"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 2, Number 12, December 1999
["As I See It" is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor's perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. They may also be downloaded at http://www.tegart.com/brian/bible/kjvonly.
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given.]
THE GREATEST EVENTS AND GREATEST PEOPLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY
I am fully aware that the 20th century will not end until December 31, 2000, and 2001 will be the first year of the 21st century (it wasn't for nothing that Arthur Clarke titled his sci-fi book "2001"). Nevertheless, because many uninformed souls are jumping the gun a year early, I decided to address the subject of the headline: what indeed were the most significant events of this yet-incomplete century and what people had the greatest impact on it?
I do not presume to speak with infallibility, but only from the perspective of one who lived through the second half of the century, and who has enthusiastically studied, taught and written about history.
Of political events in this century, surely the two great world wars overshadow all other events. World War I was the first general war in Europe since Napoleonic times. Twenty million souls perished on battlefields stretching from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf. Great empires of long standing (Austrian-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian) collapsed during the war or (in the case of the British Empire) began a long slide into disintegration. The political map of Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East was redrawn wholesale. And the Treaty of Versailles which concluded "the war to end all wars" guaranteed the coming of the Second World War.
The Second World War did the unthinkable: it dwarfed the evil effects of "The Great War." It continued not four but six years, and resulted in the deaths of at least 54 million people, a full 20 million of them being civilians (including 6 million Jews). Geographically, it virtually circled the globe, touching every continent except Antarctica. In its wake arose two world factions--the free West and the communist-enslaved East--and the real threat of the total annihilation of mankind by nuclear weapons.
Following the two great wars in impact on 20th century man was the Russian revolution of 1917 (which indeed was in part a by-product of World War I) followed by the Russian civil war. At least 10% of Russia's vast populace perished in the struggle. And out of the ashes of the Russian Empire ultimately arose what Ronald Reagan aptly characterized as "the evil empire": Soviet Russia and its sister communist dictatorships (China, Cuba) and its wholly-owned "client" states: the Baltic Republics, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and the rest of Eastern Europe. Because its tyranny lasted far longer than both world wars combined (70+ years in the case of Russia and 50+ years and counting in China), the reign of communism had a very deep and intense impact on those directly under its iron heel and upon those threatened by its military aggression (namely, all the rest of the planet).
It is impossible to say with certainty how many citizens of communist-ruled states were slaughtered at the hands of their own governments, but it is all but certain that it exceeded the casualties of the two world wars. As a sample, consider that Stalin systematically starved to death 9 to 10 million Ukrainians in the early 1930s, and upwards of 3/4 of a million died in the great purges of the 1930s in Russia. Countless millions were killed by the Chinese communists in the revolution of 1949 and in the "cultural revolution" of the 1960s. And we need not even speak of communist wars of aggression in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The invention of the atomic bomb brought the Second World War to a rapid conclusion, and the post-war proliferation of bomb technology made another general, all-out war unthinkable. Indeed, the non-occurrence of World War III (so far) can be ascribed in part to the existence of nuclear weapons which completely altered the landscape of war. Those same nuclear weapons (particularly those in the hands of communist dictators) were the source of great and unending anxiety in the West, as well as compelling the expenditure of trillions of dollars to insure adequate national defense.
The collapse of the Iron Curtain under the weight of its own decay and corruption in 1989 is one of the truly remarkable events of the century. When in 1987 Ronald Reagan stood on the free West Berlin side of the Brandenburg Gate and demanded, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" virtually all observers dismissed it as a wholly unrealistic demand. Yet just over two years later, the wall came down, not at Gorbachev's behest, but simply because the true political, philosophical and economic bankruptcy of communism had manifested itself and liberty could be denied to the captive peoples no longer. The best estimates of the CIA expected very serious economic troubles to shake the Soviet empire early in the first decade of the 21st century, but never by the 1980s.
And finally, among the political events of the century which were of supreme importance is the 1948 re-establishment of the State of Israel in Palestine, after just short of 2,000 years. The significance of this event is all out of proportion to the geographic size of the country or the size of its populace. A great majority of the nations of earth exceed it in area or number of occupants. Yet those who know the Scriptures know that Israel has been the focal point of God's working in the world and will yet be again in the future. Indeed, many of the events foretold for "the last days" pre-suppose the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine.
Were I to name the greatest, that is, most influential, men of the 20th century, I would be compelled to divide the list in two, first a list of those men great in the depths of their wickedness, and then a list of those men who were great in their positive accomplishments.
Among those notorious for evil, it is hard to decide between Joseph Stalin of Russia (he was actually a Georgian) and Mao Tse Tung of China. Both dominated their respective countries for about a quarter century. Both were unspeakably brutal to their enemies, and to their "friends." Both were cold, calculating murderers of millions both of their own countrymen, and of foreigners. Both aggressively exported "the Revolution" to other countries, igniting wars that led to the deaths of millions. It is hard to choose between these two incarnations of evil.
Yes, Hitler must be added to this satanic triumvirate, yet he was a veritable bush-leaguer by comparison (yet the leftist American media rarely have a bad word to say about Stalin or Mao--the liberals never met a communist they didn't like). His reign of terror lasted a mere dozen years and those he and his Wehrmacht killed--exceeding in all some 20 million--were only a fraction of the death tolls piled up by either of the communist monsters. This, history's most prosperous, informed and comfortable century has at the same time witnessed the lives of the most evil men in history. "The problem is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
In sharp contrast, the single most important individual for good in this century was beyond dispute Winston Churchill. He was the only man who played a significant role in the war effort of any winning government in both world wars. As Britain's Lord of the Admiralty in World War I, he played a major role in directing British naval forces in the war, and he was, besides, the inventor of the tank. He was unfairly collared with the blame for a disastrous attempt at invading the Gallipoli Peninsula in the middle of the war.
In the late 1920s and into the 1930s, it looked as if Churchill's political career was over, but when Hitler came to power in Germany, Churchill--almost alone--lifted up a voice warning against the military designs of der Fuhrer. After years of his warnings being ignored, followed by the German seizures of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and half of Poland, and the German conquest of the low countries, Scandinavia and France, and after the disastrous British evacuation of Dunkirk, Churchill was called upon to lead England in its darkest days. By the shear force of his own will and his soul-gripping eloquence, Churchill willed England into resistance against the Third Reich when the easiest path would have been a pact of neutrality. To this day, whenever I hear or read Churchill's "their finest hour" speech, the hair on my neck stands on end and tears come to my eyes. England stood, because Churchill stood. And because England stood, the Third Reich ultimately fell. No other man in the British Empire, and perhaps in the free world, was equal to the task.
I can think of no one who merits being classed with Churchill in the 20th century.
Thus far, the realm of politics and the affairs of nations.
With regard to the leading events and people of the 20th century as viewed from a spiritual, Biblical perspective, the conclusions will differ markedly.
The most significant theological events would necessarily include the Scopes Trial of 1925. It is true that, technically speaking, the "creationist" side won the case (John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in violation of Tennessee law), nevertheless, it proved to be a colossal defeat of the greatest magnitude. The trial was a media circus, with millions of words written and spoken to denigrate, ridicule and mock the creationists as rubes and buffoons. The Scopes trial was the virtually complete triumph of secular humanism over the theism that characterized America through its first 150 years. The fruit of that triumph ultimately included the banishment of God, prayer, and Scripture from public education and public life, and all the social ills that naturally follow when God is pushed out of men's lives --divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, sodomy, violence. The immensity of the spiritual harm done as a result of the Scopes trial is beyond calculation.
A second event of great importance was the discovery in 1948 of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here were copies of the books of the Old Testament, in the original Hebrew and dating to the time of Jesus and before, a full thousand years older than the oldest previously-known copies of the Old Testament. No longer could skeptical scholars challenge the accuracy and faithfulness of the copies of the Old Testament. Not longer would their speculations of wholesale corruption of the text be granted much credence in the scholarly world. The Old Testament that we have is all but identical with that read by Jesus, and going further back, with it as originally written by the prophets.
A third event of surpassing significance was the publication in 1961 of THE GENESIS FLOOD by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb. This book launched the modern scientific creation movement which has gone far in rescuing Biblical Christianity from its intellectual inferiority complex which developed after Scopes. For decades, we cowered in fear that if we tried to defend the literal accuracy of the Bible, especially the early chapters of Genesis, we would have scientific "facts" shoved down our throats and we would become a laughingstock. We fell back to such expedients as the gap theory and day-age theory, which were neither true to Scripture nor convincing to secularists. But now, almost 40 years later, we can boldly challenge secular atheistic evolution on solid scientific grounds. THE GENESIS FLOOD sparked this transformation.
Who have had the greatest impact for good on 20th century Christianity? I would not suggest Billy Graham. While he has no doubt been the most famous American Christian in this century, his legacy is very much mixed. While he did present the Gospel to millions, nevertheless, by his abandonment of fundamentalists and embracing of co-operation with liberals, apostates, and modernists he did more than any other man in blurring the distinction between truth and error, between the true Gospel and the false, between the path of life and the path to destruction.
Judged by the impact for good of his actions on conservative Christianity, I would have to name Henry M. Morris as the most influential individual of the century. As noted earlier, by his writing and speaking, he set afoot the modern scientific creation movement that has transformed the whole relationship of Biblical Christianity and secular humanism. We can now take the battle to them on their home turf, and emerge victorious, supported by facts of science. The credibility of Scripture has been enhanced in our eyes and with confidence we can urge others to find a personal relationship with God our creator and savior, such as we ourselves have found.
PRESIDENTS OF THE 2OTH CENTURY
In all, 18 men have held the office of President of the United States in the 20th century, 11 Republicans and 7 Democrats. The longest term of any of these in the century was just over 12 years (the second Roosevelt), and the shortest was less than a year (the end of McKinley's first term, and the few months of his second, ending with his assassination, all in 1901). Republicans held the Presidency for 54 years in the century, Democrats for 46. Only 4 presidents served at least two full terms: Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan (since the last 20 days of Clinton's second term--if he serves it out--will be in the first year of the 21st century, he just misses this distinction).
Of these Presidents, who may be counted as the best? In the realm of foreign policy, none achieved more than Richard Nixon. He came to power in 1969 having pledged to get the American troops and P.O.W.s out of Vietnam and did so in spite of massive opposition at every turn from a hostile Democrat-controlled Congress. And Vietnam was able to stand by itself for two full years against communist aggression until that same Democrat Congress refused to supply the South Vietnamese with promised weapons and supplies so that they could continue the war. Millions died as a result of the communist victory in Southeast Asia, a victory guaranteed by the betrayal of South Vietnam by the American Congress.
And Nixon opened the door to China. As long as China was a closed society, it was all but impossible for Western ideas--even Western "consumerism"--to begin to break down the communist monolith. The seeds of whatever freedoms the Chinese people have enjoyed in the past decade were planted by Richard Nixon.
Franklin Roosevelt must be commended for recognizing that the U.S. would be drawn into World War II (and the sooner the better), when most of the country favored isolationism. His solid, and at times brazenly illegal, support of the British with military materiel was crucial to British survival. It must be stated, however, that Roosevelt was grossly naive in his dealings with Stalin, and just about gave away the store at Yalta.
A third praiseworthy President in the realm of foreign policy was Ronald Reagan. He called a spade a spade and a communist a communist. He was not shy to declare the Soviet Union "the evil empire," and with his Space Defense Initiative proposal (SDI; also called "Star Wars") boldly challenged the Russians to an arms race he knew they could not win, an arms race that bankrupted their centralized economy. When Reagan took office, the communists were on track to conquer Central America, Central Africa, and were aggressively seeking control of the Persian Gulf oil fields. A second Carter term would likely have seen communist triumphs in all these areas, with an ever-tightening noose around the neck of the free world. Yet in the very year Reagan left office, the collapse of the Soviet Union began. As I have told friends in Eastern Europe, they owe their freedom and the collapse of communism to Reagan. The news media will not give him the credit, but it is his nevertheless.
In the realm of domestic policy, once again Reagan merits great commendation. When he took office, the U. S. economy was truly in its worst condition since the 1930s--inflation was about 15%, interest rates neared 20%, unemployment topped 10%, and a deep gloom had settled over the entire nation. We were like a punch-drunk fighter staggering across the ring, desperately trying to stay on his feet but verging on collapse. And yet within a couple of years, the economy was brought under control, and the de-regulation of industry and down-sizing of government spurred an expansion of the economy that has yet to end. The prosperity of the 1980s and the strong economy of the 1990s is a consequence of the Reagan domestic policies.
Were I to name Presidents who left a dark legacy, I would have to mention Wilson. His "idealism," embodied in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, was virtually a blueprint for generating World War II. It wasn't intended that way, but what do they say about good intentions?
And Franklin Roosevelt must be named as well. His "New Deal" policies seized for federal control whole areas of government that were constitutionally the sole prerogative of the states, and which did nothing to resolve the Great Depression. They did succeed, however, in spawning an ever-growing federal bureaucracy and ever-heavier tax burden and national debt, the last shoe of which has not yet dropped (I speak of the Social Security which has confiscated huge quantities of capital which, if invested in the private sector, would result in immense economic growth; instead, the S.S. system will soon be bankrupt, which surely will result in great social upheaval).
I must mention among the ignominious both Kennedy and Clinton, not for gross domestic or foreign blunders with grave longer term consequences (though they both had these), but for debauchery and moral depravity. In truth, Kennedy was a vastly more profuse adulterer than Clinton, but Clinton systematically abused the power of his office and was a much more accomplished liar. George Will called him the most personally corrupt President in history. Clinton has done more than any President to debase and degrade the office of President and to bring disgrace upon it. Of course Kennedy had only 1,000 days to exercise his depravity; Clinton has had double that and more.
But, judged on the consequences of his actions as President, by a wide margin the worst President in this century, and in all of American history, was Lyndon Johnson. His "Great Society" programs--by which he sought to "buy" votes in the 1964 election--vastly expanded the size and scope of the New Deal programs of Roosevelt. Johnson's food stamp program, for example, began as a modest $250 million per year outlay, but mushroomed into a more than $20 billion behemoth in a decade. Other programs grew proportionately. It must be recognized that the huge budget deficits of the 1970s and 1980s were due to the socialist programs initiated or expanded by Johnson in the 1960s. And the spiraling cost of medical care must also be credited to massive federal involvement in health care, begun under Johnson.
But domestic disaster is not Johnson's only legacy. In collusion with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (scarcely less than a traitor), he designed and carried out a deliberately "no-win" policy in Vietnam, with the consequences being the longest war in our history, 58,000 American dead, a huge rift in the American populace that persists to this very hour, the loss of all of Southeast Asia to communism and the subsequent slaughter of millions, and America in wholesale retreat worldwide in the face of communist aggression in the 1970s. No administration in all our history had such disastrous consequences on the nation both domestically and internationally.
SOG: THE SECRET WARS OF AMERICA'S COMMANDOS IN VIETNAM by John L. Plaster. New York: Onyx, 1998. 383 pp., paperback. $6.99
SOG is an acronym for "Studies and Observations Group," a code name for American-led commando units active during the Vietnam War. The author of the book was an active participant in SOG. Because these SOG reconnaissance teams usually operated "illegally" behind enemy lines in the hokey "neutral" territory in Laos and Cambodia, their very existence was a closely-guarded secret and uniformly denied during and even after the war.
Each team typically consisted of two or three Americans (all volunteers, drawn from Green Berets, Navy Seals, Rangers, Airborne and other backgrounds) and groups of 8 or 9 Nungs (ethnic Chinese living in South Vietnam) or Montagnards (Laotian hill-dwellers), all heavily armed with grenades, mines, automatic weapons and other weaponry. Their usual task was reconnaissance: locate enemy supply dumps and command headquarters in Laos and Cambodia to facilitate air strikes, monitor enemy supply traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail, conduct search and destroy missions, all of it with limited back up and support.
"SOG" recounts the courage, devotion and sacrifice of various SOG recon teams and team members from 1965 to the end of American involvement in Viet Nam. And as a sidelight, the book reveals the utter folly of the Johnson administration of granting neutral sanctuaries to the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in Laos and Cambodia, with only the limited threat of recon teams and off and on bombing. The SOG teams not infrequently suffered annihilation or near annihilation, though American ground forces, present in large numbers just a few miles across the border, were prevented by policy decisions from coming to their aid.
We also learn of the great frequency with which the communists brutally tortured and murdered Americans taken prisoner (sometimes by setting them on fire), even when they were already badly wounded. Failure to provide any kind of medical aid--or even water or food--to wounded and captured Americans was the regular practice.
There is brief mention of a trio of captured American civilians, including two missionaries, and the unsuccessful though repeated SOG attempts to rescue them from their captors (pp. 285-287).
I suppose it scarcely needs mentioning that this book which recounts military life in time of war is peppered with sometimes raw and profane language.
We dare not ask young men to hazard their lives on our behalf, as the SOG teams did, unless we are willing to back them fully, with a will and unflagging determination to win any conflict we send them to.
DR. ATKINS' NEW DIET REVOLUTION by Robert C. Atkins. New York: Avon Books, 1992. 417 pp., paperback. $6.99
DR. ATKINS' HEALTH REVOLUTION by Robert C. Atkins. New York: Bantam Books, 1989. 437 pp., paperback. $6.99
DR. ATKINS' VITA-NUTRIENT SOLUTION. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998. 407 pp., hardback. $24.00
In my eight-plus years as a missionary to Romania, I have gained about 15 pounds, begun to suffer chronic fatigue (especially after contracting mono on one trip in 1994) as well as a bad case of "brain fog" (which severely limits the duration and intensity of my study), and developed high blood pressure. Naturally enough, I have cast about for some remedy to these problems, and believe I have found it in these three books by Robert Atkins, M.D. My problems are inter-related and have a common remedy.
Dr. Atkins became famous in the 1970s with his "no sugar, low carbohydrate, (nearly) unlimited meat, eggs, fats and oils diet." Though denounced by the medical establishment, one thing is for certain: his diet works. Two doctors I know told me of dozens of their obese patients who failed to lose weight on numerous other diets who nevertheless were successful with Atkins, not only in getting the weight off, but in keeping it off. It is the sugars and carbohydrates in our diets--especially the excessive amount of sugar and white flour (up to 150 pounds of the former per year, compared to less than a tenth of that in the diet of Americans a century ago)--that are the culprits in weight gain, weight retention, food cravings, fatigue and brain fog, to say nothing of a host of diseases--heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and many others, even tooth decay. We are shortening our lives and killing ourselves with sugar and white flour, and making ourselves feel miserable in the process. If you think it is fat in your diet that makes you fat, ask yourself a simple question: when a farmer wants to fatten up a hog or a steer for market, what does he feed it? Fat and protein? No, carbohydrates in the form of corn or other grains. During the past 20 years when the conventional diet "wisdom" propagated by the U.S. government through its various agencies has been "high carbohydrate/low fat," the number of obese people in America (that is 30% above their "ideal" weight) has INCREASED by 50%. I'm telling you, it's the carbohydrates.
The first book, the diet book, tells you the nuts and bolts of the low carbohydrate/high energy diet. When your body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning fats (a process that begins about 2 days after you stop eating carbohydrates), the cravings that plague many of us even in less than an hour after we eat are g-o-n-e! In fact, with the consumption of unrestricted amounts of meat, cheese, fish, cream, butter and much else, the cravings never start. Unlike any other diet I've tried, I am almost never hungry with Atkins, whether I've eaten a large meal or a small one or none at all. No cravings, no bingeing; no bingeing, guaranteed weight loss. If you follow the Atkins diet's restriction on carbohydrates, you cannot gain weight, even if you eat 10,000 calories a day. (Of course, those with bodies already wrecked by modern diet or certain diseases cannot follow the Atkins diet. The book gives the details).
The second book focuses on the benefits that the Atkins diet, along with various combinations of nutritional supplements--vitamins, minerals, and herbals--can have. In most cases it can greatly improve or even fully correct numerous physical maladies, among them high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, high triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, migraines, yeast infections, and even some cancers. There are chapters, with case studies drawn from Dr. Atkins' large practice, for each of the conditions noted and many others.
The third book, the most information-rich of the three, discusses one after another, a vast array of vitamins, minerals, herbals, supplements, and other nutrients. The specific uses, recommended doses, and sources for each are presented in detail. This is followed by a listing of physical conditions and diseases, accompanied by a list of the supplements and doses Dr. Atkins recommends for that malady. I am following the recommendations for treating high blood pressure, in consultation with a physician (always recommended), in hopes of getting completely off the prescription medication which is both expensive and has some unpleasant side effects. (My "fatigue" and "brain fog" problems have already been remedied simply by getting off carbohydrates; my excess weight is coming off, slowly but surely, and permanently).
Perhaps you would be helped by following Dr. Atkins' diet and nutritional advice. I certainly have been.