Dispensationalism and “Left Behind” Theology –
John Nelson Darby, a member of the Plymouth Brethren, invented yet another eschatology that moved Christians back to a belief in the physical return of Jesus to reign on earth for 1000 years. But before that happens, Darby claimed, Jesus would come back for a secret “rapture of the Church,” prior to, or during, a period of great tribulation at the end of the time of the Gentiles. While Paul pictured (I Thess. 4:17) the “rapture of the Church” as the very final event associated with the return of Jesus, Darby proposed another rapture that is not actually described anywhere in the Bible. Dispensational premillennialism historically may have been a necessary chapter in the story of God reintroducing the original teaching of Jesus about His coming “to restore all things.” However, Darby’s unique eschatology does not picture Jesus returning to transform the earth, but to take Gentile Christians away to heaven—a different idea altogether from that taught by Jesus and the apostles.