American Fundamentalists
(Christ's Entry into Washington in 2008)
by Joel Pelletier
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Founding Fathers: John Nelson Darby
Darby, a 19th Century Irish/English preacher, was the architect of "Premillennial Dispensationalism", what we know today as the "Rapture" and "Armageddon", which he devised from a number of books of the Bible (including Revelations). These ideas, including a chart he created, have been adopted and mythologized as Biblical fact by current American Christian Extremists, and profited from by writer and political operative TIm LaHaye in his "Left Behind" series. This type of Prophetic Apocalipticism thrives in the mass media today (think of the "Omen" films) by many in Christian television including Paul Crouch's TBS and film productions and Jack & Rexella Van Impe.

Darby's Rapture Chart, illiustration by Charles Larkin

In fact, the Rapture, et al, as described by current Christian Evangelicals does not actually exist in the Bible, nor do they credit Darby with the timetable, etc. (since to acknowledge his "interpretation" would be to admit that it IS an interpretation, NOT fact and "the TRUTH"). His work was VERY important to the rise of the English and then American Armageddonist movement.

American concepts starting with Manifect Destiny, then The Great Awakening, Premillennialists and Postmillennialists (or "catastrophic millenialism " and "progressive millennialism") helped forward the notion of America as the New Jeruselum, thus explainig why the Second Coming would occour in America.

"I think Darby's views have come to dominate prophetic belief, certainly in America in our era, because first of all it's such a powerful and appealing system in terms of the drama of the events that are described. In Darby's system, human history takes on meaning, and it has an end point. Events are leading toward a final culmination. And also, his system is very appealing because it avoids date setting. It avoids that risk of pinning the system down to a precise date, and therefore it's not falsifiable. There's literally no way to prove Darby's system false, because it involves events that lie in the future. Combine that with the tremendously powerful engine of American mass culture, with paperbacks that can be sold by millions of copies, televisions, videos, movies. There's just a tremendous coming together, it seems to me, of theological and cultural forces propelling this belief system." (L. Michael White, Frontline, PBS)

Links

  • Prophetic Belief in the United States, from PBS Frontline's Apocalypse! (Apocalyptisism Explained), by L. Michael White.
  • The Millennium: A Brief History Focusing on Christianity
  • The Unoriginal John Darby (Rapture Bible College), in which the author poo-poos Darby for never having an original idea (the same argument used against Bach by contemporaries, although he codified Western music temperment, is THE master of composition and fugue, etc). What is important is Darby's pulling together of previous Biblical "scholarship," making it impossible to really disprove (since there's a bit of Nostradamus-style prophesy invloved), and thus solidifying the "Rapture" story accepted as "gospel" today (and creating the need for a "Rapture Bible College")
  • Israel's Fall Feasts and Date-Setting of the Rapture from the Pre-Trib Research Center, discussing the inability for proper date-setting (especially by 19th century American Baptist William Miller, influenced by Darby, who's innacurracy came to be known as the "Great Disappointment"). Highlight of this 1992 article - the end will be in 1993!
  • Critique of Dave MacPherson's "The Rapture Plot" (from according2prophesy.org) - the fine art of biblical scholarship bickering

Updated 6/28/05. Do you have bio material or quotes for this person? Please email it to me!
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2004 Joel Pelletier, joelp.com, email: joelp@joelp.com, web design: the Way Home media
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