Not In The Bible
By James Donahue
The late theologian and
Bible historian Dr. Ernest L. Martin once wrote that the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, but rather
is a relatively recent word created by Christians to describe a sequence of events described in the writings of Paul concerning
the “spiriting away” of Christians at the time of the great tribulation.
Martin, who had a way
of shaking both Christian and Jewish doctrines during his life, posted some serious reservations about the reliability of
the rapture story.
While he admits that
certain Bible verses refer to some kind of supernatural events involving a raising of believers into the clouds in the end
times, he wonders why “the doctrine of the Rapture is not mentioned in any Christian writings, of which we have knowledge,
until after the year 1830 A.D. . . No one mentioned a syllable about it.”
Martin said that “if
the doctrine were so clearly stated in Scripture, it seems incredible that no one should have referred to it before the 19th
Century. This does not necessarily show that the teaching is wrong, but it does mean that thousands of eminent scholars who
lived over a span of seventeen centuries must be considered as prophetic dunces for not having understood so fundamental a
Thus Martin concludes
that the lapse suggests serious “historical problems” associated with the doctrine. “The lapse of seventeen
centuries when no one mentioned anything about it must be a serious obstacle to its reliability,” he wrote.
He draws attention to
a book by Dave MacPherson, The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin,” an investigative work that traces the origin of the concept
of a two-event return of Jesus, that included the lifting of the “believers” into the clouds, which eventually
became known as the Rapture of the Saints.
According to this book,
the story is traced to a Pentecostal movement in Scotland started by a radical Presbyterian
minister, Edward Irving, in the 1820s that involved speaking in tongues and spirit-motivated prophetic utterances. In 1930
a member of this group, Margaret Macdonald, fell ill and while in a fever she supposedly “came under the power” of the spirit and told a vision of Christ appearing in two stages at his second coming.
He would come first in glory to them that look for him, and finally in the final state “when every eye would see Him.”
It was from this utterance
that John Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren, developed the Rapture doctrine. That doctrine grew at first in the
evangelical community, but it has since spread throughout the “fundamental Christian” community. It is generally
accepted today as the absolute truth of God.
It is this story that
appears to be driving both Christian and Moslem world leaders into a global war because they believe the time is ripe for
the return of Jesus. They see the second coming of their god as the only hope left for a dying world.
What they fail to realize
is that they are doing the very thing the old prophets warned them not to do. It will not bring the desired results, but rather
steal the critical time we need to find a way out of this mess.