"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 12, Number 5, May 2009
“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]
On the Danger of Uncontrolled Immigration
“. . . My opinion, with respect to emigration, is, that except of useful Mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions, there is no need of encouragement: while the policy or advantage of its taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the language, habits and principles (good and bad) which they bring with them. Whereas by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws: in a word, soon become one people.”
President George Washington to Vice-president John Adams
November 15, 1794.
Writings of George Washington, vol. 34, p. 23
Quoted from Maxims of Washington
Collected and arranged by John Frederick Schroeder
Mount Vernon: The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, 1942. Page 66
William Whiston (1667-1752)
Eccentric, Mathematician & Translator of Josephus
Note: Failing to secure a copy of William Whiston’s autobiography for myself, from which I hoped to construct a biographical sketch of this translator of Josephus, I am driven to the expedient of posting a summary of his life written by another. The following account was originally written and published by Robert Chambers (1802-1871), in Chamber’s Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities. Edinburgh, 1869. It was posted to the net by Emmitsburg.net at www.thebookofdays.com/months/aug/22.htm.--editor
We are afraid that, except as an affix to a translation of Josephus—a stock-book in every ordinary library—the name of William Whiston suggests very little to modern memories. Yet at the beginning of the eighteenth century he—a restless, indiscreet, and loquacious man of learning—was in everybody's mouth, and by his heresies contrived to keep the Church of England for years in a fidget.
He was the son of a clergyman, and was born at Norton, near Twycross, in Leicestershire, in 1667. At Cambridge, he greatly distinguished himself by his mathematical attainments, and won the friendship of Newton, whose Principia he studied and appreciated. In 1696, he published his first work, the forerunner of a multitude, entitled A New Theory of the Earth from its Original to the Consummation of all Things, wherein the Creation of the World in Six Days, the Universal Deluge, and the General Conflagration as laid down in the Holy Scriptures are shown to be perfectly agreeable to Reason and Philosophy; it ran through six editions. The flood he accounted for by a comet, but the wits objected, that while he had covered the earth with water, he had provided no means for drawing it off. Newton, in 1701, made him his deputy in the duties of the Lucasian chair, and in 1703, resigned the chair itself, and procured the election of Whiston as his successor.
Gradually he began to broach and promulgate Arian doctrine on the subject of the Trinity, and the result was that in 1710, he was banished from the university, and the year after his professorship was declared vacant. These penalties only added fuel to his zeal; so that he provoked Convocation to censure his writings, and for five years to keep his case dangling before the public. Meanwhile Whiston sought his living by teaching mathematics in London, and Steele and Addison found him an audience at Button's coffee-house for a series of astronomical lectures. He tried to establish a sect, and held a meeting for worship in his house in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, but he could never get beyond a dozen or score of disciples. Apparently without any power of considerate reticence, he published his fancies as quickly as they were formed. He turned Baptist; he asserted the Jews would be restored to Palestine and the millennium begin in 1766, and that an earthquake in London would swallow up 7000 men, and the remainder would be converted. He had a method for finding the longitude, by means of signal-vessels moored at various points in the ocean, which he held was everywhere fathomable. In fact, his brain teemed with odd notions, theological, literary, and scientific.
There was no lack of friends who respected his honesty and learning, but his habit of blunt, free speech and immovable self-will, rendered it very difficult to assist him effectually. His Arianism was shared by many ecclesiastics, who regretted his retreat from the church as wholly unnecessary. Whiston, one day talking with Chief-Justice King, entered into a discussion about signing articles which were not believed, for the sake of preferment. King freely sanctioned the latitudinarian practice, saying: 'We must not lose our usefulness for scruples.' Whiston expressed his sorrow to hear his lordship say so, and proceeded to inquire, whether he permitted similar prevarication in the law-courts. The chief justice said, 'No,' whereon Whiston rejoined: 'Suppose God Almighty should be as just in the next world as my lord chief-justice is in this, where are we then?' King was silent. When Queen Caroline heard the story, she said: 'No answer was to be made to it.'
With Caroline, wife of George II, Whiston was somewhat of a favourite. She allowed him £50 a year, and usually sent for him every summer when she was out of town, to spend a day or two with her. At Richmond, on one occasion, she asked him what people thought of her. He told her that she was esteemed as a lady of great abilities, a patron of learned men, and a kind friend of the poor. 'But,' said she, 'no one is without faults, what are mine?' Whiston begged to be excused, but she insisting, he informed her majesty that she did not behave with proper reverence in church. She pleaded in excuse that the king would talk to her. He asked her to remember, that during worship, she was in the presence of One greater than kings. Confessing her fault, she went on: 'Pray tell me what is my next?' With fine tact Whiston evaded the dangerous topic with the promise: 'When your majesty has amended the fault of which we have spoken, we shall then proceed to the next.'
Another good story is told of his frank speech. A party, in which Addison, Pope, Walpole, and Secretary Craggs were included, was debating whether a secretary of state could be an honest man, and Whiston was appealed to for his opinion, which may be imagined. Craggs said: 'It might do for a fortnight, but not longer.' With much simplicity Whiston inquired: 'Mr. Secretary, did you ever try it for a fortnight?'
Whiston lived till he was eighty-five, dying in London in 1752. His long life was one of great literary activity, but his multitudinous publications, amongst which was an autobiography abounding in injudicious revelations, have long been neglected. Vain yet sincere, sceptical yet credulous, insensible alike to fear and favour, where he thought the interests of truth concerned; many laughed at Whiston's eccentricities, but those who knew him most intimately, were those who held him in highest honour for substantial virtue and uprightness.
[Additional readily accessible accounts of the life and labors of Mr. Whiston can be found in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson (Baker 1960 reprint edition), vol. XII, pp. 337-8; Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature edited by John M’Clintock and James Strong, vol. X, p. 980; and of course The Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee].
What Do Self-Professed Historic Arminians Believe?
Note: In a day when the respective beliefs of “Calvinists” and “Arminians” (the latter not to be confused with “Armenians”--an ethnic group in the Caucasus region east of the Black Sea) are commonly caricatured rather than accurately represented (or understood) by those in the opposing camp, we thought it worthwhile to post what a self-professed “Arminian” believes. The following statement of faith is from the Society of Evangelical Arminians, taken from its website, located at www.evangelicalarminians.org. The site even offers a quiz so that by answering the questions, one can discover if he is or is not an “Arminian.”
While I do not identify myself as an “Arminian” (nor as a “Calvinist”), I do find myself in close agreement with the views here expressed, with the possible exception of the last clause in proposition 7 (it would be a matter of definition of terms; I adhere unhesitatingly to the eternal security or preservation of the believer by God)--Editor
Statement of Faith
1. We believe the Scriptures as originally given by God, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, infallible, entirely trustworthy, and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
2. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who possesses perfect and exhaustive knowledge of the past, present, and future, and who preserves, regulates, governs and directs all things so that nothing in the world happens without either his causation or permission. God is the author of good but not of evil. Yet even evil is governed by God in that God limits it and directs it to an end fitting with his overall plan and purpose.
3. We believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, dying on the cross as a substitute and sacrifice for sinners. He arose bodily on the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He will return personally and visibly at the end of the age to fully establish God's Kingdom.
4. We believe that part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and, during this age, to convict sinners, enable them to believe, regenerate the believing sinner, and indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for godly living and service.
5. We believe that humanity was created in the image of God but fell from its original sinless state through willful disobedience and Satan's deception, resulting in eternal condemnation and separation from God. In and of themselves and apart from the grace of God human beings can neither think, will, nor do anything good, including believe. But the prevenient grace of God prepares and enables sinners to receive the free gift of salvation offered in Christ and his gospel. Only through the grace of God can sinners believe and so be regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto salvation and spiritual life. It is also the grace of God that enables believers to continue in faith as well as [do] good in thought, will, and deed, so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God.
6. We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ and his resurrection were provided for the salvation of all people, but are effective only for those who believe. Christ's death and resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation, and only those who believe in Jesus Christ become born of the Holy Spirit and thus become children of God.
7. We believe that God’s saving grace is resistible, that election unto salvation is conditional on faith in Christ, and that persevering in faith is necessary for final salvation.
8. We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead; of believers to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord; and of unbelievers to judgment and eternal punishment.
A Correction of Our Correction
In the previous issue of As I See It (12:4) we provided what we believed to be supplemental information about the Reina Valera 1995 revision (discussed in AISI 12:3), namely, the names of the six revisers. These men had been credited with the revision by a web-site where the RV 95 was available for sale, and we didn’t think to question this assertion. However, we have since learned what we were misled; those men were the revisers of the earlier Reina Valera 1960, which fact we should have recognized. Mea culpa.
Yet Another New “Bible” to Avoid
While the various cults are forever quoting Scripture (and very often perverting its sense and meaning), they commonly find it very convenient to produce their own “Bible” with their own peculiar theological spin, to make the “Bible” say what they want it to say, and mean what they want it to mean, rather than employing some standard conservative translation which may not be so accommodating to their heresies. The cults very much prefer fabricating their own heresy-friendly version instead of submitting their thoughts and theology to the Bible, and altering them to conform to the true meaning Scripture. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have their “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures,” not only in English but in numerous foreign languages as well. The Mormons have their “The Inspired Version” [I thought the KJVOers already had that!], done by the Independence, Missouri-based “Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” rather than the Utah group (the latter does, I believe, have a revised KJV which they use). And now, I discover, the Seventh-day Adventists have their own version.
One Jack J. Blanco produced--I dare not say “translated”--this exceedingly free and highly interpretive “paraphrase” version, so as to conform to Adventist doctrine, to spin various texts, and to introduce Adventist interpretation throughout the whole. This new “Bible” is called The Clear Word (TCW). It first appeared in 1994, and is printed and distributed by Review and Herald Publishing Association, one of Adventism’s own publishing houses. So loose, so paraphrastic, so “spun” is it by comparison that The Living Bible and The Good News Bible seem nearly woodenly literal by comparison! Since its first publication, TCW has been reworked and been re-issued in various formats and editions, but all still blatantly corrupting the Bible to fit Adventist theology.
The interested reader can find more information about this perversion in “Is This Word Clear?” by Stephen Pitcher, in Proclamation, 10:1, January/February 2009, pp. 6ff. (“Proclamation” is the bimonthly print magazine of Life Assurance Ministries [LifeAssuranceMinistries.org], a ministry by former Adventists to current and former Adventists, and the best source of information and printed material about Adventism I know of).
A Plea for Zeal WITH Knowledge
S. M. writes:
”I always thought that the main point regarding the vast contrast between The KJB and other so-called Bible versions was the fact that the other so-called versions dangerously miss-translated [sic] important words like "virgin", as in virgin birth, referring to Jesus’ mother as a "young woman" instead of a virgin.
Is this not dangerous?
I get the feeling that this site [i.e, www.kjvonly.org] and the writers herein are minimizing the KJBers effort to maintain the basic tenets of the faith like the virgin birth which separates Christianity from other religions.”
“Dear Mr. M----
I will grant that many in the KJVOnly movement are zealous for what they perceive to be "the truth" but very often (indeed, almost always) this is a blind zeal, even fanatical zeal driven by emotion and not by knowledge. Almost every major precept or conventional "proof" of KJVOism is based on erroneous assumptions or false information. It would be easy to make a list of 20 to 30 major "givens" of KJVOism that have no basis in fact (examples: the KJV is superior because it is not copyrighted; the KJV always follows the TR Greek and MT Hebrew texts; the TR is the same as the majority text; Psalm 12:6-7 is a promise of preservation of written Scripture; ditto for Matthew 5:17-18; ditto for Matthew 24:35; the KJV translators were the greatest Bible scholars ever; the KJV is the Bible of real fundamentalists; Baptists have historically held to the KJV as the best translation, or as a perfect translation; Westcott and Hort were spiritists; the Vaticanus manuscript is inaccessible to Protestant scholars; the Old Latin follows the TR; Luther's version contains I John 5:7; Spurgeon vowed to break fellowship with anyone who didn't use the KJV; etc. etc. EVERY ONE OF THESE CLAIMS--and many more--IS PROVABLY FALSE, indeed has been documented as false in published articles and books, most accessible on the www.kjvonly.org web-site).
That some translations do play fast and loose with the original language text I readily acknowledge. Probably the most famous case is the Revised Standard Version at Isaiah 7:14 (and recently the NET Bible issued by Dallas Theological Seminary professors!). Indeed, the modern KJVO movement in large measure at its beginning fed off the criticism of the RSV in the 1950s. But just because that version abused that particular text in translation is no basis for condemning all other modern Bible translations. Among versions which do NOT mistranslate Isaiah 7:14 are the NIV, NASB, HCSB, NKJB and ESV. To condemn all because of the fault of one is equivalent to condemning all Baptist preachers because some are adulterers. We should condemn the guilty, not the innocent. And before we do either, we need to investigate and discover which is which! This, KJVO adherents have not done, or not done adequately.
And then there are glaring theological issues with the KJV itself--4 times it refers to the Holy Spirit as "it"; in this blasphemy, only the Jehovah's Witness Bible, the New World Translation, exceeds it with five such references (and strangely, the KJV doesn't hesitate to refer inversely to demons with the pronoun "he). And the KJV obscures the clear declarations in the Greek of the Deity of Christ in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. As the Deity of Christ and the Personhood of the Holy Spirit are FUNDAMENTAL doctrines, is it not dangerous to encourage people to continue to use such a translation as the KJV which falsely and inaccurately translates these passages? Would not the NKJB be far better in this regard, or the NIV or NASB?
And is it not counterproductive to urge people to continue to read a version that is filled with obscure, archaic and obsolete vocabulary and syntax, which they cannot understand and which cannot assist them in seeking a fuller knowledge of God, when other translations at least the KJV's equal in accuracy (its superiors, I would affirm) are readily available? How does this differ in kind from the Roman Catholic Church's long insistence on the "Latin Vulgate Only" in its liturgy?
KJVOism is an edifice of cards build on a foundation of sand. Until KJVOers begin to get their facts straight and apply to the KJV the same kinds of criticisms they so readily apply to other versions, they are guaranteed to remain blind leaders of the blind.
What is dangerous is having fanatical zeal to defend a view which is neither orthodox nor Biblical. That was the essence of Phariseeism, and Saul's persecution of Christians. And it is the essence of KJVOism as well.
Annotated Bibliography of Works Consulted for the Five-part Series
“Spanish Bible Versions: a Great Heritage”
Sagrada Biblia: Traduccion de Casiodoro de Reina, 1569. Facsimil. Madrid: Sociedad Biblica, n.d. [circa 2000]. An exact and complete facsimile of the first complete printed Spanish Bible.
Sagrada Biblia: Traduccion de Casiodoro de Reina, 1569. Revision de Cipriano de Valera, 1602. Facsimil. Madrid: Sociedad Biblica, 2002. An exact and complete facsimile of de Valera’s revised edition.
Reference Works (in order of date)
[those of highest importance marked with *]
Horne, Thomas Hartwell, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. 4 vols. in 5 parts. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970 reprint of 1839, 8th edition. Vol. 2, part 2, pp. 100-101, “6. Versions in the Spanish Language and its Dialects.”
Borrow, George, The Bible in Spain. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1914. This account first appeared in 1842, but has subsequently been reprinted and republished in numerous editions. It recounts the experiences of an Englishman seeking to spread the printed Word of God in staunchly Catholic Spain.
Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976 reprint of 1910 edition. Vol. VI, “The Spanish Inquisition,” pp. 533-554, especially pp. 552-3.
M’Clintock, John and Strong, James, editors, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. 12 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House 1981 reprint of Harper and Brothers edition, 1867-1887. Vol. IX, pp. 99-101, “Romanic Versions, 4. Spanish Versions” by Bernard Pick. This work also contains biographical entries on many of the major figures involved in the history of the translation of the Bible into Spanish.
Armitage, Thomas, A History of the Baptists. Minneapolis, Minnesota: James and Klock, 1977 reprint of 1887 edition. Chapter XVII, “Bible Translations and Bible Societies,” pp. 893-918. Gives an account of the American Bible Union and briefly mentions its Spanish NT.
Singer, Isidore, editor, The Jewish Encyclopedia. 12 vols. New York: Ktav, reprint of 1901 edition. Vol. II, pp. 137-8, 139, “Arragel, Moses,” by Richard Gottheil. A photo of one of the illustrations in this work is reproduced. A thorough bibliography is also included. Vol. III, pp. 185-197, “Bible Translations” by Richard Gottheil. This entry deals briefly (pp. 195-6) with Spanish versions, chiefly the Ferrara.
*Hastings James, ed., A Dictionary of the Bible. 5 vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1904. V, pp. 408b-410b, "Continental Versions, iii. Spanish Versions,” by Ll. J. M. Bebb.
Jackson, Samuel Macauley, ed., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. 13 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949 (and often) reprint of original Funk and Wagnall edition, ca. 1907. “XVII Spanish Versions” by Samuel Berger, vol. 2, pp. 155-156; “Spain, Sixteenth Century Reformation Movements in” by Theodor Schaefer, vol. 11, pp. 29-31,. This work also contains biographical entries on many of the major figures involved in the history of the translation of the Bible into Spanish.
*Darlow, T. H. and Moule, H. F., Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society. 2 vols. in 4 parts. British and Foreign Bible Society, 1904-1911. Reprinted, 1963, 1993. Volume II, part III, pp. 1425-1472. THE source of all sources for detailed information on Spanish Bible versions to 1910. The catalogue (“Darlow and Moule,” up-dated) of the British and Foreign Bible Society Bible archives is on-line at the Cambridge University Library web-site. Spanish language Bibles are found under the shelf numbers BSS.212, followed by the century of publication (A =1500s; B = 1600s; etc.), the year (two digits), etc. The B&FBS collection, while extensive, is far from complete--they have, e.g., no copy of the Reina-Valera version of 1909 printed in 1909, and the entry under the first copy of the 1909 in the collection is singularly uninformative. Nor do they seem to have either of the facsimiles of the 1569 (published circa 2000) and 1602 (2002) editions.
Loetscher, Lefferts A., editor. Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955. Vol. 1 of this supplement in “Bible Versions,” an article authored by noted scholar Bruce M. Metzger, up-dates the information on Bible versions both ancient (pp. 137-144) and modern (pp. 144-153). Spanish versions are discussed on. p. 153. In vol. 2, there is a meager article "Mission field, Bible versions for the," p. 743, by Eugene Nida.
Latourette, Kenneth Scott, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age. Vol. II, The 19th Century in Europe. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959. Pp. 220-1 give information about some of the translators of 19th century Spanish versions.
Buttrick, George Arthur, ed., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962. "Versions, Medieval and Modern (Non-English)," by Bruce M. Metzger, vol. 4, pp. 771b-782b. Spanish versions are described on p. 781. The article is apparently for the most part an up-dating and expansion of a similar article found in vol. V of Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, which preceded it by more than half a century.
Greenslade, S. L., ed., The Cambridge History of the Bible, volume 3: the West from the Reformation to the Present Day. Cambridge: University Press, 1963. Chapter III, “Continental Versions to c. 1600. 5. Spanish,” by E. M. Wilson, pp. 125-129; bibliography, pp. 540-541; Chapter IX, “Continental Versions from c. 1600 to the Present Day. 4. Spanish” by E. M. Wilson, pp. 354-5.
Lampe, H. W. F., ed., The Cambridge History of the Bible, volume 2: the West from the Fathers to the Reformation. Cambridge: University Press, 1969. Chapter IX “The Vernacular Scriptures. 7. Vernacular Scriptures in Spain,” by Margherita Morreale, pp. 465-491. Bibliography, pp. 533-535.
Brown, Andrew J., The Word of God Among All Nations: A Brief History of the Trinitarian Bible Society 1831-1881. London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1981.
Douglas, J. D., ed., New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991. This "up-dated" successor to Schaff-Herzog above has an extensive article, "Bible Versions (Modern Versions)" by Paul Ellingworth, pp. 80-100. Spanish versions are presented on pp. 84, 85.
George, Calvin, The Battle for the Spanish Bible. 2001. Reviewed in As I See It, 7:6.
Kinder, A. Gordon, La Biblia del Oso. Madrid: Sociedad Biblica, 2002. This informative pamphlet came with the facsimile reprint of the 1569 Bible.
Lozano, Carlos Lopez, La Biblia de Valera. Madrid: Sociedad Biblica, 2002. This informative pamphlet came with the facsimile reprint of the 1602 Bible.
*George, Calvin, The History of the Reina-Valera 1960 Spanish Bible. Published by the author, 2004. Reviewed in As I See It, 8:6. A valuable history and defense of the Reina-Valera 1960 revision.
The Bible Translator, a periodical published by the United Bible Societies, frequently has articles about present-day Spanish language Bible revision and translation projects.
Pei, Mario, The Story of Language. Philadelphia: J. P. Lippincott Co., 1965. “The Romance Tongues,” pp. 325-338. A good, brief non-technical treatment of the historical development of the Romance languages from Latin.
Hall Robert A., Jr., External History of the Romance Languages. New York: American Elsevier Publishing Co., 1974. A very technical and detailed account of the historical development of the Romance languages from Latin, including Spanish.
Lathrop, Tom, The Evolution of Spanish. Newark, Delaware: Cervantes & Co., 2004. 4th edition. An account of the development of Spanish from Latin
Ostler, Nicholas, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005. Chapter 10, “Usurpers of Greatness: Spanish in the New World,” pp. 331-379. A recent and highly informative account of how Spanish became the dominant language in Central and South America. Reviewed in ”As I See It,” 11:3.
The New Citizenship: The Christian Facing a New World Order by A. T. Robertson. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1919; reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. 157 pp., paperback. $20.00
Of all the many books authored by Baptist Greek scholar A. T. Robertson, this is by far the most politically- and contemporaneously-focused, and consequently the most dated and now “quaint” (indeed, I am unaware of any other book by Robertson that has any similar focus).
In 1919 when the book was published, the “Great War” (World War I) had just concluded; the Central Powers, particularly Germany, had been defeated, and were about to be utterly humiliated in the Treaty of Versailles that President Woodrow Wilson was then negotiating (even as Robertson wrote) in France. The massive carnage of “the war to end all wars” and “to make the world safe for democracy” was still horrifyingly fresh in memory. Wholesale revision of the map of Europe and the Mediterranean world was underway: the Turks had been driven out of Palestine and their Eur-Asian empire dissolved; the huge ethnically diverse Austro-Hungarian Empire was in shambles (and about to be re-organized as numerous separate and much smaller nations), and the German Empire was much reduced in size and influence. Czarist Russia had fallen to Menshevik and then Bolshevik control (and utter social chaos). The democracies had defeated the militarists, and were heady with victory. Woodrow Wilson was being lionized as the third in a Triumvirate of great Presidents, the peer of Washington and Lincoln. A new world order was dawning, so it was believed.
Robertson addresses from a quasi-Christian perspective this new political and social order, as it promised to affect society and the Christian (a great many of the quotations he reproduces came from “social Gospel-ites” such as Walter Rauschenbush, Shailer Mathews, H. C. Vedder and others who were to a man theological liberals; they often misled his thinking). Among topics addressed are the recently approved Prohibition, women’s suffrage and rights, education, children, crime, government, the prospective “League of Nations,” pacifism and patriotism. Robertson reveals a too-optimistic view of human nature, of Woodrow Wilson, of the possibilities of co-operative international achievement, and the potential benefits of education. Before Robertson’s death in 1934, he must have seen that a great deal of what he hoped for in this volume was a pipe-dream.
Quotes from The New Citizenship--
“The philosophy of Nietzsche that the might is right came to be the orthodox doctrine of the German state. Nietzsche brutally stated that Jesus was the greatest calamity that had ever befallen the race because He taught mercy and spared the weak. He set up Thor in the place of Christ.” (p. 24)
“It is cowardly for one to wish to enjoy the blessing of freedom and not to be willing to preserve and defend liberty when attacked. The citizen owes it to the State that protects him to defend the State against aggression.” (p. 31)
“God is the Father of men in two senses. In one sense He is the Father of the race, while in the other special sense He is the Father of the redeemed. The two senses can and should be kept distinct. It is misleading to confuse them. All men are children of God, the author of their being, the Father of their spirits. Man was made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). But only the redeemed belong to the family of God in the special sense of the term.” (p. 33)
“Child mortality has even been defended as the law of nature, as nature’s way of weeding out the weak and securing the survival of the fittest in the development of the race. But that cynical view will not satisfy the modern Christian spirit. Jesus pronounced a woe upon those who caused ‘one of these little ones to stumble’ (Mark 9:42).” (pp. 81-2)
“Churches have run away from the down-town sections and left the people there to the devil save for an occasional rescue mission.” (p. 126; and you thought this was a new phenomenon in the last half of the 20th century!)
“One can respect the Quakers who have long had religious scruples about war who are yet willing to help the government in other ways to win the war if not compelled to bear arms. But those who suddenly became professional pacifists were open to the suspicious charge of trying to escape the perils of war to save their own precious lives like the cowards that they are or of seeking to hinder the government in its war work like the traitors that they are at heart. It is curious how many men all at once became conscientious objectors to war, or wished to get married with the hope of hiding behind a woman’s skirt.” (p. 135)
“So the Christian, under the leadership of Jesus, does not agree with Nietzsche, Treitschke, Bernhardi, et id omne genus [Latin: “and all that kind”], that war is good, glorious, and great in itself. That doctrine is repulsive to the Christian. But neither can he side with the pacifist who says that all war is wrong and that it is a sin for a Christian patriot to defend his country against attack or his home against a burglar or his wife against rape.” (p. 139; the basis for the Nietzschean claim that war is inherently good is biological Darwinism applied to human existence, namely that human conflict promotes human progress, and therefore the greatest conflict--war--will promote the greatest progress. This viewpoint was expressly adopted by at least some in the German high command before World War I, who welcomed the opportunity for war as a chance to prove German racial superiority over others. World War I, as World War II, Marxism, and many other social evils are the natural and rational fruit of Darwinism--editor).