Cyrus Ingerson Scofield Passed to Judgment
This Week in Christian History <Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org>
“Why aren’t you a Christian?” Christian businessman and YMCA worker Thomas McPheeters put the question bluntly to Cyrus Ingerson Scofield.
It was a question C. I. Scofield needed to hear. He was miserable. His wife had divorced him. He was an alcoholic. The courts saw a lot of him–and not just because he was a lawyer. He was answering charges against himself. He had even been forced to resign as district attorney in Kansas because of accusations of political corruption.
Now as he spoke with McPheeters, he realized that his life was out of control. He needed a life-changing principle. Cyrus asked Christ into his life that day and from that point it took a radical change.
Before all was done, Cyrus became a friend of the famous evangelists D. L. Moody and Robert A. Torrey. He pastored a large Dallas church, founded a mission to evangelize South America, prepared a Bible study correspondence course and compiled the Scofield Reference Bible.
His reference Bible was a major achievement for a man who lacked formal theological training. Cyrus set out to help others learn the things that would have most helped him when he first set out to understand God’s word. He linked references from passage to passage in the King James Version, following the development of a thought. He appreciated the dispensationalist views of the John Nelson Darby (a leader of the Plymouth Brethren) and worked them into his notes. Dispensationalism teaches that in different ages God has had different arrangements for his dealings with mankind and parts of the Bible are not in force today.
The Scofield Bible was printed in 1909 and had an immediate impact on what the average Christian believes. Due in large part to Scofield, vast numbers of Christians now hold the view that Christ will return for Christians before the Great Tribulation, a teaching not held by any significant segment of the church before the mid-1800s.
At a time when the Bible was under attack from liberal scholars, Cyrus’ defense of major doctrines stirred renewed interest in upholding the Bible. His Bible provided many useful summaries. For example, he taught that there are five judgments mentioned in scripture: the judgment of sin on the cross; the judgment of sinning believers through Christ’s discipline; the judgment of the works of Christians; the judgment on the nations when Christ returns; and the judgment of all the remaining dead before the Great white throne at the end of time.
Cyrus died on this morning, Sunday, July 24, 1921, at Douglaston, Long Island.
Millions have owned his Bibles since then. Some hold his notes almost on a par with inspiration. Others seriously challenge his work as misleading, especially in its dispensationalism. However, his sermons on Christ are full of beauty and show that he had looked long at the Master.
Dan Graves, MSL
- Bowden, Henry Warner. Dictionary of American Religious Biography; Edwin S. Gaustad, advisory editor. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1977.
- Cox, William E. “C. I. Scofield.” http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/etc/printer-friendly.asp?ID=175.
- Hankins, B. “Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson.” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2003.
- “Our History.” CAM International. http://caminternational.gospelcom.net/about-cam-international/ history.php.
- Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson, 1843-1921. In Many Pulpits; with C. I. Scofield. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1966, c1922.
- “Scofield: The Man Behind The Myth.” http://poweredbychrist.homestead.com/files/cyrus/scofield.htm
- Weston, Charles G. and Weston, Emma Moore. Analyzing Scofield: the life and errors of C.I. Scofield. Croton-on-Hudson, New York: Morgan Brown, c1997.