"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 11, Number 1, January 2008

 

“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

 

“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]

----------

 

The Humility of True Genius

 

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.”

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Greatest scientific mind in all history

Quoted from Great Books of the Western World,

edited by Robert Maynard Hutchins,

vol. 34, Newton/ Huygens, p. x

(Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952)

----------

 

A Correction

 

In our November 2007 issue (10:11), in the article “James 3:1-4, AV: a Study in Translation Obscurity,” we wrote, “This dependence on the Rheims version [by the KJV text in this passage]--and no other printed English version--includes ‘many masters,’ and ‘offend all.’”   A reader brought it to our attention that the Geneva version of 1560 in fact also reads “many masters.”  We had based our assertion on The English Hexapla [London: Baxter, 1841] which gives the text of the Geneva NT of 1557.  Subsequent consultation of facsimile reprints of both the 1560 Geneva Bible and a 1607 Geneva NT confirmed the reader’s correction--both the 1560 and 1607 read “many masters” and could well be the “source” for the KJV wording.  And on further checking, we discovered that the Bishops’ Bible NT (1602 edition), according to The New Testament Octapla, edited by Luther Weigle (Thomas Nelson, n.d), also read “many masters.”  We regularly consult these resources when writing on readings in the KJV vis-à-vis earlier English translations, and are at a loss to explain this oversight and our misstatement, but are happy to correct our error. 

 

This of course in no wise diminishes the very extensive documented dependence of the KJV in the NT on the Roman Catholic Rheims NT (see “Is the King James Version a ‘Roman Catholic Bible’?” in As I See It, 6:2 February 2003; and “The KJV and the Catholic Rheims NT: Two Examples of Dependence,” in As I See It, 6:5 May 2003); our other example, “offend all,” in this KJV text, is dependent on, and only on, the Rheims NT.

---Doug Kutilek

----------

 

Things I’d Like to Read or See Written

 

When I find my interest in a subject sparked (which happens constantly in a dozen different ways--a stray reference in book I’m reading, a comment from a well-read and respected friend, something I see in the electronic media, and such like), the first thing I do is cast about for some article or book that treats the subject in a thorough, interesting and authoritative way.  Whether the subject be a biography, an historical event, a literary work, something involving the natural world, linguistics, theology, or whatever it might be, I set out to discover and obtain something worthwhile to read and thereby inform myself and satisfy my curiosity.

 

Sometimes my search yields just what I need in short order.  Other times, I search for years for just what I want, and fail to discover it.  Sometimes what I want simply doesn’t exist--the requisite volume or article remains unresearched and unwritten.  Occasionally, I have tried to fill such a deficiency by writing on the subject myself--my extended study, “Hebrew New Testament Translations: A Comprehensive History,” parts I, II, III (As I See It 9:3, 9:4; 9:5) is one such effort.

 

More often than not, what I do find on my interest de jour are decidedly inferior, incomplete, outdated or badly distorted second-rate works that were scarcely worth the search or worth the time and trouble to read. 

 

Sometimes what I need and want exists--I just don’t know where to look.  At other times, I know what I want--I know it exists, but it is remote or otherwise inaccessible to me to buy, beg or borrow.

 

This being said, there are a number of works I would love to discover, or see written, or gain access to, so that I could feast on their information.  Some of these include--

 

--A good biography of Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), the 19th century Hebrew Christian whose Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah is a classic treatment, which ransacks ancient Jewish literature for the light it can cast on that most important of all human lives.  The brief Dictionary of National Biography entry mentions a short memoir by daughter Ella Edersheim which was attached to a posthumously-published work, but nothing comprehensive seems to exist.

 

--A good biography of Samuel P. Tregelles (1813-1875), a devout British Christian, thoroughly learned, meticulously attentive to detail, profuse in his literary productions and pre-eminent among 19th century students of NT Greek manuscripts; even so, only small unsatisfactory treatments of Tregelles’ life exist--he was early on associated with Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, but departed from that group.  Had he remained among them, they would no doubt have been careful to record his life in detail.  At the very least, an extended analysis of his literary remains, accompanied by a biographical sketch, cries out to be written.

 

--An English language biography of Johannes A. Bengel (1687-1752) the German Pietist, Bible commentator and founder of modern NT textual criticism--a study he pursued to satisfy his own mind regarding the reliability of the Greek text of the NT as extant today.  While there exist several German accounts of his life and labors (one of which I own), to my knowledge, there is no biography in English.

 

--An appreciation of the contribution of the virtually unknown Samuel Berger (1843-1900) to the study of ancient and modern translations of the Bible into the languages of Western Europe.  He did much thorough and authoritative pioneering work on Medieval Bible versions, published numerous still-valuable articles in periodicals and encyclopedias of his day, but is today all but unknown.

 

---An honest biography of George W. Truett (1867-1944), predecessor to W. A. Criswell as long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.  The one extant book-length biography, by son-in-law Powhatan James and first issued while Truett was yet alive, is an embarrassingly bad work, gushing with praise and devoid of criticism--and completely lacking any reference to J. Frank Norris whose pastorate in nearby Fort Worth largely overlapped in time with Truett’s; their paths crossed repeatedly, and often not cordially.  Someone needs to write Truett’s life worthily. 

 

--A good biography of J. R. Graves (1820-1893).  Though Graves and his Landmarkism were a major source of contention among Baptists of the South in his day and since, he was nevertheless through his writing and editing one of the most influential, perhaps the most influential Southern Baptist of that era.  The one book-length (ever-so-brief) biography of Graves, by son-in-law O. L. Hailey, is a poor production, very short on specifics.  The sketch of Graves’ life, views and influence by Harold S. Smith in Baptist Theologians, edited by Timothy George and David Dockery (1990), is good but too brief to satisfy my interest.  I want more.

 

--Some readily accessible account of the lives and labors of some of the conservative 19th century German OT scholars, such as E. W. Hengstenberg, K. F. Keil, Franz Delitzsch and H. A. C. Haevernick (something similar on English NT scholars--Alford, Westcott, Lightfoot, Ellicott, Hort, etc.--would also prove invaluable).  I am aware of a meaty German biography of Hengstenberg.  Praiseworthy volumes composed of brief summary articles (biographical and theological) on American theologians, American Bible scholars, and Baptist theologians have appeared in the past couple of decades, but nothing similar on 19th century scholars, whether German or English or American.

 

--A history of 20th Century Baptists.  There are scattered histories of small segments within the larger Baptist world--GARBC, BBF, SBC (in part), etc., but nothing even close to comprehensive.  Such a volume would likely need to be a joint effort by a dozen scholars, to make it truly worthwhile and authoritative.

 

--A modern “Cathcart.”  William Cathcart edited The Baptist Encyclopedia in the 1880s.  While it covers a broad spectrum of Baptists, especially Americans of the 19th century, the entries are regularly fulsome in the extreme, wholly devoid of bibliography, and more than 130 years out of date.  The volume provides very inadequate or no treatment of many points and issues.  The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists of the 1950s and later, in 4 volumes, fills some of the gap, but far from adequately.  A project to occupy 25-40 scholars for a decade, I should think.

 

--Biographies of any sort of Princeton OT scholar Robert Dick Wilson, evangelist Vance Havner, and pastor and radio preacher J. Vernon McGee.

 

--The autobiography of Josephus’ translator William Whiston (1667-1752).  I have seen it, and even read in it for about an hour while in the library in Cambridge University a year ago.  But it was only there that I have seen a copy.  Whiston, mathematician and professorial successor to Newton, was rather eccentric, theologically cultic, a “Baptist” in religious association, and a speculator on the date of the Second Coming.  I want to write up a 10-20 page article about Whiston (akin to some of my AISI biographical sketches), but cannot adequately do so without these 18th century volumes.  The New Schaff-Herzog article is surprisingly full on this relatively minor figure.

 

--A modern biography of Henry Jessey (1601-1663).  This Cambridge-educated sometime Anglican priest became by turns a non-conformist, an adherent of believer’s “baptism,” and then an immersionist, and ministered in the area south of London Bridge, not far from where Spurgeon’s Tabernacle would be built two centuries later.  Jessey was one of the most highly educated Baptists of his day, being a master of Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, Greek and Latin.  He prepared, with the assistance of others, a complete revision of the KJV which was left in manuscript at his death.  He was a convinced pre-millennialist, and a generous friend of oppressed Jews.  There are so many points of interest about Jessey that a modern treatment is called for.  The only thing available is a 1671 biography (which I have read--also while at Cambridge) of just over 100 small pages by Andrew Whiston (any relationship to William Whiston is wholly unknown to me).  I have long projected doing something along these lines and have collected some materials.

 

--The autobiography of Ebenezer Henderson (1784-1858), Scottish linguist (with a knowledge of almost 20 languages), missionary, Bible scholar (author of excellent commentaries on most of the OT prophets), and promoter of Bible societies.  I briefly examined this mid-19th century autobiography at Cambridge, but have sought in vain for a States-side copy to buy or borrow.

 

--A good survey of ancient Jewish literature for the Christian reader--covering everything from the apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, Qumranic and apocalyptic writings, Philo, and Josephus, to the Mishnah, Tosephta, midrashim, targums, talmuds, commentators and masoretes.  There are hundreds, yes thousands, of things in this literature that illuminate or illustrate both the NT and the OT, and give a better and clearer picture of Jewish thought and history in general.  Some Christian commentators from past centuries (chiefly John Lightfoot, John Gill, J.J. Wettstein, and Strack and Billerbeck) have mined this trove, but most Christian readers, including most contemporary theologians and scholars, are largely or entirely ignorant of it, to their and our great loss.  Some few works have appeared of late in this subject area, but nothing quite like what I have in mind.  Were I teaching such a course on a regular basis in a Bible college or seminary, I would try by the third or fourth cycle of classes to have something ready to publish.  If, if, if.

 

--An accounting of Holy Land pilgrimages, perhaps covering all of Christian history (beginning from the 4th century), or perhaps limited to the 19th century, of which there must be dozens of published accounts--scholars Philip Schaff, John Broadus, Horatio Hackett, to mention but three, and even Mark Twain, visited the Holy Land and saw it as it was before all the modern view-obscuring development, and what is better, wrote accounts of what they witnessed.  Someone should survey and summarize these pilgrimages in a handy-sized volume, or at least in a well-researched journal article.

 

--A complete bibliography and a selective reprinting of the writings of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) as found in “The Religious Herald.”  Broadus was the outstanding 19th century American Baptist (in the opinion of historian Thomas Armitage).  “The Religious Herald” was the official periodical of the Virginia State Convention of the Southern Baptists, and regularly carried articles by Professor Broadus, including an account of his tour of the Holy land mentioned above.  A selection of Broadus’ best writings from this paper would be worthwhile, since so relatively few works by Broadus were published in book form.  The relevant issues are on microfilm--but not anywhere close to where I live!

 

--A modern pre-millennial equivalent of Christology of the Old Testament, Hengstenberg’s great 19th century work on OT Messianic prophecy.  I had hoped as long ago as the mid-1970s to undertake such myself, but circumstances have prevented me from doing so.

 

--A study of failed date-setters for the Second Coming, of which there must be hundreds (not just the more famous Millerites, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Whisenant--of “88 Reasons” infamy).  Such would serve as a warning to all who think themselves smarter than God.

 

--An authoritative but comprehensible presentation of the factual basis for Ancient Near Eastern chronology--dates and events--from Sumer and Babylon to Egypt, the Hittites, Assyrians, Persia and more.  How “solid” are the commonly given dates (for example, 3100 B.C. as the beginning of literacy)?

 

--A complete chronological listing of all of Spurgeon’s sermons and addresses, whether published or not.  A day-by-day accounting of Spurgeon’s life (such as has been done for Lincoln, and Stonewall Jackson) would also be of interest to me and I suspect to others.

 

--The publishing in book form of the tomb inscriptions copied by John Rippon (1751-1836) in Bunhill Fields, London.  This cemetery holds the mortal remains of some 120,000 individuals, including many luminaries from non-Conformist Christianity between 1660 and 1860--John Owen, John Bunyan, John Gill, Daniel Defoe, Susannah Wesley, Henry Jessey and Rippon himself.  Rippon spent many hours copying the stone tomb inscriptions--nearly all of which are wholly obliterated today.  I understand that Rippon’s transcripts remain in manuscript in the British Museum.  They ought to be published because of the historically important information they surely contain.

 

--A full accounting of the Christian faith of the Confederate high command.  Many of the top commanders in the Army of Northern Virginia were devout Christians--Lee, Jackson, David Hill (Jackson’s brother-in-law), Richard Ewell, John B. Gordon, and many others.  While there are 19th century accounts of the Great Revival in the Army of Northern Virginia in the winter of 1862-3, no full, documented account of the specific beliefs and practices of the generals exists, as far as I know.  I have done some small reading and collecting of material for such a project, but have too many irons in the fire just now to make much progress on it.

 

--A fuller, more detailed account of the life of A. T. Robertson (1863-1937), the great Greek scholar.  The one extant biography, by Everett Gill (1943), is good and adequate in its way, but it omits much information--more details are needed on his library, writings, class work, summer speaking engagements, his family (four children, one of whom--a son--was institutionalized due to some developmental problems, another son who ultimately rejected the faith of his father and grandfather, and died in unbelief sometime after the 1950s), and his theological views, systematically considered, etc.  I would choose this project for myself, had I the freedom to make the choice and the resources to carry it through.

 

These are just some of the subjects that are stewing on the back burner of my mind, waiting the discovery or procurement of just the right written treatment that I have long sought.  If any reader can direct me to extant books and articles in any of these areas--or if you have copies of the autobiographies of Whiston or Henderson lying about--please let me know.

---Doug Kutilek

----------

 

Planning a Year’s Reading

 

Having indicated what elusive works I would like to read this year, I more realistically will set forth what I ought to read in the months ahead (pending the arrival of those mentioned above!).  I do so with fear and trembling, having before me at this very moment last year’s proposed reading list, knowing full well that of the 10 titles on that list, not a single one got read in the past 365 days.  Not one.  But I had good intentions.  I was diligent in my reading.  I did read 51 books through in 2007, some 12,400 pages total.  Just not these books.  Or these pages. 

 

First, I need to finish the 6 books already begun but left undone as of January 1, 2008 (I will spare you the titles--all should get reviewed in AISI in the next few months).  I really, honestly do try to not get more than a couple of books going at one time, but it somehow managed to turn out this way at year’s end.  One is nearly finished; the others are all well begun, and I do aim always to read a book through when I start it.  When those are completed, . . .

 

. . . I shall sally forth to the riches beyond.  There are always “classic” works from the past that beckon to me (C. S. Lewis counseled reading one old book for each new book read).  A friend reported recently that he had completed reading through the famous set The Fundamentals edited by A. C. Dixon and R. A. Torrey and published in the 1910s to help stem the tide of apostasy and modernism that were infecting every Christian denomination in America.  I have in decades past read a few of the articles by various writers, but have not read the whole straight through.  This I have long wanted to do.  Perhaps this year.

 

And ever since reading the first of three volumes--more than 400 pages--of Calvin’s Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels in 2000, I have wanted to get back and read the remaining volumes (see the article, “First-Hand Impressions of John Calvin” in AISI 3:9).  It was Calvin’s final commentary (and therefore contains his most mature thought) and covers the most important part of the Bible, and proved to be, besides, worthwhile reading.

 

I need to read another volume or two of the writings of A. T. Robertson (really four or five).  I intend to read them all before I die, and am currently about halfway through the 44 books, but have read nothing for several years.

 

I had on last year’s list, and transfer to this year’s, the reading of the literary remains of 2nd century Christian apologist Justin Martyr.  They occupy just 150 or so pages in a standard edition of the Ante-Nicene fathers, and shouldn’t take more than a week or two at most to read and think through.  Just setting aside the time to do is the key here.  And there’s Irenaeus.  And Ignatius.  And Tertullian.

 

And then there is Schaff’s 8-volume Church History.  I’ve read all of volume 8 and much of volume 7, with bits and pieces throughout the rest, but I really wish to read in full the whole set, and hope to begin with volumes 1 & 2 this year. 

 

And speaking of church history, there is Armitage’s famous 19th century History of the Baptists, which I have read much of over the years, but always piecemeal and never completely.  And there is so much else on Baptist history I ought to examine (I have 20 or more volumes in this category that I have wanted to read practically forever, but these still await my attention).

 

And I’m always ready to delve into a well-written history, especially if it’s written by S. E. Morison, William Manchester or David McCullough, or if it is yet one more Civil War classic that I have not perused.

 

I generally read more biographies than any other genre of books (except, perhaps, history) and there are numerous biographies waiting my attention.  I still have in mind to read through the 2,000 pages in 4 volumes of D. S. Freeman’s monumental Lee.  Everyone--and I do mean everyone--I know who has read the set through calls the experience one of life’s highpoints for them.  I have, as usual, merely dabbled here and there.  And Freeman’s Washington in 7 volumes, and his Lee’s Lieutenants in 3, also stand nearby silently giving me the “guilts” for neglecting them.

 

I want to read a biography of missionary pioneer Robert Moffatt as well as additional biographies of William Carey and J. Hudson Taylor, and I’m always game for another good biography of Lincoln, Spurgeon, and Samuel Johnson.

 

Maybe this year I’ll get around to Augustine’s famous Confessions, Robert Burton’s 17th century classic Anatomy of Melancholia and William Law’s 18th century devotional work, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (these latter two works had immense influence on Samuel Johnson).  I wanted to read them last year.  And the one before that.  And. . . .

 

Of novels, as usual, not much appeals to me, though I would like to complete Moby Dick, and Don Quixote (and work through Robinson Crusoe by Defoe), begun years ago but not pushed through to the end.  Since Shakespeare’s plays are fiction, I’ll note here my annual intention of reading (or re-reading) one or two of those, which occasionally gets done.

 

Of course, any good work on agriculture, forestry, gardening and nature that comes to my attention almost invariably gets read in short order.  I’ve got nothing unread on the shelves in this area, but I seem to manage to discover something new each year.

 

And I urgently need to given attention to several languages (either beginning or intermediate grammars or extensive reading)--Ukrainian (to which country I hope to return later in the year), but also Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Syriac, Aramaic, German (conversational), Spanish, Romanian, and even French (there are a couple of articles or books in French I need to read--but my French is pretty stale from long neglect).  Linguistic study is a bottomless pit, a black hole.  I do try regularly to read through the Sunday sermon text in 3 or 4 languages as the pastor preaches, but this is scarcely adequate.  Trying to keep one’s working knowledge of several languages relatively “fresh” is like trying to juggle a dozen balls at the same time--in a hurricane.  And I really do want, someday, to learn at least a modicum of Portuguese, Italian, Anglo-Saxon and Dutch (enough to read the Bible, anyway)--but when?

 

It is true: so many books, so little time.  To get any serious reading done, I must leave other things undone--amusements, entertainments, diversions, hobbies--but also lesser books.  To read worthwhile books, I must neglect inferior or ephemeral works (such as science fiction, Christian novels, and everything by John Maxwell).  It is a labor but also a delight.  Bring on the books.

---Doug Kutilek

----------

 

On the Missing “Amens”

 

Editor--

 

The KJV has "Amen" at the end of each of the Gospels.  I know that the NIV and ESV don't.  I haven't checked other modern versions.  Is there any reason for the omission?  Do all manuscripts from which the KJV was translated have it?  I noticed that they have regular [i.e., non-italic] lettering and are listed in Strong's, which I take to mean that they are in the Greek.

 

A--- C------

 

---

 

Mr. C------:

 

The manuscript evidence regarding the "amen" at the end of each of the Gospels can be found, among many places, in The Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies, and edited by Kurt Aland et al., or the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, both available from the American Bible Society or through CBD. 

 

The earliest evidence, supported by some later witnesses, from Greek manuscripts and ancient translations is strong against the concluding "amens" being original parts of the Gospels (and other NT books).  No doubt, as it became customary in the churches to conclude the public reading of Bible texts with an affirmatory "amen," it became customary for scribes to conclude the copying of a Bible book with an "amen" as well.  As a consequence, the medieval ecclesiastical text of the NT uniformly has these supplementary “amens” as do various “textus receptus” editions, and hence the KJV.

 

On the other hand, there is absolutely NO explanation for the widespread omission of these "amens" if original.  Neither accidental omission nor deliberate excision nor any other explanation accounts for their absence in such widespread and early witnesses.  The obvious conclusion: the "amens" found at the end of the Gospels in the KJV are ecclesiastical additions to the books, not an original part of them (which, incidentally, shows also that "majority" or "Byzantine" readings can be demonstrably secondary as these are, and not original).

 

Doug Kutilek

----------

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis.  New York: Harper, 2007.  655 pp., hardback.  $34.95

 

As a rather typical baby-boomer/ adolescent of the 1960s, I was an enthusiastic reader of the daily 4-panel comic strip “Peanuts,” conceived and drawn by Charles Schulz.  I imbibed much of the wit and sarcasm of the strip and made it my own (to my occasional detriment).  I was entirely at home with the ever lonely  perpetual fall-guy, loser Charlie Brown, his very strange dog Snoopy, the domineering and often crabby Lucy, the philosophical and thoughtful Linus (my personal favorite), and the rest of the regular gang.  At various times, and in various guises, these characters where Schulz’ alter-egos, or real life “adversaries” caricatured.  Michaelis has written a detailed and thorough biography of Schulz, the retiring and reticent barber’s son from the Minnesota Twin Cities, whose lifelong aspiration, even from smallest childhood, was to be a cartoonist, and at which he achieved worldwide fame and remarkable wealth.

 

Schulz (1923-2000) grew up in an emotionally non-demonstrative family, an only child, and was reclusive and reserved from childhood--in marked contrast to his country cousins who were loud, brusque, and verbally bellicose--all the things “Sparky” (for such was his nickname) was not.  This made the frequent Sunday visits with the extended family painful and exceptionally uncomfortable for him.  His father, like Charlie Brown’s, was a neighborhood barber of modest ambitions.

 

After high school and service in World War II (during which war his mother died from cancer after 4 agonizing years), Sparky pursued a career in art and cartooning, and finally broke in in 1950 when his local “Li’l Folks” strip went “national” (with seven original subscribing newspapers; “Peanuts” would eventually appear in over 1,000 papers).  Due to a copyright dispute with a defunct comic strip from the 1930s, the name was changed by the national syndicator--against Schulz’ wishes--to “Peanuts,” a name lifted straight from the successful “Howdy Doody” television program’s famous “Peanut gallery” where the live children’s audience sat.  Schulz frankly hated the new name (though I $uppo$e he eventually got u$ed to it); for years, people would ask, “Which one of the characters is named ‘Peanuts’?” many thinking it was the dog (my original impression).  The strip developed, was picked up by more papers, and by 1955 had become popular nation-wide.

 

Even when fame and considerable fortune came his way because of “Peanuts,” Schulz remained reclusive, indeed, perhaps became more so, using the strip as both a creative outlet and as an escape from the real world.  In the strip, and only there, he had complete control over his “world.”  Schulz was personally very much self-absorbed and had a strong aversion to taking responsibility if it could be avoided by losing himself in the strip.

 

Raised in a quiet, non-religious home (somehow, Schulz never smoked, used profanity, or drank alcohol beyond the rarest and barest exception), both he and his father came into contact with a small Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) congregation at the time of his mother’s death.  The minister of the small congregation--because of the unavailability of the Lutheran minister--consoled the family and conducted the funeral.  After the war, Schulz attended this small church, made numerous friends, became a regular part of the congregation, and eventually made a credible profession of faith in Christ, followed by baptism.  While residing in Minnesota, he regularly attended this church--all weekly services--and tithed, his growing income from “Peanuts” eventually accounting for more than half of the church’s total income.

 

Though often interested in girls during his high school, military, and post-war years, Schulz was with rare exceptions too self-conscious, too insecure, too introverted, too fearful of rejection, to even speak to girls he found attractive, much less ask them for a date.  In 1951, he met and married the sister of a co-worker, a 20-year-old divorcee, who at 19 had worked one summer in a New Mexico dude ranch, met and married a ranch wrangler twice her age, had a child, and was abandoned by the man all in short order.  Joyce Schulz was strong-willed, domineering, highly energetic--a driven woman, though she was never much of a church goer (rarely accompanying Sparky to church in Minnesota) and never any kind of professing Christian.  This latter characteristic would eventually have a highly detrimental impact on Schulz’ spiritual life.

 

At Joyce’ insistence, the new family soon moved away to Colorado, where they knew no one and were far from relatives; they remained there less than a year, and were back in Minnesota (cartoonists can live anywhere plying their trade).  After a few years and numerous kids, Joyce engineered a move to Northern California, where Schulz would reside for the rest of his life.  With the move to California, nearly all regular association with churches was ended for Schulz (he for a brief time taught--or rather supervised--a Sunday Bible class in a Methodist Church).  And while he continued to read the Bible for himself, and read Bible commentaries (chiefly the modernist Abingdon Bible Commentary, which could only have served to undermine any conservative faith Schulz had), he never taught anything about the Bible to any of his children, not even explaining to them the meaning of the Christmas story--they grew up wondering what the nativity scene that decorated the house each December represented.  One daughter eventually became a Mormon.

 

Sparky’s emotionally undemonstrative nature, passivity, aloofness and escapism let to growing conflict with extroverted Joyce.  After a total of five children, and more than 22 years of marriage, they divorced in 1973.  Before the split, Schulz had an 18-month-long adulterous relationship with a 24-year-old single woman.  “Peanuts” had given Schulz fame, a multitude of fans, immense wealth and world-wide recognition.  But these could not make him a happy man.

 

As Schulz got away from church, the Bible, and God, his life drifted.  In the 1950s and 1960s, as he first became widely known, he was lionized as a model evangelical Christian.  His 1965 Christmas television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” was and remains the traditional Christmas TV program with the clearest, most straightforward presentation of the Gospel.  I have watched it 30 times at least and still tear up when Linus takes center stage (“Lights, please”) and recites from Luke 2.  But with an unbelieving wife, and without the continuing influence of fellow-believers and the Bible in his life, Schulz in essence abandoned the faith.  By the end of his life he was espousing some strange, even heretical theology--denying that God wants to be worshipped, and teaching universalism (people with guilty consciences and unforgiven sin self-servingly often hope there is no condemnation for sin, especially their own).

 

After his tryst with the 24-year old, and while his marriage to Joyce was unraveling to its dissolution, Schulz began a relationship with a 33-year-old married mother of two.  After his divorce--and hers--they wed and stayed together until Schulz’ death on February 12, 2000 (the same week-end Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry died).

 

I had for years hear reports and rumors of Schulz’ evangelical Christian profession and his turning away from Christianity in his later years, but I had a Pollyanna-ish, naïve perspective on the whole subject until reading this book.  My delusions were certainly dispelled.  While still recalling with appreciation the humor and entertainment derived over the years from “Peanuts” (especially in the 1960s), I have lost nearly the whole of any respect I might have for Schulz the man.  He was a success as a cartoonist, but a failure as a Christian, a husband, and a father.

---Doug Kutilek

----------