Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Pre-tribulation Theory is an Old Belief? Pseudo-Ephraem says, "No!"

I understand that there’s been mass marketing involved when it comes to spreading the teaching of the pre-tribulational rapture theory. It began in the early 1900’s with the Scofield Reference Bible, and it slowly gained momentum until things exploded in 1970 with Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. And of course, we all know about the Left Behind phenomenon.

But still, at times, I have trouble understanding how the majority of Americans are completely unaware of the origins of the pre-tribulational rapture theory, or of the fact that there is not a single historical document that references a belief in a pre-trib coming of Christ before the late 1820's. When compared to the entire history of the Church, pre-trib truly is Pop Culture.

Many have tried to manipulate documents in attempts to prove that the theory existed long ago, and many have believed the slick maneuvers. There’s a few books that come to mind that address this issue like “First the Antichrist,” by Bob Gundry, or the painful read “The Rapture Plot,” by Dave MacPherson, but I believe the best piece I’ve read is found at The Last Trumpet.

There, Tim Warner covers the document known as “Pseudo-Ephraem,” the best known “evidence” for an historical document that supposedly shows an early pre-trib belief. It’s fairly lengthy, but very good.


The Orange Mailman said...


That's a good one. But I like this one better.

Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

Dave Bussard said...

That does look good. I'll actually read it this weekend. But I was not addressing the history of the theory, but rather a refutation of what pre-tribbers claim is historical evidence of the theory. Thanks. I've been wanting to find a good Dave MacPherson type writing about the history that is not as long or as mouthy.

The Orange Mailman said...

I'm glad you posted that. Then I noticed it over at PreWrath Rapture Portal as well. I noticed that they mentioned Lacunza in that article, which is why I like the link I posted.

I never knew what to say when Soo-Doe Ephraim was brought up.

Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

Jeremiah said...

Well I'll be honest and say that the pre-trib rapture doctrine being a 100 years old doesn't bother me. I believe the scriptures are there and maybe people just didn't understand it until recently. Daniel 12:4 says that in the last days there would be an increase in knowledge.

Dave Bussard said...

I would never say that the pre-trib theory is wrong because the early Church never taught it. The Bible should always be the determining factor, but doesn’t it make you curious how the very thing that Paul, John, and Jesus supposedly clearly taught was not taught by those that came after them? How could something so clear just vanish for over 1700 years? Until well into the third century, all records show that it was taught that Christ would not come back until the Church had suffered under the man of lawlessness. If memory serves me correctly (which it usually doesn’t), I believe it was amillennialism that sprung up in the third century. Someone can feel free to correctly me on that.

H. L. Nigro said...

I agree with Jeremiah that, just because something is newly publicized doesn't mean that it's wrong. We still have to evaluate it according to the scriptures. As Jeremiah said, it could have simply been overlooked for such a long time. It's happened before — much of scriptural teaching got lost during the Middle Ages, for example. That's why I think S. P. Tregelles' The Hope of Christ's Second Coming is so fascinating. Tregelles, a respected theologian and biblical scholar, was alive as the pretribulation rapture was first becoming popular in the mid-1800s. At the time, it wasn't called pretrib, however. It was called "the secret rapture." Tregelles felt that the "secret rapture" teaching was a fundamentally new teaching that was not supported by scripture. He was alarmed enough about this new teaching, in fact, to write a response to it — The Hope of Christ's Second Coming, published in 1864. This book is available online for free at Or you can order a hard copy from Strong Tower Publishing ( Every person who holds to a pretribulation rapture position should seriously consider what Tregelles has to say.

Anonymous said...

Google "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" to read a concise outline of pretrib history that isn't too wordy. BTW, MacPherson's book "The Rapture Plot" is again in print and available at Armageddon Books online. Jon

amc said...

I wonder what Tregelles would say about RVK's multi comings. Just saying.

Leslie Lim said...

Good article. I was really enjoyed reading your post. This is truly worthy to read. Good content and good information. God bless!


amc said...

Heidi and Dave appear to have hung up their pretrib rapture-boxing gloves, and this blog appears to be unattended. Nevertheless, regarding Pseudo-Ephraem, here's what he writes:

"Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!" 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….”

You can twist it any way you want but it is what it is. Ice responded to Gundry here:

I find it really funny that some prewrathers are now looking at possible post-apostolic prewrath statements to affirm their view. Moreover, Nigro talks about the "secret rapture" but in response to Renald showers' criticism of the prewrath view, she's also admitted to believing in a multi-phase coming of Christ. Where are the Scripture references for your multiple comings?

Anonymous said...

/ Observed the following while on the web. I welcome any reactions. See also "Chuck Missler - Copyist" on Google. --- submitted by Karl /


by Dave MacPherson

John Bray's 1982 booklet "The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching" claimed that 18th century Jesuit priest Manuel Lacunza originated the pretrib rapture in his 1812 work "The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty." Bray stated Lacunza saw a 45-day period between a rapture and Christ's touchdown on earth - a 45-day period Bray viewed as "tribulation" days.
But Lacunza was only saying that the "day of the Lord" would be at least 45 days long - the difference between the 1290 days and the 1335 days in Dan. 12. Somehow Bray failed to note that those 45 days could not begin until the tribulation days were "concluded" (Vol. II, p. 250) - and Bray may have been influenced by those who erroneously believe that the "day of the Lord" INCLUDES the tribulation!
Not only did Lacunza begin his 45 days AT the joint rapture/second coming, but he even had the raptured ones back on earth DURING those 45 days (Vol. II, pp. 262-3) to minister to "the relics [trib survivors] of all nations" [see Isa. 18:2] during the cleanup of Antichrist's rubble (similar to the cleaning up of New York's Twin Towers' rubble before new buildings could be built)!
In Vol. I (p. 83) Lacunza writes that "the nineteenth chapter [of Revelation] speaks of the coming of the Lord in glory and majesty, which Christians with one consent do wait for."
On pp. 99-100, after quoting I Thess. 4:13-18, Lacunza quotes Matt. 24:30 and then comments: "If you compare this text with that of St. Paul, you shall find no other difference than this, that those who are to arise on the coming of the Lord, the apostle nameth those who are dead in Christ, who sleep in Jesus; and the Lord nameth them his elect."
And in Vol. I (p. 113) Lacunza again quotes I Thess. 4 and Matt. 24 like this: "...He shall descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive, &c. and it appears to me, that 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."
Interestingly, even Tim LaHaye's 1992 book "No Fear of the Storm" admits on p. 169 that "Lacunza never taught a pre-Trib Rapture!"
For more on Bray and his other groundless claims, Google "Is John Bray a PINO?," "Morgan Edwards' Rapture View," "Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "John Darby Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "Margaret Macdonald's Rapture Chart," "Edward Irving Vs. John Darby," and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty."
Finally, since the earliest pretrib rapture promoters were overwhelmingly anti-Catholic, it's not likely they would have adopted anything from a Catholic!

Anonymous said...

Another Dave MacPherson bot. Is MacPherson still relevant?

PE isn't the only early reference to a rapture before the second coming. This blog has been dead for a while and way out of date. Google William Watson for many examples of rapture references prior to Darby.

Leslie Lim said...

Thank you for posting some kind of information. It was really helpful since I am doing some research now.


Irv said...

Google "Dr. Watson's Pretrib Non-Discovery" on Treena Gisborn's "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" blog for a different take on Dr. Wm. Watson's new book "Dispensationalism Before Darby."

Anonymous said...

Treena's little article about Watson's essay is an exercise in speculation about Irving, Darby and Edwards, and telling people to Google info. Gisborn only superficially interacts with Watson's work.

BTW, Margaret wasn't pretrib. Neither you or Gisborn provide her pretrib statement. Would love to hear it.

Watson actually has a 370 page book of examples of Puritans who believed in a pre-conflagration rapture. Even historic premillennialist Horatius Bonar was concerned about getting his own church post in a predominantly amillennial environment. So one can imagine why some of these scholars weren't popular. But the info is there as Watson shows. People like you and Gisborb ought to be honest about it.

You gotta do better than that.

Keep Googling, Irv.

Anonymous said...

The Rapture Plot....

Anonymous said...

MacPherson appears to be a bitter old man leading a cult of conspiracy theorists who spend their spare time asking people to Google Rapture Plots.