Exploring Prophetic Mysteries

 With Daniel Speck 2.18.12


Darby’s Deadly Doctrine



The origins of the invisible return of Christ, and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture


John Nelson Darby – Invented the doctrines of the secret return of Christ and the pre-Tribulation Rapture based on his faulty Dispensational theology sometime around 1830. He then aggressively, almost single handedly sold it to many Evangelical leaders of the late 19th century.


D L Moody – The most popular American evangelist of the late 19th century and founder of the Moody Bible Institute, who came under the influence of John Darby, and became an ardent pre-Tribulationalist.


Cyrus Scofield – Joined Moody’s ministry and created a popular study Bible which included extensive notes on Darby’s theology, the invisible return of Christ and the pre-Tribulation Rapture.


Lewis Sperry Chafer – Mentored by Scofield and started the Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the most influential Evangelical seminaries where Darby’s teachings were aggressively taught.


Clarence Larkin – Created popular prophecy drawings and charts in the early 20th century based on John Darby’s eschatology, the invisible return of Christ, and the pre-Tribulation Rapture.


Hal Lindsey – Attended Dallas Theological Seminary and wrote the “Late, Great Planet Earth” in 1970, a wildly successful book based on Darby’s eschatology which brought widespread awareness of pre-Tribulation Rapture beliefs into both the secular world and Evangelical churches.


Tim LaHaye – An influential Baptist minister who co-authored the very successful “Left Behind” series of fictional books, further bringing Darby’s invisible Coming and pre-Trib beliefs into mainstream popularity.



An invisible Coming and pre-Tribulation Rapture is not found in the Bible


Before 1830 the belief in an invisible Return of Christ and a pre-Tribulation Rapture was unheard of in  the public discourse of the Evangelical Church. No one today has independently studied the Prophetic Scripture and come to any such conclusion on their own. Every new believer must be taught this solely from Darby’s theology in order to believe that there will be an invisible return of Christ and a pre-Tribulation Rapture. This teaching cannot be derived directly from the Bible because it just simply is not there. Jesus never taught it, the Apostles never taught it and the Hebrew Prophets never taught it. In fact Christ Himself as well as Paul clearly warned us against being fooled into believing in a secret Coming or a pre-Antichrist/Apostasy Rapture (Matthew 24:26-28 and II Thessalonians 2:3-4). The Apostle Paul said, …learn not to go beyond what is written.” II Corinthians 4:6. If Darby’s invisible Coming and pre-Tribulation Rapture cannot be found anywhere in the Word of God it has to be categorized as mere speculation and must be considered an unbiblical doctrine.



Evangelicals before Darby never saw a pre-Trib Rapture in the Bible


None of the Reformers and prominent Evangelicals like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, John Knox, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Bunyan, John Wesley, George Whitfield, George Muller, or Charles Spurgeon ever preached an invisible Return or pre-Tribulation Rapture. All these Evangelical reformers, preachers and theologians studied the Bible most of their lives and never saw it anywhere in the Scriptures.  



Contradicting Darby’s theology, the Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture will occur at the Seventh Trumpet after the Antichrist is revealed and every eye will certainly see Jesus when He first appears on the clouds


Every eye will see Him

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him... Revelation 1:7


He will appear with great power and glory to gather the elect after the Tribulation

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars of the heaven will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31


The coming of the Lord and the Rapture will not occur until the Antichrist is revealed

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together with Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed wither by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceived you, for it will not come unless the apostasy come first and the man of lawless ness is revealed... II Thessalonians 2:1-3


The Rapture will occur at the Last Trumpet

Behold I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. II Corinthians 15:51-52


The Mystery of God will be finished at the Seventh Trumpet, not before the Tribulation

“...In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound then the Mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.” Revelation 10:6-7


The Mystery of God is Christ in the Church

The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to the saints, to who God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Colossians 1:26-27


Because every eye will see Him and the Rapture as well, the Church as a mystery to the world will be finished

When Christ who is our life is revealed, then you will also be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4


Jesus will be revealed from heaven and give relief the the afflicted Church

...And give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His might angels in flaming fire. II Thessalonians 1:7


Christ warns us about believing in a secret coming

For if they say to you, “Behold He is in the wilderness,” do not go out, or “Behold He is in the inner rooms,” do not believe them.  Matthew 24:26


He describes His return being as visible as lightning flashing across the entire sky

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:27



Many good ministries are endangering Christians by teaching Darbyism


This is solely a criticism of those unbiblical teachings about the invisible Coming, the pre-Tribulation Rapture. The faithful preaching of the Gospel and adherence to sound Biblical, Evangelical doctrine by any of those mentioned is not questioned. There are many good churches and ministries that preach the true Gospel and sound Evangelical doctrine while unfortunately holding to Darby’s false teaching on the Second Coming. This may not have caused a serious problem in the past but as the Tribulation and the return of Christ draws near, the effect of these unbiblical teaching may prove to be catastrophic for unprepared Christians who have no expectations of being here when the Antichrist comes to power. “He (the Beast) will destroy the unsuspecting.” Daniel 8:25.  


Darby’s Exclusive Brethren Cult


Evangelical ministers of Darby’s day warned of the cult-like aspects of Darby’s Exclusive Brethren group, where he exercised authoritarian control. Even today the reclusive Exclusive Brethren are considered an extreme cult by most good Evangelical churches; steeped in legalism, authoritarian leadership, and heretical teachings. Darby was infamous for his rancorous squabbles and condemnations of other Christian leaders who rejected his extreme eschatology and theological inventions, among them George Mueller, highly regarded as a champion of the faith by believers even today. Charles Spurgeon, a contemporary of John Darby and considered by many to be the greatest evangelist and Bible teacher of the 19th century, had little good to say about Darby, his theology or his group. Spurgeon was sharply critical of Darby and his destructive cult. He published numerous articles about the more unseemly aspects of Darby’s ministry:


“In his case it assumes the form of infallibility. Mr. Darby is, to all intents and purposes a thorough Pope, though under a Protestant name. He will never admit that he is in error... how need we feel surprised that Mr. Darby, as the 'prophet, priest, and king' of the party, should exercise a perfect despotism within the domains of Darbyism?. . .”

"Plymouth Brethren have no feeling wherever their principles are concerned. I know indeed of no sect or denomination so utterly devoid of kindness of heart. It is the most selfish religious system with which I am acquainted. It is entirely wrapped up in itself. It recognizes no other denomination, whether the Church of England, or either of the Nonconformist denominations, as a church of Christ. Mr. Darby has again and again said in print, as well as written in private, that those who belong to his party in the metropolis, constitute the only church of Christ in London. . . .” James Grant, who wrote several articles in Spurgeon’s 1869 “Sword and Trowel.”


Spurgeon commented on Grant’s article: “Mr. Grant has done real service to the churches by his treatise on "The heresies of the Plymouth Brethren," which we trust he will publish in a separate form. It is almost impossible for even his heavy hand to press too severely upon this malignant power, whose secret but rapid growth is among the darkest signs of the times.”


George Mueller, an evangelist who is still famous for his faith-based orphanage ministry was once a member of the Plymouth Brethren. After being condemned by Darby for resisting his theology, he had this to say: "My brother I am a constant reader of the Bible, and I soon found out what I was taught to believe did not always agree with what my Bible said. I came to see I must either part company with what John Darby, or my precious Bible, and I chose to cling to my Bible and part from Mr. Darby."


George Mueller also was adamant that II Thessalonians 2 clearly states that a pre-Apostasy/Antichrist coming of Christ will not occur: “The Scripture declares plainly that the Lord Jesus will not come until the apostasy shall have taken place,  and the man of sin … shall have been revealed…” George Mueller.


Darbyism is a sub-cult in the Evangelical Church


Unfortunately Darby’s theology has taken over most Evangelical Church’s teachings on eschatology. Together with other sub-cults like Pentecostalism and Preterism, it is creating a generation of believers who have little ability to discern falsehood in apocalyptic teachings. This may prove to be disasterous for unprepared churches when the Antichrist rises to world power during the approaching Tribulation period. But God is faithful and Christ will preserve His Bride through the test of the Tribulation, at least those believers who reject “this malignant power” of Darbyism and prepare for what the Lord clearly forewarned. “Behold I have told you in advance.” Matthew 24:25. We are commanded to be alert, prayerful and prepared to meet the Lord in the air when He returns after the Tribulation.


As with any false doctrine, Darbyism must be categorized as a satanic inspired deception, even if it is taught by otherwise responsible and effective Evangelical ministries. Its true damage to the Body of Christ will not be evident until until the millions of unprepared and misinformed believers who believe in an invisible Coming and pre-Tribulation Rapture suddenly find themselves under persecution by the Antichrist in the extreme test of the Tribulation period.



Dispensationalism does not require a Pre-Tribulation Rapture


Because Darby also taught an extreme form of Dispensationalism, many believers assume that the two theological teachings are inseparable. Yes, the Scriptures teach distinct dispensations, but only two are clearly stated: Law and Grace (John 1:17). The Bible never states, nor even hints that there are seven dispensations. Even among Dispensationalists, there is much disagreement about what qualifies as a dispensation and what doesn’t. The Seventh Trumpet Appearance and Rapture will end the Church Age and the Dispensation of Grace, no matter how many dispensations there may be.



Read also: The Pre-Tribulation Rapture,  The Seventh Trumpet Rapture


See the Chart: Timeline of the Last Days




John Nelson Darby invented and aggressively pushed the ideas of the invisible Coming of Christ and the pre-Tribulation Rapture into prominent Evangelical Ministries. All modern belief in these unbiblical doctrines can be traced directly back to Darby alone through the ministries of the popular pre-Tribulation Rapture teachers of today. No student of the Scriptures can independently realize an identical eschatology as Darby taught by studying the Bible alone because it is simply is not there, in fact the Scriptures warn us about being deceived by these types of teachings. Unfortunately for the millions of pre-Trib believers, the deception and dangers of Darbyism will not become evident until the Tribulation period is already under way and the opportunity to prepare is long past.  


© Daniel Speck 2.18.12


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