The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Tommy Ice on the Pre-Trib Rapture: John Nelson Darby


Did John Nelson Darby really invent the Pre-Trib Rapture view?

To answer this question, we are pleased to have as our special guest the renowned Bible Prophecy teacher, Dr. Tommy Ice. Tommy is the head of the Pre-Trib Research Center and is a prolific writer on all aspects of Bible prophecy.

Dr. Tommy Ice

John Nelson Darby

Dr. Reagan: Another argument against the Pre-Trib Rapture which I consider silly but have to mention it because we hear about it all the time from a fellow by the name of Dave MacPherson. He wrote a book a number of years ago in which he tried to debunk the Pre-Trib Rapture. He argued that the whole concept came from a teenage girl who went into ecstasy and began to speak led by a demonic spirit of whatever. She came up with the idea of the Rapture of the Church, and then John Nelson Darby stole this idea from her. He has published his book under about ten different names.

Dr. Ice: Yes, and they have been disseminated very widely. In fact, Dave MacPherson used to call me on the phone. He was a very paranoid guy. He lived in an earth home in Utah. He hated computers, though I think he had just gotten one last I heard. He talks about how when he was first going to write his normally docile dog name Rolf savagely bit his writing hand and postponed for three months the event of writing this information because he became demon possessed. Nevertheless, I’ve talked with him many times over the years.

In 2003, I went on a month-long trip over to Great Britain to the libraries to research this question. I found that Darby proposed the idea of the Pre-Trib Rapture during December 1827 to January 1828. The Margaret MacDonald event didn’t occur until April of 1830, so at least three and a half years before she is alleged to have had her vision. So, Darby had already talked about the Pre-Trib Rapture beforehand.

I have documented it through two letters. One was Francis Newman’s Stages of Life. He’s the younger brother of Cardinal Newman and he was the tutor of Darby’s sister’s family who lived in Dublin. As Darby was recuperating there at her house, Newman talks about Darby coming up with the Pre-Trib Rapture concept back then during his convalescence from an injury.

Dr. Reagan: I had some questions about MacPherson’s book, so I got the book and I read it. The thing that gets me about MacPherson’s book is where he talks about how the Pre-Trib Rapture concept came from this teenage girl who was in a trance. Then in the back of his book, MacPherson has a transcription of the trance.

Dr. Ice: Yes, and there are two versions of it, by the way.

Dr. Reagan: I read that thing, and I’m not kidding, I might of read it 50 times, but I couldn’t find the Pre-Trib Rapture anywhere in the transcript.

Dr. Ice: Right, it’s not there. It’s not there at all.

The Irvingites were a totally different movement but were still historicists. What they were teaching is something that goes all the way back to the early 1600’s. They taught that anywhere from a few days to 45 days there would be a catching up — a rapture — of people in conjunction with the Second Coming, after the Tribulation. They would hover up in the air while the earth was burnt up. It’s called the Conflagration of the Earth from 2 Peter 3. Joseph Mede came up with this. He’s the father of British Pre-Millennialism from the 1620’s. If that was a Pre-Trib Rapture which the Irvingites were teaching, because Margaret MacDonald is connected with what is called the Irvingite Movement or the Catholic Apostolic Church, then people had been teaching the Pre-Trib Rapture for 400 years by the time Darby came along.

Nathan Jones: What is sad too is that most people when they talk about the Pre-Trib Rapture, Darby is all they know about it. They’ll bring up Margaret MacDonald and they will conclude the Pre-Trib Rapture concept is too new, and so they will discount it, even though they have absolutely no idea what the concept of the Pre-Trib Rapture is.

In the fourth segment of our interview with Dr. Tommy Ice concerning the Pre-Trib Rapture, he’ll counter opposing viewpoints.

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Dr. Nathan E. Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He also co-hosts the ministry's television program Christ in Prophecy and podcast The Truth Will Set You Free.


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