A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF SCOFIELD DISPENSATIONALISM
By Rev. Ted Pike
10 Apr 12
A flawed foundation lies under most evangelicals’ understanding of God's moral dealings with humanity and particularly Jews. This foundation drives their support of the Jewish state. It is called “Scofield Dispensationalism.” It says that throughout successive epics, or "dispensations," of time God has revealed Himself through extremely different moral standards. The law given before the Flood was different from the law after. The law given to Moses is completely different from what we now observe in the millennia after Christ. Cyrus Scofield lived at the turn of the 20th century and created an annotated Bible which claimed to lay out each dispensation's unique requirements.
Scofield's commentaries have greatly influenced evangelicals to this day. Written at the dawn of the modern Zionist movement, they suggested a nation of suffering and persecuted Jews, though Christ-rejecting, had a divine right to return and occupy Palestine. This idea was virtually absent from Christianity before the mid-1800s. How did such permission gain so great a foothold that it’s now unquestioned dogma for most evangelicals?
It starts with a defect in the King James Bible. King James scholars mistranslated 2 Thess. 2:7.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth [restrains] will let, until He be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming…
The actual New Testament Greek says the one who restrains, the Holy Spirit, is not passively removed. Instead He "gets out of the way" or "steps aside" (ek meseu genetai). The Holy Spirit is never going to be taken out of this world. God owns the world. He is not about to be removed by a mere satanically inhabited man, Anti-Christ.
For hundreds of years Christians were unbothered by the King James Bible's error. Yet in the first half of the 19th century, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, Edward Irving, seized on the mistranslated passage. He saw its profound prophetic implications. He said that since the Holy Spirit would be removed from this world just prior to revealing of Anti-Christ, so Christ's church must also be removed, for Christians cannot function without the Holy Spirit. That removal is described, they said, in 1 Thess. 4:16.
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. . ."
Clearly, said Irving and his later disciple, John Nelson Darby, these passages from II Thessalonians suggest two second comings of Christ: the first, when Christ descends and removes the Holy Spirit and all believers, both dead and living unto Himself. Then, three and half, He comes a second time. In His final second coming He converts remnant Jews, judges the nations, and begins His thousand-year reign on earth from Jerusalem.
The Beginnings of "Pre-Tribulationism"
Irving and Darby's "prophetic breakthrough" had an electric appeal to evangelical Christians, particularly in the British Isles and North America. It assured Christians that, “raptured,” they would not have to endure the suffering that follows revealing of Anti-Christ. Thus began the "pre-tribulationist" interpretation of Bible prophecy. It started with a mistranslation of one verse by King James scholars. Incredibly, that disastrous mistranslation is repeated in most modern translations of the Bible.
Enter Cyrus Scofield. He did not originate the pre-tribulationist rapture craze that has enthralled evangelicals and made millionaires of "prophecy experts” such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. Yet Scofield did something far more damaging: he laid the keel of Christian Zionism. He taught that, under the dispensation Abraham was in, God gave the patriarch and his physical descendants unconditional rights as God's chosen people. They were guaranteed the Promised Land and rights of occupation, even without obedience. Scofield said Israelites automatically receive “all blessings” by just being there.
Yet Scofield said Jacob and his sons, during world famine, unwisely left security in Palestine and went to Egypt. In doing so, he claims, they lost their ability to please God by simply staying in the Holy Land. Scofield contends that, even worse, they foolishly accepted the Mosaic Law at Sinai 400 years later. The Law imposed on them an onerous obligation to obey God on penalty of exile. Such conditional terms of occupation, Scofield said, didn’t exist under the "pure grace" that Abraham and his descendants enjoyed while in Palestine. (See, List of Conditional Salvation/Occupation Verses)
Scofield said of the dispensation and covenant Abraham enjoyed:
That covenant is wholly gracious and unconditional. The descendants of Abraham had but to abide in their own land to inherit every blessing. In Egypt they lost their blessings, but not their covenant. The dispensation of promise ended when Israel rashly accepted the Law (Ex. 19:8). Grace had prepared a deliverer (Moses), provided a sacrifice for the guilty, and by divine power had brought them out of bondage (Ex. 19:4); but at Sinai they exchanged grace for law. (Scofield Reference Bible, 1909, page 20)
Scofield conveniently omits the biblical record that God powerfully delivered Jacob and his sons from death by famine, providing safe haven for them under Joseph's protection in Egypt. Similarly, God commanded the Hebrews at Sinai to obey the Mosaic Law. Scofield's idea that simply staying in Canaan guaranteed to Hebrews "every blessing" is an affront to God's timeless moral standards which say that in every age we are justified by trusting and obeying God. Only through such faith do we inherit "every blessing" from Him. Scofield's view of the sanctifying power of the Holy Land, even for reprobate Jews, powerfully anticipated the teachings of the most extreme present day Israel-firsters who believe Jews to be so morally advantaged that they have a separate covenant of salvation and land rights without obedience to Christ.
Yet, Scofield said, when Jesus came and died at Calvary, God returned to a dispensation entirely of grace. This, by inference, means to millions of evangelical readers of the Scofield Bible that our present “age of grace” does away with the requirement of dozens of Old Testament verses demanding obedience for Jews to occupy Palestine.
Scofield, as no other figure, legitimized Christian participation in a Jewish political movement: Zionism. Evangelicals then united pretribulationism and its “rapture escapism” with Zionism. The new prophetic script for Christians read like this:
The right of God’s dispersed and persecuted chosen people to the Promised Land is covenanted to them by God unconditionally, forever. It is the duty of every Christian to honor God’s great last day’s regathering of His people, bidding them godspeed by any possible means. If any nation or person refuses to stand by God and the Jewish nation, he is in league with Satan.
Satan desires above all things to obscure the fact that Israel makes possible fulfillment of biblical prophecy that empowers Jesus to return as predicted. Without Israel’s existence and the hundreds of prophecies it fulfills, Christ cannot return. Christ stated clearly that “it must needs be that Scripture be fulfilled” before He could go forward with God’s plan.
Criticizing the state of Israel is thus to oppose the Almighty. It is to curse the Jewish people, incurring dire judgment. “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you…” (Genesis 12:3)
In accordance with an end-times storyline created by Darby, Irving and Scofield, Zionist evangelicals now keenly watch Israel for necessary fulfillment of the following Scriptural predictions:
- Rebuilding a Jewish temple. The new temple is necessary because Scripture says anti-Christ must profane it and sit in it proclaiming himself to be god. Without such a temple and its defilement, Christ cannot return as He predicted.
- Israel enters a “covenant” or peace treaty with Anti-Christ.
Once such a covenant has taken place, Daniel’s prophetic “clock” of a “week” or seven years leading to Christ’s second second coming will begin to tick.
The problem, however, for pretribulationists is this: If the church is to be raptured when the anti-Christ is “revealed,” what does Scripture mean by that term? Does it mean “revealed” as in anti-Christ signing a peace treaty with Israel or “revealed” such as occurs in the middle of Daniel’s week when anti-Christ manifests himself as the enemy of the Jews, bringing his armies against Jerusalem (Ez. 38). At that time, he desecrates the temple, kills two thirds of Jerusalem’s inhabitants, and exiles the remainder to the nations. Also, since most evangelicals believe Christ could come in his first second coming and rapture us out without preconditons, perhaps we will not even have to wait for the “revealing” of Anti-Christ at all.
Clearly, the Zionist evangelical prophetic scenario at this point becomes very clouded. But it is not at all clouded up to that point. The pretribulationist view point could not be simpler in its obligations: Dark as the world may become, if the church above all things makes sure to bless Israel, it will be blessed and kept safe. Jesus will be faithful to take out true believers before anything resembling great tribulation begins. In reality, nothing could be more unbiblical, corruptive to the church and the Jewish people, and ultimately dangerous to Christianity than building up that Zionist one-world system of oppression Scripture calls Babylon the Great. (See, 'Babylon the Great' is Israel)
Pre-tribulationism is thus escapism. Calvinists also very largely adhere to this idea. It fits well with their belief that once we are soundly “born again” we are always saved, even if committing the grossest sin. If we as citizens fail in our duty to occupy and resist evil, this Calvinist/pretribulationist theology says Jesus understands. He will not require us to bear the consequences of our neglect. We will soon be gone. The consequences will be passed on to those of our children who are not born again, not fortunate enough to be raptured.
Of course, Scripture does promise a first resurrection or “rapture” of the dead and living of Christ at His second coming. Yet a high percentage of evangelicals actually believe the rapture will occur within several years. What’s the point of knocking ourselves out opposing evil, especially as Jewish big media corrupts our children…because very soon we’ll be in heaven? (See, Jews Confirm Big Media is Jewish)
We clearly see such apathy right now as ABC gores the church through its Christian-bashing sitcom “Good Christian Bitches.” But there is a virtual absence of Christian willingness to publicly oppose it. This largely originates in the ingrained belief that, if the power of evil proves too great, Christ no longer expects us to be the salt of the earth, resisting evil with all that is within us. Instead, we should buckle up for heavenly removal.
Yet Jesus said that the church would not be taken out of tribulation. Instead, He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33) In China before 1949 a highly evangelized Chinese population also accepted pre-tribulationism, believing the church had little to fear from “anti-Christ” Mao Tse Tung and his armies. They would be raptured before great tribulation came. Yet deliverance for millions of pre-tribulationist Chinese came not through rapture, but death.
One of the paramount reasons Christians must understand how the church has gone so far astray is so we may marshal ourselves to hold back anti-Christian offensives leading to persecution. “Good Christian Bitches” is one such offensive that simply must not remain unopposed. If it is, it will only beget worse attacks, leading to outright persecution. Someday, if the church remains apathetic and pre-tribulationist like the Chinese Christians, American Christians will be standing in front of firing squads. They are about to be taken out of this world, not out of the mercy of the rapture, but the "mercy" of a bullet.
Come to truthtellers.org for complete information about how you and your church can oppose GCB.
Biblical Answers: For much more discussion of the topic of Scofield Dispensationalism listen to my Bible study under this same title, click here.
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative
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