What kind of Bible do you have?
Most of us would answer with the translation we carry. Maybe it’s New Living, the King James, or the New International Version. I’ve heard plenty of conversations about translations in my life. But I’ve never heard a serious discussion about the notes in various Bibles.
Continuing our long exploration of the Christian fundamentalist movement, we explore the Bible version that nudged the United States toward a particular negative theology. One that encouraged people to question the trajectory of history itself. That was one of the purposes of the Scofield Reference Bible, named for its author C.I. Scofield.
The Bible that changed our view of the end
The Scofield Reference Bible emphasizes the premillennial dispensationalist theology we’ve been talking about all season. It expects that world history is sliding into chaos. That was not the primary view in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the US. Most people thought that humanity could improve things until Jesus returned. This Bible is one of the things that changed that.
Special thanks to Nick, Melanie, Hannah, Marc, and Marian for their help with this episode!
- What kind of Bible do you have? Why did you choose it?
- What agenda does your Bible have?
- What audience is it intended for?
- Who wrote your Bible notes?
- Flip to Genesis 1 and Revelation 1. What position does it take on creationism? The end of the world?
- Have you ever considered the origins of your study notes?
How do you feel about us having so many different targeted Bibles?
Select Sources for this Episode:
- The History of the Scofield Reference Bible by Arno C. Gaebelein
- The Evangelicals by Frances Fitgerald
- Fundamentalism and American Culture by George Marsden
- Article on Lyman Stewart who financed this Bible
- A Godly Hero by Michael Kazin
- Isaiah 37
- A Christianity Today article about the changes made to the Scofield Bible (material not used for the episode, but still interesting)
- The Scofield Reference Bible (1945 edition)
- The MacArthur Study Bible
- The Founders Bible
- The Battlefield of the Mind Bible
The difference between Premillennialism and Postmillennialism is more important than you think
What is the difference between premillennialism and postmillennialism? And what does it matter?
After the French Revolution in the late 1700s, Christians began to see the world as coming to an end. Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 describe an oppressor who will wear the people out for a period of time. Some Christian interpret that as being 1260 years. That 1260 years can be placed over the reign of Justinian all the way through history up until the French Revolution. That is just one interpretation that not everyone shares. But if you hold that view then this event was HUGE. It meant that the end of the world was super close. It has now been over 200 years since that event, but many premillennialists still hold up this prophecy as proof of the fulfillment of scripture.
Many Christians tried to uncover the meaning of it all. Some turned to an old idea — premillennialism. It’s the notion that the world is on a downward trajectory. Things are going to get really bad and then Jesus will return. Before this time, many evangelicals were postmillennialism. They thought the world was going to get better over time. This split was an important part of what would become the fundamentalist/ modernist debate.
Premillennialism has some dark “logical” conclusions to it. Some premillennialist like pastor John MacArthur argue that since the world is going to burn anyway, we humans shouldn’t worry about things like global warming.
- Why was the French Revolution such an important moment in world history?
- Pre-Revolution the nobles and clergy controlled much of the power in France. They could out-weigh 98% of the population of France. Is this perhaps a reason why the French people turned against them?
- Are you a premillennialist, a postmillennialist, or neither?
- Did you read the Left Behind books? What do you remember? How did they impact you?
- Do you think you have a positive or negative view of world history? How does that impact the way you act?
- Should premillennialists see Jesus’ second coming as a reason to avoid taking care of the planet?