"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 15, Number 11, November 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.”

Job 32:17-21

 

“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.]

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The Essence of Marxism / Obamaism

 

“The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are.  Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community.  Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others.

Never under any circumstances admit that your own failure may be owing to your own weaknesses, or that the failure of anyone else may be due to his own defects--his laziness, incompetence, improvidence, or stupidity.  Never believe in the honesty or disinterestedness of anyone who disagrees with you.

This basic hatred is the heart of Marxism.  This is its animating force. You can throw away the dialectical materialism, the Hegelian framework, the technical jargon, the 'scientific' analysis, and millions of pretentious words, and you still have the core: the implacable hatred and envy that are the raison d'ętre for all the rest.”

Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993)

The Freeman (1966)

vol. 16, no. 2, p. 9

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The Post-Hurricane Sandy Clean-up--

What Should Be Done and By Whom?

 

Some while back, over a period of several years, I happened to read books on some major urban disasters--the great London fire of 1666 (By Permission of Heaven by Adrian Tinniswood, reviewed AISI 10:3), the Charleston, South Carolina earthquake of 1886 (City of Heroes by Richard N. Cote, reviewed AISI 10:11), the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889 (The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough, reviewed AISI 4:10), and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 (A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester, reviewed AISI 9:4).  From information gleaned from this reading, as well as the instruction plain to see in news reports of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina (2005) in New Orleans, as well as the EF-5 tornado that leveled 95% of Greensburg, Kansas in 2007, I have drawn certain inescapable conclusions. 

 

The first and surpassingly the most important of these is that the least-capable and by far most inefficient as well as most expensive entity to entrust with responding to such disasters and repairing their damage is the national government.  The second worst is state government.  The entities best able to effectively address the needs of the populace and undertake the rebuilding and restoration is the local government and the private sector, through various organizations and private charitable contributions.  When an extraneous governmental body thrusts its massive nose into the matter, the recovery is inevitably delayed, inefficient, ineffective, ponderous and bloated with hoards of highly defective ideas masquerading as “good intentions.”  There is nothing politicians like more than appearing generous toward victims of disaster (whether “natural” or human-caused”--even if it is the consequence of people’s own misguided choices), especially when they have all this taxpayer money to spend with abandon.  Since the taxpayer is footing the bill, there is no motivation to spend wisely or efficiently, but rather only profusely, with cameras rolling.  They certainly don’t want to “waste a crisis,” after all.

 

In the pre-welfare state cases of the London fire, the Johnstown flood and the Charleston and San Francisco earthquakes, local authorities and private relief organizations, with massive and generous charitable giving by concerned individuals from nearby and far away, were able to rebuild and restore and recover from the disasters in relatively short order, and to do so efficiently (at Charleston, there were swarms of unaffected parasitic humans who descended on the city like flies onto a rotting carcass, seeking a free handout; they were quickly identified as not local residents, and were driven off in short order).  Those affected by the disasters were expected to participate in their own recovery, and did so (unlike flooded residents of New Orleans, who merely waited to be rescued, and became surly and violent when their demands--demands--for assistance were not immediately met to their satisfaction).

 

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) well-said, “Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help?” (James Bowell, Life of Johnson, Modern Library editions, pp. 154-5).  Rather than truly assist, the federal behemoth always insists on throwing its massive weight around and demands that things be done their way.  This is why the rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas took not six months or a year (surely enough time for local and private charitable efforts to accomplish the task), but a full five years as the feds insisted on making the new Greensburg a model ”green” community with all the “latest” energy efficiencies (and hang the extra expense!  Did you ever notice that saving money with government-imposed energy efficiency in somehow extremely expensive?).  Meanwhile, about half of the 1,500 residents left town permanently.  A more timely rebuilding might have very substantially reduced that exodus.  Furthermore, the largest business in the small town--a farm tractor dealership--, chose to rebuild outside the city limits to avoid the interference and obstacles that government threw in the path of a quick return to business; the tractor dealership simply didn’t have the luxury of an extended delay of many months, even years, before getting back to work, and so they did an end run around government “help.”   

 

And in New Orleans, with FEMA “cumbering them with ‘help,’” many residents were still living in FEMA trailers years after the hurricane and much of the city still awaits rebuilding (of course, the best thing to do with flood-prone land below sea level is to let it revert to forest and swamp, rather than squander billions of dollars in rebuilding in a location guaranteed to be destroyed again sometime in the immediate future.  There is a lesson here--which will surely be ignored--for those who lost beach-front property in New Jersey this time).

 

By contrast, Charleston, South Carolina, refusing both state and federal assistance, but welcoming voluntary contributions of money and labor, had everyone affected housed in temporary shelters and adequately fed in a matter of days (about a week), had essential urban services (gas, water, and trolleys) back in service in about 10 days, and had the town back to “normal” in less than a year--because they kept meddling experts from outside OUT, and were able to identify from personal knowledge who did need help, and who were the post-disaster sponges looking for a free hand out.  FEMA itself is a disaster, and an expensive one. This, like most matters, is best handled by the private sector.  (I did find remarkable that electric utility crews from Alabama who came to help restore power to millions in the dark were actually turned away in New Jersey, because they weren’t union members.  With people still in the dark, such action is absurd, indeed practically criminal.  Next time you folks in New Jersey need such help, don’t expect any assistance from Alabama).

 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, first, the locals need to help themselves and use their own resources (including private insurance) to the fullest including, especially, their time and sweat.  Those unwilling to help themselves should receive nothing.  Beyond local resources, private relief efforts and agencies will meet the need, if the government at national and state levels will merely have the good sense to get out of the way.  Americans and others worldwide are decidedly generous when there is a genuine need and will give abundantly, especially if they know that what they give is not being squandered on the undeserving and the unwilling.  That was true in London, Johnstown, Charleston and San Francisco.

 

The Bible doesn’t say “God helps those who help themselves” (though one of my grandmothers insisted that it was part of Scripture) but let me tell you, that is my philosophy in such cases--I will gladly help someone who has suffered a disaster (and have done so several times in the past), but I will NOT do the work for them if they refuse to help themselves to the full extent of their capacity.  But the whole welfare state infrastructure has created the mentality and expectation in many people that someone else will do everything for you, so you have no need, or responsibility or obligation to do anything for yourself.  You are owed it by the rest of us.

 

Don’t count on it from me.  Show me by your actions what you want done, and then I will help you do it.

---Doug Kutilek

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The Supreme Importance of John’s Gospel

 

“The Genuineness of St. John’s Gospel is the centre of the position of those who uphold the historical truth of the record of our Lord Jesus Christ given us in the New Testament.  Hence the attacks of the opponents of revealed religion are concentrated on it.  So long however as it holds its ground, these assaults must inevitably prove ineffective.  The assailants are of two kinds: (1) those who deny the miraculous element in Christianity--Rationalists; (2) those who deny the distinctive character of Christian doctrine--Unitarians.  The Gospel confronts both.  It relates the most stupendous miracle in the history of our Lord (short of the Incarnation and Resurrection), the raising of Lazarus.  Again, it enunciates in the most express terms the Divinity, the Deity, of our Lord.  And yet at the same time it professes to have been written by the one man, of all others, who had the greatest opportunities of knowing the truth.  The testimony of St. Paul might conceivably be set aside, as of one who was not an eye-witness.  But here we have, not an ektroma [I Corinthians 15:8; Greek for “premature birth,” “miscarriage”--editor], not a personal disciple merely, not one of the twelve only, but the one of the twelve--the Apostle who leaned on the Master’s bosom, who stood by his Master’s cross, who entered his Master’s empty grave.  If therefore the claim of this Gospel to be the work of John the son of Zebedee be true, if in other words the Fourth Gospel be genuine, the most formidable, not to say an insuperable, obstacle stands in the way of both classes of antagonists.  Hence the persistence and the ingenuity of the attacks; and hence also the necessity of a thoroughness in the defense.  No apology therefore is needed, if the subject should seem dry and uninviting.”

J. B. Lightfoot

Biblical Essays, pp. 47-8

(see review elsewhere in this issue)

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Follow up on Through Gates of Splendor--

 

After publishing in the previous issue our review of Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Eliot, we received notes from some of our readers providing additional information on “the rest of the story” about the conversion of the Auca Indians of Ecuador:

 

From John Hutcheson of Frontline Missions--

 

I forgot to mention that there is another incredible follow-up to the 1956 story.  Mincaye, one of the Auca (now called Huaorani) men who speared two of the missionaries, has come to Christ and has traveled in the U.S. with Steve Saint sharing the story.  It's a powerful story that Steve Saint has told before thousands--that of his father's death, and then how he has forgiven his father's murderers, and then Mincaye walks out on the platform, and Steve hugs him in a sign of Gospel forgiveness.  I have a paperback copy of "Through Gates of Splendor" autographed both by Steve Saint, and a red-inked thumb print of Mincaye, since he cannot write.

 

Randy Alcorn of Eternal Perspective Ministries (I heartily recommend his books) interviews Steve Saint here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JPklJzIn7k

 

Also the Wikipedia snippet on Mincaye:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincaye

 

This is an incredible, far-reaching story of how God uses persecution to advance the Gospel and to grow His church!

 

And from Dr. Robert L. Sumner, evangelist and long-time editor of The Biblical Evangelist--

 

I liked Nate Saint's quote of Roger Youderian, who was a member of my church in Long Beach where he sat under my ministry.  He also taught my oldest son, Dick, in Sunday School (Dick is a pastor now and has been for a half-century, of course).

 

And a young missionary friend of mine informed me by e-mail that a retired missionary well-known personally by both of us worked with Nate Saint in the MAF to perfect the “basket drop” technique that led to contact with the Aucas.

 

No doubt there is considerably more to the story that I have yet to hear, but it is marvelous to see God work “in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.”

---Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Biblical Essays by Joseph Barber Lightfoot.  Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.  Reprint of Macmillan edition, 1893.  459 pp., hardback.

 

Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828-1889) was the pre-eminent authority on the writings of Paul in the 19th-century English-speaking world and has few equals and no superior in any age on this subject matter.  He was a staunchly conservative and orthodox member of the Church of England, Hulsean Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University (where his lectures became the basis for his published commentaries on Paul’s letters), later Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity (also at Cambridge), and ultimately Bishop of Durham.  Lightfoot was well-versed in classical literature, both Greek and Latin, as well as Christian patristic literature (he was the recognized world-expert on the Apostolic Fathers). 

 

Though written before the papyri discoveries in Egypt let to the recognition that the language of the NT was everyday koine Greek, Lightfoot’s numerous published commentaries (Galatians, Philippians, Colossians & Philemon, I & II Thessalonians, Romans 1-7, I Corinthians 1-7, and Ephesians 1:1-14) are nevertheless filled with the insights gathered from his classical and patristic learning and remain even now of immense value.  Most contain special essays on important topics as well. 

 

Lightfoot wrote several works urging the revision of the English Bible New Testament (including On a Fresh Revision of the English New Testament, 1871) and served as one of the leading revisers that produced the English Revised Version New Testament (1881).  Lightfoot’s 5-volume set on The Apostolic Fathers would require at least six focused months, and perhaps a year, to fully study through (it reproduces texts in Greek, Latin and Syriac).  He produced an outstanding apologetic for Biblical Christianity in Essays on the Work Entitled Supernatural Religion (1889).  And besides the present work composed of Bible-related essays, a compilation of Historical Essays was published after his death.  In addition, he wrote many articles for various Biblical and classical dictionaries and encyclopedias of his era.

 

This present collection of essays includes three, running to nearly 200 pages, which explore and refute in detail the hyper-critical claims of the Tubingen school that re-dated the Gospel of John to as late as 150 or even 170 A. D.  Lightfoot thoroughly dismantles the critics’ claims (and this even before the discovery of papyrus manuscripts p-52 and p-66, and the archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem which render any date after the first century essentially impossible).  Lightfoot concludes that the early and universal ascription of the Fourth Gospel to John the son of Zebedee is the only one that fits the evidence (this also serves as an indirect refutation of the absurd recycled claim of Ben Witherington III in his book What Have They Done With Jesus? that Lazarus of Bethany actually wrote the Fourth Gospel!).

 

Other essays cover Paul’s educational background, the chronology of his life and the date of his letters, the churches of Macedonia, the church at Thessalonica, Titus’ mission as noted in 2 Corinthians, the destination of the epistle known as Romans (there are several theories, due to some rather knotty textual variants in the last three chapters; Lightfoot engages in a friendly exchange with F. J. A. Hort on the question and bests him handily, I think), the destination of Ephesians (also an issue involving a textual variant in the manuscripts), the date of the pastoral epistles (accepting entirely Pauline authorship and defending the traditional date in the middle of the 60s, A.D.) and finally, a discussion of the life of Paul after the close of Acts 28.

 

While CBD does not list this Hendrickson reprint among its current titles, they do list a paperback on-demand reprint for just under $25; used copies of the hardback reprint are readily available from Alibris and ABEBooks.  I located one for less than $12.

 

Had I to do it over, I would have made fuller acquaintance with Lightfoot’s writings much earlier in my life.  Though technical, they are thorough, authoritative and highly instructive, just the kind of thoroughly-informed conservative Christian scholarship that is in short supply today.

---Doug Kutilek

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The Flood Reconsidered: A Review of the Evidence of Geology, Archaeology, Ancient Literature and the Bible by Frederick A. Filby.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970.  148 pp., paperback.

 

Dr. Filby was [is?] a British evangelical scholar with scientific training and degrees.  He defends consistently the Bible’s complete truthfulness and factual accuracy and rejects as absurd and forced the shop-worn and discredited documentary hypothesis for the composition of the Pentateuch (that hypothesis, though even more discredited now some 40 years after he wrote is nevertheless still embraced anyway by liberals, for lack of any alternative).  In defending the credibility and historicity of the Biblical great flood, he gathers evidence for very substantial and relatively recent (post ice age) earth movements as major land masses have subsided below sea level (sometimes more than once) and high mountains have been pushed up.  These are associated by him with extensive climate change in Southwest Asia, North Africa and throughout most of Europe.

 

Further, he rejects the “local-to-Mesopotamia” flood theory much popularized about a century ago by Sir Leonard Woolley’s discovery of a “flood layer” of thick silt at Ur.  So far so good, but . . .

 

Assuming an old-age for the earth (hundreds of millions of years), Filby contends for a much more extensive flood than merely in Mesopotamia, and advocates a flood covering more or less all of Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Asia (Siberia and such), and beyond to Alaska, but still not universal.  (To Filby, the Genesis flood was the last of a series of post-ice age great floods that swept over various parts of the earth).  This is his “escape hatch” from alleged difficulties regarding Noah’s having to gather all relevant species of animals (the “problem” of securing kangaroos, panda, and giraffes, for example, is “resolved” by this explanation).  So, though not all animals were destroyed in the large yet limited flood (of unexplained origin), nevertheless, somehow all the people were (Noah and family of course excepted). 

 

Filby’s pleading that the language of Genesis 6-8 does not require a universal flood is not persuasive (some twenty times in those chapters universal terms are used: “all the high hills,”  “under the whole heaven,”  “all mankind,” etc.).  If the language of Genesis 6-8 was not intended by Moses to teach a universal, world-encompassing flood, it nevertheless has left exactly that impression on the vast majority of those who have read that narrative.  And if the text as written doesn’t teach a universal flood, pray tell, how else would it be stated so as to make the notion of a genuinely universal flood clearer or plainer? 

 

Along the way, Filby compiles extra-Biblical flood stories, legends and myths from a variety of sources and argues adequately that these are imperfect human “memories” of the flood, of which the Biblical account is the true “original.”  With this we agree.  He also discusses the famous “sons of God” / “daughters of men” / “giants” / nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4, and in harmony with the universal interpretation of the passage in Jewish literature--and the NT--before 125 A. D. , understands that the “sons of God” are angels who co-habited with human women.  With this we also agree (we researched and wrote an extensive study of Jewish interpretation of this passage for a graduate school course back in the 1990s).  The ancient legends of demigods, titans and such are explained as imperfect recollections of these events.  Likely so.

 

Filby has an excellent and telling critique of carbon-14 dating, noting that it is highly suspect as a research tool, especially with dates more than a millennium or two old, since it is based on several unproven assumptions, including an assumed equilibrium of C-14 in the atmosphere, which is demonstrably not the case.  As a result, the “older” the alleged C-14 date of a given artifact, the greater the likelihood, even virtual certitude, that it will give a greatly exaggerated date.

 

He also discusses the question of historical chronology as reconstructed by archaeologists and historians, noting among other things that the accepted ancient Egyptian chronology has been greatly reduced in the past century, from more than 4700 B. C. for the first dynasty, to around 2500 B. C. today.  Much of ancient dating is still doubtful or rests on inadequate information or faulty analysis.

 

Of course, the basic flaw in Filby’s presentation is that he fails to see (and expressly criticized Whitcomb and Morris for affirming) that virtually the whole of the geologic column was created by a single universal, world-wide flood.  Filby posits a sweeping flood of unknown cause--he offers several theories--moving north from the Arabian Sea / Persian Gulf up through Mesopotamia and spreading out in Europe and Asia.  He assumes, without evidence, that the ark was driven northward by the flood waters (the Bible only specifically indicates that the ark went up as the waters rose; nothing is said of movement longitudinally or latitudinally).  Filby also fails to explain how any kind of non-universal flood could persist at it highest point for 150 days as Genesis plainly asserts--water, seeking its own level would immediately flow off to non-flooded areas or drain into the oceans. 

 

Filby seeks to reduce the number of animals on the ark by claiming that those in isolated or remote regions--say Africa, Australia, Southeastern Asia, and the New World--would not have had to be preserved in the ark since, according to his theory, the flood didn’t reach into their native habitats.  But in fact, the ark was more than large enough to hold all the necessary animals and food and people for its year-long cruise during a universal flood (see Noah’s Ark: a Feasibility Study by John Woodmorappe [1995], reviewed in AISI 4:5, for all the details).  If the whole world were one land-mass--the theoretical “Pan-gea”--before the flood, the gathering of animals (or rather, the arrival of the animals, as God brought them to Noah, Genesis 6:20) is readily resolved; post-flood dispersion is no great problem either. 

 

Filby does defend the dimensions of the ark as reported in Genesis, and asserts that its construction as described is entirely within the capacities of early man and his technology

 

He places the flood after the ice age (or, the latest ice age)--somewhere between 4,000 and 3,000 B. C., and identifies it as the cause of the great woolly mammoth extinction in Siberia, rather than seeing the ice age (singular) as a consequence of the flood (on this, see Michael Oard’s excellent An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood, reviewed in AISI 4:7; and his Frozen in Time: the Woolly Mammoth, the Ice Age and the Bible, AISI 8:4).

 

Filby recognizes--as does John Whitcomb, and as did William Henry Green, J. O. Buswell, K. A. Kitchen and others--the real possibility / likelihood  of skips in the Genesis genealogies (chapter 5, 10, 11), a common feature of Biblical genealogies, which if true regarding Genesis 5, 10, 11, makes an absolute chronology of events pre-Abraham (Genesis 12) an impossibility.  He also accepts the long life-spans of pre-flood patriarchs as true, though he admits to being at a loss as to how to explain them.  He also includes information about recent supposed “ark sightings” on Ararat and other mountains.

 

All in all, an interesting book, but flawed by a foundational failure to take at face value the declarations of Genesis 6-8 of a truly universal, world-wide flood.  This error leads to other errors of interpretation and explanation.  The work is extensively footnoted (a great deal of information is to be found in the notes) and the bibliography is extensive.

---Doug Kutilek

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Beyond the Shadows: Making Sense of Personal Tragedy by Carl Wieland.  Atlanta: Creation Book Publishers, 2011).  121 pp., paperback.  $10.00

 

The author, by training a medical doctor and for twelve years a family practitioner in his native Australia, was, at age thirty-six involved in a near-fatal (or, to state it otherwise, a surprisingly non-fatal) head-on car collision with a truck on a remote stretch of highway in the Australian outback.  With a shattered face and numerous broken bones and serious internal injuries, he was able providentially to survive the several hours he was trapped in the wreckage before rescue workers could get him out.

 

Five and half months of hospitalization followed, during which one of his eyes was removed, he suffered a near-fatal infection, and underwent multiple reconstructive surgeries (ultimately, he went under the knife to repair his damaged body a whopping fifty-six times over a seven-year period).

 

The author uses his own experiences to discuss and illustrate the Biblical teaching on sin, suffering, pain, and redemption, including the questions of faith healing and faith healers.

 

Through the circumstances of the accident and its aftermath, God redirected Dr. Wieland’s life from medicine to heading Creation Science Fellowship, later renamed Creation Ministries International, the largest creationist ministry in Australia.  Dr. Wieland had been a committed evolutionist-atheist through college but when presented with the evidences for young-earth creationism (chiefly via The Genesis Flood  by Whitcomb and Morris), was soon converted from Darwinism to creationism and shortly after to Christ.

 

Over the years, I have read many articles by Dr. Wieland on various aspects of creationism and have always found his writings well-researched, well-argued and convincing.  Knowing more now about his background and life-experiences, I’m sure that I will appreciate them even more in the future.

---Doug Kutilek

---

 

Some quotes from Beyond the Shadows--

 

“I can honestly say that throughout the whole ordeal (which included a total of 56 operations over the next seven years) I did not spend a single tortured minute asking, ‘Why?’ or ‘Why me?’ “  p. 28 [this is to me absolutely remarkable--ed.]

 

“I believe that I have no ‘right’ to demand anything from God, apart from what He has clearly and unambiguously promised to me--in His Word.”  p. 64

 

“It is presumptuous, if not dangerous, to speculate about the ways of God, beyond that which He chooses to reveal to us.”  p. 64

 

“Preaching which promises the unbeliever that coming to Christ will buy him or her some sort of insurance from all troubles here on Earth is tragically misleading, even if well-meant.”  p. 93

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The World of Rome by Michael Grant.  New York: New American Library, 1960.  349 pp., paperback.

 

The rise, rule and ruin of ancient Rome have had a far reaching impact on the subsequent events in Europe and in truth, the rest of the world that continues to the present day.  The pattern of that empire’s growth, development, decline and decay are typical of that experienced by nearly all subsequent empires and therefore contains timely instruction for of those of us witnessing the rapid decline and probable soon-collapse of Western civilization.  Moreover, since the whole of the New Testament occurred in the context of the Roman empire, under the reign of a series of Caesars, with Judea directly ruled by Rome-appointed governors and occupied by Roman legions who enforced Roman law, a fuller knowledge of Roman history, rulers, customs, religions, and culture will cast both direct and indirect light on the NT.

 

Michael Grant (1914-2004)            was a scholar and author of numerous popularizing works regarding, especially, various aspects of the Roman Empire.  This present work (of which revised editions were apparently issued in 1974 and 1987) covers about 350 years, from the latter part of the Roman Republic to the middle of the Roman Empire, that is 133 B. C. to 217 A.D.  He covers the history, the particular rulers during this period, the expansion of the Roman realm, the various social classes--particularly citizens, and also slaves (and the question of social mobility).  The diverse religions, superstitions and prominent philosophies are described, followed by a discussion of the Latin writers of the golden age and the later silver age, as well as Roman art and a architecture.  The volume is supplied with numerous photographs, drawings, maps, and an extended bibliography.

 

Perhaps the thing most striking to me was how the ever-growing idle masses that flocked to Rome were “bought” into willing subservience to the government by every-expanding quantities of heavily subsidized grain and endless distracting “entertainment”--public holidays (as many as 130 per year!), brutal and bloody gladiatorial contests, and battles between men and wild beasts.  This is the Roman welfare state of “bread and circuses” proverbially famous (or, notorious), and has its modern parallel in an America with 47 million receiving food stamps, and the masses addicted to such televised bilge as American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars, and an endless array of sports to keep them pre-occupied, as they willingly sell their freedom, self-respect and self-reliance for a government dole.

 

All kingdoms and empires eventually come to an end, and almost always due to moral and spiritual rot from within, rather than conquest from without.  We in the West shall find ourselves also relegated to the landfill of history, and in very short order, I fear.  We are repeating, but on a much larger scale, and at a much faster pace, the mistakes of Rome.

---Doug Kutilek

---

 

“Trajan’s [Emperor 98-117 A. D.] interventions in the affairs of Greek cities were part of a wider pattern.  He and his successors were moving step by step to more complete control of the national economy and revenue through more stringent assessment and enforcement of taxation, increased direction of compulsion of labor, compulsory state leases, and armies of officials to enforce these requirements.  Under Septimius Severus [Emperor 193-211 A.D.] and his successors such measures were greatly intensified.  As the grim third century wore on, and taxation was shortsightedly raised to ruinous levels, the economy of the west fell headlong.  This was an epoch of ceaseless insecurity and disturbance, with consequent shrinkage of industries and of urban and cultivable areas, amid widespread failure of confidence caused by the progressive deterioration of the currency.”  pp. 85-6.  [Sounds like something from the morning newspaper!--editor]