"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 1, Number 5, May, 1998
As we mentioned in a previous issue, we are trying to eliminate some of the irritating problems associated with an electronic publication, such as the bundle of email addresses at the top, uneven line length in the text, and now, Juno advertising inserted every page or so. The solution to these problems is at hand, but it will require a doubling of my available RAM, which will require a different computer, which will require MONEY, which means a delay of a couple of months. So, please bear with us for a little while longer.
"Honesty compels us to cite the 1901 American Revised as the best English Version of the original languages which places us in a position 290 years ahead of those who are still weighing the King James of 1611 for demerits."
"We know of no Fundamentalists...that claim the King James as the best translation. Those in the mainstream of Fundamentalism all claim the American Revised of 1901 as the best English translation." Richard V. Clearwaters, THE GREAT CONSERVATIVE BAPTIST COMPROMISE (Minneapolis: Central Seminary Press, n.d.), pp. 192, 199.
Some will certainly ask "Who is Richard Clearwaters, and on what basis does he make this (seemingly) outrageous claim?" To those familiar with the history of Baptist Fundamentalism, the name of Richard Clearwaters is not at all new. Born in 1900 in Kansas, Clearwaters graduated from Moody Bible Institute in the 1920s, then from Kalamazoo College, the University of Chicago, and the thoroughly conservative Northern Baptist Seminary. Bob Jones University later awarded him a Doctor of Humanities degree. After several other pastorates, in 1940 he became pastor of the Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis, where he continued as pastor until the 1980s. During that long pastorate, he led the Minnesota Baptist Association out of the Northern Baptist Convention and led his own church out of the Conservative Baptist Association; he founded Central Baptist Theological Seminary in 1956 and Pillsbury Baptist College in 1957. He was a featured speaker at the first two Fundamental Baptist Congresses (1963, 1966). Among his numerous writings were "The Local Church of the New Testament," (used as a supplementary reading book at Baptist Bible College, Springfield, Mo. when I was a student there), and his autobiography, ON THE UPWARD ROAD. Dr. Clearwaters died in 1996. He was a Fundamentalist's Fundamentalist, a paradigm of the "fighting Fundamentalist" separatist.
Dr. Clearwaters knew American Fundamentalism. He grew up with it. He was a major player in it. He knew Fundamentalism as few men knew it. And when he wrote that he knew of "no Fundamentalists" who claimed the KJV as the best English translation, he spoke from thorough personal knowledge and extensive personal acquaintance. When he wrote that "those in the mainstream of Fundamentalism all claim the American Revised of 1901 as the best English translation," he knew whereof he spoke. Indeed, a veritable "who's who" of Fundamentalism could be constructed from the names of those who certainly fit into Clearwaters' claim: Noel Smith of the BBF comes immediately to mind, as do Fundamentalist leaders from earlier eras: B. H. Carroll, R. A. Torrey, Emory Bancroft, Henry Thiessen, Louis Entzminger. The accuracy of Clearwaters' claim cannot successfully be challenged.
Though Clearwaters' book, THE GREAT CONSERVATIVE BAPTIST COMPROMISE, carries no publication date, it is clear from its contents that the book was written in 1967 or 1968. That date is significant.
In the current debate about Bible Versions, it is implied or stated outright that real Fundamentalists accept the KJV as the "preserved word of God," or at least, "the best English translation." In light of Clearwaters' declaration, it is obvious that this view is an innovation, a wholesale departure from the Fundamentalism of the past. In decades of research, I have found no leader in Fundamentalism before in 1970 who held such a view, and only a very few writers of any sort who held to it: Adventist missionary, theology professor and college president, Benjamin G. Wilkinson, the grandfather of KJV-onlyism in his 1930 book, OUR AUTHORIZED BIBLE VINDICATED; J. J. Ray in his 1956 book, GOD WROTE ONLY ONE BIBLE (heavily plagarized from Wilkinson); and Peter Ruckman's 1964, THE BIBLE BABEL (dependent in many ways on Ray).
In 1970, a wholesale "revisionism" was launched with the publication by David Otis Fuller of WHICH BIBLE? Composed chiefly of a heavily edited reprint of Wilkinson's very defective and inaccurate book (and with Wilkinson's Adventism deliberately concealed from the gullible reader), the KJV-only movement was triggered. Soon, all of Fundamentalism's prior history was jettisoned and a new- found doctrine of an error-free KJV was fabricated, then imposed on uninformed churches, Bible colleges, and publications. This newly-manufactured "orthodoxy" became the true test of "sound doctrine," and was written into the confessions of faith of numerous churches and Bible colleges--the fact that it had to be added is proof that it was NOT a doctrine of earlier Fundamentalism.
So all-pervasive has this new orthodoxy become that a man all but universally acknowledged as disqualified from the ministry because of his multiple marriages and divorces (I speak of course of Peter Ruckman) maintains his position as the ultimate guru of the movement. And while many repudiate his manner, they freely--and uncritically--accept his material, though it has repeatedly been shown to be fraught with factual error from beginning to end (in fact, almost every major factual error embraced by the KJV-only movement--and they are many--can be traced directly to Ruckman). And now even a woman (I speak of Mrs. Gail A. Riplinger) is invited to freely preach in Baptist churches from supposedly Baptist pulpits because she happens to hold the "right" view regarding Bible versions, and has written a popular (but exceedingly inaccurate) book on the subject! These compromisings of clear Bible teaching strongly suggest that the whole movement is permeated with error. And such it certainly is.
Baptists have a disconcerting history of being repeatedly sucked into newly-fabricated "orthodoxies" which are alien to their historic heritage. In the late 18th century, many English Baptists embraced a fatalistic view of predestination that absolutely killed evangelism, while others fell into Christ-denying Arianism. In America, many 19th century Baptists were deceived into adopting Campbellism and its heresy of baptismal regeneration. Others turned aside into the anti-missionary furor, or into the adventist movement propagated by William Miller. And now, it is the Adventist- initiated view that an Anglican-produced version (with its falsified renderings "church," "baptize," "bishop," etc., made at the king's express command) is the ultimate English translation, an error-free version. (Is it not telling that the other prominent examples in church history of infallibility claimed for Bible translations are the heretical Roman Catholic Church's affirmation of the infallibility of Jerome's Vulgate, and the equally-heretical Orthodox Church's claim of the inspiration of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint? How easily Baptists can see the error in such claims for the Vulgate and the Septuagint, while being simultaneously blind to essentially equivalent claims made for the KJV).
Why is there this susceptibility to error in Baptist history? I think it can in part be traced to the spirit of anti- intellectualism which has pervaded Baptists historically, and which has led to a failure among Baptists generally to study their own history and the doctrinal views of Baptists historically. Coupled with this has been a failure to develop a well-honed ability to distinguish truth from error, and a great gullibility toward anything presented--especially in the form of peer pressure--as a mark of "real" Baptist doctrine. We insist on the right of private judgment, and rightly so, but we need to emphasize at the same time the duty of diligent study to separate Divine fact from human fiction, and to make sure that what we believe is really true.
What some today pretend is Baptist orthodoxy (namely, the supremacy or even inerrancy of the KJV) is in reality doctrinally a usurper. It is not what Baptists historically believed, and it is not what most Baptists believe today. Larry Pettegrew scored a direct hit when he wrote, "It is not correct, therefore, to suggest that one is more of a fundamentalist if he believes in the King James Only theory. He is actually less of a fundamentalist." (THE BIBLE VERSION DEBATE: THE PERSPECTIVE OF CENTRAL BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, ed. by Michael Grisanti. Central Baptist Seminary, 1997. p. 13).
Dear Mr. Kutilek,
I am a missionary . . .and I would appreciate being placed on your address list for your monthly electronic magazine of current events and issues. I appreciate your willingness to keep the brethern informed of the current trends and issues of our day. Thank you for your help.
Missionary G. S.
Just a note to say thanks for the most recent "As I See It." As always, you have given us something to chew on in the article "The Praise of Men vs The Praise of God." Many uncomfortable truths make us all squirm a little.
I really appreciated your thoughts on Spurgeon. I don't have Spurgeon's complete set of sermons, but you spurred me on to read more of what I do have.
"In eternity you have your choice of seating--smoking or non-smoking."
My "heroes" or role-models in the ministry are John A. Broadus, A. T. Robertson, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Few things could therefore be more enjoyable to me than reading a book about Broadus, written by Robertson, which occasionally mentions Spurgeon!
When Thomas Armitage published his HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS in 1887, he placed an embossed portrait of John A. Broadus (1827-1895) on the cover as the representative Baptist. No Baptist in America in the 19th century was held in higher esteem than Broadus, and rightly so.
Born, raised and educated in Virginia, John Broadus came from a family noted for excellent preachers. After graduating from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he became an instructor in that institution, pastored for 8 years in Charlottesville, and served the University as chaplain. In 1859, along with James P. Boyce, Basil Manly, Jr., and William Willams (none of them older than their early 30s), began Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina (it removed to Louisville, Kentucky in 1877). His seminary labors were the great work of Broadus' life, with Broadus teaching homiletics, New Testament interpretation, and Greek. (During the suspension of the seminary during the Civil War, Broadus served for a time as preacher in the Army of Northern Virginia, and was a favorite speaker of Lee, A. P. Hill, John B. Gordon and others among the Confederate high command).
In the first session of the seminary after the end of the war, Broadus had but one student in homiletics, and he was blind. Nevertheless, he gave the fullest measure of his efforts into teaching that one student. Ultimately from his homiletics lectures, Broadus published ON THE PREPARATION AND DELIVERY OF SERMONS, easily the most popular and longest-published textbook on homiletics ever written and even yet worthy of careful reading.
Among Broadus' other writings are a first-rate commentary on Matthew, published as part of the American Commentary series edited by Alvah Hovey, and recently reprinted by Kregel. Begun while Broadus was serving as Confederate chaplain, it consumed 20 years in its writing. Though a century old, it is still one of the first two or three commentaries on Matthew I consult (usually the first), and it rarely disappoints.
Broadus wrote, besides, A HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS, which, in the edition edited by his son-in-law and biographer A. T. Robertson, is in my opinion the best Gospel harmony for the English reader (if I could have only ten books for Bible study, Robertson's edition of the Broadus HARMONY would be on the list).
He produced a biography of J. P. Boyce, his long-time colleague at SBTS and that school's first President. Because of the close contact of Boyce and Broadus for thirty years, the biography of Boyce is a virtual autobiography of Broadus as well.
Broadus, along with Alvah Hovey and George Weston, served as a reviser of the 1891 edition of the American Bible Union's revised translation of the New Testament. Broadus had earlier been invited to serve on the American Standard Version committee but distance from New York (where the revision committee met) made his participation impossible.
Broadus also wrote one (but unfortunately only one) volume of SERMONS & ADDRESSES (my copy was a gift to me from Robert L. Sumner). As a preacher, Broadus was the equal of any man (not excluding Spurgeon and MacLaren), and was in constant demand for summer pulpit supply, convention addresses, college commencements, church dedications, and just about any other occasion requiring a first-class preacher and speaker. To fill all the speaking requests he received, he would have had to be ten men.
A. T. Robertson was Broadus' student, teaching assistant and colleague, successor in the chair of Greek and New Testament interpretation and son-in-law. His biography of Broadus (which can be supplemented by the final chapter in Robertson's THE MINSTER AND HIS GREEK NEW TESTAMENT), is to a great extent made up of correspondence from or to Broadus. Though this makes the volume occasionally obscure, it is nevertheless very instructive and profitable reading. Nothing is more grievous today than the general ignorance among Baptists of their own heritage and history, especially the lives of the great names in that history.
This book went through at least 6 printings by the original publisher, and now has been reprinted by Sprinkle Publications, P. O. Box 1094, Harrisonburg, VA, 22801 (Sprinkle has reprinted numerous books about the 19th century South, including excellent biographies of Stonewall Jackson, Lee and others, and two books on the great revival in the Army of Northern Virginia. Write them for a price list).
I read the autobiographical account of Newton's conversion some years, and recently wanted to re-read it, but I had loaned the book to someone (I don't know who) and it was not returned. So, I checked for another biography of Newton and came across this one. It is a so-so production. It is written on a Junior High level and, not surprisingly, lacks any kind of bibiliography or documentation. No doubt some of the "conversations" in the book were fictionalized reconstructions, but it is impossible to tell how much. I don't even know what sources the author relied on. The account of Newton's conversion to Christ is far less dramatic and clear-cut in this book than in the autobiographical account (at least as I remember it). An "easy read," it gives some account of the life of the 18th century English slave-trader- turned-preacher who wrote "Amazing Grace" and may be suitable for young people, but it left me wanting something better.
There are lots of "wealthy wanna-bes" who, though enjoying high six-figure (or even seven-figure) annual incomes, are NOT among the millionaire class, because they have adopted a high consumption mentality that spends every cent as fast as it is made. It is these who want the APPEARANCE of great riches who buy (or worse, lease) expensve foreign cars, carry a wallet-full of credit cards (and many thousands of dollars of high-interest debt), buy expensive watches and suits, vacation in all the trendy places, and who have very little equity--they are too busy "spending it all" here and now, as part of the "instant gratification" generation.
How did the wealthy get wealthy? By hard, intelligent work in part and wise investing, but especially by frugality and cutting costs. Most millionaires DO NOT "look like a million" and often times their children grow up not knowing that their parents are rich. They have learned the great truth that "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things which he owns." Many Christians who are in hock up to their eyeballs can learn this lesson in economizing--if you don't have it, don't spend it; whatever you make, spend less, and save and invest for the future. Most millionaires are careful budgeters of their spending, and careful planners. They are also very efficient users of their time.
Obviously, this book does not have a spiritual-orientation (it says next to nothing about giving to the church), but it does have some spiritually applicable information. One noteworthy fact: the millionaires studied overwhelmingly were once-married, never-divorced individuals (divorce is a very expensive experience--lawyers' fees, alimony, child support, taxes paid on investments sold to settle the suit, etc.). Obeying God's laws does have very practical earthly benefits.
I hope that no Christian has as his focus and goal in life to "make a million dollars," though if that happens, all well and good, assuming his spiritual priorities are right. But examining this volume can help each of us do some serious introspection about what kind of stewards we are with the money and time God places in our hands, our relationship to material things, and the whole matters of covetousness and envy.
(By the way, I got my copy at Sam's for almost half-off the "sticker" price).
This three-decades-old volume was recommended to me by own of my seminary professors as an informative book, and that it certainly was. The age of the book (and the great unlikelihood that it was ever reprinted) necessitated that I locate a used copy, which I did. The editor was at the time of writing an associate Professor of Church history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and is proof positive that in the 1960s, that Southern Baptist school had apostates on its faculty. Shriver and his fellow-writers are without exception gung-ho in supporting the "heretics" who are treated as though they were martyrs on the altar of academic freedom; nothing much is made about the fact that in at least four of the cases fundamental Biblical truths were expressly denied. Academic freedom is the apparent end-all and be-all.
Five writers examine five cases of individuals in the 19th and 20th century in America who were formally or informally charged by some in their denomination with theological heresy. The cases examined are Philip Schaff, Crawford Toy, Charles A. Briggs, Borden P. Bowne, and A. S. Crapsey. The last two I had never heard of, and they are still of no interest to me. The first three are of much greater interest.
Philip Schaff, the later famous church historian, had come to America from Europe in the 1840s to teach at a Reformed seminary in Pennsylvania. He was in his mid-20s. Not long after his arrival, he published a paper he had written while in Europe in which he engaged in speculation about the fate of the un-evangelized heathen who had never had the light of God's written revelation presented to them. He posited an "after death" opportunity for these individuals to hear and accept redemption through Christ. There is no question that Schaff went "beyond that which is written" in trying to resolve this very difficult issue and asserted things for which there was no Biblical support, but he was not guilty of denying any fundamental Biblical truth (Biblical inerrancy, virgin birth of Christ, His atoning death and physical resurrection, etc.). He also propounded some strange views concerning the church. Of the men examined in this book, Schaff displayed the least aberrant doctrine. [Indeed, in the 4 volumes by Schaff which I have read through, I have found nothing which could reasonably be called heresy, and much that expressly places him in the mainstream of Protestant orthodoxy.]
The second figure is Crawford Toy, an early student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and for a decade a professor there. Though brilliant and energetic, during his professorship, his once-orthodox doctrine was corrupted by his acceptance of the dogma of evolution and the destructive higher criticism of the Pentateuch and the rest of the Old Testament. Recognizing the destructive, anti- biblical nature of Toy's doctrine, J.P. Boyce, chairman of the seminary faculty, accepted Toy's resignation. Toy shortly thereafter joined the faculty of Harvard, where he soon became a Unitarian. Though portrayed in this book as a victim, Toy was in fact a propagator of heresy, and his forced departure from SBTS was a key factor in sparing that school (and the SBC generally) from the in-roads of destructive higher criticism for almost 60 years. Had Boyce (and the rest of the SBTS faculty) waffled, that school would have been in hot race with McCormick, Union, Chicago Divinity School, and other seminaries to see who could depart the farthest and the fastest from the plain teaching of the Bible. As an interesting sidelight--Toy was engaged to the famous SBC missionary Lottie Moon, but when she learned of his departures from Bible doctrine, she broke off the engagement. Praise God for women of conviction!
Charles A. Briggs, famous today as co-author of a Hebrew lexicon, was charged in the 1890s by the Presbyterian Church with the same kind of heresy as Toy: embracing the destructive higher criticsm of the Old Testament, and Briggs was just as guilty. When he was convicted, he withdrew from the Presbyterian Church, and the seminary where he taught, Union Seminary of New York, withdrew its affiliation with the Presbyterians.
The authors are entirely sympathetic with the accused, and ridicule their critics, caricaturizing their views and impugning their motives. Traditionalists/fundamentalists are sneered at throughout, and attacked as enemies of "academic freedom"--the smokescreen under which apostates usually operate. No one wishes to deny apostates their academic freedom; we only object to the unethical, dishonest behavior of taking money from churches and denominations which adhere to a clearly defined set of doctrines (such as in a statement of faith), while embracing and propagating doctrines which undermine those agreed upon truths. Apostates have freedom of speech to teach whatever they want--but not at the expense of those who have employed them to teach otherwise. Heretics, such as Toy and Briggs (and Shriver, the editor) are completely willing to take the money of conservatives while undermining and destroying confidence in the very doctrines believed by the conservatives. Ethics and honesty have never been the strong suit of apostates.
(More about the Toy episode can be found in MEMOIR OF JAMES PETIGRU BOYCE, D.D., LL.D. by John A. Broadus, pp. 259-264; regarding Schaff, see THE AMERICAN CHURCH HISTORY SERIES, vol. viii: A HISTORY OF THE REFORMED CHURCH, DUTCH, THE REFORMED CHURCH, GERMAN, AND THE MORAVIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES, by E. T. Corwin, et al., pp. 371-381).