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John Nelson Darby
His  Special  Error
John
Nelson Darby was born in London of Irish parents on November 18, 1800.  Ireland furnished the backdrop for his earliest years of development and education. In 1819 at the age of eighteen, Darby graduated from Trinity College Dublin. He studied Law, but decided not to practice. Instead, he became a Church of Ireland clergyman.
While
convalescing after a fall from a horse his heart was captured by the richness of the Bible. Against the tendency of his time to read 'church' whenever the Bible mentioned Israel, he rediscovered the distinction between God's national Abrahamic covenant with Israel and His new covenant in Christ for individual believers.
Israel's Sinai Covenant ended
in the crucifixion of Jesus
according to Hebrews 8:13.
 
Unfortunately, he then concluded further that –
• 
the second coming of Christ for Christians [see note] will be a distinct and separate event from Christ's return to Israel as their king; and,
• 
that these two events will be separated by a period of God's wrath on the world, during which time the church will be away celebrating with Christ in heaven.
 
He
began to meet with the first group of 'Brethren' and, distressed by the rampant modernism among his fellow Anglican clergy, he finally left the Church of Ireland and joined himself to those who later became known as 'Plymouth Brethren' and from 1848 as the 'Exclusive Brethren'.
 
In
his earlier years about 1829-33 John Darby participated with Edward Irving and Henry Drummond in conferences on Bible prophecy that further developed Darby's 'pretribulation-rapture' doctrine of a dual return of Jesus.
 
 
He never married. His personality could sometimes be abrasive and intolerant. He was extremely zealous for the principle of separation from what he considered evil, which led to numerous clashes with Christians whom he felt to be in error.
 
 
Darby's doctrine of the church required that only one church or congregation could be recognised in each city. (The Chinese Christian teacher Watchman Nee followed Darby on this point).
 
 
Darby has been seen as a hard doctrine-driven man regarding differences of opinion within the church. He demanded conformity to what he regarded as the meaning of Holy Scripture. From among Darby's fellow 'brethren', saintly pastor Muller, when approached by Darby to join him in the excommunication of those who held doctrinal differences, accused Darby of acting –
"so wickedly in this matter" (July 1849).
 
Yet,
A. C. Gaebelein, contributor to 'The Fundamentals' which had great influence in evangelical circles, and one of the strongest influences on the doctrine of C. I. Scofield, says of Darby and other writers in Darby's group,
"I found in his writings, ...and others the soul food I needed. I esteem these men next to the Apostles in their sound and spiritual teachings."
 
John Nelson Darby died on the 29th of April, 1882.  
 
WB Neatby has written in his 'A History of the Plymouth Brethren' (1902:p.59) concerning Darby's view of the Christian church:
"In his evolutions, Darby ended at a point exactly opposite to that from which he started.
He began ...with universal communion, and ended with universal excommunication.
He began with the declaration that it would be presumption and impiety to attempt to build up the 'ruined church', or restore 'the administration of the Body'; and he ended by doing both things strenuously, if there is meaning in words."

 
  His Special Error  
Darby's
subdivision of the second coming of Christ, in the early 19th century, has had an enormously wide effect on current evangelical views; namely, that a 'pre-tribulation' coming of Christ will precede His full second coming to this world.
 
 
This 'pre-tribulation' coming is of course for Christians only! This secret coming idea spread quite widely and by the second half of the 19th century opened the door for other variations on the theme such as is found today in Seventh Day Adventism and their (George Storrs) doctrinal offshoot the Jehovah's Witnesses.
 
Through
the Bible–notes of a lawyer, Dr. C.I. Scofield, the Darby division of the second coming of Christ (into a 'pre-tribulation' coming for Christians and a post-tribulation coming to rule the earth) spread to become the dominant End Time view in most evangelical and pentecostal circles.
 
 
One of the further unfortunate side effects of this Darby-division of the Second Coming has also been a tendency to romanticize Israel as if it were God's clock of a count-down to the end.
See: Israel Heresy
 
Darby's theology was made popular first by the Scofield Reference Bible and more recently by the Ryrie Study Bible. A multitude of sincere God-fearing Christians have followed on in this subdivision idea of the Second Coming, producing a vast amount of exciting literature on the signs of the times, and believing that they will never need to face the intensity of opposition to their faith that the reign of Antichrist will certainly bring.
 
But
the great promoter of the modern missionary movement, Dr Oswald J Smith, regarded this Dispensational (Darby) View as "a dangerous heresy", saying of this view on the topic of completing the evangelism task that –
"They are saying: 'This is not the task of the Church at all, the Jews are to do it; we should leave it for them after we have been raptured away.'
I know of no heresy that can do more to cut the nerve of missionary endeavour."
 
He
further comments
"Do you mean to say that after the Holy Spirit has gone, and we are told [by them] that He is to go when the Church goes, do you mean to say that the Jews can accomplish more in seven years or less, without the help of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of persecution and martyrdom, than we have been able to accomplish in nearly two thousand years, with the Holy Spirit's aid, when it has been easy to be a Christian? Preposterous! Impossible!"
To no
other agency has the mandate for world evangelisation been given than the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
See: ... Not Until ...
 
Christ's Church bears a responsibility unparalleled! – not simply in its institutional or organized form but more directly as God's people simply because we are God's people.

John 20:23.
This quote has been falsely used to teach an exclusive special power of apostolic succession to forgive sin, even though the Bible teaches us that Cleopas and his friend (who were not apostles), plus others, were included in this instruction (Luke 24:18-49).
For
this reason, the angel of God to Cornelius in Caesarea did not deliver the message of salvation to him, but referred him to a Galilean fisherman (Acts 10:1-5).
For
this reason Jesus stated in the evening of His resurrection at His first meeting with His disciples as a group
"If you [plural] forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;
if you
[plural] withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."
All
the Church's ability, skills, gifts, qualities, experience, etc., is part of the achieving of this historical purpose.
 
It is Christ's Church, as the work of God-the-Spirit, which brings the age–to–come, by fulfilling its necessary preconditions.
Not only is
this directly true at the individual level of personal spiritual experience in the present time ("tasted ...the powers of the age to come" Heb.6:5), but it is also historically true in precipitating the end of this present evil age ("...hastening the coming of the day of God" 2 Pet.3:12).
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