"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 15, Number 3, March 2012
“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.”
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.]
The Causes of Ancient Rome’s Collapse
“A great civilization is not conquered from
without until it has destroyed itself within.
The essential causes of
Moral decay contributed to the dissolution. The virile character that had been formed by arduous simplicities and a supporting faith relaxed in the sunshine of wealth and the freedom of unbelief; men had now, in the middle and upper classes, the means to yield to temptation, and only expediency to restrain them. Urban congestion multiplied contacts and frustrated surveillance; immigration brought together a hundred cultures whose differences rubbed themselves out into indifference. Moral and esthetic standards were lowered by the magnetism of the mass; and sex ran riot in freedom while political liberty decayed. . . .
The economic causes of Rome’s decline [were] . . . the precarious dependence upon provincial grains, and the collapse of the slave supply and the latifundia [i.e., the large estates]; the deterioration of transport and the perils of trade; the loss of provincial markets to provincial competition; the inability of Italian industry to export the equivalent of Italian imports, and the consequent drain of precious metals to the East; the destructive war between rich and poor; the rising cost of armies, doles, public works, an expanding bureaucracy, and a parasitic [royal] court; the depreciation of the currency; the discouragement of ability, and the absorption of investment capital by confiscatory taxation; the emigration of capital and labor, the strait jacket of serfdom placed upon agriculture, and of caste forced upon industry: all these conspired to sap the material base of Italian life, until at last the power of Rome was a political ghost surviving its economic death.
The political causes of decay were rooted in one fact--that increasing despotism destroyed the citizen’s civic sense and dried up statesmanship at its source.”
Caesar and Christ. pp. 665, 666, 667, 668
description is so remarkably like
[A thank you to Captain Matthew J. Kutilek, USMC for recently reminding me of this passage]
Doctrinal Error in Thayer’s Lexicon
In your most recent edition of AISI, you recommend Thayer's "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament." I have used this lexicon extensively since the day my former pastor helped me pick out my copy at a local used book store. At that time, my pastor told me to watch out for Thayer's doctrine with regard to the trinity or deity of Christ, or perhaps his potential unitarianism. My pastor said he hadn't found it, but he had been made aware of the warning and was just passing it on to me. I haven't found it either. For a while, I have been using the Thayer's edition that is online at Blue Letter Bible. I found the same warning there. They post this disclaimer online:
Caution: According to Baker's modern copyright edition, Thayer was apparently not doctrinally sound in all areas, particularly in the area of the trinity, and so the user must be on guard. We would be appreciative of any actual examples of doctrinal error, so they can be marked with "caution" tags.
Brother K., you seem to be a person who is
typically aware of this kind of information, so I thought I would ask you if
you can shed any light on this. Do you
know of any specific unsoundness in Thayer's lexicon? Do you know of
any particular entries where the user might be cautioned? Do you have any
biographical information on Thayer (or perhaps on Grimm) that would uphold
or refute this warning?
Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), was a professor first at Andover Seminary, then at Harvard Divinity school, and was indeed a professed Unitarian, and at the end of his life a denier of Biblical inerrancy (there are brief biographical accounts of his life in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, and at Wikipedia).
I have indeed found a few places in the lexicon where the theological perspective is tainted; however, since Thayer's lexicon is a translation, revision and enlargement of C. L. Wilibald Grimm's edition of C. G. Wilke's Clavis Novi Testamenti [literally, Key to the New Testament], one would have to compare Grimm's original to see what is from Thayer himself, and what is just translation of the work as he found it. But at any rate, there is theological error here, especially regarding the Trinity--
p. 287, column b-- "Whether Christ is called God must be determined from John 1:1; 20:28; I John 5:20; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8ff; etc.; the matter is still in dispute among theologians."
(Being unbracketed, this statement is evidently Grimm's own, not Thayer's). To the claim that “the matter is still in dispute among theologians,” I reply--NOT among those who are willing to believe the obvious!
p. 521--On the word pneuma, as it is used of the Holy Spirit, we read, "The Scriptures also ascribe a pneuma to GOD, i.e., God's power and agency,--distinguishable in thought (or modalistice as they say in technical speech) from God's essence in itself considered,--manifest in the course of affairs, and by its [note that "it" which recurs regularly under this heading] influence upon souls productive in the theocratic body (the church) of all the higher gifts and blessings . . . . Among the beneficent and very varied operations and effects ascribed to this Spirit in the NT the following are prominent: by it [n.b.] the man Jesus was begotten. . . .hence to its [n.b.] promptings and aid . . . .it [n.b.] was imparted to the Apostles . . . ." and so on, referring to the Holy Spirit as "it" at least 8 times (which is even more times than the KJV!). And yet, further down in this same column, we find, "He [n.b.] is present to teach, guide, prompt, restrain, . . . . He is the author of the charisma . . . . his efficiency in the prophets . . .his inspiration . . . . his utterances . . . ." Inconsistent to say the least.
p. 522b--"In some passages the Holy Spirit is rhetorically represented as a Person . . . : Matthew 28:19; John 14:16ff, 26; 15:26; 16: 13-15 (in which passages from John the personification was suggested by the fact that the Holy Spirit was about to assume with the apostles the place of a person, namely of Christ), . . . "
Further down the column, this denial of the actual Personhood of the Holy Spirit is repeated, when in regard to the "seven spirits" of Revelation 4:5; 5:6, it is said that these "are not seven angels, but one and the same divine Spirit manifesting itself in seven energies or operations (which are rhetorically personified, . . . "). To speak of "personification" is to deny the actual Personhood of the Spirit.
p. 555, on prototokos, [literally, firstborn]--"Tropologically [i.e., figuratively] Christ is called prototokos pases ktiseos [literally, firstborn of all creation] . . . who came into being through God prior to the entire universe of created things. . . ." This plainly is a denial that Christ is either eternal or God, and lowers Him to the place of a mere creature, not the Creator. The note does continue: "this passage does not with certainty prove that Paul reckoned the logos in the number of created beings. . . ."
(p. 521 also speaks of "regeneration wrought through baptism"--a serious doctrinal error)
So, then, yes, there are some clearly heretical teachings in Thayer--denial of the Trinity by denying the Deity of the Son and denying the Personhood of the Holy Spirit, as well as the error of baptismal regeneration. Since my knowledge of Thayer is by no means exhaustive, I suspect a careful reading of the whole would likely reveal other serious errors. But these, at least, remind us that we must always have our eyes wide open when we consult Bible-related reference books, since all authors are both fallible, and come to their task with a set of theological presuppositions, some of them plainly aberrant.
May I suggest that you read the preface to your copy of Thayer, to gain some background perspective on the work.
Writings of Glenn Conjurske Now On-Line
Glenn Conjurske (1947-2001) was an autodidact--a self-taught scholar. With no “formal” in-the-classroom training beyond Bible college, he nevertheless became a very learned man. He and his large family (wife and seven children, all but one being girls, if I remember correctly) lived in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where he pastored a small congregation, worked part-time as a sign painter, and accumulated a remarkable library of more than 7,000 volumes--nearly all wheat, and almost no chaff. He was particularly expert in 19th century Christian biography, history and literature. His library was no “show piece” but a workshop, and he diligently labored over his books to extract their riches for his sermons, and for his monthly print magazine Old Paths and Ancient Landmarks which he edited for 11 years (1991-2001). I was a paid subscriber almost from the beginning, and secured every back-issue I had missed. I read every issue cover to cover and have retained them all as prized possessions and valuable resources to this day.
The general content of Old Paths and Ancient Landmarks was much like what you find in AISI (not by design or imitation, by the way;--it has just worked out that way). Glenn regularly introduced me to authors--worthwhile authors decidedly worth knowing--I had never even heard of, or the lives of Christian men and women who rank high among God’s worthies, though they be little known in the world and are sadly neglected by today’s Christians. He had a better working knowledge of Christian literature than anyone I had or have ever personally met (I spent the better part of one weekend in Rhinelander as the Conjurskes’ guest about 15 years ago).
While he had his eccentricities, and we differed in perspective on a few things, he was always very well read on whatever he addressed, wrote very well, and always was both highly informative and thought-provoking. A worthwhile contribution to Christian literature was silenced when Glenn died of apparent congestive heart failure more than 10 years ago, with much of merit that he still had to say left forever unsaid.
Recently I learned that the entire print run of Old Paths and Ancient Landmarks has been posted to the internet at www.straitegate.com . (As much as Glenn disliked modern technology, I wonder what he would think of this development!)
I'm glad to see that his stuff is more widely available. I recommend the reader take a look at this important material.
Ameritopia: The Unmaking of
Throughout history, there have been an often-self-appointed “ruling class” who deem themselves “intellectual elites” who alone are smart enough and wise enough to tell all the rest of us how to live, and not only to tell us but to compel us to live according to their “best intentions.” In short, they insist that “paradise on earth” is within our grasp if only, they demand, we will allow them to rule us with unlimited power. And if we will not submit voluntarily, they will impose their will on us by whatever force is necessary to make it so. They will enslave us, or even kill us if necessary, but will insist that it is “for our own good.” Such people are “utopians” who are never short on high-minded schemes that are always wholly unworkable, and which inevitably result in absolute tyranny and enslavement of the greater portion of the populace. And, worst of all, no matter how badly the utopian scheme fails, the “true believer” utopianists never admit that the problem is inherent in their “idealistic” program, but only in its inadequate or improper implementation.
“Utopia” was a word coined by Thomas More as the name of the imaginary ideal land in his book by the same name published in 1516; it was compounded from the Greek words, ou meaning “no,” and topos, “place,” hence “no place”; there is, literally, “no place like Utopia,” and will never be. One dictionary definition of the word is “an impractical and usually impossibly ideal scheme especially for social improvement.” Modern utopian delusions include “the war to end all war” “ban all nukes,” “the war on poverty and hunger,” “going green,” “social justice” (equality of economic outcomes and redistribution of wealth) and more.
There have been numerous utopian schemes
since antiquity, including Plato’s The
Republic, Thomas More’s Utopia,
Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, and Karl
Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Levin examines each of these, along with the
motives and intentions of their creators, and the inevitable tyrannical
consequences that result. He also
examines the alternatives, those views of John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu,
and Alexis de Tocqueville, which involved limited
and constrained governmental authority, with a large measure of personal
freedom and self-rule, and which views greatly influenced and shaped the
constitutional government of the
This volume is not light reading, due to its necessary discussion of political and economic theory and history, but it is important reading. We must be informed and have eyes wide open as the ever-growing cycle of government usurpations and power-grabs threaten to reduce us under an absolute despotism.
Mark Levin, a lawyer by training who served for a time in the Reagan administration, is a well-known radio talk show host and author. We previously reviewed, and very favorably, his book Men in Black (As I See It, 8:8) on the tyranny in defiance of the Constitution exercised by the American judiciary in recent decades.
Some quotes from Ameritopia--
“Indeed, the modern arguments about the necessities and virtues of government control over the individual are but malign echoes of utopian prescriptions through the ages, which attempted to define subjugation as the most transcendent state of man. Utopians have long promoted the idea of a paradisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo ‘ideal’ societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide for all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual--in exchange for his abject servitude.” (p. xi)
“Tyranny, broadly defined, is the use of power to dehumanize the individual and delegitimize his nature. Political utopianism is tyranny disguised as a desirable, workable, and even paradisiacal governing ideology. There are, of course, unlimited utopian constructs, for the mind is capable of infinite fantasies. But there are common themes. The fantasies take the form of grand social plans or experiments, the impracticability and impossibility of which, in small ways and large, lead to the individual’s subjugation.” (p. 3)
“Utopianism substitutes glorious predictions and unachievable promises for knowledge, science, and reason, while laying claim to them all. Yet there is nothing new in deception disguised as hope and nothing original in abstraction framed as progress.” (p. 5)
“Especially threatening [to utopian schemes], therefore, are the industrious, independent, and successful, for they demonstrate what is actually possible under current societal conditions--achievement, happiness, and fulfillment--thereby contradicting and endangering the utopian campaign against what was or is.” (p.5)
“Utopianism also finds a receptive audience among society’s disenchanted, disaffected, dissatisfied, and maladjusted who are unwilling or unable to assume responsibility for their own real or perceived conditions but instead blame their surroundings, “the system,” and others.” (p. 7)
“Utopianism’s authority also knows no definable limits. How could it? If they exist, what are they? Radical egalitarianism or the perfectibility of mankind is an ongoing process of individual and societal transformation that must cast off the limits of history, tradition, and experience for that which is said to be necessary, novel, progressive, and inevitable. Ironically, inconvenient facts and evidence must be rejected or manipulated, as must the very nature of man, for utopianism is a fantasy the evolves into a dogmatic cause, which, in turn, manifests a holy truth for a false religion. There is little or no tolerance for the individual’s deviation from orthodoxy lest it threaten the survival of the enterprise. In truth, therefore, utopianism is regressive, irrational, and pre-Enlightenment.” (p. 10)
“Utopianism’s equality is intolerant of diversity, uniqueness, debate, etc., for utopianism’s purpose requires a singular focus. There can be no competing voices or cause slowing or obstructing society’s long and righteous march. Utopianism relies on deceit, propaganda, dependence, intimidation, and force. In its more aggressive state, as the malignancy of the enterprise becomes more painful and its impossibility more obvious, it incites violence inasmuch as avenues for free expression and civil dissent are cut off. Violence becomes the individual’s primary recourse and the state’s primary response. Ultimately, the only way out is the state’s termination.” (p. 11)
“In utopia, rule by masterminds is both necessary and necessarily primitive, for it excludes so much that is known to man and about man. The mastermind is driven by his own boundless conceit and delusional aspirations, which he self-identifies as a noble calling. He alone is uniquely qualified to carry out this mission. He is, in his own mind, a savior of mankind, if only man will bend to his will.” (p. 11)
“In all four utopias, the individual and his family are subservient to the state. Society, however, would be a far better place if only man would change his nature to accommodate the utopian ideal. Since, left to his own devices, man will not oblige, he must be made to do so. Yet out of this same riffraff, the masterminds are born--both the revolutionaries and the rulers. They rise above ‘the masses’ for, unlike the rest, they are self-evidently altruistic, prudent, virtuous, and wise. Whether or not they know how to run their own lives, they know how to run the lives of others. Of course, the entire enterprise is immoral if not deranged.” (p. 81)
“Locke also reproves the apathetic, lethargic, and envious against interfering with and making demands on the conscientious and hardworking, for they have not contributed to their own well-being or that of society.” (p. 94)
“The Founders would be appalled at the nature of the federal government’s transmutation and the squandering of the American legacy. The federal government has become the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor. Its size and reach are vast. Its interventions are illimitable.” (p. 213).
This present book is one of the volumes in
the Time-Life “Great Ages of Man” series and is commonly met with used. It focuses on about 5 centuries of Roman
history--from the mid-1st century B. C. to the late-5th century A.D. It covers the history, leaders, wars, law,
culture, writers, religion, decline and Christianization of the Empire. It is well-illustrated with modern
photographs and ancient paintings and sculptures, as well as a number of maps
and graphs. While books on
The author was professor of Greek and
chairman of the department of Greek and Latin at
A few quotes--
“Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain perpetually a child.”
Cicero (106-43 B.C.); quoted, p. 7
“Although learning was respected, it bore little relationship to success in one’s career.” (p. 83)
“Paradoxically, higher taxes led to a decline in revenues.” (p. 142; a lesson lost on the present Congress and administration of the U. S.)
“All men within the Empire labored and produced primarily for the benefit of the state.” (p. 145)
“In the days of Augustus, about a million
people lived in
I Never Thought I’d See the
Day: Culture at the Crossroads by David
David Jeremiah is the well-known pastor of
Now in his early 70s, and with about four decades of pastoral experience, Pastor Jeremiah herein addresses nine things that he apparently never expected to see in his life time:
--when atheists would be so publically angry at God
--when Christians would be indifferent to the cultural and spiritual war
--when Jesus would be widely and publically profaned and mocked
--when marriage would be widely viewed as obsolete and outmoded
--when standards of morality would be largely cast aside
--when the Bible would be marginalized in society
--when organized Christianity would be deemed irrelevant
a Moslem nation (
While the treatment of each of these subjects was adequate, the ones that I thought most informative were those on atheists, and the public mocking of Jesus. That prominent atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, and more) are vehemently and publically raging against God is remarkable, and smacks more of the fury of a man who deep down fears that he is wrong, than one who wished to instruct the “ignorant.” Were I an atheist, I would just leave the subject of God alone--maybe occasionally looking down with condescending pity on the stupidity of the “unenlightened,” but I would go on my way with scarcely a further thought--much like my real perspective on UFOs: some people are “true believers”--they spend time, money, energy, enthusiasm and more and center their lives around all things UFO. But I, who am fully persuaded that there are no space aliens of any sort visiting earth, almost never even think about the subject. If those folks want to waste their lives, time, money, attention and all chasing this folly, well, that’s their business. It doesn’t affect me in the least.
But the atheists--they just can’t leave God alone. There is something more to the whole matter: that human spiritual restlessness about which Augustine so eloquently wrote, which God alone can remedy. There are several books mentioned by Jeremiah on this topic that I intend to follow up on. I know a raging atheist or two myself, and I’d like to help lead them out of their oppressive personal darkness.
As for the public mockery of Jesus, I was appalled at some of the examples of blatant blasphemy that some were so bold as to engage in. It is one thing to mock Christians (and I dare say, some merit mockery and disdain), but Jesus? That shows a gross disrespect and complete lack of sense. No, we are not going to respond like Moslems who demand the death of those who would dare disrespect their prophet, but we should recognize that all restraint in verbally attacking Christians, Christianity and Christ is dissolving; the next step here could well be legalized persecution and physical violence.
There are maybe a dozen statements in the book with which I do find fault (due to imprecision, ambiguity, lack of qualification, or misinterpretation), but as these are relatively minor matters, I will not address them specifically
I got my copy at Sam’s Club for $15.58.
A quote from I Never Thought I’d See the Day by David Jeremiah --
“There is no other single force causing so much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage.” (p. 107, quoting Time magazine author Caitlin Flanagan).
General introduction to the
Old Testament: the Text by William Henry
William Henry Green (1825-1896) was likely the outstanding conservative American Old Testament scholar of the 19th century. Long professor of OT at Princeton Seminary (45 years), he was a staunch opponent of radical higher criticism, especially the documentary hypothesis regarding the Pentateuch, and wrote several valuable works defending the integrity of the OT, such as The Unity of Genesis and The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch which still have merit. He served as chairman of the OT committee for the American Standard Version Bible translation.
This present work, of course much dated by the passage of more than a century and multiple discoveries and advances in the study of the text of OT, nevertheless retains merit.
Green gives a survey of the Semitic family of languages in general and of the Hebrew language in particular (especially regarding so-called Aramaisms and the date of various parts of the OT), according to the then-current state of knowledge. He traces the study of the Hebrew language among the Jews and among the Christians, addresses the Hebrew alphabets (archaic and square), the question of the antiquity of the Masoretic vowel points (he comes down firmly on the side of the facts, i.e., that the vowels were a Mediaeval invention and addition to the originally all-consonantal text; one of the absurdities of the present day is that the view that the vowel points were an original part of the Hebrew OT text finds modern-day defenders, chiefly among KJVO partisans).
The manuscripts and printed editions of the Hebrew OT are addressed next (sans Dead Sea Scrolls, of course), followed by analysis of the Hebrew-based versions from antiquity--the Septuagint and others in Greek, Aramaic Targums, the Peshitta Syriac, and the Latin Vulgate, all of which have a place in confirming the integrity of the current Hebrew text, as well as in the history of Bible interpretation (Green omits any discussion of the Hebrew-based Arabic version of Saadia Gaon). He also discusses the Samaritan Pentateuch, technically an edition, being in Hebrew, rather than a translation.
Green addresses the subject of the transmission of the OT text in the original Hebrew and the matter of textual criticism (that is, the use of presently available evidence to weed out any scribal errors or alteration in the text and restore it to its original condition). There is an interesting section on the great polyglot Bibles printed in the 16th and 17th centuries.
While the book is dated, its simplicity of style (not getting lost in a thicket of details), and general accuracy of statement make this work still of use in acquainting the reader with a general outline of the subject at hand, though with the prior understanding that he will have to supplement what is said here with other more up-to-date treatments.
Green wrote a companion volume on the canon of the OT, which we own but have not yet read.
“[The Peshitta Syriac OT) version originally contained all the canonical books of the Old Testament with the exception of Chronicles, but none of the Apocrypha; these were, however, at an early period rendered into Syria.” (p. 113)
Green on the relative merits of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate OT translation:
“Notwithstanding some marks of undue haste, however, the limitations to which he subjected himself in order to conciliate opposers and the absence of those philological aids which are within the reach of modern interpreters, his version must be accorded the precedence above all others of ancient date.” (p. 117; emphasis added)
“Some zealous advocates have even maintained that the originals should be corrected by the Vulgate, and not vice versa.” (p. 125; obviously Peter Ruckman co-opted for his favored English version, the KJV, a page out of the centuries-old play book of some Roman Catholics--ed.)
“In the inscription of king Mesha . . . and that of Siloam . . . , and in some Phoenician inscriptions as well as in the Samaritan Pentateuch, each word is separated from that next to it by a dot. This makes it not improbable that in the early Hebrew writing the words were not run together, but distinguished either by a dot or by spacing.” (p. 144; exactly right--as originally written, the words of the Hebrew OT, unlike the words of the Greek NT, were not all run together. And though this fact was recognized a century ago, just today I was reading a recent book on hermeneutics claiming, in ignorance, the opposite.--ed.)
Re: the OT text--“It may be safely said that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.” (p. 181)