In 2010 I wrote a short article about the history of Dispensationalism (Dispensational History in a Nutshell). My post was charitably critiqued by a Dispensational blogger. My challenger believes my post is a ‘reformed’ conspiracy theory. I stand behind it. I was reminded of this exchange a couple days ago when I received an e-mail update that his post received a comment from a fellow believer who was happy to have it as a reference in case this debate arises within his circle of theological friends.
I must say that it is too bad that it ever should arise. Guilt by association is no way to resolve conflict – especially with brothers. My purpose in posting this brief history is not to win that debate. I often find that popular dispensational teachers refute traditional schools of eschatology by associating their views with Catholicism. I merely want to point out the irony that some of the key tenants of dispensationalism find their roots in Romanism as well.
I’ve been told that I promote a conspiracy theory by stating that there is a connection between Jesuit scholar Manual Lacunza (pen-name Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra) and charismatic Bible teacher Edward Irving. Yet, it was Mr. Irving who translated Lacunza’s book into English and popularized it’s proto-dispensationalist views.
That it was Edward Irving who first popularized the notion of a ‘secret’ pre-tribulational rapture in England is provided by SP Tragelles (Plymouth Brethren Pastor and Greek New Testament scholar) in his work: The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming: How is it Taught in Scripture? And Why?
Touching on the history of Dispensational Theology in England, Tragelles writes:
But when the theory of a secret coming of Christ was first brought forward (about the year 1832) 7 it was adopted with eagerness: it suited certain preconceived opinions, and it was accepted by some as that which harmonised contradictory thoughts. There should, however, have been a previous point determined, whether such contradictory thoughts, or any of them, rested on the sure warrant of God’s written Word.
I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that there would be a secret rapture of the Church at a secret coming, until this was given forth as an “utterance” in Mr Irving’s Church, from what was there received as being the voice of the Spirit. But whether any one ever asserted such a thing or not, it was from that supposed revelation that the modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose. It came not from Holy Scripture, but from that which falsely pretended to be the Spirit of God…
In light of this, if one is duped by a conspiracy theory, let it be SP Tragelles, whose scholarship speaks for itself.