Charles Nelson Reilly?
or many years, we've repeatedly lamented the appalling ignorance that is publicly promulgated concerning the history and origin of the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine. Rapturists are broadly guilty of blindly accepting the doctrine put forth in vast numbers of churches, and uncritically accepting outrageously false statements made in defense of the doctrine. The collective refusal to accept the facts moves beyond the Scriptural evidence which demonstrates the doctrine is false, for the historical record concerning how the perspective came down to us is equally damning to the doctrine – thus, in their zeal for the faith, well meaning believers routinely reject basic historical facts.
The truth is, the Rapture system has become like an intellectual virus, intertwined and deeply embedded within the very faith of the believer; and many are so thoroughly conditioned in the Rapture Cult worldview that for them to repudiate the belief is the equivalent of rejecting Christ Himself. However, just like the analogy just utilized, if the believer does not exorcise this particular viral doctrinal infection, it will eventually destroy its host.
The Rapture Cult has now produced multiple generations of believers who have become so completely leavened with this systemic theological mutation that it's clear that they can no longer reason for themselves, so they utilize hackneyed arguments they've been fed via the religious media. Unfortunately, in the process, a huge number of people have become too stupid to realize how embarrassingly ignorant their own statements actually are -– so those believers who know better find themselves stigmatized by the antics of the foolish Rapture Cultists, whose ignorance has brought the Gospel itself into disrepute (see Romans 2:24 for details).
Although Scripture is obviously the final arbiter of any doctrinal conflict, the criticism of the Cult is frequently focused on the historical revisionism of a few men who represent the leadership of the Cult, as they deceitfully put forth faulty data to try to show the doctrine was taught throughout the last millennia (it wasn't).
One particularly annoying facet of this conflict is how the churches and their Rapturist leaders steadfastly refuse to correct falsehoods once they've come to light. Things like plagiarism, intentional misquoting of historical sources, and deceitful debating tactics are commonly seen in Cult circles. With those statements as prologue, when we findanti-Rapture Cult figures who are equally deceitful (or just plain ignorant), we conclude it would be hypocritical to ignore those inconsistencies as well. With that in mind, we note that one of our correspondents, Joseph D, recently wrote in to point out how a rather laughable error has crept in to pro-Rapture as well as anti Rapture writings on the subject.
It seems that an unknown party, seeking to detail the origin of the pre-tribulational Rapture doctrine, has misidentified a key figure as Charles Nelson Darby. First of all, almost all knowledgeable parties agree that John Nelson Darby, a highly respected European theologian of the 19th century, is widely credited with the introduction of the doctrine in America. Indeed, we have letters of correspondence penned over 120 years ago, from leading Christian institutions, publications, and seminaries (and more), in which well known American and Canadian Christians invited Mr. Darby to tour America to teach the "new" doctrine.
The fact that Darby only refined and rehabilitated the doctrine, which he discovered in adjacent sources which were decidedly dubious (and downright occultic), is somewhat moot at this point. The fact is, the doctrine was long ago widely accepted in Christian circles. However, now that many are learning that the Rapture doctrine has influenced the nation's thinking to such a degree that is has played an important role in American military policy, many who have no Spiritual understanding at all are attacking it due to a political agenda.
Thus, just like a foolish believer parroting some thoroughly debunked argument in favor of the doctrine, we now have unlearned (and malicious) opponents of the Gospel, utilizing distorted echoes of genuine reproof which they've misappropriated. In the present instance, that massive beast of globalist man, the Internet, has played a significant role. In this regard, numerous media sources have now misidentified the Irish preacher John Nelson Darby, as Charles Nelson Darby.
Those culturally sensitive souls in our media steeped generation know the only figure with a similar name was the late comedian Charles Nelson Reilly – another Irishman of some repute. Reilly was a clownish character, with many film and television credits, who was exiled to TV game shows in his later years. A very funny man, he has now become the pivotal point man in a grotesque error, as better than a dozen Internet sites, posing as knowledgeable sources of historical fact, have morphed Charles Nelson Reilly onto the persona of John Nelson Darby, to produce the synthetic creature Charles Nelson Darby. This error has even crept into the widely read online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia.
Sloppy scholarship doesn't begin to approach an appropriate description of this stupidity, for along the way we're also treated to a steadily escalating body of factual distortions, faulty dates, and downright laughable data. Consider this:
- A website called Sullivan County, commenting on a story printed in the Virginia newspaper the Bristol Herald Courier, vehemently criticized the late Rapture Cultist Jerry Falwell. Readers may remember Jerry created a big fuss when he told a large crowd the Antichrist would be a Jew. In criticizing Falwell's end time's prognostications, a pro Catholic writer named Lewis Loflin cited a Romanist Bishop and a Jewish Rabbi as he excoriated Falwell. Seeking to rebut Falwell's claim that Christians have long believed the Antichrist would be Jewish, he wrote "The problem is Falwell is wrong again. All of this `imminent, pre millennial, pretribulational second coming' garbage was concocted by a 19th century mystic named Charles Nelson Darby. It isn't biblical at all, just more cult nonsense."
- A site called Liberty's Flame, representing the opposite point of view as it blames everything on the Jesuits, also misidentifies the historical figure. The writer of this moronic piece misspells names, words, and places, in addition to getting Darby's name right andwrong, and all of this within a single paragraph. Thus, we're treated to the following bit of insanity: "In the Pre Trib Rapture cult Protestent [sic] public enemy number ONE is without a doubt John Nelson Darby. Up until Charles Nelson Darby the main school of Prophetic study in the Protestent [sic] Church was the Historicist school." Unfortunately, this bovine skatology comes up near the top of the search engine page when Googling the name in question.
- An anti New World Order writer named Kurt Nimmo, who has been repeatedly promoted by Alex Jones and his mindless sycophants, has also shown a curious lack of fidelity to detail. One of his blogs, which has been reprinted by newspapers overseas, states that "pre-millennial, pre-tribulational second coming nut cases" who expect Christ to return in our time, are the victims of a theology "contrived by Charles Nelson Darbyand other mystic mental patients…."
- A pro-Rapture Cult website called Jesus Is The Way, in defending the doctrine and seeking to refute another writer's critical analysis of how the Rapture doctrine is being manipulated for a political agenda, writes the "….author apparently believes that if Scofield and Darby were alive they would be neo-con Zionists supporting the occupation of Iraq, the bombing of Lebanon, preemptive strikes against Iran, the depiction of Islam as terrorism per se, and humiliating Muslims vis-a-vis the Clash of Civilizations. I can see it now,Charles Nelson Darby, an advocate of invading Iraq on 9-12-2001, and eventual president of the World Bank….As ludicrous as this sounds, it is closer to the truth than the [author's] misrepresentations."
- And finally, Wikipedia, the massive online Encylopedia utilized by who knows how many millions of Internet users, has now installed the error. Thus, we can expect an exponential growth of this disinformation. Utilizing an anti Pre-Trib perspective, Wiki reports the "problem with rapture theory is the "FACT" that nobody thought of it before Charles Nelson Darby in 1823."
This statement is grossly inaccurate for it not only misidentifies the individual in question (John Nelson Darby), but also adds significantly false dating, as John Nelson Darby's own writings show no trace of pretrib until years later.
Once again, the ignorance in the conflict is voluminous, and the anti-Rapturist disinfo lumps allfuturists into what writer Nimmo calls "nut case…mental patients," who do indeed expect Christ to return in this generation. While I'm completely convinced the Rapture doctrine is a deadly Antichrist gambit, I earnestly hope to be alive and transformed by the return of Jesus Christ in my lifetime. Thus, even those who see through the charade of pre-trib are lumped in with those whose research is so inept they can't even get the names right.
The dating game of doctrinal development by Darby is, by the way, part of the Cult effort to push forward Darby's supposed "revelation" of the Pre-Trib rapture in order to distance it from its true occultic source – the Scottish girl who uttered a rudimentary version of pre-trib while in a trance in 1830. Although others, such as Catholic theoreticians Rivera and Lacunza, and even an obscure American pastor anticipated the doctrine years earlier, there is no demonstrable historical connection to Darby's popularization of Dispensationalism (if you don't know what that term means, you have no place ever speaking on the subject). Thus, while the moron behind Wikipedia's errant date of 1823 continues to regurgitate faulty data, even zillionaire Rapture Cultist Tim LaHaye of Left Behind fame says "Darby claimed he got the inspiration for his understanding of a pre-Trib rapture in 1828…."
The fact is, "in an 1834 writing entitled The Dispensation of the Kingdom of Heaven, Darby wrote that `the saints…will be raised with Jesus at Hissecond coming…"-- a direct contradiction to the Pre-Tribulational doctrine, fully 6 years after LaHaye's inaccurate date (see The Rapture Cult: Dishonesty In Dispensationalism, by the present author for details).
Thus, we have pro-Rapturists, and anti-Rapturists who make the identical mistakes. We have pro-Catholics, and anti Papist Protestants, who attack each other's views with the same inaccurate data. We have Jewish Supremacists, and anti Semites who wage wars of words using the same inaccurate data. Unfortunately, this lack of precision in the facts can be inadvertent, but no less damaging.
We've actually seen the name mixup before. In one of my books on Pre-Trib entitled Lying In Laodicea: Rapturism Unmasked, I document the case of an alleged PhD who was on a writing campaign to zealously defend the doctrine of Pre-Trib. In one of his works, the dubious doctorate wrote that believers should be "cautious of frauds like Dave MacPherson and Robert Gentry." As I'm well read on prophecy, I recognized MacPherson as the author of several excellently researched works on the subject, but the latter name was apparently another synthesis of two prophecy figures – Robert Gundry, and Kenneth Gentry. The former is a published author and distinguished college professor of New Testament, and the latter is a prominent Preterist scholar – and neither of them are "frauds." Once again, a lack of precision adds enormous confusion to the problem. In this particular case, the Pre-Trib prevaricator was sure these guys were false prophets, but he doesn't even know their names.
While it's unlikely the previous PhD perpetrated such stupidity intentionally, the results can be equally misleading. A good example of this is how a recent article by anti New World Order writer Tim Campbell has been inadvertently marred by a comment posted on the same webpage. Campbell's data in this article is concise and detailed on the development of the doctrine, but like other Internet sites, comments posted about the essay come up in a Google search, and unless one is paying close attention, appear to be drawn from within the piece itself.
Thus, a Google search on Charles Nelson Darbypulls up a link to Campbell's essay, and the indexed comment "My understanding of dispensationalism was that it was initiated, on a grand scale, by Charles Nelson Darby…." The problem is, the statement was actually made by a reader in a posted comment on Campbell's essay on Pre-Trib, and Campbell never made the inaccurate statement at all; however, someone unversed in the protocols of the Intermet, who searches out the name in question, might swear that Campbell wrote it!
This dullness of intellectual acuity might result in a phrase we've heard before, and it makes me shudder whenever I encounter it – "it must be true, I read it on the Internet!"
The problem can be summed up with Scripture, and I can't possibly improve on the Apostle Paul's profound statement concerning how diligence in pursuit of the truth is mandatory:
"For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (II Thessalonians 2:11,10).
--- James Lloyd
A further look at the issue of intentional distortion of the data, including the names of the worst offenders, is found in the James Lloyd book entitled THE RAPTURE CULT: DISHONESTY IN DISPENSATIONALISM.