Deceiving and Being Deceived
By Dave MacPherson
Dave MacPherson Study Archive | The Real Manuel Lacunza | Deceiving and Being Deceived | Thomas Ice - Hired Gun | Scholars Weigh My Research | Margaret MacDonald's Originial Pretribulational Vision | Pre-Trib Rapture Die-hards | Revisers of Pre-Trib Rapture History
"Dear Like-Minded Friend.. in recent years pretrib rapture promoters like Thomas Ice have swamped pretrib sites with pretrib origin articles that are sloppy and at times even dishonest. I recently wrote the following article (which may well be my last one on this topic since after 30 years of research I'm starting to experience burn-out!). Am now sending this to a number of non-pretrib sites and hoping that some, including yours, will be led to air it. Lord bless! Rapturously in Christ alone, Dave "
You've probably heard that the pretribulation rapture view was published by a Rev. Morgan Edwards in 1788 and also by a Medieval writer called Pseudo-Ephraem 1000 years earlier.
The Edwards claim (promoted by John Bray and copied by Frank Marotta, Thomas Ice, Tim LaHaye etc.) is based on a 1980 book by Thomas McKibbens and Kenneth Smith, while the claim for Pseudo-Ephraem (promoted by Grant Jeffrey and copied by Thomas Ice, J. R. Church, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Chuck Missler, Dave Hunt, Hal Lindsey etc.) rests on a 1985 book by Paul Alexander.
Not only have these promoters covered up and twisted what McKibbens/Smith and Alexander have written, but they've also concealed and perverted Morgan Edwards' and Pseudo-Ephraem's own words!
Let's focus first on Morgan Edwards (hereafter: M.E.).
Promoters see a pretrib rapture in the following words by M.E.: "...the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ's 'appearing in the air' (I Thes. iv, 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium...."
If promoters had been sure of their pretrib claim, they never would have had to collusively cover up the following M.E. statements that contradict their claim:
On p. 14 M.E. described the "Turkish or Ottoman empire" (which began around 1300 A.D.) as the "beast that started out of the earth" (Rev. 13's second beast). (Since Bray etc. repeatedly claim that M.E. had only a "futurist" outlook, without which M.E. couldn't have logically expected a pretrib rapture, Bray deliberately skips over the historicism in M.E.'s "Ottoman" remark - historicism being the belief that the tribulation, covering many centuries, began at some point in the distant past.)
On p. 20 M.E. wrote that the "wicked one" (II Thess. 2:8) has "hitherto assumed no higher title than 'the vicar general of Christ on earth'" and described "Antichrist" as "popery" and a "succession of persons." (Promoters emphasize M.E.'s comments about the "last" Pope and ignore M.E.'s view that "popery" had "hitherto" (for many centuries) been playing the role of II Thess. 2:8's "wicked one" while wearing a "mask" (as he put it) - a first beast that historicism could easily see during the second beast's reign!)
Since historicism - and not preterism or futurism - is the only one of these three schools which often thinks "years" when reading "days" in the Bible, it isn't surprising to find such year/day historicism in M.E.
On p. 19, for example, while discussing Rev. 11's two witnesses, M.E. says "there are no more than about 204 years between now and their death: I should therefore expect that their appearance is not far off." (Bray quotes M.E.'s very next sentence, on another matter, but ignores this one! Could a futurist ever apply a couple of centuries - instead of only 1260 days - to those witnesses?)
Something else. The authoritative 1980 book about M.E. that inspired the claim promoted by Bray, Ice, LaHaye etc. never classified M.E.'s view as "pretrib," or even remotely resembling it, and the book's authorship had the same conclusion when later interviewed by both phone and correspondence!
And when Thomas Ice's "Pre-Trib Perspectives" newsletter (Sep./Oct., 1995) ran his own article promoting Edwards as a teacher of "pretribulationism." he couldn't find any of the heavyweight authorities on Edwards, that he listed and quoted, evaluating that 18th century pastor as a pretrib!
In light of the fact that Edwards embraced historicism (which can see some future things yet to be fulfilled) and not pure futurism (which sees no past tribulational fulfillment), it's easy to believe that Edwards, like some other historicists of that period, saw a three-and-a-half-year period at the end of a 1260-year tribulation - the same percentage a futurist would have if he were to see a period of three and a half days at the end of a 1260-day tribulation; such a percentage would of course be a posttrib view!
At least I don't have to juggle or cover up historical data to come to such a conclusion!
Article continued on the Pseudo Ephraim thread.