By William R. Newell
This teaching has been so fully answered, both in England and America, and its deadly dangers so fully worked out, that a discussion of it is practically unnecessary here. See, for example, the brief, but able and clear tract by Mr. W. Hoste of England: Bullingerism (Light and Liberty Publishing Company, Fort Dodge, Iowa). He also combatted Dr. Bullinger in England when he was yet alive. Also the various comments made by the Editor D. M. Panton in the magazine The Dawn (C. J. Thynne & Company, London); and those by Dr. James M. Gray in The Moody Monthly (Chicago). The recent righteously firm and unanswerable booklet Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth (Loizeaux Bros., New York) by Dr. H. A. Ironside, is not being answered by Bullinger votaries,—except by petitio principii,—begging the question that their rejection of water baptism is correct, the final teaching of Paul; and that those who disagree with them are ignorant or cowards. They do not answer the arguments made against them; instead they accuse their objectors.
Consider, regarding Bullingerism:
1. It subjects Scripture to rigid rules of outline and interpretation invented by the human mind. It does lean upon “its own understanding,” rather than upon the Holy Spirit.
2. It assumes, with unbelievable pride, that it knows “truth,” of which the whole Church has been ignorant since Paul. In other times, when men really recovered truth, as at the Reformation, or in Wesley’s or in Darby’s day, a mighty work of the Holy Spirit accompanied the Word, which resulted in the conversion of thousands, and the real edification in love of God’s Saints. Bullingerism causes divisions; ministers “questionings” and defeats unity. I have watched it for thirty-six years deceive, puff up, release from prayer and burden for souls, make men once zealous to reach the lost compass sea and land to make one proselyte to “no water-baptism,” “only prison epistles,” “Gospels not for us,” etc., etc.
3. Bullingerism is probably the most subtle of all the doctrines that lead, eventually, to that great denial of eternal judgment, which is sweeping the world. The “soul-sleep” that Bullinger taught “lets down the bars”; being direct trifling with God’s plainest of words regarding the disposition He makes of both the saved and the lost at death: that the believer “departs to be with Christ,” being “absent from the body he is present with the Lord”; and that the lost proceed, as did the rich man of Luke 16, at once to Hades. Bullinger says: “Hades,—we might call it Gravedom. There is not a place where the rendering grave would not be appropriate” (for Hades). Now Matthew 16:18 at once proves this utterly false! Church saints’ bodies have been buried in graves constantly; but Hades, the region at the earth’s center (Matthew 12:40; Acts 2:27, R.V.), since our Lord’s resurrection, has not admitted one saint into its gates: “The Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (the Church). I am persuaded that all Bullingerites are candidates for some form of denial of eternal punishment. There are those of California who teach that even Satan will be restored: making God, in Revelation 20:10, a liar! “Buy the truth and sell it not!”
The more a man knows who teaches vital error, the more dangerous he is. Especially is he dangerous if he holds some,—even a great deal, of truth; for, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
When I was in England first, in 1899, it was my great blessing to be closely associated with the best Christians there. Mr. Bullinger was at that time writing very busily. But all those devoted Christians said, “He seems to be a brainy man, but we do not trust him.” How well his fruits have proved their discernment!
It is my firm belief that one of three paths will be followed by all Bullinger followers: a. They will be delivered from it by divine grace; or, b. They will become so occupied with endless discussions about “dispensational” distinctions and divisions, that they will become fruitless for God, either at home or abroad; or, c. They will go on to the logical conclusion of setting aside this Scripture and that, in accordance with their “dispensational” claims, to the position of the Knoch (Concordant) faction of California: who have even printed their (per)version of the Scriptures, to gainsay the Words of God concerning eternal punishment.
Imagine Martin Luther being told that his beloved Galatians and Romans (by which, under God, he shook Europe), “Those are not ‘Church Epistles,’—they do not belong to us.” I should not care personally to be the “dispensationalist” to tell Luther that! Or Rutherford—imagine telling him that the Church is not the Bride of Christ! (Have you read his Letters?) Or content John Bunyan with words and questions such as these? Or tell Whitefield, weeping over 20,000 souls in his mighty sermon on “Ye must be born again,” that John’s Gospel, where he got his message, is “not for us”? God gave him thousands of souls by that message, and no peddler of “soul-sleep” teaching could stand before him!
George Whitefield read through Matthew Henry’s Commentary twice—on his knees! What this shallow age needs is a long, steady acquaintance with such as Matthew Henry,128 and the Puritans, and Spurgeon, and Darby’s “Collected Writings”—and even with John Calvin’s 51 volumes of commentaries! But they, conceiving themselves dispensationally “beyond” these really great men of God,—will they read these works?
We trow not. They will, instead, be more and more occupied with the “air-tight-compartments” of the clever and heady Companion Bible,—because it makes people think they are advancing, in their Scripture “dividing,” and dispensational distinctions, in divine things,—whether the Holy Ghost unifies in love God’s saints or not; and whether revival showers come or not!
128 Matthew Henry was godly, as were the Puritans; though both are servants of a legal theology, alas!