Southern History Series: Cyrus Scofield and Dispensationalism

Editor’s Note: In light of the previous article on Mike Pompeo’s Christian Zionism, I want to take a closer look at how the heresy of Dispensationalism infected Dixie during the poverty of the New South thanks to mountebanks who exploited the development of radio.

Here’s an excerpt from The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Religion which explains how Dispensationalism was created in the United Kingdom and was imported to the North in the late 19th century and from there 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 …”

In other words, “Judeo-Christianity” is a Boomer religion that was introduced here in the poverty and ignorance of the New South era, but which didn’t really gain traction until the Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell “Moral Majority” era when it was on television. It is a type of Christianity that was propped up by conservatism because it was so philo-Semitic and which the Boomers latched onto as a life raft while fighting and ultimately losing the “culture war” in the 1970s and 1980s.

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

Southern evangelical Christianity wasn’t “Judeo-Christian” or “Christian Zionist” or “Dispensationalist” in the 18th century or the 19th century. This is an alien tradition that can be traced back to the northern Bible conference movement and the rise of the 20th century mass media.

Note: I believe we are capable of fighting the culture war far more intelligently and viciously than our parents who were raised on the television and in the public schools.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Judeo-Christianity really has Christ coming back twice, once for the rapture and once for the final judgement .Plus the regathering of Israel takes place after the Second Coming and not before and the fate of Jerusalem at the Second Coming as portrayed in Revelations is not good for Jerusalem!

  2. “Southern evangelical Christianity wasn’t “Judeo-Christian” or “Christian Zionist” or “Dispensationalist” in the 18th century or the 19th century. This is an alien tradition that can be traced back to the Northern Bible conference movement and the rise of the 20th century mass media.”

    It’s amusing that Northern Leftist and anti-religion types castigated Jim(born in Michigan) and Tammy Faye(born in Minnesota) Bakker for their “Southern religion.”

    Pat Robertson was educated at a seminary in New York, incidentally.

    There’s a long history of Yankeedom dumping its ideological garbage and secondhand intellectual cast offs onto the Southern people’s heads, then blaming them for the resulting mess. Or mocking and scolding them for having invented it in the first place.

    Which blame and criticism, most accept and believe, because modern “American History” is mainly the history of Massachusetts, her fifteen minion states, and their endless conflict with their subordinate subjects in the Southern and Western colonial territories.

    All religious radicalism in America begins with the Puritans, and in the North.
    But Dixie gets all of the blame.

    • “All religious radicalism in America begins with the Puritans…” With statements like this, and the Bullshit statement that “Dispensationalism is the work of Calvinists,” you lost me in the first paragraph – and you do your readers a great disservice by smearing the Godly, HW – all to avoid the blame the South bears for this theological Heresy, !

      It was ONLY via the works, pamphlets, radio broadcasts, and the journals of the Reformed camp, who had been working tirelessly to denounce Dispensationalism since at least the 1940’s, which was my salvation out of the Southern Baptist, Dallas Theological Seminary, Tim LaHaye, David Jeremiah, ‘Late Great Planet Earth,’ ICR Genesis Flood rapture crap, when I decided to leave the increasingly liberal Vatican Eww cult, in the late 1970’s and early ’80’s.

      Your sources are corrupt and lying. If ANYONE can claim ANY blame, it’s the garbage, hyper-individualist BAPTIST ecclesiology of the South, coupled with the judaizing Scofieldism from Hell.

      The Puritans were Anglicans, for crying out loud. And they were the first to import MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS to the Americas, as the great music historian, Percy Scholes was at pains to point out.
      They were the high culture disseminators in early colonial America, not your lowland Ulster scots and gap-toothed Appalachian know-nothings… where the Scofield error is STILL regnant, to this day.

      End of story.

      • Fr. John+,

        I said nothing about Calvinism, Presbyterianism or the Reformed tradition. I have great respect for both which is why I linked to the two Bruce Gore videos above. I also posted the Jim Webb Born Fighting videos which is all about how Presbyterianism is so central to Scots-Irish culture and identity. Obviously, I don’t believe that “Dispensationalism is the work of the Calvinists.” There are three centuries separating Calvin’s life from the origins of Dispensationalism in Britain in the mid-19th century. Finally, the excerpt above is about how Dispensationalism came to the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which is far removed from the age of the New England Puritans.

      • You should really be writing books full time. We need more full length, well researched books to get to the next level. We have enough reach to make our own self-published work go viral if it’s good enough material.

  3. Great article. It’s important for younger people to understand that this bad theology exploded in popularity around 1970. That coincided with the final defeat of the segregationists.

    It grew in popularity a lot after 9/11 too. Boomers have been gravitating more and more towards CZ with time. If you go into boomer conservative spaces, the full blown Israel worship is worse than ever.

    Fundamentalism is not traditional Christianity and was seen as a fringe cult by most conservative Christians until well after WWII. It has it’s roots in Puritan crack pottery, just as Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists and Unitarians do.

    Moody himself was raised Unitarian.

  4. Hunter, have you ever read “The Incredible Scofield And His Book” by Joseph Canfield? This book goes into a lot of Scofield’s personal history, and the people who influenced him and the people he influenced. If you’re going to erite about Christian Zionism, you need to get this book!

        • Danny- good luck with that one! I’ve raised this issue for over two years, and this is the first time HW has even talked about the religious nature of the problems we are in as a nation, and then he has the audacity to diss the Puritans, (of all people!) and not the Pietistic Lutherans, whose German/Scandic ‘go-along-to-get-along attitude.. even with the LCMS and their anti-episcopal bias, allowed the Muhlenburg and Eastern Lutheran synods, to set the stage for the eventual merger of the ALC and LCA into the apostated, faggot-friendly, feminazi ELCA.

          • Fr. John+,

            I didn’t say anything at all about the Puritans.

            Puritanism had faded in New England long before Dispensationalism arrived in the North in the 19th century via New England before it was brought to the South by Scofield and the rest of these cranks. You mention above how all of these bilge infected the Dallas Theological Seminary which was referenced in the excerpt that I posted above. Just so we are clear, I don’t think there is any connection between Puritanism and Dispensationalism, much less Calvinism. I’m also writing a book review about the history of Lutheranism later this monthand we will get into all of that because I was in the middle of reading about it when Yang appeared on the scene.

  5. Hey Hunter,
    A good article! I see it has stirred some controversy since it was posted yesterday. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Dabney, etc. would be stunned to see what passes for eschatology in 21st century America.
    The Northern Presbyterian churches became apostate before 1861. I agree that the Northern founded “fundamentalist” movement -which birthed the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches- was far removed from Antebellum Southern theology.
    The IFB churches basically worship Jews and the political state of Israel. The IFB churches generally fear offending the Jews with their words more than they fear offending Jesus Christ with their personal sins. I say this as a man who was raised and baptized in an IFB church by a pastor educated at Bob Jones University. But then I actually studied my Bible, and now I read Calvin and Dabney.

Comments are closed.