Speaking Evil of Dignities
by Glenn Conjurske
One of the evil fruits of democracy is that it seems to
give every man license to abuse his rulers. This is the American way.
All who hold office are considered a fair target for the reproaches
of every arm-chair philosopher, and the lampoons of every would-be comedian.
And it seems that this spirit is equally rife in the church as it is
in the world. Indeed, there are a good many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals
who seem to suppose that they have a peculiar calling to hold up their
rulers to reproach and ridicule. But all of this is directly against
the Scriptures. It is of apostate hypocrites and filthy dreamers, who
walk after the flesh and foam out their own shame, that Jude speaks
when he says, these . . . despise dominion, and speak evil of
dignities. (Jude 8). And shall the disciples of the meek and lowly
Christ have part with these?
Dignities are dignitaries. They are judges and legislators. It is of
these that Scripture says, There is no power but of God. The powers
that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power,
resisteth the ordinance of God. (Rom. 13:1-2). Whoever speaks
evil of dignities, then, speaks evil of the ordinance of God.
And whence comes this evil speaking? It is the fruit of pride. Being
puffed up with their own abilities or their own importance, men despise
dominion, and therefore speak evil of dignities. They
despise those who are above them. Every man can rule the country better
than the President
----though he cannot rule his own house, his
own spirit, or his own tongue. But next, it is the fruit of lust. Americans
are so addicted to what they call liberty, that they despise dominion ----despise
the institution which curtails their liberty ----and so speak
evil of dignities.
But observe, we do not hold it to be necessarily evil to speak the truth
concerning dignities, provided this is done with a proper spirit, and
for a proper purpose. There is a good deal of this in the Bible
in the Old Testament. There is a good deal less of it in the New Testament.
We are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, whose citizenship
is in heaven, and we have a good deal less occasion than Israel
had to have anything at all to say of the rulers of this world. Peter
and Paul suffered at the hands of this world's dignities, but their
epistles do not ring with reproaches against them. They have little
to say about them. They admonish us to submit to them, and that is all.
We read nothing at all of their immoral lives, their evil policies,
or their blatant injustice in robbing the Christians of their God-given
and constitutional rights. Yet such is the content of a good many Fundamentalist
papers today. And the worst of it is the reproachful tone in which much
of it is written. I just received in the mail a little Independent Baptist
paper called the Bible Baptist Blueprint, in which the editor,
DeWayne Austin (Hamilton, Ohio), asks his readers to pray that Slick
Willie Clinton will lose the next election. What is the purpose
of such disrespectful language? Is this rendering honor to whom honor
is due? Is not this speaking evil of dignities? I counsel brother Austin
and all Fundamentalists to lay aside such disrespectful talk. It brings
much more dishonor upon the church of God than it can upon President
Moreover, to speak reproachfully of rulers is directly against the commands
of God. Render...honour to whom honour is due, says Paul.
(Rom. 13:7). Fear God. Honour the king, says Peter. (I Pet.
2:17). Is not this plain enough? How is it that so many Fundamentalists
seem to think that they have a peculiar commission to dishonor the king?
This is the spirit of pride, the spirit of the world, and it has no
business in the church of God.
But again, I do not believe that speaking evil of dignities
consists merely in speaking the truth concerning them, if done in a
good spirit and for a good reason. Yet observe, while it may be a fairly
easy thing for men to judge whether they speak with a good spirit, it
may be more difficult to judge what is a good purpose. I cannot admit
for a moment that the political involvement of modern Fundamentalism
constitutes a good purpose. That political involvement itself is a wide
departure from the Christianity of the New Testament, and I observe
that one of its most common fruits is a departure from the spirit of
Christ and the spirit of the gospel. When Christians become involved
in any degree in political activities, it becomes a seeming impossibility
for them to maintain a Christian spirit. Instead of suffering for righteousness,
with Christ and his apostles, they are found standing for their rights,
with the ungodly world. Instead of blessing and winning, they are found
reproaching and calling down fire. Instead of honoring dignities, they
are found speaking evil of them. All of this is the legitimate fruit
of Fundamentalism's forgetting its heavenly calling, losing sight of
the true character, course, and end of the world, abdicating its place
of separation, making itself at home on the earth, and so adopting in
essence the modernists' agenda, to make the world a better place
in which to live. They set themselves to save America
to save the souls of the people, but to save the politics of the country
from corruption, to save the economy of the nation from collapse, to
save the morals of the nation from degeneracy. All of this, of course,
leads them directly to an overt opposition to the powers that
be, and that in turn leads directly to speaking evil of
It leads also to a spirit of antagonism between themselves and the souls
for whom Christ died, whom we are commissioned to win. That spirit of
antagonism, I am well aware, will exist so long as we stand for the
truth and the gospel, but it remains a fact that gentle manners and
respectful speech may tend greatly to soften that spirit of antagonism,
and open men's ears to hear the gospel which we preach, while reproachful
speaking and a contemptuous spirit only augment that antagonism
thus do those who crusade to save America actually contribute
to destroy the lost souls which make it up. Paul never spoke a word
about saving the Roman Empire ----no, nor of saving Israel, either,
though he surely labored to save Israelites, as well as Romans ----and
neither did he go about speaking evil of their rulers.
When Paul was persecuted, he yet addressed his judge as most noble
Festus (Acts 26:25), thus rendering honor to whom honor was due.
Yet on another occasion he exposed the hypocrisy of the high priest,
saying, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou
to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary
to the law? (Acts 23:3). Yet when they that stood by said,
Revilest thou God's high priest? Paul answered, I wist not,
brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt
not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. Does not this plainly
imply that Paul would not have so spoken if he had known who it was
to whom he was speaking? And yet I note that Paul's strong language
was spoken to the judge, as a rebuke, and not about him, as a reproach.
I will not contend that Paul would not have administered that rebuke
if he had known it was the high priest to whom he spoke, yet I suppose
he might have softened his language.
Fundamental preachers love to refer to David's refusing to lift up his
hand against the Lord's anointed, so long as it is plainly understood
that the Lord's anointed is the Fundamental preacher. Yet
many of these same preachers think nothing at all of lifting up their
tongues and their pens against the dignities which God has
set over them. Brethren, these things ought not so to be.
I, of course, am well aware that many
----no doubt most ----of
the rulers of the world are in fact evil men. Their morals are corrupt,
and their policies destructive. But are they worse than Saul, whose
passion was to seek the life of the Lord's chosen David? Are they worse
than the Roman emperors, whom Peter and Paul admonish us to honor? But
I must inquire yet further, Are they worse than the devil? You will
recall that Michael the archangel...durst not bring against HIM
a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 9).
Michael ----not a corrupt sinner such as we are, but Michael,
who never did a wicked deed, nor ever spoke an impure word, nor thought
an evil thought ----Michael, whose name is who is like God ----the
archangel ----not some weak and insignificant creature of the
dust such as we are, but the archangel, the ruler of the mighty hosts
of heaven ----Michael dared not to bring a railing accusation
against the devil ----against the lowest of the low, the enemy
of God, the father of lies, the deceiver of the whole world, the corrupter
of the morals of the whole race, the destroyer of the souls of all men.
Against this fiend of fiends Michael DARED NOT to bring a railing accusation.
What business, then, have we to speak evil of our fellow-sinners, who
have the rule over us? Is this a light thing, to glibly tread where
an archangel will not dare to set his foot?
But Jude continues, but these speak evil of those things which
they know not. (Jude 10). These speak evil of dignities.
(Jude 8). Shall we have part with these?
J. W. Burgon on the King James Version
by Glenn Conjurske
One of the strange anomalies of modern Fundamentalism
is the existence of a large body of men who regard themselves as the
followers of J. W. Burgon in defending the King James Version, but whose
actual position is altogether diverse from Burgon's. Many of them go
so far as to distinguish themselves as the Dean Burgon Society,
yet their own stand is far away from anything which Burgon held. They
hold the King James Version to be perfect and without error.
Burgon held the King James Version to be the imperfect work of fallible
men, containing numerous errors, mistranslations, mistakes, or call
them what you will.
And observe, Burgon's position on this subject is not hidden away in
some corner, but written everywhere on the very face of his Revision
----and we may just as well ask how ----have
these men failed to see it? Many of them have obviously read Burgon's
works. They freely quote him, and adopt his name. How is it that they
can claim that he regarded the King James Version as perfect? This is
but one more example of their uncanny ability to ignore or pervert the
plainest evidence, though they hold that evidence in their hands. It
is the manifestation of the glaring dishonesty ----pardon me,
but I know not what else I could call it ----which is rooted in
the very foundations of this King-James-Only system. We may acquit the
blind and ignorant followers, who merely parrot their teachers, of the
charge of dishonesty, but the leaders, who have read Burgon, and know
what he says, and who yet claim that he held the King James Version
to be without error, are either intellectually dishonest or intellectually
incompetent, and in either case they are hardly fit to lead.
I proceed to quote from The Revision Revised, by J. W. Burgon, London:
John Murray, 1883.
Dr. Hort was fortunately unable to persuade the Revisionists to
follow him in further substituting `into thy kingdom' for `in thy kingdom;'
and so converting what, in the A. V., is nothing worse than a palpable
mistranslation, into what would have been an indelible blot. (pg.
72). The A. V. is of course the Authorized Version
is, the King James Version. The reference is to Luke 23:42, where the
King James Version renders j as into. This Burgon calls
a palpable mistranslation. If this were the only word he
had ever spoken on the subject, it would leave no excuse for anyone
to believe that he held the King James Version to be perfect.
On page 152 Burgon says of Acts 26:28, in the present instance
the A. V. is probably right; the R. V., probably wrong. No one
who believed the A. V. perfect and without error could speak
of its being probably right. On the same page Burgon writes, There
can be no question as to the absolute duty of rendering identical expressions
in strictly parallel places of the Gospels by strictly identical language.
So far we are wholly at one with the Revisionists. Yet it is a
plain fact, which anyone who knows how to read can verify, that the
King James Version often departs from what Burgon here declares to be
its absolute duty.
Burgon: How does it happen that the inaccurate rendering of j
---- j v ----has been retained in S. Matth. iii.10,
S. Lu. iii.9? (pg. 164). The inaccurate rendering
which the Revised Version mistakenly retained is of course
the rendering of the King James Version. He has been faulting the Revisers
for altering the translation where it ought not to have been altered,
and in this sentence he faults them for not altering it where it ought
to have been altered. No man who believed in its perfection could speak
Burgon: And we more than suspect that, if a jury of English scholars
of the highest mark could be impanelled to declare their mind on the
subject [of consistent rendering] thus submitted to their judgment,
there would be practical unanimity among them in declaring, that these
learned men [the King James translators],
----with whom all would
avow hearty sympathy, and whose taste and skill all would eagerly acknowledge, ----have
occasionally pushed the license they enunciate so vigorously, a little ----perhaps
a great deal ----too far. For ourselves, we are glad to be able
to subscribe cordially to the sentiment on this head expressed by the
author of the Preface [of the Revised Version] of 188l:
----(he says, speaking of the Revisionists of 1611) ----`to
have been guided by the feeling that their Version would secure for the
words they used a lasting place in the language; and they express a fear
lest they should be charged (by scoffers) with some unqual dealing towards
a great number of good English words, which, without this liberty on
their part, would not have a place in the pages of the English Bible.
Still it cannot be doubted that their studied avoidance of uniformity
in the rendering of the same words, even when occuring in the same context,
is one of the blemishes in their work.' ----Preface, (i. 2).
Yes, it cannot be doubted. So says Burgon, pg. 189. It cannot
be doubted, that is, that the King James Version contains these
blemishes. Blemishes? In a version which is perfect
and without error? So thought Burgon. He then proceeds to give an
example of such a blemish. When S. Paul, in a long and familiar
passage (2 Cor.i.3-7), is observed studiously to linger over the same
word ( v namely, which is generally rendered `comfort');
harp upon it; ----to reproduce it ten times in the course of those
five verses; ----it seems unreasonable that a Translator, as if
in defiance of the Apostle, should on four occasions (viz. when the word
comes back for the 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th times), for `comfort' substitute
`consolation.' (pg. 190). It was the opinion of Burgon, then, that
this blemish was introduced into the King James Version AS
IF IN DEFIANCE OF THE APOSTLE who penned the inspired original,
and he immediately proceeds to add, And this one example may serve
as well as a hundred.
Turning then to the other side, he says, But if the learned men
who gave us our A. V. may be thought to have erred on the side of excess,
there can be no doubt whatever...that our Revisionists have sinned far
more grievously, etc. (pg. 190). Burgon, then, believed there were
blemishes in the King James Version
----that its translators
erred in not rendering more consistently. He gives one example,
but intimates that he might offer a hundred. He subscribes
cordially to the Revisers' criticism of the King James Version on this
head. There is not a King-James-Only man on the face of the earth who
actually agrees with Burgon on this matter, though some of them will no
doubt triumphantly rejoin, Yes, there are blemishes in the King
James Version, but there are no errors. David Otis Fuller told me
nearly twenty-five years ago that there are changes that could
be made in the King James Version, but there are no errors!
But this is sophistry. Why would we change something which is perfect?
Burgon says they may be thought to have ERRED, and by this
he certainly means they may legitimately and truthfully be thought to
Burgon: It is often urged on behalf of the Revisionists that over
not a few dark places of S. Paul's Epistles their labours have thrown
important light. Let it not be supposed that we deny this. Many a Scriptural
difficulty vanishes the instant a place is accurately translated: a far
greater number, when the rendering is idiomatic. It would be strange indeed
if, at the end of ten years, the combined labours of upwards of twenty
Scholars, whose raison d'être as Revisionists was to do this very
thing, had not resulted in the removal of many an obscurity in the A.
V. of Gospels and Epistles alike. What offends us is the discovery that,
for every obscurity which has been removed, at least half a dozen others
have been introduced. (pp. 216-217).
We shall no doubt be told that an obscurity is not an error,
and with that we have no argument
----though it would seem that
folks who believe their version perfect and without error
ought to find as little obscurity in it as they do error. Is the word
perfect thrown in merely for effect, or do they really believe
the version to be perfect AND without error? But besides,
Burgon speaks of removing those obscurities by having the places accurately
translated ----which proves that he did not believe them to
be accurately translated in the King James Version.
Burgon: Even where they REMEDY AN INACCURACY IN THE RENDERING OF
THE A. V., they often inflict a more grievous injury than MISTRANSLATION
on the inspired Text. (pg. 220, emphasis mine). Burgon, then, believed
that there were inaccuracies and mistranslations in the King James Version,
and that the Revised Version remedied some of them.
On the next page: Now, in view of the phenomenon just discovered
----(viz. for one crop of deformities weeded out, an infinitely
larger crop of far grosser deformities as industriously planted in,) ----
etc. Burgon, then, believed that the Revisers weeded out a
whole crop of deformities from the King James Version. But
yes, we know: Deformities are not errors, etc., etc. That
is, we know that those who will not believe that Burgon believed what
Burgon believed, will not believe that Burgon believed what Burgon believed,
and no amount of evidence will change that. True, some deformities may
not be actual errors, but inaccuracies and palpable mistranslations are,
and Burgon used those terms also. And even granting that deformities may
not be errors, if we have a book which is perfect and without error ----and
after two and a half centuries (plus four years) of refining and polishing,
as some King-James-Only men hold ----are we yet to believe it contains
a crop of deformities?
In another, and later, of his books Burgon says, The Hebraism V
v ' v (St. Matt. xxiv.31) presents an uncongenial ambiguity to Western
readers, as our own incorrect A. V. sufficiently shows.1 The King
James Version, then, is incorrect in Matt. 24:31. We do not
ask anyone to believe so; we only ask them to acknowledge that Burgon
In yet another of his books, speaking of Acts 7:16, Burgon says, And
it is evident to every one having an ordinary acquaintance with Greek,
that the words * V ' V cannot mean `Emmor the father of Sychem.' This
is a mere mistranslation, as the invariable usage of the New Testament
shews. The genitive denotes dependent relation. The Vulgate rightly supplies
the word `filii;' and there can be no doubt whatever that what St. Stephen
says, is, that Abraham bought the burial-place `of the sons of Emmor,
the son of Sychem.2 Now it is a plain matter of fact that Emmor
the father of Sychem, called a mistranslation by Burgon,
is the reading of the King James Version in Acts 7:16. The Dean
Burgon Society should note also that he contends that the Latin
Vulgate reads true here, while the King James Version is false. And in
the next paragraph he contends that the Revised Version is true where
the King James Version is wrong. Speaking of Acts 7:15-16, he says, In
English, the place ought to be exhibited as follows:
our Fathers; and they were carried.' (See Revised Version here).
The Revised Version contains the word they, the King James
Version does not.
So much for what he says directly concerning the King James Version. In
addition to this, all of his statements concerning the errors in the Greek
----every instance in which he rejects as spurious
a reading of the Textus Receptus ----are so many proofs that he
did not believe the King James Version to be without error. But I leave
that testimony alone for the present, for I intend to publish a future
article which details Burgon's view of the Textus Receptus.
But in conjunction with all of this, it should be pointed out that Burgon
believed in the inspiration of Scripture as surely as it can be believed
in. The most rigid Fundamentalist
----and I am a most rigid Fundamentalist ----could
find nothing to object to Burgon's doctrine on this subject. He believed
in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. He believed that the words
are inspired ----yea, and the syllables. But if...I am asked,
he says, whether I believe the words of the Bible to be inspired, ----I
answer, To be sure I do, ----every one of them: and every syllable
likewise.3 And this he speaks As one whose joy and crown it
has been to weigh every word in the Gospel in hair-scales.4 We
reject as monstrous, he says, any `theory of Inspiration'
(as it is called), which imputes blunders to the work of the HOLY GHOST.5
Not some parts more, some parts less, but all equally, and all to
overflowing...the words as well as the sentences of it; the syllables
as well as the words; the letters as well as the syllables; every `jot'
and every `tittle' of it...and further, that until the contrary has been
proved, we shall maintain that no misapprehension or misstatement, no
error or blot of any kind, can possibly exist within its pages: ----that
we hold the Bible to be as much the Word of GOD, as if GOD spoke to us
therein with human lips; ----and that, as the very utterance of
the HOLY GHOST, we cannot but think that it must be absolute, faultless,
Mark, now, this is the same man speaking who believes that the King James
translators erred in not translating more consistently, that
there are blemishes in the book, and obscurities,
yea, a crop of deformities
mistranslations ----renderings which are incorrect.
Burgon would not dare ----regarded it as monstrous ----to
impute such things to the Holy Ghost, yet he repeatedly imputed them to
the King James Version. The conclusion is plain enough. Burgon did not
apply his doctrine of inspiration to the English version. He did not believe
the King James Version to be the work of the infallible Holy Ghost, but
of erring mortals, and he believed that they did err in the production
Burgon himself brings together in one paragraph his view of the perfection
of the inspired original, and the imperfection of the human translation,
when he speaks of Acts 7:16, already alluded to above. He says, I
must be content to-day with repudiating, in the most unqualified way,
the notion that a mistake of any kind whatever is consistent with the
texture of a narrative inspired by the Holy Spirit of GOD. The allusion
in St. Stephen's speech to `the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum
of money of the sons of Emmor, the son' (not the father, but the son)
of Sychem,' is a good example of confusion apparently existing in an inspired
speaker; but, in reality, only in the writings of those who have sat in
judgment upon his words7 The same error and consequent confusion
exists, of course, in the King James Version, as noted above.
It is most true that Burgon believed in the excellency and the superiority
of the King James Version, but excellency and perfection are two things.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
by Glenn Conjurske
The duty of tithing is one of those things which is almost universally
held by Christians, cults and evangelical sects alike. The Seventh-Day
Adventists preach it. The Mormons do so also. Pentecostals preach it as
the way to temporal prosperity, and so do many Baptists. Thirty years
ago I heard the testimony of a woman who had grown up in a Southern Baptist
church. She said the pastor had only two sermons. He preached every Sunday
morning on John 3:16, and every Sunday night on Malachi 3:10, Bring
ye all the tithes into the storehouse. Such a story may seem incredible,
but it was from a returned missionary that I heard it. This pastor
must have been determined to fill the coffers and empty the pews. But
on the strength of this verse there are very many Baptists who are strong
sticklers for what they call storehouse tithing. They preach,
that is, that the tithe is to be brought into the storehouse, which is
the local church. This of course is based upon the spiritualizing of an
Old Testament command
----for whatever it may be, the storehouse
is certainly not the local church in Malachi. And all of the modern doctrines
of tithing are based upon commandments of God which belonged to the Old
Testament system of types and shadows, which is now done away. Those who
base their doctrine of tithing on these commandments would do well to
revive the sabbath also, abstain from pork, and wear a border of blue
on their garments.
More substantial is the argument that tithing was apparently a part of
the patriarchal religion before the law was given. Abraham gave a tithe
to Melchizedek. Jacob also promised a tithe to the Lord, upon certain
conditions which he prescribed himself. As to how Jacob actually laid
out that tithe, we know nothing at all. Whether he gave it to the poor,
supported a prophet, or offered a tenth of his increase in burnt-offerings,
we know nothing. We do know that there was no storehouse to which to bring
it. Neither was there any command of God requiring this of him. It was
entirely voluntary. Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with
me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to
eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house
in peace, then shall the Lord be my God,...and of all that thou shalt
give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. If this was Jacob's
duty, by the command of God, what business had he to found it upon such
conditions? Vows are always voluntary, and Jacob's was of the same nature
as Jephthah's. Henry Alford well says on this, It is of the essence
of the vow, that this dedication should be voluntary, contingent on a
certain event; and it follows that no deduction can be hence made as to
the obligatory nature of payment of tithes. It would have been mockery
to dedicate to God what already belonged to Him.1
But there are no doubt many who are blissfully ignorant of all of these
considerations, and have a shorter argument by which to prove the duty
of tithing. It's in the Bible
----the same argument
by which men prove polygamy, and speaking in tongues, and holy kisses,
and having all things in common, and foot-washing, and baptism for the
dead. Every man finds his own practice in the Bible, but he
fails to find the other fellow's, though it is there also. Every vagary
and every heresy beneath the sun is in the Bible, but it requires
both common sense and spiritual sense to make the proper use of the Bible.
Lust, pride, and superstition are the real foundations of many practices,
yet it's in the Bible settles all.
Though tithing is undoubtedly in the Bible, there is not a single word
on the subject in the Scriptures of the New Testament dispensation
when speaking historically of the old dispensation. Though Paul speaks
much of giving, and spends two chapters in detail on the subject in Second
Corinthians, he says never a word about tithing. Some are well aware of
this, and counter with the argument that God must expect as much of us
as he did of the Old Testament saints. That is no doubt true enough. He
expects as much, and no doubt more also, but he may expect something different.
And this argument concerning what God is supposed to expect of us is a
human assumption, not a command of God, and though the assumption be reiterated
a thousand times in tracts and sermons and magazine articles, it will
not thereby gain the status of a commandment of God. The fact will yet
remain that though Paul says a great deal about giving, yet he speaks
never a word about tithing. It may be contended that he need not mention
tithing, for the duty was well known and assumed. But this is not true.
The Jews were no doubt familiar with tithing, but Paul wrote primarily
to the Gentiles, and what could they have known about it? But aside from
that, the doctrine of tithing directly overturns Paul's doctrine of giving.
The doctrine of tithing, as it is preached in modern churches, stands
directly against Paul's doctrines of equality and of purpose, as it stands
also against Christ's doctrine of stewardship.
First, equality. Paul says, For I mean not that other men be eased,
and ye burdened, but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance
may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply
for your want, that there may be equality. (II Cor. 8:13-14). This
equality is destroyed by the doctrine of tithing. The man whose yearly
income is $10,000 is left with $9,000 for his necessities, while the man
whose income is $100,000 has $90,000 for his pleasures. This is directly
contrary to Paul, who contends that the abundance which one brother has
is given to him for a supply for the brother who is in need. The doctrine
of tithing is very comfortable for the rich. On the other side, it puts
a burden on the poor, the very thing which Paul disclaims. I mean
not, he says, that other men be eased, and ye burdened.
Yet this is exactly the effect of the doctrine of tithing. The rich are
eased, and the poor burdened.
But let it be understood, I have no sympathy whatever with the American
principles of communism and socialism, which tax the rich to support the
poor. This generally amounts to nothing more than taxing the industrious
in order to support the lazy and the worthless. This is certainly not
what Paul means by equality, for he elsewhere says, If any man will
not work, neither should he eat. (II Thes. 3:10). If there are lazy
men in the church, they ought not to be supported, but starved. They ought
to be put out of the church, too. D. L. Moody says
it in a sermon on Love ----A good many people
are complaining now that Christians don't have the love they ought to
have; but I tell you it is no sign of want of love that we don't love
the lazy man. I have no sympathy with those men that are just begging
twelve months of the year. It would be a good thing, I believe, to have
them die off. They are of no good.2 Yet D. L. Moody was a tender
and loving man. Doctrinally, his preaching was much more on the side of
love than of holiness.
But then, as the old proverb says, There is God's poor, and the
devil's poor. God's poor are poor from circumstances or providence.
The devil's poor are poor from laziness and vice. It is God's poor alone
which Paul speaks of
----the poor saints. He is not talking about
relieving the lazy and the worthless. His doctrine is that the abundance
of the saints who have this world's goods is to be a supply
for the poor saints, that there may be equality. God has committed this
world's goods to the rich as a trust ----not for their own comfort
or luxury, but as a supply for his poor. If the rich man contends that
he has earned his riches by his own labor and sagacity, this changes nothing,
for Paul appoints two reasons why we should work, and one of them is to
have a supply for the poor. And that ye...work with your own hands,
as we commanded you, that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without,
and that ye may have lack of nothing. (I Thes. 4:11-12). And again,
Let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good,
that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Eph. 4:28). Nevertheless,
we must insist that this supply is to be given voluntarily ----and
when and where and how the giver sees fit. A mandatory taxation to effect
this is both the fruit and the root of corruption.
I would also insist that the word equality is not to be interpreted
in any technical sense, as though Paul were pleading for equality in income
or assets. Absolutely not. The language of Scripture is not technical,
but the common non-technical language which we all use every day. By equality
Paul means nothing more than that he would not have one eased and another
burdened. He would have the abundance of one relieve the need of another,
and should their circumstances be reversed, he would have the same take
place in the other direction. So he explicitly says.
But I move on to the second of Paul's prescriptions, which is purpose.
Every man as he purposeth in his heart. (II Cor. 9:7). This
is purely individual, to be determined by every man for himself. This
purpose may take many forms. One may purpose to give a certain percentage.
Another may determine to give a certain amount. Another may determine
to retain for himself a certain amount, and give the rest. John Wesley's
purpose was to give all he could, after taking care of his own simple
necessities. How is any of this consistent with a fixed percentage of
one tenth? Why does not Paul exhort them all to faithfully give their
tithe? In the verse immediately preceding this one he says, But
this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he
which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. What possible
application could such a principle have, if all were expected to give
a fixed percentage?
And concerning the nature of the purpose of which Paul speaks,
he says elsewhere, Upon the first day of the week, let every one
of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. (I Cor. 16:2).
This does not imply any fixed purpose or any fixed percentage or amount,
but something done on the first day of the week, according as God has
prospered him in the previous week. All men do not have fixed or steady
incomes. They may have a large income one week, and little or none the
next. Expenses may also vary greatly from week to week. Much less are
we to find storehouse tithing here. Let every one of you lay by
him in store, says Paul. The bounty of the saints need never be
brought into any storehouse at all, for Paul says of it in
II Cor. 9:9, As it is written, He hath scattered abroad; he hath
given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth for ever. Scattering
abroad is not bringing into a storehouse.
It is plain that nothing in these two chapters has anything to do with
tithing. Yet some folks, determined to save their doctrine of tithing,
will contend that these chapters are concerned with giving over
and above the tithe. But this is pure assumption. Paul could have
said so if he had meant so, but he says nothing of tithing. And how many
who tithe practice any such giving over and above their tithe?
Most of those who have been taught to tithe suppose that in so doing they
have fulfilled their whole responsibility. They suppose that one tenth
belongs to the Lord, and the other nine tenths to themselves. This is
precisely where the main evil of the doctrine of tithing lies.
And this is directly against the Lord's doctrine of stewardship. A steward
is the manager of goods which are not his own, and the Lord makes it perfectly
plain in Luke 16 that we are stewards. If ye have been unfaithful
in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your
own? What we have now, in this life, is another man's.
If we are faithful with that, we shall receive what is our own
eternal reward. And lest anyone mistake the matter, by that which
is another man's the Lord refers precisely to our money. If
therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will
commit to your trust the true riches? Now suppose you are hired
as a manager ----a steward that is ----of another man's
estate. You appropriate all the capital and assets of the estate entirely
to yourself, and use it all for your own ends, just as you please. You
do the same with nine tenths of the income, while you faithfully lay out
one tenth of the income in the interests of the owner of the estate. When
you are taken to court for robbing the owner, you will have no plea and
no excuse. Yet this is exactly the modern evangelical idea of stewardship ----an
idea which upon its very face is fundamentally false. It is not stewardship
at all, but robbing God.
R. G. LeTourneau
----well known as a wealthy Christian business
man ----had for a motto, Not how much of my money do I give
to God, but how much of God's money do I keep for myself.3 I cannot
pretend to say how well LeTourneau carried out that motto, but the motto
itself is a simple statement of the Bible doctrine of stewardship. It
is not my money, but God's. I am the steward of it, having indeed the
control of it, and also the responsibility for what I do with it.
Of course we are free to use some of our Lord's goods for our own necessities.
He explicitly orders us to do so. But is it not perfectly plain that the
more he commits to us of the unrighteous mammon, the smaller the percentage
we ought to use for ourselves? We are not the owners of it, but stewards.
He has committed it to us in trust, to be used for his cause. This is
the very essence of stewardship, and this it is which the comfortable
doctrine of tithing effectually destroys. Even the meaning of the word
stewardship has been completely destroyed in the modern church,
by applying it to such a thing as tithing. Stewardship does not concern
one tenth of what God has entrusted to you, but ten tenths. We must all
very soon stand before God to give account of our stewardship,
and it is the utmost folly to suppose we shall give account for only ten
percent of our goods. When you inform the Lord that you have faithfully
given your tithe to relieve the poor and support the gospel, he will not
say, Well done, thou good and faithful steward, but What
did you do with the other nine tenths? Can you give a good account
To some God has committed material wealth, and little of spiritual gift
or ability. To others he has given little of material goods, but a profusion
of spiritual goods. But all of us are stewards of all that is committed
to us. Paul had little of material things
----was often hungry and
destitute of proper clothes ----but calls himself a steward of the
mysteries of God. Now what would be thought of a steward of the mysteries
of God who aimed to use ten percent of his spiritual gifts purely for
the cause of Christ, while he used ninety percent to feather his own nest,
secure his own glory, procure his own pleasures, and lay up a competency
for his heirs? He has no right to use his spiritual gifts so, and neither
has the man to whom God has committed material goods any right to use
ninety percent of them for such purposes. It all belongs to God, and it
seems to me that those who have little of spiritual gifts, but an abundance
of material goods, ought to be anxious to get down to business,
to put those goods to work for the cause of Christ. How else do they expect
to lay up any treasures in heaven? Here are the Lord's explicit instructions
for such a case: Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide youselves
bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where
no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. (Luke 12:33). And
this does not concern our income, but our assets. There is nothing about
tithing here, nor can there be. The doctrine of tithing tends directly
to destroy Christ's doctrine.
Yet it seems there are a good many Fundamental preachers who suppose that
the doctrine of tithing is a plain necessity, in order to keep up the
income and the programs of the church, but this is a very great mistake.
Indeed, if they preach the doctrine of tithing merely for its effect,
it is a very great evil. But the fact is, this doctrine of tithing is
very comfortable for those who have money, and it serves actually to dry
up the fountains of liberality, and to shrink the treasury of the Lord.
Let preachers throw these notions of tithing to the winds, and preach
instead the Bible doctrine of stewardship, and this will either fill the
coffers or empty the pews, depending upon the spiritual state of the people.
The real issue here is devotedness to Christ. When preachers must labor
to exact a tithe from the people, what an indication is this of the low
standard of devotedness which prevails in such a church. Let preachers
preach devotedness to Christ. Let them set the example of such devotedness
preaching without example is worse than a waste of breath. Lack of devotedness
to the cause of Christ is the real root of financial difficulties in the
church, and that lack of devotedness is actually appealed to by many of
the advocates of tithing. They do not preach tithing as a sacred duty,
but as a business investment. They preach it as the way to financial prosperity.
Tithe, and God will bless you ----temporally and financially,
of course. Books of testimonies are published to prove this. Yet it seems
it didn't work for the apostles, for they were destitute, even lacking
proper food and clothes. We both hunger, and thirst, and are naked,
says Paul, and this he says not of himself only, but of us the apostles.
(I Cor. 4:9 & 11). Either they didn't tithe, or it didn't work. That
promise in the Bible which conditions temporal prosperity upon tithing
was just suited to the earthly economy to which it belonged. It does not
belong to the present economy.
The fact is, tithing had nothing to do with Paul's doctrine of giving.
The real foundation of it was simple devotedness to Christ. Of the Macedonians,
who did not tithe, but gave to their power,...and beyond their power,
he says, This they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own
selves to the Lord, AND UNTO US by the will of God. (II Cor. 8:3
& 5). Here it plainly appears that those who give themselves indeed
to the Lord, give themselves also to his ministers and to his cause. His
cause in this case was ministering to the necessities of the poor saints.
To do so they gave beyond their power, praying us, Paul says,
with much intreaty that we would receive the gift. (vs. 4).
This is not tithing, but devotedness to Christ. And behold here the vast
difference between modern Christianity and the Christianity of the New
Testament. The modern preachers must endeavor to extract a tithe from
the people, and that often with much intreaty. The old Bible
Christians, in deep poverty themselves (vs. 2), gave beyond
their power, and with much intreaty persuaded the ministers
of Christ to take the gift. Where is tithing to be put into such a picture
what possible use could there be for it? Yet today we have a myriad of
preachers in Fundamental churches who preach tithing ----and fail
to secure even that from many of the people ----and yet call themselves
New Testament churches. Methinks a revival of real New Testament Christianity
would leave the doctrine of tithing forsaken and forgotten.
When Frances Ridley Havergal wrote, Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold, this was a simple matter of devotedness
to Christ. But it was something more. It embodied also the Bible doctrine
of stewardship. The whole poem in which those lines occur, fraught as
it is with expressions of personal devotedness, is really nothing more
than an exposition of stewardship. I give the original entire, without
'Here we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and
bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Thee.'
|TAKE my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and `beautiful' for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
|Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, ALL for Thee.
And as she wrote, so she lived. In an exposition of this
poem she writes, `The silver and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord
of Hosts.' Yes, every coin we have is literally our `Lord's money.' Simple
belief of this fact is the stepping-stone to full consecration of what
He has given us.5 She did not go shopping with her whole income,
minus her tithe, and think to do as she pleased with it. As a steward,
she writes, `shopping' becomes a different thing. We look up to
our Lord for guidance to lay out His money prudently and rightly, and
as He would have us lay it out.6 How many tithers have such experience?
They have given their tithe, and suppose the rest to be their own, to
be used as they like.
Yet it is only fair to add that Miss Havergal believed in tithing also,7
as a minimum of duty, and as a sort of safeguard, lest we
should say all and do little or nothing. Where devotedness
to Christ is lacking, such a safeguard may seem necessary,
yet it seems plain enough to me that a woman with her spirit of consecration
and devotedness, who possessed her understanding of the Bible principles
----and who wished all good carpets and furniture
were at the bottom of the sea!8 ----really had no need of
any such safeguard. It appears plain enough also that tithing,
as it is generally taught and practiced today, effectually destroys both
consecration and stewardship.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
COMMENCEMENT OF THE GREAT REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN KENTUCKY
AND TENNESSEE, IN 1799.
In a Letter to the Rev. Thomas L. Douglas
[This letter is reprinted without alteration from The Methodist Magazine,
for the Year of Our Lord 1821, New-York: Published by N. Bangs and T.
Mason, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1821, pp. 189-191. A brief
extract from this is given in Iain Murray's Revival and Revivalism at
the beginning of his chapter on The Emergence of Revivalism,
but he misrepresents its contents in several particulars. Revivalism
in Murray's mind is of course a false and evil thing, and by one of his
misinterpretations he insinuates that the revival originated with the
Presbyterians, while we owe the revivalism to the Methodists. It is distasteful
to have to make an account of such a nature, on such a theme, the subject
of controversy, but Mr. Murray's misinterpretations of history really
call for an answer. I shall deal with a couple of them in footnotes, at
the proper places.
June 23, 1820
IN compliance with your request, I have endeavoured to recollect some
of the most noted circumstances which occurred at the commencement of
the work of God in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, and which came
under my observation in 1799, and the two following years.
I suppose I am one of the two brothers refered to in Theophilus Arminius'
account of the work of God in the Western Country; my brother William
M'Gee is fallen asleep in the bosom of his beloved Master. We were much
attached to each other from our infancy, but much more so when we both
experienced the uniting love of Jesus Christ. I was the oldest, and by
the mercy and grace of God, sought and experienced religion first. With
great anxiety of mind, he heard me preach the unsearchable riches of Christ,
before he felt or enjoyed peace with God. After he obtained religion,
he thought proper to receive Holy Orders in the Presbyterian Church; and
after preaching some time in North-Carolina, and in the Holsten Country,
he came to Cumberland (now West-Tennessee) about the year 1796 or 1797,
and settled in a congregation in Summer county about the year 1798. Several
reasons induced me to remove with my family from Carolina to the Western
Country; and in the year 1798 settled in Sumner (now Smith) county. The
difference of doctrines professed by the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches,
were not sufficient to dissolve those ties of love and affection which
we both felt. We loved, and prayed, and preached together; and God was
pleased to own and bless us, and our labours. In the year 1799 we agreed
to make a tour through the Barons towards Ohio, and concluded to attend
a sacramental solemnity in the Rev. Mr. M'Gready's congregation on Red-river
in our way. When we came there, I was introduced by my brother, and received
an invitation to address the congregation from the pulpit, and I know
not that ever God favoured me with more light and liberty than he did
each day, while I endeavoured to convince the people they were sinners,
and urged the necessity of repentance, and of a change from nature to
grace; and held up to their view the greatness, freeness, and fulness
of salvation which was in Christ Jesus, for lost, guilty, condemned sinners.
My brother, and the Rev. Mr. Hodge preached with much animation and liberty.
The people felt the force of truth, and tears ran down their cheeks, but
all was silent until Monday, the last day of the feast. Mr. Hodge gave
a useful discourse; an intermission was given, and I was appointed to
preach. While Mr. Hodge was preaching, a woman in the east end of the
house got an uncommon blessing, broke through order, and shouted for some
time, and then sat down in silence. At the close of the sermon, Messrs.
Hodge, M'Gready, and Rankin went out of the house; my brother and myself
sat still, the people seemed to have no disposition to leave their seats.
My brother felt such a power come on him, that he quit his seat, and sat
down in the floor of the pulpit, (I suppose not knowing what he did) a
power which caused me to tremble, was upon me,
----there was a solemn weeping
all over the house. Having a wish to preach, I strove against my feelings;
at length I rose up and told the people, I was appointed to preach, but
there was a greater than I preaching, and exhorted them to let the Lord
God Omnipotent reign in their hearts, and to submit to Him, and their
souls should live. Many broke silence,1 the woman in the east end of the
house shouted tremendously, I left the pulpit to go to her, and as I went
along through the people, it was suggested to me, You know these people
are much for order, they will not bear this confusion, go back and be
quiet.2 I turned to go back, and was near falling; the power of God
was strong upon me, I turned again, and loosing [sic] sight of the fear
of man, I went through the house shouting, and exhorting with all possible
ecstacy and energy, and the floor was soon covered with the slain; their
screams for mercy pierced the heavens, and mercy came down; some found
forgiveness, and many went away from that meeting, feeling unutterable
agonies of soul for redemption in the blood of Jesus. This was the beginning
of that glorious revival of religion in this Country, which was so great
a blessing to thousands; and from this meeting Camp-meetings took their
rise. One man for the want of horses, for all his family to ride, and
attend the meeting, fixt up his waggon, in which he took them and his
provisions, and lived on the ground throughout the meeting. He had left
his worldly cares behind him, and had nothing to do, but attend on divine
The next popular meeting was on Muddy river, and this was a Camp-meeting:
a number of waggons loaded with people came together, and camped on the
ground, and the Lord was present and approved of their zeal, by sealing
a pardon to about forty souls. The next Camp-meeting was on the Ridge,
where there was an increase of people, and carriages of different descriptions,
and a great many preachers of the Presbyterian and Methodist order, and
some of the Baptist; but the latter were generally opposed to the work.
Preaching commenced, and the people prayed, and the power of God attended.
There was a great cry for mercy. The nights were truly awful; the camp
ground was well illuminated; the people were differently exercised all
over the ground, some exhorting, some shouting, some praying, and some
crying for mercy, while others lay as dead men on the ground. Some of
the spiritually wounded fled to the woods, and their groans could be heard
all through the surrounding groves, as the groans of dying men. From thence
many came into the camp rejoicing and praising God for having found redemption
in the blood of the Lamb. At this meeting it was computed that one hundred
souls were converted from nature to grace. But perhaps the greatest meeting
we ever witnessed in this Country, took place shortly after on Deshas's
creek, near Cumberland river. Many thousands of people attended. The mighty
power and mercy of God was manifested. The people fell before the word,
like corn before a storm of wind, and many rose from the dust with divine
glory shining in their countenances, and gave glory to God in such strains
as made the hearts of stubborn sinners to tremble; and after the first
gust of praise they would break forth in vollies of exhortation. Amongst
these were many small home-bred boys, who spoke with the tongue, wisdom
and eloquence of the learned; and truly they were learned, for they were
all taught of God, who had taken their feet out of the mire and clay,
and put a new song in their mouths. Although there were converts of different
ages under this work, it was remarkable, they were generally the children
of praying parents. Here John A. Granade, the western poet, who composed
the Pilgrim's songs, after being many months in almost entire desperation,
till he was worn down, and appeared like a walking skeleton, found pardon
and mercy from God, and began to preach a risen Jesus. Some of the Pharisees
cried disorder and confusion, but in disorderly assemblies, there are
generally dislocated and broken bones, and bruised flesh; but here, the
women laid their sleeping children at the roots of the trees, while hundreds
of all ages and colours were stretched on the ground in the agonies of
conviction, and as dead men, while thousands day any [sic: read and]
night were crowding round them and passing to and fro, yet there was nobody
hurt;* which shews that the people were perfectly in their senses: and
on this chaos of apparent confusion, God said, let there be light, and
there was light! and many emerged out of darkness into it. We have hardly
ever had a Camp-meeting since, without his presence and power to convert
souls. Glory to God and the Lamb for ever and ever.
The Rev. T. L. Douglass, P. Elder, Nashville District.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
Ï Book Review Ï
by Glenn Conjurske
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, by John L. Bray.
John L. Bray Ministries, P. O. Box 1778, Lakeland, Florida, 33802, $1.
Morgan Edwards and the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching
by John L. Bray.
(As above), $1.
Morgan Edwards: An Eighteenth Century Pretribulationist,
by Frank Marotta.
Present Truth Publishers, 411 Route 79, Morganville, NJ, 07751, $2 +post.
The above three booklets deal with the origins of pretribulationism.
In his second booklet, John L. Bray has done good service to the cause
of truth by publishing information which establishes that Morgan Edwards
held a pretribulation rapture as early as 1744, and published a book which
taught it in 1788. But we do not care for the manner in which Bray has
done this. In the first booklet listed above, published in 1982, he said,
IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL DISCOVER THE SOURCE OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION
RAPTURE TEACHING WHICH IS SO PREVALENT TODAY!
Did you know that the teaching of the Rapture being separated from
the Revelation by an intervening period of time has been taught only since
1812? . . .
Did you know that NONE of this was ever taught prior to 1812, and
that all forms of Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching were developed since
that date? I mean by this that NO New Testament Rapture writer taught
a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, NONE of the early church fathers taught it,
NO Catholic Church creed taught it, NO Protestant Church creed nor Reformer
taught it, NO other group or person ever published such teachings BEFORE
I want to take you not too far back in history to a book which taught
for the FIRST TIME EVER the things which I have just mentioned. And this
book was first published in 1812. (pp. 1-2, emphasis Bray's).
The book to which he refers was written by a Spanish Jesuit named Lacunza,
translated into English by Edward Irving, and published in English in
1827. Of that book I need say nothing here, except to point out that since
1982 Mr. Bray has been asserting, in the most positive language, that
Lacunza's book for the FIRST TIME EVER taught a pretribulation
rapture. And I beg the reader to particularly observe the forcefulness
and positiveness of Mr. Bray's language.
Along with these positive assertions he published a challenge to pretribulationists,
offering to pay $500 to anyone who could find an earlier statement of
pretribulationism. There (page 31) he tones down his positive language
a bit, saying, I am willing to pay FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($500.00)
to any person who will furnish me with a documented statement by anybody
(in a sermon, article or commentary) in any country, published BEFORE
LACUNZA'S TIME, which taught that the second coming of Christ will be
divided into two stages (Rapture and Revelation) and separated by a period
of time.... I will not be so dogmatic as to say such cannot be found.
This was wise, and it would have been well if Mr. Bray had been as wise
on page one as he was on page thirty-one. Yet it hardly seems likely that
this challenge was actually designed to elicit information, for Mr. Bray
hardly expected any to appear. His positive assertions on page one make
that clear enough. In the light of his repeated positive assertions already
quoted, we can only suppose the challenge was intended to stand as a permanent
taunt to pretribulationists.
Mr. Bray's second booklet, published in 1995, was occasioned by the fact
that such an earlier statement was found, in a book entitled
Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the Following Titles; Millennium,
and Last-Novelties, by Morgan Edwards, a Baptist. This book was written
between 1742 and 1744, when Edwards was a student in England. It was published
in 1788 in Philadelphia. We must suppose, then, that Edwards held and
taught this doctrine throughout his ministry. As Bray grants (pg. 12),
If this book were written in 1742-1744, and Edwards pastored four
churches after that in Ireland, England and America, before the book was
finally published in 1788, it is difficult to believe that the teaching
of the pre-tribulation rapture as found in this book was not preached
also from the various pulpits where Edwards ministered. One doesn't usually
write a book and say nothing of the contents for over 40 years.
Well, but what is Mr. Bray to do with all of his positve statements in
his former booklet, 114,273 copies of which have gone forth to the world?
Methinks all of the loud braying in the first booklet about NONE, NONE,
NO person ever, and FIRST TIME EVER, should have required Mr. Bray at
least to eat a little of thistle pie in the second booklet. But he manages
to avoid that, and says only, For some number of years in many published
books, I have stated that Emmanuel Lacunza in his book of 1812 entitled
The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty, was the first person ever
WHICH WE COULD DISCOVER who taught a pre-tribulation rapture. (pg.
9. This time the capitals are mine.) We think a candid acknowledgement
that there was too much bravado in his former statements would have suited
the case better. He seems, however, to have at any rate learned his lesson,
for there are no such confident claims in the second booklet, but rather
a more sober statement: So far as we know, Morgan Edwards was the
first person ever to publish a pre-tribulation rapture teaching.
Mr. Bray grants that he is embarrassed by the discovery of the earlier
statement, but he is embarrassed by the wrong thing. And it
is mighty embarrassing to me as a Baptist, he says (pg. 11), to
learn that now I cannot trace this teaching to anyone further back than
a BAPTIST leader, and here in America at that! He need not have
troubled himself about that. He would have done better to show a little
embarrassment for his own mistaken claims in the past.
Pages 16-24 of this booklet consist of advertising for Mr. Bray's materials,
and it does seem a little strange to find at the top of page 23 his former
booklet still for sale. We are not particularly sorry for this, for the
booklet does contain a good deal of excellent information on Lacunza's
book, but we hope Mr. Bray will not allow its misrepresentations to continue
to go forth without some proper check. We hope he will include a free
copy of his second booklet with every copy of the first which he sends
forth. Indeed, he could very easily publish the two under one cover. Fourteen
pages of the former booklet are taken up with advertising and My
Trip to Communist Russia, while the text of the second booklet contains
only fifteen pages of text, and that in larger type. Why not replace the
extraneous matter in the first booklet with the contents of the second?
At this point it can hardly be right to circulate the first booklet at
all without the contents of the second.
The second booklet, I should add, does contain valuable quotations from
Edwards' book, demonstrating what his system was.
Following in the wake of Mr. Bray's booklet comes that of Mr. Marotta.
Mr. Marotta is a pretribulationist, and writes of course with a purpose
altogether different from Mr. Bray's. He gives us a brief account of Morgan
Edwards and his prophetic system, followed by information on the prophetic
teaching of other Baptists during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
(No, he does not find another pretribulationist among them.)
Mr. Marotta's booklet contains also an appendix, on Dave MacPherson,
Morgan Edwards and The Rapture Plot. To understand this we must
go back to Mr. Bray's booklet on Morgan Edwards. Dave MacPherson has endeavored
in several publications to attribute Darby's pretribulationism to a revelation
given out among the Irvingites. His latest book on the subject, The Rapture
Plot, was sent to Mr. Bray in manuscript before publication. Mr. Bray
wrote Mr. MacPherson a letter, which he gives us on page 13, informing
the latter of the newly discovered information on Morgan Edwards. This
ought to have stopped Mr. MacPherson, but he went ahead and published
his book, and instead of acknowledging the testimony of Morgan Edwards,
he disputed it, and misrepresented it in the process. Mr. Marotta deals
with his statements, to set the record straight. He also deals with a
few other misrepresentations in MacPherson's book.
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Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water
by Glenn Conjurske
When the Gibeonites had deceived Israel, made a league with them, and
obtained their oath to let them live, Joshua said to them, Now therefore
ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen,
and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.
(Joshua 9:23). The Gibeonites were cursed Canaanites to begin with, and
liars and deceivers besides. They did not deserve to live. Yet since Israel
had sworn to them, and so must let them live, they would make them hewers
of wood and drawers of water.
And observe, it was for the house of my God (vs. 23) and for
the altar of the Lord (vs. 27) that Joshua made them hewers of wood
and drawers of water. The time was when I was somewhat scandalized by
this. Did the altar of the Lord need the services of cursed Canaanites?
Would God accept such services? Ought Israel to have used such services?
The experience and the meditations of years have given me to see the propriety
of all of this, and I will pass along those meditations to my readers.
The bee, I observe, can draw nectar from the rankest weed, and make good
honey of it, and though I do not care to have much contact with bees,
yet I can eat their honey. I have learned also to fetch wood and water
from the Gibeonites. I have learned that it is God's wood, and God's water,
and the hands of the Gibeonites have not altered its nature, nor made
it unacceptable for the service of God's house.
But who are these Gibeonites? They are the ungodly, to be sure. But they
are the ungodly who dwell in the land. More especially, they are those
who have crept in unawares. They are modernists and heretics.
But let them stand for all the ungodly
----for Chaldeans, and Syrians,
and Egyptians, and Canaanites. We may fetch wood and water for the house
of God from all of them. Not that I mean to imply they ought to be allowed
in the church. Far from that. We have no reason to suppose that Israel
admitted the Gibeonites into the congregation of the Lord. Certainly not.
Yet they used them to hew wood and draw water for the house of God.
Now to apply all of this. There are numerous authors, editors, compilers,
critics, lexicographers, publishers, and librarians among the Gibeonites
who have hewed some most excellent wood-piles. True, there is no life
in it. It is but dead wood
----dead and dry. Yet when a true Levite
puts that wood upon the altar of the Lord, in touch with the fire from
heaven, we may have as good a blaze from it as from any wood which ever
an Israelite hewed. It is in fact good wood, and none the worse for having
been hewed by a Gibeonite. Years ago I sold off a good many books which
were but piles of dead wood. There was no spiritual food in them. But
in this I was not wise, and I have since set myself to buy them back,
and for much higher prices than I sold them for. Dead and dry as they
were, they were yet good fire wood.
Now to be more specific. The servants of the Lord must study the word
of the Lord, and the words of his servants. To that end they stand often
in need of a good dictionary, and it is to the Gibeonites they must go
for it. A dictionary may be no more than a pile of dead wood, but it may
be a very good pile, and such a pile as no man of God could hew if he
were to spend his life at it. And why should he spend his life so? He
has better things to do, and the wood-pile is ready to hand, made by the
Gibeonites. Though I have very few purely secular books in my library,
and none but such as I may put to good use for the house of my God, I
must say that one thing which I value more than almost anything else which
I possess is The Oxford English Dictionary, in thirteen large volumes.
It is, I presume, mostly the work of Gibeonites, but it is good wood for
all that, and I have used it often enough in kindling a fire upon the
altar of the Lord. The language is the Lord's, and though the Gibeonites
have hewed and stacked it, it is the Lord's still, and the servants of
the Lord may put it to good use.
But more: a good Greek lexicon is as necessary to know the word of the
Lord as a good English dictionary. It is my firm belief that there is
no better Greek lexicon in existence than Thayer's
was a Gibeonite, a Unitarian to be exact. I am sorry for it. I heartily
wish he had been a true Israelite. But Gibeonite though he was, he hewed
good wood, which the priests of the Lord have used upon the altar of God
for more than a century.
It may well be that Gibeonites are not always to be trusted, and we must
exercise a watchful eye over their work. Some of their loads may be a
good deal shy of a full cord. Be it so. This detracts nothing from the
general usefulness of their labors. Wilhelm Gesenius, who gave to us our
standard lexicon of Hebrew, was a German rationalist, and his rationalistic
views did not fail to appear in his lexicon. But an Israelite indeed was
at hand, in the person of Samuel P. Tregelles, the well known textual
critic. He translated Gesenius into English, and in the process pointed
out and refuted everything of a rationalistic tendency. He says in his
introduction, That Rationalistic tendencies should be pointed out,
that such things should be noted and refuted, was the only proper course
for any one to take who really receives the Old Testament as inspired
by the Holy Ghost: so far from such additions being in any way a cause
for regret, I still feel that had they not been introduced, I might have
been doing an injury to revealed truth, and have increased that laxity
of apprehension as to the authority of Holy Scripture, the prevalence
of which I so much deplore. Tregelles did right well in thus overseeing
the work of the Gibeonite, and surely none of them are to be trusted until
they prove themselves trustworthy.
But (alas, that I should be compelled to say so) the very same thing is
true of the Israelites. How rare it is that an Israelite delivers a full
cord. What a rare thing it is that we can find a doctrinal treatise that
deals everywhere fairly and honestly with the text of Scripture. In this
regard it often happens that the Gibeonites, who have no doctrinal hobby
horses to ride, do better than the godly. And so it is with history. Where
can we find an objective history of the Baptists? Most of them which I
have seen invent, contort, and conceal historical facts, just as it suits
their purpose. An objective historian will write good history, be he Israelite
or Gibeonite, but (alas again) it is as easy to find an objective historian
among the ungodly as it is among the godly. How many of the godly who
write history are not historians at all, but advocates and pleaders, who
twist and contort the facts of history at every turn of the path, and
so think to do God service. The fact is, though I am very sorry for it,
we may usually get as good a pile of wood from the Gibeonites as from
And in some cases, a good deal better. Most of the best which has come
to us of the history of Mormonism has not come from the godly, but from
Mormons themselves, who have left Mormonism, though they have never been
converted to Christ. Among these we may put Wife No. 19, by Ann Eliza
Young, an estranged wife of Brigham Young. Better still is Tell
It All by Fanny Stenhouse, a woman who left Mormonism, but who does
not appear ever to have come to Christ. The same is true of her husband,
T. B. H. Stenhouse, who wrote Rocky Mountain Saints, a very good history
But I must go yet further. Not only have the Gibeonites hewn very good
wood, but some of them have drawn good water also. The makers of the King
James Version (if some of them were not Gibeonites themselves) did not
hesitate to use some of the water drawn by the Gibeonites, for they did
not scruple to adopt many of the renderings of the Roman Catholic Rheims
New Testament. And why should they not? The King James Version was not
debased thereby, but enriched. Words are not tainted, though the devil
himself should use them, and if the Romanists happened to draw some better
water than the Protestants had been able to do, it would have been folly
to have refused it. The bee does not refuse nectar, though he find it
atop a thistle.
It is mostly the Gibeonites who have delved into the secrets of God's
creation, and ferreted out the treasures of wisdom which are to be found
----and often such treasures as may water our very souls.
Though I very seldom read anything of a secular nature, years ago I read
the account (in The National Geographic) of the search for the winter
home of the monarch butterflies, and found plenty therein to move me to
tears, and to deep admiration for one small facet of the wisdom of my
God. True, the writer of the account was a Gibeonite, who could find nothing
more than evolution in these wonders, but I could find more than that.
Here I saw that of all of the millions of monarch butterflies, from all
over the continent, which all migrate to the same place in Mexico for
the winter, not one of them has ever been to that place before. The frail
creature only lives a few weeks, and several generations of them live
and die in every summer. Yet the last generation of the summer lives long
enough to migrate to Mexico, spend the winter there, return to the north,
and lay its eggs. Here I could drink and refresh my soul.
Not that I think the saints of God ought to spend their time and money
to explore the realms of nature. They have better things to do, and for
the most part they have better things to do than even to drink of the
waters which the Gibeonites have thus drawn. They may drink of the waters
which come down from heaven, and they have little occasion for those which
are drawn up from the earth. Yet they may find a little refreshing even
in those, for the God of salvation is the God of nature also.
Yet I must add a solemn caution here. There are many in our day who give
themselves up almost entirely to the study of the earth (and even of the
world) under the plea that all truth is God's truth, and that
God of Scripture is the God of nature. All truth is no doubt God's truth,
but it is certainly not all equally important, nor equally profitable.
Joshua set the Gibeonites to hew wood and draw water for the house of
God, and for the altar of the Lord, and it is only as we can turn them
to good account for the testimony of Christ that we have any business
at all with the works of the Gibeonites. Nor is this all. There is scarely
anything in earth, world, sea, or sky which a true man of God might not
turn to some good account, but that gives him no commission to neglect
the better for the sake of the good. He has no business to neglect the
study of Scripture for the study of nature. We may leave that to the Gibeonites,
though we may take a little from their cisterns or their wood-piles when
it will serve the cause of our God.
There is in fact a great deal of useful information which the Gibeonites
may discover, collect, arrange, classify, and even appreciate, as well
as any Israelite. Such are ancient proverbs, facts of history, facts of
science, and meanings of words, and where there are Gibeonites willing
to do it, we may by all means leave it to them. Let the Israelites avail
themselves of their labors where they need them. But let the Israelites
remember their own proper sphere. The altar of the Lord was not made for
wood and water, but for burnt offerings. The Gibeonites have nothing to
do with those. They have no right to eat of the altar of the Lord, nor
ever to bring an offering to it. Our business is with the spiritual. Let
us keep to our business. When we need wood or water, we may generally
have it of the Gibeonites, and we need not scruple to take it of them.
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Additional Note on Lovest Thou Me?
Since publishing the Stray Note on Lovest Thou Me? I have
run across the following, which may add the weight of Burgon's name to
what I contend is the proper sense of v . Referring to I Cor. 16:22, If
any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, Burgon writes, [
----(`If any man does not dearly love.' . . . . . . . . !) ----Inspiration
and Interpretation, by John W. Burgon. London: Marshall Brothers, 1905,
OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without
alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise,
and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own views are to be taken from his own writings.