"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 15, Number 10, October 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
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There was a recent “sensation” (as in sensationalism) in the world of religion, a mere “flash in the pan,” when it was announced by a Harvard professor that an allegedly ancient scrap of papyrus (tentatively dated to the 3rd to 5th centuries A. D.), written in Coptic, the ancient language of Egypt, had been discovered and deciphered, which contained words ascribed to Jesus in only partially preserved sentences which mentioned his wife, who was further identified as one of his disciples. Jesus with a wife? and a wife who was further described as a disciple (= apostle)? Now here was something decidedly not found in the NT, indeed directly contrary to it. The impression intended to be left by those who announced this “find” was that here, in this document, was a picture of “real Christianity,” with truths about Jesus that were suppressed and concealed by his later “orthodox” followers, to avoid scandal.
A swirl of controversy arose immediately regarding the papyrus. First, it was “unprovenanced,” that is, its time and place of discovery--its historical context--as well as the name of the discoverer were unstated and presumably unknown. This is always a red flag, especially with sensational discoveries. It doesn’t necessarily mean the find is bogus, but it screams “proceed with caution.” Second, the scrap of papyrus, smaller than a standard business card, had remarkably neat edges. Fragmentary papyrus documents from antiquity all but invariably have jagged edges, at least on two or three and usually on all four edges. Red flag number two. And then when the Coptic writing was examined by scholars expert in ancient Coptic, they declared that the shape of the letters was decidedly non-standard Coptic, and the language, vocabulary and sentence structure were definitely not those of someone who used Coptic on a regular basis. Red flag--I might say, strike--three. A later critique noted that a line of the text had been copied from the text of the pseudepigraphal Coptic “Gospel of Thomas” as posted on a website, complete with a modern copying error! As quickly as the sensational find was announced, it was dismissed and discredited as a forgery, and not a very good one at that.
Central to this whole sensation--and clearly the intent of the modern forger, whoever he or she may be--was the implication that the early disciples must have known that Jesus was married, and that he, as a good modern feminist (!) had at least one female apostle, and that the chauvinistic men who dominated early Christianity suppressed these truths, concealing the real Jesus. (All this interest in finding the “real Jesus” arises, by the way, not because the Jesus of the NT is not the real One, but because, having rejected Jesus as He is, these defiant sinners wish for a different Jesus, more amenable to their ideas and less threatening to their lifestyles).
Allowing for the sake of argument their basic premises--that Jesus, a first- century Jewish rabbi-philosopher (an entirely human one they would insist), had a wife--I want to explore the gratuitous assumption that Christians would have had motive to suppress this “truth.”
Though Jesus was not formally trained in the schools of Jerusalem as a teacher or scholar (in contrast to Saul of Tarsus, Acts 22:3), nevertheless, because of the distinctive nature of His teaching and the authority with which He taught, in the Gospels He is reported to have been commonly called by the honorific title “rabbi“ (in the sense of “teacher”)--by His disciples (Mark 9:5; 11:21; John 1:38, 49), by Judas (Matthew 26:25, 49), by the crowds at Capernaum (John 6:25) and even by Nicodemus, the learned Sanhedrin member and Pharisee.
Among the Jews of that era (and later as well) there was no “scandal” in a religious teacher being married, indeed marriage (and procreation) was generally considered a sacred duty, with religious teachers expected to set a worthy example in this matter. The wives of several of the most famous Jewish teachers of the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. are mentioned in rabbinic literature. One exception to the expectation of marriage was if someone wished to devote his entire attention to the study of the Torah without the distractions of married life. So, had Jesus the first century Bible teacher been married, like many other Jewish religious teachers of that day, He would have been entirely within the “norm” of social custom and practice; there would be no motive for the Christians in the first two centuries to repress or conceal or otherwise obscure that fact.
Furthermore, Jesus expressly endorsed marriage as an honorable, divinely ordained and ordered institution (Matthew 19:1-10). Not only so, but He graced the marriage at Cana of Galilee with His attendance and that of His early followers (John 2:1-11), even choosing that event as the time and place for the performance of His first miracle (turning water into wine). By no means was he “anti-marriage.”
But the coup de grace in this discussion comes from the apostle Paul. He wrote I Corinthians about 25 years after the death of Jesus, while there were still thousands of living witnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus (compare I Corinthians 15:6), who would have known from direct personal knowledge whether Jesus was married or not. In chapter 9, Paul is building a case defending the right of Bible teachers to receive financial compensation sufficient to support them without their having to secure secular employment as well, and support not only sufficient for themselves, but also to support any immediate family they may have, including a wife:
“My defense to those who examine me is this: Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? Don’t we have the right to be accompanied by a Christian wife, like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas [Peter]?” (9:3-5, HCSB)
To prove his own right to financial support from the churches, not only for himself but also for a wife if he had one, Paul appeals to the example of the other apostles--possibly including all or a majority of the twelve, but more likely he has specifically in mind those he mentions next: the Lord’s brothers--that would include at least James and Jude (in Galatians 1:19, Paul clearly refers to James as an “apostle” in some sense of the word)--, and naturally Cephas / Peter (whose mother-in-law, and by deduction, wife, are known to us from the Synoptic Gospels: Mark 1:29-31 and parallels). Of course, to really clinch his case, the most obvious example to refer to would be Jesus Himself, if in fact He was married, as the forged Coptic document under consideration suggests. But Paul is strangely, remarkably silent about such--impossible to explain if the assumption were true. No, in an ideal situation where appeal to Jesus’ marital status would yield an unanswerable argument, Paul is completely, absolutely silent. The only viable explanation of his silence is that Jesus was in fact not ever married--as the NT unmistakably attests.
So, in light of the earliest and also later Christians having no conceivable motive to suppress the fact of a married Jesus (if it were true), and Paul’s inexplicable omission of this perfect argument to prove his point regarding financial support, we can only conclude that there is but one explanation: Jesus was not ever married, a matter that is surely beyond dispute to those who are capable of grasping the obvious.
Another Cult-Produced Bible “Translation”
In the world of Bible translation, it is nothing new for a cult, faction or sect to produce a Bible version that is deliberately bent to conform to their views, rather than their altering their theological views to conform to what the Bible actually says. Probably the most notorious such version of this sort is the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which, though originally produced in English, has itself been translated into numerous foreign languages (I have copies of this translation in Romanian and Spanish, and have seen or heard of it in several other tongues as well). Of course, besides being a rather stiff, wooden, unidiomatic translation, it systematically perverts the meaning of the Greek text so as to conform to the Watchtower’s Arian heresy of denying the Deity of Christ and the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Somewhat less egregious examples of deliberate translation alteration to conform to a sect’s theology include the most recent Romanian Orthodox version which repeatedly mistranslates the Greek word for “elder” by the word meaning “priest,” and makes four deliberate departures from the plain meaning of the Greek of Matthew 1:25 to protect their doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, among other corruptions (some would insist--rightly, I am persuaded--that English Bibles that read “baptize” rather than “immerse” are also engaging in sectarian translation, since “baptize” in English allows for both sprinkling and pouring as well as immersion; the Greek word has only the latter meaning).
was a freshman in college and a new Christian more than forty years ago, one of
the more aggressive cults I encountered on campus was “The Way International,”
Old Victor Paul “bought the farm” and passed into eternity some years ago (May 20, 1985, according to Wikipedia), but, sad to say, the cult he began continues, with numerous independent off-shoot “ministries” that are united in their adherence to principles and practices taught by Wierwille in his book Power for Abundant Living. Among these off-shoots is “Spirit and Truth Fellowship International” mis-led by one John W. Shoenheit.
Shoenheit is the translator of what he calls the Revised English Version, which he describes as a mostly literal translation, being chiefly a revision of the old American Standard Version. He claims that he has a better understanding of Biblical truth than many other Bible translators and so is better qualified to translate the Bible than they (apparently humility is not one of his strong suits!), and as a consequence, his version “more closely represents Biblical truth than any other translation currently on the market,” or so he claims.
Whether this version is available in print, I cannot discover, though it is posted in .pdf format, free for the downloading on line at the Spirit and Truth Fellowship web-site. I understand that he does hope to get it stocked in (unwary) Christian bookstores! I chose not to squander any of my time examining it in detail, as it is at present not widely-known or influential, where I hope and pray it remains.
A similar Way International off-shoot, the Cortright Fellowship, has posted links to numerous other “Power for Abundant Living” adherents at http://cortright.org/behome.htm, thereby unwittingly providing a convenient list of like-minded “Way” out cults to be wary of, including Shoenheit’s group.
[A thank you to James Kieferdorf of
A Grammatical Question Regarding Colossians 1:17
Why is kai ta panta en autoi sunesteken [literally, “and the all things in Him cohere”--ed.] in Colossians 1:17 consistently translated with ta panta as the subject when the verb sunesteken is singular? Why isn’t it translated: “and in himself he has brought all things together” (with the implication of the perfect verb that they continue to hold together)? Certain commentaries seem to indicate this meaning, such as in EBC:
Additionally, as the second strophe of this “poem” will pronounce, the One who holds all things together is the very One who placed all things together through his reconciling work on the cross (v. 20).
Nevertheless, most common translations used in my circles (HCSB, ESV, NASB, etc.) do not translate it this way (e.g. HCSB: “and by Him all things hold together.”). The NLT does, however, read “and he holds all creation together.” Could you explain this? Thanks!
The issue centers on ta panta, the neuter plural form of the definite article and the neuter plural form of the adjective pas, “all”. As you recall from first year Greek, the neuter plural forms of the article and this adjective in both the nominative case (subject) and the accusative case (direct object) are identical, so whether ta panta constitutes the subject or the object in this particular place is a matter of interpretation, to be deduced from the over-all context. And, of course, in New Testament Greek neuter plural subjects regularly employ verbs in the singular, rather than the plural as we would logically expect--that's just one of the peculiarities of Greek. So, depending on whether ta panta is subject or object, the verb could be translated "they (i.e., all things) hold together" or "He (i.e., Christ) holds all things together."
However, the two previous occurrences in this context of ta panta, both in v. 16, are both unquestionably nominative case. Their accompanying verbs [both singular, incidentally] are passive (ektisthe--“were created” [first aorist passive]; and ektistai--“have been created” [perfect passive]), and as there cannot be a direct object with a passive verb, in both cases ta panta must be the subject. This very strongly suggests that the occurrence of ta panta in v. 17 is also to be understood as the subject, not the object of the verb sunesteken [“hold together, cohere”]. In fact, had Paul intended a change of ta panta from subject to object, he could and likely would have inserted the nominative masculine pronoun autos (“He”), thereby expressly indicating that the subject of the verb was other than ta panta to prevent any ambiguity, but of course he did not.
(That the New Living Translation [NLT] makes Christ, rather than “all things” the subject of the verb sunesteken in V. 17 is yet one more reason not to use the NLT for close Bible study--and there are many such reasons)
I checked several technical commentaries on this verse (Robertson, Lightfoot, Moule, Peake; by the way, I could not find the passage you quoted from EBC, by which I assume you meant Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank Gaebelein), and none addressed this grammatical question directly. This is why a good working knowledge of Greek is so important (and a “good working knowledge” would include at least three years of formal instruction, with regular consultation of the Greek thereafter in personal study)--you can answer questions for yourself that no commentator happens to discuss.
The Politically Incorrect
Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal by
Robert P. Murphy.
The accepted “narrative” of the Great Depression is that rabid “laissez faire” capitalism of the 1920s led to the collapse of the economy in 1929, which ushered in the Great Depression, that President Hoover more or less sat on his hands and did nothing to allay the situation, revive the economy or relieve the suffering masses, and only when Franklin Roosevelt came to town in 1933 did the federal government step in and massively invest in direct relief and diverse, mostly make-work government projects (the “alphabet soup” of New Deal programs) did the economy right itself, with America back on its feet just in time to lead the fight to victory in World War II.
The whole of this “tale” is as fictitious as anything written by the Grimm brothers, or found in “Mother Goose.” In reality, the initial “trigger” of the great depression was an attempt by the newly-formed Federal Reserve System (created in 1913), essentially a cartel of big banks and bankers and not a part of the Federal government, to reverse an economic slow down in 1927 by artificially suppressing interest rates and keep consumer borrowing high (all such interest suppression, inter alia, punishes those with savings by giving them a lower return on their investment that they would normally earn). This action added to a somewhat over-heated economy, contorting the normal law of “supply and demand” out of kilter, pushing “consumer demand” and industrial production to artificially elevated levels, and insuring that when interest rates were allowed to return to their natural level, that the re-adjustment period would be more severe than normal. By mid-1929, the artificial stimulus of lower rates ran out of steam, and the economy entered one of its periodic declines, which, if left alone, invariably right themselves in 18 to 36 months. But this one was more severe than the norm, as the economy had been artificially pushed beyond normal limits in over-producing, and over-borrowing, so the decline and recovery were deeper and longer than usual.
In response to the situation--created in
part by government attempts at manipulation of the economy--President Hoover
instituted a series of massive government relief and recovery programs, and
raised tax rates in order to pay for them.
One aspect of the “New Deal” about which
the popular myth is understandably silent is that the New Deal with its
alphabet soup of federal programs, hand-outs, regulations, make-work projects
and all, knowingly and by design employed the government programs of Fascist
Italy, Nazi Germany and even Soviet Russia as the pattern and model for
Also in the mix was the passage of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, designed to “protect” American (union) jobs by placing high tariffs on foreign imports. But the real consequence of this tariff, besides higher prices to American consumers, was the passage of similar tariffs by many foreign countries, effectively killing international trade, and insuring that the depression had nearly world-wide reach.
More and more and yet more federal spending did not solve the problem of a comatose economy. Unemployment remained very high, wages remained very low, industrial production was only a fraction of its 1920s level, and the federal debt grew massively. To try and cover the burgeoning deficits, tax rates on the highest earners were raised to astronomical levels--94%--, but failed to bring in the expected additional revenues (there’s a lesson that most politicians have never learned). Counter-productive programs were operating simultaneously. For example, to increase farm commodity prices, grain, pigs, milk and other products were seized, without compensation and destroyed, at the same time that multitudes in large cities were going hungry!! Such is typical of life under a government-mandated economy.
The New Deal did NOT bring the
In the midst of the Depression, the Roosevelt government ordered the confiscation of all gold in private hands, compensating its owners at $20 an ounce; shortly thereafter, the government re-fixed the price of gold at $35 an ounce--in short, defrauding those whose gold they bought at $20 an ounce out of billions of dollars (the difference between $20 and $35).
The lesson of this book: recessions and depressions are NOT resolved by increases in government spending or increases in consumption, but increases in production and productivity. The government doesn’t solve recessions and depressions by intervention; the private sector resolves them, provided the government gets out of the way and lets it.
This is a most instructive little book. The fact that it was published in 2009, at the beginning of the Obama administration, and laid out the consequences of a wrong-headed repeat of Federal interventionism to “help” the economy recover from a major government-caused slow down--all of which came true--makes it almost prophetic.
“As we shall see, economic theory, historical fact, and common sense all lead to the same conclusion: the government caused the Great Depression, the New Deal prolonged the misery, and World War II hurt the private sector even more.” (p. 25)
“In 1942, in fact, the famed economist
Joseph Schumpeter blamed the New Deal as the only possible explanation ‘for the
fact that the [
“The insufficiency of private investment from 1935 through 1940 reflected a pervasive uncertainty among investors about the security of their property rights in their capital and its prospective returns. This uncertainty arose, especially, though not exclusively, from the character of the actions of the federal government and the nature of the Roosevelt Administration during the so-called Second New Deal, from 1935 to 1940.” (p. 113)
“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. . . . I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started . . . And an enormous debt!” (p. 113, quoting Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury; the current administration has repeated FDR’s mistakes in this regard--but to a much greater degree).
“Good intentions and emergency need were the excuse for every act of random decision-making, every repudiation of previous law and precedent, every arrogation of power by the Federal government.” (p. 130; some things never change).
Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot.
Though I have often heard oral accounts of
the five martyred missionaries who lost their lives in 1956 trying to reach the
Auca Indians of eastern
In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, a number
of chiefly American-based mission agencies and missionaries were focused on
reaching with the Gospel message several relatively small stone-age tribes,
some quite violent, in the Amazon jungle region of eastern
Knowing the Aucas by reputation, and being aware of their complete ignorance of the Bible, several missionaries from a variety of mission agencies who were working in the area, began praying and seeking God’s will regarding how they might reach this unreached people group. Eventually, a plan was developed, dubbed “Operation Auca,” to make contact with these people, gain their friendship and in the process of time, learn their language and bring the message of God’s forgiveness to them.
Five missionaries, all in their late 20s and early 30s, along with their families, ultimately made up the team. Nate Saint, a pilot, was the oldest of the men, and the most essential to the plan, since he had first located, from the air, Auca villages in the dense jungle, and later flew the plane by which gifts were exchanged with the Aucas (by a clever rope and basket system), and finally ferried the missionaries and their equipment to the base camp, named “Palm Beach,” on a sand bar on the Curaray River, where the missionaries ultimately lost their lives. The most famous of the five missionaries, likely due to the fact that his wife wrote this first-hand account of the incident, was Jim Elliot. The other three were Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian.
In September 1955, they began weekly flights dropping gifts--machetes, brightly colored ribbons, metal cooking pans, and items of clothing, chiefly--in or near the Auca villages they had seen from the air. With the rope-and-basket system and Saint’s skillful flying, the Aucas learned to take the items out of the basket as it hovered near the ground, and soon began to give gifts in return--food items (including a smoked monkey tail--yummmmm!), birds, and pottery--in exchange. This continued until January 1956, when it was decided that sufficient good will had been built up and it was time to make direct contact. A river sandbar about 4 miles from the main Auca village was selected because it was sufficiently long, clear and flat for the small plane to land and take off. The men and their equipment were ferried in one-by-one. A shelter--30 feet up a tree--was constructed for safety’s sake (out of the effective range of Auca spears), and guns were taken along--kept out of sight and to be fired as a last resort only to frighten the Aucas, not to wound or kill them.
For five days, the men waited, and finally,
on a Friday, an Auca man, woman and teenage girl entered camp, and remained all
day. The man--nicknamed
“George”--indicated by hand signals, that he wanted to ride in the plane, so
Nate Saint took him up, and when they flew over the Auca village, the people
below were astonished to see one of their own smiling and waving from the
airplane window! The man and the girl
Sunday, as Saint was flying into camp (he
ferried the plane out every night, and back in in the morning), he spotted a
group of unarmed Auca men heading toward camp, and related this information to
the other men when he arrived. This is
it! Final radio contact with the men in
camp came at 12:00 noon, but the planned 4:30 call never came. The next day, another pilot flew over the site
and saw no one, and the plane vandalized to the point of being unable to
fly. An air rescue operation involving
News of the five deaths quickly spread worldwide. Time magazine sent a reporter and Life sent a photographer with the rescue teams and published major articles on the murders. The spiritual impact was also widespread, with many, perhaps hundreds, volunteering to be missionaries in these men’s place. Of course, the direct impact on the men’s wives (and children) was hard and immediate. Most remained in the region as missionaries, and all but one eventually remarried.
Having been written within a year of the deaths, this volume naturally enough lacks the long view that only years and decades can give. Other, subsequent accounts and reports (see a couple mentioned below) detail the ultimate outcome of those tragic events. “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.”
Among the particularly valuable contents of this book is the account (pp. 151-155) of the spiritual struggle Roger Youderian was having as a missionary, as he viewed his own life, his labors, the meager results he had to show after years of work. Every missionary I know, myself included--especially--, has gone through the same struggle, and merely knowing that one is not alone or unique in this experience can be a great consolation.
Such an account is helpful on many levels, not the least among them as an effective means of disabusing us of romantic and naïve views of missionary life and work as chiefly exotic and adventurous. It is very often hard, difficult, frustrating, dangerous and sometimes even fatal. And worth the cost, whatever it is.
The book is well-supplied with maps,
photographs and a guide to the pronunciation of difficult proper names of
peoples and places in
“I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish.” Jim Elliot, p. 19
“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Jim Elliot, p. 20
[Roger Youderian] is one of the few missionaries I know who display a real sense of urgency in the task of winning souls.” Nate Saint, p. 80
“Well, if that‘s the way God wants it to be, I’m ready to die for the salvation of the Aucas.” Jim Elliot, p. 172.
Two brief summaries known to me (and I have
no doubt that there are others I am unaware of) of the events of 1955 and 1956
(following closely Elizabeth Elliot’s narrative), with some information on
developments in the decades since are to be found in By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century by
James and Marti Hefley (Mott Media, 1979), pp. 569-578; and From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth A.
Tucker (Zondervan, 1983), pp. 312-318; 2nd edition (2004), pp.
352-360. There is also a short account
of post-1956 work among the Aucas, chiefly involving Rachel Saint, in Two Thousand Tongues to Go by Ethel E.
Wallis and Mary A. Bennett (Harper & Brothers, 1959), pp. 204-216. The Hefleys’ account is much the better of
the first two listed, reporting that the Aucas were reached with the Gospel a
couple of years later through the efforts of Nate Saint’s sister Rachel, who
learned the language. A partial Bible
translation, beginning with Mark, has been made into the Auca language. All six of the Aucas who killed the five
missionaries ultimately responded in repentance and faith to the Gospel
message, and two of Nate Saint’s children were baptized at “