"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 14, Number 6, June 2011
“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.
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
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]
From Japan to Joplin:
What is the Biblical Perspective on So-Called Natural Disasters?
Earlier this year, the massive loss of life and utter devastation to property that afflicted northern Japan as a consequence of a massive earthquake and tsunami were just appalling by their massiveness. In subsequent weeks and months, a series of property-destroying and death-dealing tornadoes have repeatedly afflicted the heartland of America, most recently in Joplin, Missouri. While the death and destruction in Japan were much more extensive than all the storms collectively in America, the much closer proximity of these American storms to us in south central Kansas, particularly the tornado in Joplin (a city just three-plus hours by car away, and one through which we have driven dozens of times), give them a much greater immediacy--what did happen there could easily happen here.
But the prominence of such tragedy in the recent news naturally engenders a serious question: Why? What cause was behind these disasters? Can a direct line from cause to effect be traced? Or, what was God’s Divine purpose in this all?
The first and natural (and usually wrong) impulse is to say, “It must have been deserved. Something these people did brought this on themselves.” That was the theory of Job’s friends in trying to reason through the cause of his multiplied calamities. That was the speculation of Jesus’ disciples when they saw the man born blind in John 9--surely his parents or he himself committed some specific sin (which in the case of the man himself presumes Divine foreknowledge of some future heinous sin, and a pre-emptive strike of sorts by God). And in both these cases, the presumption was wrong. There was in neither case a direct cause-and-effect relationship between some specific sin or sins and the calamity that befell the individuals afflicted.
Which is not to say that there is never such a direct linkage. When God imposed the penalty of death, suffering and exile on Adam and Eve, it was a direct consequence of their act of disobedience to God (Genesis 3:17). When God annihilated the entire human race except for Noah and his family in the Great universal Flood, it was expressly because of their rebellion against God (Genesis 6:5-7). When God rained down fire and sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah, He expressly declared that it was an act of judgment on vile, unrepented of sins (Genesis 18:20-21). The death of nearly the entire generation of the exodus in the wilderness was a direct judgment on their act of unbelief at Kadesh Barnea. Many more examples could be noted from the Hebrew Scriptures. And in the New Testament, examples are not lacking--Ananias and Sapphira come immediately to mind.
However, there is not always, indeed not usually, a direct, traceable connection between a particular sin or sins and a particular calamity. Jesus warned us sharply against leaping to a hasty conclusion in this regard:
“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Assuming then that neither the Japanese tsunami nor the Joplin tornado were direct acts of Divine judgment on specific human sins, what explanation or justification for them can we offer for their occurrence? While we dare not pretend to comprehend fully or even moderately the ways of Providence, we can offer some suggestions of at least a subsidiary nature regarding the great unanswered “why?”
First, there is the great truth that we live in a fallen, sin-cursed world. This world, though created a perfect paradise, came under judgment due to the sin of God’s earthly vice-regent, man. All the “natural calamities”--volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, plague and disease, poisonous and savage beasts--are part of the general curse imposed on the earth because of human sin and ultimately for man’s benefit (Genesis 3:17; the Hebrew can be understood in both senses). So, yes, ultimately, sin is the cause of all human tragedy. Only in the New Jerusalem will there be “no more curse” (Revelation 22:3).
Second, we must be disabused of the common notion that “Mother Nature” is always benevolent. This attitude generated by Darwinism (which sees in “nature” an omnipotent, omniscient force for perpetual progress) and ecological extremism in part blinds us to the reality of a world under judgment. “Mother Nature” is very often not benevolent, but brutal and barbaric, cold and impersonal, and devoid of compassion. “Nature” is not inherently good, and certainly is unworthy of our veneration, or in extreme cases, worship.
Third, people often need to be reminded that earthly possessions are transitory, temporary, fleeting. Everything we have, everything that passes into our hands will sooner or later pass out of them; nothing is ever, truly “ours,” but is only a decidedly temporary loan. Obsession with possessions is one great flaw of man, particularly so in our present materialistic age. It kept the rich young ruler from Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22). It led the rich fool to be complacent when his life hung by a soon-broken thread (Luke 12:13-21). We need to be weaned away from our pre-occupation with things, and the false conclusion that they are ours. The sudden loss of virtually every earthly possession--going “cold-turkey” off of materialism, as it were--is almost always a real shock to the soul but sometimes that is the only way to gain clear-sighted perspective.
Then, there is that most important of earthly lessons: “Life is short, death is sure” (and to complete the poem: “sin the cause, Christ the cure”). Everyone expects to die sometime--just not today. Teens expect to live until they are “old” (which seems incredibly distant and remote to them), but even “old people” in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s expect death to come later than sooner. In spite of the seriously false errors in this regard some published authors have recently espoused, the truth is: this life--here and now--is the only opportunity to settle accounts with God and prepare for eternity. The Talmud relates a story of a rabbi and his students. One of the students asked, “Rabbi, when is the best time to repent?” The rabbi answered, “One day before you die.” The student thought for a moment and then replied, “But I don’t know when I will die!” “Then you should repent today.” Isaiah’s admonition still rings true: “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the LORD and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). The snatching away in sudden, unexpected death of one or a few or dozens or thousands of all ages deeply impresses the mind with one’s own very tenuous mortality, and imparts an urgency in this matter that few other things can.
And then there is the opportunity such disasters present for believers to show in reality Christian compassion, love, and concern for those suffering as a result. Often we are much stronger on the theoretical side of showing compassion than on the practical side of actually doing it. Such calamities should, and commonly do, spontaneously bring out in us the fulfillment of the Second Great Command in the Law: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That Biblical Christianity is more than a collection of pretty aphorisms, but characterized by genuine action is something that the world needs to see much more of, and that we need to show more often.
I don’t pretend that these thoughts exhaust the providential purposes in allowing natural disasters to occur, but I offer them as some of the causes they may be at work in them.
The Best Cure for KJVOism: A Real 1611 KJV
It has been widely publicized that the year 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the original publication of the so-called “Authorized” or “King James Version” of the Bible in English. This translation has historically been the most widely used, at least since it overtook the previous champion, the Geneva Bible of 1560 (chiefly, at least initially, as a result of the legal suppression of the printing of the Geneva Bible by the British monarchy, in favor of the KJV). It should be noted, however, that the great majority of the editions and copies of the KJV printed and read in the past 400 years have been revisions rather than reprints of the original form of the KJV, with literally tens of thousands of revisions in spelling, punctuation and the use of italics, plus many hundreds in the precise wording of the text, to say nothing of the switch from “black letter” (“Gothic”) type to Roman, the widespread omission of the Apocrypha in the 18th and later centuries, along with the omission of an extended calendar and charts of Biblical genealogies, and most unfortunately, the omission of the extremely important and informative introductory essay, “The Translators to the Readers,” which was in the original edition. In short, most KJV users, particularly those who claim to be “King James Version 1611 Only” in their beliefs, have never actually seen or used a real 1611 King James Version in the original form in which it was issued from the press in 1611.
In the past, there have been from time to time facsimile reprints of the 1611 KJV. In 1833, “The Holy Bible, an exact reprint page for page of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611” was printed at the University Press, Oxford; it was in Roman type (see A. S. Herbert, Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961. London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1968; p. 377). In 1911, the University Press at Oxford issued two 1611 reprints--the first a facsimile (in black letter) in reduced size of the original 1611 KJV, the other an exact reprint page-for-page but in Roman type, of the 1611 edition, both with introductory essays by A. W. Pollard (see Herbert, p. 458). I have owned a copy of the 1911 Roman type reprint for almost 35 years.
This 1911 Roman type reprint was reissued in the 1970s (or early 1980s) by Thomas Nelson of Nashville, about the time they issued their New King James Version (and for a time Nelson sold the two volumes together in a slipcase). This reprint omitted the Pollard essay (and perhaps other features--I gave my copy to one of my sons a few years ago and cannot check it directly). Later--probably in the 1990s--, Hendrickson Publishing (the publishing arm of Christian Book Discount) also reprinted the1911 Roman type edition (in precisely the form Nelson had). These two recent reprints are easy to find via the internet.
Besides these, there have been over the years several full-sized facsimile reprints of the 1611 KJV by various publishers; my brother has a copy of one made in the 1950s, for which he paid $350, used, a decade ago. Such full-sized facsimiles are rarely met with and are generally rather pricey (in the hundreds or even many hundreds of dollars)
Now, another edition, widely available and quite inexpensive, has appeared, this made by Zondervan and sold at Wal-Mart (and perhaps other retail outlets). The ISBN is: 978-0-310-44029-1. It is a facsimile--an exact reproduction in the original black letter script--of the 1611 edition, but in a reduced size, and with one feature of the original omitted--the thirteen books of the Apocrypha (as noted on p. viii of the Introduction to this new edition). That the 1611 KJV originally did have the Apocrypha can be visually confirmed in this edition on the page containing Malachi 4, where the “catch-word” at the bottom of the page is “APO-“ which points to “APOCRYPHA” which is at the top of the page in the original (and in my 1911 reprint), after which originally followed the complete text of those non-canonical books).
The printed retail price of this Zondervan 2011 facsimile reprint is $7.99, though I have bought several copies at Wal-Mart in Kansas for $4.97 and I have heard it priced about a dollar higher elsewhere (and I suspect they hope to make a profit on the publication of the KJV at that price). I would strongly urge EVERY PREACHER, EVERY CHRISTIAN READER and EVERY CHURCH AND CHRISTIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY to get a copy AT ONCE. If you have any KJVO friends, buy and give them a copy. There is no quicker cure for KJVOism that the direct and extended study of the 1611 edition, introductory material and all.
One finds in the actual, original, genuine 1611 KJV (no doubt “preserved in the form God wants us to have”) an introductory essay that states the translators’ perspective on their own and other translations (they, at least, were decidedly NOT “KJVOnly”). If I could do just ONE thing, I would make every KJVO partisan read carefully those 11 highly informative pages. The original translator’s English Bible text has literally thousands of variant marginal renderings (showing that they did not believe their translation as found in the text was infallibly correct), plus variant manuscript readings, showing that they did not believe that the manuscript reading given in their text was necessarily always right. One will also find numerous places where words are “omitted,” “added” or altered as compared with all modern editions of the KJV, to say nothing of a considerable number of printer’s errors (are these also part of the “perfect preservation” we hear so much about?). And one can discover on the title page of the NT those revealing words: “cum privilegio” (Latin: “with privilege”) which demonstrate the undeniable fact that this translation was COPYRIGHTED FROM THE DAY IT WAS FIRST PUBLISHED (contrary to the gross misrepresentation on this point that is part of the accepted KJVO “wisdom”).
I am quite sure that the quickest “cure” for the absurdity of KJVOism is the close and careful study of the actual original KJV itself. I would challenge--even dare--every KJVO partisan to get this facsimile of the original KJV and study it “cover to cover” and margin to margin, spending a year and more in the process, and try to prove me wrong.
“His People Will Be Willing in the Day of His Power”:
A Seriously Abused “Proof-text” for “Irresistible Grace”
Adam Clarke on Psalm 110:3
[Editor’s Note: “Irresistible grace” is one of the five petals of “TULIP,” the acronym for the Calvinistic tenets regarding the doctrine of salvation. In the literature espousing this point of view, the chief proof-text (and practically the only one) for irresistible grace is Psalm 110:3, which in the KJV reads:
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. “
I am fully persuaded that “irresistible grace” is NOT a Biblical doctrine, that is, one which the Bible directly teaches, but a philosophical construct, a “logical” inference derived from certain a priori presuppositions, most particularly a skewed view of the metaphor “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) which is pressed to the nth degree to mean that the natural, unsaved man is as dead and incapable of any kind of response to God as a physical corpse is incapable of any response to physical stimuli (on the correct understanding of this metaphor, see Bob Ross, “ ‘Dead in Trespasses and Sins’: A Biblical Metaphor Correctly Explained,” As I See It, 7:4). Of course, if the natural man is as incapable of responding to God as they assert, how can Calvinists claim, even glory in, long weeks or even months of spiritual conviction before being regenerated? Apparently their “dead as a corpse” unregenerated spirits were not beyond spiritual stimuli after all.
And building on the misused metaphor of Ephesians 2:1, some fall into the errors of “regeneration before faith” and/or “regeneration apart from means,” both of which claims are direct and bold contradictions of the plain and obvious teaching of numerous Biblical texts, including John 1:12, 13; and Romans 10:17.
While we understand that the context of Psalm 110:3 is the Second Coming of Christ, accompanied by the armies of heaven, as described in the NT in Revelation 19:11-21, and therefore differ from Adam Clarke in this matter, we nevertheless are strongly in agreement with Clarke as quoted below on what Psalm 110:3 does not teach, namely, it contextually absolutely does NOT teach “irresistible grace” in even the remotest way. Those who appeal, indeed, are driven of necessity to “find” proof of this doctrine in this text reveal that, whatever this doctrine is based on, it is most assuredly not the plain teaching of this or any other Biblical text.]
This verse has been woefully perverted. It has been supposed to point out the irresistible operation of the grace of God on the souls of the elect, thereby making them willing to receive Christ as their Saviour. Now, whether this doctrine be true or false, it is not in this text, nor can it receive the smallest countenance from it.
There has been much spoken against the doctrine of what is called free will by persons who seem not to have understood the term. Will is a free principle. Free will is as absurd as bound will; it is not will if it be not free; and if it be bound it is no will. Volition is essential to the being of the soul, and to all rational and intellectual beings. This is the most essential discrimination between matter and spirit. MATTER can have no choice; SPIRIT has. Ratiocination is essential to intellect; and from these volition is inseparable. God uniformly treats man as a free agent; and on this principle the whole of Divine revelation is constructed, as is also the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. If man be forced to believe, he believes not at all; it is the forcing power that believes, not the machine forced. If he be forced to obey, it is the forcing power that obeys; and he, as a machine, shows only the effect of this irresistible force. If man be incapable of willing good and nilling evil, he is incapable of being saved as a rational being; and if he acts only under an overwhelming compulsion, he is as incapable of being damned. In short, this doctrine reduces him either to a punctum stans [Lat. a standing point], which by the vis inertiae [Lat. power of inertia] is incapable of being moved but as acted upon by foreign influence; or, as an intellectual being to nonentity. “But if the text supports the doctrine laid upon it, vain are all these reasonings.” Granted. Let us examine the text.
The Hebrew words are the following: ammecha nedaboth beyom cheylecha, which literally translated are, Thy princely people, or free people, in the day of they power; and are thus paraphrased by the Chaldee: “Thy people, O house of Israel, who willingly labour in the law, thou shalt be helped by them in the day that thou goest to battle.”
The Syriac has: “This praiseworthy people in the day of thy power.”
The Vulgate : “With thee is the principle or origin (principium) in the day of thy power.” And this is referred, by its interpreters, to the Godhead of Christ; and they illustrate it by John 1:1: In principio erat Verbum, “In the beginning was the Word.”
The Septuagint is the same; and they use the word as St. John has it in the Greek text: Meta sou he arche en hemerai tes dunameos sou. “With thee is the Arche, or principle, in the day of thy power.”
[Then after citing further versions and interpretations along the same lines, Clarke summarizes:] None of the ancient Versions, nor of our modern translations, give any sense to the words that countenances the doctrine above referred to; it merely expresses the character of the people who shall constitute the kingdom of Christ. Nadab signifies to be free, liberal, willing, noble; and especially liberality in bringing offerings to the Lord, Exodus 25:2; 35:21, 29. And nadib signifies a nobleman, a prince, Job 21:8; and also liberality. Nedabah signifies a free-will offer--an offering made by superabundant gratitude; one not commanded: see Exodus 36:3; Leviticus 7:16; and elsewhere. Now the am nedaboth is the people of liberality--the princely, noble, and generous people; Christ’s real subjects; his own children, who form his Church, and are the salt of the world; the bountiful people, who live only to get good from God that they may do good to man.”
Clarke’s Commentary, vol. III, pp. 581-2
((New York: Abingdon Press, n.d.)
All italics and CAPITALS in original
[And to spare the reader leaping to the erroneous conclusion that Clarke denies the essential enlightening work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of sinners, we append a relevant quotation from him in this regard, which we have previously published in AISI--
“Is it not evident from our Lord’s observation [viz., “flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 16:17], that it requires an express revelation of God in a man’s soul, to give him a saving acquaintance with Jesus Christ; and that not even the miracles of our Lord, wrought before the eyes, will effect this? The darkness must be removed from the heart by the Holy Spirit, before a man can become wise unto salvation.”
---Adam Clarke’s Commentary, vol. V, p. 171.]
Mencken on the Willingly Dependent Classes:
Truer Still Today
“[H. L.] Mencken [1880-1956] could only look back upon what he saw as a more praiseworthy American past--a time of competence, self-reliance, and more personal freedom--and compare it to the present monolithic age that he depicted through such a caustic image as myriads of nameless faces snouting and grunting and gorging at the public trough. . . . Mencken never doubted that, once the mentality of the dole was established, continued expectations of public assistance would erode the American work ethic. Believing strongly in self-reliance, Mencken concluded that the New Deal robbed people of their self-respect.”
H. L. Mencken by Vincent Fitzpatrick
(Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2004),
pp., 16, 109-110
[Note: if Mencken had only revulsion toward what he saw in the early stages of the American welfare state--his active writing career ended in 1948--what would he say of the pervasive American entitlement mentality that sees 47% of the populace dependent on the government for their income, and 40 million people on food stamps? The ship of state must soon founder under such an unstable cargo of idle non-producers--editor]
Some Minor Characters in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1976 reprint of Baptist Sunday School Board, 1928 edition. 182 pp., paperback.
Archibald Thomas Robertson (1863-1934), for 46 years professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, was noted for the breadth and depth of his scholarship--he wrote a six-volume commentary on the whole New Testament, Word Pictures in the New Testament (which some unthinking soul recently decided to abridge in one volume!!!); as well as a 300+ page intermediate grammar of New Testament Greek, but especially his massive A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, which ran to almost 1,500 pages in its fourth and final edition. But Robertson the profound scholar also knew how to communicate clearly and effectively for the man in the pew, with a warmth of spirit and practical application that made him a favorite with listeners at Bible conferences and readers of Christian books. Robertson's character studies of Biblical individuals present him at his finest. He wrote book-length treatments of John the Baptist, Peter, John the apostle, Paul, Luke, and John Mark, and wrote shorter sketches of many other individuals, which were collected in two volumes: Types of Preachers in the New Testament, and the current volume. While the title, Some Minor Characters in the New Testament is anything but "catchy" or attention-getting, the wise reader will find here first-rate Biblical treatments of New Testament figures Nicodemus, Andrew, Herod the Great, Caiaphas, Pilate, the rich young ruler, Mary Magdalene, Epaphras, the Samaritan woman, Simon the sorcerer, Herod Antipas and Herodias, the blind man of John 9, Gamaliel, Felix, Simon the Pharisee, Mary and Martha, Ananias and Sapphira, and Lazarus of Bethany. All the Biblical information on these individuals is covered as well as, where available, information about them from Roman, Jewish and Christian sources. Robertson regularly provides his own translation of New Testament passages by which he seeks to bring out clearly the force and emphasis of the original Greek. All these studies originally appeared separately in various Christian periodicals, all now defunct, and most of which I have never heard of. I am glad that these scattered fragments were gathered up that nothing be lost.
Every reader, whether just a novice in Biblical studies, or a well-read scholar, will learn much here, about these people, about human nature, about the Biblical passages that introduce them to us, and about God's dealing with men. I have said it more than once before, but will say it again: if I could have the NT writings of only one author, I would choose those of A. T. Robertson without the slightest hesitation.
While I do not think the current volume is in print (except perhaps "print on demand"), the original hardback printing in 1928 and this 1976 reprint can be readily located through internet book services such as ABEbooks, Alibris and Amazon.
(For a general overview of A. T. Robertson's life and writings, see "A. T. Robertson: Pre-Eminent Baptist Scholar," As I See It 2:7. This article and a collection of all reviews of Robertson's works which have appeared in As I See It will be sent on request)
Some quotes from Some Minor Characters in the New Testament--
"There is no one so hard to teach as the man whose mind is already filled with error." (p. 5)
Quoting Caesar Augustus regarding King Herod (a convert to Judaism), who, jealous of his own power, had had three of his sons murdered: "I would rather be Herod's hog (Greek, hus) than his son (Greek, huios)." (p. 27)
RE: Pilate's judicial handling of Jesus: "It is impossible to imagine a more contemptible decision by a judge. In all history it has probably never been surpassed for sheer stupidity. He gave Jesus up to the wolves in order to save his own life. He accused them while excusing himself and asserting the innocence of Jesus. But he accused himself also, for he was the judge, not the Sanhedrin, not the mob. His surrender is a travesty upon justice and acme of judicial cowardice. . . . The difference between a man of character and a weakling is precisely this: Let justice be done though the heavens fall. Pilate preferred justice to be done, provided it did not hurt him." (pp. 59, 61)
"There are people today who say that Christianity must be toned down to meet the views of the modern 'youth movement,' that university men and women today will not have the Jesus of theology and will put up only with the Jesus of history, a mere man at that, who will condone the life of 'modern' men and who will not make demands of young people of culture and enlightenment to which they will not accede. Jesus today meets a threat from certain self-appointed leaders who defiantly proclaim that they will not follow Jesus 'unless.' But today, as when the Rich Young Ruler rejected Jesus, it is impossible to conceive of Jesus granting 'ifs' in order to win the nominal service of young people of wealth and culture. Jesus Christ asks for all or for nothing. He asks for the whole life." (pp. 70-71)
"One does not become a scholar by reason of his gift at criticizing or picking flaws. One is not necessarily right because he is able to make sharp and specious criticism." (p. 146)
"It is one of the monumental follies of scholarship [to suppose] that a specialist is necessarily correct. We need specialists in every line of learning and business. But no class of men shows more narrowness than some specialists who are unable to see anything beyond the one item under observation. Diagnosis is the firs step in therapeutics. Doctors do not always agree in that and they disagree often in the treatment of the disease. But dogmatism about disease is no worse than dogmatism in theology when one is in possession of only one fact. The only safety lies in criticizing the critic of Christ." (p. 150-1)
H. L. Mencken by Vincent Fitzpatrick. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2004. 183pp., hardback.
An up-dated version of a book published originally in 1989, this brief biography of Mencken is necessarily inferior in most regards to the much longer and fuller treatments by Fred Hobson (see ”The Man Who Hated Everything,” AISI 3:10) and Terry Teachout (AISI 8:1). However, it does give a fuller critique of Mencken the critic of contemporary literature, and has helpful selective but extended bibliographies of works by and about Mencken. On the whole, I found it worth the quick reading that I gave it. The author is curator of the H. L. Mencken collection at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.
Introduction to the New Testament by Everett F. Harrison. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971. 508 pp., hardback.
A “NT Introduction” (of which there are hundreds) commonly will discuss the date, authorship, canonicity, text, theme, literary genre and related subjects concerning each of the books of the NT, and this Harrison does. This present work was the textbook at Grace Seminary in my student days (1974-1976), and up reading it through recently for a course I was teaching in Ukraine, I would say that though now a bit out of date, it is still useful and informative. It has basic bibliography for each chapter, and adequate indices. It is not as up-to-date as the NT introduction of say Carson, Moo and Morris (Zondervan, 1992)--and thankfully not as literature-mad as Carson! Everett discusses the language, text and canon of the NT while Carson et al. do not. And Harrison’s introduction is nowhere near as extensive as the introduction of Guthrie (IVP, 1965), to note just a couple of similar works. Frankly, I think all of these are a bit too pre-occupied with presenting and responding to the crack-pot, hare-brained, anti-supernatural theories of radical Bible critics, which have repeatedly been discredited and refuted. Nearly the whole of form criticism, tradition-history, source criticism, and similar enterprises is an all but barren wasteland that has in reality made next to no substantive contribution to the true understanding of the NT. So why give them such attention?
Everett F. Harrison was a missionary to China, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, and in 1947 one of the four founding professors at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he continued to teach (even after the other founders left in the early 1960s due to theological “drift” at Fuller) until his retirement in the later 1970s; I have searched in vain for any information about his death but assume that he must indeed be gone, or else is well over a hundred. Besides this present volume, Harrison wrote the very valuable A Short Life of Christ, plus a commentary on Acts, another on Romans, and numerous articles for Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries. I have found his writings to be on the whole conservative, well-researched, well-reasoned, readable and of considerable merit.
David Baron and the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel edited by E. Bendor Samuel. London: Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel, 1943. 161 pp., hardback.
David Baron (1855-1926) was born in Russia to orthodox Jewish parents, was trained in Hebrew and rabbinic literature, and at age 23, in England, through reading the New Testament (a book he acknowledges most Jews in his day had never seen, much less read) trusted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel. A lifelong commitment to Jewish evangelism followed, involving extensive international travels, regular teaching, much personal work, and abundant writing, all to bring the lost sheep of the house of Israel home to their Messiah. Baron was a firm inerrantist, committed to pre-millennialism (and post-tribulationism), and Baptistic in ecclesiology (though apparently not a member of any church, he was immersed, and regularly directed converts to trustworthy Baptist pastors and churches).
In 1893, Baron along with C. A. Shoenberger founded the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel, a “faith mission,” in London. This present volume appeared in the year marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of this mission. It includes a biographical sketch of Baron’s life and information about some of his co-workers, some account of his writings, tributes to his ministry, and the history of the mission after his death, along with a selection of his writings. Some of the narratives of ministries to European Jews, including at least a couple of converted rabbis, are simply remarkable, the Jews evincing an openness to the Gospel such as I have not heard about in the present era. Some 250,000 or so Messianic Jewish converts are claimed for the 19th century (by all Jewish missions put together, not just HCTI).
I cannot discover if this mission still exists, perhaps under another name. In its day, it did much “that Israel might be saved.”