A chart the reflects Scofield's 7 dispensations. Click here for more charts!
Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, whose hugely popular reference Bible made dispensational premillennialism widespread and mainstream throughout the United States in the early 20th centrury. In fact, within twenty years of its 1909 release, the Scofield Reference Bible became the first Oxford Press publication to reach over a million in sales, which climbed even during the Great Depression in the 1930's and continues even to this day.
Cyrus Scofield was born in Clinton Township, Michigan, the seventh and last child of Elias and Abigail Scofield. He lied about his age to join the Confederate Army to fight in the Civil War. He later became an attorney. He was appointed U.S. Attorney for the district of Kansas by General Grant. He felt dissatisfied with politics, his life, and by his own admission, he “was not living up even to his own ideals.” He became divorced. He resigned from political office. And he drank heavily. He was, as he would later say of himself, “a ruined and hopeless man who, despite all his struggles, was fast bound in chains of his own forging.” Then, one day, a man named Mr. Thomas S. McPheeters, the son of a well-known minister, walked into Scofield’s law office.
Charles Trumball tells the story:
“After talking a while, McPheeter’s got up to go. With his hand upon the door-knob, he turned and faced Scofield, saying: ‘For a long time I have been wanting to ask you a question that I have been afraid to ask, but that I am going to ask now.’
‘I never thought of you as afraid,’ said Scofield in hearty friendship. ‘What is your question?’
‘I want to ask you why you are not a Christian?" came the unexpected reply…
The lawyer replied thoughtfully: ‘Does not the Bible say something about drunkards having no place in heaven? I am a hard drinker, McPheeters.’
‘You haven't answered my question, Scofield,’ the other man came back. ‘Why are you not a Christian?’
‘I have always been a nominal Episcopalian, you know,’ said Scofield, ‘but I do not recall ever having been shown just how to be a Christian. I do not know how.’
Now McPheeters had his answer. He drew up a chair, took a New Testament out of his pocket, and read passage after passage from the precious Good News, plainly telling his friend how to be saved. ‘Will you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour?’ he asked.
‘I’m going to think about it,’ said Scofield.
‘No, you're not,’ answered McPheeters. ‘You've been thinking about it all your life. Will you settle it now? Will you believe on Christ now, and be saved?’
The logical-minded, clear-thinking lawyer liked clean-cut statements and unequivocal questions and answers. After a moment's thought he looked his friend full in the face, and said quietly, ‘I will.’
The two men dropped down on their knees together. Scofield told the Lord Jesus Christ that he believed on Him as his personal Saviour, and before he arose from his knees he had been born again: there was a new creation, old things had passed away, behold, all things had become new.”
(Charles G. Trumball, The Life Story of C. I. Scofield, 1920, pages 25-27).
A thorough survey of Scofield’s fascinating life may be found here over at the Grace History Project. Although we would differ with Mr. Scofield on his position that the church began in Acts 2, as we believe the church began mid-Acts at the conversion of Paul, we are deeply grateful for his extensive 7 years of intense labor that brought about the wonderful notes in his reference Bible like these on Ephesians 3:
“That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Romans 9:24-33; Romans 10:1921). The mystery ‘hid in God’ was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing ‘the church, which is Christ's body,’ formed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 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... was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.”
Available here as downloadable .pdf documents are all the books of C.I. Scofield, including some rarities, which were almost all made available through archive.org.
- Joel, FBC Librarian