Dispensationalism Before Darby
Seventeeth-Century and Eighteenth- Century English Apocalypticism
by William C. Watson
For years, critics of premillennialism have argued that John Nelson Darby was the source of the doctrine of the rapture and the driving force behind dispensationalism. Building upon many years of research in seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century English theological writings, William Watson argues that dispensationalism and the ideas associated with it were long part of British theological discourse.
Drawing upon hundreds of early printed English books and years of archival study in primary sources and British libraries, Watson demonstrates Darby’s thought was neither aberrant or original. To the contrary, he was following a long line of British clergy who anticipated the restoration of Jews to a national homeland and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
“William Watson plows new ground in researching the history of eschatological thought prior to the nineteenth century. To put it simply, Darby did not invent the pretribulation rapture idea.”
Ed Hindson, Dean & Distinguished Professor of Religion at Liberty University
“William Watson’s comprehensive research in Dispensationalism Before Darby demonstrates the historical fallacy in the frequent claim that elements of dispensational theology such as the pretribulation rapture, only came into existence in the early 1800s. Watson’s worth is well worth the read.”
Mike Stallard, Professor of Systematic Theology- Baptist Bible Seminary
“William Watson has done the spadework, researching post-reformation eschatology beliefs in the English-speaking world.”
Thomas Ice, Executive Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center