C. I. Scofield and The Scofield Reference Bible – One man’s interpretation of the Word presented as final authority and absolute truth.
Regarding the character of the author of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, C. I. Scofield’s was not as spotless as I had been led on to believe.
Scofield went M.I.A. in the confederate army and joined the Union forces. He married a catholic woman, was a heavy drinker, and he was forced to resign as U.S. District Attorney of Kansas “under a cloud of scandal.” This was due to questionable financial transactions including bribes form railroads, stealing political contributions intended for the Senator he worked for, and securing bank promissory notes by forging signatures. He was possibly jailed on forgery charges, but this can’t be proven by public record. He abandoned his wife and two daughters. Consequently his wife divorced him and that same year he married another woman and had a son with her. Fifteen years later he converted to Christianity and assisted with D.L. Moody’s campaign.
A couple years later, he was ordained as a Congregationalist minister – all while his divorce from his first marriage was proceeding but not yet final. Five years later, he authored the pamphlet Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth soon becoming a leader in dispensational premillennialism, a forerunner to 20th century Christian fundamentalism. A couple years later, he started referring to himself as Reverend C. I. Scofield, but there are no records of any academic institution having granted him the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Royalties from Scofield’s Reference Bible he later published were substantial, and he held real estate in Texas, New Hampshire, and Long Island and spent significant time in Europe. He also joined the prestigious gentleman’s club “the Lotos” during this time.
There are rumors that Scofield wrote many of the Reference Bible notes while in jail and that he never stopped drinking. All seven of the editors for the Reference Bible were Plymouth Brethren. The last living editor wrote a biography on Scofield and left out his going M.I.A. in the Army, abandonment of his family, divorce, theft charges, his second wife, and drunkenness. Scofield was directly influenced by other members of the brethren and studied prophecy with them for years and attended and spoke at the annual Niagara Bible Conference with them.
The keynote speaker and president of the conference, James H. Brookes, was Scofield’s mentor and introduced him to dispensational teachings.
“The Scofield Reference Bible reflected the dispensational distinctives, prophetic highlights, and New Testament truths of those known as ‘Plymouth Brethren’.”
Scofield had an “appreciation for the Brethren as result of an intimate acquaintance with their writings and an abiding friendship with many of their leading Bible teachers. Scofield greatly valued the writings of the early Brethren, and often shared the conference platform with Brethren teachers.” “He fellowshipped between the years 1902-1909 in an assembly in Oxford, England while researching material for the Reference Bible.” Scofield is quoted saying of Brethren writers “I found in their writings, soul food I needed. I esteem these men next to the apostles in their sound and spiritual teaching.” – (PlymouthBrethren.org)
If you are asking why all of this is important or how it pertains to you, Scofield was a forerunner of American Evangelicalism. Before his reference Bible was published in 1917, Eschatology, Christian fundamentalism, premillennialism, and dispensationalism weren’t as widespread of a belief system as they are now. His influence is undeniable. Scofield was a contributor to The Fundamentalist essays which promoted and affirmed Orthodox Protestant beliefs. “Fundamentalism was the parent movement of what became Evangelicalism in the mid-twentieth century.” – (The Scofield Bible: Its History and Impact on the Evangelical Church) If you have been affected by Evangelicalism in any way, and have been led to believe this man was a perfect saint of God, it’s important to know and share the truth.