A Review of “The Incredible Scofield and His Book” -- By: John D. Hannah

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 147:587 (Jul 1990)
Article: A Review of “The Incredible Scofield and His Book”
Author: John D. Hannah

A Review of “The Incredible Scofield and His Book”

John D. Hannah

Chairman and Professor of Historical Theology
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

The Incredible Scofield and His Book,1 written by Joseph M. Canfield and privately printed by the author in 1984, has recently been produced by a Christian Reconstructionist publishing house that is directed, or at least strongly influenced in policy and creed, by Rousas Rushdoony. Christian Reconstructionism has been recently described as adhering to (a) a presuppositional approach to apologetics, which asserts that the essence of Christianity is beyond “proofs”; (b) theonomy, the view that the ethical stipulations of the Old Testament legal code should be enacted into American law; and (c) postmillennialism, which asserts that the current world is the ever-emerging biblical kingdom to the exclusion of any other period.2 Canfield shares at least the last two assumptions. He was once a dispensationalist3 and attended a school in that tradition in the 1930s, The Bible Institute of Pennsylvania.4

He was disturbed by the apparent incongruity that Oxford Press, a major secular publishing house, would print the fundamentalist Scofield Reference Bible,5 and he writes that he was horrified that

the notes of a mortal would be accepted as Scripture.6 Believing that the linchpin of the credibility of the dispensational interpretation of the Bible was C. I. Scofield, Canfield felt that “to remove [the] halo which he wears”7 would bring the entire system into question.

The book consists of a painstakingly careful historical study of the life of Scofield as it bears on the Scofield Reference Bible and dispensational premillenarian teaching. Canfield’s research into biographical details is impressive. However, facts are one thing and the meaning or interpretation of facts is another. This is the principal failure of the book. His particular interpretation of the facts about Scofield is then extended to both the reference Bible and dispensational premillenarianism. Canfield makes two assumptions: (a) Scofield is the fountainhead of the system he advocated, and (b) his supposed character permeates and explains the features of that teaching.

Canfield’s Evaluation of C. I. Scofield

Canfield’s presentation of Scofie...

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