"AS I SEE
Volume 5, Number 3, March 2002
"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."
["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.
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.]
SOLEMN REFLECTIONS ON
OUR INESCAPABLE INFLUENCE FOR GOOD OR ILL ON OTHERS
There are little eyes upon you
And they're watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
Take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager
To do everything you do;
And a little boy who's dreaming
Of the day he'll be like you.
You're the little fellow's idol,
You're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
No suspicions ever rise.
He believes in you devoutly,
Holds all you say and do;
He will say and do in your way
When he's grown up just like you.
There's a wide-eyed little fellow
Who believes you're always right;
And his eyes are always opened
And he watches day and night.
You are setting an example
Every day in all you do;
For the little boy who's waiting
To grow up to be like you.
It Really IS "Always Something"
I learned just this week is a flier included among the daily junk-mail, that March is "National Frozen Food Month." I do not know if this is by Congressional mandate (I would not be the least surprised if the "sages" in Congress did in fact squander both time and money on such a legal declaration) or if this is merely a frozen food producers' ploy--do we have a conspiracy between the Green Giant and the folks at Birdseye?--to get us to "eat our vegetables" and whatever else they have managed to chill below 32 degrees, Fahrenheit.
Be that as it may, I am left in a quandary. How shall we observe this monumental celebration (after all, it only comes once a year) which can only be compared in importance to Ramadan or Kwanzaa? There were no suggestions included with the flier, but I suspect from all the coupons and sale-prices mentioned that we are to indulge our appetites in something that, though once fresh and flavorful, has been rendered rock-hard and insipid by flash-freezing and long-months in cold storage. Perhaps some "Mrs. Paul's fish stick popsicles" for the youngsters, or a grotesquely massive cheesecake for those already overly bulky who have been pledging for years to start that all-too-visibly necessary diet "after just one more bite." I'd feed my own weakness for a "Mrs. Smith's Blackberry Cobbler," but it does a number on my blood sugar levels, so I will refrain.
If "National Frozen Food Month" has caught you unawares and unprepared to join in the festivities, fear not. "National Pickle Month" is coming in the summer (to note only one of life's annual highlights), and there are besides celebrations and recognitions of diverse and sundry sorts on virtually every day or week or month of the entire calendar year. There is always something to regale in. These things proliferate almost as readily as paid Federal holidays. If in the future we find additional things deemed worthy of recognition and celebration, I fear that we shall be compelled to double up and have, say, "National Whitewall Tire Day" the same date we observe the "Eat More Gumbo" festival. And wouldn't that be a tragedy.
PATRICK OF IRELAND: SUGGESTED READING
The supposed "patron saint" of Ireland is St. Patrick, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries after Christ and in whose honor March 17 is celebrated annually, chiefly in Ireland and among people of Irish descent. And, no surprise, the popular understanding of Patrick is that he was through and through a devout Roman Catholic, indeed likely "more Catholic than the Pope," and one who brought pure Romanism to Ireland, leaving it, as it is today, one of the most rigidly Catholic of nations.
This Patrick of popular legend is a fiction, the fabrication of medieval myth-makers, and bears virtually no resemblance to the reality. From time to time, an article for popular consumption will appear in some contemporary fundamentalist periodical, claiming Patrick as a fundamentalist and Baptist (this latter claim is also found in William Cathcart's 19th century Baptist Encyclopedia). While this may somewhat overshoot the mark, it is certainly very much closer to the truth than the common conception of Patrick; unfortunately these "popular" articles are usually so poorly researched and so poorly written that they do not inspire confidence in their reliability.
However, from Patrick's own surviving writings, limited though they are, we learn that for baptism, he immersed only believers (three times), not infants, that he insisted on the supreme authority of Scripture and that he taught the necessity of reliance solely on the merits of Christ for salvation. He never invoked Mary or the Saints, nor appealed to the authority of the Bishop of Rome, nor granted authority to tradition. In short, there is nothing at all distinctly Roman Catholic to be found in his writings.
I do not at present have the leisure to undertake and write an extended study of the life and labors of Patrick, but do wish to recommend to the reader some of the more accessible and worthwhile published treatments of the man, his life, labors, and doctrinal perspective.
Henry Vedder's A Short History of
the Baptists (1907 edition), pp. 71-74, gives some account of the Patrick of
history, though with meager documentation.
or a more scholarly, and heavily documented account, see Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. IV, pp. 43-52. It should be noted that in one place, Schaff refers to Patrick's grandfather as a "priest" (p. 45) though a second time, he gives the correct "presbyter," which is the very Latin word (borrowed from the Greek NT) used by Patrick, a synonym of "pastor."
A brief account but not so good a Schaff's may be found in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 8, pp. 384-5, with an extensive bibliography, directing the interested reader to numerous sources, including where to find Patrick's writings in English translation.
Daniel Devinne's article, "Patrick, St." in John McClintock and James Strong's Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature (Baker 1981 reprint), vol. VII, pp. 774-6 is worthy of recommendation.
The entry "Patricius (10)" by G. T. Stokes in William Smith and Henry Wace's authoritative, A Dictionary of Christian Biography (John Murray, 1887), vol. IV, pp. 200-207, is a lengthy and detailed but rather dreary scholarly treatment, which manages to leave the subject of Patrick's theology virtually untouched upon.
Finally, the column-and-a-half long article "Patrick, Saint" by T. O'Raifeartaigh in the 15th edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica is happily free of all the legendary nonsense regarding Patrick, and gives relevant bibliography up to 1969.
I also direct the reader's attention to the chapter "The Apostle of Ireland," pp. 371-383 in F. F. Bruce's The Spreading Flame, not because it is worthwhile, but to warn the reader away from it. Bruce uncritically gives credence to most of the medieval fiction generated about Patrick, and thereby produces a most unsatisfactory and inaccurate account.
A BRIEF COMMENT ABOUT
THE "GENDER-NEUTRAL" NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
In last month's issue of AISI, we discussed in some detail the various Bible societies, their origins, histories and activities, including some generally favorable remarks about the International Bible Society. The very day we sent out that issue, the IBS made news with its announcement to issue, in spite of a pledge to the contrary made in 1997, a "gender-neutral" version of the New International Version. This is not a case of merely being careful to use non-gender-specific terms where the Hebrew and Greek originals make use of similar non-gender specific words, but an attempt (denied by the folks at the IBS but true just the same) to accommodate the demands of the radical feminists, by substituting "brothers and sisters" where the original has only "brothers," or of substituting the plural "they" were the original has a generic singular "he," among other like features which mar and distort the meaning of the originals.
We can only express our great disappointment at this ill-considered, shortsighted, and counter-productive adventure in "political correctness." I predict that this revision will prove a financial failure and the whole fiasco will generate a highly negative (and, frankly, much deserved) reaction against the IBS, and its partner in publishing the NIV, Zondervan Publishing of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
NOTES ON THE PRINCIPLES AND
PRACTICES OF BAPTIST CHURCHES
by Francis Wayland. Watertown, Wisconsin: Baptist Heritage Press, 1988
reprint of Sheldon, Blake and Co., New York 1857 edition. 336 pp., hardback.
Francis Wayland (1796-1865) was pre-eminent among American Baptists of his day. He was long president of Brown University (1828-1855) where he greatly reformed the college curriculum, wrote several textbooks and profoundly influenced many students who later became pre-eminent among Baptists, among them theologian James P. Boyce, founder and first president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Wayland was equally influential as a preacher, and as a writer. Among his voluminous writings is an authoritative biography of missionary Adoniram Judson (1853; 2 vols.).
The fifty-two chapters of Wayland's Notes originally were published in The Examiner, a weekly denominational paper, and were collected for publication in this volume. Their subject matter is diverse, but they have a common general theme--discussing the doctrinal views and Christian practices of Baptists, with a strong dose of practical advice on how to prosecute the matter of fulfilling the call to the Gospel ministry and spreading the message of the Gospel around the world. It is notable that subjects deemed controversial in our day were also controversial in his day--such as music in the church, the question of legal incorporation (does it compromise church autonomy?), restrictions on who may partake of the Lord's Supper, the extent of the atonement, and methodology in missions, among others. And he gives much sound advice regarding preparation for and carrying out duties inherent in a divine call into the ministry.
Wayland's broad influence historically, not to mention the value and continuing relevance of much of what he wrote, make this volume of particular interest to those who wish to be informed about the historic beliefs of Baptists.
Notable Quotations from:
NOTES ON THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF BAPTIST CHURCHES
by Francis Wayland
"The extent of the atonement has been and still is a matter of honest but not unkind difference [this latter is not entirely in harmony with my experience!--editor]. Within the last fifty years a change has gradually taken place in the views of a large portion of our brethren. At the commencement of that period Gill's Divinity was a sort of standard, and Baptists imbibing his opinions were what may be called almost hyper-Calvinistic. A change commenced upon the publication of the writings of Andrew Fuller, especially his "Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation," which in the northern and eastern States, has become almost universal. The old view still prevails, if I mistake not, in our southern and western States." (p. 18)
"I was, in the early part of my ministry, settled in a respectable town in Massachusetts. One of my members, a very worthy man, and the son of a Baptist minister, and reputed to be 'very clear in the doctrines'--this was the term applied to this form of belief--had an interesting family wholly given up to worldliness. I wished to converse with them on the subject of personal religion, and mentioned to him my desire. He kindly but plainly told me that he did not wish any one to converse with his children on the subject. If they were elected, God would convert them in his own time; but if not, talking would do them no good, it would only make them hypocrites. He was, I believe, the last pillar of Gillism then remaining in the church." (p. 19)
"It may be well to state briefly what I suppose to be the prevailing belief, in this doctrine, at present. In the northern and eastern States, it is generally held that the whole race became sinners in consequence of the sin of the first Adam; and that, on the other hand, the way of salvation was opened for the whole race by the obedience and death of the second Adam." (p. 20)
"Our ministers were commonly, I might say almost universally, men of no classical education. They were men who had left some secular--generally mechanical--employment for the sake of preaching the gospel, and, in doing this, they had suffered, not prospective, but actual loss. They were impelled to the ministry by the conviction that they could not conscientiously do anything else." (p. 22)
"There was at this period, to a very considerable extent, a prejudice against learning. This was by no means unnatural. They saw that education, rather than piety, was in many denominations the test of ministerial qualification; and instead of assigning to it its proper and subordinate place, they abjured it altogether. This was, doubtless, an error." (p. 22)
"No one can move others without being deeply moved himself." (p. 26)
"But let [the preacher] put his own soul into the work. Let him make the conversion of souls, not next year, but day by day, the business of his life. Let him follow up his Sabbath labors by visiting from house to house, calling sinners to repentance, and building up saints in their most holy faith. Let him read the Bible until it is as familiar to him as a household word, lifting up his soul for the teachings of the Holy Spirit, and he will have no difficulty in finding subjects for sermons. The gospel will be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life." (p. 30)
"I . . . recommend to every Baptist minister the reading of the memoir of the late Dr. A[rchibald] Alexander, by his son, Dr. [James] Alexander of New York. It is a most interesting biography of one of the best of men and most remarkable preachers of our times." (p. 31)
"John Leland [1754-1841] . . . was a man of rare endowments, clear-headed, and gifted with great power of moving men. His audiences were frequently bathed in tears, and, it is said, were as frequently excited to laughter. This is bad, and should be always reprehended [note: Spurgeon would have vigorously disagreed--editor]. And yet few men now living have been as successful in the conversion of sinners as this very John Leland." (p. 37)
"We select our music and hire our performers for the sake of pleasing those who spend their evenings at the opera, while the taste of a man whose soul is melted by Mear and Old Hundred [note: these are melodies to hymns, the latter being the "Doxology"--editor], is sneered at." (p. 38)
"They preached with the hope that at every sermon someone would submit himself to Christ; and unless this result followed their labors, they felt that they had labored in vain." (p. 41)
"Men may believe everything after the most orthodox creeds, and yet be wholly uninfluenced by the gospel of Christ." (p. 44)
"We have no right to establish any rules regulating the ministry, which Christ has not established. No single church, nor all the churches combined, have any authority to bind what he has loosed, nor to loose what he has bound. To his word, then, we must go for our directions on this, as on every other similar subject. What then do we find in the New Testament to guide us in this matter? What can we learn from the example of Christ in the selection of the apostles and first preachers of Christianity? They were evidently chosen not on account of their intellectual endowment, or scientific acquisition, but on account of their religious character." (pp. 48-9)
"If a man possess aptness to teach, he will grow with his people, and will keep pace with their increase and improvement." (p. 65)
"But what may a minister do for such persons as he finds endowed with means of usefulness [in the ministry], but who are, for various reasons, unable to pursue a protracted course of study? He may do for them what will be of inestimable value. He may direct them to the reading of the best books. He may spend an hour with them once or twice a week, to ascertain their progress, and aid them in their difficulties. He may teach them how to study the Word of God. He may instruct them in the art of making a sermon. He many teach them how to make a skeleton of a discourse, and criticise their skeletons for them. He may send them to proper preaching places, and go with them to observe their manner of address. He may show them their faults, and teach them the manner in which they may be corrected. He may take them with him to visit the sick and afflicted, to attend funerals, and to send them to take the lead in conference meetings. And, while doing this, he may give them the results of his own experience, and the benefits of his own mistakes and failures. . . .If our ministers had always two or three young men in this sort of training, our ministry would be immeasurably increased in number, and improved in quality." (pp. 74, 75)
[Just over 20 years ago, when I was a graduate student, a pastor in the Cincinnati area gave me just this sort of training: taking me along on hospital visits, and telling me how to and how to not make such a visit--"don't sit on the bed; keep the visit short"; he also instructed me in other practical matters, including conducting funerals, which were of real value to me in later ministry. How come so few pastors today engage in this worthwhile work? Young--and very green--men fresh out of Bible college are condemned to blunder through the first decade of their ministries, making many unnecessary mistakes and in some cases abandoning the ministry altogether, simply because no older, more experienced pastor took them under his wing and invested in their ministries by giving of his own time and hard-earned experience.--editor]
"We believe that every individual whom God has called by his grace is under the solemn and imperative obligation to labor not only indirectly but directly, for the extension of the cause of Christ. . . . To suppose Christ to call a man to be his servant, and have nothing for him to do, is absurd." (p. 79)
"The opinions and practice of Protestant Christianity are by no means as sure a guide as the precepts and examples of the New Testament." (p. 80)
"The fact is, if we must speak the truth, almost all our denominations are sinking down into the belief that all the direct work for the conversion of the world is to be done by the ministry; thus making a broad distinction between the clergy and the laity (I use these terms, not because I approve of them, but because they are so much in vogue). We are coming to think that the minister is to do the work of the Lord, and the business of the private brother is simply to pay him for it." (p. 81)
"The fundamental principle on which our difference [as Baptists] from other evangelical denominations depends, is this: we profess to take for our guide, in all matters of religious belief and practice, the New Testament, the whole New Testament, and nothing but the New Testament. Whatever we find there we esteem binding upon the conscience. What is not there commanded, is not binding. No matter by what reverence for antiquity, by what tradition, by what councils, by what consent of any branches of the church, or by the whole church, at any particular period, an opinion or practice may be sustained, if it is not sustained by the command or example of Christ, or of his apostles, we value it only as an opinion or precept of man, and we treat it accordingly. We disavow the authority of man to add to, or take from the teachings of inspiration as they are found in the New Testament. Hence, to a Baptist, all appeals to the Fathers, or to antiquity, or general practice of the early centuries, or in later times, are irrelevant and frivolous. He asks for divine authority as his guide in all matters of religion, and if this be not produced, his answer is, 'in vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.' " (p. 86)
"We decline to baptize children, because we find no command on this subject in the teachings of Christ, and we find neither precept nor example of such baptism in the history of the apostles. . . . We conceive that if the baptism of infants had been the practice of the apostolic age, it could not possibly have escaped mention either in the Acts of the Apostles or the Epistles. But it is never in a single instance alluded to." (p. 93)
"If we go beyond the New Testament for our authority in matters of faith and practice, where shall we stop short of all the errors of Romanism?" (p. 97)
"So with respect to restricted communion, the doctrine held by most Baptists in this country. We, with most other denominations, believe that a person must be baptized before he is admitted to the ordinance of the Supper. If, then, we do not admit to the table of the Lord those whom we do not believe to be baptized, we do precisely the same as our brethren who differ from us." (p. 98)
"We believe that there is such a thing as a call to the ministry; that is, that a man is moved to enter upon this work by the Holy Spirit. This call is manifested in two ways; first, in his own heart, and secondly, in the hearts of his brethren. So far as he himself is concerned, it appears it the form of a solemn conviction of duty resting upon him with such weight that he believes it impossible for him to please Christ in any other way than in preaching the gospel." (p. 103)
"I have, on several occasions, alluded to the fact that we have suffered loss, as Baptists, by following the examples of other denominations. It would almost seem to an observer that we were ashamed of our own peculiar sentiments, and took pleasure in testifying that between us and other sects there were no real points of difference. I think the points of difference are important, and that our whole history is, in the highest degree, honorable to us as a Christian sect." (p. 122)
[This calls to mind the way not a few Baptist churches in our day have adopted an essentially Pentecost-style of church service, with kindred music, audience applause, clapping and swaying, and the "tiger in a cage" wandering back and forth preaching style--editor]
"We hope that we have followed more closely in the steps of the Master, excluding the errors derived from the traditions of the fathers, the decisions of councils, and the enactments of state, and cleaving more firmly to the simple teachings of Christ and his apostles." (pp. 122-3)
"Our fathers were, for the most part, plain, unlearned men. Having nowhere else to look, they looked up in humility to the Holy Spirit to teach them the meaning of the word of God. They had no learned authorities to lead them astray. They mingled in no aristocratic circles, whose overwhelming public sentiment might crush the first buddings of earnest and honest inquiry. As little children they took up the Bible, supposing it to mean just what it said, and willing to practice whatever it taught. Thus they arrived at truth which escaped the notice of the learned and the intellectually mighty." (p. 123; this is Wayland's single most famous statement--editor)
"The mind that is most thoroughly purified from every desire to conform the word of God to its preconceived opinions or biases, will be, of all others, the most likely to discover the truth which the Spirit intended to convey." (p. 124)
"We have ever held to . . . the universal priesthood of believers. We have always proclaimed that every child of God has the right, in his own person, of drawing near to God through the intercession of the one [and] only Mediator and High Priest. Hence we reject all notions of the necessity of human mediators, and with it, all belief in the holiness of a priesthood, and in general of an ecclesiastical caste. . . . No more fatal error has, in all ages, dogged the footsteps of the church of Christ, than belief in the official holiness of the teacher of religion, and the necessity of a human mediator, in some sort, to appear on our behalf before God. From this belief have been developed those various forms of ecclesiastical hierarchy, which now, with their appalling weight, press down the masses of Europe, and hold them bound in the fetters of spiritual ignorance and sin." (pp. 131, 132)
"We have always held to the perfect sufficiency of the Scriptures to teach us in all matters pertaining to religion. . . . To every precept of it we bow implicitly as God's last, best, and final revelation of his will to mankind. We judge the Fathers, as they are called, by the New Testament. We judge tradition and the rites and usages of men by the same law. We appeal 'to the Word and the testimony, and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.' Hence we are delivered from the yoke of antiquity, tradition, and ecclesiastical usurpation, and rejoice in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free." (p. 133)
"The Puritans were ready to die, rather than bow their consciences to the will of man. But they sought for liberty of conscience only for themselves. They failed to generalize their principles, and yield to others what they claimed for their own inalienable birthright. Hence persecution was soon as rife on this side of the Atlantic as on the other." (p. 137)
"Baptists formerly were universally opposed to the introduction of musical instruments into the house of God. . . . But a change has come over us. The Episcopal church always have approved of organs, and the music of choirs. The Congregationalists imitated the Episcopalians, and we, of course, imitated the Congregationalists. . . . The congregation [now] listens in silence to a mere musical performance, precisely as the audience at a concert or an opera. . . . Men of piety have begun to feel that it is wicked to substitute a mere musical diversion for the solemn worship of God." (pp. 149-50, 151, 152)
"In my last paper, I endeavored to show that we have erred by imitating the examples of others in the matter of church music. . . . It is now granted by all reasonable men, that music may be good for one purpose and yet very bad for another; that, for instance, an air may be very well suited to an opera or a march, very well adapted for a charge on the field of battle, and yet very ill adapted to the devotions of an assembly uniting in the worship of God." (p. 153)
"It may be well for us to remember that a practice is not, of necessity, either wise or in good taste, because other denominations adopt it. And still more, we may learn from this experience that the sober sentiments of religious men are worth something, even in determining a matter of taste. After surrendering our own principles for the sake of imitation, we find those whom we have imitated coming round to the very principles which we have deserted." (pp. 153-4)
"Our notion of [Sunday] worship is simply this. We meet together on the Sabbath to offer up to God, each one for himself, the sacrifice of prayer and praise, and to cultivate holy affections by the reading and explanation of the word of God, and by applying its truth to our own souls. . . . From beginning to end it is one act of worship, from which everything irreverent, or even irrelevant, is to be, from the nature of the case, excluded. Nothing should divert the mind from the great moral object for which the assembly has convened." (p. 160)
"The hymns should prepare the mind for the subject that is to follow. The tunes should express the emotion uttered in the hymns. For this purpose the old hymns, enriched by innumerable solemn associations, are greatly to be preferred. The more directly everything bears upon the point to be attained, the greater will be the effect. And on the contrary, everything is to be avoided which would lead the mind of the audience in a different, especially an opposite direction. Music which expresses no sentiment, but only exhibits the skill of the performer, especially music that awakens associations of the opera or theater, is sufficient to destroy the effect of the most solemn discourse, if indeed solemn discourses are ever found in such company." (pp. 327-8)
"Holding firmly to the doctrine of the spirituality of the church, our fathers conceived that there must, of necessity, be a vast difference between them and the world. They knew that if they were true to their principles, they must of necessity, be a peculiar people. They took it for granted that they would be out of sight of the gay, the thoughtless, and the pleasure-loving. They cultivated plainness of dress. The Methodists and the Baptists might once be known by the simplicity of their attire. Hence our brethren were never met with in places of public amusement. You would as soon have found a Baptist in jail as at a ball, an opera, or a theater. To be found in such a company would have incurred the censure of the church. They would have entered into no metaphysical disquisition on the question, How far a disciple of Christ may go in conformity to the world? They would only have asked, How can a spiritual mind take delight in 'the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life'?" (p. 174)
"The soil of Christendom, a the present day, is covered with the festering carcasses of churches, from which the Spirit has for generations departed. The moral atmosphere is rendered pestilential by their presence, and neither piety nor humanity can breathe it and survive." (p. 191)
"What is the object set before us as Christian citizens of the United States? Is it simply to build for ourselves, in wealthy places, expensive houses of worship, and surround our services with the means of gratifying the senses, and then sit down and enjoy an intellectual effort, sanctified by a tincture of religion?" (p. 216)
"If we pray for any blessing, we must surrender everything incompatible with it, and do everything that the earnest desire for such a blessing would indicate." (p. 222)
"Brethren, it is a more solemn thing to pray than we are commonly aware of. If we really pray for the extension of Christ's kingdom, we must live like men who make the extension of that kingdom the great business of our lives. This will require the sacrifice of many an idol. It will cost many a self-denial, and will expose us to many a scoff and reproach. But will not the object be worth the sacrifice? Is there not a crown of righteousness in reserve for those who fight this good fight? If the Saviour gave himself for every one of us, is it much for every one of us to give himself up to Christ? If we pray, Thy kingdom come, can we do less than live so that the kingdom of God may come?" (p. 223)
"Talent, of any kind, always shows itself when there is a demand for it." (p. 237)
"When Carey was going out to India, Sidney Smith held him up to scorn and ridicule, because a cobbler was leaving England to convert the Hindoos. Yet, which is now and ever will be the object of universal admiration, the reverend jester, or the cobbler missionary?" (p. 239)
"You will scarcely ever converse with a man respecting his early education, who does not wish that it had been different, and who will not tell you that under different training he would have been much more successful." (p. 275)
"A strong temptation frequently assails a man, when preparing a sermon, to look around for helps. He can easily find a book of skeletons made to his hand, and it seems to him very convenient to make use of it. Let me urge every brother, as he values his self-respect, his honesty, his ministerial usefulness, as he values his own soul and the souls of others, to resist this temptation at the outset. If he has any of these crutches, let him commit them at once to the flames, or he will never learn to walk. The habit is absolutely fatal." (p. 283)
"This then is our first business, to ascertain as accurately as possible the meaning of the words which the Spirit has chosen as the medium by which the thoughts of God shall be revealed to man." (p. 306)
"In the pulpit we tend to a solemn monotony, which is very grave, very proper, very ministerial, but it is very wearisome to the vocal organs of the speaker, and to the ear of the hearer, and its tendency is decidedly soporific. . . . Sinners are rarely converted or saints edified when they are half asleep." (pp. 325, 327)
DARWIN'S GOD by Cornelius Hunter. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2001. 192 pp., hardback. $17.99.
Rather than addressing the alleged scientific evidences for evolution (as Jonathan Wells did in Icons of Evolution; see AISI 4:2), the author examines the theological presuppositions of Darwin, his precursors and his followers. Hunter shows that at foundation, Darwinism/evolutionism is essentially a religious rather than a scientific system. The god of Darwin et al. is a god designed to fit their own presuppositions about God and His relationship to the universe. This remaking of God arose out of rationalism and the so-called enlightenment of the 18th century, and was directly related to the problem of evil (to which later were added perceived inefficiency and unsuitability in earth processes) in the universe. In this neo-Gnostic idealistic view of the universe, how were suffering, misery, and death, to say nothing of waste and inefficiency in nature, to be reconciled with a God who actively participates in the daily functioning of the minutiae of the world? Simply put--they couldn't be, especially if one ignores the fact of the Fall (Genesis 3) and the corruption that Man, as viceroy over creation (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:4-8), brought upon the whole of creation (Romans 5:12; 8:20-23). Hunter does not address this matter directly, and nowhere discusses Darwinian opinions regarding the Fall of Man. But it is evident that without facing Man's direct causation and culpability in the entrance of evil into God's once entirely good physical creation (Genesis 1:31), the issue will inevitably remain a dark enigma.
If God is inherently benevolent and wise, He simply could not have made the universe the way it is with its manifold defects (so Darwin and company reasoned--and still reason today). Therefore, the Creator must be distanced from the creation (not unlike Gnostic distancing of God from the creation by a long series of emanations which separated God, a spirit, from the physical universe, which was viewed as inherently evil). So, a rigid, inviolable (even by God) set of natural laws and processes was posited, to relieve God of the burden of being directly responsible in evil or less-than-optimal events in the world. God was logically pushed further and further away, to the point that He only "began the ball rolling," so to speak, but has been distant, aloof, wholly uninvolved since. In short, God ultimately is not necessary, except as a very remote first cause, if that (and not a few Darwinians have pressed the logic to its ultimate destination: atheism). How like the gods of the Babylonians, as described by their own worshippers: "the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh" (Daniel 2:11). Remote, distant, inaccessible.
Of course, assuming such a God as this necessarily requires the conclusion that God has not revealed Himself to Man (ctr. Hebrews 1:1,2), that God does not perform miracles of any sort, ever (ctr. Deuteronomy 4:34), or hear and answer prayer (ctr. Psalm 65:2), or become incarnate (ctr. John 1:14) or raise or judge the dead (ctr. Revelation 20:11-15). Hunter does not address these issues, but they certainly are central to the whole subject, and are directly assaulted by the theology of Darwinism.
Given this over-riding presupposition of the remoteness and wholly-otherness of God, only naturalistic explanations of events in the universe can be allowed, and therefore a series of wholly naturalistic, undirected, and certainly non-Providential events must be posited by default, since any theistic explanation is disallowed by definition. Given this usually unexpressed and often unperceived (by adherents and opponents both) pre-supposition, evidence is sought in the physical creation to bolster the inevitable conclusion of naturalistic evolution. And no surprise, as usual, the "scientists" find what they are looking for--evidence to confirm what they already believe.
This is definitely not easy reading, and will appeal more to the philosophically-oriented. It is, however, a worthwhile expose of the religious presuppositions from which Darwinism arose and which are still its guiding principles. Darwinism is a particular kind of theology, with a distinctive view of God, masquerading as science.