Thanks to Harold Camping, leader of the Family Radio Christian Network, millions worldwide have become familiar with the Christian dispensationalist doctrine known as “The Rapture”. But how did all this madness begin?
Back in the nineteenth century, an evangelist by the name of John Darby decided from his reading of the Bible that at some stage before Jesus’ Second Coming there would be a “secret” intervention by Jesus in which he would rescue all the Christians from the period of trouble and tribulation that was later to come. Jesus would then reign on Earth for a 1000-year period, and only after that would we see Jesus’ Second Coming. While not the first to suggest such things, he was certainly the most influential on twentieth and twenty-first century adherents of what became known as dispensationalism.