Volume 8, Number 5, May 2005


“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.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org


All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only.  Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand.  Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given.]



The Unpredictability of Genius


“Genius has a way of cropping up in unexpected places and . . . none of the great creative writers of the world got his inspiration in a college or university course.”

Louis B. Wright, editor

The Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare:

The Merchant of Venice,

(New York: Washington Square Press, 1957),

p. xvii



“Qui Desiderat Pacem, Praeparet Bellum”


Thus wrote 4th century A.D. Roman military writer Flavius Vegetius Renatus in his highly important and long-influential work, Epitoma Rei Militaris (“A Summary of Military Matters”).  In English translation, his words read: “He who wants peace, let him prepare for war.”  Truer words were never written.  (For some account of Vegetius’ life and writings, see The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., 1992, vol. 12, p. 294).


As noted historian Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) remarked in his classic, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, “History. . . is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind” (J. B. Bury edition in 7 vols., AMS Press, 1974; vol. 1, p. 84; the observation was not original with Gibbon; he was alluding to a remark made by Oliver Goldsmith in 1762.  See Burton Stevenson, compiler, The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims and Familiar Phrases, [Macmillan, 1948], p. 1144).  And the quintessence of human crimes, follies and misfortunes is war.  War is sadly but not surprisingly characteristic of all human history, and the greatest epochs in national and international history are marked by wars.


In our own American history, the events of greatest moment and impact have been wars.  The single most transforming four year period in the nearly 400 years since English colonists first settled in the New World was the American Civil War, 1861-1865.  In terms of world-wide transformation, the two great world wars of the 20th century, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, produced more massive changes political, economic, technological, and sociological than any like periods in the 5,000 years of recorded history.


The abominations of war are many.  The deaths of combatants, the slaughter of innocents, the massive direct expense of war-making, the widespread devastation of property and infrastructure, and the multiplied human suffering in the aftermath.  With all of war’s horrors in view, at least some of mankind have long struggled to answer the question: how may wars be avoided?  Indeed, can war itself be exterminated?  President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) in a remarkable display of appalling ignorance of both human nature and history--and he had been professor of history at Princeton!-- famously spoke of “the Great War” of 1914-1918 as “the war to end all wars” (soon to follow events required that it be renamed World War I).  In response to this, philosopher and sometime Harvard professor George Santayana (1863-1952) replied, “Only the dead have seen the end of war” (This notable quote, mis-ascribed to Plato by General Douglas MacArthur in his famous final address to the corps of cadets at West Point in 1962 is discussed in detail at www.plato-dialogues.org/faq/faq008.htm). 


The weight of all of history is on the side of Santayana.  Treaties, councils, alliances, unions of nations, face-to-face talks, the musings of philosophers and the wishful thinking of lesser sorts have all failed utterly to procure a permanent remedy.  A permanent resolution of the causes of war would require far more than an alteration of external human conditions (so much for the late Pope’s dictum, “If you want peace, work for justice”); it would require a radical change in human nature, for the problem indeed is “not in our stars but in ourselves”.  War is a common and frequent folly of mankind, because the very nature of man is consumingly selfish, focused on gaining power, wealth and prestige, and largely blind to the lessons of history.  These innate human character traits guarantee that war will be a recurring self-inflicted plague on the human race.


However, this general pattern does not dictate that specific wars in specific times and places in history are inevitable.  Indeed, wars have frequently been avoided by wise forethought and action, but never by wishful thinking.  As Rush Limbaugh sagely observed in his famous “35 Undeniable Truths of Life,” this is a world governed by the aggressive use of force.  Those who fail for whatever reason to grasp this truth are doomed to blunder badly and at a great ultimate cost in material and blood.


Back in the 1960s, in the rabid but short-sighted anti-war movement in America there was a commonly repeated slogan: “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”  Catchy, but criminally idiotic--as though wishing there were no wars would make it so!  Wars are rarely entered into by mutual consent.  Rather, and quite often, war is forced upon a nation by an aggressor, and you have war whether you want one or not.  Omar Bradley, the American general in charge of the Normandy invasion of June 1944 and the subsequent liberation of France remarked in the late 1960s, during the height of the debate over Vietnam, “Nobody likes war, especially the generals.  They see too much of it.  But in every generation, someone challenges our right to freedom and someone has to fight.”


And it must be recognized that this perspective, this Pollyannaish peacenik approach to the realities of life and international politics, has been adopted repeatedly in the past, and always with stunning consequences for the naïve.  General George Marshall spoke the truth when he said, “We have tried since the birth of our nation to promote our love of peace by a display of weakness.  This course has failed us utterly” (quoted in Patton: a Genius for War by Carlo D’Este, p. 373). 


Among such displays of weakness would be included Jefferson’s scheme in the early days of the republic to keep the fledgling American nation from being caught between the warring European powers England and France.  Jefferson’s ill-considered plan: prohibit trade with both nations (to the detriment of the American economy, both manufacturers and farmers); to this he later added the further mistake of prohibiting American trading shipping to leave American ports.  This early attempt at influencing events by trade sanctions was a dismal failure (still the common result).


But worse were Jefferson’s draconian cuts in America’s military, particularly the navy.  Warships were decommissioned wholesale and replaced with tiny coastal vessels--the only ships we could possibly need in a war, he affirmed.  Jefferson did reduce the national debt by 30% during his presidency, much of the savings at the expense of military preparedness (just as William Jefferson Clinton would almost two centuries later eliminate the federal budget deficits, in large part by radical cuts in America’s military; more below).  This show of weakness encouraged British attacks on American ships, and this great unpreparedness for war, unremedied by Jefferson’s successor James Madison, allowed the British to attack the U.S.--and quite successfully--in the War of 1812.  The British were able with great ease to sail up the virtually undefended Chesapeake Bay, land troops near Washington, D.C. and torch the city.


Another example which was no doubt in Marshall’s mind occurred back during the first Wilson administration (1913-1917).  The Secretary of State was one William Jennings Bryan, noted orator, thrice Democrat presidential candidate (and thrice defeated) and later participant in the famous Scopes Trial (1925).  Whatever may be said of Bryan’s other accomplishments, he was wretched in the extreme as Secretary of State (1913-1915).  While war raged in Europe between Britain, France, Russia, Italy and lesser states, on the one hand, and Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks on the other, and while American ships were under threat and attack by German submarines, Bryan’s proposal to keep us out of war was to be as unprepared for war as possible! (The “suppose they gave a war and no one came” perspective). 


Even after repeated attempts at negotiations, discussions, studies and proposed investigations of the facts failed miserably to even begin to settle anything between warring European states, Bryan urged yet more of the same (not unlike the United Nations which even after 12 resolutions condemning Saddam Hussein, still refused to act, indeed refused to do anything except propose more resolutions).  So weak and feeble was the U.S. military, in the face of the unprecedented conflict in Europe that threatened to draw us in, that when Mexican bandito Pancho Villa crossed the border and raided towns in New Mexico in 1916, the U.S. army was scarcely able to scrape together an adequate force to oppose him!  And the Germans were actually encouraged to continue unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral merchant ships by America’s show of weakness in lack of preparation and lack of will to respond.  Today’s “peace at any price” proponents had a predecessor in Bryan (he also, no surprise, was an advocate of gun control). (On Bryan, see Bryan by Louis W. Koenig [New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1971], pp. 502-569)


This same foolish lack of preparedness was repeated in the 1930s.  As massive military build-ups took place in Germany, Italy and Japan, with reactionary but woefully inadequate build-ups in France, England and elsewhere, the U.S. dawdled.  And even after war in Europe broke out in 1939, we dragged our feet in responding intelligently to the course of world events and were caught on December 7, 1941 dangerously even criminally unready.  Our two great oceans gave us the time necessary to catch up back then, but in today’s era of missiles and nuclear weapons, any such future deficiencies will prove immediately fatal.


After World War II, the lesson’s of recent history went unheeded, as the U.S. military, the most powerful by far on earth, was gutted in the post-war war weariness, leaving an empty shell which by 1950 was too enticing for the communists of Russia and China to resist.  The result: war in Korea.


In 1961, President Kennedy showed weakness in the face of communist aggression.  Though we--the U.S.--had pledged to support militarily thousands of Cuban exiles who were training to invade and re-take their island from the power of Castro and his communist thugs, Kennedy waffled, then cancelled our help, leaving the Cuban freedom-fighters to be either slaughtered on the beaches or taken captive and imprisoned for decades by Castro (whose military had somehow been tipped off to the coming invasion).  And what was the consequence of American indecision and weakness?  A year later, the Russians began installing offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba, which led to the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 and the closest the world has come yet to nuclear holocaust.  Only when Kennedy showed strength--threatening all-out nuclear war (I remember as a boy all the B-47s and B-52s at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita sitting at the ends of the runways with bombs loaded and engines running waiting for the order to take off for Russia)--did the Russians back down.  “We live in a world governed by the aggressive use of force.”


In Vietnam, the American military did achieve its military objectives.  Indeed, even North Vietnamese military leaders have subsequently acknowledged that they were a defeated foe after the Tet Offensive of 1968, which was a stunning defeat for the communists.  However, it was the anti-war, anti-military, anti-America propagandists in the news media--most notably Walter Cronkite--who turned the Tet Offensive into a propaganda victory for the Reds, and the anti-war leftists and radicals (including Bill Clinton, Jane Fonda, John Kerry, and other riff-raff) who wittingly or unwittingly encouraged the communist invaders to continue fighting.  The U.S. left South Vietnam as a free, stable and sovereign nation when the last U.S. combat forces left Vietnam in 1973.  It was only two years later in the Spring of 1975 that South Vietnam fell to the communists--a defeat for which the Democrats in the U.S. Congress were responsible.  Though the Paris peace agreement expressly allowed the U.S. to re-supply and re-arm the South Vietnamese military bullet-for-bullet, bomb-for-bomb, tank-for-tank, plane-for-plane as these things were expended in defending themselves against the invaders from the North, the Democrat-controlled Congress absolutely refused to provide the South Vietnamese with the means necessary to defend themselves from a heavily-armed and heavily re-supplied enemy.  This gutless betrayal was a manifestation of the Democrat Congress’ congenital hatred for the U.S. military, and in part a seeking of vengeance on Richard Nixon who in fact had kept his pledge to get America out of Vietnam with honor (after Democrats Kennedy and especially Johnson led us into that quagmire).  The sharks had already been circling in the waters of Watergate, with the people of South Vietnam among the victims.


In the post-Vietnam 1970s, the U.S. military and all our intelligence services as well were weakened by serious under-funding, hand-tying Congress-imposed restrictions and worse policy weakness.  Jimmy Carter, with a display of ineptness that was remarkable even for him, was dead sure that all that was necessary to turn the Russians from their aggressive ways was genuine assurance from us that we meant them no harm.  Carter was part of the school of thought that imagined that Russian imperialism was caused only by a fear that we might try and dominate them.  Adherents to this notion are hard-pressed to explain how fear of U.S. aggression (!) caused the Russians to invade Poland in 1939 and divvy it up with the Nazis, invade Finland in November of the same year, seize the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1940, domineer all of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Mediterranean in the aftermath of World War II, promote a communist revolution in China in 1949, support the invasion of South Korea by communist troops in 1950,--need I continue?  Somehow out of more than half a century of Russia aggression and violent expansionism, Carter deduced that the Russians were merely acting out of irrational fear of us!  His incompetence knew no bounds.


And how did America’s enemies respond in the mid- to late-1970s to this complete misreading of history with its accompanying show of military weakness and irresolution?  Communist so-called “wars of liberation” (or, to tell the real truth, “wars of enslavement”) sprang up in Angola and elsewhere in Africa (threatening to gain all of southern Africa with its abundant resources for the communist cause), in El Salvador and Nicaragua in Central America; the Russians invaded Afghanistan; the new radical government of Iran (once America’s closest ally in the Persian Gulf region) seized and looted the American embassy and held dozens of American citizens hostage for 444 days.  To all of this, Carter responded with eyebrow-raising “surprise.”  I doubt not for a moment that had there been a second Carter term, the world today would be entirely dominated by the Soviet bloc and its allies, and the toppling of the Soviet leviathan would be a much more remote prospect than it was in 1979.


And now, after the steepest, deepest, and most debilitating cuts in America military preparedness since the end of World War II --I speak of the reduction by 60% under Bill Clinton--, and while America’s capacity to respond militarily is stretched thin by our necessary commitments to the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, we suddenly begin to hear saber-rattling on the part of the communist Chinese.  They have of late strongly ratcheted-up their anti-Taiwan rhetoric, threatening to seize control by force of the free peoples on this small island.  They are also issuing threats against their near neighbors, the Japanese, who by ill-considered law have no offensive military capacity.  I fear to say that were the Chinese to act now with aggression and military force to conquer and enslave Taiwan, we would be militarily too weak to effectively resist, and recent history tells us we should not suppose we would find any sure allies if we did oppose Chinese aggression.  And I fear that our national resolve is weaker than our military preparedness.  Far too many who enjoy freedom in America are, to invert Kennedy’s inaugural remarks, unwilling to pay any price, bear any burden, support any friend or oppose any foe in the defense of freedom.


The unmistakable lesson in all these examples is this: the greatest provocation to aggression against yourself by a foreign nation is a display of weakness, either of military preparedness or a weakness of national will and resolve, a failure of the national soul.


On the other hand, when America has shown itself strong and committed to its own defense, our enemies have refrained from aggression.  During the long decades of the Cold War in Europe (1945-1991), there was no attack by the heavily-armed communist forces of the Warsaw Pact nations against the free democracies in the West.  It was not a lack of aggression nor a lack of lust for land and power that deterred the communists.  Rather, it was the presence of opposing and prepared American, British, German, Dutch and other troops that kept the Russian dogs of war at bay.  Peace in the heart of Europe during those tense decades was a direct consequence of NATO’s preparedness for war.


It could likewise be pointed out that there has been no resumption of hostilities in Korea since the truce of 1953, no further communist assault against the free people of the South, because of the massive American and Korean military presence along the demilitarized zone.


The Soviets backed down in Cuba in 1962 because Kennedy acted with resolve and was prepared for war (unlike his 1961 performance regarding the Bay of Pigs invasion).


And the fall of the entire Eastern bloc of nations--East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and the rest, and even the collapse of communism in Russia itself--in the late 1980s and early 1990s was a direct consequence of the massive and absolutely necessary American military re-arming during the Reagan administrations, and the willingness to use that force if necessary (as Reagan did in Grenada, and as the Bushes would do in Iraq and Afghanistan).  The fall of the Soviet bloc was not the work of Mikhail Gorbachev, nor to any marked degree through the actions of the late pope.  Rather, it was the policy of “peace through strength” embraced by Ronald Reagan (the most remarkable words of any political leader in the last half of the twentieth century are those of Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on June 12, 1987: “Come here to this gate!  Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  Scarcely two years later, the wall--and the entire Iron Curtain--collapsed.  Who would have thought it possible--except Reagan?  For the full text of this speech, see The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan, [News.Max.com, 2001], pp. 231-240).


I could also expound at length on the fact that the highly committed military preparedness of Israel and its stunning performance in 4 wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973) against overwhelming opposition has deterred its genocidal neighbors from all-out war for the past three decades.  Anything less than absolute preparedness would have been fatal for Israel.  Clearly they do want peace.  Wisely, they have prepared for war.


The ancient aphorism of Vegetius rings clear and true.  Wishful thinking and disarmament in the face of aggressor nations never prevented a single war.  But military preparation to defend oneself and the resolve to actually do so if necessary has delayed, diverted or prevented many a war and will yet do so, provided leaders and nations have enough wisdom to learn the lessons of the past.


---Doug Kutilek



More Wisdom from Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David


“Schoolmasters are well enough, but godly fathers are, both by the order of nature and grace, the best instructors of their sons, nor can they delegate the sacred duty.  It is to be feared that many children of professors could plead very little before God of what their fathers have told them.  When fathers are tongue-tied religiously with their offspring, need they wonder if their children’s hearts remain sin-tied?”

(from comments on Psalm 44:1)




A Matter of Perspective


"Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the Democrats believe every day is April 15. "

Ronald Reagan



Ruckman: What He Doesn’t Know Can Hurt You.


 One distressing feature of the present Bible translation controversy is the ease with which certifiably false, demonstrably deceptive, and manifestly misleading statements pass into the accepted "orthodoxy" of the King-James-Only advocates.  The writings of nearly all KJV-Only partisans abound in untruths and misinformation.  Virtually any article, pamphlet or book selected at random can be proven to be marred by such errors, on nearly every page, sometimes in every paragraph.  Whence cometh such a wide diffusion of consistently defective information?


Long experience has taught me that almost every error of fact put forward to uphold the supremacy of the King James Version (and the Textus Receptus) had its origin in one of two sources.  The first of these is the writings of Seventh-day Adventist missionary and theology teacher, Benjamin G. Wilkinson, particularly his 1930 book, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, the greater part of which was reprinted by David Otis Fuller in his 1970 volume, Which Bible?  In several articles such as “The Great Which Bible? Fraud”; “Wilkinson’s Incredible Errors”; “The Truth About the Waldensian Bible and the Old Latin Version”; and “Erasmus, His Greek Text and His Theology” (posted at www.kjvonly.org), I have documented some of the grosser errors he originated: the misapplication of Psalm 12:6,7 as though it were a promise of the Divine preservation of the KJV (it is, according to the Hebrew, a promise of the Divine preservation of the persecuted saints of verse 5; see the commentaries of Gill or Delitzsch for the particulars, or simply check the gender agreement in the Spanish or Syriac versions); the false notion that the Waldensian Bible was made from the Old Latin (it was in fact made from the Vulgate), and that the Old Latin has a Byzantine text (it varies between Western and Alexandrian).


The other and more voluminous source of misinformation (to say nothing of a poisonous spirit) is the paper-and-ink tirades of Peter S. Ruckman, Sr. of Pensacola, Florida.  Ruckman is a charlatan and a pseudo-scholar who boasts of encyclopedic reading and knowledge, with especial expertise in the Bible text and translation issue, but who betrays in everything he writes an incredible ignorance of the facts (or an uncanny ability to distort the truth).  What Samuel Johnson said of Mr. Thomas Sheridan is true to a letter of Ruckman: "Why, Sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him.  Such an excess of stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature" (Boswell's Life of Johnson, Modern Library Edition, p. 273).  Or to quote J. C. Hiden, "The Amount of ignorance which some people have accumulated is really astonishing" (The Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus by A. T. Robertson, p.283).  And yet this polluted fountain is one from which hundreds, perhaps thousands, draw with naive confidence what they suppose are facts.


Recently I was reading a published monograph by a KJV-Only writer regarding Spanish Bible translations.  I came across a statement regarding Greek manuscript B (also known as Codex Vaticanus), which is housed in the Vatican library in Rome.  The writer affirmed absolutely that, "The Vaticanus has been kept under lock and key for the past 500 years by the Roman Church.  No Protestant Bible "Scholar" has ever seen or touched this manuscript, . . ."


While no documentation was given, the informed reader immediately recognizes that this remark was lifted virtually verbatim from Ruckman's 1970 book, The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, where on p. 6 we find the confidently stated remark, "the manuscript by which the Conservative scholar is judging his translation has been under lock and key for 500 years, and no Protestant scholar has ever handled it!  The only copies of ‘Vaticanus’ [B] which are available are Roman photographs of it, made in Rome!"  And just to be sure the reader is properly misinformed, Ruckman repeats this mistake on p. 24: "the Roman Catholic ‘Vaticanus’ MS (designated ‘B’).  NO Bible scholar has ever handled it, except private Catholic scribes."


Typical of Ruckman's writings, this statement is one made from Ruckman's LACK of knowledge of the facts.  In his limited and defective knowledge, he had no information that any Protestant scholar had made such a personal inspection of Vaticanus, so he merely assumed than none ever had, and affirmed as fact something he did not know to be true.  This is the classic "argumentum ex ignoratio," an argument from ignorance--in this case, Ruckman's ignorance of the facts.


In reality, Vaticanus has been repeatedly examined and analyzed by Protestant scholars, and not just in recent days, but more than a century before Ruckman misstated the truth.  Abundant proof of personal inspection of Vaticanus by Protestant Biblical scholars is easy to find for anyone who makes a serious investigation, and certainly would have been known by Ruckman if he were in truth the expert he claims to be.


Henry Alford (d. 1871), Anglican (and, therefore, Protestant) New Testament Greek scholar published in four volumes a commentary, The Greek Testament, which was completed a decade before his death.  On pp. 108-9 of the "Prolegomena" to volume one (1958 Moody reprint edition), Alford states: " The Codex [Vaticanus] has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others.  A list of readings examined by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April, 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena.  A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon's Letters from Rome, London, 1861."


Tregelles, being Brethren, Tischendorf, being Lutheran, and both Alford and Burgon (yes, THE Dean Burgon) being Anglican (and so, too, presumably the Rev. Cure) ALL qualify for the rubric “Protestant Bible scholars.”  No doubt if we knew the identity of the "others," we could add more names to this side of the ledger from this one notice in Alford alone.


At the end of the "Prolegomena," as promised by Alford, there are five pages of variant readings gleaned from Vaticanus (pp.151-155).  The list is headed by an explanatory statement:  "Readings of Codex Vaticanus (B) in the text of this volume ascertained by the Editor's personal inspection of the MS. at Rome, February, 1861; and, marked with an asterisk, by the Rev. E. C. Cure, April, 1862."  The list of variants is so extensive that it must have required a personal inspection that extended to several hours, perhaps days.  And in the list he notes some readings as ascertained by Burgon.


As if the above quotes from Alford were not sufficient to convince the reader of Ruckman's gross error, let me add Alford's comment from p. 459 of the same volume, regarding Luke 2:14: "As regards the reading, the evidence is materially affected by the fact that B reads eudokia, a prima manus, as I have myself ascertained at Rome."  Alford expressly dates this note "1862."


Lest anyone doubt that the darling of the KJV-Only crowd, J. W. Burgon (who rejected every tenet of what today is called Ruckmanism) did himself personally inspect manuscript B, let him consult Which Bible?, p. 50 (2nd edition; p. 87 of 5th edition).  There Edward F. Hills writes: "In 1860, while temporarily chaplain of the English congregation at Rome, he [Burgon] made a personal examination of Codex B, . . ."  Since Which Bible? was published in 1970, the same year as Ruckman's Handbook, he perhaps had not read this particular book before he published.  But in numerous reprints of Ruckman's Handbook (my own copy is from the 4th printing in 1976), no attempt at correction has been made.  It seems that Ruckman is willing to let an error stand, and let his readers continue to be misinformed.


The fact of Burgon's personal inspection of Vaticanus is clearly stated in Which Bible?, and repeated in Fuller's 1975 compilation, Counterfeit or Genuine? (p.17).  Anyone advocating the KJV-Only position could be expected to be acquainted with these two books, to say nothing of the evidence regarding other Protestant Bible scholars (and I have cited only a part of that which I have found).  There exists no excuse for the continued recitation as fact that which is manifestly false.  But we must remember that truth and fact are not earmarks of KJV-Onlyism, neither is careful scholarship nor intellectual honesty.  Ruckman will tell the most outrageous lies to acquire a devoted following.  2 Peter 2:3 describes such men.  "In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up." (NIV)  Like Braunius (as quoted by John Gill in the preface to his commentary on the New Testament, p.xv), "I fret at heart to see men teach things so absurd and manifestly false, with so much boldness; and they must pardon me, if I say with so much ignorance, for I say the truth."  But what is far worse is the gullible simpletons who swallow without question every affirmation of Ruckman, Wilkinson, and other such deceivers as though their words had any solid basis in fact.                                                                                            

--Doug Kutilek





Evolution’s Captain by Peter Nichols.  New York: HarperCollins, 2003.  336pp., paperback.  $13.95


That Charles Darwin sailed on the HMS Beagle to South America, and visited the Galapagos Islands several hundreds of miles off the coast of Equador, there making observations which years later led to his fabrication of his theory of evolution via natural selection, is common knowledge.  What is little known are the details of the voyage, its purpose, its captain and other such information.  Evolution’ Captain carries as its subtitle: “The story of the kidnapping that led to Charles Darwin’s voyage aboard the Beagle.”


The HMS Beagle, built in the 1820s and finally sold by the British navy in 1870, was chiefly a ship designed to do mapping and charting of sea lanes, and was employed in this task in the waters around South America, especially at the southern tip in the treacherous, tempestuous seas of Tierra del Fuego/ Cape Horn/ The Straits of Megellan.  After many months in these depressing waters, it’s captain, one Pringle Stokes, took his own life.  He was succeeded as captain of the vessel by Robert Fitzroy, age 23, and of aristocratic blood.  Fitzroy would be the captain of the five-year voyage (1831-1836) on which Darwin in his 20s, served as ship’s naturalist.


The famous voyage of the Beagle came about in a rush, as the repatriation of some native Fuegians (the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego) became a pressing matter.  Four such Fuegians had been brought to England as something of an experiment to see if this primitive people could be taught English, manners, culture and Christianity.  Embarrassing behavior problems among them hastened their return home.  The last minute selection for ship’s naturalist, and not really anyone’s preferred choice, was Darwin.


More than four full years of the voyage were spent mapping and charting the coasts of southeastern, southern, and western South America.  The remaining time was spent sailing west across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, then north through the Atlantic, completing a circumnavigation of the earth.  Darwin had some formal training in medicine and theology (he had made a preliminary career choice to enter the ministry, not because any divine call, but because it was a desirable occupation, with a good salary, prestige, and lots of leisure time to pursue other interests), yet had a strong amateur’s interest in nature.  All along the voyage--and he frequently went ashore for weeks even months on end, while the Beagle was busy doing its charting in detail--he collected specimens of animals, plants, minerals and anything else of interest, and wrote descriptions of the topography and geologic features.  Very extensive notebooks were kept and a constant stream of specimens was shipped by to England on any convenient ship.  Darwin and Captain Fitzroy were much in each other’s company, being the only cultured and educated men on board the small vessel.  The time spent in the Galapagos Islands, so famous in later developments, was just 34 days.


After the five-year voyage ended and an account of it was published, Captain Fitzroy’s life took him away from the sea.  He became a devout Christian (and in later times a vigorous opponent of Darwinism), got married, was elected to Parliament, then appointed governor of New Zealand (where his 2 years as governor were a failure) and ultimately founded and headed the first government office of meteorology in the British government. 


Fitzroy had hoped that the published accounts of his five-year voyage would make him famous; rather it was the part of that multi-volume work written by Darwin, later re-issued separately as The Voyage of the Beagle, that gained for its author fame and notoriety.  Fitzroy’s life was one of those cases of great promise and potential that never quite succeeded.  His was a blossom that never opened into full flower, and his life ended in great disappointment.  As Captain of the Beagle during which Darwin accumulated the materials from which he spun his theory of evolution, Fitzroy felt personally guilty of having an unwitting hand in this frontal assault on God and the Bible.  He had regrets over his failed governorship, and the continual public abuse heaped on him for faulty weather forecasts (of which he was a pioneer).  And then there was the family genetic disposition toward depression.  All these things culminated in Fitzroy taking his own life at age 60.


The author is decidedly on the Darwinian side in his account.  He maliciously slanders 19th century British Protestantism (p. 262), and refers to devout Christians as fanatic fundamentalists (p. 301).  And he almost gloats over the suicide of Fitzroy (p. 323).


While the account oozes with bias, it nevertheless is an interesting and accessible source of information about the famous voyage of the Beagle, its captain, the person and development of Darwin himself, and the nature of the contemporary opposition and opponents of Darwin and Darwinism.  And in spite of himself, the author gives here and there accounts of the earliest (failed) and the later (successful) attempts at the evangelism of the Fuegians by those British Christians he so much despises.

---Doug Kutilek