"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 11, Number 6, June 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.”
“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]
Alarmist Rhetoric in Politics
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety), by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”
H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Quoted from The Biblical Evangelist, 39:3
May-June 2008, p. 11
[A perfect description of the motivation behind the whole bogus “global warming” movement. Alarmist rhetoric is standard fare on most television newscasts as well, with the most dire warnings being made about the most petty of matters. Modern parallels to “the little boy who cried ‘wolf’.”--editor]
Invoking God’s Blessing on a Struggling Nation
I was recently reminded of the famous words of Benjamin Franklin on June 28 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1787, when the convention had hit an impasse and threatened to end in failure. The aged Franklin, professed deist, and sometime lecherous man that he was, nevertheless wisely counseled that they resort to prayer:
The small progress we have made is proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their constitutions suitable to our circumstances. . . . How has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?. . . I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?. . . I . . . believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, and conquest."
Benjamin Franklin by Carl Van Doren.
New York: Viking Press, 1937; pp. 747, 748
No formal action was taken by the Convention on Franklin’s prayer proposal, but we are led to hope that surely the devout among the delegates must have taken the recommendation to heart and put it into practice in private. The impasse was resolved and by the end of September a constitution had been composed, approved and recommended to the States for consideration, and ultimate adoption.
Our disoriented and stumbling nation is today even more in need of just such prayer than it was in June 1787.
The Education of Children:
Who is Responsible?
When children reach school age and are sent off, lunch box full and books in hand to be taught by others, all too many parents suppose that the training of their children is now the duty and responsibility of someone else. NOTHING imaginable could be further from the truth. The duty of training children is ever and always the responsibility of the parents. The Scriptures rest the burden of this all-important duty squarely on the shoulders of Mom and Dad. Of Abraham, God said, “For I know him”--know here involves the entering into a covenant relationship--“that”--meaning “so that,” expressing purpose and intent--“he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that”--“so that” once again, indicating purpose--“the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19). God entered into a covenant relationship with Abraham with the expressed purpose and design that he would train his children to know and obey God.
Later, Moses, after proclaiming the Great Command in the law of limitless love to God and obedience to Him, commanded the Israelites, “And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart; and you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up,” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
And in the New Testament, Paul commanded parents by the Spirit of God, “And you fathers”--a term including both parents--“provoke not your children to wrath”--or in more contemporary English, “do not exasperate your children”--“but bring them up in the nurture and admonition”--that is, the training and instruction--“of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). In each of these passages (which represent but a sampling of the Biblical teaching on the subject), the duty, responsibility and ultimate accountability for the training of children, in all areas but especially religious instruction, belongs to the parents, whether they like it or not, whether they want it or not, whether they do it or not.
Far more important than the training for a particular trade or occupation is the religious training of our children. It is no accident that immediately joined to these Biblical admonitions regarding the training of the children is the recounting of the solemn and sacred duty of knowing and obeying the commands of God. The first priority in all education is to know the God of Scripture, and to know the Scriptures of God, as Deuteronomy 6:6-7 plainly commands.
William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943), Lampson Professor of English Literature at Yale, spoke the truth when he wrote:
Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated; and no other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can, among Europeans and Americans, form a proper substitute. Western civilization is founded upon the Bible; our ideas, our wisdom, our philosophy, our literature, our art, our ideals, come more from the Bible than from all other books put together. It is a revelation of divinity and of humanity; it contains the loftiest religious aspiration along with a candid representation of all that is earthly, sensual, and devilish. I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.
Human Nature in the Bible
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1923
The Jews, early on, were impressed with the sacred Divinely-appointed duty of training their children. One evidence of this is contained in the legendary Letter of Aristeas. While this account of the translation of the Law of Moses into Greek at Alexandria in Egypt is largely fiction, yet it still conveys the ideas and ideals of the Jews at the date of the letter’s composition (around 100 B.C.). In it, the king of Egypt is represented as testing the seventy-two Jewish translators with hard questions, and being impressed with their sage and sound answers. One particular question and answer are as follows:
The king asked the next man, “What is the grossest form of neglect?” And he replied, “If a man does not care for his children and devote every effort to their education.”
Letter of Aristeas, 9:22-23
Two centuries later, Josephus, the great Jewish historian, speaks of the seriousness with which the Jews attended to the proper education of their children. After discussing some of the various trades and occupations of the Jews, he states:
Our principle care of all is this: to educate our children well; and we think it to be the most necessary business of our whole life to observe the laws that have been given us, and to keep those rules of piety that have been delivered down to us.
Against Apion, 1:2
It is not necessary to prove that these sentiments of Aristeas and Josephus, representative of the ancient Jews in general, are entirely in harmony with the commands of the Bible.
Let each parent come to the solemn realization: “I am responsible and accountable to God for what my children learn. I will answer for what they are taught. It is my duty to secure for them not only an academically excellent education, but also a spiritually vibrant one.”
A parent may shirk his duty, he may pretend that his responsibility has now been passed to teachers (who have their own accountability, to be sure), but, in fact, like Lady Macbeth’s unpurgeable spot, the parent cannot absolve himself of this duty. This is true, whether the child is entrusted to a public (that is, government) school--a most perilous and to me almost unthinkable option today with the virtually complete secularization of all such schools--, or a private school Christian or secular. The modern trend toward home schooling, with its almost uniformly superior educational outcomes, emphasizes in a most unmistakable manner the truth that the responsibility of educating children is that of Mom and Dad.
Let it be clearly and plainly stated, there is a world of difference between delegating the actual in-school training of children to others, and freeing oneself from the ultimate responsibility for this training. If impressionable children are indoctrinated with evolution, situation ethics, sexual promiscuity and whatever is foul and ungodly in government-run schools, parents cannot excuse themselves from accountability by blaming the schools, the teachers or the textbooks. “But I don’t agree with what the textbooks say or the teacher teaches!” you say. But you still send your child there!
The parents must ultimately shoulder the blame if their children are taught evil things in government schools. This same principle of course applies if children are sent to a so-called “Christian” school. Let the parent who makes this choice beware: not a few schools Christian in name differ little from government schools, employing many of the same secularized textbooks, and employing teachers trained at the same state-run colleges and universities and with the same humanist philosophy of education as their public school counterparts. (And yes, I am aware of good and godly teachers even in government schools, but they are frankly very much in the minority there).
Children are not wards of the state (nor of the church, for that matter), to be educated by the state as the state sees fit (recent oppression and persecution of home-schoolers in Germany by the heavy hand of government claims otherwise). Children are a heritage entrusted to parents by the Lord, and God will demand of these trustees an accounting of their handling of this sacred trust. The parent is responsible for everything his child is taught in school, and in church, as well as what he learns from books, television, the internet and other children. It is a heavy burden, but a glorious opportunity as well. A parent can have no greater joy than knowing that his children “walk in the truth” (3 John 4). But before they can walk in the truth, they must be taught the truth.
Parents in our day have generally forgotten or ignored their God-given trust, and the solemn reality that there will be a day for examining their disposition of this trust. It is essential that parents take an active interest in the education of their children and take exceptional care in who and what they entrust the actual formal schooling to if they do not do the teaching themselves.
Tragedy can, and often does, come from a neglected or a misdirected education. One example comes immediately to mind, and that is Benjamin Franklin, whom we quoted and approvingly so in an article above. I acknowledge at once that there was no greater figure in 18th century American life than he--printer, author, inventor, scientist, soldier, postmaster, statesman, ambassador. It is doubtful if even Washington was his equal in over-all influence. A listing of all of Franklin’s major and minor contributions to American life would fill a volume.
But with all his earthly accomplishments, there remains one foul blot that mars his memory--his skeptical, deistic theology (and consequent periodic debauched behavior). Less than two months before his death, he wrote a letter of reply to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale, who had written inquiring about the nature of Franklin’s religious beliefs. Franklin’s answer reveals beliefs that are deistic and not biblical: God as a grandfatherly Creator, who should be worshipped, but who is best worshipped by our good treatment of our fellow man; the moral principles of Jesus are extolled as the world’s best, but doubts are expressed as to His Deity, and amazingly, Franklin admits that he had never taken the trouble to investigate the matter! (See Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin, pp. 777, 778)
This is astounding indeed, for if God is to be worshipped--and He is--and if Jesus claims to be God--and He does--then of supreme importance is discovering whether Jesus is God, lest one be guilty of withholding worship from God. The issue is of utmost importance and deserved Franklin’s immediate and closest attention, yet he seems to have casually neglected it.
What led to Franklin’s deism and unbelief? When and where were the seeds of doubt sown in his soul? Not in his home life, for he was raised in the Puritan faith of his native Massachusetts. Rather, the answer is found in his own account of his reading as a youth. Franklin had little formal schooling, but with an insatiable appetite to learn and know, he read incessantly, consuming just about everything that came to hand. In this unsupervised reading, he came across such contemporary free-thinkers as Shaftesbury and Collins. The influence of these two, and perhaps others, overthrew in his youthful mind the Bible instruction he had received at home and in church. His heart was turned away from the faith. Franklin’s doubt yielded the fruit of unbelief, licentiousness and lecherous behavior which surfaced from time to time to the end of his life.
After Franklin had established himself in Philadelphia, he became acquainted with George Whitefield, the great revivalist, and heard him frequently. There developed between them a lasting, lifelong bond of friendship, and Franklin was for many years the American printer of a number of Whitefield’s published works. Through the years of their friendship, Whitefield repeatedly urged upon Franklin the duty and necessity of unreserved faith in Christ. Yet, to no avail.
Let Franklin himself in his Autobiography bear witness against his own soul: “He [Whitefield] used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion but never had the satisfaction of believing his prayers were heard.” In short, Franklin perished eternally in his skepticism and doubt, generated in large measure by the reading of his youth. (A similar case is that of Thomas Alva Edison, whose voracious youthful reading including books that subverted confidence in the Bible).
What a difference it could and would have made had his father and mother taken a greater interest in what books fell into their son’s hands! Views and opinions impressed in youth are often fixed for time and eternity.
“Church” or “Churches” (Acts 9:31)?
“Hello Brother Kutilek:
Last year, I read the ESV [English Standard Version] through and this year am reading the Holman CSB [Christian Standard Bible]. However when coming upon Acts 9:31, I noticed that in both the ESV and the Holman CSB, it reads "So the church....it multiplied" [in the singular]. The KJV and the NKJV read "Then the churches. . . were edified . . . they were multiplied" (in the plural].
This is the first time I have read of "the church" in such an open manner in the Scriptures as many speak of a "universal church" today.
Is this simply because the manuscripts read this way or the translators saw it differently?
Would appreciate your thoughts
There is a difference of readings in the Greek manuscripts and ancient versions: most of the early Greek manuscripts, including p74, Aleph, B, and C, plus among the versions the Latin Vulgate, the Peshitta Syriac and some other witnesses, have the singular in both noun and verb. Following these witnesses is the reason for the singular in the ESV and HSCB, along with some other translations. The plural, on the other hand, is read by the Byzantine/ majority text and other witnesses, and is the text behind the KJV and NKJB, and other versions.
I think the singular is strongly supported here and is the original wording, but I don't think it refers to a universal church; rather, it refers to the Jerusalem church or congregation, which was scattered and widely dispersed throughout the region at the time of Saul's persecutions (8:1). The remark in 9:31 is a comment about how they--the now scattered members of the Jerusalem church--ultimately fared after matters settled down following Saul's conversion. "The rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say.
The Anatomy of Bibliomania by Holbrook Jackson. Urbana, Illinois; University of Illinois Press, 2001 reprint of New York: Farrar, Straus, 1950 edition. 668 pp., paperback, $24.95.
This lengthy volume, originally published in 1930 by Soncino, is a conscious and self-confessed imitation in style and approach of Robert Burton’s 1621 classic, The Anatomy of Melancholia. That work addressed depression of spirits, “the blues,” by ransacking literature for pertinent and suitable quotations and illustrations of his theme. Jackson (1874-1948), like Burton British by birth and residence, has done the same for “bibliomania,” that is, book madness. He has scoured literature for quotes, anecdotes, and illustrations of all aspects of bookdom: the composing, conserving, printing, binding, collecting, possessing, reading, preserving, cataloging, selling, abusing, destroying and whatnot of books.
The volume is at once a book-lover’s delight and despair, because it introduces the reader to the wisdom and recommendations of many who have far out-paced him in his reading by a geometric progression, and it brings to his attention vast swarms of books worth reading which will sadly forever remain just names and titles to which he will never be able to give attention.
A bibliophile is one who loves books for the information they contain and the communion of mind they allow with others remote from him in time and space; a bibliomane is one whose love for books has veered off course into obsession, delusion, even dementia, the craving for books as mere physical objects, rather than for their contents.
Some account of the author’s life may be had in Twentieth Century Authors edited by Stanley J. Kurtz and Howard Haycraft (1942 edition), p. 710.
Some selected quotations, out of the multitude, from Anatomy of Bibliomania by Holbrook Jackson--
“So I pick and choose, and . . . whatever has been well said by anyone is my property” (p. 23; I will omit the Latin portion of any quotations, nor will I generally ascribe the quotes to their respective authors. The reader will need to consult the book directly for this information--editor)
“The true university of these days is a collection of books.” (p. 31)
Books are “Lighthouses erected in the sea of time.” (p. 32)
“So vast the field [of books], so many mazes and perils, that unless we be directed by some artist, we shall spend half our age before we can find authors which are worth our reading” (p. 63)
“Sir Edmund Gosse looked upon his library as the workshop as well as the playground of a man of letters; these books, he says, have been my tools and are still my companions.” (p. 83)
“All that a University, or final highest school can do for us is to teach us to read; and by reading is here meant that which contributes to our virtue or strength of character.” (p. 92)
“People in general do not willingly read, if they can have any thing else to amuse them, says Dr. Johnson.” (p. 95)
“When books distract a man from the proper observation of life, they do nothing but generate a learned folly.” (p. 104)
“One of the misfortunes of life is that one must read thousands of books only to discover that one need not have read them.” (p. 106)
“John Ruskin came near the truth when he said all books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time.” (p. 109)
“Speak of the moderns without contempt, and of the ancients without idolatry; judge them all by their merits, but not by their ages.” (p. 110)
“If [books] do not help to make us better and more substantial men, they only provide fuel for a fire larger, and more utterly destructive, than that which consumed the Library of the Ptolemies.” (p. 112)
“Fill a dull man to the brim with knowledge and he will not become less dull.” (p. 112)
“Old men retain their intellects well enough, said Cicero, . . . . if only they keep their minds active and fully employed.” (pp. 120-1)
“Any woman who knows something of literature and science, or travel and biography, will find herself becoming more and more attractive.” (p. 129)
“A book is never a masterpiece, it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a man who is dead.” (p. 143)
“Francis Osborne advocates a few books thoroughly digested rather than hundreds but gargled in the mouth.” (p. 159)
“Only the best writers are to be read, and when a volume is finished, it is to be gone through again from the beginning.” (p. 159)
“There is no time so good to read a book as when you have just bought it and brought it home.” (p. 236)
“During [Napoleon’s] exile he accumulated some 8,000 volumes, which he devoured with great speed, throwing each book on the floor as he finished it.” (p. 250)
“England became the people of a book, and that book was the Bible. It was the one English book which was familiar to every Englishman; it was read in the churches and at home, and everywhere its words kindled a startling enthusiasm; it fathered our prose literature, but far greater than its effect on literature . . . was its effect on the character of the people at large: the whole moral effect which is produced now-a-days by the religious newspaper, the tract, the essay, the lecture, the missionary report, the sermon, was then produced by the Bible alone. It changed the whole temper of the nation, gave a new conception of life and man, and inspired a new moral impulse in every class.” (p. 272)
“Cicero’s . . . ardency for books increased with his disgust for everything else.” (p. 285)
“How many a man, exclaims Thoreau, has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” (p. 312)
“Show me a man’s books and you show me the man himself.” (p. 329)
“Thomas Carlyle valued his acquaintances by the extent of their libraries, such a one, he would argue, is a valuable man, a man of 3,000 volumes.” (p. 339)
“The libraries of writers are as like as not the tools of their craft, the books about books, the books about books about books, and so ad infinitum.” (p. 341)
“Books are not entirely valued or intimately loved unless they are ranged about us as we sit at home.” (p. 342)
“Cicero’s idea of happiness, a library in a garden.” (p. 344)
“A library is like life, and I say of books, as Thoreau of living, we must each gnaw our own bone.” (p. 350)
“Every reader worth his salt will choose his own hundred best books.” (p. 350)
“The good bookman at his best will prefer, except in an emergency, to possess rather than borrow books, for a book is not fully known unless it is owned as well as read.” (p. 353)
“The one best and sufficient reason for a man to buy a book is because he thinks he will be happier with it than without it.” (p. 449)
“A keen collector [of books] always spends a little more than he ought on his collection.” (p. 530)
“A man either collects books for his own intellectual profit, which is sane, or out of pure ostentatious vanity; . . . to gain glory by books you must not only possess them but know them; their lodgings must be in your brain and not on your book-shelf.” (p. 550)
“Many, saith Benjamin Franklin, fear less the being in hell than out of the fashion.” (p. 554)
“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. . . . It is the luxurious and dissipated who set the fashions which the herd so diligently follow.” (p. 590)
“Eugene Field avows that if he lost his library and were unable to assemble another, he would lay himself down to die, for he could not live without companionships which had grown as dear to him as life itself.” (p 641)
Pollution and the Death of Man: the Christian View of Ecology by Francis A. Schaeffer. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1970. 125 pp., paperback
When I first read this book in 1982, I found it to be a ho-hum treatment of the theme, with some worthwhile perspectives amidst a fair amount that was of small importance or value, and much that was left unsaid. I thought then (and am sure now) that I and not a few others (Philip Yancey not among them) could write a much better book on the subject, were we so inclined. Indeed, I hope some have written those better books, as this one is not up to the task. Upon re-reading it for a Bible class study of the same subject, I find it the same as my first impression, but much more so. Yes, Schaeffer rightly declares that all of the physical creation is to be respected, since all of it is God-made. But he is exceedingly short on specifics. The book was originally written as a response to two published essays (included as appendices) which tried to lay the blame for environmental destruction at the feet of Christianity’s teaching of human dominion over the creation--with a supposedly implied right to pillage, plunder and devastate at will.
Schaeffer does not adequately refute these bogus claims, neglecting, especially, the ethics of the second great command to love one’s neighbor as oneself and therefore to do no harm to one’s neighbor and thereby fulfill the law, Romans 13:9b-10. This, along with the very temporary nature of individual human existence followed by an accounting of ourselves before God, compels a profound sense of stewardship over the creation for the sake of ourselves, our contemporaries and our posterity, resulting in exactly the opposite of the claim that Christianity allows, even promotes, the willful and selfish plundering of natural resources.
The aesthetic argument is also inadequately addressed. The beauty of the natural world is one of its God-given qualities that is to be admired (as is repeatedly noted in the Psalms) and subsequently protected by man, steward of creation. At times Schaeffer comes close to appearing as a tree-hugging lunatic.
A mediocre performance, at best. Surely far better treatments must exist.