"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 9, Number 11, November 2006
“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.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Earl of Kent
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“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]
And Even More So Today!
“The fundamental fault of the modern Church is that she is busily engaged in an absolutely impossible task--she is busily engaged in calling the righteous to repentance. Modern preachers are trying to bring men into the Church without requiring them to relinquish their pride; they are trying to help men avoid the conviction of sin. The preacher gets into the pulpit, opens the Bible, and addresses the congregation somewhat as follows: ‘You people are very good,’ he says; ‘you respond to every appeal that looks toward the welfare of the community. Now we have in the Bible--especially in the life of Jesus--something so good that we believe it is good enough even for you good people.’ Such is the modern preaching. It is heard every Sunday in thousands of pulpits. But it is entirely futile. Even our Lord did not call the righteous to repentance, and probably we shall be no more successful than He.”
J. Gresham Machen
Christianity and Liberalism
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), p. 68
[These remarks--which perfectly describe the modern “seeker-friendly” pattern widely adopted in evangelical and fundamental churches in the recent years, which down-plays, even omits, preaching on sin, guilt, judgment and condemnation, and omits any call to repentance--were published in 1923! Let it be known that the inevitable consequence of this omission of the Gospel’s clarion call for repentance from sin and guilt was general apostasy in short order in the denominations and churches which substituted the Biblical Gospel for the easy Gospel of smooth words and sin without consequences--editor]
Set Free From KJVOism!
Our friend Rick Norris of Fayetteville, North Carolina, recently received a letter from a reader of his excellent book, The Unbound Scriptures: A Review of KJV-only Claims and Publications (reviewed in As I See It 6:11, November 2003; the book is still available by writing to the author at: Rick Norris, 3900 Lewisburg Court, Fayetteville, NC 28306; or by email at-- firstname.lastname@example.org). The letter contained an excellent testimony about being set free from the enslaving error of KJVOnlyism, and we immediately sought permission to reproduce the letter here:
Dear Mr. Norris,
I received your book "Unbound Scriptures" promptly and in excellent new condition. I want to commend you for your work on this wonderful book. I have been poring over it every since the day I received it. Thank you for not only being very scholarly and carefully providing documentation for everything you said, but for also being kind and impartial in your verbiage. This book clearly and undeniably proves that the KJVO stance is in error.
I was saved in a KJVO Baptist Church, but struggled with the KJV Bible from the very beginning due to the archaic language. I read modern Bibles in the privacy of my home and preferred them, but felt guilty and doubted my salvation many times because I did not "like" the way the KJV read. About three years ago I read Gail Riplinger's "New Age Versions". I was so repelled by the "scholarship" in that book that I decided to leave the KJVO camp and attend Baptist churches that used modern Bibles. I have struggled with guilt and anxiety ever since, fearing I was incurring God's judgment by knowingly casting aside the KJV. I have even gotten to the point of not reading ANY Bible at all because I did not like the KJV but felt guilty reading anything else. I eventually stopped going to church altogether knowing full well that we are not to forsake assembling with one another. I just could not go back to the KJVO churches, but felt extremely guilty for going to any other kind.
After reading your book, the guilt is gone; I now feel some righteous indignation over the fact that I was "duped" for so long. In fact, I now tend to look askance at the KJV knowing the TRUE history of the King and the Translators!! Your book is too well documented to leave any doubt! I am going to go back to a good Baptist church that uses other versions.
Thank you again for your time and labor to produce this book. It has freed me from my shackles of guilt and anxiety. I now believe I am free to read any responsible modern Bible of my choice and fellowship with other like-minded Bible believers. May God bless you and protect you from the mudslinging and arrows that are sure to be fired at you from the KJVO camp!!
If you have a friend or relative who is under the sway of KJVOism, perhaps giving them a copy of Norris’ book would set them free as well--editor.
Spurgeon on Standing for the Truth
“At any rate, cost what it may, to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not alone our liberty, but our duty. I have raised my protest in the only complete way by coming forth, and I shall be content to abide alone until the day when the Lord shall judge the secrets of all hearts; but it will not seem to me a strange thing if others are found faithful, and if others judge that for them also there is no path but that which is painfully apart from the beaten track.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The Sword and the Trowel, December 1888, p. 620
Reprinted in The “Down Grade” Controversy
Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, p. 72
Spurgeon’s Library in New Hands
And speaking of Spurgeon--early Sunday morning October 22, instant, I was watching a televised sermon by Dr. Phil Roberts, President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, who was speaking at a church here in Wichita. In his introduction, he naturally discussed the seminary and its progress and growth (like all Southern Baptist seminaries, it is once again in
conservative hands). And then he stated that, after 2 years of negotiation, MBTS had as of "last Tuesday" (October 10, 2006, if I figure the date correctly), signed a contract to purchase Spurgeon's entire extant library from William Jewell College, and would take actual possession of it by November 15 of this year. He stated that some of the books need restoration, and this would be done right away, and the whole would be catalogued electronically.
William Jewell College, located in Liberty, Missouri, just northeast of Kansas City, is and has long been a notoriously apostate Baptist college (in AISI 9:1 we reviewed The Long Road Home by John P. Jewell, a testimony in part of how his conservative, fundamentalist faith was destroyed by the apostasy at William Jewell College as long ago as the 1960s). Spurgeon’s library came into that college’s possession in 1906. When Spurgeon died in January of 1892, his personal library, rich in old Puritan tomes, numbered an estimated 12,000 volumes. Upon his death, his two preacher sons Charles and Thomas, each naturally took numerous books from the library for his own use in the ministry. Other books were given away by Mrs. Spurgeon to the great preacher’s friends and co-workers, and many went to the library of Spurgeon’s college for pastors. The remaining collection then reportedly amounted to something over 7,000 books. In late 1904, after their mother’s death, Spurgeon’s sons put the bulk of the library up for sale through an agent, with the goal of selling it to a Bible college or seminary, but remarkably were unsuccessful in this effort.
In 1905, Mr. J. T. M. Johnson, a board member of William Jewell College, was in London for a Baptist congress, where he began the ultimately successful negotiations, with the help of Baptist editor Dr. J. W. Thirtle, for the purchase of the remaining collection for 500 British pounds--about 50 cents per volume! These were shipped in waterproof cases across the Atlantic to the American Midwest, far from the scene of Spurgeon’s London labors (but perhaps a providential act to spare them destruction in the ravages of World War II). The departure of Spurgeon’s library to America is not viewed favorably by all British Christians (see Ernest Bacon, Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans [London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd, 1967], pp. 150-1).
The collection was catalogued and placed, as I understand it, in the general stacks of the William Jewell library for several decades, until the pilfering of Spurgeon-owned volumes became intolerable (the collection “shrank” in the process by some 2,000 books, it seems). A $40,000 replica of Spurgeon’s study was created in 1965 in a basement room of the library and the rest of the collection was placed there under lock and key where it has remained since; in August 1983, I visited the collection and was able to hold--and be photographed holding--one of the volumes there (it was vol. 2 of John Gill’s commentary on the Bible, 1854 edition; vol. 1, which lists a very young Charles Spurgeon as among the subscribers to the serial publication of this set, was out being rebound, or I would have held that one).
As long ago as 1984, Craig Skinner, in his book, Lamplighter and Son [Nashville: Broadman, 1984], about Thomas Spurgeon, said of the Spurgeon library’s location in the basement room at William Jewell: “The context and setting of the library deserves a better display than its current basement location provides. . . . The entire holding would be much more useful in a seminary setting, or at the least in a more visible and prominent one.” (p. 249)
And what Skinner thought more than 20 years ago should happen, is now coming to pass. Midwestern, I understand, outbid another Southern Baptist seminary, Southwestern in Fort Worth, Texas, for the library--books, furnishings, everything--to the tune of $400,000, substantially more than the 50 cents per volume paid in 1906! Soon, Spurgeon’s books will housed and displayed in a setting much more congenial to his theological beliefs and opinions, certainly more accessible and likely better cared for. I think all friends and admirers of
Spurgeon will rejoice at this development.
America, Quo Vadis?
“At the rate America is decaying morally, we shall have to change our national symbol from an eagle to a vulture.”
The Vance Havner Quotebook, p. 8
Compiled by Dennis J. Hester
Baker Book House, 1986
WHY I AM A BAPTIST
by Dr. Noel Smith (1900-1974)
founding editor of the Baptist Bible Tribune
Here are a few reasons why, in the midst of the dissolution of the basic institutions of civilization, being a Baptist increasingly gives me a feeling of spiritual and intelligent anchorage.
Baptists are a people. They have an historical identity. They have an historical image. Their continuity is the longest of any Christian group on earth. Their doctrines, principles, and practices are rooted in the apostolic age.
I am not a Pharisaical sectarian. But I don't confuse Baptists with the Reformation, with the Reformers. The Reformers wanted to reform the Roman Catholic Church; the Baptists were against the Church, because it was not a New Testament church. Protestantism originated in the Reformation. Protestantism is protestism. That's negative. Negativism has within it the seeds of its own disintegration.
--The Baptists were not reformers. They were not protestors. They were positive.
--Freedom of conscience is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine.
--The separation of church and state is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine.
--Religious liberty is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine.
--Believer's baptism is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine.
Baptism of the believer by immersion in water, symbolizing the believer's death, burial, and resurrection with Christ is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine.
The local, visible, autonomous assembly, with Christ as its only head and the Bible as its sole rule of faith and practice, is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine.
Worldwide missions is not a Reformation doctrine; it is a Baptist doctrine. The Reformers had no missionary vision and no missionary spirit. For almost two hundred years after the Reformers, the Reformation churches felt no burden to implement the Great Commission.
What kind of a world would the Western world have been had Protestantism become its master? Who but the Baptists kept Protestantism from becoming its master?
The general attitude today is that truth is determined by the passing of time; that there are no eternal abiding truths. "You can't turn the clock back. Time invalidates all truths. Time invalidates one set of truths and fastens another set upon us."
Baptist history repudiates this philosophy of fatalism. Baptists today are believing, teaching, preaching, and practicing the truths that were believed, taught, preached, and practiced two thousands years ago.
It gives me a feeling of stability to reflect that I, as a Baptist, am in the stream of this long continuity of faith and practice. The Baptist people are a great continuity. They are a great essence. They are a great dignity. The world never needed them more than it needs them today.
Why I Am a Baptist, ed. by Joe T. Odle
Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972. Pp. 35-37
The Bible Vindicated
“As a young professor of the Old Testament, I read all the books available in that field. Many of the authors on Old Testament interpretation spoke of the numerous discrepancies in the Bible. They even said that many of the events could not have happened. But when I actually visited the sites of these Bible stories in Palestine, and read the Bible on the very spot where the events took place, ninety percent of all these so-called scholarly problems disappeared!”
James L. Kelso
An Archaeologist Looks at the Gospels, p. 57
Waco, Texas: Word, 1966
Ussher’s Chronology: Its Defective Nature
Just as “old-earth” creationists unadvisedly substitute contemporary scientific theories and reconstructions for the teaching of Scripture concerning origins and time-frames, so some “young-earth” creationists unjustifiably cling to Archbishop Ussher’s more than 350-year-old researches on Biblical chronology as the definitive and final summary statement of the issue (for a recent example, see “The World: Born in 4004 B. C.?” by Larry Pierce, in the inaugural issue of Answers, vol. 1, no. 1, July-September 2006, pp. 25ff; this magazine is published by the well-known and respected creationist organization, Answers in Genesis).
As we pointed out in our article “Issues in Biblical Chronology” (As I See It, 8:2), in the subsequent 350 years since Ussher’s chronology was published, a vast amount of relevant material has been added to what was available to Ussher in the early 1600s. Ussher had little more than Greek and Roman antiquities, covering only from the mid-1st millennium B. C. and later, besides the Biblical materials, and these Biblical materials often had imposed on them presuppositions and assumptions which they did not properly bear. Since his day, the whole of Ancient Near Eastern studies--Egyptian, Persian, Hittite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian and more--and farther afield, Indian and Chinese--has arisen. These discoveries provide an immense amount of relevant material that would compel the revision of some of his work, and a change in perspective on much more. The state of knowledge regarding human history and antiquities by no means remained static, but has progressed and expanded in ways Ussher could not even have imagined.
Ussher was by no means the first to attempt reconstruct a chronology of universal world history back to creation, in whole or in part. He was preceded in the 16th century by, to mention just two, cartographer Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594), and the learned Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609), whose 1583 work, Study on the Improvement of Time was known and used by Ussher.
Ussher’s work was not viewed even by his contemporaries and immediate successors as either exhaustive or definitive, a fact evident by the labors of subsequent researchers in the self-assigned task of the calculation of universal chronology. Had Ussher’s work been thought “final,” there would have been no further pursuit of the subject. Yet, the erudite Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) also felt compelled to produce such a work, as did mathematician and translator of Josephus, William Whiston (1667-1752). And their sense of compulsion to investigate and write on the subject, in spite of Ussher, was well before the great opening of the world of antiquity through the decipherment of a dozen and more lost ancient languages and two centuries of extensive archaeological excavations. These later archaeological and linguistic discoveries to an even greater degree have compelled continued re-investigation of the issue. Subsequent works on ancient chronology are numerous, and necessarily so.
The point here is that we should not enslave ourselves to Ussher’s chronology, as though he were omniscient or infallible, anymore than we should uncritically embrace, say, Matthew Poole’s 17th century 5-volume Latin commentary on the Bible (a work of comparable erudition). Yet that is exactly what some in the scientific creationism world are doing. Ussher’s The Annals of the World was republished in 2003 under the Master Books imprint, the publishing arm of the Institute for Creation Research, which was founded by the late Henry M. Morris. That edition of Ussher’s book in various notes and appendices strongly, even defiantly, defends the absolutist assumptions of Ussher (to be discussed below). And as noted above, Answers in Genesis of Hebron, Kentucky, which like ICR in nearly all instances publishes excellent material relating to the Bible and science, origins, evolution and more, has fallen into a pattern of citing Ussher’s dates for the Flood (2348 B. C.) and Creation (4004 B. C.) as though those were dates expressly given in the text of Scripture, instead of being inserted by Bible editors in the margin (as in the old Scofield edition, and Adam Clarke’s commentary). To cling to Ussher here is to provide a great disservice to many trusting Christians, since Ussher’s dates on the most remote antiquity are fraught with problems concerning Bible interpretation.
The greatest flaw in Ussher’s calculations, particularly in regard to the pre-Abrahamic period in Genesis (chapters 1-11), is that he assumes that the genealogical records there are absolute, that is, that they do not skip any generations, and that, therefore, to arrive at precise dates, one need only add backwards the years at which a man is said to have “begotten” a named son. However, it is demonstrable from the Bible itself that there is at least one gap in that Genesis genealogy, and that there is the real possibility/likelihood of more, perhaps many more. It is a not an uncommon phenomenon in Biblical genealogies for the record to skip one, two, three or even more generations (e.g., Matthew 1:8, 11; and especially Matthew 1:1, where there are two such jumps, one of approximately 14 and the other of more than 30 generations). K. A. Kitchen in his generally excellent apologetic work Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Tyndale Press, 1966) shows that gaps or leaps in genealogies is not unique to the Old Testament, but is a common ancient Near Eastern phenomenon (see p. 55). It is the faulty assumption--against both Biblical and extra-Biblical evidence--that the genealogies of Genesis are necessarily absolute that makes adherence to Ussher’s dates completely untenable.
Dr. John C. Whitcomb co-authored with the late Dr. Henry M. Morris the epoch-making book, The Genesis Flood (Baker, 1961), and by which they gave “critical mass” to modern scientific creationism, triggering the great resurgence of creationism we see today. In that book, Whitcomb wrote an appendix, “Genesis 11 and the Date of the Flood,” (pp. 474-489) which remains the best presentation known to me of the untenable position created by assuming that Genesis 11 is an absolute, gap-less genealogy. I would direct the reader’s attention to that essay, rather than try to reproduce its arguments and evidence here.
Where the Bible clearly and unambiguously presents information regarding dates and chronology, we are compelled to accept them, but where the issue hangs on an interpretation or understanding of the evidence, we must be cautious that we are not led astray from the truth by faulty presuppositions and erroneous deductions. An uncritical, uninformed adoption of Ussher’s now 350-years-out-of-date interpretations of the earliest of Bible chronological matters is one such false path.
Ancient Orient and Old Testament by K. A. Kitchen. London: Tyndale Press, 1966. 191 pp, hardback.
This now somewhat-dated work is still a good introductory apologetic regarding the factual accuracy and historical reliability of the Old Testament documents. Kitchen, a genuine scholar in ancient Egyptian antiquities, addresses the subject from the perspective of one who has very extensive, first-hand knowledge of the literature and archeological remains of the Ancient Near East (ANE). Kitchen repeatedly shows that the findings in this continually growing field of knowledge confirm the general background, and not a few times the specific facts, of the OT in its traditionally-understood content, rather than the philosophically-driven “reconstructions” of Biblical “history” and literature that were fabricated by unbelieving scholars--particularly but not exclusively the Germans--in the 19th century when there was almost complete ignorance of the ANE, due to the infancy of such relevant disciplines as archaeology, comparative linguistics, comparative literature, cultural anthropology and more. Most of the “standard” liberal objections to the content of the OT are based on the notoriously unreliable “argument from silence,” that is the lack of evidence, a situation that has been progressively remedied by the discovery of much more about the culture and history of the ANE. The result of this plethora of new information is the refutation again and again, and yet once again, of the “assured results” of older critical scholarship, and the clearing of the OT of charges of historical fabrication and unreliability.
There are a small number of problems with Kitchen’s work. The first and most important is his holding to the “Late Date” for the exodus from Egypt, namely ca. 1290 B. C., rather than the date generally held by conservatives, ca. 1446 B. C. Kitchen’s argument is largely based on the somewhat subjective interpretation of archeological findings, a still very much incomplete understanding of Egyptian history in the period, and a too easy dismissal of the literalness of numbers in the Biblical narrative (namely 480 years, I Kings 6:1, and 300 years, Judges 11:26) which point to the so-called “early date” of ca. 1446. This shift of about 150 years makes him regularly mis-date the patriarchs too late by a century and a half. Likewise, Kitchen gives credence to a naturalistic explanation of the plagues of Egypt, an explanation that has since been entirely discredited, simply because it does not at all fit either the facts of nature or the narrative of Exodus.
But all in all, this work makes a valuable contribution to the defense of the historicity of the OT, in measure due to Kitchen’s credentials as a bona fide scholar in the relevant disciplines.
Some quotations from Ancient Orient and Old Testament by K. A. Kitchen--
“Nowhere else in the whole of Ancient Near Eastern history has the literary, religious and historical development of a nation been subjected [by modern critical scholars] to such drastic and wholesale reconstructions at such variance with the existing documentary evidence. The fact that Old Testament scholars are habituated to these widely known reconstructions, even mentally conditioned by them, does not alter the basic gravity of this situation which should not be taken for granted.” (p. 20)
“[E]ven the most ardent advocate of the documentary hypothesis must admit that we have as yet no single scrap of external objective (i.e., tangible) evidence for either the existence of the history of ‘J’, ‘E’, or any other alleged source-document.” (p. 23; italics in original)
“Nevertheless, Old Testament scholarship has made only superficial use of Ancient Near Eastern data. The main reasons, of course are fairly obvious. Ancient Oriental studies are both complex and highly specialized. To use their original material at first hand, one requires the mastery of Egyptian hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts and language phases, or of the cuneiform syllabaries and several languages of Western Asia, or else of the subtleties of archaeological stratigraphy and typology or pottery and other artifacts--not to mention a control of the essential scholarly literature in these fields. Fresh Near Eastern data, no matter how relevant for the Old Testament, can only be made generally available by those who are suitably trained Orientalists.” (p. 24)
“Principles found to be valid in dealing with Ancient Oriental history and literature will in all likelihood prove to be directly applicable to Old Testament history and literature--and conversely, that methods or principles which are demonstrably false when applied to first-hand Ancient Near Eastern data should not be imposed upon the Old Testament data either.” (p. 28)
“Priority must always be given tangible, objective data, and to external evidence, over subjective theory or speculative opinions. Facts must control theory, not vice versa.” (p. 28)
“It is normal practice to assume the general reliability of statements in our sources, unless there is good, explicit evidence to the contrary. Unreliability, secondary origins, dishonesty of a writer, or tendentious traits--all must be clearly proven by adduction or tangible evidence, and not merely inferred to support a theory.” (p. 29)
“Negative evidence is commonly not evidence at all, and is thus usually irrelevant. If some person, event, etc. is mentioned only in documents of a later age, the absence of any directly contemporary document referring to such a person or event is not in itself a valid or sufficient ground for doubting the historicity of the person, event, etc. concerned.” (p. 30; italics in original)
“Finally, in speaking of error, one must distinguish clearly between primary errors (mistakes committed by the original author of a work) and secondary errors (not in the original, but resulting from faulty textual transmission or the like).” (p. 34)