Cyrus Scofield and Dispensationalism

Here’s an excerpt from The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Religion which explains how Dispensationalism was created in the North and was exported to the South during the early 20th century:

“The Fundamentalist movement, as distinct from fundamentalism as a theological orientation, appeared around 1900 among conservative northern Protestants concerned about the development of liberal theology, the social gospel, Darwinian evolution, and secular trends in American culture. With the exception of concerns about the promotion of Darwinian evolution, these trends were largely quiescent in the South until after World War II. The movement made limited progress in the South prior to mid-century because of southern evangelicalism’s conservatism. When the social, intellectual, and cultural upheavals that kindled the northern movement began to alter southern culture in the postwar decades, Southern evangelicals believed their regional Zion was becoming more like Babylon, and organized Fundamentalism prospered accordingly.

Northern fundamentalism’s earliest forays in the South began with Bible conferences held by members of its core constituency, most notably, premillennialists associated with evangelist Dwight L. Moody’s interdenominational revivalist network. Moody’s proteges, particularly Amzi C. Dixon, Reuben A. Torrey, James M. Grey, Cyrus I. Scofield, and Lewis Sperry Chafer, played significant roles in shaping Fundamentalism and exporting it to the South. They were participants in the prophecy and Bible conference movement, which began in 1876 when northern Bible teachers, typically Presbyterians and Calvinist Baptists, met at Swampscott, Mass. In 1878 James H. Brookes, the movement’s founding father, produced a 14-article creed depicting embryonic Fundamentalism’s central theological concerns. Significantly, this creed included dispensationalist premillennialism, which taught that the historical eras depicted in the Bible represented distinct ages culminating in Christ’s second coming to establish a millennial kingdom. The movement’s annual assemblies settled at Niagara, N.Y., between 1883 and 1898 and were thereafter identified as the Niagara Bible Conference. Other high points of the movement’s infancy were the publication of The Fundamentals between 1910 and 1915, 12 booklets providing a broad and temperate defense of Protestant orthodoxy, and the 1919 founding of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association to conduct an offensive against theological liberalism and Darwinian evolution.

Southerners contributed little to organized Fundamentalism as it coalesced prior to 1917. Only four of the contributors to The Fundamentals were from the South: President Edgar Y. Mullins of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Professor Charles B. Williams of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Presbyterian ministers Alexander W. Pitzer of Salem, Va., and Hiram M. Sydenstricker of West Point, Miss. Nor were there many southerners among the movement’s early leaders. The exceptions were Amzi C. Dixon and J. Frank Norris. Dixon, a Baptist pastor and author from North Carolina, was actively involved in the northern prophetic Bible conference movement, served as pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago from 1906 to 1911, and was the first of three editors of The Fundamentals. Norris, the controversial pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Tex., launched a Fundamentalist paper entitled The Fence Rail in 1917, shared his pulpit with leading northern Fundamentalist speakers, and became an early leader in the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association.

While few southerners were leaders within the Fundamentalist movement, some pastors became, like Norris, conduits through which the northern conference movement penetrated the South. Baptist pastor Leonard G. Broughton, who was converted in 1880 at a Dixon revival service in Raleigh, N.C., established one of the earliest and most significant links between northern fundamentalists and southern evangelicals. In 1898, with Moody’s encouragement, he launched the Tabernacle Bible Conference in Atlanta, Ga., hosting annual meetings that featured prominent northern fundamentalist speakers who attracted large crowds of people representing every Southern state. Between 1900 and 1917, numerous conference centers similar to Broughton’s arose in urban areas throughout the South and played key roles in the dissemination of northern fundamentalist beliefs and concerns in the region.

Perhaps the most significant northern Bible teacher to enter the South prior to the 1920s was C.I. Scofield’s protege, Congregational minister Lewis Sperry Chafer. While serving as song leader alongside Ira Sankey for Moody’s Northfield conferences, Chafer used Northfield as a model for organizing the Southfield Bible Conference Association at Crescent City, Fla. Annual conferences continued there into the 1940s. In 1911 Chafer moved to New York to continue to lead Scofield’s Oral Extension department in the newly established Scofield School of the Bible. He took responsibility for conducting conferences in the South, and in 1926 he transferred his ministerial credentials to the Southern Presbyterian Church (the Presbyterian Church in the United States). Chafer’s writing, approved and promoted by Scofield, were second only to the Scofield Reference Bible in spreading dispensationalist premillennialist though in the South and in creating a perceived need among southern evangelicals for ministers and teachers trained in the dispensationalist understanding of the scriptures …”

Update: Dispensationalism originated in the UK with a group called the Plymouth Brethren and was brought to America by John Darby in the 1860s. It was Darby who converted James Brookes while he was a Presbyterian minister in St. Louis.

Note: Southern evangelical Christianity wasn’t “Judeo-Christian” or “Christian Zionist” or “Dispensationalist” in the 19th century. This is an alien tradition that can be traced back to the northern Bible conference movement.

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33 Comments

  1. My mama holds a prayer session for Israel every Thursday night.

    Both she and I are very religious – though she is a non-affiliated Pentacostalist Charismatick type and I a member of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    When I have been quizzical about why she would pray for Israel, when the devil has so many of our own Southerners by the tails, she has rebufft me, by saying : ‘Son, the good book instructs us to pray fer Israel.’ To which I answer,’ But yeah, Mama : warn’t thet afore my daddy’s folk rejected Christ.’

    Then she tells me to stop picking and choosing what I want of or don’t want, from the bible.

    And so it goes – betwixt the two of us, every now and then…

  2. “In 1878 James H. Brookes, the movement’s founding father, produced a 14-article creed depicting embryonic Fundamentalism’s central theological concerns.”

    That fact right there kind of throws a wrench in the whole it came from the North idea because James Hall Brookes was a Southerner. The following is from page one and two of a biography about Brooks written in 1897,

    “The little town of Pulaski, Tennessee, was the birthplace of James H. Brookes. The 27th of February, 1830, was his natal day. He was the son of Rev. James H. Brookes Sr., and Judith Smith Lacy Brookes. His father was born in North Carolina; his mother’s home was Prince Edward County, Virginia.

    He was in the line of Presbyterian and ministerial descent, and came of an ancestry to be proud of, on both maternal and paternal sides, though he disliked to hear any one boast of kin, and never did so himself. His mother’s father. Rev. Dr. Drury Lacy, was a well-known Virginia Presbyterian. His grandfather, John Ward Brookes, was a Methodist layman, who had taken for his wife that staunch Presbyterian lass, Margaret Houston, of Edinburgh, Scotland.”

    https://archive.org/details/jameshbrookes00will

    http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/james-hall-brookes

    Brookes is the one who organized the Niagara Bible Conferences. Scofield learned premillennial dispensationalism directly from Brooks in Missouri where Brookes was a Presbyterian minister. Brookes in turn learned it from its ultimate originator the Anglo-Irish Bible teacher John Nelson Darby.

    “Southern evangelical Christianity wasn’t ‘Judeo-Christian’ or ‘Christian Zionist’ or ‘Dispensationalist’ in the 19th century.”

    True, but neither was Northern Evangelicalism. The Scofield reference Bible, which is what really started making these ideas widespread, was first published in 1909.

    Another weird fact about Scofield is that although he was a Yankee born in Michigan he was actually a Confederate veteran. Scofield was living in Tennessee when the war broke out and joined the Confederate Army. After being in a few battles he was able to get a discharge in 1862 but later the Confederate authorities tried to draft him back into the army so he ran off and pledged allegiance to the Union in Missouri. Scofield spent most of his career as a minister in Dallas, Texas where he was very involved with Confederate veteran activities. During this period he lied about his service claiming he had stayed with the army throughout the entire war surrendering with Lee at Appomattox.

    An interesting paper from 2011, “From Confederate Deserter to Decorated Veteran Bible Scholar: Exploring the Enigmatic Life of C.I. Scofield, 1861-1921”, tells about Scofield’s life including his many fraudulent and shady activities.

    http://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2571&context=etd

  3. A great many culturally alien ideas have been imported into Dixie from the North. Being constantly agitated towards new kinds of social, political and religious movements, the North moved on. Having forgotten, the North scolds, chides and ridicules the South for holding to ideas they originally created and imposed on us. I don’t know how many Yankee trolls insist that Theocratic ideas are Southern by nature, but apparently it’s a widespread belief
    in the North, and the Puritans and Billy Sunday are all but forgotten.

  4. Dispensationalism is not a Southern theology.

    As I said above, Southern evangelicalism was not Dispensationalist in the 19th century. Dispensationalism didn’t even arrive in the US until after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

    James Brookes, a Presbyterian minister in St. Louis, was converted by John Darby in the 1860s. In the 1870s, Brookes was promoting Dispensationalism, which fell on fertile soil in the Northern states. By the 1890s, the movement was based in Niagara, NY.

    The Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1909. Between 1898 and 1920, Dispensationalists established Bible conference centers in urban parts of the South. The most important beachhead in the South was Dallas Theological Seminary which was established in 1924.

    As the article states above, with the exception of opposition to Darwinism at the infamous Scopes trial in Tennessee, the South wasn’t sympathetic to Fundamentalism until after World War II. The Scopes trial identified Dispensationalism with rural Southern evangelical Christians when that was not the case at the time.

    Evangelicals in the 1920s opposed Darwinism, but they were not Dispensationalists. From what I can tell, the rise of Dispensationalism in the South after WW2 has a lot to do with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the spread of televangelism.

    Dispensationalism wasn’t on TV until well after the 1950s.

  5. @Junius Daniel

    It’s hard for them to see it, but most evangelicals are engaging in idolatry where Israel is the equivalent to a golden calf. Very few know anything about Israel. I am almost sure that none have ever heard of the Talmud let alone know what’s in it. A couple of points that I try to bring up to Southern evangelicals when discussing Israel.

    1. Where in the Bible does Christ or the Apostles state that the nation-state of Israel is the center of Christianity?

    2. Where in the Bible does Christ or the Apostles command that followers of Christ are to pray for the nation-state of Israel?

    3. In John 8:44, Jesus refers to the Jews who chose not to follow Him as children of the devil. Was He an antisemite?

    What’s ironic is that although dispensationalist/premillennialists have a pro Israel/Judaic centered view of the Bible, the New Testament is very anti Judaic.

    To anyone who is willing to watch, Pastor Anderson’s Marching to Zion is a must watch video for anyone who is seeking to deprogram Christian Zionist.

    Marching to Zion

  6. @Jeff…

    Sir, I thank you for your time and commentary. Your questions are essentially what I feel when my mama tells me about this particular prayer group, which she leads every Thursday night.

    To my way of thinking, Our Lord was not anti-anybody, on racial or culture grounds, but, anti-empty professions, anti evil, anti-Satan.

    Yes, Sir : I have, indeed, said to my mama, that, though The New Testament is NOT anti-semitick, it is, from a religious perspective, anti-Judaick.

    Lest someone doubt it, let him go undercover in the midst of Jewish groups, when the subject of Christianity comes up – something Brother Nathaniel has well covered at YouTube, and he will see that this is how the new testament is perceived, by those who solely profess to follow the olde, to be.

  7. @Jeff…

    I am watching your link. The quote on ‘Godspeed’ and the pastor’s explanation of that, pursuant to the second chapter in John, is so clear on the matter, that one would think those, ‘sola scriptura’ Protestants, would be more circumspect, with regards to this preoccupation with Israel.

    Thank you, again.

  8. @Jeff…

    I kept watching. Being Eastern Orthodox and NOT protestant, though I AM a southerner, I had no idea how weird things have gotten on this score, in evangelical churches. Truly bizarre.

  9. @Jeff…

    Pastor Anderson’s explanation, at approximately 1:20.00-1:22.00, of intermixing in ancestry, and that it is impossible for anyone on the globe NOT to be descended from the sons of Israel or Abraham is NOT going to make a lot of people happy…

  10. “Dispensationalism is not a Southern theology.” – Hunter Wallace

    Yet it is fanatically embraced by millions of Southerners who demand that we initiate nuclear Armageddon on behalf of the Christ-killers of Israel to hasten the return of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! What does that say about your people, Hunter Wallace?

    Simply stated, Dispensationalism is closely associated with the South because the majority of Dispensationalists are Southerners. The $64,000 Question: What cultural factors of the South made so many of its people so susceptible to this foreign born, heretical religious movement?

    Could it perhaps be the anti-intellectual environment that is omnipresent throughout the South?

    Contrary to what has been implied on this thread, no one from the North forced this nonsense on the South. Ultimately, it was voluntarily accepted as gospel by millions of simpletons who apparently are incapable of thinking for themselves.

    Obviously, televangelism constituted the prime vehicle in disseminating this poisonous doctrine to the masses but again, why have so many Southerners swallowed it hook, line and sinker?

    All of you can blame the hated Yankee till your blue in the face, but that does not change the tragic fact that millions of Southerners have openly embraced what can only be described as a death cult!

    As Dr. Revilo P. Oliver remarked in his superlative ‘What We Owe Our Parasites’ speech :

    “Some years ago, it was customary for fast-talking confidence men to find some chump with five or ten thousand dollars in cash and sell him the Brooklyn Bridge or the Holland Tunnel. And I hear that when the Pennsylvania Railroad began to demolish its station in New York City, someone bought it for $25,000 cash. Now the swindlers in all those cases are undoubtedly wicked men. They deserve exemplary punishment. But, you know, there must have been something wrong with the purchasers too. Much as we may sympathize with them, we shall have to agree, I think, that they were not overly bright.”

    Yeah, not overly bright. That about sums it up.

  11. The North has spawned all sorts of reform movements which have been either embraced or imposed on the South. The South is hardly alone in this respect as Northerners have a long tradition of sending out missionaries or imposing their way of life on foreigners.

    Dispensationalism is one example of a Northern reform movement that gained a Southern following. Prohibition and eugenics are two more examples of this.

    Of the Northern movements which were imposed on the South by force, abolition would be the leading example, followed by civil rights and integration, and most recently gay marriage.

  12. BTW, I haven’t seen any hard numbers on Dispensationalists, but from what I have read about them so far, they are similar to Pentecostals in being a 20th century movement with a national following.

  13. @Clement…

    ‘Junius, If I may, I have written a book specifically aimed at turning Evangelicals from their worship of the Jews. http://truesonsofabraham.com/weep-over-jerusalem.htm
    Hopefully it can help your mother, or help you in talking to her.

    Thank you, Sir. I do need help in talking to her about it, because, as an Orthodox christian, my religious life is less focused on studying scripture and more on prayer. Thus, I am NOT chockt full of the handy reference of the day, when I am dealing with her on this issue – not that i think she is going to hell for her unwitting Zionist ways. it’s just I do want to point out to her that she has a bit of a fetish workt up, on this score.

    I will have a gander at it.

  14. Also, your post in the other thread:

    We have already tried to create a proposition nation based on whiteness: the United States. It failed in the 1860s. The North and South reconciled in the 1890s and gave that experiment a second whirl. The very same people who destroyed the country in the 1860s reneged and inflicted a far more damaging blow on the South in the 1960s.

    Why on earth would anyone want to try the same failed experiment a third time? A fourth time, if you count the Confederacy as a short lived race based nation, along with antebellum America and the Jim Crow South.

  15. @Clement…

    ‘The aim of the book is the same as the aim of this site: to show Christians that Jews are the enemies of the Church. ‘

    Sir, having lookt at your link, I paste that here, for it is my view, as well.

  16. @BGriffin…

    ‘The North has spawned all sorts of reform movements which have been either embraced or imposed on the South. The South is hardly alone in this respect as Northerners have a long tradition of sending out missionaries or imposing their way of life on foreigners. Dispensationalism is one example of a Northern reform movement that gained a Southern following. Prohibition and eugenics are two more examples of this. Of the Northern movements which were imposed on the South by force, abolition would be the leading example, followed by civil rights and integration, and most recently gay marriage.

    Sir, this is all very right. Thank you for it. That said, it may be that there is something missing, and that is : we keep buying what the Yankees are selling. You know this to be true because we both feel the frustration of dealing with our fellow southerners, on these very issues, day after day after day.

    The deepest problems, I believe, Sir, lies with us, collectively. We have come unglued, in the face of relentless hounding and coercion from every corner.

  17. As to the why question, the answer is obvious – it was due to the triumph of liberal theology, modernism, and the social gospel in the mainline Protestant churches by the early 20th century.

  18. “. . . from what I have read about them so far, they are similar to Pentecostals in being a 20th century movement with a national following” – Hunter Wallace

    Yes, it must be iterated that Dispensationalists, Pentecostals and even Christian-Zionists really do constitute a national phenomenon, despite Southern preponderance.

    I don’t mean to pick on the South, but since this site concentrates on all things Southern, I comment accordingly.

    Really, these people should be considered a fifth column in relation not only to the South, but the United States as a whole given their dogmatic views and pro-Israeli positions. I have read quotes from these people where they have publically professed loyalty only to Israel and everyone else be damned! (If I can dig one up, I’ll be sure to post it.)

    Regarding the ‘why question’, these heresies are quite different in nature from liberalism and the social gospel in general. Indeed, given their professed conservative social bent, I see them as a kind of rebellion against post-liberal modernism. That would explain why Southerners, who have always been more culturally conservative, have mistakenly embraced these doctrines in greater numbers relative to their counterparts across the country as a kind of response to a world gone mad. Unfortunately, these doctrines don’t help matters but add fuel to the fire. Apocalypse anyone?

  19. In the early 20th century, there was a fight going on within American Protestantism between conservatives and modernists. It was a fight that the modernists ultimately won in some mainline denominations like the Presbyterian Church USA and the. Episcopal Church.

    In this context, the Dispensationalists arrived on the scene and positioned themselves on the conservative side of the conflict in their Bible conferences and Bible institutes which spread out from Dallas Theological Seminary.

    When the bottom fell out from underneath American culture in the 1960s, lots of Protestants, not only in the South, but nationwide, reacted to it by falling under the spell of doomsday televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

    Jerry Falwell is the leading example of how social conservatism, which resonated with traditional Southern evangelicals, was hitched to a Jew worshipping Dispensationalist theology during the culture wars of the Reagan era.

  20. @BGriffin…

    ‘When the bottom fell out from underneath American culture in the 1960s, lots of Protestants, not only in the South, but nationwide, reacted to it by falling under the spell of doomsday televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

    Jerry Falwell is the leading example of how social conservatism, which resonated with traditional Southern evangelicals, was hitched to a Jew worshipping Dispensationalist theology during the culture wars of the Reagan era.’

    I did experience and witness those things, during those times – though, not with quite the clarity you bring to it, in retrospect. Well done, Sir.

  21. ‘Jerry Falwell is the leading example of how social conservatism, which resonated with traditional Southern evangelicals, was hitched to a Jew worshipping Dispensationalist theology during the culture wars of the Reagan era.’

    With regards to this, and in light of Scipio’s probing analysis, I must say there may have been an omission or two. Let us NOT forget that, during the aforementioned time, the ‘multicultural’ pressure had been with us for a quarter of a century, or so, and was gaining great traction.

    Many people then, as they did when it came time to ‘vote for the first possible black president’ felt a sense of redemption at being able to reach out, internally if in no other way, to a traditional enemy – Judaism.

    Assuaging guilt HAS been an unconscious response to massive leftist conditioning. You know it, you’ve written about it.

    Let us also not forget the law of pendulum ; that, if you have gone one way for some time, you will, very likely, go a similar extent, in the other direction, in another time.

    White Christian civilization, in Our Beloved South, has often preoccupied itself with Jews and Judaism, when, in fact, there are, and have been, more important fish to fry.

    Let us not fail to mention that preachers exercise a formidable influence in Our Southern life, and they, in their multitudes, became smitten with this Judeophilia, and imparted it to their sundry congregations.

    Finally, let me quote Buddhism, which warns of ‘falling into the trap of becoming’ . Thus, I posit this : humans have a hard time being still. We always want to go somewhither – and, really, this is all mental. Deride it though we will, we are subject to this, and, that being the case, we often head in directions that, in retrospect, show themselves to have been unsavoury, or, if not that, then just plain misguided.

    Sometimes, we are handed something that is near perfect (Traditional Christianity in it’s multifarious forms) and highly highly evolved, and yet : we feel the need to tweak it.

    Therein lies the dilemma.

    These things, too, I suspect, have been contributors.

  22. Dispensationalism itself wasn’t “Judeo-Christain” or “Christian Zionist” in the 19th century.

    “Christian Zionism” doesn’t have legitimate roots in *any* Christian movement.

    “Christian Zionism” is an attempt to curry favor with the Jews by adopting the core belief of Judaism: The life of a Jew is move valuable than the life of a non-Jew.

    The roots of “Christian Zionism” are to be found in the Talmud, Kabbalah, and the Culture of Critique. Nowhere else.

    “Christian Zionism” came into being as a response to growing Jewish power, pure and simple. The likes of John Hagee want cash and mainsteam acceptance, and “Christian Zionism” gives them both.

    So while I don’t necessartily take the side of Moody or the Plymouth Bretheren in their theological disputes with other Protestant movements and creeds, I emphatically defend them from the charge of being the originators of “Christian Zionist”.

    • From what I have read, the Dispensationalists were Jew-worshippers early on in the late 19th century. They supported the Zionist movement and the creation of Israel after WW2

  23. HW, thank you. Even as a Lutheran, the Reformed were the ONLY ONES who consistently labelled CZ as a heresy, until John Warwick Montgomery began writing from the LCMS side about this.

    The CZ’s took their political strategy from RJ Rushdoony and Gary North, and watered it down in the 1980’s, which resulted in Reagan, and that was about it.

    The Reformed wing of Theonomicists were aiming for mass conversion to historic Christianity, while the CZ’s thought they could bring about the Rapture a little earlier.

    Therein lay the difference, and we have reaped the whirlwind ever since.

    But thank you for doing the due diligence and pointing it out, here on your blog.

    Many years.

  24. @Clement…

    Sir, I thank you kindly for your attentions. I went to your second link and reflected upon it.

  25. ‘created in the North and was exported to the South’:

    The theory or thesis you are trying to prove once again in this series of articles: that Anglo-Protestant Whites called Yankees, or Damnyankees, are the true source of evil.

  26. Dispensationalism has infected all Protestant churches to some extent. The ultimate premise is the undermining of the old and the new covenant and their continuity. The church, the bride of Christ, is no longer the eternal purpose and plan to display the grace of God for all eternity, but, instead, the church is only temporary, and an afterthought until God saves the Jews and restores their kingdom. The greatest enemy to Christianity and to Christ has been and will always be the Jews. They will use any method to undermine Christ, the church and Christians. This is obvious not only in the days of Christ, but afterwards during the early years when the Gentiles were brought into the kingdom of God. When the disciples asked Christ why he spoke in parables. Christ was very clearly. He spoke to his disciples plainly so they may understand, but he spoke to the rest, Jews, in parables so they could not hear, could not see, and could not be saved.. Until they repent and turn to Christ they also will perish just like the Gentile, for there is no difference, we are all saved by grace, by the work of Christ, through faith.

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