Fracturing the Faith … Vol 25

Christian theologians ….part 1

Lewis Sperry Chafer (February 27, 1871 – August 22, 1952) He founded and served as the first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, and was an influential proponent of Christian Dispensationalism in the early 20th century. Chafer is widely recognized as one of the founders of modern Dispensationalism and was vehemently opposed to covenant theology.

Covenant theology is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of a covenant as an organizing principle for Christian theology. The standard form of covenant theology views the history of God’s dealings with mankind, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of three overarching theological covenants: of redemption, works, and grace.

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As a framework for biblical interpretation, covenant theology stands in contrast to dispensationalism in regard to the relationship between the Old Covenant (with national Israel) and the New Covenant (with the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31) in Christ’s blood). Covenant theologians deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel, not as a separate replacement entity or as “replacement theology”.

Dispensationalism is a religious interpretive system for the Bible. It considers Biblical history as divided deliberately by God into defined periods or ages to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles. According to dispensationalist interpretation, each age of the plan of God is thus administered in a certain way, and humanity is held responsible as a steward during that time. Each dispensation is marked by a cycle. God reveals Himself and His truth to humanity in a new way. Humanity is held responsible to conform to that revelation.

For dispensationalists, Israel is an ethnic nation consisting of Hebrews (Israelites), beginning with Abraham and continuing in existence to the present. The Church, on the other hand, consists of all saved individuals in this present dispensation—i.e., from the “birth of the Church” in Acts until the time of the Rapture.

Classical dispensationalists refer to the present-day Church as a “parenthesis” or temporary interlude in the progress of Israel’s prophesied history and that Israel as a nation will embrace Jesus as their messiah toward the end of the Tribulation, right before his second coming.

Dispensationalism developed as a system from the Plymouth Brethren philosophy of the 1830s in Ireland and England, and in the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800–82). Darby traveled extensively to continental Europe, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States in an attempt to make converts to the Brethren philosophy. Over time, his eschatological opinions became more popular in the United States, especially among Baptists and Old School Presbyterians.

John Nelson Darby is considered by some to be the father of dispensationalism, which was adopted, modified, and made popular in the United States by Cyrus Scofield’s reference Bible. Dispensationalist beliefs about the fate of the Jews and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel put them at the forefront of Christian Zionism.

Dispensationalist themes form the basis of the popular Left Behind series of books. However, not all dispensationalists agree with the theology of authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

Darby embraced Christianity during his studies at Trinity College in Dublin. Although there is no evidence that he formally studied theology, rather he studied law, but felt that being a lawyer was inconsistent with his religious belief. Choosing ordination as an Anglican clergyman in Ireland, “lest he should sell his talents to defeat justice.” In 1825, Darby was ordained deacon of the established Church of Ireland and the following year as priest.

Darby defended Calvinist doctrines when they came under attack from within the Church in which he once served. Calvinism broke with the Roman Catholic Church but differed from Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, theories of worship, and the use of God’s law for believers, among other things.

John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) aspects of which include the doctrines of predestination and of the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation, in which doctrines Calvin was influenced by and elaborated upon the Augustinian and other early Christian traditions. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530.

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (August 19, 1843 – July 24, 1921)

Scofield was an American theologian, minister, and writer whose best-selling annotated Bible popularized futurism and dispensationalism. Scofield’s ancestors were of English and Puritan descent, but the family was nominally Episcopalian. Details of his early education are unknown, but there is no reason to doubt his later testimony that he was an enthusiastic reader and that he had studied Shakespeare and Homer.

1872, Scofield was appointed U. S. District Attorney for Kansas—at 29, the youngest in the country. Nevertheless, that same year Scofield was forced to resign “under a cloud of scandal” because of questionable financial transactions, that may have included accepting bribes from railroads, stealing political contributions intended for Ingalls, and securing bank promissory notes by forging signatures.

During the early 1890s, Scofield began styling himself Rev. C. I. Scofield, D.D.; but there are no extant records of any academic institution having granted him the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. When the Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1909, it quickly became the most influential statement of dispensational premillennialism, and Scofield’s popularity as Bible conference speaker increased and royalties from the work were substantial. Scofield purchased real estate in Dallas, Ashuelot, New Hampshire, and Douglaston, Long Island.

Scofield also joined the prestigious Lotus Club. Scofield’s notes teach futurism and dispensationalism, a theology that was systematized in the early nineteenth century by the Anglo-Irish clergyman John Nelson Darby (who like Scofield had also been trained as a lawyer), and these notes became a significant source for popular religious writers such as Hal Lindsey.

“World Zionist leaders initiated a program to Change America and its religious orientation. One of the tools used to accomplish this goal was an obscure and malleable Civil War veteran named Cyrus I Scofield. A much larger tool was a venerable, world respected European book publisher ‘The Oxford University Press’. “~ C.E. Carlson

A branch of ‘The Oxford University Press’ was set up in America with the express purpose of producing and promoting one book: The Scofield Reference Bible. Carlson continues, “The scheme was to alter the Christian view of Zionism by creating and promoting a pro-Zionist subculture within Christianity. Scofield’s role was to re-write the King James Bible by inserting Zionist-friendly notes in the margins, between verses and chapters, and on the bottoms of pages.”

The Oxford University would then use Scofield as the editor with the credentials of his self-proclaimed and unsubstantiated Doctorate of Divinity as the front man. The revised bible was called ‘Scofield Reference Bible’, and with its limitless advertising and promotion, it quickly became the best-selling “bible” in America and has remained as such for more than 90 years.

Carlson points out; “The Scofield Reference Bible was not to be just another translation, subverting minor passages a little at a time. No, Scofield produced a revolutionary book that radically changed the context of the King James Version. It was designed to create a subculture around a new worship icon, the Modern State of Israel, a state that did not yet exist, but, which was already in the drawing boards of the committed, well-funded authors of World Zionism.”

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