Margaret MacDonald Was NOT Darby’s Source

The Lie – a quote from the Nazi era:

“If you tell a lie big enough and often enough people will start believing it’s true.”

David MacPherson
David MacPherson began the whole controversy with his claims which have so little supporting evidence that one wonders how he could write his book with a straight face. He claimed that the subject of the Rapture only began when John Nelson Darby got it from a “seer” by the name of Margaret MacDonald, who supposedly received it in a trance. This is patently false.

· Max S. Weremchuk wrote a major biography on Darby entitled, “John Nelson Darby: A Biography. “ In it he says, “Having read MacPherson’s book I find it impossible to make a just comparison between what miss MacDonald ‘prophesied’ and what Darby taught. It appears that the wish was the father of the idea.”

· Darby had already written out his pretribulation Rapture views in January 1827, 3 years prior to the 1830 MacDonald prophecy.

· Darby’s belief came from Scripture, not from a girl’s prophecy. He did not get his eschatological views from men, but rather from the doctrine of the church. His views were gradually formed and theologically and Biblically based rather than derived from any Pentecostal group or MacDonald prophecy.

· Darby went to a meeting being held where MacDonald gave her word, and he concluded that what was going on there was “demonic.” He would not have borrowed an idea from a source that he clearly thought was demonic.“

· Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib Rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended.

· Darby’s earliest published essay on Biblical prophecy was in 1829. In his earliest of essays, he expounds upon the Rapture as the Church’s hope, not the Church’s purification during the Tribulation.

· Darby’s conclusion concerning the pre-trib Rapture came when he saw clearly the distinction between Israel and the Church, two separate dispensations.

Margaret MacDonald was actually post-trib. MacDonald’s vision was in 1830, 3 years after Darby’s conclusions about the Rapture.

· MacDonald’s statements show her to hold a POST-trib position. She said of the Tribulation:

“…being the fiery trial which is to try us …for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus.” She looked for the Church being purged by the Antichrist. This is not pre-trib belief. Pre-trib doctrine shows the Church being removed BEFORE THE COMING of the Antichrist.

John Bray
Bray was an anti-Rapture believer, but he said that Margaret MacDonald was teaching a single (post-trib) coming of our Lord Jesus. This contradicts the Rapture doctrine which teaches a two-staged event: first, Christ comes for his Church and second, seven years later his return to earth. So Margaret MacDonald was post-trib, NOT pre-trib.

Roy A. Huebner, Brethren writer
Huebner wrote that Darby first began to believe in the pre-trib Rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827. Huebner wrote of Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts:
· He saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming …that Israel and the Church were distinct.

· During his convalescence, Darby learned that he ”ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.” He also saw a gap of time between the Rapture and the second coming, which supports the doctrine of the pre-trib Rapture.

· Darby himself said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago,” so that would be January 1827.

· Darby had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation Rapture hinges. He claimed that the doctrine virtually jumped out of the pages of Scripture once he accepted and consistently maintained the distinction between Israel and the church.

· Huebner considers MacPherson’s charges as “using slander that J. N. Darby took the pretribulation Rapture from those very opposing, demon-inspired utterances.”







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