In my book The Rapture Plot I responded to John Bray's recent claim that American pastor Morgan Edwards taught the pretrib rapture view in the 1700's. Because of space and time limitations, I focused on Edwards' historicism (which Bray avoided) to demonstrate that Edwards couldn't have been a pretrib rapturist.
More recently Frank Marotta has attacked my position in his 28-page booklet on Edwards, to which I now respond with a more comprehensive look at Edwards.
Edwards' 56-page book, written during his student days, is basically a hodge-podge of speculation and contradiction; his tutor's reaction to the main part advised him to "alter some parts" and "correct the errors of others." Edwards, p. 45, quoted a writer favoring "preexistence," and on p. 51 he speculated that the "lake of fire" is "in the moon"!
Both Bray and Marotta see Edwards mentioning three and a half literal years (of Antichrist's assumption of "godhead") between the rapture and the "coming of Christ from paradise to earth" (p. 24) - the years of "the last and most dreadful persecution" (p. 21).
I, too, viewed them as literal years, years that historicist Edwards could have derived from the three and a half days of Rev. 11:9,11. The 1260 days I saw him interpreting as 1260 years were the days the two witnesses prophesy (vs. 3) - not the 1260 days he could have derived from verses 9 and 11. Others who saw 1260 literal days in these two verses, according to Froom's Prophetic Faith, included Tichonius (4th. cent. ), Primasius (6th cent. ), Berengaud (9th cent. ), Goodwin (1639), Jurieu (1687), Cressner (1689), and Burr (1757).
If Marotta and his inspiration still reject this centuries-old explanation, do they want the world to know how foundationally bankrupt their position then becomes?
Edwards repeatedly tied together the rapture and final advent, adding that this joint event will precede the last three and a half years! On p. 7, in the same sentence, he tied the rapture to I Pet. 4:17 and Rev. 20:4. Both Bray and Marotta chop off this sentence at the same spot (after "I Pet. iv. 17") so that readers won't know about the Rev. 20:4 tie-in! (Tommy Ice is another one with the same chop-off !)
On p. 21 Edwards said that at the coming of the "son of man," the Lord will "change the living" and "catch them up to himself." He added that the signs of this coming will be "wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines." Again, Bray and Marotta end quotation at the same place - just before the listing of the Matt. 24 signs!
Edwards wrote, p. 19, that the two witnesses will be killed after Antichrist's "godhead" period; but on p. 20 they're killed before the same period ! Since this period follows the rapture/second advent, Edwards evidently saw a lengthy gap between the final advent and the millennium - a gap filled with Antichrist's "godhead" !
Less confusing and more consistent was Edwards' historicism. Marotta, p. 17, sees Edwards giving only a futuristic application to the Ottoman (Turkish) empire and to Antichrist. What Marotta doesn't want to see: Edwards, p. 14, interpreing the "Ottoman empire" as Rev. 13's beast that "started" - past tense - "out of the earth." According to encyclopedias, this empire began around 1290 A.D. Can a futurist claim that this "beast" is already centuries old?
On the same page Marotta says that Edwards' Antichrist was only a future, individual Pope; he by-passes Edwards, p. 20, who declared that the "wicked one" has "hitherto" (for centuries) been called "the vicar general of Christ on earth," and he further described Antichrist as a "succession of persons" and "popery"!
Even Rev. 14:6 was "past" in Edwards' eyes; on p. 17 he speculated that the Apostle John was "that angel that was" - past tense - "seen 'flying through the midst of heaven' " etc.!
What about other statements in Marotta's booklet? (His many copying errors when quoting others include omitted, added and changed words !)
On p. 17 Marotta wonders how John Hooper, an Irvingite, could be a "historicist" and still expect a "pretrib rapture." He was historicist because he still retained year-day date-setting that saw the final advent around 1868. But the tribulation he expected wasn't the "final form" of what had been occurring. He wrote (The Morning Watch, Dec., 1831, p. 324) that Matt. 24's tribulation "shall... receive a literal" as well as "a symbolical" fulfillment, adding that "its symbolical fulfillment" was "at the close of the Papal period in the year 1792...." Since he disconnected a future, literal tribulation from a past, symbolical one, he was able to project a pretrib coming.
Marotta, same page, seizes on what I wrote hypothetically about Margaret MacDonald in my Hoax, p. 49: "If only one-tenth of 1260 years remained unfulfilled in her view..." Thus he can ignore the fact that her tribulation was disconnected from all previous "fulfillment," and that she used only "will" and "shall" when discussing Antichrist etc. Moreover, to portray her as a historicist who saw a "present" tribulation, Marotta gives the impression that she then viewed Robert Owen as the "present" Antichrist; but Marotta twists my Plot, p. 53 which says that she "predicted" that Owen "would eventually become the Antichrist"!
On p. 18 he quotes Margaret: "The trial of the church is from Antichrist." Like some others, he ignores both Hoax and Plot which amply show that partial rapturism has historically viewed the ones "left behind" as the "Church"! His p. 19 insinuation that I've questioned the existence of a certain chart in the original 1839 edition of Darby's Notes on the Revelation is designed to draw attention away from the fact that the chart contradicts what Darby actually wrote!
But I will yield to Marotta and agree that James Kelly, in the 1850's, did indeed stretch forward the "day of the Lord." And even though the late F.F. Bruce agreed with me in his Feb. 1, 1983 letter concerning the young Limerick lady, I'll yield again and agree that she was probably involved with some meetings and not principles.
Marotta has no in-depth analysis of the main thrust of my Plot book and says, p. 15, that the plot in it "is considerably more dull than his Margaret MacDonald material." Yes, so dull that Tommy Ice couldn't wait to feature Marotta's non-analysis in his Pre-Trib Research Center paper; under the headline "Dave MacPherson's The Rapture Plot: Weighed And Found Wanting," Ice reprinted what Marotta had quickly weighed with 19th century Darbyist Brethren scales over his eyes!
For a really dull (ask Marotta) time, one can get my recent book The Rapture Plot (revealing for the first time how the 19th century Brethren quietly stole pretrib away from the Irvingites) for $20.45 postpaid from: Millennium III Publishers, P.O. Box 928, Simpsonville, SC 29681 USA.