Dr. Scofield versus Dr. Bullinger.
Dr. C. I. Scofield, of the United States, was the editor of the Scofield Reference Bible. Dr. E. W. Bullinger, of England, was the editor of the Companion Bible. Both of these men were positive and aggressive evangelical and evangelistic Christians. They both believed in, and dogmatically taught, the plenary inspiration of the Bible. They believed, as all saved individuals believe, that Jesus Christ was God, manifested in man; that man’s deliverance from the wrath of God and his only hope of heaven and eternal life, is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, His oncefor- all sacrifice on the cross and His triumphant resurrection from the dead. Both of these men were Premillenarians. They were both pre-tribulation Premillenarians; that is, they believed that the Lord Jesus Christ will rapture His Church before He comes, as the Son of man, to save Israel from the great tribulation. They both repeatedly emphasized the importance of knowing the difference between God’s reign of law and God’s reign of grace, and the equally important distinction between Israel and the Body of Christ. They both taught clearly that God’s reign of grace, or dispensation of grace, did not begin while Jesus Christ was on earth, proclaiming to Israel truth concerning the kingdom of heaven. They emphasized the truth declared in Romans 15:8 and Matthew 15:24: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a Minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” “But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Both of these brethren taught that the sermon on the mount, recorded in Matthew, chapters five to eight, is primarily truth concerning the Messianic kingdom of Christ and therefore that much of that message does not fit into this present dispensation of grace, mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 3:1 to 3: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words.”
Both Dr. Scofield and Dr. Bullinger taught that the Body of Christ did not begin, historically, until after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They both taught that the Body of Christ is a Divine organism rather than man’s organization. They both taught that the Body of Christ was not a prophetic subject, because Israel’s prophets were wholly ignorant and silent concerning the Church of the Mystery; that is, the Body of Christ was God’s peculiar secret until the Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to the Apostle Paul. These two brethren most heartily agreed with all intelligent, spiritual, diligent students of the Scriptures, that during this present Divine spiritual economy of grace, God has one chief purpose, and that is, to build up the one, and only one, Bible Church, the Body of Christ. Both of these brethren agreed with all other true grace preachers that the very moment a believing sinner is saved by grace on the grounds of the shed blood and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, he becomes a member of the true Bible Church, whether or not he joins some organization; that the moment the believing sinner is saved by grace, he becomes a saint, he receives the Holy Spirit, he becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus, and at that very moment he is baptized into the death of Christ, is buried with Him by baptism, is raised to walk in newness of life, he is seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and is blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. They both taught that if one such redeemed sinner should afterward be received into a Presbyterian organization by sprinkling, and another into a Baptist Church by immersion, the salvation and standing of neither person is in any way improved or changed. But both of these men of God agreed with every intelligent person who is truly saved by God’s infinite grace, that every redeemed person should constantly desire and endeavor to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ; should earnestly strive to be a consistent, spiritual, separated child of God.
They believed in aggressive evangelism for every member of the Body of Christ. Both of these Bible teachers believed in the eternal security of the believer.
Both Dr. Scofield and Dr. Bullinger laid much stress on the Holy Spirit’s instruction in II Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Dr. Scofield’s pamphlet, entitled “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth,” has brought blessing and satisfaction to many confused religious Church-members and has helped them to better understand the Bible. Dr. Scofield was decidedly a dispensational Bible teacher. The word “dispensation” is found in I Corinthians 9:17, Colossians 1:25, Ephesians 3:2 and 9 and in Ephesians 1:10,
The word “dispensation” is literally “economy.” Dr. Scofield believed that the Bible is divided into different economies. So does every intelligent student of the Bible., whether he calls himself a Premillenarian or a Postmillenarian, a dispensationalist, or an anti-dispensationalist, for every intelligent Christian recognizes at least two economies, the Old Testament and the New Testament, the reign of law and the reign of grace. But just twenty minutes spent in the study of Romans 5:13, 14 and 20, and Galatians 3:19, will convince any student of the Scripture that there was at least one economy before God entered into the Covenant (Old) with Israel at Sinai 2500 years after Adam sinned. Moreover, a little more than twenty minutes devoted to the study of Colossians 1:24 to 27—Colossians 4:3 and 4—Ephesians 3:1 to 11—Ephesians 6:1 and 20, should convince any intelligent student of the Scriptures, that “the dispensation of the Mystery” (the economy of God’s Secret) is a fourth dispensation: “And to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Then the same study of Matthew 10:5 to 8 and Acts 3:19 to 21, should convince such a student that the kingdom of heaven, to be established when the king comes, is different from any of the other Divine economies.
Now in all that we have set forth Dr. Scofield and Dr. Bullinger agreed. All that we have set forth is accepted as Divine Truth (and is the intelligent way of studying the Bible) by the great majority of grace preachers identified with Christians who are called Fundamentalists.
In the teaching thus far presented, not only were Dr. Scofield and Dr. Bullinger agreed, but to their agreed teaching thus far presented, the majority of grace Fundamentalists give their hearty endorsement.
Dr. Scofield and Dr. Bullinger believed that a crisis, or radical change, took place with the close of the Book of Acts, after the words recorded in Acts 28:25 to 28; “And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”
Dr. Bullinger taught that a new and different Church, that is, the Church of the Mystery, the Body of Ephesians and Colossians, began after the close of Acts. Dr. Scofield believed that the Church, or the Body, of the Post-Acts period, was the same Church as the Church or Body mentioned in I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. But Dr. Scofield believed in the change of God’s spiritual program stated in these words
“There is no foundation in the Word of God for the prevailing popular doctrine of `Divine Healing.”
“A careful study of the Epistles, especially of the latest Epistles of Paul, which give the normal course of the Church during the present dispensation, would dismount all from their hobbies, eliminate the last vestige of Judaism from their lives.”
“After repeated study of the Epistles written after Paul’s arrival at Rome, I am convinced that in them is found a curative teaching for all of the present day delusions and fanaticisms found among many of the most sincere saints in the Church.”
“The sign gifts of I Corinthians 12 were operative only during the Book of Acts period.”
Up to this Post-Acts difference, personally I heartily agree with both Dr. Scofield and Dr. Bullinger. But in this difference I take my stand with Dr. Scofield, and feel sure that Dr. Bullinger taught error concerning the new Body.
Those who follow the teaching of Dr. E. W. Bullinger as to the Post-Acts different Church, or Body, are called extreme dispensationalists, ultradispensationalists or hyperdispensationalists.
In recent years many Fundamentalists who do not seem to know the difference between carnal weapons and spiritual weapons have maliciously misrepresented other Fundamentalists who do not agree with their faulty dispensationalism. The cry has been “Bullingerism.” “He is a Bullingerite.” Twenty-five per cent of these false accusers do not know what they mean by “Bullingerism.” They are just sheep and parrots, and prejudiced, ungracious, uninformed Christians, who prefer to exaggerate, misrepresent, and malign, rather than devote a little time in intelligent study. They should study the teachings of Dr. Bullinger and read such testimonies of him as that of Dr. James M. Gray
“Bullinger would be called a fundamentalist were he now on earth, for he was an able defender of the inspiration of the Bible, the deity and virgin birth of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the premillennial coming and all that. But he was an extremist, some would call him a faddist, on dispensational truth, and he was unscriptural, as we believe, on future retribution. Because of these last named errors, the Monthly has not felt free to advertise Bullinger’s books, certainly not all of them, and yet the writer of these lines owes one of his richest spiritual blessings to that great teacher, for a truly great teacher he was. No one ever set before us from the Word of God so clearly as did Bullinger, the profound mystery of the Body of Christ, and we always shall be indebted to him.”
Dr. Bullinger was misrepresented in the matter of the future state. But in some points he disagreed with the teaching of Dr. Gray and Dr. Scofield. Dr. Gray and Dr. Scofield taught that the Church of the Mystery is both the Body and Bride of Christ. Dr. Bullinger taught that the Church of the Mystery is the Body, of Christ but that a company of Israelites will be the Bride of Christ. Therefore, Dr. Bullinger taught that the seven Churches of Revelation could not refer to the Body of Christ, and give the spiritual program of the Church of the Mystery.
Dr. Bullinger also taught the unconscious state of the believer between death and the resurrection of the body.
Dr. Bullinger believed that with the close of the “Acts” period a signless dispensation was ushered in; that the signs of Mark 16:16 to 18, and the sign-gifts of I Corinthians 12:8 to 11 ceased. He believed that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper of the “Acts” Church ceased with the sign period, after the pronouncement of Acts 28:25 to 28, and that neither has any Scriptural place in the Body of Christ described in Ephesians and Colossians. As to water baptism I believe Dr. Bullinger was right, but not as to the Lord’s Supper.
Hereafter, when you feel led by the Holy Spirit to criticize the teaching of Dr. Bullinger, do it honestly and intelligently and be sure that you do not call some brother in the. Lord a” Bullingerite” who does not agree with the extreme teaching of Dr. Bullinger.
While you are thinking this over, ask yourself this question: “why is it that the most spiritual, faithful grace preachers among Fundamentalists, make no attempt to exercise any of the sign gifts of I Corinthians 12:8 to 11, whereas they were exercised by the carnal saints in Corinth, the babes in Christ, who could only take the milk that belongs” to infants? Dr. Scofield’s explanation is the one and only answer.
Sit down for a quiet, spiritual, diligent study of Ephesians 2:11 to 17 and Ephesians 3:5 to 9: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain One New Man, so making peace: And that He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Ephesians 2:11 to 17. “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be joint-heirs and of the Joint-Body, and joint-sharers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the UNSEARCHABLE riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the. mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:5 to 9.
When did God begin to join those who were nigh (non-covenant Gentiles) and those who were afar off (covenant Israelites) in one Body, and make them a Joint-Body?
Before you answer this question read Acts 10:28: “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Some seven years after Pentecost it was unlawful for the twelve apostles to preach to Gentiles. In Acts 5:29 to 32, Peter declared that God’s purpose was to give repentance and forgiveness to Israel. Then Stephen saw Jesus, as the Son of man, standing in heaven. Note Matthew 10:23 and 19:28. Where did the Gentiles come in? They didn’t come in.
They came in later, when Saul had become Paul, and he declared the truth of Acts 14:27: “And when they were come and had gathered the Church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” And Romans 11:15: “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Then Paul received his new commission: “And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” II Corinthians 5:18 and 19. Paul preached reconciliation to Gentiles when, and because., Israel was set aside. Israel had not been set aside when Stephen preached to Israel, or when Peter preached to Cornelius.
What did Peter preach? “But contrariwise, when they saw that the. gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.”
What had Peter preached to Israel in the first nine chapters of Acts? That which Joel, David, Moses, Samuel, and all the Israelitish prophets had foretold “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” Acts 3:24. Not one of these prophets said one thing, or knew one thing, about the Joint- Body of Ephesians 3:6, the Church of the Mystery.
Note what Dr. C. I. Scofield wrote in his Reference Bible (his footnote), concerning the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6:
“That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Romans 9:24 to 33; Romans 10:19 to 21). The mystery “hid in God” was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing—“the church, which is His (Christ’s) Body,” formed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:12, 13) and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears (Ephesians 2:14, 15; Colossians 3:10, 11). The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold, but not explained by Christ (Matthew 16:18), was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the Church.”
Note what Mr. Wm. R. Newell has written in his book on Romans
“And again it pleased Him to choose Paul to be the great proclaimer and revealer of just what the gospel is for this dispensation. You can judge any man’s preaching or teaching by this rule-Is he Pauline? Does his doctrine start and end according to those statements of Christian doctrine uttered by the Apostle Paul? No matter how wonderful a man may seem to be in his gifts and apparent consecration, if his gospel is not Pauline, it is not the gospel, and we might as well get our minds settled at once on that point.” Page 339.
“Paul calls down the anathema, that is the curse of God Himself upon any one who preaches any other gospel than that which he declared. Galatians 1.
“For instance, if you were to take Paul’s Epistles out of the Bible, you cannot find anything about the Church, the Body of Christ, for no other apostle mentions the Body of Christ.” Page 340.
“But unto none of these twelve apostles did God reveal the great body of doctrine for this age
“Finally, Paul is the unfolder of that great company of God’s elect, called the Church, the Body of Christ, which is also the Bride, the individuals of which, are called members of the Body of Christ-members of Christ Himself.” Page 338.
“Would that we had grace to defend just as vigorously this great message today, for it has many enemies and even real friends who do not yet see it clearly; and there are others, who like Peter (Galatians 2), through fear of others, are ready to compromise and tone down the gospel of God.” Page 344.
Note what Dr. H. A. Ironside has written concerning the Church of the Mystery
“The mystery of the Church as the Body of Christ was never made known in Old Testament times, nor yet in the days when our Lord was on the earth. We are told distinctly it had been “hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifested to the saints.” The Divine method of making it known was by a special revelation to the apostle Paul, as he tells us in Ephesians 3. But this revelation was not for him only. It was a ministry committed to him to pass on to the saints.”
“But this doctrine of the one body is never referred to by any other apostle than Paul. He calls it “the dispensation of the mystery” which he has especially been entrusted with.”
“It was the secret purpose of His heart only to be revealed after the rejection of His Son.” “To the Epistles of Paul alone do we turn for the revelation of this mystery. He was the special vessel chosen to make known the heavenly calling.”
“The mystery formed no part of the revelation of the previous dispensations. Had it been otherwise, Paul could not rightly have written that it was “kept secret since the world began.”
“The mystery was not something of difficult, mysterious character, but a sacred secret never known to mankind until in due time opened up by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul.”
“It was a special revelation given, not to the twelve, but to him as the apostle of the new dispensation.”
“That a doctrine so clearly revealed in the Scriptures could have become so utterly lost is only to be accounted for by the Judaizing of the Church, and the consequent minding of earthly things that beclouded the heavenly ones.”
“Now if the mystery be for those who have faith to obey, it is certainly of vast importance that every child of God be instructed as to its true character.” (The above quotations copied from Dr. Ironside’s writings.)
This is what I believe and teach concerning the Church of the Mystery, the Body of Christ. But the Church to which Peter belonged on the day of Pentecost was not the Church of the Mystery, for the Divine movement which Peter presented in connection with the gospel of the circumcision, unlike the. Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6, was prophesied.
We learn in II Peter 3:15 and 16 that Peter acknowledged that some things in all of Paul’s Epistles were hard to be understood. It was not hard for Peter to understand Acts 15:13 to 18: “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up, That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, Who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.”
Peter and the Eleven understood this program of God, for it was a prophesied program. But they had to learn from Paul concerning the gospel of the uncircumcision. Galatians 2:2 to 9. Paul had to explain to them the truth of Ephesians 3:6 to 11, God’s eternal purpose, the unsearchable (unprophesied) riches of Christ for Gentiles, the dispensation of the mystery, the Joint-Body unknown to Israel’s prophets. Peter preached a prophesied message and presented a prophesied spiritual program. Paul, in addition to a prophesied message, proclaimed unprophesied truth concerning the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15, the Perfect Man of Ephesians 4:13.
Now let us compare Acts 15:13 and 14 with Galatians 2:9 and Ephesians 2:16: “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.” Acts 15:13 and 14. “And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:9. “And that He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Ephesians 2:16.
From these verses we learn the folly of teaching that God’s purpose during this age of grace is to visit the Gentiles, to take, out of them a people for His name, in fulfillment of Amos 9:11 to 15. If Peter and James knew that to be God’s purpose and will for this age, and then agreed to confine their testimony to the Jews (Galatians 2:9), then obviously their decision was contrary to God’s will. Again, if God’s purpose is to visit the Gentiles, how do the Jews get in? God’s prophesied kingdom program is presented in Acts 15:13 to 18, and that program was God’s program from Acts 2:1 until one of the Twelve (James) died. Acts 12:2. That prophesied program was postponed after Saul became Paul. Then God changed His program. God began to reconcile Gentiles when Israel was set aside by God. Then began the Joint-Body. To understand this truth read Acts 13:46— Acts 14:27—Ephesians 2:11 to 17—Romans 11:30— and Romans 11:15.
There is surely a great difference between reconciling both Jews and Gentiles, baptizing them into one Body, making of them One New Man, the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6, concerning which all prophets were ignorant and silent, and taking out from among the Gentiles a people for His name, in fulfillment of promises known to and made known by Israel’s prophets.
Right here we would emphasize the truth of I Corinthians 3:10: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”
Peter was not the wise masterbuilder who laid the foundation for truth concerning the Church of the Mystery; that truth in all of Paul’s Epistles hard to be understood.
Let us not follow those who have exceedingly erred in beginning the dispensation of grace, the dispensation of the mystery, and the Joint-Body, the unsearchable riches of Christ, God’s eternal purpose, on Pentecost a Jewish feast day. Such faulty dispensationalism leads to confusion and many contradictions in the New Testament Scriptures.
Neither let us be as extreme as Pastor George Douglas in his teaching as presented in the Moody Monthly, of July, 1936. You will note, in this article, he designates the period during the “Acts” period “the Pentecostal dispensation,” and from the close of Acts down to the present “the Christian dispensation.”
“It is a common error to assume that the rejection and crucifixion of Christ was the historical crisis at which Israel was set aside.”
“When we come into the Acts we at once discover that a place of repentance was granted to Israel, and a ‘blotting out of sins’ was preached to them through the Messiah whom they had rejected and crucified.” Acts 2:14, 22 and 36. Doubtless repentance would have brought them ‘times of refreshing’ and ‘the times of restitution of all things’ spoken of by all the prophets since the world began. Acts 3:19 to 21. That was the Pentecost proclamation of the Divine amnesty for the guilty people of Jerusalem, and their answer to it was the stoning of Stephen. Acts 7.
“But that crowning sin of Jerusalem was not laid upon the Jews of the dispersion and so the disciples who were scattered abroad by the persecution which followed, carried the Pentecostal gospel to them, for in the first period of the Pentecostal dispensation the preaching was, ‘to the Jews only.’ And in the second part of the Pentecostal period or dispensation, they still enjoyed a distinctive priority for now it was ‘to the Jew first.’ But in this Christian dispensation, ‘there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles.’
“The simple answer is that in this Book (Acts), we have the Divine Record of the Pentecostal dispensation, and that transition period was now ended.”
This is indeed “ultradispensationalism.” While we cannot agree with the “dispensationalists” who teach that the dispensation of the mystery began on the day of Pentecost we do most heartily endorse the statement of Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill who is a true “grace” preacher.
“There is much preaching of Jesus Christ which does not stablish God’s people, because it is not according to Paul’s gospel, nor according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but was made manifest by revelation to the Apostle Paul.”
It is for this reason that Dr. Pettingill, Dr. James M. Gray, Mr. John Darby and others have not believed that the so-called great commission is for this age of grace.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.