John MacArthur–Pushing Darby
The following is an historical timeline of sorts, showing the origins of American Dispensationalism. This teaching, founded upon a hard distinction between Israel and the Church, is still, despite it’s origin, being propagated, according to a recent poll by 65% of evangelicals. It is truly disturbing that proclaiming Jesus as King sitting on David’s throne is as scandalous within the visible Church today as when Peter preached it to the Jews in Acts 2, but it is. Where did these teachings come from? Here’s a short overview. – JT
Manuel De Lacunza (1731-1801) completed a large work entitled The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty. In it, he condemned the Roman Catholic priesthood as corrupt, and took a futuristic view of the book of Revelation and the appearance of Antichrist.
c. 1824 – Lacunza’s work banned by Pope Leo XII, placed on Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
1826 – Edward Irving (1792-1834) discovers an 1812 Spanish edition of Lacunza’s work, The Coming of the Messiah during his travels. He translated the Spanish edition into English and, before publication, compared it to a Latin edition.
1827 – Irving’s translation appears in English in two volumes.
1826-1830 These are the years of the Albury Park Prophetic Conferences, started by Henry Drummond. Both John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) and Irving appeared at these conferences. As a result of these conferences, a compilation entitled Dialogues on Prophesy was printed during 1828-1829.
Historical note: Because the French Revolution was widely viewed as a fulfillment of prophecy, the end of the world was anticipated. It was believed by many that the 1260 years of Daniel terminated at the French Revolution. Millennial expectations were high, but since Christ did not return as many predicted, in 1844 prophetic interests declined. This historical background helped shape the personal thinking of J.N. Darby, and the readiness characterizing the reception of his prophetic views at a popular level.
In 1827, Darby sustained a serious leg injury, and spent a long period of recuperation in Dublin. During this time, two truths were impressed upon his mind: 1) His union with Christ, and 2) the coming of the Lord. In contemplating union with Christ, he then saw in reading Isaiah 32 “an obvious change in dispensation” which concerned Israel on earth. At this time (1827) Darby stated :
I was not able to put these things in their respective places or arrange them in order, as I can now (1864)
This is the historical birth of the two-purpose theory: Israel’s destiny is earthly; the Church’s destiny is heavenly. This prophetic outlook of Darby sprang from his consideration of the nature of the Church (ecclesiology).
1829 – Darby challenges current prophetic discussions. His criticism? “There is confusion of the Jewish and Gentile dispensations – the hinge upon which the understanding of Scripture turns.”
From 1839 to 1845 Darby traveled in France and Switzerland. Darby sees a great separation between God’s purposes for Israel and the Church. He writes The Hopes of the Church of God and gives us a taste of what would later become American dispensationalism.
The Jewish nation is never to enter into the Church.
Following from this, he submits that “the union of the Church in a single body, whether Jews or Gentiles, was not revealed in the Old Testament…it is not in Zion that we look for the Church.”
With these basic principles operative when approaching the Bible, Darby would then paraphrase Christ’s words to Nicodemus as follows:
If I have spoken to you of the things which apply to Israel, if I have told you that Israel must be born again to enjoy those terrestrial promises which belong to her, and you have not understood me, how will you comprehend about heavenly things…the glory of Christ…and the Church?
Worse, the Israel-Church distinction is so hard and fast in Darby’s mind that Darby would even divide the attributes of the Father and the names of the Son:
The Church is in relationship to the Father, and the Jews with Jehovah…Jesus, in consequence, is presented to the Jews as Messiah, the centre of the promises and of the blessings of Jehovah to that nation; to the Church He appears as the Son of God…who is the expression of all the glory of His father…the same person may be a king of a country, and a father of a family; and this is the difference between God’s acting toward us and the Jews…[among the Jews] God sustains His name of Jehovah, and His character of judgment and righteousness…[in the Church] the Father reveals His character of goodness and love…The Lord having been rejected by the Jewish people, is becoming wholly a heavenly person.
Darby, in his presentations of his teachings, senses they are novel and very new:
I am afraid that many a cherished feeling, dear to the children of God, has been shocked this evening…It is to be feared, dear friends, that the exposition of prophecy this evening has not been the view which you have been hitherto led to take of it.
Darby admits his principle of interpretation had been hidden from the Church for nineteen centuries and then revealed to him.
Even some Brethren leaders contemporary with Darby felt that he “was building a completely new structure of Biblical interpretation.”
With these new doctrinal formations, Darby then traveled to America and Canada, where his influence was to be felt. In America, these views, which started in the midst of a sect opposed to organized churches and denominations [the Plymouth Brethren] cut across denominational lines and ultimately came to permeate Bible-believing circles.
2011 – John MacArthur – Still pushing Darby’s extra-biblical, heretical, eschatological doctrines.
Adopted from Jon Zen’s Dispensationalism: A Reformed Inquiry Into The Leading Figures & Features
As a self titled “leaky dispensationalist”, does MacArthur hold to the “literal, historical, contextual” view of that false theology, as described above? I’ve heard of some “progressive dispensationalists” who have “left behind” some of the more outrageous elements.
Here’s a little further insight on Darby:
B. W. Newton was convinced that J. N. Darby was working for the Jesuits. He says, “I often think he was in the employ of Jesuits; his brother was a Catholic and he himself at one time was known to be on the verge of joining just before he left the Bar.” (Fry MSS. Vol IV. pp. p. 44-45). Certainly Darby leant strongly to Roman Catholicism at one time and was well versed in Roman Catholic literature, especially that of Jesuits. He says of that time,
“I looked for the church. Not having peace in my soul, nor knowing yet where peace is, I too, governed by a morbid imagination, thought much of Rome, and its professed sanctity, and catholicity, and antiquity – not of the possession of divine truth and of Christ myself. Protestantism met none of these feelings, and I was rather a bore to my clergyman by acting on the rubrics. I looked out for something more like reverend antiquity. I was really much in Dr. Newman’s state of mind.”
Yes, working for the Jesuits. So was Martin Luther. He was a monk and taught in a Catholic University! he wrote fawning introductions to the Pope. The whole Reformation was a proto-Jesuit plot!!!
Wilson may be onto something.
And all this time we thought Luther was Augustinian.
OF COURSE – it was a Jesuit cover!
I’ll second that Wow.
I’m not sure if I can do this in the comments section here or not, but I have put together a few youtube videos explaining much of the history behind the rise of dispensationalism, and how it is contradictory to orthodox Christian eschatology.
I have a DVD from http://store.nicenecouncil.com/ with those scenes. Do you have their permission to post them, John?
Thanks for the note Manfred. I came across the videos on youTube and thought they were excellent, so I just bundled them onto one page just as a resource, however I didn’t know where they were from. I’ve just sent an email to email@example.com to see if they require me to stop displaying them.
Link is Kaput, John 😦
What is with the bashing of one of the greatest Bile expositor’s ever? I read your site because I like it, but no more. If you would read your Bible as it is written, you would be a premillennialist as well.
Ken, it is not about a man, but doctrine. Turning a blind eye to error in the Church is not unifying, it is destructive.
Since Darby rose to the bait of these Jesuit teachings- using the teachings on Daniel 9 by the Jesuits Ribera and Bellarmine-coupled with Scofield, so by the middle of the 1900’s, we have the most horrific attack on the Doctrines of Grace. Both concepts were openly and clearly Jesuit concepts, pushed by the Society of Jesus in order to counter the Doctrines of Grace. Think we would do well to ask some questions. One being, “Wow, if Darby did such a bang up job for Rome, what am I doing here?” How does one teach grace and anti-grace at the same time and come off looking so good?
Your comment was deleted because you wrote a book. Please see comment guidelines under the main menu. Thanks.
This is an interesting blog. Having grown up in Missionary Baptist country (Arkansas) and believing the pre mil doctrines for quite a long time I now believe it to be false. However, I do remember first believing the gospel in this denomination and hold them dear to my heart. Since I do not think you will publish my comment I will be more blunt and tell you that although you softened the remark to Ms. O’Connor it is still saracatic in tone. I do not know her and if indeed she did “write a book” would it not be more becoming of a Pastor to simply private email than to let all know how “stupid” you think she is?
Cassandra, one of my cheaper hobbies is nitpicking at Joel’s posts, but in this case his comment was temperate compared to yours. It is you, not Joel, who publicly attached the description of “stupid” to Tricia’s comment. The thought had not occurred to me until I read it from you.
I’m beginning to think Dispensationalism is allowed by God as a great deception for those who refuse the love of the truth in the church. We can’t fight it if God allows this evil but we can see it for what it is…lawlessness and anti-christ dogma.
Dispensationalism is a doctrine of devils.
Lacunza’s is quote a story!
Quite a story…
One big link missed, Joel: C.I. Scofield!