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33. RAPTURE AND TRIBULATION HISTORY by Rev. Thomas W. Sheehan

Rapture comes from a vision (private revelation)not history or the Bible. In the spring of 1830, Margaret began having visions of Jesus catching-up in the air a select group of believers before the time of the Anti-Christ. These visions marked the first time in Christian History that anyone ever split the Second Coming into two separate stages. Soon the MacDonald’s Presbyterian Minister began to strongly preach against them. In time, the McDonalds were disassociated from their Church.


Why do people believe in rapture when it was not believed in the Church before 1828 and did not come from the Bible, but came from private revelation? 

In 1828, in Port Glasgow, Scotland four of the five MacDonald brothers and sisters experienced Christian conversion and accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. The MacDonald household then became the setting for evenings filled with Bible study and prayer. Using no other books but the Bible and their own limited knowledge of End-Times, a teaching on Christ’s expected Millennial Coming and Reign soon emerged. For six agonizing months, the only family holdout was Margaret McDonald, a 15-year-old girl. Then she experienced conversion. In the spring of 1830, Margaret began having visions of Jesus catching-up in the air a select group of believers before the time of the Anti-Christ. These visions marked the first time in Christian History that anyone ever split the Second Coming into two separate stages. Soon the MacDonald’s Presbyterian Minister began to strongly preach against them. In time, the McDonalds were disassociated from their Church. 

Another element in creating The Rapture & Tribulation into a new doctrine involved the Rev. Edward Irving in London, England. A powerful preacher and a licensed Presbyterian Minister 1815, he was strongly influenced by the 1,260 day/year theory. In 1826 he adopted the theory, that a corrupt Roman Catholic Priesthood would be the future Anti-Christ. He also increasingly emphasized Non-Denominationalism. In 1828 he concluded the end-time would witness an outpouring of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Soon tongues and End-time prophesying were heard regularly in his London Church. Thus, he became the father of modem Pentecostalism. 

In 1830 he sent a group of observers to meet Margaret MacDonald. In the September, 1830 issue of the Morning Watch, her distinctive teachings were set forth as accepted prophecy. By 1832, these and other teachings led to his dismissal from the Presbyterian Church. He then founded the Catholic Apostolic Church, in London. His followers were called Irvingites. The Irvingite Church preached as doctrine, a distinction between the ‘Epiphany’ (Now known as Rapture) and the Parousia’ (Second Coming after the Tribulation). 

The next element was a man named John Darby, an Anglican Clergyman who left that Church to found the Plymouth Brethren in about 1828-1830 AD. Ordained for the Anglican Church in Ireland in 1825, he soon left the priesthood. Between 1828 to 838 he helped the Brethren movement grow in the United Kingdom. Among the doctrines taught was non­denominationalism. 

Hearing of the new visions and the new teachings proposed by Margaret MacDonald, he journeyed to Scotland to listen to her. Then he began to preach, as his own, her new end-time teachings. In 1850, he claimed that he discovered these teachings while studying 1 Thessalonians 2,1-2; in 1830. The teaching literally leaped at him from the Bible text. 

The Plymouth Brethren adopted this new teaching on the end-time as true prophecy. Many of the distinctive teachings of The Brethren, such as Dispensationalism, Pre­Millennialism & Creationism, have been adopted by modern fundamentalism. One of The Brethren’s most disruptive stances has also been adopted by modem fundamentalism. This is, to actively seek converts from the established Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant Churches. 

As originally proposed by The Brethren, The Rapture, Tribulation & Millennium events are as follows. The ‘Epiphany’ (Rapture) can be expected at any moment and may be in secret. All true Christian believers, living and dead, will be carried to Heaven.  Then the judgments of God, as foretold in Revelations, will fall upon the earth. During this time the Anti-Christ will reign and be overthrown. A faithful Jewish remnant will witness to Christ during the Tribulation. Then Jesus will come in Glory (Second Coming) and take possession of the earth for 1,000 years and make Jerusalem His capital. The martyred Tribulation saints will rise and go to heaven. The faithful Jewish remnant will live on earth with Jesus. The Millennium will end in a Great Rebellion led by Satan. Jesus will defeat His enemies and the wicked will be judged. The Old Testament Saints, The Raptured Saints and those martyred during The Tribulation will then descend from heaven to Reign forever on the New Earth. Though little changed in its basic outline by later Fundamentalism. The Scenario of events has become more dramatic & detailed as the 20~ Century has progressed. With the discovery of Nuclear War, the interpretations were greatly enhanced. 

Both friend and foe admit that the Rapture & Tribulation is a new teaching, and not a rediscovery of an old Doctrine. IN 1834 AD, John Darby wrote: “We must pursue it (New End-Time Teaching) steadily; it works like leaven, and its fruit is by no means seen yet; I do not mean leaven as ill, but the thoughts are new, and people ‘s minds work on them, and all the old habits are against their feelings... “In 1983 AD, in ‘The Rapture’ Hal Lindsey states: “The one authority is the Word of God, and we are not confined by the straight jacket of tradition.” He claims that this stance has permitted the believer to interpret the Bible anew, and then he quotes the visions of Margaret MacDonald as his prophetic authority! Then he argues (though not convincingly) for some connection to the teachings of the early Fathers, whose TRADITION testimony he has already flatly rejected. One thing is clear! The doctrine of the Rapture & Tribulation is an entirely new and modern teaching! 

How did this system of dispensations get from Darby to Hal Lindsey and the present day?  Darvey had a friend by the name of Schofield. Schofield, who was a lawyer, came up with a Bible and used Darvey’s notes. It was called then and now the Schofield Bible. Prior to this Catholics had notes in there Bibles but not Protestant because it would have been considered scandalous to put mans words with Gods word. The Schofield Bible became the hottest selling Bible among Protestants. This system of dispensations did not exist prior to 1830. 

So what happened is a guy, John Alexander Campbell, studied this and the Bible teaches the Bible that you convert and you get Baptized, and you have to have to have communion, and you have one Church. So he started the One Church called the Church of Christ (fundamentalist).   And then the Church of Christ got to fighting on whether you could have musical instruments in the Church.  The other Church that came out of this is the Disciples of Christ called “Christian Church” ultra-liberals.