Walvoord's "Varieties"- Plus
By Dave MacPherson
Since 1976 John Walvoord, in The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation and The Rapture Question: Revised (hereafter BH and RQR) and on the Internet, has seen four "distinct" (BH, p. 21) and "contradictory" (RQR, p. 144) schools of thought within the posttrib view. (Later I'll show that within Walvoord's own pretrib view the crucial timing of the rapture has had incredible variety along with fluctuating Scriptural bases!)
Walvoord focuses on what he says are "major tenets" of the various posttrib views. He asserts that posttribs are either "classic" or "semiclassic" or "futurist" or "dispensational." But he himself undermines his labels, showing that his distinctions aren't all that different!
Walvoord states that major beliefs of "classic" posttribs include "any day" imminency, a nonliteral tribulation, and a literal millennium (BH, pp. 22, 29; RQR, p. 136). Amazingly, he finds the same three views in the "semiclassic" category!
Re the semiclassic group, he also notes some who see a future tribulation (BH, p. 36; RQR, p. 139). In fact, he finds the same futurism in three of the four groups - even though only one is labeled "futurist"!
Walvoord comments that his third ("futurist") group is noted for belief in a literal future tribulation (BH, p. 18; RQR, p. 142) and a literal millennium (BH, p. 57; RQR, p. 142), adding that it doesn't embrace "any day" imminency (BH, p. 19; RQR, p. 132).
But his fourth ("dispensational") group has the same non-imminency! Moreover, tribulational futurism is found in all groups except the first one, and he admits that a literal millennium is in all four groups!
Walvoord's muddying up of posttrib waters covers up an important fact: that for 1800 years Christians, though disagreeing on tribulational and millennial matters, never even dreamed of separating the rapture from the final advent and giving the rapture a "favored coming status"! The real "varieties" (Walvoord's term) are found in pretrib history and not only in peripheral items but also in its timing of the rapture (its lifeblood)!
In 1829 a British group known as the Irvingites, inspired by Lev. 23's order of feasts, stretched the rapture forward and created a tiny, indeterminate gap between "stages" - in a posttrib setting.
During the early 1830's other Britishers began seeing a rapture before the 1260 tribulation days of Rev. 12; some based this rapture on Rev. 11's "witnesses" while others based it on Rev. 12's "man child."
Many have credited John Darby, Plymouth Brethren leader, with the pretrib view. His first clear pretrib basis, in 1839, was the same "man child." But Edward Irving had begun using the same symbol for the same purpose eight years earlier in The Morning Watch, a journal Darby well knew and often cited!
By the 1870's pretribs had finally stretched their shorter tribulational gap into a seven-year-long gap featuring a variety of bases: Rev. 3's "Philadelphia," Rev. 4's "John," or the blank space between Rev. 3 and Rev. 4!!
The entire tell-all documentation on pretrib's origin and development is in my recent book The Rapture Plot (300 pgs., 400+ footnotes, 6 appendices, bibliog., index), obtainable for $20.45 postpaid from Millennium III Publishers, P. O. Box 928, Simpsonville, SC 29681 USA, and also available from http://www.armageddonbooks.com.
The Rapture Plot also reveals, for the first time, how one 19th century British group cleverly stole the pretrib rapture idea away from another group by means of document changes, plagiarism, etc. - unparalleled revisionism covered up for more than a century!