"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 6, Number 3, March 2003
“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. 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 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.]
THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO EVERYTHING
“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”
--Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903),
Essays (1891), vol. 3, p. 354 (quoted from The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2nd edition, p. 508)
“As a Friend of Squawks McGrew Used To Say, ‘You Could Look It Up!’ ”
The great English writer, lexicographer, conversationalist and quintessential curmudgeon Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) declared, “Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.” (James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson. New York: Modern Library edition, p. 535).
It is to be hoped that every intelligent person, especially one engaged in teaching others the Scriptures from the pulpit, in the Sunday school classroom, in college or seminary, is constantly adding to his store of things he simply “knows” outright. No Bible teacher merits self-respect or the respect of others if he is not constantly, deliberately, diligently increasing his hoarded stores of knowledge, about the Bible, most assuredly, but also on a variety of other subjects. But be he ever so diligent, ever so widely read, ever so inquisitive and acquisitive of information, with a highly attentive memory and all, it is simply impossible for anyone to know everything, even about the narrowest of subjects.
As a consequence, it is essential that a person who wishes to be as fully and accurately informed as realistically possible, equip himself with the knowledge of reliable and accessible sources of information on whatever subjects may come within his sphere of interest or need. In short, he’s got to be acquainted with reference works.
As a preacher, teacher, missionary and writer, I am constantly in need of ready access to precise and accurate information about people, dates, events, places, things and ideas touching a broad spectrum of subjects. I am in fact a glutton for such information. I have had to learn by long and sometimes frustrating experience where to find such information and how to find it in a timely and efficient manner.
I have at times been compelled to rely on public and university libraries for information, since my library, limited but growing, lacked the needed volumes. But the nearest university library is a half hour away, which is very inconvenient when on a Saturday night I need specific facts about someone or something for the next day’s lesson. So, as soon as possible financially, I have deliberately acquired most of the most necessary reference works, not sparing the wallet (though always buying wisely) in the pursuit of knowledge.
Decades ago, I first read this sage observation from A. T. Robertson, “The man who has the best tools, other things being equal, will do the best work. Efficiency is largely skill in the use of the right tools. The modern preacher in his study is a man with his tools. If he does not have the right tools upon his desk, he cannot produce rapid results and as high grade work as he otherwise may. . . . No preacher can be satisfied with less than the best that is in him. One can usually tell the quality of a preacher’s work by looking at the books in his library. . . . How can a man who can get the best tools be content to use any others? How can he be willing to have the best tools and not use them?” (The Minister and His Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 reprint, pp. 23, 24). Long experience has re-enforced the accuracy of Robertson’s remark, and of necessity, I have sought to accumulate the best reference tools.
Some prefer to consult internet sources for information, and no doubt there is much there, but unless it is a recognized and authoritative source, the information may be worthless or worse--downright inaccurate and misinformative. I am a devotee of the printed page, bound and in hand.
Having in previous articles discussed ten basic books for Bible study (AISI 1:6); books of quotations (3:5), Bible concordances (6:1), Bible commentaries (3:5), works on Old Testament Introduction (5:5), the study of the English language (3:2) and sources of information about foreign language Bible versions (1:10; 3:5), we will here discuss basic reference works that are worthy of a place in every serious Bible student’s personal library. By acquiring and using between 20 and 30 basic reference works, totaling about 100 volumes in all, the student can find some information about almost anything. In truth, if I had only the reference works in the three tall bookcases massed around my desk (with some slight readjustments), I would not be badly served if I had not another book in my library (and, shhh! That’s just between you and me--don’t tell my wife).
For general information on the broadest spectrum of topics, there is nothing that can match a good encyclopedia or two. I have two that I keep within reach. The larger is Encyclopedia Britannica, a massive 29-volume work, with two-volume index and a one-volume guide; my copy was purchased used when scarcely a year old, for a fraction of the “new” price (new it was something over $2,200, being leather-bound; I paid $600). Well-intentioned parents or grandparents often buy such sets for a student heading off to college; the student, more interested in “partying” than study disposes of such sets to used book dealers. Every used bookstore is regularly offered such sets; let your local dealer know you are interested in a recent set, and in a matter of a few weeks or at most a couple of months, he will acquire one for you (they don’t otherwise like to invest in them, since buying a set ties up hundreds of dollars, with uncertain prospects of re-selling it). Britannica is authoritative, divided between brief summary articles in the first 12 volumes and lengthy and detailed articles in the last 17 and gives bibliography for most topics. And for those who can endure it, the set is available on CD-ROM, for a fraction of the printed and bound price.
You never know what you can find in EB. Some 5-plus years ago, our younger son Matthew was a “knob” (freshman) at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the indignities suffered by knobs is the constant demand by upperclassmen for obscure information “by the next mess” (meal). One question put to Matthew: what was the name of Hannibal’s elephant? He desperately e-mailed me in Hungary where I was on a mission trip. The missionary where I was staying had a 15-year-old set of Britannica, and ever-so-vaguely remembering that I had run across the answer in the article on elephants some years before, I checked the index--sure enough, Hannibal and his elephant were noted, volume number and page. I e-mailed the information back to Matthew and to the amazement of the inquiring upperclassman, he had the answer by mealtime. Syricus.
The other encyclopedia I employ is The Columbia Encyclopedia, a weighty one-volume work. Used copies, dating back 40, 50, even 60 years litter the shelves of most used bookstores. These can be had for a nominal amount, and I used a half-century-old copy for a decade. New copies are about $125, retail; I ran across copies, new and still in the box, for $25 in Bozeman, Montana last spring. I bought one for myself (they had six); I decided a week later to get one for Matthew--all gone. (Lesson: if you see a book you need, at a bargain price, never hesitate; buy it, lest your opportunity be forever lost. I have regretted far more often books I didn’t buy than those I did). Columbia is much easier to use that EB, with brief, quick-to-read articles, sometimes having information EB lacks.
For handy reference, a world almanac is ideal. Issued annually in a single, usually paperback, volume, they give lots of facts about a very wide range of topics regarding nations--cities, population, religion, industry, climate, rainfall, natural resources, agricultural production, current rulers, etc. They also deal with topics as diverse as sports records, history, astronomy, lists of academy awards winners, and a thousand and one other topics (they come with full indices). They also may include world and national maps. A new one need not be purchased but once every few years.
As regards Bible-related information, there are two basic categories: general encyclopedias which cover Bible-related topics but also topics that generally fall under the heading “church history.” The other is works restricted to the Bible or Bible-related topics, i.e., Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Of the former, two are particular note: the first is A Religious Encyclopedia, edited by Philip Schaff, in 4 volumes. Based on a German work, and first appearing in English garb in 1882 (third edition, 1894), this work is better known in its much expanded form, the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (SHERK), edited by Samuel M. Jackson in 13 volumes, originally published 1908 but reprinted repeatedly. I bought the 4-volume edition in the early 1980s fro $21; having passed up a new set of the 12-volume edition at half-price ca. 1978, I acquired a used set (missing volume 9, for which I am still searching) from a seminary student for $30 just 5 years ago. Two supplemental volumes, titled Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Lefferts A. Loetscher, were published by Baker in 1955 (I think every used bookstore in America has one or the other--rarely both--of these supplement volumes). A yet further revision in this series is the one-volume New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by J. D. Douglas (Baker, 1991. Second edition). Since each of these has information not found in the others, I keep and use all of these volumes.
Dating from the same era as the earliest forms of Schaff-Herzog, the second notable general reference work is Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (CBTEL), edited by John McClintock and James Strong (“Mr. Concordance”) in 10 volumes with a 2-volume supplement. First published over the 20-year period 1867-1887, the set contains a wealth of information, especially on topics relating to church history, particularly now-obscure persons, that are still of real merit.
With both the early forms of SHERK and CEBTL, articles dealing with archaeology and topics informed by archaeological discoveries are naturally out-dated. But with most subjects they address, additional discoveries and studies are largely inconsequential advances in knowledge. I would be severely handicapped in my research without these works close at hand.
Regarding works focusing exclusively on the Bible and subjects related thereto, the first essential work is a Bible dictionary. Coming in both single and multiple volume forms, we will address the former first.
Of single-volume Bible dictionaries, the palm as the first and most useful must go to The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, edited by Merrill F. Unger (Chicago: Moody Press; revised and updated edition, 1988, edited by R. K. Harrison). Thoroughly conservative, it covers just about every Bible-related subject. The revised edition is a decided improvement over the earlier form (which, frankly, had inferior art work, among other deficiencies). Every Bible student should have Unger, and I would place it as the absolute first Bible study tool to buy.
A second one-volume Bible dictionary of real merit is The New Bible Dictionary, edited by J. D. Douglas (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1982. Second edition; I understand that there is a third edition, but I haven’t seen it). It differs from Unger in its strongly British orientation, greater emphasis on archaeological subjects (too much so, some think), and being a bit less conservative (late date Exodus, weak on inspiration in places). A heavily-illustrated, somewhat revised form of this dictionary was issued as The Illustrated Bible Dictionary in 3 volumes (Inter-Varsity Press, 1980). No Bible dictionary known to me is better-supplied with photos, drawing, maps and charts than this one.
All other one-volume Bible dictionaries beyond these are inferior. Some of the others, Davis’ Bible Dictionary and Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary are useable but of decidedly lesser merit. The old Smith’s Bible Dictionary in one volume, though still reprinted and commonly met with cheap, is practically worthless, it is so out-dated.
Of multiple-volume Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, there are several of note and worthy of purchase. We will deal with these chronologically.
Sir William Smith (1813-1893) first made his mark in classical studies but edited in the 1860s what was in its day the pre-eminent Bible dictionary in English, Dictionary of the Bible in 3 volumes. An American edition, recognized as a definite advance over the British original, was edited by Baptist professor H. B. Hackett, and issued in 4 volumes. A broad spectrum of the best contemporary Christian scholars were enlisted in producing this set. And despite its age, parts of it are still of real and permanent worth. The article on the “Vulgate” by B. F. Westcott, and that on “Version, Authorized” by E. H. Plumtre are typical of these. The bibliographies are often extended and almost essential for research on 18th and 19th century scholarship. Reprints, of the American edition, are fairly common (e.g, Baker, 1981) [William Smith and his incredible productivity as scholar and editor deserves a separate article, which we hope in the future to supply].
Next, by-passing several works, especially some of a highly radical nature, we note the Bible-related dictionaries edited by James Hastings (1852-1922). The most famous is the five-volume Dictionary of the Bible (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1898-1904; one-volume edition, 1909; one-volume revision, 1963). It is a worthy successor and improvement on Smith. The level of scholarship and technical detail is high. There isn’t much spiritual “warmth” to be found here, but there is a great deal of information. With many subjects, precious little advance has been made over the treatment given here. Every Bible college and seminary student and professor should be acquainted by personal use with this set. Later, Hastings edited the Dictionary of Christ and the Apostles in two volumes (T. & T. Clark, 1906-8) and the Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, also two volumes (T. & T. Clark, 1915-18; both of these last two sets were reprinted by Baker in the 1970s).
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) Chicago: The Howard-Severance Co.) in five volumes was edited by Scottish scholar and Bible apologist James Orr (1844-1913), who was succeeded in subsequent revisions by several others editors. The first edition appeared in 1915; revised edition, 1929. Conservative in its orientation, it has articles of enduring merit. “Chronology of the New Testament” by W. P. Armstrong of Princeton Seminary is one of these. A new incarnation of this set appeared in 1979 in 4 volumes, edited by Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). Some articles are carried over, usually with revisions (though A.T. Robertson’s “Baptism: Baptist View” is reproduced as it first appeared) from the earlier editions; most are completely re-written. The point of view is generally conservative theologically but not always.
The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia, edited by Merrill Tenney in 5 volumes (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), is frankly inferior as a reference set. I rarely use it, preferring others mentioned here.
Two non-conservative works must be mentioned because of their value in discussing matters not directly theologically-related: archaeology, ancient customs, plants, animals, geography, ancient Bible manuscripts and versions, etc., and of course their bibliographies that help trace the scholarly literature on topics. The first of these is The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible edited by George Arthur Buttrick in 4 volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962; supplementary 5th volume, 1976). Moderately liberal in its perspective, if used with discernment, it can prove helpful. The article on “only-begotten” is exactly on target, and the article in the supplementary volume on “Q,” the hypothetical common “source” of Matthew and Luke, is the best brief summary of the subject I have found.
The second work is The Anchor Bible Dictionary in 6 volumes, edited by David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992). Decidedly liberal in its over-all approach, though with some conservatives among the 1,000 contributors, it has up-to-date bibliographies on most articles, has worthwhile treatments of Bible versions, matters relating to archaeology, the inter-testamental period, and other matters and serves the seminary student and scholar as a quick guide to the current state of scholarship, essential in doing technical research. It will stand as a standard work for the foreseeable future.
If we may briefly dip into the subject of church history (but ignoring chronological church histories such as Schaff’s eight-volume set, History of the Christian Church), several reference works are essential. Besides SHERK and CEBTL detailed above, the following are necessary to the well-equipped library: A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines (of the first eight centuries A.D.), edited by William Smith and Henry Wace (London: John Murray, 1877; 4 volumes). An immense work, wherein can be found extended scholarly articles on every church father or person of note in the period, including Josephus, Muhammed, and 137 different men named Eusebius! There is even an article on “Hebrew learning among the fathers” by C. J. Ellicott, an article that must have taken him several months to prepare. An abridged form of this work which first appeared in 1911 has been reprinted by Hendrickson/CBD. There is no substitute for this set (it is rare, and expensive in the used market). A companion set is A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities edited by William Smith and Samuel Cheetham (London: John Murray, 1876) in 2 volumes. This work details the development in early Christian belief and practice of such topics as “baptism,” “bishop,” “canonical books,” “church,” “Christmas,“ ”deacon,” “fasting,” etc. The range of articles and depth of treatment is remarkable.
More recent reference works on church history are The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by Frank L. Cross (London: Oxford University Press, 1957). Now in its third edition at the breath-taking price of $125, this one-volume work with ca. 1,500 closely-packed pages has brief, scholarly, bibliographied articles about the whole spectrum of persons, places and events in church history from the 1st to the 20th centuries, though with an Anglican emphasis and insufficient attention to evangelicals. A suitable starting point for any research within these parameters.
A somewhat briefer (and happily less expensive) work of a similar nature, though usually without any bibliography but with more attention given to conservatives, is The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978. Second edition).
Another remarkable tool, though not limited to “church history” is The Compact Edition of the Dictionary of National Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1975). This reduced 2-volume edition (complete with magnifying glass) of the 28-volume set, gives biographical accounts of more than 23,000 historically important individuals from the British Isles. I have used it to look up English Reformers, KJV translators, 17th century Baptists, various theologians, publishers, historians, professors, pastors, writers, and more. A truly authoritative work, though you may need a seeing-eye dog after using this edition with microscopic type.
One more work must be mentioned: Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics edited by James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. T. Clark, 1910) in 12 very thick volumes. It has articles on practically every imaginable deity, religion, and religious practice and custom, ancient and modern--even an article on “tatoos” (and just how timely is that!). I frankly have not used this set with great frequency, though it is nice to have. Probably the occasional consultation at the public or university library will suffice, unless it can be had cheap (I paid $100; it commonly is offered for sale used for $500 and up)
(There are other valuable works on specialized subjects--Judaism, Catholicism, Adventism, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and much else that cannot detain us now. Perhaps another day.)
These then are the reference works that I have found to be most valuable and informative in my research and writing. It took me years to discover many of these and still more years to acquire them all. I have not begun to exhaust the riches they hold. No doubt there are other works that are of great value about which I know nothing, or which I have had no opportunity to use. But I can with confidence affirm that from these works, I can find out something, often much or even all that I wish to know, about almost any subject related to the Bible, church history, and the world at large. Besides knowing what I do know, I know where to look to find what I do not know.
TRASHING THE PLANET by Dixy Lee Ray with Lou Guzzo. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. 206 pp, paperback.
An immense amount of what passes as “environmental science” in our day is bogus alarmist rhetoric. In the 1970s, the intelligentsia were warning of impeding global cooling, now it is global warming that is the “doomsday” scenario that is shoved in our face. We are assured of the imminent doom of mankind and every species on the planet unless we take the most radical steps, immediately. Everything from auto emissions (and now SUV bashing) and greenhouse gases to acid rain, toxic chemicals, nuclear energy, soil depletion and deforestation are pointed to as “proof” that the end is all but here. And to stave off these dire consequences, we must turn over all of our technology, liberty, and property to the absolute control of an elite corps of self-appointed experts who “know what is best” for us so that they can save us from ourselves (ignoring the huge fact that where government control over the environment has been greatest--such as in the former Soviet bloc--pollution and environmental degradation have been at their absolute worst). This radical environmentalism was typified in Al Gore’s book Earth in the Balance which called for the outright banning of all internal combustion engines, and in essence, a return to an “Amish” lifestyle for everyone (except of course for the elite).
A breath of fresh air in the midst of all this claptrap is this decade-old little volume by the late Dixy Lee Ray, Governor of the state of Washington and for a time head of the Atomic Energy Commission, being herself a highly-trained nuclear scientist.
Ray addresses numerous environmental concerns, and shows that in nearly all cases, the “danger” is far less than the shrill voices of environmental extremists claim (they often fabricate false data to support their claims), and the “remedies” often cause more harm than the problem they are intended to “correct.” Among her arguments: acid rain existed long before any fossil fuels were burned--in fact, all rain is naturally acid, and the extreme measures taken to reduce power plant emissions of sulfur, etc. have made almost no change in rain acidity; in short--man is not the cause of acid rain. Volcanoes emit far more in the way of sulfur, carbon dioxide and particulate matter into the air than man ever has or could.
There was global warming, and sharply increased atmospheric CO2 at various times in the past (centuries and millennia ago) which can in no way be attributable to human activity (the single greatest producer by far of greenhouse gases on earth is termites). And instead of America becoming a tree-less wasteland, the total current forest cover in the U.S. is probably equal to or greater than what it was in 1620. It is certainly much higher than it was in 1900, and is increasing (a large part of the forest increase is due to chemical-based farm production which increased dramatically in the mid-20th century, which in turn reduced the number of acres needed to feed the population by hundreds of millions of acres; mechanization eliminated the need to feed millions of draft horses and mules, again reducing the need for vast acreages of pasture and hay. Also, the conversion to gas, oil, coal--those “evil” fossil fuels--and electricity for heat-generation reduced the amount of wood cut for fuel, leaving more trees growing).
Nuclear energy, in spite of a propaganda war waged against it by extremists in and out of the media, is by far the most “environmentally friendly” form of electrical generation: none of the greenhouse gases generated by coal (or oil) burners, no millions of tons of ash to dispose of, no massive transportation costs (and how many die each year in coal mining accidents or car-coal train collisions? None die in nuclear power plant accidents). Even the “worst” nuclear accident in U.S. history (Three-Mile Island in the 1970s) exposed those in closest proximity to it to far less radiation than they would get from a single chest x-ray. And the long-term safe storage of nuclear waste is a problem to which there has long been a perfectly workable and safe solution, but emotion, rather than facts, has governed the public perception and debate over the matter. Yet with developing power shortages nation-wide, the critics of nuclear power (and for that matter of coal, oil and gas as well, and even wind and hydro) are adamant against any new power plant construction.
DDT (when still legal and widely used in mosquito control) was responsible for saving the lives of millions of people who would have died from malaria; now malaria levels are back to what they were before DDT’s introduction. DDT as an environmental “hazard” has been much over-rated. Ditto for dioxin, PCB, freon, and asbestos. Radical environmentalism is the new Nazism, where force, terror, propaganda, and suppression of dissenting voices are the standard patterns of behavior.
Ray’s book, though more than a decade old, is still very much “up-to-date” and serves as an excellent antidote to the deliberate campaign of environmental misinformation that spews from the far left Green Peacers, Earth Firsters, Sierra Clubbers (of which I was one back in the early 70s), PETA, and such like.
A BOOK OF ONE’S OWN: PEOPLE AND THEIR DIARIES by Thomas Mallon. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1984. 318 pp., paperback.
As a chronic journal-keeper of long-standing (approaching 26 years, and well past 50 notebooks in all), I found the subject of this book--the journals kept by famous or notorious or even sometimes obscure people--sparked my interest. While the book too frequently descends into the seamy, it was not without its interest, though I would have found it of much greater value to me if it had dealt more extensively with fewer journals and journal-keepers but had done so in much greater depth. The author does examine the “why” of journal keeping--what motivated these people to write down their thoughts and actions. Some did so treating the journal as a confidant with whom to share things unutterable to another human being, others wrote in hope that they would not be forgotten by future generations, others to justify themselves to posterity, others as a tool of self-examination, others as an ad hoc confessional, seeking absolution, still others as a place to try out ideas, essays, and thoughts, before expanding them into (hopefully) publishable material. Every long-time journal keeper will admit to having employed his journal for all these purposes and more. There was just enough of interest here--and a smattering of notable quotations--to bring this to the readers’ attention.
Quotes from A Book of One’s Own by Thomas Mallon--
“The accumulated past [preserved in journals] makes the shrinking future more bearable.” (p. xv)
“After reading hundreds of diaries in the last several years, I’ve come to feel sure of three things. One is that writing books is too good an idea to be left to authors; another is that almost no one has had an easy life; and the third is that no one ever kept a diary for just himself.” (p. xvii)
“Diaries are the flesh made word.” (xvii; a great turn of phrase!)
“A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.” (Edmond de Goncourt, p. 23)
“There is a certain irrefutable pleasure to be had in hearing nasty things well said about other people.” (p. 34)
“Most of us believe that ill will is all right so long as it’s quotable.” (p. 38)
“Will he [i.e. the self-searching diarist] be able to call up enough self-esteem to fight off the cold, sweaty suspicion that he never accomplished anything in life’s work?” (p. 102)
“During the middle of the 17th century the habit of charting one’s spiritual progress in a diary was extremely common among Nonconformists.” (p. 105; such ‘charting’ is making a comeback)
“[John] Milton prepared himself with more lengthy and intentional learning that any poet before or since.” (p. 123)
The suicide of Captain FitzRoy of the H.M.S. Beagle many years after the famous 1830-35 voyage “is thought by some to have been connected to his guilt over the assistance he provided Darwin in gathering the data that would eventually lead to his irreligious assault on man’s belief in his splendidly complete debut as Adam” (p. 158)
“Leonardo da Vinci . . . kept notebooks for roughly 40 years, . . . . His manuscripts run to 5,000 pages . . . . He never got around to publishing anything while he was alive, and it’s no wonder. For all the evidence of revision in his notebooks, for all the emendations that show he was bent on seeing his treatises printed up and passed around, he seems to have been far more concerned with thinking about everything avidly than anything finally. When you are, after all, Interested in everything, distractions come easily. . . . In one of his notebooks Leonardo worries about wasting time, doing too little and doing it so badly that no impression of himself will be left.” (pp. 163-4, 165)
“Love, it is said, may be blind; but, it is duly noted, the neighbors aren’t.” (p. 202)
“. . . Saint Augustine’s prayer to God to make him pure, but not too soon.” (p. 208)
“It is easy to believe that one’s own authorized version and the truth are the same thing.” (p. 209; though it has contextually nothing to do with it, in light of the present day English Bible translation, I couldn’t let this quote pass unnoticed!--editor)
“For all our curiosity, no one else’s secrets ever turn out to be quite as interesting as our own.” (214)
“After a while, you’re always writing for a public.” (Leon Edel, p. 223)
“In his book Why Men Confess, John O. Rogge reminds us that more than two hundred people owned up to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, seventeen to the murder of the ‘Black Dahlia,’ and countless others to countless crimes uncommitted by themselves.” (p. 246)
“A chronic diarist and a prisoner share . . . an extreme awareness of time.” (p. 262)
“What seems to be an almost physical law: the more assiduously someone keeps his own diaries the more he will read others as well.” (p. 274)
“Why do we wish to be remembered, even when none remain who looked upon our face? Surely, though it must retain an element of self-consideration, it is a last acknowledgement that we need to be loved; and, having gone from all touch, we trust that memory may, as it were, keep our unseen presence within the borders of day.” (William Soutar, p. 285)
“Adulthood: a state attained when one comes to accept, or at least intuit, that God, biology, and our so-called fellow men have no intention of accommodating our dreams.” (p. 291; this sounds like something from Ambrose Bierce’ The Devil’s Dictionary, though on checking, it apparently is not)
OLD LANDMARKISM AND THE BAPTISTS: An Examination of the Theories of “Church Authority” and “Church Succession.” Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1979. 188 pp., paperback, $6.00
The “Landmark” movement arose among Southern Baptists in the decade preceding the American Civil War, though some of its elements existed in scattered places before that. The chief creators and proponents of this system were J. R. Graves (1820-1893), J. M. Pendleton (1811-1891), and A. C. Dayton (1813-1865).
In essence, Landmarkism claims that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) was given exclusively to the local church and that only the local church has either the authority or power to carry out any of its parts. This a priori premise leads to a claim of the necessity of baptism on proper authority, i.e. local church authority. This in turn leads of necessity to claiming a succession of baptisms on proper authority all the way back to the Apostles--the Baptist version of Roman Catholicism’s claims of Apostolic succession.
Concurrent with the succession of baptisms are claims of successions of churches (no church is a “true church” unless it was started by a “mother church” in the true succession) and of ordained ministers. Central to Landmarkism is the belief that God has never called an unimmersed man to the ministry, that all such unbaptized preachers are in fact not ministers of the Gospel, but interlopers with no “authority” to propagate the Gospel. Judging from the facts of history, however, God seems to have blessed abundantly the preaching of such unimmersed men as Luther, Calvin, the Wesleys, Whitefield, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday and a multitude of others, in spite of their lack of Biblical baptism on Landmark authority. And as a personal note--I myself was unmistakably called to preach August 14, 1970, but was not biblically immersed until November, 1970, and never received any further post-baptism call.
One zealous Landmarker recently asked me if I thought that unimmersed preachers were ever called of God. My reply was that it would be the depths of absurdity to deny that the blessing of God was upon the preaching of George Whitefield (the chief beneficiaries of the Whitefieldian revivals, by the way, were Baptist churches).
In short-speak, these distinctive claims of Landmarkism are referred to by adherents as “church truth” and not infrequently are believed by partisans to be the “touchstone” of all doctrinal soundness: if you conform to their system in these matters, you are “sound” pretty much regardless of whatever else you may believe or do.
According to Ross, the chief difficulties faced by Landmarkism in pressing their views is that 1) Christ said that all power was given to Him, not to any local church or to the disciples collectively or individually; 2) not once in the book of Acts is there a baptism that corresponds to what Landmarkers insist is essential: a vote by a local church before a baptism was performed, and in some cases, baptism was performed by unordained men; 3) it is simply historically impossible to trace with certainty a succession of baptisms on “proper authority,” thereby leaving everyone’s baptism perpetually in doubt, if the Landmark scheme is correct. Just one improper baptism in the whole chain would invalidate every subsequent baptism.
Landmarkers also generally believe only Landmark Baptist churches make up “the bride of Christ” with some insisting that such churches and they alone constitute “the kingdom of God.” Of course, the next logical step--which thankfully few have taken--is to claim that there is no salvation outside such churches (of course, Rome does take that next logical step and says that, since they are the true successors of the Apostles and their church had all authority delegated to it by Christ, there is no salvation outside their church. Granting this premise--the same Landmarkers claim for themselves--this is the logical outcome)
Ross, raised in the Landmark camp and for a time an advocate of it, was led to reject the scheme upon personal study and examination of the theological and historical claims of Landmarkism. He demonstrates that most Baptists, historically, have not been Landmarkers, and among Landmarkers themselves there are numerous divisions and schisms.
Ross concludes that the validity and legitimacy of any church is determined by how closely it follows the doctrines of Scripture, not by whether it can show its pedigree and trace its lineage into the remote past. With this, we certainly agree.
Anyone wishing to study the issue of Landmarkism would do well to get and examine this still-in-print, small but informative volume.