E. W. Bullinger

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E. W. Bullinger

Ethelbert William Bullinger

15 December 1837
Canterbury, Kent, England
Died6 June 1913(1913-06-06) (aged 75)
London, England
EducationKing's College London (1860–1861)
Occupation(s)Clergyman, Biblical scholar, and theologian
Known forThe Companion Bible

Ethelbert William Bullinger AKC (15 December 1837 – 6 June 1913) was an Anglican clergyman, biblical scholar, and ultradispensationalist theologian.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Canterbury, Kent, England, the youngest of five children of William and Mary (Bent) Bullinger.[1] His family traced their ancestry back to Heinrich Bullinger, the Swiss Reformer.[2]

His formal theological training was at King's College London from 1860 to 1861, and he earned an associate degree.[3] After graduation, on 15 October 1861, he married Emma Dobson, 13 years his senior.[4] He later received a Doctor of Divinity in 1881 not from a university but from Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, who cited Bullinger's "eminent service in the Church in the department of Biblical criticism".[5]


Bullinger's career in the Church of England spanned from 1861 to 1888. He began as associate curate in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, in 1861,[4] and was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1862.[6] He served as parish curate in Tittleshall (1863–1866), Notting Hill (1866–1869), Leytonstone, (1869–1870) and Walthamstow until he became vicar of the new parish of St. Stephen's in 1874. He resigned his vicarage in 1888.[7]

Trinitarian Bible Society[edit]

In the spring of 1867, at the age of 29, Bullinger became clerical secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society, which he held, with rare lapses for illness in his later years, until his death, in 1913.[8]

The society's accomplishments of TBS during his secretariat include the following:

Bullinger and Ginsburg parted ways, and another edition of Tanakh was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.


Bullinger was editor of a monthly journal Things to Come, subtitled A Journal of Biblical Literature, with Special Reference to Prophetic Truth. The Official Organ of Prophetic Conferences for over 20 years (1894–1915), and he contributed many articles.

In the great Anglican debate of the Victorian era, he belonged to the Low Church, rather than the High Church.

He wrote four major works:

  • A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (1877) ISBN 0-8254-2096-2
  • Number in Scripture (1894) ISBN 0-8254-2204-3
  • Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1898) ISBN 0-8010-0559-0
  • Primary editor of The Companion Bible (published in 6 parts, 1909–1922) ISBN 0-8254-2177-2. It was completed after his death by his associates.

As of 2020, those works and many others remain in print, or at least are reproduced on the Internet.

Bullinger was also a practiced musician. As part of his support for the Breton Mission, he collected and harmonized several previously-untranscribed Breton Hymns on his visits to Trémel, Brittany. He also published “Fifty original hymn-tunes” in 1874 which reached a third edition in 1897. The first, BULLINGER, is the only still in use today, often sung to the words “I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus”.


Bullinger's friends included Zionist Dr. Theodor Herzl.[10]


Bullinger's views were often unique and sometimes controversial. He is so closely tied to what is now called ultradispensationalism that it is sometimes referred to as Bullingerism.[11] Bullingerism differed from mainstream dispensationalism on the beginning of the church. Mainstream dispensationalism holds that the Church began at Pentecost, as described early in the Acts of the Apostles. In contrast, Bullinger held that the Church, which the Apostle Paul revealed as the Body of Christ, began after the end of Acts,[12] and was not revealed until the Prison Epistles of the Apostle Paul.[13] Dispensationalist Harry A. Ironside (1876–1951) declared Bullingerism an "absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth."[14]

Bullinger described dispensations as divine "administrations" or "arrangements" under which God deals at distinct time periods and with distinct groups of people "on distinct principles, and the doctrine relating to each must be kept distinct." He emphasizes, "Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation that which relates to another."[15] He lists seven dispensations:

Dispensational Scheme of Bullinger
Edenic state of Innocence Period "without law" Period under the Law Period of Grace Epoch of Judgment Millennial Age The Eternal State of Glory
Genesis 1-3
ended with the expulsion from Eden
Genesis 4 to Exodus 19
ended with the flood and judgment on Babel
Exodus 20 to Acts 28
ended at the rejection by Israel of the grace of God
at the end of Acts
Church History
will end at the Day of the Lord
will end at the destruction of the Antichrist
Rev 20:4-6
will end with the destruction of Satan
Rev 20-22 will not end

Other views[edit]

Other than ultradispensationalism, Bullinger had many unusual views. For example, Bullinger argued that the death of Jesus occurred on a Wednesday, not a Friday, after Pilate had condemned him at the previous midnight,[16] and that Jesus was crucified on a single upright stake without crossbar[17] with four, not just two, criminals and held that this last view was supported by a group of five crosses of different origins (all with crossbar) in Brittany (put together in the 18th century).[18]

Bullinger argued for mortality of the soul, the cessation of the soul between death and resurrection.[19] He did not express any views concerning the final state of the lost, but many of his followers hold to annihilationism.

Bullinger was a supporter of the theory of the Gospel in the Stars, which states the constellations to be pre-Christian expressions of Christian doctrine.[20][21][22][23] In his book Number in Scripture he expounded his belief in the gematria or numerology values of words in Scripture (names and terms), a concept of which the Encyclopædia Britannica says: "Numerology sheds light on the innermost workings of the human mind but very little on the rest of the universe."[24] He strongly opposed the theory of evolution[25] and held that Adam was created in 4004 BC.[26] He was a member of the Universal Zetetic Society, a group dedicated to believing and promoting the idea that the earth is flat,[27][28][29] and on 7 March 1905, he chaired a meeting in Exeter Hall, London, in which the flat earth theory was expounded.[30][31][32]


List of works


  1. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p.27
  2. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p. 28-29
  3. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p. 35
  4. ^ a b E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p. 39
  5. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, pp.62
  6. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, p.40, states July 6, 1862.
  7. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, pp.42-47, 55, 65.
  8. ^ E. W. Bullinger: A Biography, Carey, Juanita, 2000, pp. 71-73
  9. ^ "THE STORY OF PASTEUR LECOAT. The Breton Mission At Tremel" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. As Dr. E. W. Bullinger so aptly points out in his book, The Story of the Breton Mission, M. Lecoat had returned to a land of a corrupt religion... an organised crusade was begun to graft the Romish religion on to that of the Druids. Many of the tall-standing stones were transformed into crosses, but, where the stone was too hard for the mason's chisel, crosses and crucifixes were fastened to them. Dr. Bullinger tells how that in one vear no less than five thousand were so transformed by the then Bishop of St. Pol de Leon.
  10. ^ Rhoades, Richard (10 July 2013). Lady Liberty: The Ancient Goddess of America. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. p. 243. ISBN 9781475974867.
  11. ^ Elwell, Walter A. (1984). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House. ISBN 0-8010-3413-2. p. 1120
  12. ^ E. W. Bullinger. "The Companion Bible, Appendix 181: The Dispensational Position of the Book of the "Acts"". "all the truth"...was reserved, and not permitted to be revealed, until the public proclaiming of "the kingdom" had ended, after the close of the "Acts". (See Notes on the Epp., specially Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.) Then, when "blindness in part is happened to Israel" (Romans 11:25), "the church which is His body" (Ephesians 1:22, 23) began to be formed "to the praise of the glory of His grace" (Ephesians 1:6, and Note on 15:14)
  13. ^ E. W. Bullinger. "The Companion Bible, Appendix 192. THE PAULINE EPISTLES". It is ignorance of this Divinely given standard that results in the deplorable attempts to "square" the teachings of our Lord in the Gospels, which concern the kingdom of heaven (Ap. 114) and the Jewish Polity, with the teaching of Paul the apostle and bondservant of Jesus Christ in the Church Epistles. And so, when it is found that they cannot be "squared", we have the unseemly utterances and procedure of those who throw over the "Pauline doctrine", as they term it, in favor of "the teaching of Jesus", with contemptuous references to "the Hellenistic tendencies of Paul's mind", &c.; and such statements as "the Master's words must be preferred to a disciple's; "we must get back to Jesus", and so on.
  14. ^ Harry A. Ironside. "Wrongly Diving the Word of Truth: Ultra-Dispensationalism Examined in the Light of the Holy Scriptures. Chapter 1: What is Ultra-Dispensationalism?". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Having had most intimate acquaintance with Bullingerism as taught by many for the last forty years, I have no hesitancy in saying that its fruits are evil. It has produced a tremendous crop of heresies throughout the length and breadth of this and other lands, it has divided Christians and wrecked churches and assemblies without number; it has lifted up its votaries in intellectual and spiritual pride to an appalling extent, so that they look with supreme contempt upon Christians who do not accept their peculiar views; and in most instances where it has been long tolerated, it has absolutely throttled Gospel effort at home and sown discord on missionary fields abroad. So true are these things of this system that I have no hesitancy in saying it is an absolutely Satanic perversion of the truth.
  15. ^ "Companion Bible, Appendix 195: THE DIFFERENT AGES AND DISPENSATIONS OF GOD'S DEALINGS WITH MEN". Nothing but confusion can arise from reading into one dispensation that which relates to another. To connect with God said and did in one dispensation with another, in which His administration was on an altogether different principle, is to ensure error. And finally, to take doctrine of late revelation and read it into the time when it was "hidden" leads to disaster. The nations, Israel the Chosen Nation, and the church (Ap 186) are each dealt with in distinct "times" and on distinct principles, and the doctrine relating to each must be kept distinct.
  16. ^ Zuijlekom, D. van. "Six Days Before the Passover (John 12:1) - Appendix to the Companion Bible". levendwater.org.
  17. ^ The Companion Bible, Appendix 162: The Cross and the Crucifixion
  18. ^ E. W. Bullinger. "The Companion Bible, Appendix 164: The "Others" Crucified With The Lord (Matt. 27:38 and Luke 23:32)". Mislead by tradition and the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, it is the general belief that only two were crucified with the Lord. But Scripture does not say so... it is clear [from cited Scriptural evidence] that there were four "others" crucified with the Lord.... To show that we are not without evidence, even from tradition, we may state that there is a "Calvary" to be seen at Ploubezere near Lannion, in the Cotes-du-Nord, Brittany, known as Les Cinq Croix ("The Five Crosses"). There is a high cross in the center, with four lower ones, two on either side.
  19. ^ Bullinger, E. W. (1902). The Rich Man and Lazarus or "The Intermediate State". London: Eyrie & Spottiswood.
  20. ^ Danny R. Faulkner, "A Further Examination of the Gospel in the Stars" in Answers Research Journal
  21. ^ Ethelbert W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars (London 1893)
  22. ^ Danny Faulkner, The Created Cosmos: What the Bible Reveals About Astronomy (New Leaf Publishing Group, 2016) ISBN 9781614585480
  23. ^ C.L. Pepper, Revelation in the Stars (Chrispy Publications 2007), p. 30 ISBN 9780620399449
  24. ^ Ian Stewart, "Number symbolism" in Encyclopædia Britannica
  25. ^ E.W. Bullinger, The Book of Job, Including "The Oldest Lesson in the World" (Cosimo reprint 2007), p. 40
  26. ^ "The Companion Bible, Appendix 50, "From the Creation to the Flood 4004–2348"".
  27. ^ Christine Garwood (2010). Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea. Pan Macmillan. p. 159. ISBN 9780330540070.
  28. ^ "The "Plane" Truth" (PDF).
  29. ^ Samuel Shenton (1966). The Plane Truth (PDF). International Flat Earth Research Society. p. 2.
  30. ^ ""A flat Earth": Lady Blount ridicules "giddy ball" theory" (PDF). The Express and Telegraph. 29 April 1905. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  31. ^ "Ethelbert William Bullinger: A Documented Flat-Earther (with links to many on-line newspapers)" (PDF). Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  32. ^ Danny R. Faulkner, "Was E.W. Bullinger a Flat-Earther?". Answers in Genesis, September 24, 2020.


  • Carey, Juanita S. (1988). E.W. Bullinger: A Biography. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2372-4.

External links[edit]