Cathy has posted a very interesting message by author William E. Cox. From what I found during a search, this was written in the 1960’s. Reading through it, I could totally relate to the author’s struggle, his need to “dismantle” his theology and rebuild it based solely on God’s Word.
Breaking away from the fascinating teachings of The Scofield Reference Bible was one of the most difficult decisions of my entire life. Even after doubts arose in my mind, it took some seven or eight years to relinquish the ready-made theological clothing I had worn since the day of my conversion. For I was saved, at the age of sixteen, in a Baptist church where almost everyone carried a Scofield Bible. My spiritual tutors knew the footnotes and headings placed in the Bible by C. I. Scofield as well as they knew the Bible itself. Indeed, the two had become almost synonymous in their minds even as they were destined to become in my own mind. Even today it is difficult at times to clear my mind of some of Scofield’s presuppositions when I study God’s Word.
It was while I was serving in Europe as a member of a medium tank crew that God called me into the ministry of his dear Son. Even before the beginning of World War II – in fact, from the time of my conversion, I had been active as a Sunday School teacher and had taken other active interests in the local church. However, acting on the advice of Scofield himself, I had distrusted the outstanding Bible commentaries and had felt that all I needed for a thorough understanding of the Bible was supplied by the notes of my favorite “Bible.”
With my call to the ministry came the jolting realization that I would be called upon to say to members of my congregation, “This is why we believe thus and so about the Bible; here is the verse and chapter for our belief on a given subject.” With this thought in mind I deliberately took my theology apart to see whether or not I could put it together again, based on the Bible. My thinking was that if I could not convince myself, then certainly I could not convince others. In other words, I asked myself, concerning each and every major doctrine in which I believed, “What saith the scripture?” (Romans 4:3).
This was a helpful experience in my life and ministry. I heartily recommend it to every preacher and teacher. Let me caution you, however, that there are risks involved in such a procedure. You might have to burn some favorite sermons or lessons! I did. Still, it was a rewarding experience, too. To me it was like walking out of a dimly lighted room into one flooded with light. My God and his Book appeared larger than ever before.
Getting back to the dissecting of my beliefs, it was disconcerting, to say the least, to find that some of my most cherished beliefs simply would not stand up under a close scriptural scrutiny. I got most of Humpty-Dumpty back together with relative ease. I could show, from the Bible, why I believed in such great doctrines as the Virgin Birth, deity of Christ, his literal Second Coming, the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, believers’ immersion, eternal security, perseverance of the saints, the bodily resurrection of all, the judgment, eternal heaven, an equally eternal hell, and many other cardinal doctrines.
But, try as I would, certain beliefs kept embarrassing me. For I could not find the verse and chapter to support my beliefs concerning national Israel. I had been taught that the Jews would go back to Palestine, rebuild the Temple, reinstitute the blood sacrifices, serve as Christ’s missionaries during an earthly millennium, and be involved in many other related events. I was so determined to find scriptural support for these teachings that oftentimes I became angry with myself for being so lacking in Bible knowledge.
Finally, after some seven or eight years of searching in vain, God jolted me into reality. It finally dawned upon me that what I sincerely thought were verses of the Bible actually were footnotes put inside the covers of the Bible by a man. I acknowledged, too, that C. I. Scofield was a man. like ourselves and that he did not belong in the same authoritative category as Peter, James, and John.
I broke with Scofieldism grudgingly. He had been such a help in preparing a Sunday School lesson and, later, in “getting up a sermon.” All one needed to do was to turn to the passage in mind. In most cases the headings and footnotes presented a ready outline, requiring very little study. Also, just about every Christian in my peer group seemed to agree that here was profound teaching.
Perhaps one of my greatest surprises came with the realization that followers of Scofield actually represented a comparatively small minority among Christians. It was only their dogmatism, plus the fact that they were so vocal, which made them appear to be in the majority. It was a comfort to learn that Scofield’s “rediscovered truths,” which he had learned at the feet of John Nelson Darby, a Plymouth Brethren, differed not only from most known commentaries, but from the great majority of the church fathers, and the reformers as well. I learned, too, that most of the critics of Scofieldism had, as I had, been devoted followers at one time.
Having come out of Scofieldism, I passed through at least three stages to arrive at my present position. My first feeling was that, although many things my former hero taught were not so, the good points (and he has many of these) in his system outweighed the bad. From this stage continued study led me to believe that I must leave The Scofield Reference Bible alone completely, but that I should not make an issue of it with equally sincere Christians. Further study led me to the position which I now hold.
That position is that Scofieldism is heresy, and that, since God has given me this light, I must seek in love to warn others of the household of faith against this subtle, intriguing heresy.
It has been some 14 years since my final break with Scofieldism. Let me share with you some of the objections to this teaching as they are now formulated in my mind….
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