"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 8, Number 7, July 2005

 

“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.”

Job 32:17-21

 

[“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.]

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The American Crisis, 1776 and 2005

 

“These are the times that try men’s souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; ‘tis dearness only that gives everything its value.  Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

 

“The American Crisis”

Thomas Paine, late 1776.

 

Paine’s stirring words written in late 1776 to rally drooping American sentiment in support of the war against British tyranny are remarkably suited for the present hour, when the relentless assault of the dominant liberal news media against the continuation of the war against Moslem tyranny in Iraq has greatly subverted--by design--American resolve.

 

Human nature, depraved human nature, for all its exposure to education, culture, soap and perfume, remains regrettably unchanged, and just such blameworthy attitudes, perspectives and modes of behavior as appeared in the past, are guaranteed to reveal themselves again, indeed have reappeared. 

 

One of the more despicable of human traits is the desire to enjoy the privileges of freedom, liberty and prosperity while at the same time being utterly unwilling to bear any of the burden, make any of the sacrifice, pay any of the price that is required to secure that freedom, liberty and prosperity.

 

In that pivotal year 1776, when the issue of American colonial freedom from British governmental tyranny came to a head, and to armed conflict, many wanted the blessings promised by freedom but were unwilling to doing anything more than give lip-service to the cause or openly involve themselves in the fray, wishing to risk neither life nor limb nor assets.  In short, they wanted someone else to secure their freedoms, while they were merely prepared to enjoy what others would obtain in their stead.

 

In our day, military recruiting for our all-volunteer force is down--and the elimination of the military draft years ago was an accommodation to the desire of many to escape any obligation to protect the freedoms they enjoy--, under the shameless daily assault of the liberal news media, who delight to report casualty counts, with the implication that nothing on earth, certainly not in Iraq, is worth the loss of a single life.  They not only have no interest in making a personal commitment and sacrifice themselves but actually want the American military to fail--to them a weak America is a good America, and a strong America is ominous if not evil.  They are subversives even traitors in their souls, and in their actions.

 

The media propaganda machines do all in their power to dissuade prospective volunteers, implying that the likelihood of dying if you volunteer are extremely high, when the reality is much different.  In the 2-and-a-third years of fighting in Iraq, the number of deaths from actual combat is somewhere around 1,350.  The higher figure of now nearly 1,800, which the media invariably cite, includes around 450 non-combat deaths from vehicle accidents, drownings, disease and other like causes not directly related to hostile action.  Furthermore, of the 13,000 Americans wounded in action, more than half--approximately 6,600--had injuries of a minor enough nature that the individual returned to duty within 72 hours.  I do not for a minute minimize American combat deaths, but the American death rate in Iraq of around 575 per year, to put it in historical perspective, is just 11% of the Vietnam death rate average of some 5,250 per year, just over 5% of the approximately 11,000 per year in Korea, and much less than even 1% of the 83,000 per year in World War II.  The truth is, only a small percentage of those who currently serve in the U.S. military ever come under hostile fire, and of those who do, only a small percentage are either wounded or killed.  Further, of those wounded, by far the smallest percentage in all of history succumb to their wounds (this due to the close proximity of medical treatment facilities to the conflict and the advanced nature of medical care).  In truth, the likelihood of making “the ultimate sacrifice” in Iraq is dramatically lower than in all other American conflicts of the past century.

 

Is it a tragic thing that fine young men die in war?  Most assuredly so.  But, that does not mean that it is never necessary or a “waste.”  My own son was twice in Iraq, and as a Marine lieutenant leading an infantry platoon, he was exposed literally daily to bullets, bombs, mortars and every other device and cunning that the murdering terrorist dogs could devise (and let us never forget that there are truly “good guys” and “bad guys” in this conflict, and let us be absolutely clear on just which is which).  During his second deployment of 7 months and 7 days, I had almost continuous dread of the prospect of an American military sedan pulling into the driveway, with two uniformed officers slowly walking to the door and saying, “We regret to inform you. . . .“  By God’s grace and in answer to much prayer, that sedan never came and he returned home physically unscathed.  But what if he had been wounded or killed?  Would I have said it was a waste?  I would not.  While I would have grieved immeasurably, and had unspeakable sorrow and unrelenting pain in my soul, I would have recognized that someone must pay the price, someone must sacrifice, and I have no right to expect some other parent to send a son into harm’s way if I am not willing to do the same.  I have no right to enjoy freedom if I am not willing to do my duty to preserve that freedom.

 

Likely the most famous casualty to date in the war on terrorism was NFL player-turned soldier Pat Tillman, who died from “friendly fire” in Afghanistan. Tragic indeed.  But in broader perspective, it must be recognized that in all wars, the accidental killing of men by troops on their own side happens.  It happened in Gulf War I, and in Vietnam, and Korea and both World Wars.  The most famous incident of death by friendly fire was no doubt that in May 1863 when Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, at the very pinnacle of military success, was accidentally wounded, grievously and mortally wounded, by his own men in the confusion at twilight on the frontlines at Chancellorsville.  Fratricide is truly one of the horrors of war.  But we must ask a question: how was Pat Tillman’s life more valuable--as a mere football player, entertaining idle crowds for a few Sunday afternoons, or as a man who valued freedom and willingly did his part to preserve and protect the freedoms of others, setting a worthy example of commitment and duty for others? 

 

A life ended in its 20s or 30s that accomplished something worthwhile is more valuable than the lives of many that extend to 60, 70, even 80 years and ultimately accomplish little or nothing of real significance (and let us recall President Ronald Reagan’s remark, "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem”).  Jesus and John the Baptist and Stephen all died “young” by human standards but their lives were dedicated to something of ultimate value--humanity’s relationship with God, and were thereby worthwhile.  The defense and spread of freedom has always been viewed by many Americans as a particularly valuable cause--we could have stayed out of World Wars I and II (at least in Europe), Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait and Iraq if we had chosen to self-indulgently and self-centeredly (after the manner of much of “Old Europe” today) decide only our own freedom and not that of anyone else was worth protecting.  The consequence would have been the enslavement to tyrants by millions, and the ultimate loss of our own freedom as the tyrants eventually encircled and subjugated us.  But we valued freedom above ease, and so we paid the price.

 

“Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved, and liberty than life.”

 

Those who will not help secure liberty for others do not deserve it themselves.  Those who refuse to share in protecting their own freedom will in short order be deprived of it.

 

“Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?”

 

Those who recognize that freedom carries responsibility and that liberty carries obligations will take up the slack, and stand in the gap left by those who want privilege without obligation, freedom without duty.  Those who understand the matter will want to do their part and more.  The issue is the survival of freedom--make no mistake, the Moslem extremists want to take away from us all of our freedoms, of religion first and foremost, but also of speech, of dissent, of the press as well as all precious legal rights in a court of law.  Is it not obvious that the very goal of the terrorists is to re-enslave the 23 million people of Iraq under an absolute tyranny, and not as a final goal, but as a necessary first step along the path of absolute subjugation of the West?  The side with the greater resolve, not the greater resources or the worthier cause, will prevail.

 

Though commonly hundreds of Iraqis die each month from terrorist bombs and attacks, is there any doubt that at least equal numbers were slaughtered--without world attention or concern--when Saddam Hussein ruled them?  And it is not Americans who are killing Iraqi civilians; it is the remnants of Hussein’s old regime, and foreign Moslem radicals who slaughter the innocents.  It is Americans who are seeking to protect these defenseless civilians from the barbarians.  And for this we are vilified by much of the world, slandered by much of our own media and condemned by most of the leaders of the Democrat party.

 

Furthermore, whether by design or by unintended consequence, Iraq has become a sink into which flow Moslem terrorists from all over the Middle East and beyond.  I say, let them come, the more the better.  In essence, our presence lures them where those best equipped to destroy them--our soldiers and Marines--can deal with them now.  Far better to encounter and kill them in Iraq, than to suffer multiple 9/11’s on our own soil in the future.  Yes, the price of the confrontation in Iraq is high, but the cost in lives and dollars is guaranteed to be much higher if we do nothing, or if we cut and run, as some gutless wonders in Congress suggest we do.

 

If our military recruiting continues to fall below essential levels, the return of the draft will prove necessary--essential national security trumps any individual’s right to freedom of lifestyle choice--but rest assured if it comes to that, the liberals while fight it tooth and toenail, preferring a weak U. S. military to requiring of anyone the fulfilling of their inherent obligation to help secure and protect the freedoms they enjoy.

 

Times that try--and reveal--men’s souls.

---Doug Kutilek

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The Letter of Abraham Lincoln to Lydia Bixby

 

Executive Mansion

Washington, Nov. 21, 1864

 

Dear Madam:

 

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

 

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.  But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

 

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

 

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

 

A. Lincoln

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July 4, 1776

Dateline: Philadelphia

 

“. . . And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

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BOOK REVIEW

 

1776 by David McCullough.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.  386 pp., hardback.  $32.00

 

In this era when the average American is abysmally ignorant of our own history, “the causes which compelled us to the separation” from England in the 1770s, the flow of events on the battlefields of America during the Revolution and the cost and sacrifice a relative few were willing to make to secure our liberties, noted historian David McCullough has placed us in his debt by his masterful account of some of these events. 

 

The actual fighting in the American Revolution began in April 1775 when the British confronted the armed colonists at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, after which a rag-rag colonial force laid siege to the British forces in Boston.  Not until a year later, after being reinforced from England, did the British commander in Boston, the 2nd largest city in the colonies (just behind Philadelphia), seek to dislodge the colonists, which he did in some measure in the pyrrhic victory at Bunker and Breed’s Hills in June 1776. 

 

McCullough takes up the account with the arrival of George Washington in late June as the newly-appointed (by the Continental Congress) head of the colonial troops.  The appalling condition of the troops--lack of discipline and training, lack of arms, lack of almost everything necessary to prosecute a war--distressed Washington.  Yet, the siege of Boston continued, and the British were effectively run out of town in March 1777 after the colonists in a single night occupied and fortified Dorchester Heights, arming them with cannon brought 300 miles overland from the abandoned British fort at Ticonderoga in New York.

 

The scene of conflict slid south to Long Island and Manhattan Island in New York, where in spite of great efforts at fortification, the Americans, out-gunned, out-manned, and victims of several serious oversights in their defenses and some bad leadership, where driven first off western Long Island, then out of New York City and Manhattan Island, and in short order out of New York altogether in a series of engagements covering late summer and early fall.  The 400 ships and 32,000 troops amassed by the British in New York in August 1776 constituted the largest British military expeditionary force in the 18th century.

 

Washington and the remnants of his army (drastically reduced in size due to expired enlistments, desertions and casualties) beat a retreat across New Jersey, to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.  Had General Howe pressed the pursuit of Washington’s much-diminished force, he could have easily defeated them in battle, but his measured pursuit let them slip to safety, and with the coming of winter weather, Howe withdrew most of his army back to the security and comfort of New York City, with a small covering force of Hessian mercenaries to keep an eye on the colonial army.

 

At this point, after the series of defeats--some of them near routs--in and around New York City, followed by the retreat and escape to and across the Delaware, with shortages of every kind for the American army, and with a daily-shrinking command, popular colonial support for the continuation of the war reached a low ebb.  The war was now 20 months long--far longer than anyone had imagined it would be (start to finish, 8 years elapsed from Lexington to the final peace treaty in 1783)--, there were no “realistic” prospects for colonial victory anytime soon, or ever, and there was a growing likelihood that the coming spring and summer would see a complete British domination of the colonies, followed by severe retributions against the revolutionaries.  Bleakness, despair and defeatism filled the air.

 

But, in two tactically brilliant moves, early on December 26, 1776 and later on January 3, 1777, Washington led portions of his army in attacks against the Hessians at Trenton (who were not hung-over from Christmas celebrations, as legend has it) and the rear guard of the British force under Cornwallis at

Princeton, respectively, resulting in American victories, and a turning of the tide of public opinion: Americans can defeat British forces, the situation is not as gloomy as supposed, and hey, maybe this revolution can succeed after all.

 

McCullough’s account is thorough, interesting, instructive and well done, as we have grown to expect from his writings.  Here is a history lesson every American needs in the present hour.

---Doug Kutilek

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Some quotes from 1776--

 

 “The Glorious Cause was to a large degree a young man’s cause.  The commander in chief of the army, George Washington, was himself only forty-three, John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, was thirty-nine, John Adams, forty, Thomas Jefferson, thirty-two.” (p. 21)

 

“Washington had seen enough of New York on prior visits to dislike and distrust the city as the most sinful place in America, a not uncommon view.” (p. 122; when you’re right, you’re right!)

 

“[American General Nathanael] Greene could not conceive of a single benefit to the American cause that could come from preserving New York.” (p. 206; as I said, when you’re right, . . . )

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John A. Broadus on Standing for and Defending the Truth

 

Polemics, or controversy with other professed Christians, presents subjects which demand faithful and careful handling.  The spurious charity, now so much talked of, which requires that we shall not assail error in our fellow-Christians, the indifference to truth so widely prevailing, which prates of the ‘good in everything,’ and urges that a man’s belief is of little importance if he is intellectual, or amiable, or moral and devout, these make some men unwilling to preach upon polemical topics, especially to discuss the errors of other evangelical denominations. 

 

The natural love of conflict, which even in preachers is sometimes so strong, the lively interest which the ungodly will take in a fight among Christians, the hearty support and laudation which a man’s own party will give him, often precisely in proportion as he flatters their self-conceit and unfairly assails their opponents,--such causes as these contribute to make another class of men excessively fond of controversy. 

 

And then the two classes really stimulate and encourage each other.  The former being greatly disgusted at what they reckon bad taste and a wrong spirit, are thus all the more disposed to shrink from such topics; and the latter, being fired by what appears to them cowardice or worldly policy, are all the more bitter against the common foe, and inclined to assail their friends besides.  In this way two tendencies often arise in a denomination, each toward a very hurtful extreme.  Is there not a golden mean? 

 

It would seem to be a just principle, that a preacher should never go out of his way to find controversial matter, nor go out of his way to avoid it.  He who continually shrinks from conflict should stir himself up to faithfulness; he who is by nature belligerent, should cultivate forbearance and courtesy.  When the text or topic naturally leads us to remark upon some matter of controversy, we should not, save in exceptional cases, avoid it, because esteemed Christians are present who differ with us on that point.  We should of course be mainly occupied with the advocacy of positive truth; but the idea that a man can always ‘talk about what he himself believes and let other people’s opinions alone,’ is impracticable, even if it were not improper. 

 

In many cases we cannot clearly define truth, save by contrasting it with error. And since errors held and taught by good men are only the more likely to be hurtful to others, we are surely not less bound to refute them in such cases than when advocated by bad men.  Paul employs terms of terrible severity, as his Master had done, in speaking of some who taught utterly ruinous error and from bad motives.  Paul also withstood to the face, before all the brethren, his beloved but now erring fellow-apostle, using against him hard arguments, but soft words.  Afterwards, in speaking of the matter, he charges Peter with dissimulation, a charge justifiable because he knew with certainty that it was true.  We, who are so liable to err in judging, ought to be very slow to impugn the motives of those whom we believe to be lovers of Jesus.  No doubt Satan rejoices, as we know that wicked men do, to see Christians adding abuse to argument.  While faithfully and earnestly opposing error, even as held by Christian brethren, let us avoid needlessly wounding the cause of our common Christianity.”

 

John A. Broadus  (1827-1895)

On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons

revised 1898 by Edwin Charles Dargan

(New York: George H. Doran Co., 1926), pp. 83-85.

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Another of Life’s Imponderables:

 

“Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?”

 

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A Question Regarding Faith and Evidence

 

“Dear Doug,

 

I am trying to resolve in my mind a surface 'contradiction' between Hebrews 11:3 and Romans 1:19-20. The former passage says believers understand ex nihilo creation 'through faith'. The latter says unbelievers have no excuse for not believing God exists because of the 'evidence' of creation.

 

I am not asking for answers to all the following questions, but if you could make a few general comments in reply I would be most grateful.

 

Is faith needed to believe in or accept the existence of God? (remembering that the devils also 'believe').  If not, what does Hebrews 11:3 mean?

 

When an unbeliever believes that God exists, is that an exercise of faith?

 

When an unbeliever looks at the stars and says 'there must be a God', is that faith or mere reason or a combination of the two?

 

What is the relationship between faith and reason? If one has evidence, does one need faith? Or can faith be based on evidence? Is so much revealed, but the rest has to be 'believed'?

 

What is the role of evidence? An evolutionist looks at the evidence of 'creation' and says design isn't needed - natural selection can do the job. A believer looks at the evidence of creation and says 'I don't need any evidence - it's enough that the word of God says so'. The evidence is rejected by the former and ignored by the latter - so what is its role?

 

Please forgive me for these ramblings, but I have had this on my mind for quite some time and have yet to find a response that ties it all together in a way that I can work with. If you are too busy to respond to what is a rather involved subject don't worry, I will fully understand.

 

Warmly in Him,

 

M------“

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Dear M-------

 

Romans 1 addresses the question of God's existence.  In creation, the ordinary human mind can see that something greater than man, something greater than the creation itself must have made what exists--upon viewing a particularly spectacular sunset recently, I said to myself, "There is no NECESSARY reason why a sunset should be so gorgeous”--yes, I know a little about light refraction, reflection off clouds, and all that--, “except that God wished to delight the heart of man, indeed to awe man with God's majesty.”

 

This revelation in nature is general, that is, it testifies to God's existence and work and power, but does not reveal the specifics of HOW God brought about all that is.

 

Hebrews 11, on the other hand, emphasizes that all of our understanding of the details of the creative process is dependent on God's account of the events, as reported chiefly in Genesis 1, 2.  Understanding that in 6 days of activity followed by one of inactivity God made the earth, the sea and all that is in them, we are compelled to "take God's word for it" since we have no other source of information, except pure speculation.

 

So--Romans 1 says that the general knowledge of a Creator is available to all in what they see around them in creation; Hebrews 11 says that faith--trust that God has told the truth--is necessary to know the details of how God carried out the creative process.

 

The unbeliever who views the stars and says there must be a God is basing

his conclusion on reason, instinct and faith combined in some fashion.

It is not pure reason alone, nor pure faith, nor even pure instinct, but

a combination.

 

God in creation and in Scripture gives us enough evidence to make our faith reasonable, but not so much that the need for faith is done away with.  I don't need any "faith" to believe that a sharp knife will cut my skin, since I have seen it happen more than once while carelessly using a knife to cut bread or apples or string.  But it did require faith to believe that Jesus would save me if I asked Him to--evidence can confirm His historical existence, and the reliability of the written records about Him, but faith is personally needed to commit myself to His saving

power.

 

Perhaps these explanations and illustrations may be of some help.

 

Doug Kutilek

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Jesus and the Repentant Thief Once More

 

In “What Did Jesus Promise the Repentant Thief?” (AISI 8:6), we analyzed and refuted the claim that the “today” in Luke 23:43 should go with “I say” rather than “you will be with me in paradise,” this latter being the usual interpretation.  To support our contention, we noted and evaluated several passages in the NT.  One which we overlooked but which was very much to the point of our discussion--Hebrews 3:7--was brought to our attention in an e-mail from Dr. Maurice Robinson of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

 

Hebrews 3:7, 8 reads: “So, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, during the day of testing in the desert.’ “  Verses 7 through 11 are an extended quotation from Psalm 95:7-11.  The author of Hebrews quotes this passage again, in particular the section including the word “Today” in 3:15 & 4:7.  From the Psalm itself and the three uses of it in Hebrews 3, 4, it is readily apparent that the word “Today” beyond any question goes with what follows, viz. “if you hear His voice,” not with what precedes, viz., “The Holy Spirit says today.”  The conjunction “hoti” which was allegedly necessary to connect “today” with what follows instead of what precedes is entirely absent, yet the connection of “today” with what follows is certain.

 

With this additional very telling evidence, we can again affirm with certainty that Jesus promised the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

---Doug Kutilek

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Revelation 13:16 Once Again

 

In AISI 8:6, we responded to a question about whether the “Mark of the Beast” would be, according to Revelation 13:16  “in” (so the KJV and earlier English versions) or “on” the hand and forehead.  We have since learned that the occasion for the dispute was claims by some KJVOites that by reading “in” the KJV was foretelling the use of subdermal implants that have come into existence only in the last decade or so.  If such were true, the KJV would not have anything up in this regard over the earlier Bishops’, Geneva, Great or Tyndale versions, or even over the Latin Vulgate which read the same--if the KJV’s rendering is an “advanced revelation” beyond the mere Greek text, then so is the Vulgate’s, just 1200 years earlier!

 

As we pointed out, the Greek word in the passage, epi, corresponds in meaning to  “on” or “upon” in modern American usage (hence the NIV’s reading), while in older British usage, “in” was sometimes used in the same sense as our “on.”

 

In recent reading, I found one such example.  In David McCullough’s 1776, he is describing colonial New York City in 1776: “City Hall stood on Wall Street, or ‘in’ Wall Street, as the people said.” (p. 122).

 

Here, then, is another example (as if one were needed) from English usage demonstrating that when the KJV et al. employed “in” to translate the Greek epi in Revelation 13:16, they meant it in the same sense as our current use of “on” or “upon.”

 

Taken in its simplest and plainest sense, Revelation 13:16 states that the marks on the hand and forehead will be epidermal (on the surface of the skin) rather than subdermal (beneath the surface). 

---Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEW

 

Trial By Fire: the Struggle to Get the Bible into English by Harold Rawlings.  Wellington, Florida: The Rawlings Foundation, 2004.  352 pp., paperback.

 

In November 1956, while a student for the ministry at Bob Jones University, Harold Rawlings heard a guest speaker at the college, a recent Bob Jones Ph.D. graduate with a rock em, sock ‘em style and considerable ability as a chalk artist.  Harold was sufficiently impressed with this speaker/chalk artist that he recommended him to his father, Pastor John Rawlings of Lockland Baptist Church in Cincinnati when home for the Christmas holiday.  Pastor Rawlings invited that speaker to Cincinnati, and he became a regular guest speaker at the church--appearing at least once annually--for the next quarter century.  Pastor Rawlings in turn recommended him to other independent Baptists in his circle--the Baptist Bible Fellowship--and he became a fixture in some BBF churches in the upper Midwest and at youth camps over the next several decades.  That guest speaker was Peter S. Ruckman. 

 

Harold Rawlings told me that he has nothing but regret over his part, albeit unwitting, in introducing the Ruckman pestilence (my word, not his) into the BBF.

 

The above events are not the subject of Harold Rawlings book, but set the background for understanding and appreciating what he has written in Trial by Fire.  Though early on enamored with the King James Only position, Harold Rawlings has done what all KJVO adherents should do: he investigated the facts and claims for himself.  His investigation has been thorough and detailed.  And it has led him to reject as unfounded the premises and claims of KJVOism.

 

Trial by Fire traces, with a generous dose of broad historical background information, the who and how and why the Scriptures were translated and circulated in English in the pre-Reformation and Reformation periods.  The focus is chiefly on the early history of the Bible in English, most notably Wycliffe in the 14th century, but especially Tyndale, Coverdale and others in the 16th and early 17th centuries.  And from this perspective, the modern “King James Only” movement is analyzed and evaluated.  Rawlings shows that KJVOism is not justified either by Scripture or by history.

 

The book is happily free, with very limited exceptions, from the plague of errors of detail that commonly infest recent books on the history of the English Bible.  Numerous photos and facsimiles of title pages and sample pages of various historic English Bibles and Testaments enhance the value of this work.

 

Endnotes of sources are given, and an extensive bibliography is included.  The book has valuable appendices (six in all) which give a glossary of terminology used, the “Translators to the Readers” introduction of the original KJV (something every partisan in the KJV debate should read and re-read until it is mastered), a listing of obsolete and archaic English words found in the KJV, comparative English translations of a short passage from John 1, selected and notable quotations from historically important sources relative to Bible versions, and an extensive chronological listing of English Bible versions.  The book is indexed as well.

 

We are glad to have this addition to the literature regarding the Bible in English, its history, and the current controversy, especially since it comes from within a group that has been long troubled by KJVOism, the Baptist  Bible Fellowship, and from a respected name within the BBF.  It is a decidedly worthwhile contribution that will amply repay the reader’s investment of time.

---Doug Kutilek

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