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MENCKEN VS. MORRIS - YOU DECIDE
A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, March 5, 2006
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”
I have not always agreed with Doug Kutilek, particularly in regard to his stance on the King James Bible. To make it simple: Kutilek believes that the Greek text underlying the KJV New Testament is not as reliable as the Westcott-Hort text, developed in modern times. I disagree. I hold that the KJV is translated from the most reliable text and is, therefore, the only truly dependable translation. Enough said!
On many points I find Kutilek a remarkable student and scholar. In his “As I See It” electronic magazine, volume 2, number 12, 1999, Kutilek gives a wonderfully penetrating description of the greatest events and people of the 20th century. It is well worth reading. You can find it at his website at www.kjvonly.org/aisi/1999/aisi_2_12_99.htm.
I am lifting out of Kutilek’s article a few of his insights into the most important events in the 20th century. Concerning influential men of the 20th century, he said,
Among the most notorious for evil, it is hard to decide between Joseph Stalin of Russia…and Mao Tse Tung of China. Both dominated their respective countries for about a quarter of a century. Both were unspeakably brutal… murderers of millions of their own countrymen, and of foreigners…It is hard to choose between these two incarnations of evil.
Yes, Hitler must be added to this satanic triumvirate, yet…his reign of terror lasted a mere dozen years [killing] some 20 million [but those] were only a fraction of the death tolls piled up by either of the Communist monsters. [The 20th century] has…witnessed the lives of the most evil men in history.
In sharp contrast, the single most important individual in [the 20th century] was beyond dispute Winston Churchill…By the sheer force of his own will and his soul-gripping eloquence, Churchill willed England into resistance against [Hitler’s] Third Reich when the easiest path would have been a pact of neutrality…England stood because Churchill stood. And because England stood, [Hitler’s] Third Reich ultimately fell. No other man in the British Empire [or] in the free world was equal to the task. I can think of no one who merits being classed with Churchill in the 20th century.
I would only add to that Churchill’s “prophetic” vision, which led him to sound the alarm against Communism in his “Iron Curtain Speech” in Fulton, Missouri in 1947, thus defining the “Cold War” that was to go on for forty years, ending finally under the courageous leadership of President Reagan. I would also add that Churchill forged the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States which ultimately brought down the Soviet Union, a “special relationship” that he brought into being and which continues as a bulwark against Muslim terrorists to this day. Yes, Kutilek is right, I believe, when he says, “I can think of no one who merits being classed with Churchill in the 20th century.”
Then Kutilek points out the importance of the Scopes Trial in 1925 as one of the most significant theological events of the past century. I only wish he had made it clear that William Jennings Bryan became the tragic hero of the Scopes Trial because of the insidious journalistic techniques of H. L. Mencken, a mean-spirited oddball who shaped the public’s view of Bryan, and creationism in general, through his acid-tongued newspaper articles against Bryan and the creationists. Mencken, a writer for the Baltimore Sun, and editor of a national journal, the American Mercury, urged Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes. He said, “Nobody gives a damn about that yap [crudely noisy] schoolteacher. The thing to do is to make a fool out of Bryan.” “With his trademark acerbic [sour, hard, bitter] wit, he pronounced the trial as nothing more than ‘the conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters,’ labeling all anti-evolutionists as Bible-thumping yokels. His millions of readers ate it up, and the characterization has withstood eighty years of debate” (Marvin Olasky, Ph.D., and John Perry, Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial, Broadman and Holman, 2005, photo section, under portrait of Mencken, with a black cigar protruding from his malevolent, angry-looking mouth).
It should be remembered that Mencken was not only against Bible-believing Christians, he was also a vocal anti-Semite. He warned against “professional kikes” who opposed Hitler (Terry Teachout, The Skeptic: a Life of H. L. Mencken, HarperCollins, 2002, p. 266). Again, as Hitler rose to power, Mencken said,
The sharp, unyielding separateness of the Jews, based on their assertive racial egoism marks them off as strangers everywhere. The chief whooping for what is called racial tolerance comes from the Jews, who are the most intolerant people on earth (ibid., page 289).
Mencken’s biographer says, “That he was an anti-Semite cannot now reasonably be denied” (ibid., p. 290). I personally think that it was Mencken himself who was the “intolerant” man, a pig-headed disciple of Nietzche, the insane nihilistic philosopher, whose beliefs inspired Hitler. He was equally against the Bible because of its Jewish authorship. “He remarked that it is ‘astounding’ that the Jews have been responsible for ‘nearly all of it,’ since they could ‘very plausibly’ be described as ‘the most unpleasant race ever heard of’” (ibid., pp. 247-248). “He called the ‘Jewish’ Bible ‘only a minor art’” (ibid., p. 248).
This anti-Semite and anti-Christian was more responsible than any other person for making it look in the media that those who believe the literal creation account in the Bible are fools. He said, “I don’t like religious Jews. I don’t like religious Catholics and Protestants” (ibid., p. 248). That statement shows his narrow-minded hatred of all Judeo-Christian religions. No wonder this man refused to criticize Hitler during the 1930s!
Mencken was the leading man who controlled the media which slandered that noble American William Jennings Bryan, and attacked Bible-believing Christians during the Scopes Trial. Knowing of Mencken’s bitter anti-Semitism during the rise of Hitler should make people take a second look at what he wrote about the Scopes Trial, writing that twisted the trial into a so-called “defeat” of belief in Biblical creation. Mencken’s views were popularized in Hollywood’s fictionalized propaganda film, “Inherit the Wind.” The Mencken role in the movie was played by a young, handsome Gene Kelly, whose character in the film never mentioned Mencken’s racist, anti-Semitic views, or his attack on the “Jewish” Bible and those who believed it.
Yet Doug Kutilek was quite right when he said, “The immensity of the spiritual harm done as a result of the Scopes Trial is beyond calculation” largely due to the writings of this mean-spirited racist, H. L. Mencken.
I would say that H. L. Mencken, Clarence Darrow, and the ACLU that worked with them in the Scopes Trial to smear and belittle Biblical creation, were among the most poisonous forces in the 20th century.
For forty years those who believed the Biblical account of creation were attacked and derided in the popular press and in secular college classrooms across America - due to the bigoted smear tactics of Mencken and his ACLU cohorts. When I went to Los Angeles City College in the early 1960s, I was bombarded by a history professor who had swallowed Mencken’s interpretation of the Scopes Trial. He was a good teacher, but he accepted Mencken’s view of creationists as Bible-thumping yokels. Looking back, I wonder if he realized what a strong anti-Semite Mencken was. He probably thought of him as being the affable, happy man Gene Kelly portrayed in the Hollywood propaganda film, “Inherit the Wind.” Such is the power that the media has to create a myth.
But the myth of Darwinian evolution began to unravel in 1961 with the publication of The Genesis Flood by Dr. Henry M. Morris and Dr. John C. Whitcomb. Kutilek lists the publication of this book as the third significant religious event of the twentieth century - after the Scopes Trial and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Kutilek said,
A third event of surprising significance was the publication in 1961 of The Genesis Flood by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb. This book launched the modern scientific creation movement which has gone far in rescuing Biblical Christianity from its intellectual inferiority complex which developed after Scopes. For decades, we cowered in fear that if we tried to defend the literal accuracy of the Bible, especially the early chapters of Genesis, we would have scientific “facts” shoved down our throats and we would become a laughingstock…But now…we can boldly challenge secular atheistic evolution on solid scientific grounds. The Genesis Flood sparked this transformation.
Judged by the impact for good of his actions on conservative Christianity, I would have to name Henry M. Morris as the most influential individual of the century…by his writing and speaking, he set afoot the modern scientific creation movement that has transformed the whole relationship of Biblical Christianity and secular humanism. We can now take the battle to them on their home turf, and emerge victorious, supported by facts of science. The credibility of Scripture has been enhanced in our eyes and with confidence we can urge others to find a personal relationship with [Christ] our Creator and Savior, such as we ourselves have found.
“Who has had the greatest impact for good on 20th century Christianity?” “I would have to name Henry M. Morris as the most influential individual of the century.” After much reflection, I believe that Doug Kutilek was right. Dr. Morris has been called “the father of modern creation science.”
Henry Madison Morris was born on October 6, 1918 and died last Saturday, February 25, 2006 at the age of 87. He graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1939. He was converted shortly after graduation.
Morris worked as an hydraulic engineer, returning to Rice University to teach civil engineering from 1942 until 1946. Between 1946 and 1951 he studied at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a Master of Science degree in hydraulics in 1948 and a Ph.D. in hydraulic engineering, with a minor in geology, in 1950. Between 1951 and 1956 he taught civil engineering at the University of Louisiana. He taught applied science for one year at Southern Illinois University (1956-1957) and then became a professor of hydraulic engineering at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
In 1961 Morris, with Old Testament scholar Dr. John C. Whitcomb, wrote The Genesis Flood. This book brought widespread attention to the ideas of creation science and Flood geology. In 1963 he founded the Creation Research Society, and in 1970 he founded the Institute for Creation Research, 10946 Woodside Ave., Santee, CA 92071 (www.icr.org). He wrote 60 books, including The Genesis Record (1976), The Battle for Creation (1977), The Troubled Waters of Evolution (1982), History of Modern Creationism (1984), What Is Creation Science? (1987), The Long War Against God: the History and Import of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (1989), and The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (2002). Last month (January, 2006) his annotated The Defender’s Study Bible (World, 1995) was republished with much added information as The New Defender’s Study Bible. In this study Bible, Dr. Morris presents a strong and logical defence of the Biblical record, and provides hundreds of additional insights into passages of Scripture that seem to contradict present-day science. John MacArthur said of it, “Dr. Henry Morris, our generation’s foremost spokesman for Biblical creationism, has given students and teachers an invaluable tool for the defence of the Christian faith. Marginal notes throughout provide abundant evidence of the Bible’s absolute reliability where it speaks on matters related to geology, earth history, astronomy, biology, and other sciences.” I highly recommend The New Defender’s Study Bible, with notes by Dr. Henry M. Morris. It can be ordered through any Christian bookstore or through Amazon.com. Dr. John S. Waldrip said, “Dr. Morris was a brilliant scholar and theologian who was used by God to launch and encourage the modern Creation movement on a global scale.”
Today the abrasive diatribes of H. L. Mencken and his cohorts against creationism seem crude and archaic. But “Intelligent Design” is in the news constantly. Dr. William Dembski said, “Whereas Darwinists had been relentless in disparaging intelligent design as a pseudoscience, Darwinism itself now came to be viewed as a pseudoscience” (quoted in Marvin Olasky, Ph.D., and John Perry, Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial, Broadman and Holman, 2005, pp. 276-277).
Twenty years or so in the future I think we will look back and see that Darwinism failed and intelligent design prevailed. In the end, Bryan will win and Mencken will lose. Why? Because Mencken’s belief in Darwinism, like his anti-Semitism, was false. It’s as simple as that!
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”
And in that day, twenty years or so from now, I think we will remember that Dr. Henry M. Morris, more than anyone else, was responsible for burying Mencken, Darrow, the ACLU and the other malignant fanatics - and that it was Dr. Morris who opened the doors and let a breath of fresh air into scientific discussion regarding the origin and purpose of life.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE LOS ANGELES TIMES' OBITUARY ON DR. MORRIS.
CLICK TO ORDER "MONKEY BUSINESS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE SCOPES TRIAL."
CLICK HERE TO ORDER MENCKEN'S BIOGRAPHY, "THE SKEPTIC," BY TERRY TEACHOUT.
(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“How Big Is God!” (words by Rhea F. Miller, 1922;
composed by George Beverly Shea, 1909 - ).