Shakespeare and Scofield, Stratfordism and Dispensationalism
While William Shakespeare is far more famous than Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, the latter has probably had greater influence on modern history than the former. They lived in different times (Shakespeare in the sixteenth century and Scofield in the nineteenth). What they have in common is the mystery of having achieved remarkable—or rather inexplicable—accomplishments in light of their backgrounds or lack thereof.
Shakespeare—alleged to be a commoner from Stratford-upon-Avon–produced acclaimed works of literature that display an astounding breadth and depth of knowledge of virtually every known field of his day. The mystery of Shakespeare is that a commoner could acquire this much knowledge.
Scofield was trained in law but received no training in theology until he was in his mid-thirties and little if any formal training in theology after that—yet he produced an annotated Bible (the Scofield Reference Bible) which was published by the prestigious Oxford Press and became the foundation of the most influential theological system in twentieth century America, the system known as dispensationalism. The mystery of Scofield’s accomplishment lies in the fact that the renowned Oxford Press would publish for the first time an annotated Bible–with notes written by a person with little if any formal education in the field–that conveyed theological notions unknown to the divines who produced the original King James Bible in 1611. What induced them to risk their reputation on such a venture? Cui bono?
The Shakespearean literature was not that of Stratford but of Oxford—that is, the author was Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford and not William Shakespeare of Stratford. While numerous biographies have been written about the Stratford man, they are scanty on facts about the man because there simply isn’t much known about him other than the plays he supposedly produced. Persons expressing doubt as to whether Stratford produced the Shakespearean literature include Walt Whitman, Henry James, Mark Twain, David McCullough, and Orson Welles.
On the other hand, many records and documents pertaining to Oxford’s life exist because the latter was a prominent figure in Elizabethan England, a wealthy aristocrat, and a courtier with access to Queen Elizabeth. Biographers such as Joe Sobran, Mark Anderson, and Paul Streitz have researched these records and proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets were written by Oxford.
So how did it come about that Oxford’s literary work was attributed to Stratford? William Shakespeare (spelled Shakspere according to some) of Stratford was a distant relative and contemporary of Oxford; and while he may have been involved in the theatre business he was illiterate and not a playwright. Some of Oxford’s work was intended as political propaganda on behalf of the queen and for political reasons as well as taste (writing plays for public consumption was considered beneath the dignity of a nobleman), assigning authorship to an outsider would reduce suspicion of bias and avoid tarnishing the reputation of the nobility. Oxford chose to use William Shakespeare (a name having the literary meaning of poet playwright) as his pseudonym—perhaps because the coincidental existence of a real person with that name would lend more credibility to Stratford’s authorship, thereby diverting attention from Oxford. The diversion worked and in 1769 a Shakespeare festival was organized in Stratford-upon-Avon. It continues to this day and brings in millions of pounds annually to the town. “Orthodox” Shakespeare scholars (meaning those advocating Stratford) have taken it from there and teach in universities around the world that Stratford authored the plays. When confronted with the overwhelming evidence that Shakespeare was Oxford—not Stratford, the stratfordians will fight ferociously to defend their position, not on behalf of truth, but on behalf of their reputations as experts on the subject, on which depend their careers, their finances, and their pride. The “orthodox” (i.e, Stratford) Shakespeare doctrine has taken on a life of its own and there are too many careers and too much money at stake to admit error. Likewise, since its inception in the nineteenth century, the “orthodoxy” of dispensationalism has taken on a life of its own and those teaching it are reluctant to admit that it is wrong for the same reasons the stratfordians don’t want to admit their error.
The similarity of stratfordianism and dispensationalism is that both mysteries can be solved by answering the question of who benefits? Who was/is accruing power and money from these false beliefs? The difference between the two cases is that while the stratfordian error will not materially affect your life or your children’s future, the dispensational error will. Dispensationalism is as pernicious a heresy as has ever crept into the church and is a major contributing factor to America’s current state of collapse. Though dispensationalism’s roots lie in the futurism of the Roman Catholic counter-reformation, the invention of dispensationalism in the early nineteenth century is generally credited to John Darby of the Plymouth Brethren in England. Darby brought it to America where it was espoused by numerous evangelicals including C. I. Scofield. Scofield planted this heresy in American Christendom by way of his notes in the Scofield Reference Bible (first published in 1909) and his protégé, Lewis Sperry Chafer, who founded Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924, grew the notes and ideas thereof into the full fledged theological system known as dispensationalism. I don’t think any of these three men intended to start a heresy, but awed by the idolatrous cult of science, they decided they needed a new “scientific” theology and proceeded to construct one. While there have been many very dedicated and sincere Christians staffing and matriculating through Dallas Theological Seminary and doing great work in other areas, their eschatology is undoing much of their accomplishments in these other areas.
Dispensationalism’s primary hermeneutics are (1) the distinction between Israel and the church which led to their gap theory–meaning the Kingdom of God would be held in abeyance for an indeterminate period (the church age) during which time the Great Commission would be restricted to just promulgating the message of personal salvation (i.e., to just personal spiritual matters and not to the material world or civil affairs), and (2) the mutual exclusiveness of law and grace whereby Christians in the church age are not under the law but just under grace (meaning biblical moral and civil law are not applicable in the church age). These premises (a truncated version of the gospel, abrogation of the law, and a delayed kingdom) led Christians to vacate civil affairs which were then taken over by the devil’s crowd—specifically the global criminal syndicate known in the Bible as the Whore of Babylon which is currently running the United States as well as the entire world. This syndicate—political special interest group if you will—facilitated the publication of Scofield’s reference Bible and has been reaping huge dividends ever since.
Dispensational eschatology is as indefensible as the stratfordian position on Shakespeare. The lynchpin of dispensational eschatology is a twisted interpretation of verses 26 and 27 of chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel. In those two verses, the dispensationalists twist language and the whole Bible for that matter and make what is clearly Christ out to be their anti-christ. Christ and His covenant is central to the Bible and nowhere else in the Bible is there any mention of or allusion to a covenant with an anti-christ. The words “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease….” clearly refer to Christ’s atoning death (which abolished the need for animal sacrifice) and his ministry (both before and after his resurrection) in which He established the new (Christian) covenant with many people. But out of the blue, the dispensationalists state that this covenant is one made by their anti-christ. They then proceed to destroy the meaning of a period of time. Periods of time always refer to an uninterrupted orderly sequence of hours, days, years, etc. or they are meaningless, but the dispensationalists separate the sixty-ninth and seventieth week of the prophecy and insert an indeterminate amount of time between the last two weeks. This was necessary to make their delayed Kingdom theory fit. And they’ve induced modern Bible translators to strengthen their twisted interpretation by changing the last word in verse 27 from desolate (King James Version) to desolator (most modern versions). If this lynchpin—the dispensational misinterpretion of these verses—is pulled, as it should be, the entire dispensational system collapses.
I don’t care if you baptize by sprinkling or immersion. I don’t care if you use wine or grape juice for communion. And in regard to transubstantiation versus consubstantiation, I am in agreement with Queen Elizabeth who said, “Christ was the Word that spake it, He took the bread and brake it, and what his word doth make it, that I believe and take it.” The mode of baptism or our understanding or lack therof of the elements won’t adversely impact the future of our children. But teaching and believing dispensationalism will. If your pastor is teaching dispensationalism, ask him to read or listen to this message and then suggest that he leave dispensationalism out of his sermons and encourage people to study America’s Christian history. If the stratfordians want to fight to the death to defend their mistaken belief, let them fight. But if your pastor wants to fight to the death to defend dispensationalism, you should think about finding another church where the pastoral staff encourage the congregation to fight to restore our country to what it was in the beginning—a Christian republic; and to pray and do our part so that God’s will is done in earth as it is in heaven. What is more important to you? Doing something to improve your children’s chances of having a fulfilling Christian life? Or is it more important to you to maintain your social club position regardless of whether the leader is teaching false doctrines that imperil your childrens’ future? If your pastor is teaching dispensationalism but is willing to consider that he may be mistaken and is willing to change, then support him. He’s probably doing a lot of other good things.
We are losing our freedom and our children will suffer the consequences if we don’t turn things around. We must put our trust in God for the victory, but we must do our part if God is to grant us victory. Many financial and political analysts are warning of coming financial and social calamity for our country but few are offering any viable solutions. The only solution is for Christians at the grassroots level to stand up and fight for justice—for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and to restore biblical moral and civil law to our land as it was in the days of our country’s founding. If Christians don’t do this who is going to? If we don’t do this our children are likely to face a life of poverty and servitude. Loyalty to your pastor is a good thing if he is loyal to the scripture; but if he is not loyal to the scripture or not willing to admit a mistake when he’s wrong, then you need to find another church where the pastor will teach and preach as American pastors did in 1776.
After fighting in two world wars, Douglas McArthur said, “In war there is no substitute for victory.” He went on to say that the problem [and solution—the way to victory] was theological.