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Origin of the Doctrine of the Rapture

November 4th 2006

This is indeed a prestigious day for this tiny website, and for all those who love the truth around the world.

Since the late 1970’s, there has been an ongoing battle between two camps concerning this doctrine of the Rapture.  The first being those who have tried to show that this “Doctrine of the Rapture” is modern, rather than something that was believed some 1900 years ago by the Apostles and then by Apostolic Fathers of the first, second, and third century.  In showing the Rapture to be a recent doctrine, various people have published findings that this doctrine had its origin in the Irvingite Revival in the England in the 1800’s - a pre-Azusa Street revival / apostolic church where members spoke in other tongues, prophesied and routinely had dreams and visions.

In all revivals, there have been things that have been true and false, and the Irvingite Revival was no exception in that regard.  In the case of the doctrine of the Rapture, it wasdiscoveredby one particular “prophetess who had a series of “Visions” and “prophecies” concerning “a secret coming”, or “a secret catching away” by Christ.  The word rapture was not coined at that time.

All of this would have been a big nothing, except one of the students of this revival was Doctor C.I. Scoffield, who just happen to put information garnered from this woman’s prophesies, and visions into his annotated Baptist Study Bible, where it was dubbed “The Rapture.”  Perhaps with some desire, to obscure the source of this great revelation of “The Prophet CI Scoffield” – who for decades was accredited with this revelation.

Several books have been written describing in great detail, this woman, her revelations, and how it came to pass that Pentecostal false doctrine, in a process of monkey see monkey do-ism, was passed on between the usual suspects of know-nothing, wannabe bible teachers among evangelicals, fundamentalists, Pentecostals, and in more recent days Charismatic churches.

On the other side, we have a man who has made himself a multi-millionaire profiting / trafficking from this doctrine.  His books and movies in the last half-decade have caused a great resurgence in this doctrine in the church.  So much so, that an assortment of soft-brained preachers, teachers, and evangelists, in a great variety of denominations, have been increasingly teaching that if one does not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, they can not even be saved.

These fundamentalist fanatics don’t know the history of their churches or denominations, nor do they have any idea or care as to what their founders’ doctrinally believed concerning the second coming of Christ.  The truth is that their most heralded teachers and Bible scholars. DL Moody, Billy Sunday, Charles Spurgeon, RA Torrey, Charles Finney, John Calvin, Menno Simmons, the list goes on and on . . .  And not a single one of these believed in any pre-tribulation Rapture – the reason was that no such doctrine existed for them to believe or not believe in.  Consequently, these scholars had greatly differing opinions on when the second coming of Christ would occur -- but not a secret rapture.  By teaching such utter nonsense today, these arch-rapturists are ascribing all their leaders and founders to hell as well.

In recent years this rapture profiteering multi-millionaire has sunk in tens of thousands of dollars to try to prove the ancientness of his pet doctrine, as he has now a vested interest in seeing that his franchised doctrine stays as his cash cow for as long it can.  So in corrupt human reasoning, it is easy to understand why he has tried to hard to make all the wood, hay, and stubble he could out of these selective quotes from a epistle written by the Roman Catholic priest / Saint named Ephraem who in 374 ad wrote an epistle on “End Times.”

The utter folly of pretending to build sound fundamentalist and Pentecostal doctrine off of the writings of a fourth century Roman Catholic Priest is mind numbing to say the least, and has the potential to open the flood gates of hell in Bible believing circles in this vast-vast area of untapped writings for establishing ones pet false doctrine.

In response to this, we cited fully the text in question, and posted last year an examination of said text, and not surprisingly, we found that what the writer had said was taught in this text was not at all the case.  This document is posted and annotated on this website for anyone to personally examine and decide for themselves as to what was actually written.

What this espoused “Rapturist” did in his book is a very normal tactic of taking selective quotes or even edited quotes and using these to bolster a pre-determined claim.  This is a big reason why there is so much bad teaching these days.  So many people just want to prove their point and are willing to fudge the Greek, the Hebrew, or the quotes they use from commentaries and books.

The question comes, “How can a preacher cherry pick, and construct truth,” truth that these ungodly lying preachers and teachers expect their followers to stake their life and soul upon it?

In the case of what we were about to post, it was purely a gift of the Lord that was found where we were doing research for an article on a completely different subject.

Tertullian wrote the passage in about 200 AD, approximately 174 years before the much-ballyhooed Epistle of St. Ephream’s.  It is located in a series of Epistles outlining the law and doctrine Tertullian was creating concerning Christian wives and their wearing burka’s, Christian virgin’s and their wearing veils, rules regarding Christian marriage, and mounting rules concerning a wife’s church duties.  Much of this, Tertullian admits he has no basis to speak of because these things are not mentioned in scripture, the gospels, the epistles, nor spoken of by any Apostolic father before him – the way he wants to speak of these matters.  We can not explain how this arch-Rapturist passed up this passage – the only possibility is that with the context around it, he would then be forced to explain how amid this sea of obvious falsities – he could cherry pick this out as truth.  Or perhaps it might be more that this passage destroys his doctrine, as it has been falsely reordered beginning with this female “prophetess” in the Irvingite Revival.

We believe the latter is true because the Irvingites were known students of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.  Therefore, it is reasonable to assume, the prophetess in question not only knew of, but may have also extensively read the passage of Tertullian below, before she gave her fictitious visions and prophecies containing her altered rendition of this passage in that was termed in her day “The secret coming of Christ or “The secret catching away of the church.”

Tertullian: On the rapture

For why did the Lord foretell a “woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck,” (Matthew 24:19 The context here is of the “earthly church fleeing” at the rise of the Antichrist as spoken of by Daniel, that the “Great Shoa” has come, such as has never been seen upon the earth.) except because He testifies that in that day (In the day of the Great Shoa there shall be a) disencumbrance of the encumbrances of children (This is an absolutely breath taking interpretation of this passage by Tertullian.  Here Tertullian’s has made out of whole cloth the desolation of children – that babes and children shall cease.)  (And these) Will (Cease to) be an inconvenience. (Tertullian declares children in light of preaching the gospel children are “an encumbrance” and “an inconvenience.)  It is to marriage, of course, that those encumbrances appertain; (So Tertullian’s inconvenience goes beyond just babies and small children but engulf the whole of marriage as well) but that (“woe”) will not pertain to widows. At the first trump of the angel (Christian wives) will spring forth disencumbered (from their babies, from their children that give suck, and presumably from their “duties” as a wife [this sounds a lot like feminism] and they) will freely bear (The message of the Gospel across the earth.) to the end (The time of the last trump, regardless of) whatsoever pressure and persecution, (Shall be set before them) with no burdensome fruit of marriage heaving in the womb, none in the bosom. (They will not deny the faith. As previously encumbered and inconvenienced wives did in earlier persecutions.) To his wife Book I Chapter 5

So what we have here, is a made up fantasy concerning a rapture or catching away taking place at the first trumpet where of babies and children that are being breast fed are whisked off so that these woman can fearlessly preach the gospel.

In looking at this, we can see how the teaching of the rapture is a word for word spiritualization of this passage – so what is here spoken of is a catching away at the first trumpet of babes and small children  -- in the rapture it is taught there will be a catching away of babes in the Lord and the Lord’s children.

And the mothers preaching and dying for the faith are simply spiritualized to be the churches of tribulated believers – who die for their faith as punishment for not having believed sooner.

The flaw of the secret catching away at the first trumpet is that it does not coincide with Matthew 24,or with the record in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. (So here the first trumpet sounds)

Revelation 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out (perishing during) of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, (The Antichrist) and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

See the problem is, in Matthew 24, there are no trumpets.  In 2 Thessalonians, there is only a last trumpet, and in the Book of Revelation, the first trumpet does not mesh with the doctrine Tertullian is trying to espouse here.

So we have to say that Tertullian’s knowledge of the Bible in this area is a bit flaky at best.  No doubt, any 19th Century Bible student of eschatology (And we refer here specifically to the Irvingites) would have instantly known that any mention of “the first trump” or “the first trumpet” would have instantly sunk any vision or prophecy given with such an obvious erroneous detail.  So removing this detail and spiritualizing the babes and sucklings as believers and the women as churches of tribulation believers, suddenly we can clearly see before us, the whole of the doctrine of the Rapture in this passage.

Now if for a moment we would pretend that Tertullian was so great a prophet here (Which he was not at all.) we have someone prophesying that at the first trumpet, in the church, children would cease to be born, families would cease and even marriage.   – If someone would ask me what I thought this prophet was prophesying of, I would answer: He is speaking of the day in which we live in, that the trumpet of God is sounding and the judgment of God is going on all around us, but none can see it or hear it.  This is evidenced, in that for a generation now, we have had 70% divorce rates in the church, the Sunday school programs, except where they have bus programs, are empty.  The population in all westernized Christian is waning.  In the census taken, married couples for the first time in the US, and that means in the church, are a minority.  The church has hit the curse of God as prescribed in Deuteronomy, where before our eyes the many are becoming the few and soon their enemies shall begin to surround and devour them.

There are things afoot in our midst in this hour that eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard – and it is the sound of the coming judgments.

2 Peter 1:8-9 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful -- But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see .  .  .