or, Stalking the Great Apostasy
To say the least, to speak of a Rapture of the Church, its timing with respect to the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the relationship of Christian eschatology to the Rosicrucian Order will require some heavy lifting to get in context. The least having now been said, if the subject is of interest the reader is invited to scan what follows.
Once a framework has been laid out, the back story of Rosicrucian involvement in disseminating theological ideas generally and pre-tribulational rapture doctrines specifically is what will be of most compelling interest. It is the shadow of a monster: one that molds itself to the vicissitudes of history, probing destiny for a time it can take up a throne over all mankind, accept the worship of mankind, and usurp God himself. If these things are close upon us, as they seem to be, this is a subject of vital import.
According to Theopedia, “Premillennialism was the most widely held view of the earliest centuries of the church.” During these years this was known as Chiliasm, but today it is called “historic” premillennialism to distinguish it from a new and modified “dispensational” premillennialism that came into existence much later. The Chiliasm of the early Church was not a systematized teaching, but a constellation of thoughts surrounding scriptures believed to describe a yet-future thousand year reign of peace and prosperity following the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth, during which time the devil would be prevented from influencing mankind. This concept is often called the millennial reign of Christ. The Chiliasm of the early church is called premillennial because it conceives Christ’s return as preceding it.
Chiliasm was not the only perspective during these early centuries, however. Amillennialism was also popular. Lonnie Kent York, in his History of Millennialism, cites Louis Berkhof as saying:
It had at least as many advocates as Chiliasm among the Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, supposed to have been the heyday of Chiliasm. It has ever since been the view most widely accepted, is the only view that is either expressed or implied in the great historical Confessions of the Church, and has always been the prevalent view in Reformed circles. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 708)
The hope of a future Chiliast paradise mostly died out beginning in the 4th century as Constantine ended the persecution of Christians, making Christianity the official religion of the realm. With this political change, historic premillennialism became less needed by the people as a source of hope. Amillennialism then came to the fore as a more immediate hope within the context of a Christianized society, and since it was an existing doctrine of the Church. In particular it was popularized in the West through the writings of St. Augustine. Amillennialism taught that the scriptures describing a millennial reign of Christ did not refer to a yet-future earthly reign of Christ, but allegorically represented the power of Jesus Christ in the present, through believers in this present world, to bind the devil from working his evil spells and machinations.
A New Premillennialism
After the 4th century, premillennialism was little seen again until after the Reformation. The Anabaptists of Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands, had a form of it beginning in the 16th century (John Calvin believed in Amillennialism as do the Roman Catholic Church). In the 17th century some American Puritans took up the view. But it did not gain serious popularity until, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was revived in the British Isles and from there spread to America in two major forms. One became the dispensationalism of John Nelson Darby, and the other the millenarian restorationist movement of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs).
The new premillennialism was born out of the Masonic humanist utopianism of the 1700s. Within the Reformist churches this earlier utopianism had expressed itself as a doctrine called postmillennialism (Postmillennialism – What is it?). Postmillennialism taught that the unified power of the Church and State would so thoroughly Christianize society as to bind the powers of the devil throughout the world, effecting a millennial reign under the Christians (a golden age of the Church); and only then would Christ return physically to the earth. This was a utopianized form of amillennialism. However by the end of the 1700s Napoleon and the enlightenment was so disrupting the Christendom of western Europe that postmillennialism was being re-thought. It was from these currents that the new premillennialism emerged.
As dispensational premillennialism took its form, the thoughts and activities of J. N. Darby (1800-1882) stood out to such a degree that the theology came to be known as Darbyism.
This form differed from the views held by the early church. The general framework was the same, although the new form was more systematically developed. Darby’s dispensationalism taught that God has organized human history into seven successive administrations, or “dispensations”, each having its own criteria for salvation. Conceptually the dispensations are the ages of innocence, conscience, human governance, promise, law, grace, and the kingdom. Historically they are:
- The garden of Eden;
- Fall of Adam to the Flood;
- Noah to Abraham;
- Abraham to Moses;
- Moses to the Birth of Christ
- The Resurrection until the Second Coming of Christ;
- Earthly reign of Christ.
Five corollaries arise from this construct when it is applied to contemporary human affairs and to prophecy:
- The Jews and the Christians are two different peoples before God, with two different destinies and who come under God’s care during separate dispensational timeframes;
- The Christian dispensation will end seven years prior to the return of Christ, at the start of the reign of the Antichrist: which temporarily returns the world to God’s dispensation for the Jewish people;
- This seven years is commenced by the taking up of Christians out of the world (the rapture), and the rise of the Antichrist who will rule the whole world during this time;
- Prior to or during Antichrist’s seven year reign, the Jewish temple of Solomon will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount, and at the mid-point of the seven years Antichrist will take his seat in the temple and declare himself God;
- At the end of this seven year dispensation, Jesus Christ will physically return to the earth and after subduing the forces of Antichrist gathered at the battle of Armageddon, will rule the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years.
The biggest single difference this system has from historic premillennialism is the pre-tribulational rapture. This is a doctrine that the historic pre-millennialists never held.
The Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Millennium
The dispensationalists’ pre-tribulation rapture does not stand by itself. It is the first side of a two-sided coin. The flip side is that the moment the rapture occurs and the seven-year reign of the Antichrist begins, the Christian dispensation ends and a new dispensation centered on the conversion of natural Jews begins.
The Theopedia website clarifies the unique dispensationalist view of the timing of the rapture:
Classic dispensationalists [ala C. I. Scofield and Lewis Sperry Chafer] are pre-tribulationists. They believe that the second coming of Christ will occur in two stages separated by a 7-year period of tribulation. At the first he will return in the air to rescue those who are Christians at that time [the rapture]. Then [7 years later, after the reign of the Antichrist] Christ will return to the earth. He will defeat the Antichrist, and rescue the Jews and those who have converted to Christianity during the tribulation period1.
By contrast, historic premillennialists would be generally categorized as “Post-tribulationists” because … they hold that Christ will not return until the end of the Great tribulation and that Christians [will not be raptured beforehand, and] will suffer for the faith as they bring forth the final witness associated with the 5th seal of the book of Revelation.” (Premillennialism)
The footnote in the above describes the unique dispensationalist view of what the rapture means for the Jewish people. It is thought to confer upon them a special status during the seven year reign of the antichrist and in the ensuing 1,000 year kingdom of Christ. Both historic and dispensational premillennialists teach that as a result of the fearsome events during the Tribulation, the people of Israel will undergo a national salvation. However the dispensationalists are alone in saying that God will remove his hand of restraint from the world by transporting Christians out of it before the Tribulation, thus reverting the world to the Old Testament dispensation in order to deal with the physical descendants of Abraham through the hardships they endure under the Antichrist.
And as for what follows this seven years, it is only the dispensationalists who give the Jewish race a special status during the millennium:
Israel will have a special function of service in the millennium that is different from that of the Church or saved Gentiles. … The Christians who reign with Christ [during the millennium] will all have been given eternal, glorified bodies, and will reign spiritually, while the Jews will own the world physically, and will live, marry, and die [although evincing incredible longevity], just as people have throughout the history of the world.” (http://www.gotquestions.org/dispensational-premillennialism.html)
At this point it should help to provide a graphical representation of the four major approaches to the millennium, from Introduction to the Four Views.
|Postmil.||Amil.||Historic premil.||Dispen. premil.|
|Great Commission fulfilled before 2nd Coming||
|Any earthly optimism for God’s kingdom||
|Literal 1000-year millennium||
|Christ returns after the millennium||
|Christ returns before the millennium||
|Saints rapture premil, unsaved resurrect after millen.||
|Radical law/grace, Israel/Church dichotomy||
Historic Circumstances of the re-Birth of Premillennialism
The modern roots of this 19th and 20th century dispensationalism begin in the Europe of the late 1700s, following the French Revolution and during the Napoleonic Wars. Longstanding traditions and institutions were being overturned all over the European continent, causing many to anticipate the start of a new epoch. Some even called Napoleon the Antichrist. When in 1798 Napoleon incarcerated the Pope and then in 1809 subjugated the Papal States, these events were thought of among Protestants as precursor to the establishment of the millennial reign of Christ (Napoleon the Beast and the repatriation of the Jews). This all brought about a revival of apocalyptic interest in the British Isles (reddit), and an anticipation that Great Britain if victorious would lead the world to Christ.
With the victory of Great Britain over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, these smoldering revivalist sentiments caught fire. The influential Baptist, Reverend Edward Bishop Elliot, an ardent historicist premillennialist, responded to these things by beginning, in 1837, work on his four volume Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical (published 1862). His work generated heated discussion. He defended the traditional historicist view of the Reformers that the Papacy was the Antichrist and had been working against the true believers in Jesus Christ since his death and resurrection. His work became the standard Baptist commentary on the book of Revelation and the Apocalypse. It taught, “the historicist view of eschatology that the book of Revelation covers history from the time of the apostle John up to the second advent of Christ (Edward Elliot Bishop).”
A PuritanDowloads.com abstract adds that Elliot was responding to Jesuit inspired Counter Reformational arguments that had been put forward by the Catholic Church. Commenting that all the major creeds of the Reformers were traditionally historicist, the abstract describes the Catholic effort to draw them back:
“The Counter Reformation is generally considered to have three aspects: the Jesuits, the Inquisition, and the Council of Trent. In view of the significance of the Protestant apocalyptic interpretation of history which prophetically pinpointed step by step the events covering the whole Christian era from the beginning to the end, it seems justifiable to suggest a fourth aspect, namely the praeteristic [Preterist] and futuristic interpretations launched by Catholic expositors as a counterattack (p. 47).” (PuritanDowloads.com abstract)
PuritanDowloads is saying that the Catholic Church wished, through the Jesuits, to feed the Reformers theological alternatives to the Reformation view that the Pope of Rome was on the side of the Antichrist. By the 1830s, one of these Jesuit-inspired theories, Futurism, had garnered enough acceptance among Protestant revivalists that Reverend Elliot specifically mentioned it in his preface to the fifth edition of his book:
When I first began to give attention to the subject some twenty years ago, it was the increasing prevalence among Christian men in our country of the Futurist system of Apocalyptic interpretation — a system which involved the abandonment of the opinion held by all the chief fathers and doctors of our Church respecting the Roman Popes and Popedom as the great intended antichristian power of Scripture-prophecy … . (PuritanDowloads.com)
A PuritanDowloads.com abstract adds that Elliot, by “conclusively proving a late date for the writing of the book of Revelation,” specifically dismantles the Catholic’s Jesuit inspired Counter Reformation argument that the prophecies about the Antichrist had already been fulfilled in 70 AD. This Catholic doctrine was called Peterism. The abstract continues that Elliot also destroys Futurism, another Jesuit inspired doctrine.
Darby versus Irving on the Rapture
Futurism branched during the revivals of the 1800s, taking the two major forms already mentioned above: Darby’s dispensationalism, and the millenarian restorationism of the JWs. These two forms sparked from two different sources – both of them revivalist. These sources were Darby and the Plymouth Brethren on the one hand, and Edward Irving and the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church on the other.
According to Wikipedia, some researchers – Samuel Prideaux Tregelles and Dave MacPherson notable among them – say that both doctrines arose from a single source: the revelatory utterance concerning the rapture, the tribulation, and the millennial reign, given in 1830 by a Scottish girl (at the age of 15), Margaret MacDonald. But an ApostasyNow! article, Margaret McDonald’s Vision in 1830, by Tricia Tillin, explains that there is confusion between this 1830 revelation received by MacDonald in Port Glasgow, Scotland, while home alone studying the scriptures, versus a prophetic utterance by a “Miss M.M.” given during an Irvingite church service in London in 1831 (Margaret McDonald’s Vision in 1830).” The Irvingite version of MacDonald’s revelation, published in 1861, omits certain parts of the Port Glasgow vision as published by Norton in 1840. This is significant, because by this omission it changes the perspective from a pre-tribulational to a post-tribulational rapture.
By 1832, Darby had espoused his version of this doctrine at Powerscourt Castle, south of Dublin Ireland. He espoused a “secret” pre-tribulational rapture. By 1835 the Irvingites had formed their Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, seemingly deriving from the ideas expressed by MacDonald and Darby. Darby was by this time preaching among the Plymouth Brethren in England, and within 100 years, his dispensationalism would be deeply imprinted on American Protestantism through the publishing of the Scofield Bible.
But who was Cyrus Scofield? As influential as Scofield’s work has been, if Protestant churches had bishops (most don’t), he would be one. As Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:2,4, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity … .” So by the standards of Scripture, a man in Scofield’s position would have to be of impeccable character. This couldn’t be further from the facts in Scofield’s case.
The following account from the Topeka newspaper The Daily Capital dated August 27, 1881 reveals a shockingly bad moral character.
Cyrus I. Schofield, formerly of Kansas, late lawyer, politician and shyster generally, has come to the surface again, and promises once more to gather around himself that halo of notoriety that has made him so prominent in the past. The last personal knowledge that Kansans have had of this peer among scalawags, was when about four years ago, after a series of forgeries and confidence games he left the state and a destitute family and took refuge in Canada. For a time he kept undercover … . Within the past year, however, Cyrus committed a series of St. Louis forgeries [and] was compelled to linger in the St. Louis jail for a period of six months.
Among the many malicious acts that characterized his career, was one peculiarly atrocious, that has come under our personal notice. Shortly after he left Kansas, leaving his wife and two children dependent upon the bounty of his wife’s mother, he wrote his wife that he could invest some $1,300 of her mother’s money, all she had, in a manner that would return big interest. After some correspondence he forwarded them a mortgage, signed and executed by one Chas. Best, purporting to convey valuable property in St. Louis. Upon this, the money was sent to him. Afterwards the mortgages were found to be base forgeries, no such person as Charles Best being in existence, and the property conveyed in the mortgage fictitious…”
We can see that his moral turpitude involved more than a tendency to anger or a few falsehoods from time to time. The man was a sociopath. Defenders of Scofield like to say that his spurious behavior was before his conversion experience. However, he is said to have converted to Christianity in 1879, but the St. Louis forgeries that defrauded his abandoned wife and his mother-in-law are described above as occurring in 1880 at the earliest.
Subsequent to this his wife filed for divorce. According to Scofield: The Man behind the Myth, her divorce writ stated that he had,
…absented himself from his said wife and children, and had not been with them but abandoned them with the intention of not returning to them again…has been guilty of gross neglect of duty and has failed to support this plaintiff or her said children, or to contribute thereto, and has made no provision for them for food, clothing or a home, or in any manner performed his duty in the support of said family although he was able to do so. (as cited in Scofield: The Man behind the Myth)
Not surprisingly the divorce was granted. This was in 1883. Three months later he was married to a second wife, Hettie van Wark.
Personal life aside, it is his professional life that bears on the source of dispensationalism. This is also a sordid tale if one peels back the official story to see what is beneath it. In 1992 he began calling himself Doctor, but without producing a doctorate degree, and his new career was on full force.
To read his biography as briefly presented by Daniel Stanfield of BibleSanity.org, in Biography – Dr. C.I. Scofield, there is nothing amiss. It tends to gloss over things like “allegations of corruption” and abandoning “his wife and children” and that he has been “described as” a thief and a drunkard. It focuses instead on his conversion to Christ in 1879 at the age of 36 and his subsequent work in the Church in Missouri, Texas, and Louisiana, until in 1888 he published his, “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,” in which he laid out his premillennial dispensationalism.
By this time he was no longer pastoring directly but was teaching the teachers, being involved with Bible institutes and missions, working with the revivalist, D. L. Moody among others. In 1890 he produced his Scofield Reference Bible Correspondence Course, which material later led to publication of the Scofield Reference Bible.
In 1895 the now, Doctor, Scofield moved to Massachusetts to direct Moody’s Northfield Bible Training School. The time following 1895 until 1909 is glossed over in Stanfield’s biographicl sketch by saying that he moved back to Dallas but “spent much time away” as he worked on his reference Bible. We will see from another source that in 1901 he took up residence at the Lotus Club in New York and was traveling at the expense of some wealthy backers to Oxford. Why would Stanfield leave this out? As we will see, it is with good (actually bad) reason.
The quotes below pick up the story when Scofield was a young man in Atchison, Kansas soon after the Civil War. At this time a conspiracy was underway in America completely unrelated to Scofield himself, being carried out largely through Masonic, banking, and British Intelligence circles. Its purpose was to undermine the stability and subvert the economy of the southern states and consolidate power in the northern states. This conspiracy had led to the Civil War and following the war it was engaged in a form of “nation building” as it extended its reach into the power vacuum it had created. To these ends the conspirators were installing scallywags and carpetbaggers in the various States wherever a power vacuum allowed. Among the conspirators was a group of lawyers in Boston who came to be known as “the Secret Six”. It was they, through their man John J. Ingalls, who conscripted the young Scofield to serve the cause.
At the time, Scofield, who had no higher education and certainly had passed no bar exam, was attempting to operate as a lawyer in Atchison. Ingalls had been sent there by the Secret Six to promote their retooling of American society and governance. Upon becoming acquainted with Scofield, Ingalls found him to be a man of high intellect and ambition, but low morals. He thus deemed Scofield worthy of being brought into the fold. For a brief time this worked very well as they promoted Scofield rapidly in office. But they overplayed their hand.
Pulling strings both in Kansas and with his compatriots back east, Ingalls assisted Scofield in gaining admission to the Bar, and procured his appointment as Federal Attorney for Kansas. Ingalls and Scofield [then] became partners in a railroad scam which led to Cyrus serving time for criminal forgery. (Cyrus Scofield — Who was He?)
But prison opened up a new opportunity. The group that the Secret Six represented was the same group that had promoted the success of Darby and Irving in the British Isles. Their intentions for America were similar in the hope that its Christian culture could be modified, becoming more focused on egalitarian ideals such as the brotherhood of man and that the American separation of Church and State could be deepened, turning the thought of the Church away from affairs of State. Through these means the people could be more easily and without their knowledge brought under the principles of Masonry, and ultimately its new step-child, Marxist materialism. Considerable progress has been made in this enterprise since.
To these ends, during Scofield’s prison days he was re-tasked as a theologian.
The Boston Secret Six, whom he never met and was not their peer, assigned C. I. Scofield the task of translating the [Masonic] Fatherhood of God, Brotherhood of Man concepts into a system of Bible teachings. It was during those long days and nights when he was in prison for forgery, that Scofield had begun studying [the writings of Darby].
[Darby] was already doing in England what the Secret Six were to assign Scofield to do in the United States. In England, the Brotherhood of Man Thought-theology was boiled down by Darby into a new denomination called The Brethren Movement. The Secret Six were not stupid. They had done their homework. They reasoned, and quite correctly, that America could not be converted from Republic into International Socialism until the vast majority of American Christians could be taught that the church was not to be militant regarding the affairs of state … . It was necessary to subvert the First Amendment to the Constitution to mean that the Church was to offer no suggestions and to be silent regarding those affairs of state … . (C.I. Scofield, Comments)
The work of Scofield as a theologian was conceived by the brotherhood of conspirators as a piece of social engineering intended to open the polity to new political structures.
After a decade or so working in this capacity, it was time for Scofield to begin work on his Reference Bible. For this he moved to New York, still under the aegis of his eastern establishment friends. There, he came under a new handler, Samuel Untermeyer, and was introduced to the people who financed his continued research and the eventual publication and promotion of his work.
Following his Illuminati connections to New York, he settled in at the Lotus Club, which he listed as his residence for the next twenty years. It was here that he presented his ideas for a new Christian Bible concordance, and was taken under the wing of Samuel Untermeyer, who later became chairman of the American Jewish Committee, president of the American League of Jewish Patriots, and chairman of the Non-sectarian Anti-Nazi League. (C.I. Scofield, Seminal Premillennial Dispensationalist)
Some unpacking is called for here, for a mention has been made of the Jews with reference to their affairs in contemporary life. This is when the howls of anti-semitism commence, for inevitably the Jews – at least these banking/illuminist/Talmudist/lawyers guild/media mogul Jews – are found to be conspiring against the other races.
In the case of Untermeyer, he represented the interests of the Jewish banking families, who in turn were working hand and glove with the Masons and Marxists in the hope of moving America toward their ideal of a utopian society. And for the Jewish members of this cabal the impulse to usurp the current polity and gain political and social control took the form of Zionism.
Scofield teaching that Zion is Christ’s earthly kingdom and associated Mt. Zion with the re-building of King Solomon’s temple.
The purpose of Samuel Untermeyer, and those associated with him, was to find a way to get fundamental Christians to have an interest in, and support for, the International Zionist Cause, which had been one of Untermeyer’s life long projects. … (C.I. Scofield, Seminal Premillennial Dispensationalist)
To that end,
Untermeyer introduced Scofield to numerous Zionist and socialist leaders, including Samuel Gompers, Fiorello LaGuardia, Abraham Straus, Bernard Baruch and Jacob Schiff. These were the people who financed Scofield’s research trips to Oxford and arranged the publication and distribution of his concordance. (Cyrus Scofield — Who was He?)
This promotion was wildly successful and the Scofield Bible, dispensationalism, and Zionism became household words in American Protestantism.
It is impossible to overstate the influence of Cyrus Scofield on twentieth-century Christian beliefs. The Scofield Bible is the standard reference work in virtually all Christian ministries and divinity schools. It is singularly responsible for the Christian belief that the Hebrew Prophecies describe the kingdom of Jesus’ Second Coming, and not the Zionist vision of a man-made New World Order.
And it is precisely because Christians persist in this belief that they remain blind to the reality of Zion.
Scofield served as the agent by which the Zionists paralyzed Christianity, while they prepared America for our final conquest. (Cyrus Scofield — Who was He?)
However, Tregelles contends that the Darbyite rapture was derived from the Powersgate conferences, and therefore came from a spiritual source “pretending to be from God.” Wikipedia takes this another step:
[H]is implication is that Darby’s rapture is from a demonic source. Dave MacPherson built upon Tregelles’s accusation, and claimed the source for Darby’s rapture was from an (sic) Margaret MacDonald’s 1830 vision of the end times.
However, scholars think there are major obstacles that render these accusations untenable. It is clear that Darby regarded the 1830 charismatic manifestations as demonic and not of God. Darby would not have borrowed an idea from a source that he clearly thought was demonic. Also Darby had already written out his pretribulation rapture views in January 1827, 3 years prior to the 1830 events and any MacDonald utterance. When MacDonald’s utterance is read closely, her statements appear to present a posttribulationist scenario (“being the fiery trial which is to try us” and “for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus”). Confusion on this point was enhanced because while MacDonald’s vision as first published in 1840 describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture, a version published in 1861 lacked two important passages that appear to present a post-tribulation view: “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept”. (Margaret MacDonald (Visionary), Wikipedia)
The Wikipedia article therefore concludes that Darby did not get his views on dispensationalism from the utterances of Margaret MacDonald. We will see where he may have gotten them further on. But first we will have a look at those who did accept the words of MacDonald as coming from God.
Edward Irving, a preacher and a forerunner of the Catholic Apostolic Church, along with Henry Drummond, a banker, and supporter of the same, had been involved in a charismatic revival that led to spontaneous healings, and speaking in and interpretation of tongues, during prayer meetings of the movement. This revival spread to various Protestant churches all over Ireland and to points beyond. It was the hope of many that a revival of Holy Spirit gifts would bring all the Christian churches together, initiating the great millennial reign of Christ spoken of in scripture. For Irving, the gift of tongues (speaking in unknown heavenly languages) was central to this, as a harbinger of Christ’s immanent return (The Irvingites and the Gift of Tongues). Whether Margaret MacDonald was urged by God, the devil, or her own subconscious mind, this was the context from which she spoke.
Beginning in 1826 and through 1829, a few preachers in Scotland emphasized that the world’s problems could only be addressed through an outbreak of supernatural gifts from the Holy Spirit. In response, Isabella and Mary Campbell of the parish of Rosneath manifested charismatic experiences such as speaking in tongues. Around 1830, miraculous healings were reported through James Campbell, first of his sister Margaret MacDonald and then of Mary Campbell (through James’s letter to Mary). Shortly thereafter James and George MacDonald manifested the speaking and interpretations of tongues, and soon others followed suit in prayer meetings. These charismatic experiences garnered major national attention. Many came to see and investigate these events. Some, such as Edward Irving and Henry Drummond, regarded these events as genuine displays from the Holy Spirit. Others, including John Nelson Darby and Benjamin Wills Newton, whom the Brethren sent on their behalf to investigate, came to the conclusion that these displays were demonic. … (Wikipedia)
According to the Wikipedia article, here are the opening words of MacDonald’s utterance. They do contradict Scripture:
I was made to stop and cry out, O it is not known what the sign of the Son of Man is; … I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from Heaven … I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but ’tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people. … Only those who have the light of God within them [illumination by the Holy Spirit] will see the sign of his appearance. (Wikipedia)
She says in the above that only Christians – that is believers born by the Holy Spirit – will have the chance to see Christ’s return. But she restricts it further:
I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven.
She is describing the apostle John caught up by God in a vision. She is saying that in order to see Christ’s return it is not enough to be a born again believer. In her view, unless you have given your will and your life over to God in a special way and are deemed worthy to experience some special form of ecstatic knowledge beyond rational thought, the return of Christ will be invisible to you. That is partly what she is referring to as she continues:
… the spiritual temple must and shall be reared, and the fullness of Christ be poured into his body, and then shall we be caught up to meet him.
It is true Christian doctrine to say that Christian believers should, and some will, rise up into a maturity in Christ and so “the fullness of Christ be poured into his body. ” But to add that only a portion of believers will see Christ’s return in the air is to add leaven to the clear word of scripture, which says that when He comes in the clouds, every eye shall see him and all the tribes of earth shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds:
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)
It appears that the Irvingites in accepting MacDonald’s doctrines were letting themselves in for Christian heresy. The Brethren on the other hand, through their emissaries Darby and Nelson, took the more orthordox Christian view. But both groups were introducing a pre-Tribulational rapture of one sort or another.
Darby vs. Graves
Darby’s views on the rapture represented his emergence from the Anglican postmillennialism that dominated the England of his day. Postmillennialism is profoundly different from premillennialism of any type. It places the return of Christ after a glorious “millennial reign” of a thousand years under which mankind finds peace through obedience to a Christianized political system. Postmillennialism holds that Christ will not return until the Christian Church has turned the nations of the world into Christian kingdoms.
Darby was born in London in 1800 to English/Irish gentry and was educated as such. He was therefore brought up under these postmillennial ideas. But it was a time when the pressures brought upon European Christendom by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars had a brought a sense of immanence to the prophetic events surrounding the end-times and to the coming of Christ’s messianic kingdom. Some had even identified Napoleon as the Antichrist.
As a young man (not yet aware of any calling to the ministry) Darby studied at the prestigious Trinity College, of Dublin, founded as an Anglican seminary in the 1500s. Since the incorporation of Ireland with England to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the College was affiliated with the United Church of England and Ireland.
While Darby is famous as a futurist premillennialist, at Trinity he studied under a leading postmillennialist of his day, Richard Graves (1763-1829), who anticipated the imminent return of a, “literal kingdom of Christ universally extended over the earth (John Nelson Darby and the Rapture, Dr. Thomas Ice quoting F.S. Elmore of Dallas Theological Seminary).” Following the 1815 victory over the “Antichrist”, Napoleon, at Waterloo in 1815, Graves seems to have been expecting a rapid expansion of British power to carry the Church of England to all the world – for the British Isles were now in the ascendancy.
The student Darby, having this same background as Graves, at first also accepted the specific conclusions that Graves drew. As Ice says, Darby, “adopted Graves philo-Semitic view of the Jews, their future conversion and reestablishment in their homeland (ibid.).” He then quotes Elmore as saying that Graves and the other theological leaders of his ilk had brought a sense of immediate expectancy to the fore:
[There was an] atmosphere of millennial expectancy in [Darby’s training that] certainly had its effect on his eschatology. The postmillennialism of Graves dealt very literally with unfulfilled prophecy, and spawned an attitude of anticipation for an imminent change in dispensation.’ The influence of Graves upon Darby was significant and inculcated in him ideas and subject that would later become central in Darby’s thought and writings. … The theological grist for Darby’s later synthesis was certainly present at Trinity College in his student days.
Darby’s Ordination and Conversion
In early 1826, the same year the revivalist movements in Ireland and Scotland began, Darby was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church in Ireland. During that year and the next he was involved in an evangelistic effort in the greater Dublin area that was converting 600-800 people a week to Anglicanism. But when his archbishop began to require oaths of allegiance to the British Crown as part of conversion from Roman Catholicism the numbers dropped to nearly zero.
This presented to Darby what must have seemed like the dark underside of a postmillenialist union between Church and State and was a large part of his leaving the Anglican Church and falling in with those that became known as the Plymouth Brethren. At this juncture he was rejecting the postmillennial concept he had been taught of a Church constituted as the millennial kingdom under an earthly king such as the British Crown. At this point, Darby was rejecting postmillennialism for an emergent premillennialist theology. Thomas Ice comments on some of his memoirs regarding these changes:
I came to understand that I was united to Christ in heaven (directly and without an earthly intermediary), and that consequently, my place before God was represented by His own.’ … Such a heavenly standing becomes the basis for much of Darby’s theology that sees the believer already positioned with Christ in heaven. ‘I was in Christ, accepted in the Beloved, and sitting in heavenly places in Him. This led me directly to the apprehension of what the true church of God was, those that were united to Christ in heaven. … At the same time, I saw that the Christian, having his place in Christ in heaven, has nothing to wait for save the coming of the Saviour, in order to be set, in fact, in the glory which is already his portion “in Christ.” (John Nelson Darby and the Rapture, Dr. Thomas Ice, quoting and commenting on Darby)
Here Darby rejects the postmillennial requirement that a millennial kingdom be projected into the world as a political and social structure – the Church perfected – to which Christ would return. He is replacing this with Christ coming to a Church that already has a perfected standing before him by nature of, as it would be said today, being born again. This frees Darby to see, ”the coming of Christ to take the church to Himself in glory,” just as it is. He further felt that this could happen at any time. Ice comments that,
Such a cluster of beliefs that were formulated at this time provides the rationale for a pretribulational rapture. Darby saw a change in dispensation. This could mean that it was at this time that shifted in his eschatology from postmillennialism to premillennialism. ‘Christ coming to receive us to Himself; and collaterally with that, the setting up of a new earthly dispensation, from Isaiah xxxii. (more particularly the end) … I saw an evident change of dispensation in that chapter, when the Spirit would be poured out on the Jewish nation, and a king reign in righteousness.’
Darby then closes the loop by saying that the Church is now in a king-less dispensation wherein Christ alone is its king and believers are subjects of an invisible realm. He sees this church caught up to a heavenly or spiritual kingdom at Christ’s first, pre-tribulational, return. This “catching up” eventually came to be called the rapture. In Darby’s formulation it is this catching up of the Christians into the heavens that ushers in the dispensation of earthly kingdoms that his professor, Graves, had taught was already in effect.
For Darby the new dispensation commences with the rule of the Antichrist. It is during this reign that the natural Jews are converted. After seven years of this rule, Christ comes yet again – but this time all the way to earth, where he conquers Antichrist’s forces and is established as an earthly king over an earthly kingdom – which he rules for a thousand years in peace and harmony.
It was largely through Darby that the concept that the present Church on earth has no earthly vicar, and is ruled by Christ alone, became the dominant model among Protestants. With Darbyism as a key footing in its foundation, 20th century Protestantism was very tied to dispensationalism and a pre-tribulational rapture.
Roots of the Irvingite Rapture
Meanwhile, the “Irvingite” revelations not having caught on with the Brethren, were making inroads of their own (Henry Drummond the Hun, a chapter in the online book, PRE-TRIBULATION PLANNING FOR A POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Tribwatch.com 1997).
Tribwatch.com goes deeply into the roots, as you can see by the following. Taking the reader beyond the report that the “rapture” doctrine began with a vision, it points out that, “The Irvingites were led by [19th century aristocrat banker] Henry Drummond of England … ,” which is a family line that is or is close to the very high level Rose family.
A prayer movement that had begun around 1820 in England with (among others) James Haldane Stewart, spread through Great Britain, the United States, and Europe. In 1830 it bore fruit in Port Glasgow, Scotland, and Karlshuld, Bavaria, in the form of prophecy, speaking in tongues, and miraculous healings.
During this time, in 1826, Drummond had assembled a group at his mansion in Albury Park, England, who, believing they were in the end-times, agreed to re-institute the apostolic ministry by “prophesying to themselves” 12 within their midst as apostles. Henry was made their head as apostle to Scotland. This meeting was one in a series of “Albury Conferences”. They emphasized speaking in tongues and other Heaven-sent gifts and preached a form of a pre-tribulational rapture wherein the raptured put on Godhood in a hidden way while remaining physically present on earth. This pre-tribulational rapture was distinctly different from Darby’s in which believers were physically removed from the earth.
In 1835 they formed a church, which became known as the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. They were also called “Irvingites”, after a preacher, Edward Irving, who by this time had died but was thought to have been a forerunner of their ideas.
Not only had this movement been fostered by the scion of an aristocratic banking family, the Drummonds, but it turns out that Irving had been influenced by two other people. The first was a Jesuit priest, Manuel Lacunza (1731-1801), who wrote a manuscript in Spain that was posthumously published under the assumed Jewish name of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, and in due course banned by the Church of Rome. It was, however, influential among the reformers. According to David Pio Gullon, “Lacunza’s work had a great impact on the ferment of prophetic studies at the beginning of the nineteenth century, since his work spoke about the premillennial advent of Christ, and was studied by the British millenarians (Two Hundred Years from Lacunza).” It was published in Spain in 1812, and then (again in Spanish) in London in 1816. It contained the primary pillars of the futurist pre-millennial interpretation of scripture that both the Darbyites and the Irvingites came to espouse in their different forms. Darby would have been aware of it, but Irving thought so much of it that he translated it. Irving did not agree with everything in the book, and Lacunza had not described a pre-tribulational rapture (Margaret McDonald’s Vision in 1830). It did, however, place the rapture 45 days before the descent to earth of Jesus Christ in his second coming, during which 45 days the wrath of God would be poured out.
Lacunza in his turn may have been influenced by a predecessor, a Jesuit doctor of theology, Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), who put forward his futurist interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks and the 1260 days of Revelation in his book, entitled In Sacrum Beati Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarij. He concluded the book of Revelation had no application to the middle ages or the papacy, but applied to a future period of seven years just prior to the Second Coming of Christ. (See Futurism and Dispensationalism)
The second person that influenced Irving was an associate of Henry Drummond, “known for his strong influence on Edward Irving: ‘James Hatley Frere [who] seems to have deliberately selected Irving to be the popular mouthpiece of his Apocalyptic speculations’ (http://christianbeliefs.org/books/cm/cm-irving.html)”. Irving became a very popular mouthpiece indeed; drawing thousands to his summer mission tours in Scotland during 1827, 28.
Frere’s thought, which he published in 1815, preceded the rapture doctrines of Darby and the prophecies under the Irving school. He was espoused what became the Irvingite form of a hidden rapture: the doctrine of an “invisible” spiritual return of Christ that consisted of certain believers being invisibly “raptured” into a state of perfection while still living on earth. This was expected to usher in a millennial reign wherein these raptured souls, the elect of the elect, would rule the world. Frere’s pre-millennialism was behind the election of the 12 apostles by Drummond’s group. These apostles fairly immediate expectation was to rule the world from 12 thrones, with Henry Drummond the chiefest among them as the apostle of Scotland.
So we see there was a larger context than Darby’s university studies and MacDonald’s ecstatic utterances. We have the social clout and finances of the aristocratic Drummond banking family promoting the Irvingite version that became the JWs. When we get to discussing America, we will see another powerful group popularizing a specialized form of Darby’s dispensationalism through Scofield.
Next the history gets particularly interesting, for it begins to bring to view serial attempts by some clandestine group or groups to use the bible as a script to enact an end-time scenario of their own and position themselves as messianic rulers of the world.
In the late 1800s, as hope that the Napoleonic Wars would lead to a messianic return faded, the effort was redefined and moved forward until it crystalized again around World War One.
America! Charles Russell and the Jehovah’s Witnesses
Following in the wake of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, “others besides the Irvingites latched onto pre-tribulationism, and … even took credit for the false doctrine away from the Irvingites, unto themselves.”
The Frere, Drummond, Irving invisible rapture was echoed again in the doctrines of a “Christian astrologer” and pyramidologist named Joseph Seiss, and an American Mason and pyramidologist, Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, predecessor of the JWs. Seiss taught a version of the Drummond invisible-coming doctrine which Russell repackaged as Christ returning, “as an invisible presence” (http://www.premier1, citing a man name Jonsson).
Charles Russell was born in Allegheny, PA in 1852 to Irish immigrants who had left Ireland during the potato famine six years before. Springmeier points out that their background in Ireland was steeped in Masonry and Arianism. They had lived in Ireland during a time when:
[E]very village in Scotland and Britain had a Masonic Lodge [and] atonement heresies [were prevalent] along with some [Presbyterian] leaders adopting the Arian view of Christ. … Charles grew up zealously accepting the Presbyterian worldview and heritage of his parents. … Considering the evidence, Charles’ doubts about orthodox Christian doctrines may have been a reflection of his father’s doubts. (Springmeier, pg. 7,9)
Modern Masonry in Ireland was an Irish Presbyterian phenomenon – one which had been inspired by a Presbyterian minister named James Anderson. Among the Scot-Irish immigrants of Russell’s youth Masonic lodges were plentiful, and Presbyterian ministers played an important role in them (Springmeier, pg. 13). Springmeier explains:
In 1851, in the Pittsburgh-Allegheny area there were 52 lodges of various kinds of Freemasons and Oddfellows, including a Scottish Rite lodge. … By 1858, Pittsburgh had its own Masonic Knights Templar Commandery. … Although the Masons are now spread throughout the world, when [and certainly where] Charles T. Russell grew up, it was still primarily a Scot-Irish/English blooded membership. (Springmeier, pg. 12,13,17)
Springmeier believes that Russell was influenced by his father as well as by the Arian and Masonic undercurrents of his culture. He suggests that Russell left the Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches over the doctrine of eternal damnation and his own Arianism, not because they allowed Freemasons in their midst (Springmeier, pg. 12,13,17).
As a teenager Russell took up the Arian view that Jesus Christ was merely a good man, and not God the Son. Springmeier says that beginning at least in the 1730s professors at the University of Glasgow were teaching Arianism and that the preachers in Ulster, Russell’s mother’s home in Ireland had all been trained there. He concludes that:
[G]enerations of young susceptible minds were led into heresy by the staff of this university. This theological training explains why Ulster County churches were Arian in view for many years, and how the New-Light movement was able to steadily progress, and ultimately take over control of the Synod of Ulster, Ireland. … By July 30, 1829, … many of [the Arians] formed their own synod. … In 1841, the Arians and the Trinitarians clashed again in the Scottish Presbyterian churches. And from this hotbed of heresy in Ulster comes Charles T. Russell’s parents. (Springmeier, pg. 22-24).
Demonstrating the Masonic influence in Russell’s ministry, Springmeier notes that Russell is known to have preached on the parallels between the Masonic Hiram Abiff and Jesus Christ. Springmeier says, “Masonic sources and some of their best references show that in spite of their public denials, they do view Hiram Abiff as the Messiah figure. Since Russell would not have learned this from a casual conversation with a Mason, he must have learned it from an in depth study of the Masons. The author has never heard or read in 20 years of sermons, any Christian preacher showing Christ’s Messiahship by appealing to parallels to Hiram Abiff (Springmeier, pg. 28).”
The chapter speculates that at the time of the Irvingite revival, “Nathan Rothschild may have played a/the leadership role in the Drummond attempt at world rule,” saying they both lived in London, and that in a later iteration through the Russellites, “feigning Armageddon was a part of the Rothschild hoax, for Russell had predicted the setting up of God’s Kingdom on the first year of the war (1914).”
C. T. Russell and J. F. Rutherford were foundational to the JWs. They made all the decisions of the Watchtower Society for the first 60 years. Russell was one of America’s early Christian Zionists. But after Russell’s death in 1916 his church reverted to an anti-Zionist position. At first there was a struggle over which of Russell’s hand-picked directors (J. F. Rutherford, A. N. Pierson, J. D. Wright, A. I. Ritchie, I. F. Hoskins, R. H. Hirsh) would be in charge. One of them, Joseph Rutherford, took the day and by the 1930s had the Watch Tower teaching “anti-Semitism” in its Awake! Magazine6 claiming to stand against the Jewish internationalist banking power. At that time they began publishing statements like: “It has been the commercial Jews of the British-American empire that have built up and carried on Big Business as a means of exploiting and oppressing the peoples of many nations (Awake! July 8, 1998 pages 13-14 quoting the Watch Tower Society’s 1933 ‘Declaration of Facts’)” and “There has never been the slightest bit of money contributed to our work by Jews (Ibid. page 13)” (Watch Tower puts new Spin on its 1933 anti-Jewish Remarks). These statements may not mean that Rutherford’s Watch Tower Society actually stood against the banking power, but only that it wanted to be perceived as such. For example, during the 1930s the organization looked favorably upon and promoted the rise of Hitler. Hitler, however, while he appeared to be virulently antagonistic to the bankers, was actually raised to power largely through their financial support. Just as the internationalist bankers were a mainstay of Hitler’s rise financially, the Watch Tower served as a propaganda arm for the same cause.
After a period of denial beginning in 1974, the Watch Tower has reiterated its stance against the Jewish banking power, saying that the 1933 Declaration made a “clear statement” of the position of the Watch Tower Society. (Watch Tower puts new Spin on its 1933 anti-Jewish Remarks).
(Integrate the following quote with the discussion that now follows it.)
It is interesting to note that Charles T. Russell (the Society’s founder) looked beyond the Bible in his quest for hidden knowledge. Although his membership as a Mason can’t been conclusively confirmed, his personal philosophy reflected Masonry, and Masonic influence can still be detected in today’s Watchtower organization. (For one example,) Masons practice a form of ritual magick they call “The Craft.” It is, therefore, no accident that the main JW periodicals are called “The Watchtower” and “Awake!” since the four Archangels summoned in Enochian magick inhabit Watchtowers and are known as the “Awake Ones” who monitor human evolution. This is ironic, since Jehovah’s Witnesses are very careful to avoid anything that has pagan origins. Watchtower of Babel
According to Fritz Springmeier, in his book, The Watchtower and the Masons,
There is a coming New World Order planned by the secretive leaders of the Jehova’s Witnesses that should scare the socks off anyone including the Jehovah’s themselves. However, if this New World Order were only in the hands of Jehovah’s Witnesses to initiate, we could relax, because they have only minimal political clout, few guns, and teach non- participation in war. It’s when we get the bigger picture that we realize these people are talking about something serious.
This author’s research has led him to conclude that the 1- world-government 1-world-religion that the New Age has planned for us, and the 1-world-government and 1-world-religion that the Freemasons such as the Grand Orient have planned, and the Watchtower Society’s New Order are one and the same. (And,) the Jehovah’s Witnesses are playing a big role in preparing the world for this incoming world government. (pgs. 3,4). …
The book covers the second WT President’s modus operandi in covering up the use of a demonic (Watchtower) healing device. It also shows how demons played the crucial role in channeling information to the Watchtower leaders. Each of these items is just a piece in the puzzle about who these men are, and what their objectives are.
The story becomes yet more interesting when we ask why groups like the internationalist bankers, aristocratic families, and secret societies would give any serious thought to using biblical prophecies about the end of Days as a script for world takeover.
Did Henry Drummond see his ancestry in the savage Huns? Was he, in his Histories, leaking information that Drummond elitists/Illuminatists … secrets are bound, not only in Attila, but in the Huns previous to him? The Huns are traced back to a union between a Scythian and a Sumerian (i.e. a Magogite and Nimrod)–the mortal enemies of the Biblical God…the God which the Drummonds professed to serve?
In a Hungarian myth, Nimrod (the engineer of the Tower of Babel) begot two sons, Hunor and Magor, who migrated north to Caucasia/Magog and lived there. Modern Hungarians still freely claim descent from both Huns and Magyars. After Attila settled Hungary temporarily, he was followed a century later by the Avar Huns and, finally, a century after the Avar empire came to a close (in 796), the Magyar king, Arpad, became the patriarch of the modern Hungarians. Remember that name, “Arpad,” for his family line was considered gravely important.
In a Hungarian myth-like legend, a Magogite by the name of “Ugyek” had a son, “Almos,” who is destined to be a great conqueror toward the west [i.e. into Europe]…i.e. so as to finish the world-conquest job that Attila started but failed to complete. The reality (i.e. not in the legend) is that an Almos did exist in Hungarian history, and he was the father of Arpad, the founder of modern Hungary. Thus the legend was concocted after the facts to record and express some realities, while disguising others. What’s interesting is that Ugyek is said to be a descendant of “king Magog” of Ezekiel’s time, and from that tidbit we are urged into thinking that the myth’s author(s) was connecting the Hungarians to the Biblical Gog.
And finally, the story of these powerful secretive groups attempting to weave a spell over the peoples of the world to produce the illusion of the fulfillment of Christian prophecy necessitates a thorough infiltration of the Christian churches of the world: the great apostasy.
copyright Allen Dietrich
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