Bullingerism and the Bible [Brochure]

Bullingerism and the Bible by A.H. Stewart
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Bullingerism, now more commonly known by its children—Acts 9 Dispensationalism, Acts 13 Dispensationalism, Acts 28 Dispensationalism, The Grace Movement, Hyper-Dispensationalism, Mid-Acts Dispensationalism, Ultra-dispensationalism, etc., was introduced toward the end of the 19th century by E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913), a respected Anglican scholar. After his death, his ideas were further developed and popularized in various forms by Sir Robert Anderson, Charles Welch, C. F. Baker, Cornelius Stam, and many others. This old article has been reprinted because it provides a basic concise response to the confusion, without addressing the variations within Bullingerism’s offspring.


A well-known Bible teacher’s definition of the teachings of Bullingerism is this: “A great hypothesis of ignorance.” With this I heartily concur, and would add, “It is flagrant carnality.” Paul the Apostle, to whom those who teach these doctrines constantly appeal, in writing to the Corinthians says this:

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:3-7.

Paul never claimed anything for himself, such as his hero-worshippers claim; he grew in grace as he exhorts all of us to do, and the marks of that growth are seen in that he claims less for himself each time he writes and more for his Lord and Master. Hear him say: “I am the least of the Apostles,” though he “was not a whit behind the very chiefest of them,” so far as his work and labor of love were concerned; whilst next he writes, “I am the least of all saints.” Thus we see in him the true marks of the spirit of his Lord, “who made Himself of no reputation!” Oh, to be controlled by that spirit, instead of the contentious, carping, harping spirit that divides the children of God, over what the Bullingerites themselves term as non-essential!

Again, Paul writes of himself as “the chief of sinners!” What a growth we see in this man of God, and in his estimate of himself! He was the only one ever caught up to the third heaven, but there was no giving of it out as if he himself “were some great one,” as he would have done if he had been carnal. Ah, no; his “thorn in the flesh” was the God-given ballast that kept him from being shipwrecked on the shoals of pride and arrogance!

Paul never claimed that his teachings set aside the inspired word of anyone else! He taught men the Scripture, and the only Scriptures he had were the Old Testament Scriptures. He preached the Gospel according to the Old Testament Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). He taught saints out of the Old Testament, reasoning out of them (not into them) from morning till night, as we read:

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.” Acts 28:23-24.

So he could write to the saints of God, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Thus we have no record that Paul ever said to God’s people when writing to them or speaking to them, that some particular Scriptures are “not for us!” We claim that he never did so. Again Paul commends the Bereans for searching the Scriptures:

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” Acts 17:10-12.

What Scriptures did they search? Not Colossians, Ephesians and Paul’s Prison Epistles, as the teachers of Bullingerism teach us today, for these Epistles had not then been written! Remember, the Spirit of God commends the Saints of those early days of the Church’s history for searching the Old Testament Scriptures, and at no later date has that holy exercise ever been rescinded!

Then if we believed what we have heard from such teachers we would think (if we did not have our Bible to guide us) that Paul has set aside the ordinance of Baptism, and has said so in plain words! I read that Paul himself was baptized by direct command from heaven! Did the Lord of Glory make a mistake in sending Ananias to baptize Paul? I shall quote at length from Paul’s own account:

“And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And I answered, Who art Thou, Lord? And He said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came unto Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:6-16.

I have quoted the whole of the inspired passage lest those who are more determined than spiritual dare to gainsay what we affirm, i.e., that Paul was baptized and later wrote (1 Corinthians 11:1), “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Can you dare to say you are a follower of either Christ or Paul in this respect, and refuse the ordinance of Baptism? Now, no quibbling! Was Paul baptized, or was he not? Oh, yes, you say; but he had his head shaven and took a vow. Yes; but he afterward wrote, “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin,” and, “By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” But where in the inspired Word does he say he was wrong in being baptized? Chapter and verse, please; and no reasoning into Scriptures. Paul never claimed his service was perfect, or that he had never failed! Who was ever faultless except the “Man Christ Jesus?”

When Paul purposed to go to Jerusalem he did so in his own spirit, because of his love and zeal for his brethren after the flesh:

“After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” Acts 19:21.

“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there.” Acts 20:22.

But the Holy Spirit forbade him:

“And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.”

“And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Acts 21:4, 11.

On arriving he was advised by the Jewish brethren to take a vow:

“Do therefore this that we say unto thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them and be at charges with them that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from (things) strangled, and from fornication. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help. This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple and hath polluted this holy place. For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. And all the city was moved, and the people ran together; and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple; and forthwith the doors were shut.” Acts 21:23-30.

Paul, the man of God, capitulated; he was out of the will of God in doing so, but God is faithful, and did not forsake His failing servant. How good for us that it is so, or who should be able to stand?

Did not Paul baptize at least twenty people? Who are they, you say? Here they are. Count them. I am only counting two for a household; there may have been more, but certainly no less, or it would not have been a household;

Crispus and Gaius 2 (1 Cor. 1:14-16)

Household of Stephanas 2 (1 Cor. 1:14-16)

Twelve disciples of John 12 (Acts 19:7)

Lydia and her household, 2 (Acts 16:13)

Jailer and his household 2 (Acts 16:30, 31)

20 in all

There they are! Did Paul do right, or did he do wrong? Did he afterwards learn that he had pursued a wrong path and write to correct it, lest we should fall into the same ignorance and error? If he did, again I leave space for chapter and verse __________________. Oh, don’t put in Hebrews 6:2! Surely every teacher of God’s Word ought to know the word “baptisms” there is the same word as found in Hebrews 9:10, and translated “washings.” See the New Translation of J. N. Darby, or any good critical version.

That the “great commission,” as it is called, of Matthew 28:19-20, will not have its complete fulfilment until the age to come is true, but that does not mean it is not the marching orders given by a Risen Christ, to be obeyed from that day to this. It is not the same but it is the rescinding of the previous commission given in the same Gospel (chapter 10:5): “Go not into the way of the Gentiles;” for now since Christ died and rose again it is: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” and who has ever cancelled that order by God’s sanction?

“But,” you say, “Paul wrote, ‘For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.’” 1 Corinthians 1:17.

Yes, it says Paul was not sent to baptize, but others were, and he, man of God as he was, never claimed he had received all the revelation God had for His people. So if Peter was sent to baptize, he accepted that revelation; while he himself was sent to teach the truth of “one Body,” which Peter finally accepted after his carnal nationalism was subdued by the Spirit of God, as he writes:

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15-16.

In this last Epistle he puts his stamp of approval on all of Paul’s Epistles, claiming for them what he would for any part of the inspired Word. Will you not do the same? And if you have never been baptized, be a follower of Paul: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16.

You may say, “But Paul was a Jew, whilst I am a Gentile, and have been baptized by the Holy Spirit!” Very well, then, what about this man Cornelius, who was, as you are, by birth a Gentile, and had received the Holy Spirit, and yet he was commanded to be baptized, as we read: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” Acts 10:47-48.

As to the Lord’s Supper, I need only quote the words of the Glorified Saviour, and woe to those who would set them aside:

“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.” 1 Cor. 11:23-26.

“Till He come,” then, those led by God’s Spirit and Word will continue to remember their absent but coming Lord.

So I conclude, praying that the Spirit of God may use this message to help any who are being divided because of the teachings of men, who seem determined to “divide the child.”

“See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven.” Hebrews 12:25.

“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours. And ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.

(Original title: Bullingerism Exploded)

A. H. Stewart


'Twas on that night of deepest woe,
When darkness round did thicken,
When through deep waters Thou didst go,
And for our sins wast stricken;
Thou, Lord, didst seek that we should be
With grateful hearts remembering Thee.

How deep the sorrow, who can tell,
Which was for us endurèd?
Oh love divine, which broke the spell
Which had our hearts allurèd.
With heart and conscience now set free,
It is our joy to think of Thee.

O Lord, how precious is Thy thought,
How wondrous Thy desire,
To win our hearts, once worse than naught,
Who now by grace aspire
To seek Thy glory, bear Thy shame,
To keep Thy Word, and love Thy name.

We know Thee now exalted high,
Ourselves in Thee accepted;
We wait the hour which now draws nigh,
Thy coming long expected.
Till Thou dost come we still would be
With grateful hearts remembering Thee.

G.W. Fraser