"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 15, Number 9, September 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.]
(with apologies to William of Occam)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
“Hoping to Goodness” is Not Theologically Sound
Recently, we purchased several dozen books from a used bookstore, and were given a “freebie” book as part of the transaction. That book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, published in 2003, was by Mitch Albom, whose earlier volume Tuesdays with Morrie, we read and reviewed in As I See It 4:3. Since that earlier work was well-written, and not without some merits, and this present volume was less than 200 pages, we decided to give it a read.
Unlike the former book, which was a factual account of the physical wasting away and death of one of Albom’s college professors, this current one, though also focusing on the issue of death, but especially the afterlife, was an entirely fictitious account. The story focuses on the death of an ordinary man, one Eddie, whose life outwardly amounted to little more than being a maintenance man at a small amusement park, a life unfulfilling and frustratingly wasted doing the menial. As the story goes, after death, this man goes through a series of encounters with five different people whose lives had deeply impacted his or whose lives had been deeply impacted by him. These encounters allow him to sort through his own frustrations especially with life-altering circumstances he didn’t cause and couldn’t control, and the unanswered “whys” of his life, so that he can be at peace with himself--this process and outcome being the very purpose of the afterlife. “And they lived happily ever after.”
All nice and neat except. . . .
The book is written from a faulty perspective. In the dedication, the author mentions an uncle,
“. . . who gave me my first concept of heaven. Every year, around the Thanksgiving table, he spoke of a night in the hospital when he awoke to see the souls of his departed loved ones sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for him. I never forgot that story.”
A rather subjective premise. But it gets worse.
“Everyone has an idea of heaven, as do most religions, and they should all be respected.”
One subjective opinion is just as good as another, so we are to believe. And every religion’s view of eternity is just as good as any other. Really? In Hinduism, you merely get recycled back into earthly life over and over again, until you reach a state of eternal unconsciousness. In Islam, assuming you murder yourself and others in the name of Allah--and pretend that you are thereby a “martyr”--you get to spend eternity gratifying your physical passions with abandon. In Catholicism, there is a corrective and purgative period of unspecified length of punishment before the state of bliss is attained. In Mormonism, you can become a god, with your own universe to tinker and toy with. According to the claims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Adventism, most people face annihilation and complete cessation of existence, something atheists claim--and hope--is true of everyone. Other religions have various and sundry views. With so many diverse and inherently contradictory views, they cannot all be right, and indeed, at most, only one can be true and all others false.
Eternity, the life after this life, is a concern, even a pre-occupation of mankind. God has “placed eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and it is an enigma man wishes to resolve. But how shall we discover what is to come? Shakespeare placed in the mouth of Hamlet this anxiety and doubt about the hereafter in his famous soliloquy:
“The dread of something after death--the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns--puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.”
Act II, scene i, ll. 86ff.
None have come back from the “great beyond” to authoritatively tell us what lies ahead (supposed after-death or near-death experiences not withstanding). Is there joy? or judgment? or simply nothing? Some people respond to a fear of judgment to come by denying any conscious existence after this life. Others imagine a temporary period of judgment, suffering and retribution before the joys of heaven are experienced. Others posit a blessed eternity for everybody (universalism) regardless of lifestyle, sins, or evil conduct.
With so many diverse, divergent and inherently contradictory views of the afterlife, as we noted, at most only one of them can be correct, and all others must be wrong, merely false hopes. And it is insanely irrational subjectivity to suppose that one can imagine whatever kind of eternity he wants and it will magically turn out to be true.
But how shall we choose which? How shall we know which is the truth, and which are false? Can we indeed know? If God has in fact created us, and has placed a yearning for eternity in our hearts, it would be reasonable to suppose that God would reveal to us in some way and to some degree what eternity will be like, and how we might attain to an eternal existence of the best sort.
Paul the apostle, in quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, notes man’s inherent inability to discern, unaided by God, what lies beyond this life--“
“What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into man’s heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
I Corinthians 2:9 HCSB (quoting Isaiah 64:4)
But, Paul notably continues (v. 10)--
“But, God has revealed them to us by the Spirit.” (emphasis added).
The foundational premise, the most basic teaching of the Bible, is that God has indeed revealed Himself, His actions, His requirements and His plans to mankind (Deuteronomy 5:24), and that that revelation is accurately written down and recorded in the Bible (II Peter 1:20, 21; II Timothy 3:16-17), including information about eternity, and the destinies of men. And in truth, if God has not revealed Himself to us, then we do indeed walk in darkness in this life and pass unprepared to a greater, deeper darkness beyond.
The Biblical account of eternity, of heaven, unlike Albom’s (and those of Mormonism, Islam and others) is centered on God, not man (among many texts, see Revelation 21, 22). God the creator, the sustainer, the redeemer is the focus, not the fulfillment of human pride or the gratification of human lust. The Bible clearly presents but two eternal destinies for people--one of pure justice and retribution for evils done in this life, when people will be given by a just and holy God exactly what they deserve (see, inter alia, Revelation 20:11-15). As sinful humans, we are more than inclined to minimize our transgressions and our guilt; a God of perfect knowledge and justice, in stark contrast, sees us exactly as we are. And such evil and such sins cannot be minimized or ignored by God--His character will not allow it. Nor, even, can they be forgiven without satisfying God’s justice, and corresponding repentance on the sinner’s part.
In the hours before Jesus’ departure from this life through His sacrificial death on the cross, the puzzled disciples through their spokesman Peter asked, “Lord where are you going?” (John 13:36). Though Jesus explained to them that He was going away to prepare an eternal place for them, and would return to bring them to Himself, they in their continued bewilderment stated--this time it was Thomas who spoke up--“Lord, we don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (14:5). With crystal clarity, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (14:6). There is a conscious eternity, and the hope--a guaranteed promise, really--of being in the presence of God. It is secured for us by the death of Jesus on the cross, a sacrificial death when He, Who in fact committed no sin and bore no personal guilt, offered Himself as the sinner’s substitute, to satisfy God’s justice, and to make possible the sinner’s forgiveness.
“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, He who was righteous, for those who were unrighteous, that He might bring you to God.”
I Peter 3:18
Though Christ in His death has earned a place in heaven for every sinner, the enjoyment of this blessed privilege is not automatic, but becomes the individual’s eternal inheritance through personal acceptance of responsibility for sin, and turning away from that sin and casting oneself on Jesus as his only hope.
“We have put our hope in the living God who is the Savior [potentially] of everyone, especially [i.e., actually] of those who believe.”
I Timothy 4:10
Salvation from sin, and eternal joy, are free for the taking, but you must personally abandon yourself to God and embrace this salvation in order to have it.
So then, we need not face eternity with nothing more to hang onto than our own imaginings, or those of others. It is possible to know what to expect, and how to prepare for the eternity that we will all someday, individually enter.
Albom confesses, “The version [of heaven] represented here is only a guess, a wish, in some ways. . .”
Eternity is too long to enter it with no more than a guess and wishful thinking, especially if it is possible to know with certainty what lies beyond this life, and how to assure that it is a blessed “forever.”
Single or Triple Immersion?
As with every issue you email, thank you again and again.
In "The Greek Grammar of the Great Commission" [AISI 15:8), I was hoping and expecting that you would also cover the three time immersing - once for each Name of the Trinity - as done by some ministers. This is done by my pastor, however I don't agree with this procedure, mainly because the word "Name" is singular, plus there is but one God.
I always enjoy your comments because they usually give more than the reader expected in reinforcing the truths involved.
Actually, I had considered addressing the subject of trine immersion, but since that is actually more a question of interpretation than it is a matter of grammar, I left it out. I will take this opportunity to address that issue now.
I was first introduced to the concept of trine immersion as a student at Grace Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, back around 1975. Grace was a Grace Brethren denominational school, and since they subsidized every student’s education, they had the right--which they took--to require all the students to take a course in Brethren history and doctrine. It was there that I learned that the Grace Brethren began as a split off of a Baptist group in 1709 (if my memory of the date is as clear as I think it is). They were akin to Anabaptists and Mennonites in their embracing pacifism. As for church ordinances, to the Lord’s Supper and baptism, they added foot-washing as a third ordinance. Their peculiarity (in comparison to Baptists) regarding baptism was that they immerse three times, and face forward. Their justification for the face forward part was that in Romans 6:5, we read that in baptism we are “buried with Him in the likeness of His death,” which they said was a reference to John 19:30, where it says that after He dismissed His spirit, “Jesus bowed His head”--face forward. Make sense? No, not to me either; in fact, I thought it very bad hermeneutics.
Of course, the triple action in immersing was once in the name of the Father, once in the name of the Son, and once in the name of the Spirit, based on a dubious interpretation of the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. And naturally, several church fathers and some early Christian documents which expressly taught and defended trine immersion were quoted to justify this practice. For example, the Didache (also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) mentions trine baptism. This document may in part date to the second century A.D., but in its present form is a century or two, maybe more, later. In its 7th paragraph, in its current form, it reads (following J. B. Lightfoot’s translation, somewhat modified)--
“Having first recited all these things, immerse in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water. But if you do not have living water, then immerse in other water; and if you are not able [to do so] in cold, then [do so] in warm. But if you do not have either, then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But before the immersion, let him who immerses and him who is immersed fast, and any others also who are able; and you shall order him who is immersed to fast a day or two beforehand.”
Though the date of this document is disputed, it may be among the earliest extra-Biblical Christian writings which mentions three-fold action in the baptism process, although a careful examination indicates that not triple immersion but pouring is enjoined. It should be noted that there are multiple items commanded as part of proper baptism which have no support in Scripture--1. the requirement of “living,” i.e. moving water, in a river or stream, I suppose, rather than in a pool, cistern or tank; 2. the prescribing of cold water; 3. the pouring of water as a substitute for immersion; 4. the requirement of pre-immersion fasting by both immerser and immersee. There is not a single syllable in the NT that mentions any of these mere human traditions, and surely it must have taken a considerable time--many decades, possibly a couple of centuries for these accretions to attach themselves to the NT ordinance. I would also affirm that the triple action in baptism is a fifth human tradition added to the original apostolic practice. And interestingly enough, the Didache itself in paragraph 9, mentions “those who were immersed in the name of the Lord,” in that place saying nothing about the Father or the Spirit. There are of course additional ancient sources that could be and were quoted to defend the practice of trine immersion.
I advocate single immersion as the only proper baptism after the NT pattern. Paul explains the imagery of immersion in water in Romans 6:3-5:
“Don’t you know that all who were immersed because of Jesus Christ were immersed because of His death? Therefore, we are buried together with Him by immersion because of [His] death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too should walk in a new life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”
Some try to find Holy Spirit baptism here, but the Holy Spirit is nowhere mentioned in the context. If the symbolism of water baptism is not explained here, it is entirely without explicit explanation in the NT. The symbolism of the Lord ’s Supper is explained at least four times--in each of the Synoptic Gospels as well as I Corinthians 11. It would be passing strange if the ordinance of baptism, which is mentioned with much greater frequently in Acts and the Epistles than the Lord’s Supper, should be without any NT exposition.
From Romans 6, it is clear that the symbolism of Christian immersion is to graphically, visibly represent the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the basis for the sinner’s hope. And if it is true that baptism is a representation of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, then only single immersion would accurately express the intended symbolism, since Christ died one time only. The Father did not die for me, Jesus did, and only once. The Holy Spirit did not die for me, Jesus did. Only Jesus, neither the Father nor the Spirit, was buried. Only Jesus, not the Father or the Spirit, rose up the third day. Only single immersion of the sinner who is trusting in Jesus’ one-time-only death, burial and resurrection adequately and accurately preserves the intended symbolism of baptism.
Of course, those who practice trine immersion--the Grace Brethren, I specifically mean--do not teach that the Father and the Spirit died, too, were buried, and rose. Nor do they teach that Jesus had to die three times. But their practice of triple immersion obscures or muddles the intended symbolism of the NT ordinance.
A side note: the Orthodox Church, found
Question Regarding Greek New Testament
I am looking for 1. The history of the text of Westcott and Hort from the day they finished and published their work. List of revisions by name and year, such as Nestle "year" + number of words added back towards the majority text and percentage. My point is: I understand one later revision added about 600 words back in the left out that were in the majority text. Meaning their bible [sic] is not as accurate as they think. Maybe you know of a resource that gives this history.
“Mr. S------ :
The Westcott & Hort Greek New Testament text was first issued in 1881, and often reprinted (I have 1881, 1885 and 1956 editions in three different formats; the last of these editions lists numerous other reprints) but the text was apparently never revised or issued in a second edition. In contrast, the 19th century text of Tischendorf, e.g., was revised and reissued in numerous editions.
The Greek text edited originally by Eberhard Nestle (later editions were edited by Erwin Nestle, and then Kurt Aland) and first published in 1898 was not an edition of the W & H text, though the W & H text did have an influence on the Nestle text. The text as originally published by Nestle, pere, was the consensus reading of W & H's text, Tischendorf's 8th edition (1869; 1872), and that of R. F. Weymouth 1886; starting with Nestle's 3rd edition, the text of Bernard Weiss (1894-1900) was substituted for Weymouth.
The Nestle text has been issued in 27 different editions over the decades (I have some 5 or 6 different editions in my library), and there have been numerous changes in the text, but especially in the format and the text critical evidence presented in the notes. By the 26th edition, the text was "standardized" to agree with the text found in the 3th edition of the United Bible Societies' (UBS) Greek New Testament, creating what some dubiously dubbed "a new textus receptus." I am unaware of any published list of the various changes in the Nestle text edition by edition, though perhaps one exists--it would be a HUGE and laborious task to compile, and likely of limited value.
I have read some published claims affirming that readings in modern critical texts such as the more recent editions of Nestle and the UBS depart from readings embraced by W & H and instead re-adopt some textus receptus readings. These studies included some examples illustrative of this claim, though if memory serves, they were relative few and of minor importance. However, the suggested figure of the re-insertion of 600 words in some particular edition seems exaggerated. Perhaps I can speculate how this over-large figure was arrived at by those who apparently claim it.
In the 1st and 2nd UBS editions (1966, 1968), the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 7:53-8:11) was removed from its customary place in printed texts between John 7:52 and 8:12, and placed as an appendix of sorts after the end of chapter 21, as W & H had done with it; some, at least, of the Nestle editions placed it in the usual place, but in a much smaller type size and double-bracketed (their method of showing that a reading was deemed not an original part of the text) and treated it as a footnote, though by the 26th edition, the words were restored to normal sized type, though still double-bracketed. Similarly in the 3rd and 4th UBS editions (1975, 1993), 7:53-8:11 was re-inserted into the text following 7:52, in the same type font and size as the rest of the text, but in double brackets. I suppose someone (such as D. A. Waite or David Cloud) might venture to claim that here the editors were altering about 170 words in their text, away from W & H and toward the textus receptus, though that would be a rather dubious assertion, since W & H did include this section, though not in this place, and further, while the Nestle 26th edition restored the text to normal size, and the UBS 3 & 4 editors did re-insert these words from an appendix to their customary position after 7:52, by double-bracketing the passage, they were declaring their decided conclusion that they were not original, which could not legitimately be appealed to as a restoration of words omitted by W & H.
If the original claim was, rather, that one of the majority / Byzantine text editions (Hodges-Farstad or Robinson-Pierpont) adds back some 600 words found in the textus receptus but omitted or marked as non-original by W & H, well that may be entirely possible, since John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20 by themselves would equal considerably more than half of that number of words (approximately 340, by my hasty count) all by themselves. I would need to read the original document were this "600 words" claim was made to know precisely what was alleged.
[I received a note from Dr. Maurice Robinson of Southeastern Baptist Seminary and co-editor of an edition of the Byzantine text in response to a “cc” of this correspondence. He affirms that in fact the figure of 600 words reinserted in more recent critical text editions may be an accurate approximation, and would not involve questions regarding John 7:53-8:11 or Mark 16:9-20 as I speculated above--Editor].
Dragons or Dinosaurs? Creation or Evolution? by Darek Isaacs.
“The Flintstones” and numerous Hollywood “B” movies notwithstanding, the view universally embraced by secular uniformitarian geologists and paleontologists is that living dinosaurs and modern man never were contemporaries, indeed, dinosaurs are affirmed to have died out 65+ million years ago, man himself appearing only within the last half million years or so. Such a gap is required by the assumptions of old-earth uniformitarianism, and any evidence to the contrary is summarily ignored, dismissed or explained away.
The author of this present work argues and sets for his case that there is abundant evidence that humans and dinosaurs have been earthly contemporaries in the recent past, and that it is only presuppositional dogmatism that prevents this evidence from being honesty faced.
First among the evidences presented is the universality and general uniformity of literature and folklore world-wide regarding dragons--reptiles of immense size and terrifying demeanor, commonly described as remarkably like sauropods (four-legged, small-headed, long-neck dinosaurs), often with bat-like wings (like pterodactyls) and in many cases reportedly exhaling smoke and flame (with possible analogies to bombardier beetles). That anyone could imagine creatures that correspond so closely to dinosaurs (which were not excavated or known in the modern era until the mid-19th century and later) requires an explanation. The simplest of these is that the legends and folk-tales were based on real encounters between people and such dragons.
Second, the presence of pre-19th century artifacts--native American art-work showing unmistakably sauropod and pterodactyl dinosaurs, English late Medieval bronze castings of a sauropod, a pre-historic European cave painting of a battle between a veloci-raptor-like creature and an elephant, and a medieval stone carving from Cambodia of a stegosaurus--demand that they were based on eye-witness encounters with these creatures.
Third are the numerous written accounts from classical and other ancient literature, presented as somber narrative and not fantasy, which describe large reptilian creatures that correspond to the graphic representations of dragons / dinosaurs. Are these to be cavalierly dismissed without consideration as just fiction? If not true, on what are they based? And how could such descriptions fit so well what is now believed true regarding dinosaurs?
Then there is the preserved soft tissue discovered in fossil dinosaur bones within the past decade--including blood vessels, tendons and even red blood cells!--which seems (for clear and obvious reasons) an impossible survival from a creature dead 65 millions years or more. More such soft tissue remains have been located in other dinosaur fossils since the initial discovery, and these latter have been carbon-tested at 30,000 years old or less (there are several reasons to date them less). By secular dating, modern man definitely existed 30,000 years ago; if dinosaurs did, too, then there is need to re-write wholesale the reconstructed history of geology for the past 65 million years (just for starters). Rather than try to explain these discoveries, the secularists have attempted to simply explain them away.
Next comes the Biblical descriptions of
large creatures, commonly translated as “dragon” in Bible translations. Behemoth
and leviathan are accepted by the
author as undisputedly dinosaurs, and a literal acceptance of the Biblical
description of each certainly fits that claim.
Then there are the two words tannin
and tan, once thought to be
related words, but now widely understood to be etymologically distinct. The latter of these, formerly commonly
translated in English versions as “dragon” is now usually rendered
“jackal.” Isaacs favors the former
practice--dating to the era when dragons were still accepted as actual
creatures--over the latter, a “caving in” to the modern world-view that
“dragons” are wholly mythical. In
reality, it may be nothing of the sort, but may reflect a fuller understanding
of Semitic languages and the ancient names of animals in the
The author would have done well to first
accept the KJV translators’ admonition not be dogmatic on the identification of
animals, since their identity is often dubious.
Second, here is how a full and adequate study of tannin and tan should be
done--1. Compile all the passages in Hebrew, noting any descriptions of the
creatures involved, their habitat, lifestyle, etc. 2. Check for any cognate--related--words /
names for animals in other ancient Semitic language texts and see what light
they may cast on the meaning of the Hebrew; animal names are commonly trans-linguistic. 3. Examine the ancient versions--Greek,
Latin, Syriac and Aramaic--to see how they, all made from the Hebrew text,
rendered the word in the OT passages (one usually finds the authority followed
by pre-19thc century English Bibles among these), then trace the extra-Biblical
history of the words used in the various ancient languages (Greek, Latin,
Syriac, Aramaic) to translate the Hebrew words, in order to grasp the range of their meanings. 4. Trace how the words are translated in the
pre-KJV English versions (about which the author displays a complete absence of
awareness)--Wycliffe, Coverdale, Matthew’s, Great,
A huge amount of work, you say? Yes, but to answer as authoritatively as possible what these words mean, and whether the changing translation in English versions is justified or blameworthy, this would be necessary. (My provisional understanding--not having done the exhaustive study above--is that tannin likely is a word meaning dinosaur at least some of the time, while tan does mean jackal in at least some OT contexts).
The book closes with an appeal to the reader to embrace the logical implications of “dinosaurs and man as contemporaries,” to wit--the earth is young, Darwinism is impossible, man and all other creatures are God’s direct creation, and man as a rational, volitional creature is accountable to his Creator for his actions. God’s remedy for man’s fallen, corrupt and rebellious state is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ who came, suffered and died, and rose, to atone for our sins and make possible our salvation.
The author, Darek Isaacs, is identified on the back cover as an author, film producer and speaker. In the text, he describes himself as reformed in theology, and a firm believer in Biblical inspiration and inerrancy, as well as a young earth and a literal universal flood. The book lists no academic qualifications, and it is clearly evident, as noted, that in his discussion of Biblical Hebrew words sometimes translated as “dragon” his knowledge in this particular area is inadequate, at least for one writing on the subject. His knowledge of the history of the translation of the Bible into English is similarly deficient. His compilation of information on dragon legends, man-made dinosaur-esque artifacts from around the world, and dinosaur soft tissue finds, on the other hand, was valuable.