This evening I read something which was interesting, if true. I qualify that with an ‘if’ after spending the last couple hours searching on-line to check the facts, and finding nothing which would disprove it. If anyone has documented information to disprove this, please share it. What did I read?
Scofield’s reference bible broke the time-honored tradition that all the Bible societies had conformed to of printing Bibles without the opinions of men included.
Did you know that? I found it not only interesting but disturbing in light of its high percentage of use here in the West within Churches, Seminaries, and Bible Colleges over the last 100 years: If not ‘the’ study Bibles themselves, their notes and theological ideas which were published in the original and the subsequent 4 editions since its introduction in 1908 by the Oxford University Press. (It remains one of the largest selling Bibles ever to this day)
Did you also know that some of our commonly used words and phrases used today in Bible study, especially prophecy, were coined first in Scofield’s Bible notes? Such as: pre-millennialism, dispensationalism, Judeo-Christian, and most recently the political movement called Christian Zionism, to name a few.
Scofield himself died in 1921, and though he had presented his own notes and interpretations of scripture in the original published Bibles, in versions published after his death even more expanded notes were added by the editors ‘in his name’.
Prior to the publishing of his Bible, there apparently had never been a Bible printed except in its plain text. While many men of God had published works on the scriptures, commentaries and notes, such as Adams, Wesley, Calvin, Luther, and Matthew Henry (to name a few) these were not included within the Bible itself, or on its pages.
Do you realize how many Bibles are offered for sale today in our local Christian book stores, and by well known ministry’s on-line and on TV/radio, and how many of these also are filled with not just the plain text of the scriptures but personal notes and interpretations written by these ministry’s and their leaders?. Right off the top of my head I can think of at least 4-5. I’m sure there are many.
After thinking about this, I’m now wondering how many of the teachings, beliefs, and interpretations Christians receive are from reading and studying the Word itself: or are many of their interpretations based on someone else’s notes or personal interpretations.
To take it a step further, how many Christians have been and are being taught by men behind pulpits who have been ‘schooled’ not by receiving revelation on scripture by the teaching of the Holy Spirit of God, but by either depending on the notes and interpretations within these Bibles, or they themselves (the Pastors/Teachers) have been taught by others in the past who depended upon them.
A few quotes from one of the articles read tonight on the history of the Scofield Reference Bible:
….the world was ripe for Scofield’s Bible, especially in the rapidly progressing American society. From the beginning, America was destined to become multi-cultured nation of common people, many of them uneducated, who spilled out of Europe and various other parts of the world into a land of hope and promise. Many who populated this vast continent were fleeing the heavy hand of social, economic, and religious oppression. However, some were forced to come to America because of other reasons. They brought only what they deemed necessary to survive the harsh climate of the new nation. Many also brought their belief systems, which eventually became meshed together as the old generations died and their offspring married people of other beliefs.
By the late 1800’s, telegraph poles spiked the landscape along major byways, lacing its spiny arteries across the expanding nation and connecting each new town to the main populace. Eventually the nation became literally lit up, and connected with the advent and development of electricity and the telephone. There were 150,000 telephones in the United States by 1887, and electricity was now challenging the darkness. People could stay up all night frolicking or working and information was spread almost as fast as the wind. The industrial revolution was about to explode the country’s major cities with a rush of “busyness” that would divert time from its historical, patient and plodding path. Time was about to get on the fast track, and people would begin to feel as if they had less and less of it. With the arrival of the automobile, transportation was also on the verge of change, both in comfort and speed.
During the turn of the century, when Scofield’s Bible was still in the formation stage, America was expanding and overwhelming the virgin territory once solely occupied by the Indians. With the dawning of more and more technology, America would never take it easy again. In 1947, the first mass audience watched the World Series on television. Television changed the way we gather information and knowledge. Our evenings became filled with entertainment and the gathering of frivolous knowledge. As the nation grew, it became plagued with too many things to do and not enough time to do them in. America made a paradigm shift from a quiet nation to a noisy and busy one. People had to find the time to be still, to pray, and to read and study the Word of God. Something had to be done away with to make room for new activities. More and more people stopped reading the old classics, including the Bible and historical books, and other personal spiritual activities were sacrificed as well.
People came to America to start all over again and found out that they needed every second to stay afloat spiritually in an atmosphere in which many drowned. There were also houses to be built, businesses to form, inventions to be concocted, and certainly many places to go and things to do. Governments and other time-consuming activities related to the birth of a nation also required much time to develop. The formation of each new state presented its own vortex of time- consuming activities that swallowed everyone who entered its borders. As people began to cut things off their lists of priorities to make room for indulgence in the new fast-paced age of running to and fro, they turned to quick fixes to make up for the deficiency. The more time they saved, the more they had to spend racing along the path of progress in the new rapidly developing society of America. New inventions would help them recapture more of their “lost” time, but there would never be enough new gadgets to get them back on the old paths of seeking and finding biblical and spiritual knowledge.
Bursting on the scene of this budding age of industry was the spurious Scofield Reference Bible. For the person who did not have time to read and study the history of Christianity, who did not have time to study the Bible for himself or herself, and who did not read well enough to gather or grasp the meaning of the Scriptures, Scofield was ready to feed and divert them from historical theology. Scofield gave the people the quick and easy way to study the Bible……What the church leaders failed to grasp in allowing the Scofield Bible to reach fame and acceptance was that a trend would develop that would eventually prove to be the downfall of millions. The paradigm would shift from honor of the Word of God to a cavalier mishandling of the Scriptures until they would no longer be given the reverence and awe of ages past.
The printed Word of God would fall into the hands of unscrupulous men who would add their own words to the pages, stamp their own names onto the cover, and by degrees, turn the Bible into a book of scripture mingled with fatuous opinions. The historic compass of the Scriptures had always been used to point faithfully at the true path; now that path became shrouded in a maze of new directions. The old landmarks would be grown over with the suffocating weeds of human error, causing multitudes to lose the way to truth and an intimate relationship with God.
Currently in America, there are scores of Bibles written in the name of various individuals who intend to force their own particular theories on the Scriptures. This bending and blending of God’s Word has further divided the Body of Christ and created doctrinal walls behind which are guarded numerous captive people. They are often held captive by their own ignorance or an unwillingness to discover truth for themselves. Their wholesale surrender to the caldron of new ideas mingled with canon has them addicted to reading the latest revelation.
Many writers today eagerly leap into every opportunity to exploit the masses for personal gain. Some so-called prophecy experts have imitated Scofield’s success by adding their notes to the Bible. Publishers are to blame as well, since their love for money has lured them into becoming the vehicles to deliver their wares to the masses for these scurrilous encroachers on God’s Holy Word.
Today we also are living in a video-oriented generation that gathers knowledge in sound bites. The foolishness of the knowledge that most Americans gorge their minds on is appalling. If ever a people were ripe for utter deception, the nation of America is certainly so.