The Terrible Error of the Scofield Bible
By Emma Moore Weston
The Scofield teaching is concerned with a literal Jewish kingdom to last for a millennium. It was first brought into the early church by some Jews who still could not give up the hope taught to them by the scribes and Pharisees. The Bible does not teach it, and the disciples who had been taught it, rejected it after Pentecost. Jesus warned about it in Matthew 16:6-12. Scofield’s work was calculated to promote certain ideas. We must ask ourselves if Jesus ever offered or announced himself as an earthly King or claimed David’s throne? Had he ever in any way suggested he was going to set up an earthly kingdom? He said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world, if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews, but now is my kingdom not from hence (John 18:36). They could not prove him guilty before Pilate of any offense against Rome….
In 1890, Scofield started a Bible Correspondence Course which he directed until 1914 when it was taken over by the Moody Bible Institute. Tens of thousands of students scattered over the world were indoctrinated with his dispensational ideas.
Dwight L. Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts and in his later years made his home base there. In 1895, Moody’s home church called Scofield to be its pastor for a year which meant Cyrus had to leave Dallas and sever connections with the Missionary Society….
At the end of the year, the Dallas Church called for him to return at a salary of $2400 a year with two months annual leave.
Moody also established the Northfield Summer Conferences for Scripture searching and heart searching. These continued for many years, Robert Scott of Morgan and Scott, a British publishing house linked with the Plymouth Brethren, met Scofield there. That played a role in Cyrus’ later life.
Friends raised money in 1898 to build a chapel on the Northfield campus for Moody’s sixtieth birthday. I was finished in 1899, shortly before Moody died. The chapel was organized as a church in November 1899 and held its first service. Cyrus Scofield was called as pastor. He remained there three more years….
In 1901, Scofield was admitted to membership in the Lotos Club in New York City. This is an exclusive club founded by prominent New Yorkers such as Whitelaw Reid of the N. Y. Tribune and Samuel Untermeyer, the notorious criminal lawyer. Untermeyer was on the Club’s Literary Committee when Scofield’s application was presented. “The club was to promote social intercourse among journalists, artists and members of musical and dramatic professions and representative, amateurs, and friends of literature, science and the fine arts. At least one third of the members shall be connected with said classes.” Someone must have thought Cyrus could qualify in the literary category. Scofield’s “postponed kingdom” teaching was most helpful in getting Fundamental Christians to back the international interest in the Zionist movement. Scofield kept up his Club membership until his death. The selection of Scofield for admission to the Lotos Club strengthens the suspicion that someone was directing his career by concerns remote from fidelity to the truth of Jesus Christ….
Mr. Scott, the Morgan and Scott publisher who first met Scofield at Northfield, took the Scofields to his home near Dorking. As Trumbull reports the story, the men discussed a publisher. Mr. Scott took Cyrus to see McHenry Frowde, head of the Oxford Bible Publishing House of Great Britain. He was interested and said he would consult Mr. Armstrong, head of the American Branch of Oxford University Press. And so it happened that the great publishing house of the English speaking world would publish the Scofield Bible….
Before that time, though, the Scofields returned to Dallas because of lack of funds. It was 1905. The church still wanted him for its pastor, but it needed more attention than he could give and work on his notes. The church called Reverend Irving Carrott as associate pastor at a salary of $1500 yearly and retained Scofield as pastor with a salary of $1000 a year. That hardly seems enough to support a family and pay his Lotos Club dues. In January 1906, though, the church raised the salary to $300 a year, and gave him his freedom to travel….
In June, they left Ashuelot and went to Lake Orion, Michigan to do the work. En route, Cyrus went via New York and on June 5, 1907, signed the contract with the Oxford University Press for publication of the Scofield Reference Bible. It was officially published on January 15, 1909.
Harry Ironside, a dispensationalist and pastor of Moody Memorial Church, Chicago, said, “Alas, how ready are well-meaning people to put the ministry of human teachers in the place of the Holy Scriptures and almost unconsciously begin: teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” never realizing his indictment could be applied to the very system he spent his life defending and propagating.
One wonders why Schofield’s work took seven years. His ideas had been formulated (or handed to him) early in his ministry. His teaching and correspondence course had followed along the same lines. The Plymouth Brethren, his spiritual forebears, had extensively published Darby’s writings, which he could have culled….
His own litany of such breaches:
1873 – False oath of office
1874 – Taking bribes
1874 – Failure to provide for family
1877 – Fraud and forgery
1879 – Failure to pay notes
1883 – Divorce
1909 – Adding to the Word of God
Misstatements or inaccuracies:
- Reared in Wilson Co., Tennessee; no contact before 1858
- University studies interrupted; no evidence
- Served in Confederate Army to end of war; discharged 1862
- Decorated for valor; utterly false
- Wedding day, July 14, 1884; correct dates are September 21, 1866 and March 11, 1884. Certificates available.
- Wife: Leontine
- Children: Abigail, Marie Helene, Guy Sylvester
- The divorce proceedings of 1882-1883
Items omitted but circulated in areas of his ministry:
- Story of birth in Tennessee
- Existence of son, Noel
- The law practice in St. Louis, Missouri
His only guaranteed income was $600 yearly from Dallas. How did they live, keep a son in school, buy a home, and keep up the dues in the Lotos Club?
In 1920, the Oxford University Press issued the articles in the book, The Life Story of C. I. Scofield. These books seem to be almost unobtainable today. Trumbull was a competent and experienced journalist, but this writing differs from other writing that bears his name because of inaccuracies. The facts he wrote down do not agree with official public records.
Cyrus last attended service at the Douglaston Church on May 22, 1921. In July, one month before his seventy-eighth birthday, the fierce heat of summer distressed him, and there were hours of intense suffering. The family realized recovery was impossible. He was unconscious for two days before the intense pain passed and he fell asleep for good. He passed away at 11:00 am on July 24, 1921 as church bells were ringing. Cause of death: cardio vascular renal disease….
The most reasonable interpretation of the work of Scofield is that it is neither honest nor valid. As such, it should have the whistle blown, for it is properly outside the line of valid Christianity. It seems many evangelicals are trying to disengage themselves from what now appears to be a tottering wreck, a wreck erected by Darby, Arno Gaebelein and C. I. Scofield. The Scofield Reference Bible did, and is doing, a great disservice to the Kingdom of God.