"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 7, Number 6, June 2004
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
["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. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but 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.]
On Genesis 1:1
“The first verse of the Bible gives us surer and better, a more satisfying and useful, knowledge of the origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble Christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits.”
Matthew Henry, Commentary in 6 volumes,
Introductory paragraph to Genesis chapter 1.
Wisdom from Wiersbe:
Some Quotations from God Isn’t in a Hurry
“We cannot use shortcuts when it comes to understanding spiritual truth, building Christian character, or building the local church. The emphasis in the church today seems to be on methods and goals. There is nothing essentially sinful about either of these, provided they are not manmade shortcuts to achieve man-exalting goals. Some methods are unworthy of the gospel; in fact, they cheapen the gospel. Some goals are only the carnal projection of some leader’s ego and have nothing to do with the work of God or the glory of God.”
Warren W. Wiersbe
God Isn’t in a Hurry, p. 12
“During more than forty years of ministry in many parts of the world, I have seen all sorts of schemes for building the church; and some of them, unfortunately, have worked--only to the detriment of the ministry. George MacDonald was right: ‘In whatever man does without God, he must either fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.’
If you are interested in the praise of men, then use the shortcuts and publicize your statistics. But if you are interested in the glory of God, stick with God’s methods--the Word, prayer, witnessing, sacrifice, and suffering--and leave the results with him. After all, it is ‘God who gives the increase’ (I Cor. 3:7).”
“There are no shortcuts when it comes to solving life’s problems. I don’t mean the trivial problems that occasionally upset us. I mean those life-threatening problems that have long, deep roots and that produce bitter fruits. In my pastoral ministry, I have tried to counsel people with such problems. I have marveled at how long it took them to create the problem, and yet how quickly they expected the preacher and God to solve it!”
“True revival is not worked up; it is sent down. It is not imported from the outside; it must begin on the inside.”
“I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that we are looking for shortcuts because we don’t want to pay the price for doing things God’s way. Travail in prayer, hard study, serious heart searching, and patient sowing of the seed have been replaced by methods that guarantee instant results. Results, yes; fruit, no. You cannot have fruit without roots, and you cannot have roots unless you dig deep; and that takes time.”
“There is always time for the will of God.”
“Members of local church boards or finance committees have no right to ask a pastor or a missionary to make sacrifices that they themselves are not willing to make.”
“Have you ever attended a prophecy conference where the emphasis was totally on what God will do in the future, not on what he wants to do through his church now? Have you ever met a sincere believer who can draw charts of future events and explain the most obscure biblical prophecy, and yet who has no love for God’s people or concern for the lost?
I have studied Bible prophecy and preached at prophetic conferences. I know that a large portion of the Bible is devoted to prophecy. But I have also noted that the biblical prophets usually related their message to the present. They did not explain future events in order to entertain the curious or give false hope to the disobedient. The prophetic Scriptures tell us what God will do in the future so that his people know how to act in the present. They were given not for escape but for enlightenment.”
College: A Playground for Continued Adolescence?
Louis Bromfield (1896-1956), a once-famous American novelist whose books are almost wholly ignored now, was chiefly engaged during the last 17 years of his life in the restoration of run-down and ruined farms in his native central Ohio (near Mansfield). Managing a farm involved the hiring of summer farm workers from the ranks of college students. Bromfield’s observations concerning those college students still ring true a half-century after they were written:
“And to be sure, too many young people look upon four years of college or the university as a kind of lengthy holiday during which their parents provide them with a car and plenty of money to spend. All too often those four years of college are merely a prolongation of adolescence, in which the virtues of maturity and responsibility do not develop at all. I judge all this from a much wider contact with middle-class, college-bred American citizens than most men and from their sons who come in summer to work at Malabar [Farm]. Most of the younger generation has been attractive, intelligent, often charming and very pleasant to have around but when it comes to maturity, to responsibility, to satisfaction in achievement, one might as well be associating with delightful and rather precocious children.” (From My Experience, p. 50).
What Bromfield perceived in his day, when a much smaller percentage of the populace went to college, and when student behavior was immensely more restrained by societal mores than at present, is true and quantitatively greater many times over today. The unbridled debauchery, sexual immorality, dishonesty, drug and alcohol abuse that are common fare--the expected “norm” at the average State U., is the abyss of irresponsible behavior, following the pattern set by the “baby boomer” offspring of the returning World War II G.I.s when they invaded the college campus in the 1960s. It is an annual “rite of Spring” for the national TV networks to send film crews to Ft. Lauderdale, Cancun, and other “Spring-break” venues of choice for college students, and get prime video for the evening news of doped, drugged, drunken and often nearly- or entirely-naked college students in near-riot mode. Such grossly irresponsible personal anarchy is dismissed as “no big deal” and behavior that belongs, of right, to college students. Yes, there is the occasional mention of the dozens of arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct, or for assault, and of course regular and “unfortunate” deaths from drug overdoses or alcohol poisoning. But, so the tone of the news-readers communicates, students have earned the right to act in this way.
Along with the many media stories about college student binge drinking, wild and debased frat parties, and other drunken orgies, I have never heard of a single report of campus (or local) police strictly enforcing THE LAW regarding the legal drinking age, which in every state is 21,--laws making the great majority of college students ineligible to buy or consume alcohol in any form (except cough syrup or vanilla extract!). Why no enforcement, even after repeated cases of underage students dead from alcohol toxicity? I suspect that it is because such strict respect for the law would drive some prospective or current students--and their all-important tuition money--to other campuses where the administrations gladly turn a blind eye for the sake of fatter budgets to work with. Having a reputation as a wide-open “party” school is a big draw for some universities. What is a dead student or two, after all, compared to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars in revenue? This same motivation--money--is why American universities have expressed no interest in closely monitoring single Moslem men on their campuses--those who fit exactly the terrorist profile--, and would be the first to scream bloody murder if someone seriously proposed the expulsion of such from our borders; these out-of-country students pay much higher tuition than in-staters, and are a college cash cow.
Of course, at the root of American university campus moral anarchy is the often expressly stated and otherwise all but universally implied denial on campus that such a thing as objective, absolute truth even exists, especially with reference to God, religion, and morality. That is, no absolute truth exists except the proud certainty that nothing in these realms is certain, and that these are matters of small moment with no real significance in the real world or our personal lives. “Morality” ripped from its moorings becomes in essence whatever you think you can get away with. I have for years thought it ludicrous that Harvard, America’s first and most prestigious university, which was founded on the bedrock of the absolute truth of Holy Scripture and the morality it required of men--a bedrock long since cast aside--still sports as it “motto” the single Latin word, Veritas (“Truth”). Would it not be more honest to change this to Dubitatio (“Doubt”) or perhaps better still, Pilate’s self-excusing question to Jesus, Quid est veritas? (“What is truth?”). With no acknowledged “truth” to guide--and restrain--us, moral anarchy and the subsequent debauchery, are certain consequences.
Some years ago, now ex-President Bill Clinton (who hasn’t himself yet outgrown his debased adolescent lifestyle) gave a speech in which he lamented the fact that things had gotten so bad in the world of college education, that nearly 50% of all students had to work while in college to help cover their expenses. Why, just some 20 years earlier, he complained, the percentage who had to work their way through school was somewhere around 36% (as I recall the figure).
Frankly, rather than viewing this as a bad trend, I think it is absolutely positive. Working during college compels a student to learn some very important lessons which no classroom will ever communicate. First, money doesn’t come out of thin air--it comes from productive labor. Second, because working places demands on one’s time, it teaches the very important lesson of time management and planning. Third, working keeps the student productively focused, rather than leaving him with lots of “free hours” to fill with self-destructive and irresponsible behavior. Fourth, it teaches the student that one must have financial priorities--choices must be made between buying textbooks and paying tuition, or spending lavishly and extravagantly on expensive clothes, stereos, cars, vacations, drugs and alcohol. And fifthly, working will teach a person more about human nature than any psychology course, more about business than any business administration course (my 15 months working in a taco restaurant and two years in a medical hardware factory were a far better education in the world of business than all the courses in business I had at the university), and more about budgeting than any finances or accounting course.
Most of the campus radicals of the 1960s were just such “free-ride” students who had the time and money, and freedom from responsibility, to indulge every craving, to protest, to burn, to occupy, and to destroy. The students I knew in those days who worked had no time for such conduct. They were too busy with real “reality.” In truth, I think the best thing that could happen to most college students would be that they had to work regularly all through their college years.
And it is time, and well past time, that someone says “No, the personal corruption and irresponsibility found on the average college campus is NOT acceptable behavior, in college, or any place else.” That it is tolerated by campus officials, by local authorities, by the national media, and by American society in general is a depressing commentary on the low state of American cultural. And bodes ill for the future of the nation.
The So-Called “Greatest Generation’s” Greatest Failure
Much has been made of the achievements of the generation that survived the Great Depression of the 1930s and won World War II in the 1940s (roughly speaking, those born between 1915 and 1927). That generation of Americans has been called “the greatest generation.” Speaking plainly, it must be noted that most of that generation did not bear the brunt of the Great Depression. That actually fell on the shoulders of the parents of “the greatest generation”; members of “the greatest generation” were grade-schoolers (or even younger) or in their early teens at most when the Depression began in 1929. True, they grew up during hard times and simply “did without” many things earlier and later generations enjoyed, but the greater burden of “making ends meet” fell not on them but their parents during the lean 1930s. And not even all of the middle class suffered serious deprivations during the Depression; neither of my grandfathers were ever unemployed during that time--one was a sheep buyer for Cudahy, the other worked in the pressroom of a Wichita newspaper. Neither of my parents lacked food, clothes, or adequate shelter in the 1930s. What was true of them was true of the majority of Americans (a peak unemployment rate of 25% meant that 75% were working).
Yes, the “greatest generation” did provide the bulk of the manpower in the armed services during World War II. Of the something over 16 million who wore the uniform of the United States between 1941 and 1945, the greatest number were those late teen-agers to late 20-something men of ”the greatest generation,” and of course they suffered by far the largest proportion of the casualties, wounds, injuries and battle deaths (the latter totaling 292,131) of World War II. (The burden of war materiels production--without which victory would have been impossible--fell on older Americans and the female portion of “the greatest generation”). For their service and sacrifice in the conquest of tyranny we have the utmost respect, gratitude and appreciation.
So, while gladly acknowledging our debt to that generation, a full accounting requires acknowledgement that in one aspect of life many of that generation did not succeed so well, indeed, failed miserably, namely, in raising their “baby-boom” children to be the same kind of responsible and productive citizens as themselves. Let us explain.
The same Louis Bromfield quoted in the previous article with regard to the behavior and immaturity of American college students also left some valuable observations on how men who struggled through hard times (such as the Great Depression and World War II) to achieve great success in turn ruined, in essence, the character of their children by making their life a bit too easy--
“It is not perhaps without significance that the vast majority of the names listed in Who’s Who are those of men who came from farms or from small communities in agricultural territory. Even with the immense development of industry and cities, the leadership of the country in all fields seems still to come very largely from the rural areas where a sense of responsibility and maturity grows from work and contacts with the soil and with livestock, and where, more often than not, a boy or a girl learns to work and to think for what he gets in this life. Yet in all of this there is a paradox, for often enough the successful man who comes up the hard way is the one who ruins his own children’s lives by removing from their existence the very elements which make for character and a sense of responsibility--all in the desire that his children should have ‘all the things he never had.’ “ (From My Experience, p. 53, n. 6). This very mistake in child-rearing, described by Bromfield at the very time “the greatest generation” was raising the “boomer/ pig-in-the-python generation,” was nevertheless made by many, spawning a generation of pampered and irresponsible youths who in many cases became in the mid-1960s and later the campus radicals, draft-dodgers, drug-experimenters and free-lovers, in a word, the Woodstock generation.
I for one am thankful that my parents first of all set an example of diligent labor, then required the same of myself and my siblings. Though my physician father had the means to buy me a new car when I began to drive, he wisely saw to it that I bought a car with my own work-earned money--all $175 of it--knowing that I would very much more appreciate such a car (a four-door 1956 Chevy Bel Air, painted white over Aztec gold, 265 cu. in. V-8, 2-speed powerglide automatic transmission, with about 65,000 actual miles on it, purchased “as is” from a car lot in Kingman, Kansas, with the trunk an inch deep in road dirt, straw and chicken feathers). There was never a time through high school or college that I was not “gainfully employed” to provide at least in part for my own expenses. I was never given an allowance--a legacy I deliberately continued with my own children--though there were occasional opportunities provided to make spending money).
The only way to teach responsibility to untrained youths is to compel them to take increasing levels of responsibility as they grow and mature, preparing for the time when they must be wholly responsible for themselves, at which time they will hopefully act responsibly. Those who grow up in circumstances where they are not required to accept responsibility will sooner or later be forced by the realities of life to accept responsibility anyway, but without prior acquaintance with responsibility, the adjustment will prove exceedingly painful.
And just here, let me mention one of the finest books of leadership training (and hence, facing and accepting responsibility) known to me, one that casts all the John Maxwell stuff/fluff into the shade, which I reviewed in these pages in October, 2001 (vol. 4, no. 10): The West Point Way of Leadership by Col. Larry R. Donnithorne. New York: Currency Doubleday, 1993. 179 pp., hardback. $24.95. It is first-rate.
Inspired Words and Inspired Thoughts
Variant Readings in the Inspired Autographs
We who adhere to the Biblical doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures are quick to reject and expose such inadequate doctrines of Bible inspiration as mere “thought inspiration.” This view claims that God inspired the thoughts of the writers of the Bible, but left them free to choose for themselves the words by which they would express those thoughts, thereby leaving room to find merely human error in those man-selected words.
The absurdity of mere “thought inspiration” is immediately exposed when it is recognized that thought without words is impossible.
On the other hand, we who justifiably insist on verbal inspiration of the individual words of Scripture often neglect to recognize, at least formally or consciously, that God also inspired the thoughts of Scripture. To put it another way, the inspired individual words of Scripture are not merely inspired as isolated units, but are inspired along with the other words in their respective phrases, clauses, sentences and paragraphs to form units of thought. In Genesis 1:1, the word “in” was God-breathed, not as an isolated word, but rather as part of the prepositional phrase “in the beginning” which phrase was also God-breathed, but not in isolation from the following words, “God created the heavens and the earth.” And this verse is inspired, not in isolation, but in conjunction with the words of verses 2, 3, 4 and so on. This chapter is inspired in conjunction with chapter 2 and the rest of the chapters, the whole book of Genesis in conjunction with the rest of the Bible.
Differing units of inspiration (words) and differing grammatical units (clauses, phrases, sentences) can be assembled to convey the same thought. Indeed, this is done repeatedly in the Bible. There are two differing yet synonymous Hebrew words for “I” in the OT, yet there is no demonstrable difference in meaning between them. And there are two different words for heart, and for gold, and at least two general words for fish yet in each pair these words are synonyms, to note but three among very many examples. No difference of meaning would be conveyed in any context by the use of one instead of the other. In matters grammatical, there are more than a dozen ways in the Greek NT that a purpose clause can be expressed (clauses that convey purpose, intent or design--“he went into town so that he could buy bread”) and more than half a dozen ways to express result (“he walked to town with the result that he got tired”). There are several different syntactical ways to give commands in Hebrew and Greek, and though differing in the exact words or grammatical forms, they convey the same thought or meaning. Examples could be multiplied almost endlessly.
Let us come to specific examples. The 4th commandment, the Sabbath commandment, is recorded twice by Moses--Exodus 20:8, and Deuteronomy 5:12. In Exodus 20:8, the word used by God in the tablet engraved by His own hand describing the obligations regarding the Sabbath was zakar, “to remember.” But in Deuteronomy, where Moses is reminding the people of what God wrote at Sinai, the word he uses is shamar, “to keep, observe.” Moses had no qualms about using a differing but in context synonymous word to that which God Himself both inspired and inscribed at Sinai. Sometimes things which are different are the same (just as in math 3+4=7 but so does 2+5 and 1+6).
Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 record the agonizing cry of abandonment uttered by Jesus on the cross. First, they transcribe the Aramaic words of Jesus into Greek in slightly differing forms (“eli” vs. “eloi”) both of which are entirely within the ordinary limits of transcribing a word from one language into a dissimilar and unrelated language. However, when we see how these Gospel writers translated Jesus’ Aramaic cry into Greek, we learn something quite instructive. Matthew has in Greek “thee mou” twice (“thee” is the vocative case--the case of direct address--, singular of the noun “theos,” “God”; “mou” is the genitive singular first person possessive pronoun, literally, “of me,” and taken all together the phrase is literally: “O God of me!” or “O my God!” [with none of the profane associations of that phrase in English]) while Mark translates the Aramaic by “ho theos mou” twice (“ho” is the masculine singular nominative definite article, “the”; “theos” is the nominative--subject--case, singular of “theos,” “God”; “mou” is as explained above, and taken all together, the clause is literally “the God of me” or “my God”). While the case of direct address is customarily and ordinarily the vocative case in Greek, any good Greek grammar will inform the reader that the nominative case is also so used at times, as here. So, to translate the Aramaic words of Jesus, Matthew chose to put the noun in the vocative case, while Mark put the noun in the nominative case preceded by the definite article. Not verbally identical, but the same in meaning.
To translate “lema”, “why”, Matthew uses “hinati” whereas Mark uses the synonymous but verbally differing “eis ti.” While differing in form, they agree in thought and meaning.
In essence, we have in Matthew and Mark two verbally inspired translations of Jesus’ Aramaic words from the cross, which though differing in precise form, agree in thought and meaning. Inspiration then, is not merely or just verbal, but both verbal and thought inspiration.
We also learn from these examples that there is no one, exclusive, perfect way to express the meaning of Scripture in translation. In short--there can be variant translations of the inspired words of Scripture which though differing verbally agree theologically. In English, it is possible for translations to verbally vary from the KJV (or whatever standard is chosen) and yet still be deemed accurate and acceptable. The KJV is NOT “the Word of God in English” to the exclusion of all other English translations.
In summary--we do not believe in either verbal inspiration or thought inspiration alone; we believe in them both, with inspired words necessary to the inspiration of the thoughts of Scripture. The purpose of inspiring the words is not an end in itself; rather it is to inspire the meaning and content of the message.
The Battle for the Spanish Bible by Calvin George. Published by author, 2001. 124 pp, paperback. $5.00
As we have noted repeatedly in these pages, the English Bible/ King James Bible controversy that has plagued and disrupted American fundamentalism for the past 40+ years has had far-reaching--and always destructive--impact on various mission fields. Not the least of these where the American-originated heresy of KJVOism has wreaked havoc with national Christians and the spread of the Gospel is the Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America.
Starting with the preposterous, unbiblical, unhistoric, unBaptistic, actually anti-Fundamentalist and purely human doctrine of an infallible King James Version (and a correlative denial of the authority of the Greek and Hebrew texts inspired by the Holy Spirit), rigid adherents of King-James-Onlyism have deduced and rabidly declared that every Bible translation of whatever sort in whatever language, regardless of how long-used and how productive of conversions that translation may have been, is hopelessly corrupt if it does not agree precisely and in all details with the KJV. As a result, God-fearing and faithful Spanish-speaking Christians have been told by some Americans--Americans who typically know no Spanish at all or so little as to be unable to communicate effectively in Spanish, or read intelligently the Spanish Bible--that their Spanish Bible (particularly the 1960 revision of the Reina-Valera translation) is corrupt and unusably bad, that any conversions based on such Bibles are suspect, and that any churches started as a consequence of the use of such Bibles are no churches at all and should be disbanded. (Similar incidents have happened in Romania, Holland, Japan, Indonesia, and elsewhere). In some cases, gullible Spanish-speaking Christians have swallowed the hogwash of the American-born false prophets and have actually used the paper from R-V 1960 Bibles for toilet paper; in other cases, copies of this edition were actually burned by so-called “Fundamentalists” in an action more worthy of Spanish inquisitors and agents of Medieval popes. Such conduct is literally blasphemy and vile desecration. Let me declare with all the fervency of my soul: Those who undermine the confidence of national Christians in non-English-speaking countries in the Bible in their language are enemies of the Gospel of Christ. Arrogance, carnality and abject ignorance are their hallmarks. God pity those led astray by them!
Taking their corrupt KJVOism to its logical end, several of these KJVO heretics have made various attempts at producing “KJV-equivalent” versions in Spanish (we analyzed one of these follies in “KJVOism Gone to Seed: the ‘Rey Jaime’ Version,” in the May, 2001, vol. 4, no. 5 issue of As I See It). Most of them have been abandoned, and none of them has produced anything of value. And while these absurd projects have consumed time, effort and money, and spread mis-information and chaos far and wide, missionaries and churches using the R-V 1960 have continued winning thousands upon thousands to Christ, planting indigenous churches, and even sending out national missionaries to other lands.
Calvin George, a relatively young former “MK” (‘missionary kid”) who grew up in Argentina (and speaks English and Spanish fluently), documents and exposes much of the gross mis-information propagated by anti-Reina-Valera 1960 zealots, mis-information concerning texts, translators and revisions, and provides much valuable information along these lines. He traces the history of Spanish Bible translations from the time of the Reformation to the present day. And he defends the R-V 1960 in specific passages against accusations and charges by the KJVOers, though his own inadequate knowledge of Greek and absent knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as incomplete familiarity with the textual criticism of the NT make some of his defenses much weaker than they could be (e.g., he rightly defends the R-V at Daniel 3:25 which has the Spanish equivalent of “a son of the gods” rather than the KJV’s “the Son of God,” but does not present as strong a case as he might have. In our article, “ ‘The Son of God’ or ‘a son of the gods’ (Daniel 3:25)? “ in AISI 3:11, we demonstrated that “a son of the gods” is the correct, literal translation of the original Aramaic text of that verse). For all of these things, we appreciate Mr. George’s efforts.
It must be pointed out, however, that Mr. George has been unwittingly influenced by KJVOers’ propaganda and false claims regarding the English Bible (those who generated much misinformation regarding the Spanish Bible have done the same concerning the English Bible). First, he assumes what is not demonstrable--indeed, is disprovable--that the “textus receptus” in its various forms is the closest available and closest possible printed equivalent of the original Greek text of the NT. In truth, there is absolutely no basis in fact for believing that the TR is closest available equivalent of the original Greek NT, but evidence compels the conclusion that in literally multiplied hundreds (at least) and likely several thousands of details it does not precisely reproduce the original NT. Likewise, he assumes the usual KJVO “given” that there are no demonstrable errors in the KJV either in text or translation--another demonstrably false presupposition (simply make an honest examination of Hebrews 10:23 in comparison with the Greek, where the KJV alone of all translations into whatever language renders elpis, the Greek word for “hope” as though it were pistis, “faith”; see Henry Alford’s commentary on this place; many other actual errors of translation exist in the KJV).
Further, when defending the fact of the R-V 1960s being copyrighted (a point savagely attacked by KJVOites), George is a bit tentative in his mention of the KJV’s one-time copyright (it has always been published under a copyright, first world-wide for 171 years, and everywhere except in the U.S.A. since the end of the American Revolution. I wrote about this in The Biblical Evangelist some 20 years ago, an article revised and reprinted in Baptist Biblical Heritage, vol. IV, no. 3, October, 1993). He also allows, in this volume, that the KJV is in a special sense the word of God preserved for the English-speaking people. This view is simply assumed by the KJVO movement, and again has no basis in fact. The KJV is not divinely “preserved for the English” in any special way that is not also true of the NKJB, the NIV or the NASB. And there are the usual errors of misunderstanding of Ps. 12:6-7 as though this were a promise of the preservation of God’s word (it in fact is a promise of the preservation of the persecuted saints of v. 5--see the commentaries of John Gill and Franz Delitzsch, and also the Reina translation of 1569, the Valera revision of 1602, and the R-V 1960 which all correctly understand it). He also merely assumes that I Peter 1:23--“the incorruptible seed” is a reference to the word of God, when in fact it is a reference to God Himself. There are besides several other minor mistakes due to unwitting dependence on unreliable sources within the KJVO camp.
Mr. George, while doing a good service in tracing out and documenting the current Spanish Bible translation controversy, needs to acquire a fuller and more accurate knowledge regarding Greek texts and English versions, as well as historic Baptist and Fundamentalist views. Consultation of sources outside the KJVO camp is imperative in this regard. Correspondence with him indicates that he has been in engaged in just such study since this book was published.
This useful book is available from the author at: Calvin George, c/o Gilbert Mendez, 718 Beaver Creek Dr., Powell, TN 37849; or via e-mail: SpanishBible@amen.net
Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey. Nashville: Moorings, 1995. 240 pp., hardback.
Philip Yancey is a self-styled ‘recovering Fundamentalist’ who grew up in what he characterizes as a repressive, legalistic southern fundamentalist environment, but who became and remains a center/left evangelical. Long an editor at the chronicle of American neo-evangelicalism, Christianity Today, Yancey wrote a number of the chapters in this volume for that magazine.
To properly characterize this book, the title should be “Finding what I perceive to be God working in unexpected places,” which would prove a bit long for the jacket. In the course of writing Yancey several times slams fundamentalism and at least as often gives paeans of praise to Roman Catholicism, its rituals and prayers, accepting it as a form of real Christianity (and believing, I suspect, that it is more genuine than fundamentalism). Environmentally, he is a self-professed tree hugger whose environmentalism is apparently of the emotion-driven sort rather than the well-informed kind (he was living in an isolated retreat in the Colorado Rockies when the book was published). He frequently comes across as an armchair expert, an overly idealistic recluse with little practical experience in this area. He has high praise for radical social-gospelist/ theological liberal Tony Campolo and lambastes those who criticize him. There are many things about this book, and its author’s perspective to disagree strongly with.
He also gets his facts wrong far too often to be considered an accurate and careful writer. He claims 600 million people were freed from communism in the 1990s. The true figure was closer to two-thirds of that. And he erroneously says that Romania had a non-violent revolution in 1989-90 (p. 136). It may be considered “non-violent” only if thousands of deaths due to gunfire (estimates range from 6,000 to 50,000) are considered “non-violent.”
And he makes some surprising Bible-related blunders. He declares that women in first-century Palestine could not divorce their husbands, and, therefore, the woman at the well had been dumped and divorced--victimized as it were--by a series of 5 husbands. In fact, we have extra-biblical accounts of just such woman-initiated divorces in that culture in that era, to say nothing of Paul’s command regulating such activity (I Corinthians 7:10; you don’t regulate what does not occur). Yancey also half-quotes (p. 160) the first beatitude, as a pre-text for discussing the financially poor, but conveniently leaves off the crucial phrase “in spirit” which shows that Jesus was not addressing one’s monetary status. He blunderingly, especially egregious for a professional writer, declares that we believers “are literally [emphasis added] Christ’s body.” (p. 160). No, His literal body is in heaven, seated at the right hand of God. We are his body only in a figurative sense.
For all that, there were some chapters and some remarks that I found decidedly worthwhile--the chapters on the conversion of Whitaker Chambers from communism to Christianity, the account of Yancey’s visit with leaders in Russia, the chapter on reading Shakespeare, that on the Nanny state, and that about Christian ministries in prisons outside the U.S. among them. (The reading of Yancey’s earlier works some years ago, Where is God When It Hurts? and Disappointment with God were valuable in expanding my thinking into difficult areas and are books I recommend to this day).
Some quotes from Finding God in Unexpected Places--
“J. D. Unwin studied 86 different societies. His findings startled many scholars, above all Unwin himself, because all 86 demonstrated a direct tie between absolute monogamy and the ‘expansive energy’ of civilization. In other words, sexual fidelity was the single most important predictor of a society’s ascendancy. . . .He had to conclude, ‘In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence.’” (p. 17)
“When Dr. David Larson was training for a career in psychiatry, faculty advisers warned him, ‘You’ll harm your patients if you try to combine your Christian faith with the practice of psychiatry. It’s clinically impossible.’ Instructors insisted that religion usually harms a person’s mental health.” (p. 81; and yet much of “Christian” counseling takes its lead from secular psychology!--ed.)
“Less than half of psychiatrists and psychologists claim to believe in God, and one survey found that 40 percent regard organized religion as ‘always, or usually, psychologically harmful.’ ” (p. 81; psychiatrists have a suicide rate 6 times that of the general populace, and higher still when compared to regular church-goers. Tell me, who’s crazy?--ed.)