The Rapture, John Darby, & the Scofield Bible

Written By J.A. Hardgrave

In Christmas of 2014 my wife bought me a Bible with a built-in commentary.

 

She is always excellent at taking note when I mention something I want, and she remembered I had said I wanted a Bible full of commentary before each book of the Bible so I could gain understanding about the writer and audience. 

 

We had just attended an “end times” conference in 2013 with Gary Demar and I was very anxious to continue a deep study of my end time views with a brand new Bible. 

 

I quickly felt many of my long held views start to get “left behind” as I started to read Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 from a past fulfilled perspective, instead of a futuristic perspective(Matthew 24 being fulfilled in our future). 

I then started to notice my Bible was loaded with doctrine-based commentary that was now absolutely contrary to what I believed! 

 

I went from loving Bible commentary, to wishing it wasn’t in my Bible at all!

 

I felt as if a burglar had broken into my Bible and spray painted graffiti all over it. 

I even had to write a big X over the commentary in Thesselonians because it was so incredibly bias.

 

Why does this matter you may ask? 

 

You may be someone of sound Biblical understanding, and know better than to immediately trust doctrine based Bible commentary. 

 

Yet there are thousands of new or unprepared believers that will read the commentary and assume it’s as accurate as the Bible itself, accepting that doctrine as their own!

 

That is the problem with built in doctrine-based Bible commentary, I believe it places man’s opinion on the same level as God’s inspired word, leaving little to no room for discussion.

 

It is my personal belief that doctrine specific commentaries should always be separate from the Bible itself to ensure people search for the truth themselves. 

 

Many people see the beliefs expressed in the commentary section and consciously or subconsciously think “Well, it’s in the Bible it must be true!”

 

I have done this 1,000 times, I am not here to judge, but rather show a better way.

 

It makes it even more unlikely that you and I will invest the time to pursue the truth for ourselves when we already have a belief system conveniently formulated for us. 

 

This was precisely what happened with the publishing of the 1909 Scofield Reference Bible. 

 

The Scofield Reference Bible was one of the first of its kind to have a built in Bible commentary.

 

Instead of having to lug around a 10 volume set of Bible commentaries with your Bible, now they were conveniently combined into your Bible.

 

I recently went looking for a Bible without built in commentary at our local book store, and found that almost every Bible was filled with doctrine-based commentary! 

I had to go to a Christian Book store to find one and even then it was difficult.

 

I am all for general commentary that helps guide us in our Christian walk. We can’t have enough wisdom. However doctrine-based commentary can be dangerous to the believers personal journey of truth, causing them to unknowingly accept a belief without studying it for themselves. 


This can also happen every Sunday at church. Many times people preach their beliefs as if there are no other beliefs, and people feel guilty if they arrive at a contrary conclusion. 


I am not suggesting we abandon the fundamentals such as believing in the deity of Jesus Christ, but am rather suggesting we leave more room for open discussion about other subjects such as our eschatology, or “the study of last things”.

 

The Scofield Refrence Bible went viral

 

By World War II over 2 million copies were sold. Today there have been over 5 million copies sold. 

 

Let me tell you why the Scofield Reference Bible’s built in doctrine based commentary continues to impact the churches end time beliefs in a negative way to this day.

 

In 1830 a man named John Darby made popular a belief known as “Pre-Millennial Dispensationlism”

 

Some believe the origins of this belief system may be traced to a vision of a young girl named Martha McDonald who in her vision saw a Pre-tribulation rapture, but regardless of where this belief system came from, it was John Darby that started to make Dispensationalism popular in the church around 1830.

 

The idea behind Dispensationalism is that the narrative of scripture could be summarized through God dealing with mankind through 7 distinct dispensations or “periods of time”.

 

1) The Garden

2) The Fall

3) The Flood

4) Abraham

5) Moses

6) The Church age

7) The Kingdom Age(Millennium)

I believe God deals with man according to Covenant, not “dispensation”. I like the way Jonathan Welton put it once that:

 

 “The Bible is God’s Covenant Journey with mankind”

 

Yet according to Dispensationalism we are currently in “the Church age”(6th age), and a secret rapture of the Church will bring 7 years of tribulation where an “Anti Christ” will rise and attempt to take over the world.

 

At the end of the 7 years Christ will return with His raptured saints, defeat the Antichrist, and usher in “the Kingdom age”, and rule from a rebuilt temple(that the New Testament never mentions) in Jerusalem for a literal 1,000 years in the “Kingdom Age”.

 

Sound familiar? 

 

You may know it as a “Pre-tribulation rapture”.

 

You may have seen the low budget movies staring Kirk Cameron, and the newest Left Behind staring Nicholas Cage that act out these beliefs. (Side note:Kirk Cameron no longer believes in the doctrine behind the Left Behind series).

 

C. I. Schofield published these Dispensational beliefs in the Scofield Reference Bible, causing the church to shift from an optimistic, victorious end time belief, to a very dark, hopeless end time view. 

 

Also as a side note, many are not aware that Pre-Millenial Dispensationalism is also highly at odds with a victorious church and an advancing Kingdom.  

According to Pre Millenial Dispensationalism the Kingdom won’t even be here until after a secret rapture in the Future

It is incredibly contradictory to believe in an advancing Kingdom and also believe the Kingdom is not even present in this age.

 

This tells me many have never taken the time to study their end time views outside of books, sermons, and church tradition. 

 

It baffles me that even after hearing how contradictory people’s beliefs are, they still continue to believe in an any minute rapture, AND a present and advancing Kingdom of God…that is not even present according to their end time view!

 

That is the plague of tradition. It makes people blind to truth even when it is standing right in front of them. 

 

They have believed a lie for so long, it has become as sacred as the gospel itself!

 

Perhaps a main driving force of the churches world view being so negatively impacted by John Darby’s commentary was because right after this Bible was published, America went into World War I, the Great Depression, and then World War II. 

 

Suddenly John Darby’s end time views appeared to fit perfectly with their experience of a world growing darker and darker, preparing the stage for an evil Antichrist figure to rise and deceive the masses.

And so the rapture fever began to spread. 

 

After all, these views were “in the Bible”, so why not believe it?

 

I can remember growing up in church as a kid and always fearing being “left behind” in the rapture. 

 

I remember one night at church I was standing outside and thought I heard a trumpet in the distance.

 

I ran everywhere looking for our Pastor, or this incredibly Christ-like man we called Brother Phelps, I knew they were incredibly loving and if they were still here, I did not get left behind.

 

Thankfully I found everyone in the sanctuary having fellowship. That was close! 😉

 

It is safe to say Dispensationlism is now the standard for the church’s end time world view, but that is quickly changing.

 

When I ask people about their end time views, they always seem to know they believe in a secret rapture, an Antichrist, and that we are living in the “end times”, but when I ask them to state the specifics of their end time views, and where to find them in scripture, in my experience many don’t even know where to begin. 

The problem with Dispensationlism is it relies heavily on a very bias interpretation of Scripture that reads certain events into the text even if it takes them out of context.  This method of interpretation is known as “Isogesis”, when we read our own opinion into the text.


The alternative method is known as “Exegesis”, which is where we extract the meaning based upon studying the audience, history, and comparing Scripture with other Scripture to find out what it means.

 

I don’t say that to find fault with people, I love people or else I would not be writing to you today. 

 

It breaks my heart, and I believe it breaks God’s heart when people blindly accept traditional beliefs that greatly impact fulfilling the great commission and advancing the Kingdom that Jesus paid for with His own blood.

 

I believe it breaks God’s heart when people are afraid to buy a house, have kids, start a business, start a ministry, go to college, or invest in the future because they believe at any minute everything is going to fall apart as I once did. 

 

I believe we have been indoctrinated, and not come to our own opinions through vigorous personal study and pursuit of truth. 

 

The truth is the Church had a very optimistic view of the future prior to 1830.   

Every since then many in the Church have shifted to a defeatist position that places more power in the hands of the Devil than God’s people. 

Dispensationalism is a defeatist system. God brings in a “Dispensation”, man fails, God goes to the next dispensation. 

The last dispensation “the Church age” will also end in utter defeat according to this view.

To make matters worse many use their end time view to attempt to predict when the secret rapture will occur. 

Millions are flocking towards books and ministries that claim they have proof we are about to be raptured, that all the chess pieces are in position and at any minute God will say checkmate and rescue us out of here!

 

You may remember the most recent book “The Four Blood Moons” by John Hagee.

I love John Hagee, he’s a mighty man of God and my brother in Christ, I enjoy several of his teachings. 

But did you notice that for a while everyone was all hyped up and sure that the 4th blood moon would usher in some end time apocalyptic event. This hype even carried over into non Christian circles as it usually does when a new prediction comes out, causing many non Christians to contemplate the end of the universe as we know it.

 

Nothing significant happened.

 

You also may have read or heard about Jonathan Cahns books “The Shemitah” or “The Harbinger”

Johnathan was certain that all the pieces were in place for an end time apocalyptic event.

I remember when I watched him on Sid Roth’s “It’s Supernatural”(great show IMO), several years ago before I knew anything about Preterism, and I was thoroughly convinced this guy had the formula that determined when the end of the world would be.

 

Nothing significant happened.

That’s not saying anything disrespectful about John Hagee, Perry Stone, Jonathan Cahn, or any of those men that propagate these end time views. In fact, besides Perry Stone’s Eschatological views(which I highly disagree with), he is by far one of my favorite preachers/teachers.


I am not writing to defame the character of anyone, but rather writing to inform people of their options for their end time views, and how much our end times views effect the way we live right now and see the future.

 

The truth is these books have been being written for decades

 

Just for fun I collect failed prophecy books including one entitled “I predict 2000 AD” by Lester Summrall (also a great man of God), and “Planet Earth 2,000 AD” by Hal Lindsey. 

 

These men were certain that Matthew 24 was being fulfilled in the 90’s, and that the year 2,000 would be when the rapture happened. 

 

Nothing significant happened.

I am sure it’s only a matter of time before people start labeling Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton the next “Anti-Christ”.

 

Yet despite all these failed predictions each generation still looks for a secret rapture, the Antichrist, and believe they are the end time generation. 

 

It is also problematic that many think they only have 4 or so options for their end time views. 

Pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post-tribulation or “pre wrath” rapture. 

 

Many people, including myself until 2013, do not even know about any other views such as Preterism(what I believe now) which means “Past Fulfillment”, Historicism, or Idealism. 

 

This tells me we need to educate people on their eschatological options, and not make them choose a belief through default of not having heard any other views, or having a certain view appear as Biblical as the Bible itself by having it in their Bibles commentary section.

 

It’s incredibly important we let people choose for themselves what to believe.

 

Let the Berean’s be our example. 

 

Acts 17:11

 

“And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.”

 

If anyone could be trusted with teaching sound doctrine, it was Paul! But the Berean’s still searched the scriptures day by day to make sure they were teaching the truth.

 

What if we read more Bibles that did not include Dispensational or doctrinal bias?

 

What if we let people choose for themselves what to believe?

 

What if we searched the Scriptures daily to make sure we haven’t accidentally believed views that are negatively influencing our world view such as Dispensationalism?

 

What if we told people they had options for their End Time views, as well as other Biblical views?

 

I believe we are at the beginning of a Biblical and Eschatological reformation, where people are starting to decide for themselves what to believe.

 

Many are starting to abandon fear based belief systems such as Dispensationlism. 

 

This belief system presents a weak declining church who needs to be Raptured out, and is unable to reform the corrupt systems of this world. 

 

They are exchanging this belief that was invented in 1830, for a victorious church, who moves in Gods power to make earth like Heaven and advance the Kingdom of God

 

I believe many would abandon these beliefs if they knew how negatively they effect our world view, and how contradictory they are compared to a present and advancing Kingdom

I had never even heard of Preterism which means “Past Fulfillment”, or any other end time view outside of Futurism until 2013 at an End Times conference. 

 

Nobody told me there were options

 

Nobody told me how contradictory it was to believe the Kingdom of God is here and advancing, but we are also supposed to be waiting around for Jesus to rapture a weak, declining church and usher in the Kingdom age where He will finally bring the Kingdom.

 

If you have hope for the church to have a mass revival, and believe the Kingdom

of God is here and advancing, I highly encourage you to come out of these Dispensational rapture beliefs as they completely contradict what you are trying to accomplish in the world. 

 

You will have more peace about the future and more hope for America and the world. 

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