I had opportunity to read the book “The Praise of Folly: the enigmatic life and theology of C.I. Scofield” over the course of the last week. The book was written by Mr. David Lutzweiller who is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute & Wheaton College and a former Dispensationalist. I realized prior to beginning this book that it would be a critique of Mr. Scofield , the Scofield Reference Bible and Dispensational theology so whenever I approach these types of books I try to take it with a grain of salt. I felt however that Mr. Lutzweiller did a fantastic job in arguing his case. The book is written to give an outline of Mr. Scofield’s life prior to his conversion as well as his post-conversion life. Mr. Lutzweiller deals with Mr. Scofield’s early swindling days, the abandonment of his first wife and two children, his divorce, the embellishment of his war service, his undocumented doctorate and a multitude of other issues including his obsession with pushing dispensational theology. With his whole life being questionable of a christian character, Scofield still managed to publish his famous bible. There is no question once this book is read that you will agree at least to a large degree, that Mr. Scofield’s life was puzzling and his praise questionable. You will also need to ponder how a man with such questionable character could publish such a widely read bible promoting the new doctrine of dispensationalism.
What I enjoyed the most about the book was that it was very well researched and Mr. Lutzweiller provided extensive quotations from his sources rather than short pieces. I appreciated also that he used a number of other biographies based upon Mr. Scofield’s life and demonstrated their weaknesses including biographies that would sometimes agree with his findings.
There are instances where I felt that Mr. Lutzweiller may have assumed too much with minimal evidence however his arguments were at least worthy of consideration.
Admittedly some will see this book as a form of conspiracy theory against Mr. Scofield, his reference bible and his promotion of Dispensationalism. I believe however that Mr. Lutzweiller’s assessment is fair and well argued. I believe that what I have come to realize from reading this book is that Mr. Scofield had a tremendous problem with commitment, pride and in some sense, greed. Even though this is the mark of many preachers in our generation, it was not so much the case in Fundamentalist Christianity. Indeed, one must wonder how a minister preparing what is to be one of the best selling reference bibles in history could have been so ignorant or just plain defiant of certain moral principles found in the pages of scripture.
I certainly would recommend this book and also, if time permit, to examine some other biographies of his life including:
- The Incredible Scofield and his Book – Joseph M. Canfield
- The Life of C.I. Scofield – Charles G. Trumball