"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 5, Number 6, June 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.”  Job 32:17-21

 

["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.  Some may also be downloaded at http://www.tegart.com/brian/bible/kjvonly.  Articles on the King James Bible controversy and recent issues may be accessed at 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.]

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SPURGEON ON THE INFERIORITY OF SIGNS AND WONDERS

TO THE WORD OF GOD

 

“Doubtless, if again there should come a necessity for signs to any of God’s servants, such tokens would be given them. . . . If it were utterly impossible for the anxious and truly  penitent spirit to find rest without a sign, I believe the sign would be given; though I also believe, that in no case is such a thing at all necessary under the gospel dispensation, but which is so enriched with plainest evidence, that to add more would be to hold a candle to the sun, or pour water into the ocean.

 

In addition to this first remark, let us add that signs have been given, and yet have not wrought faith in those who have seen them; and there is no necessary connection between seeing signs and believing that which the signs attest. Israel in the wilderness saw great marvels wrought by the Lord their God, and yet perished in unbelief.  Pharaoh is a still more notable instance--what signs and wonders God wrought in the fields of Zoan!  How was the Nile crimsoned into blood, and all Egypt filled with lamentation!  The Lord turned the dust of the land into lice, and the ashes therefore into plagues.  He brought up frogs into their Chambers, and

locusts devoured their fields.  He darkened the heavens at midday, and deluged them with hail and rain such as the land had never seen before: a grievous murrain fell upon their cattle, and death upon their firstborn; yet all the wonder which God wrought did not soften Pharaoh’s heart, and though for awhile he trembled, yet again he steeled himself against the God of Israel, and said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?”  My hearers, if ye do not believe Moses and the prophets, if ye do not believe in Jesus Christ with the testimonies which are already before you, neither would you believe though one rose from the dead, or though all the plagues of Egypt should be repeated upon you with tenfold fury. There is no necessary connection between the seeing of wonders and the believing in God, for we learn clearly from Pharaoh’s case, and from many others, that all the displays of wonderful power either of judgment or of mercy, do not beget faith in unbelieving hearts.”

            Charles H. Spurgeon

Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit

Vol. 15, 1869, pp. 601, 602

 

[Or, to adapt the language of Paul: “The Jews--and charismatics--require a sign.”  Such a demand has always been, and in this dispensation especially is, not an act of faith, but a demonstration of disbelief, of unbelief in God’s written revelation.--editor]

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SPURGEON ON THE RITUALS OF ROMANISM

 

“The mysteries of the church of Rome are mock mysteries rendered dark by the veil which she casts over truth; by her incantations, her paraphernalia, her performances, and her use of a strange tongue, that which is simple is darkened into a mimic mystery; for what is really in it is a plain lie for thoughtful men to laugh at.”

                                                            Charles H. Spurgeon

Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit

Vol. 15, 1869, p. 606

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SHOOTING BUFFALO ON TED TURNER’S RANCH

 

In the month of April just past, it was my privilege to fly to Bozeman, Montana to participate in a missions conference.  This being my first trip to that state, I wanted to see and do as much as possible in my 6 days there.  The mountains surrounding the valley were magnificent--still snow-capped and often shrouded in clouds.  Tall timber abounded on the mountain sides--Engelmann spruce, Douglas fir (a personal favorite) and lodgepole pine--and various willows, birches and cottonwoods along streams.

 

Just south of Bozeman is a huge chunk of land (dozens, perhaps hundreds of square miles in size; no one could tell me for sure) purchased in the past decade by media mogul Ted Turner, and transformed into his own private game preserve, with herds of bison numbering in the thousands.

 

Being, as I am and have long been, a huge buffalo fan (the native North American bovine, not the football team in upstate New York), I inquired about the herd, and learned to my delight that there was a public access road that ran off the highway for several miles through a part of Ted’s place (but you don’t dare get off the road; just about every fence post or gate post had the requisite “no trespassing” sign, and I hear that Ted can be rather “unfriendly,” shall we say, to uninvited intruders).  So, off we went.

 

Well, I couldn’t resist the temptation.  As we passed a few scattered buffalo, then small groups, then herds and masses numbering in the hundreds, I couldn’t help myself.  I told the driver to stop--I just had to take a shot.  And I couldn’t stop with just one.  A young bull head-on.  A cow and a calf from the side.  Groupings of five or six.  He drove and I shot, and shot again, and stopped to reload, and shot some more.  I was having the time of my life, not caring who or what might be watching.

 

But being the honest fellow that I am, I didn’t take a step on Ted’s land, or try to make off with the hide or meat or head of a single buffalo--and some of them were smack dab there in the middle of the public access road.  My religion will not permit me to eat meat that has been stolen.  With great pride I can hold my head high and declare that I left every single one of those animals just where I encountered them.  And feared neither man nor beast for my rash act of shooting them by the dozens.  After all, just how much damage can a 35 mm camera do to a 1,500 bison bull? 

 

And, yes, the pictures turned out great.

                                                                                                                        ---Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Passing on the Torch, and Other Sermons by A. T. Robertson.  New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1934.  192 pp., hardback.

 

As an avid collector and reader of the published works of A. T. Robertson (1863-1937), the great Southern Baptist Greek scholar, when I saw not one but two copies of this book for sale last December, I immediately bought both, one for myself and the other for a Romanian pastor who is himself very much taken with Dr. Bob.

 

The twenty sermons in this volume--one of four published books of sermons by Robertson, the others being Jesus as a Soul Winner, and Other Evangelistic Sermons (Revell, 1937); Types of Preachers in the New Testament; and Some Minor Characters in the New Testament --are typical of those preached by Robertson in various churches and conferences, some of them preached many times, over a period of fifty years.  (By his own accounting, Robertson preached several thousand times in his lifetime, though his life was spent chiefly in the seminary classroom).

 

Robertson’s expositions are clear and each sermon has abundant practical application.  Though Robertson was an expert in the New Testament, the sermons are from texts in both Testaments, and in the New Testament from both the Gospels and the Epistles.  Though a Greek scholar of the first rank, Robertson evidences genuine practicality here, and shows a breadth of reading that includes many of the better devotional works of his day.

 

The book is dedicated to Robertson’s youngest child, Archibald Thomas Robertson, Jr., who was at the time of publication about 30.  The first sermon in the collection, “Passing on the Torch,” seems to be directly aimed at this son, who apparently wandered from the faith (and if evidence from the younger Robertson’s own book, That Old-Time Religion, Houghton Mifflin, 1950, is any indication, the junior Robertson was in fact an unbeliever; how tragic that the grandson of John A. Broadus and son of A. T. Robertson should somehow have missed the grace and forgiveness of God!).

 

If found--these are the only copies for sale I have seen in 30 years of looking--this brief volume should be bought and read.  Otherwise, make do with a borrowed copy.

                                                                                                                        ---Doug Kutilek

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Quotations from Passing on the Torch by A. T. Robertson--

 

“It is impossible to exaggerate the value of a pious heritage such as both Paul and Timothy possessed.  Only we must bear in mind that genuine faith such as Timothy had (‘unhypocritical faith’) is a personal matter and not a mere matter of inheritance or of heredity, . . . To be sure, not all children from pious homes respond to their environment.  Some react in the other direction and rebel against a mother’s prayers and a father’s counsel to show their independence.  That is true, but by no means so common as people imagine.” (pp. 12-13, 14)

 

“There is a mighty army of nominal Christians in the world, but most of them cannot be counted on for actual response to any call for action.  They are not trained in the Scriptures.  They feel no sense of responsibility for the work and on-going of the kingdom of God, or even of the local church to which they belong. . . . They wither and dry up and drop away for lack of nourishment.  They are not fed on the word of life, but fill their minds and hearts wholly on the movies, sex magazines and novels, the current whirl in the daily papers.  They are not prepared for service and render none.  They are non-entities in the work of Christ.” (p. 16)

 

“Arrogance, tyranny, domineering do not fit a minister of Jesus Christ. . . . No one is qualified for service to others without true humility, least of all a preacher who puts on an air of self-conscious importance in his visits to the sick in soul and body.  This quality of humility, considered a vice by pagans, is absolutely essential if the Christian wishes to do service for Christ. . . .” (pp. 35, 36-37)

 

“There is a story of a Greek wrestler who grew envious of a statue in honour of a rival.  He pulled it down and it fell on his own head and killed him.  Envy stings most the one who is subject to it.” (p. 59)

 

“Gilbert K. Chesterton, who is fond of paradoxes himself, recently said that what surprised him on a recent visit to the United States was the ignorance of the educated.  There are learned fools who are confused by the lumber of learning and are unable to see the reality because of the rubbish and clatter of things.” (p. 66)

 

“It is a joy to preach to children, if one is willing to use simple words and short sentences, speak directly to the point and quit.  I have always observed that, when the children understood a sermon, the adults were able to do so.” (p. 67)

 

“Teachers are sometimes regarded as harsh and unfeeling.  The earnestness of the teacher is not always understood. . . . Students do not always appreciate the patience of the teacher in his effort to make the subject plain . . . . It is not always easy to preserve an open mind and have patience between student and teacher.  I may be allowed to say that I have been often told by my old students, whom I have always loved: ‘We all love you now, Dr. Bob,’ with the emphasis on the ‘now.’ “ (p. 68; ATR had a reputation for being a severe and demanding professor, a veritable terror to the lazy and unprepared student--editor)

 

“The words of Jesus are spirit and life (John 6:63) in a sense true of no other words ever spoken or heard. . . . The Greek New Testament, just because it gives us the words of Jesus, is worth more than all other books in all the world through all time.” (p. 69)

 

“It is folly to talk about a gospel with no principles, no creed, no message.” (p. 70)

 

“And if they which be so ready to judge and condemn others, would well consider their own sin, they would find the sins of others which are fallen, to be but motes, and their own sins to be great beams.” (p. 75, quoting Martin Luther).

 

“There will be no occasion for jealous comparison with what others do if we are really doing something for Christ ourselves.” (p. 78)

 

“No more disgusting subject for a sermon can be imagined than the preacher himself.  One day at dinner a little boy asked why the preacher that day said ‘I’ so much.  The child had noticed it and his father had difficulty in giving an answer that protected the minister of the morning.” (p. 89)

 

“We do not all have health or wealth or power but we all do have the present moment of opportunity.  The only certain thing about opportunity is that it is fleeting. . . . The wise man learns how to use his time, to work when he works, to rest when he rests, to sleep when he sleeps.” (pp. 94, 95)

 

“So many people feel able to do better a job that they do not have, who are careless about the one they do possess.” (p. 114)

 

“Charles Darwin is said to have confessed toward the close of his life that he had lost the faculty of appreciating the spiritual side of life.” (p. 116)

 

“[O]f the preacher today: people will read and watch his life who will not listen to his sermons.  They watch his steps as their Bible and accept or reject Christ accordingly. . . . Surely men will judge of Christ by what they see in us in contrast with the world in which we live.” (pp. 133, 134)

 

“People, even in emergencies and in time of depression, have money for what they want to do, for chewing-gum, for cosmetics, for tobacco, for drink, when they have none for God and his kingdom of grace.” (p. 145; still true in grindingly poor former “Iron Curtain” countries today--unconverted Romanians and Serbs and other such with little money for food or shoes, have plenty for alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and pornography--editor)

 

“The regularly organized work [of denominational missions programs] is sometimes carried on in too mechanical a way and sometimes fails at this very point where some of the independent or ‘faith’ missions succeed, for they press the spiritual aspect as their chief reliance.” (p. 162)

 

“I have known pastors of churches who repeatedly pledged their churches for certain sums, none of which was ever paid.  They evidently cared more for the credit of liberality in the convention assembled than for the duty of paying.” (pp. 162-163)

 

“Paul does insist that we give up to our ability, not down to our stingy needs.  He lays down no definite amount for any individual, but leaves it to his conscience according to the actual facts. . . . Paul does not name the tithe of the Old Testament.  But surely grace should do as well as law.  It ought to do better.  The tithe for the Christian should be the minimum, not the maximum.  The very rich should give much more than a tenth. . . .” (p. 166)

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Why Not Just Be Christians? By Vance Havner.  Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1964.  128 pp. hardback.

 

The late Southern Baptist evangelist Vance Havner produced many, usually very brief, books of sermons, this volume among them.  But they are not the dreary, dry tedious stuff of most sermon books.  There is heart, heat, fervor and sound instruction in the 23 sermons of varying length found here.  There are gems strewn all along the path.

 

I find that I regularly get more spiritually from a single page of Havner than I do from five or ten pages of anyone else’s sermons, not excluding Spurgeon.  I recently read nearly all of a little book The Best of Vance Havner (Revell, 1969).  I think that title very much misleading--it is not possible to include Vance Havner’s “Best” in so short a compass; it would require a virtually complete reprint of everything written by him.

 

If you are not familiar first-hand with Vance Havner, make it a point to repair this breach in your knowledge and experience by reading some of his sermons (we printed excerpted quotations from his Hearts Afire in AISI 2:7 and It is Time in AISI 4:2).

                                                                                                                        ---Doug Kutilek

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Excerpts from Why Not Just Be Christians by Vance Havner:

 

“Scientifically, we are in the graduate school; morally and spiritually we are in the kindergarten.  Civilization is like an ape playing with matches in a room full of dynamite.” (p. 9)

 

“The early church faced a pagan civilization, but they did not meet it with panel discussions on Caesar and slavery.” (p. 10)

 

“In such spiritual fogs and doctrinal twilights, let a minister speak out against heresy and he is declared un-Christian.  It has become quite the thing to lambast the fundamentalists, but we are declared lacking in Christian love if we express even a suspicion of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” (p. 11)

 

“The plight of the churches shows up not only in creed but in conduct.  The sermon on Sunday is denied by the way most church members live all week.  We believe in separation of church and state, but we wish that Christians would become equally concerned about separation of the church and the world.  The greatest scandal of Christianity is the low grade of Christian living. . . . The average church member shows no evidence of having been born again.  He is not remotely interested in the deeper Christian life.  He is not concerned about forsaking the world, crucifying the flesh, and resisting the devil.” (p. 11, 12)

 

“We call ‘broadminded tolerance’ what is really peaceful co-existence with evil.” (p. 21)

 

Quoting Alexander Pope--

 

            Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,

            As to be hated needs but to be seen;

            Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

            We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

                                                                        (p. 22)

 

“We would rather grieve that Holy Spirit than offend the wicked” (p. 24)

 

“The outstanding moderatist of the New Testament was Gamaliel.  When the apostles were on trial [Acts 5], he took to the middle of the road.  I once thought that his speech was sober and level-headed.  Actually he was an appeaser who turned the meeting into a Munich.  He was a Chamberlain without an umbrella.  He was the apostle of compromise, neither for nor against.  He made a false comparison, suggested a false criterion, and arrived at a false conclusion.” (p. 46)

 

“The great moderatist of Luther’s day was Erasmus.  It was said that he could shade down ‘yes’ until it sounded like ‘no’ and burnish up ‘no’ until it almost passed for ‘yes.’  He lived as though our Lord had said, ‘Let your yea be nay and your nay yea.’ ‘The people of academic culture, of speculative disengagement and serene intellectual indifference, sided with Erasmus.  The moderates throughout Europe, the gentlemen of courts, the semi-skeptical intelligences of the universities, told the golden-mouthed apostle of compromise that he was right. . . . The heart of Christianity beat with Luther instead.’ “ (pp. 46-7; Havner is at the end apparently quoting some unnamed source).

 

“On Sunday morning multitudes of church members sing:

            Faith of our fathers, holy faith,

            We will be true to thee til death.

Most of them are not true enough to get back to the evening service!” (p. 48)

 

“It is better to die for a conviction than to live with a compromise.  Self-preservation is a powerful instinct, but it is not the most important thing on earth.” (p. 50)

 

“It is true faith which is ‘not belief in spite of evidence but life in scorn of consequence.’ “ (p. 52)

 

“Dr. A. J. Gordon asks, ‘And who can tell what may not happen when a Christian who has not learned to doubt comes to God to claim the fulfillment of one of his promises?’ “ (p. 55)

 

“Of course the Kingdom of God is already here as a spiritual reality wherever God reigns in the hearts of men; but it will be a visible Kingdom when our Lord returns.” (p. 56)

 

“One hardly gets the impression from the average church service that we Christians are unusually happy.  We look worried, bewildered, or disinterested as any other aggregation.” (p. 63)

 

“We hear about everything else nowadays in the preparation of Christ’s witnesses: training, education, personality, ability, appearance, enthusiasm--everything is emphasized except being filled with the Spirit.  We shy away from that as though it were something wild and weird.  There has been extremism indeed on this subject, and so has there been on every other doctrine of the faith.  We are more inclined to argue about it than to experience it.  Whatever it is, most of us do not have it.  Yet it is not only the privilege but also the duty of every Christian.” (p. 64)

 

“This age makes much of scholarship, specialization, and showmanship.  These are the weapons of the modern Philistines and we are trying to defeat them with their own equipment.  Scholarship is not enough.  We need sanctified scholarship and can use all the brains we can accumulate.  I heard of a brother who said in his prayer, ‘Lord, I thank Thee that I am ignorant.’  Someone remarked, ‘Evidently he has a lot to be thankful for!’  God puts no premium on ignorance.  However, we have never had more education and less sense than today.” (p. 68)

 

“Evangelical Christianity is blowing a fuse trying to sound intellectual.  We have developed an apologetic attitude in the presence of liberalism.  We seem to be saying, Pardon us, we don’t know much, but give us some time and we will try to catch up with our homework and develop some scholars who can match wits with the best of them.’  The new theology [and he means neo-evangelicalism, particularly as exemplified by Fuller Seminary of the 1940s and 50s--editor] is a pitiful example of nervous orthodoxy.  Conservatives spend much of their time merely trying to explain that they are not fundamentalists!  We shall have to produce something besides more Ph.D.’s to solve our problem.  We are not going to think ourselves out of this dilemma, for the way out is not head-first!” (p. 69)

 

“Years ago a convention met in Indianapolis to discuss ‘How to Reach the Masses.’  One day during that convention a young man stood on a box on a street corner and began to preach.  He gathered a crowd which he led down to the Academy of Music where he preached to them again.  But he had to cut short that service, for the convention on ‘How to Reach the Masses’ was soon to gather in the same auditorium.  While the convention was discussing how to reach the masses, the young man, who was Dwight L. Moody, was doing it!” (p. 69)

 

“Blessed is the man who learns quite early that the ministry is the poorest business in the world if one is looking merely for appreciation.” (p. 83)

 

“The man who lambasts fundamentalists but never says a word about modernists--including the new varieties--will bear watching.” (p. 91)

 

“Nowhere in the New Testament is the size of the crowd the criterion of good preaching.  Our Lord sometimes preached His crowd away.  It is not our business to make the message acceptable, but to make it available.  We are not to make them like it, but to see that they get it.” (p. 96)

 

Quoting Spurgeon:

“Our King will set up the Kingdom when He comes.  In this age it is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men, not meat and drink but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (p. 105)

 

Quoting J. C. Ryle:

“Nothing so chills and dampens the faith of Christians as indulgence in unscriptural expectations.” (p. 105; claims of the right to unlimited healing in this dispensation, and the name-it-and-claim-it spiritual fig leaf for old-fashioned greed surely fall under this category--editor)

 

“[P]rophecy faddists . . . cast reproach on the real truth by wild perversions.” (p. 108)

 

“Prayer has four boundaries: according to His Word, according to His will, according to our need, according to our faith.  No man need feel restricted with that much latitude.” (p. 112)

 

“The very fact that the truth is not popular is all the more reason for preaching it.  The very fact that men will not endure it is a reason for seeing that they get it.  It is not our responsibility to make it acceptable; it is our duty to make it available.” (p. 125)

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Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, And The Opening Of The American West by Stephen E. Ambrose.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.  511, pp, hardback.

 

Stephen Ambrose is one of the most prolific writers (and a sometimes plagarist) among currently-living professional American historians (previously reviewed in AISI were his books Citizen Soldiers, 1:7; Band of Brothers, 4:11; and Comrades, 4:12).  This volume is a biography of Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), the “Lewis” of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.

 

The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806) was in its own way as monumental an achievement--perhaps even more so--as the voyages of discovery of Columbus and Cook. 

 

In 1803, The United States acquired the “Louisiana territory” (meaning the entire drainage basin of the Mississippi River on its western side) by purchase from Napoleon.  Even prior to the completion of this transaction, President Thomas Jefferson had appointed his personal secretary, Lt. Meriwether Lewis to organize and lead an expedition to explore the Missouri River to its source, and seek for, and hopefully find, an all-water route to the Pacific coast.  Eventually, a second co-Captain of the expedition was obtained in the person of William Clark, as well as some thirty enlisted men to make the journey (various others also participated on shorter or longer segments of the trip, including numerous American Indians who served as guides or translators).

 

In the spring of 1804, the party set out from the mouth of the Missouri River, and would be gone for 28 months, returning September 1806.  They rowed, poled and towed one heavy water craft (more or less an overloaded barge carrying an immense quantity of supplies and trade goods) and several smaller ones against the current upstream to the Great Falls of the Missouri in what is today western Montana (the Missouri is easily the longest river in North America).  They then crossed over to and through the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, down the Columbia River (and some of its tributaries) to the Pacific coast, over-wintered there, and then retraced their course more or less, returning to St. Louis by land and water.  The physical exertion was tremendous; even while commonly consuming 9 or 10 pounds of meat per day each (they became especially fond of dog), besides occasionally some cornmeal, flour, wild fruit, or fish, the men still were often hungry.

 

One the way out, the expedition encountered various plains, mountain, and Pacific Northwest Indian tribes, some friendly (Mandans, Shoshones, Nez Perce), some decidedly hostile (Teton Sioux, Blackfeet) and some stand-offish.  They endured hardships all but unimaginable from wildlife (especially grizzlies), weather (bitter cold in their first winter, among the Mandans of North Dakota, and torrential, chilling rains on the Pacific coast during their winter camp there a year later), geography (treacherous mountains, whitewater rapids and waterfalls, cactus-covered deserts in Montana) and personal depravation (inadequate clothing, multiple diseases and sicknesses, malnourishment, repeated near-starvation).  Yet, somehow, they made the trek out and back with the loss of but one man--who died the first summer, probably of a ruptured appendix.

 

The purpose of the trip was to gather information about the Indians, geography, climate, flora and fauna of the region, but especially about trade possibilities.  As a consequence, Lewis (and others) kept detailed journals, wrote detailed descriptions of people, places and things, collected specimens, took repeated scientific measurements, and compiled maps.

 

The trip also solidified American claims to the Louisiana territory, and laid a foundation for future claims to the Pacific Northwest, outside the Louisiana Purchase and at the time still disputed by several countries.

 

After returning to St. Louis, then reporting to Jefferson, Lewis was appointed governor of the Louisiana territory, in which he served for only a couple of years.

 

While returning to Washington to give an accounting for questionable expenditures he had authorized as governor, and recently personally bankrupted by land speculation schemes, Lewis fell into severe depression (a family legacy), aggravated by the use of opium-laced medication and heavy drinking, and took his own life in a wayside inn along the Natchez Trace in southern Tennessee.  He never published the journals that he had so painstakingly compiled.

 

Ambrose, himself a some-time resident of Montana and an avid outdoorsman, has written a readable and interesting account, though it is a virtually wholly “secularized.”  Nowhere in the narrative does Ambrose mention the presence of a Bible among the explorers, nor any kind of religious observance.  A very few times--when quoting Lewis’ own words--God, prayer and eternity are mentioned; Ambrose speaks only of the expedition’s “incredible luck” in certain circumstances, never of providence.  I cannot believe that any group of men (even soldiers, who are all too often profane, immoral, and given to drink as these men sometimes were), led by “respectable” Virginians (as both Lewis and Clark were) would have been without a Bible or any religious observances for more than two years.  I strongly suspect that a reading of the published journals would reveal a different picture on this score than that which Ambrose presents.  In addition to this defect, it should be noted that Ambrose repeatedly plays “armchair quarterback,” criticizing with less than 20/20 hindsight the decisions made at various times by Lewis or Clark during the expedition.  These intrusions into the narrative detract from the flow of the book and rarely offer any insights the reader cannot draw for himself.

 

All in all, the volume repays the time and attention invested in its perusal.

                                                                        ---Doug Kutilek

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