a half days at the end of a 1260-day tribulation; such a
percentage would of course be a posttrib view!
At least I don't have to juggle or cover up historical
data to come to such a conclusion!
But now it's time to analyze Pseudo-Ephraem (hereafter:
P-E), the name attached by scholars to manuscripts that were possibly,
but not probably, written by the well-known Ephraim the Syrian who
lived from 306-373 A.D.
And what's the discovery in P-E's early Medieval sermon on
the end of the world that's led pretrib promoters to see pretrib in it?
It's basically these words:
"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." A pretrib rapture is seen by promoters in the
phrase "taken to the Lord."
It needs to be emphasized that pretrib in P-E has been
palmed off on unsuspecting Christians by promoters seeing rapture
aspects in P-E's sermon where none exist and by covering up such
aspects where they do exist in his 10-section sermon!
In Section 2, P-E says that the only event that's
"imminent" is "the advent of the wicked one" (that is, Antichrist).
Nevertheless, Grant Jeffrey in his 1995 book, FINAL WARNING, had the
audacity to claim that P-E "began with the Rapture using the word
'imminent'" and added in the next sentence that "Ephraem used the word
'imminent' to describe the Rapture."
(If he and other P-E promoters can look at a coming of
Antichrist and see a coming of "Christ," is it any wonder that in his
endtime view folks will look at Antichrist and see "Christ"?)
Ephraim the Syrian, reportedly P-E's inspiration, said the
same thing (SERMO ASCETICUS, I): "Nothing remains then, except that the
coming of our enemy, Antichrist, appear...." (Nobody's ever found even
a trace of pretrib in this earlier work!)
In the before-the-tribulation sections, P-E mentions
neither a descent of Christ, nor a shout, nor an angelic voice, nor a
trumpet of God, nor a resurrection, nor the dead in Christ, nor a
rapture, nor meeting Christ.
So where does P-E place the rapture? The answer is found
in his last section (10) where he writes that after "the sign of the
Son of Man" when "the Lord shall appear with great power," the "angelic
trumpet precedes him, which shall sound and declare: Arise, O sleeping
ones, arise, meet Christ, because the hour of judgment has come!" (Like
Morgan Edwards and Manuel Lacunza, Pseudo-Ephraem has the nasty,
non-pretrib habit of blending the rapture with the final advent!)
In the July/Sep., 1995 BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, Dallas
Seminary's journal, Thomas Ice and his co-author Timothy Demy pulled
off one of the worst revisionisms of P-E ever: when summarizing Section
10 they carefully deleted what P-E included between "trumpet" and
"judgment" (deleted the distinctive I Thess. 4 aspects in that posttrib
setting), giving unsuspecting readers this utterly misleading
condensation: "A trumpet will sound, calling forth the dead to
But P-E says much more, as can be seen; he places the
resurrection of those who sleep in Jesus and the rapture of those who
meet Jesus (details found only in I Thess. 4) at the Matt. 24 coming!
A moment ago I said that Edwards and Lacunza had the same
rapture/advent blending. Here's evidence. Edwards in his 1788 work (pp.
21-22) speaks of "the son of man in the clouds, coming to raise the
dead saints and change the living....The signs of his coming, in the
heavens, will be 'the trump of God [I Thess. 4:16], vapour and smoke,
which will darken the sun and moon [Acts 2:19,20]....'"
Lacunza's 1812 work THE COMING OF MESSIAH IN GLORY AND
MAJESTY (Vol. I, p. 113) declares: "...you will find St. Paul and the
Gospel speaking one and the same thing: He shall send his angels and
they shall gather his elect from the four winds; who can be no other
than those very ones who are in Christ, who sleep in Jesus." (A few
have assumed that there's pretrib in an earlier Catholic, Franciscus
Ribera, but in his 16th century Revelation commentary he viewed Rev.
12's "woman" in the tribulation as the Christian Church!)
But let's go back to Pseudo-Ephraem.
Dr. Paul Alexander, the leading authority whose book
inspired the P-E claim, is portrayed in Jeffrey's book, FINAL WARNING,
as "perhaps the most authoritative scholar on the writings of the early
Byzantine Church." But this misleading statement, designed to make
readers think that Professor Alexander supports the P-E claim, covers
up the fact that this world famous scholar sees not even a smidgen of
pretrib in the same Medieval writer!
In fact, Alexander writes that the phrase "taken to the
Lord" (which has become a bonanza for pretrib history revisionists)
means "participate at least in some measure in beatitude." While
Jeffrey and Ice do include this "beatitude" phrase, all P-E promoters
carefully avoid revealing that the Catholic doctrine of "beatitude,"
according to the NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, has to do with "the highest
acts of virtue that can be performed in this life" - works on earth and
not being raptured off earth! (Elsewhere in his sermon P-E repeats the
importance of doing "penance," because of "our sins," so that church
members will be "sustained" during the tribulation!)
In fact (again), Alexander has two summaries (textual and
outline), in chronological order, of P-E's endtime events. And guess
what. Alexander demonstrates both times that P-E saw only one future
coming ("Second Coming of Christ" for the "punishment of the
Antichrist") which follows (!) the great tribulation ("tribulatio magna
lasting three and a half years") - claim-smashing summaries that
self-serving promoters, with malice aforethought, have jointly swept
under their "secret rapture" rug!
Since "Dr." Thomas Ice is the most rabid pretrib defender
who's long promoted the (false) claims for John Darby and, more
recently, Edwards and Pseudo-Ephraem, and at the same time covered up
or twisted the (true) claims for Margaret Macdonald and the Irvingites,
it's fitting to quote the first sentence of a recent news item:
"WorldNetDaily reported on March 7 that a Texas district
court has ordered the Tyndale Theological Seminary to pay fines
totalling $170,000 for issuing 34 theological degrees without receiving
approval from the state education agency."
This is the Fort Worth seminary that gave the title of
"Dr." to Ice - which is at least an improvement over "Dr." C. I.
Scofield who, in the 1890's, began deceitfully adding "Dr." to his name
instead of waiting for some institution to confer it upon him!
Well, I didn't mean to write a book here; I merely wanted
to share some long covered up facts about pretrib dispensationalism. My
300-page book THE RAPTURE PLOT (with footnotes, index, bibliography,
appendices, plus great commendations from leaders, and obtainable by
calling 800-967-7345) has the sort of info I've just outlined plus
much, much more.
If you decide to get a copy of my PLOT book, I won't have
to tell you about the rest of the bizarre history of the 171-year-old,
British-born pretrib rapture view.
I won't tell you that the same promoters have used the
same unscrupulous, "twistorical" methods to try to discredit Margaret
Macdonald, the real pretrib originator in early 1830, and cover up the
fact that other partial rapturists who followed her and taught the same
thing have all been classified as pretribs!
I won't tell you that promoters who claim that John Darby
was pretrib as early as 1827 won't admit that he then had only his
"heavenly church" theme, that he was still clearly posttrib as late as
a Dec., 1830 article (he was waiting "to meet Him in the air in order
to His judging of the nations"), that he wasn't clearly pretrib before
1839, that in 1839 Darby's only pretrib basis was Rev. 12's "man child"
symbol (which symbol had been Edward Irving's pretrib basis since
1831!), that in his 1991 book (p. 100) R. A. Huebner admitted that his
source for his 1827 claim for Darby could just as easily refer to
something completely un-rapturesque, and that Ice since 1991 has
covered this up and continues to declare, while searing his conscience,
that Huebner "documents" his belief that Darby was pretrib in 1827!
I won't tell you that all of Darby's so-called "thoughts"
which promoters for generations have claimed led him to pretrib
(thoughts like the "Gentile parenthesis," "Church/Israel dichotomy,"
and the "literal method") were taught by others much earlier and that
he subtly plagiarized them! (Dispensationalist scholars must have known
that airing even a tiny fraction of this would have been a deathblow to
I won't tell you that throughout most of the 1800's the
leading church historians - whether Irvingite or (Plymouth) Brethren -
overwhelmingly credited the Macdonald/Irvingite orbit with pretrib;
none credited Darby!
I won't tell you that in 1880, a year after his Christian
conversion, C. I. Scofield was in jail in St. Louis for forgery (he'd
stolen his mother-in-law's life savings by means of a real estate scam;
would most non-Christian crooks do this?), that after he deserted his
wife and children she divorced him in 1883 and he remarried three
months later and covered everything up, and that as late as 1899 he
still owed thousands of dollars he'd stolen 20 years earlier and had
been writing phony IOU's to keep from paying back the money!
I won't tell you that after Darby's death in 1882, the
editor of his many books, William Kelly, plotted to steal credit for
pretrib away from the Macdonald/Irvingite connection and give it
posthumously to Darby, that he achieved this between 1889 and 1903 by
changing and covering up portions of early Irvingite and Brethren
documents, and that 20th century British and American publishers have
conspired to continue this historical revisionism in order to enjoy
phenomenal sales of pretrib rapture material!
And I won't tell you that during the past century and a
half, some of the most influential pretrib rapture books, by British as
well as American authors, have been filled with sloppy scholarship and,
what's worse, breathtaking amounts of plagiarism and even occultic
teachings mixed in with evangelical theology!
Or that my PLOT book and my later book THE THREE R'S
reveal, with comparison quotes and in more or less chronological order,
embarrassing plagiarism in writings by John Darby, Joseph Seiss, E. W.
Bullinger, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Merrill Unger, Jerry Falwell, Ed
Dobson, Ed Hindson, Charles Ryrie, David Jeremiah, C. C. Carlson, Paul
Tan, Chuck Missler, Jack Van Impe, and the Calvary Chapel Movement for
Finally, let me say that although I've been researching
rapture roots more than 30 years now, I've been into computers only a
relatively short time. The discovery of the extent to which
misinformation about the pretrib origin has been circling the earth at
computer speed still boggles my mind!
But authors are only part of the problem. After all, if an
author gets royalties of, say, 10 percent, the other 90 percent goes to
the publisher - which means that publishers can have much more
incentive to keep churning out bestselling books that are filled with
historical error and even deliberate deception simply because they
receive far more money than the authors!
Which leads me to give you some of my reactions to
publishers that are less than pleasant. After I gave proof to a
well-known publisher in the Chicago area that one of its authors had
plagiarized one of my books, I received a sympathetic letter from the
publisher expressing concern; but no changes to my knowledge were made
in the dishonest book which was kept in print, and neither my publisher
nor I was ever financially reimbursed.
I know a pretrib book publisher in California that was
caught publishing a pretrib book that was a huge plagiarism of a book
that had come out several years earlier. After being confronted by the
other publisher, the offending publisher promised to withdraw the book,
which it did for a while. But sometime later the offending book was
quietly reissued with the same old plagiarism but with a new book title
to avoid detection!
In recent years Hal Lindsey has learned what publishers
have always known, that there's far more money if you can be your own
publisher or at least control the publishing of your own books. If a
person looks closely at his 1999 book, VANISHED INTO THIN AIR
(published by the same Western Front Ltd. which was, oddly enough, his
"neighbor" when his home was in Palos Verdes, California), he discovers
that more than 200 pages (out of 396 pages) are virtually carbon copies
of corresponding pages in his 1983 book THE RAPTURE - with no "update"
or "revised" notice included!
This is robbery on a grand scale for
unsuspecting buyers who've been assured that VANISHED is a "new" book!
Hal has done the same nervy thing with several of his books, something
that's allowed him to live in million-dollar-plus homes and drive cars
And what about Lindsey's THERE'S A NEW WORLD COMING which
Harvest House Publishers has owned and been republishing for years?
During the same time Lindsey has been peddling his reportedly "new"
APOCALYPSE CODE, much of which is word-for-word the same as the Harvest
House book! And there's no notice of "simultaneous publishing" in
either book! Think of the feelings of customers who buy Lindsey's
version only to find out that it's largely a mirror image of the other
publisher's version which they had bought previously! Talk about greed!
And then there's Tim LaHaye. His 1992 book NO FEAR OF THE
STORM, published by Multnomah Press Books, has an entire chapter
entitled "MacPherson's Vendetta." Relying on miscopied secondhand
sources that in turn miscopied still earlier sources, he gives the
impression that my decades of rapture roots research is my revenge for
the troubles pretrib caused my family in the 1950's including my
expulsion from Biola in downtown Los Angeles. (My mother went to be
with the Lord not long after I was "raptured away" from L.A.) But
LaHaye's "crystal ball" is cracked because I didn't even wonder about
the pretrib origin, or start any research on it, until two decades
later - long after the chief troublemakers had been off the scene and
Since my origin research has never had any reason to hide
or twist any historical facts, my practice in my eight book titles has
always been to give proper credit and list sources when quoting or
discussing others including pretrib critics. In light of LaHaye's
chapter about me, maybe he (or Multnomah) can explain why he doesn't
list any of my books in his footnotes or even his bibliography!
But his bibliography does list John Bray's 1982 pretrib
origin booklet, containing only 34 pages of "origin" text, even though
LaHaye has denounced Bray's claim that Lacunza taught pretrib (the same
Lacunza that Bray has long since de-emphasized!) and even though Bray's
little booklet is packed with miscopying errors, misspelled names, and
even two instances of his plagiarism! How fair is it for LaHaye to
discuss me at length without listing my books and publishers so that
readers can learn what I've actually written?
The same LaHaye book (reprinted in 1998 as RAPTURE UNDER
ATTACK) is filled with mountains of copying errors and missing
footnotes, and his inclusion of Margaret Macdonald's short 1830
revelation account has 48 missing words - the same 48 words that Thomas
Ice somehow left out (which changed the meaning) when he reproduced it
three years earlier!
Why is it that Multnomah and other pretrib publishers
almost never make any changes whenever errors and dishonesty in their
books are pointed out to them? Don't they have time or money for
necessary proofreading? Don't they have any self-respect? Don't they
One happy exception to publishing dishonesty is Thomas
Nelson Publishers. After I convinced that company, with a stack of
photocopies of marked pages, that David Jeremiah's and C. C. Carlson's
ESCAPE THE COMING NIGHT (1990) is a massive plagiarism of Lindsey's
THERE'S A NEW WORLD COMING, a top TNP official sent me a letter, part
of which revealed that "we at Thomas Nelson are very concerned about
this matter. Accordingly, we are destroying all our current inventory
of this title and will not reprint the book. Thank you for bringing
this matter to our attention." (Anyone wishing a copy of this TNP
letter can send a SASE and request it from me: Dave MacPherson, Box
1226, Monticello, Utah 84535.)
But as I've shown, many pretrib publishers are a far cry
from Thomas Nelson. Their bottom line consists of three things: money,
money, and money! They don't care that pretrib is less than 200 years
old and that it didn't take over American evangelicalism much before
"Doctor" Scofield's Bible in 1909! They don't care that the late Corrie
ten Boom stated in a published article that pretrib leaders are "the
false teachers Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days" and
that pretrib caused the deaths of "millions" of Chinese Christians when
the Communists took over China! And they don't care that the dishonest
pretrib theory they peddle for money in fact makes them accessories to
the past, present, and future mass-murder of fellow believers!
Since the same evanjellyfish publishers don't care, I
intend from now on to focus as much on their business practices and
personal lives as I have on past and present pretrib authors. If anyone
can send me documented evidence in this regard, I'll be happy to share
it on the internet and in other ways.
But I really must stop. If this article has whetted your
curiosity, call 800-967-7345 in South Carolina and get my book THE
RAPTURE PLOT, the most detailed and documented book on the
rapture's astonishing and long hidden history. Or you can order it
through online bookstores such as armageddonbooks.com.
As a historian I confess that I am no expert on where the
different kinds of "wrath" (e.g. Satan's wrath and God's wrath) should
be placed on prophecy charts. To me, a really important "wrath"
question is whether or not the rapture will happen before the coming of
pretrib wrath against those who expose pretrib dishonesty! "
1. The Pseudo Ephraem sermon was written by an unknown person (hence
"pseudo"), date and integrity unknown. Not a 'solid' source
for serious scholarship! See Tim Warner's expose of the Pseudo
Ephraem claim. Also his article on the Morgan
2. See my article The Origin Of The
Pretribulational Rapture Theory for some other 'theories'.