Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Richard Ebeling's review of Rummel's "Death by Government"

In 1994, economist Richard Ebeling, a friend and former colleague of mine at Hillsdale College, published this review of  Death by Government by R. J. Rummel (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994) 496 pages, $49.95.  Dr. Ebeling's review is, if anything, even more relevant and important today than it ever was.  This review comes from The Future of Freedom Foundation.

In 1900, when the 20th century was about to begin, practically all political commentators, social analysts, and newspaper editorialists were sure that the new century would bring greater economic prosperity, more personal liberty and human freedom, and fewer wars and conflicts around the world. Democratic and constitutional government, political and economic liberalism, and the rule of law in both domestic and international affairs were the legacy of the 19th century, it was believed, that would blossom and expand in the 20th century. Unfortunately, the era of classical liberalism, we now know, was at its end. The era of collectivism and the socialist-interventionist-redistributivist state was arriving.

In 1900, the British were fighting the Boers in South Africa (and introducing the first modern use of concentration camps). The American Army was brutally subjugating the Philippine Islanders to U. S. rule in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War (during which American forces behaved so violently that all news dispatches back to the States were either heavily censored or banned). And an international force of American, British, German, Austrian, French, Italian, and Japanese forces were crushing the Boxer Rebellion around Peking, China (indiscriminately killing perhaps as many as 25,000 Chinese in the process). Nevertheless, even though the century began with these conflicts around the world, seemingly no one imagined or predicted the degree of violence, mass murder, and totalitarian tyranny that has been experienced during the past ten decades. Only a handful of older classical liberals was warning of the dangers that would arise if socialism and collectivism were triumphant.

How many people, in fact, have been killed by government violence in the 20th century? Not deaths in wars and civil wars among military combatants, but mass murder of civilians and innocent victims with either the approval or planning of governments — the intentional killings of their own subjects and citizens or people under their political control? The answer is: 169,198,000. If the deaths of military combatants are added to this figure, governments have killed 203,000,000 in the 20th century.

The world population in 1991 is estimated to have been approximately 5,423,000,000. In 1991, Europe's population was about 502,000,000. The United States in 1990 had a population of about 249,000,000. This means that governments killed about 3.7 percent of the human race in this century, or an equivalent of over 40 percent of all the people in Europe, or a number equal to over 80 percent of all the people in the U.S.

For over ten years, University of Hawaii political science professor R. J. Rummel has been researching the lethal effects of government upon society. During this time he has published a series of books based on his studies. These books include Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder since 1917 (1990), Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder (1991), and China's Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder since 1900 (1991). These have detailed governmental mass murder in three of the leading totalitarian states in the 20th century. Now in his latest book, Death by Government, Professor Rummel summarizes government's deadly effect on the world in our century. He has supplied the statistics about global mass murder by the state.

In his new work, Professor Rummel focuses in detail on those governments around the world which have killed 1,000,000 or more people. In the companion volume, Statistics of Democide: Estimates, Sources, and Calculations on 20th Century Genocide and Mass Murder, he presents the evidence on all of this century's governmental mass murders, great and small — even those involving the killing of a "mere" 250,000 people here and 500,000 people there.

The megamurdering states of the 20th century have been: the U.S.S.R. (1917-1987), 61,911,000; Communist China (1949-1987), 35,236,000; Nazi Germany (1933-1945), 20,946,000; and Nationalist (or Kuomintang) China (1928-1949), 10,076,000. These are followed by the "lesser" megamurdering states: Japan (1936-1945), 5,964,000; Cambodia (1975-1979), 2,035,000; Turkey (1909-1918), 1,883,000; Vietnam (1945-1987), 1,678,000; North Korea (1948-1987), 1,663,000; Poland (1945-1948), 1,585,000; Pakistan (1958-1987), 1,503,000; Mexico (1900-1920), 1,417,000; Yugoslavia (1944-1987), 1,072,000; Czarist Russia (1900-1917), 1,066,000.

While the Soviet Union and Communist China have been the super mass-murdering states of the century, they have not been the most lethally dangerous, relative to the populations over which they have ruled. During the 70-year period of Soviet history analyzed by Professor Rummel, the state killed the equivalent of 29.64 percent of the U.S.S.R.'s population, while the Communist Chinese (because of the vastness of China's population) only killed, during the 38 years in his study, the equivalent of 4.49 percent of the people of China. The Nazis killed about 6.46 percent of the peoples under their control in Europe between 1933-1945. On the other hand, during the short four years of its rule in Cambodia, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge government killed about 31.25 percent of the entire Cambodian population.

Professor Rummel's book is not a mere counting of victims. Each of the chapters on one of these megamurdering governments is a historical narrative of the people, policies, and procedures for implementing mass murder. The most chilling aspect of his exposition is the directness and openness with which many of the participants in these killings have spoken of their deeds. For example, in 1915, during the Turkish massacre of Armenians, the American ambassador reported that the Turkish War Minister "treated the whole matter more or less casually; he could discuss the fate of a race in a parenthesis, and refer to the massacre of children as nonchalantly as we would speak of the weather." The ambassador recounted that this Turkish Minister requested the name of any Armenians who had taken out life insurance policies with American companies. "They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money," the Turkish official said. "It of course all escheats to the State. The Government is the beneficiary now." And during the massacre of East Pakistanis by the West Pakistan government in 1971, one of the senior West Pakistani military officers said: "We are determined to cleanse East Pakistan once and for all . . . even if it means killing two million people and ruling the province as a colony for 30 years." And a West Pakistani captain stated: "We can kill anyone for anything. We are accountable to no one."

What has motivated governments and their followers and agents to commit murder on this scale against tens of millions of innocent, usually unarmed, victims — men, women and children, young and old? The leading motivations have been ideology (the making of a new socialist man), race (the purifying of or domination by a "superior" racial group), wealth (plundering the most prosperous for the benefit of a select group), or plain cruelty (the imposing of fear and terror to gain control over and obedience from others).

To cover all these motivations under one heading, Professor Rummel suggests the term "democide," from the Greek word demos (people) and the Latin word caedere (to kill). "Democide's necessary and sufficient meaning is the intentional government killing of an unarmed person or people," he says.

The lesson that Professor Rummel wishes to convey from his research is stated clearly and unequivocally by him:  Power kills; absolute Power kills absolutely. . . . The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, and the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more power is diffused, checked, and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide.

He argues that all the historical evidence shows that "as the arbitrary power of a regime increases, that is, as we move from democratic through authoritarian to totalitarian regimes, the amount of killing jumps by huge multiples. . . . The empirical and theoretical conclusion is this: The way to end war and virtually eliminate democide appears to be through restricting and checking Power, i.e., through fostering democratic freedom, " by which Professor Rummel means individual liberty; limited, constitutional government; and social tolerance of difference and diversity among the peoples in a society.

Unless this lesson is learned, the 21st century could be as politically dangerous and lethal as the one that is just ending.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Poetry Decoder: Explaining Anne Ridler's "Nothing is Lost"

A reader has asked me to explain Anne Ridler’s wonderful little poem, “Nothing is Lost.”  In order to do so, I have reprinted her poem here, with stanza numbers added, and put my comments and explanation below it, keyed to those numbers.

Nothing is lost.
We are too sad to know that, or too blind;
Only in visited moments do we understand:
It is not that the dead return ---
They are about us always, though unguessed.

This penciled Latin verse
You dying wrote me, ten years past and more,
Brings you as much alive to me as the self you wrote it for,
Dear father, as I read your words
With no word but Alas.

Lines in a letter, lines in a face
Are the faithful currents of life: the boy has written
His parents across his forehead, and as we burn
Our bodies up each seven years,
His own past self has left no plainer trace.

Nothing dies.
The cells pass on their secrets, we betray them
Unknowingly: in a freckle, in the way
We walk, recall some ancestor,
And Adam in the color of our eyes.

Yes, on the face of the new born,
Before the soul has taken full possession,
There pass, as over a screen, in succession
The images of other beings:
Face after face looks out, and then is gone.

Nothing is lost, for all in love survive.
I lay my cheek against his sleeping limbs
To feel if he is warm, and touch in him
Those children whom no shawl could warm,
No arms, no grief, no longing could revive.

Thus what we see, or know,
Is only a tiny portion, at the best,
Of the life in which we share; an iceberg’s crest
Our sunlit present, our partial sense,
With deep supporting multitudes below.

Anne Ridler, 1994

         We don't begin the day we were conceived, much less the day we were born.  That which makes us ourselves can be traced back from generation to generation, all the way to the first.  That enduring human legacy, because it includes sin and sin’s dire consequences, robs us of joy and insight.  Nevertheless, moments of understanding occasionally pierce our sad blindness:  We realize that, in some profound way, the departed have not departed at all.  They have not left and then returned to visit.  They were here always, though unrecognized.

         Our departed loved ones remain with us by many means.  Perhaps a quick glance over an old letter, containing a loved one’s favorite Latin quotation, reveals their presence. But it doesn’t seem enough, and regret follows: “alas.”

         The mention of lines in a letter brings to mind other lines that reveal the presence of the departed, this time lines in a face:  You have your mother’s eyes, your grandfather’s chin, your dad’s forehead, your grandmother’s smile.  And even though the cells in our body get wholly replaced every seven years, the physical legacy endures.  Passing time not only fails to eradicate the presence of our forebears and their legacy, sometimes the older you get the more the resemblance emerges.

         The legacy within us, the legacy that is us, shows up in ways we do not recognize:  freckles, an awkward gait, red hair -- and sin, always sin.
         I remember traveling to Switzerland for the first time, to the villages of Attelwil and Moosleerau, from where my ancestors came.  My relatives there could not help but notice and to remark about how looking at me was like looking again at my grandfather Adolph and my great-grandfather Johannes, whom the oldest ones knew and remembered.  “You even walk like them!” they exclaimed.  My presence was, at least to them, the presence of my ancestors.  “Nothing dies,” Ridler says.

         We ourselves are a recapitulation, a slideshow, of all those who came before us, and who remain within us, and who have helped to make us, both good and bad, what we are.

         Even if the enduring legacy of our ancestors within our very bodies were to fail, they still would continue in our love, "for all in love survive."  And when you see and touch a loved one, you see and touch in that loved one those who came before and those who will come after, even though they feel it not.

         Call it “the iceberg principle of life:” Below and beyond the surface that we present to the world, there lies a multitude of lives and persons that lift us up and keep us afloat.  It is the natural conservatism of human life that we receive a legacy from our forebears, preserve it, and pass it on.    

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"The Happy Encounter:" Science meets Poetry (Walter de la Mare)

“The Happy Encounter”

I saw sweet Poetry turn troubled eyes
On shaggy Science nosing in the grass,
For by that way poor Poetry must pass
On her long pilgrimage to Paradise.
He snuffled, grunted, squealed; perplexed by flies,
Parched, weatherworn, and near of sight, alas,
From peering close where very little was
In dens secluded from open skies.

But Poetry in bravery went down,
And called his name, soft, clear, and fearlessly;
Stooped low, and stroked his muzzle overgrown;
Refreshed his drought with dew; wiped pure and free
His eyes: and lo! laughed loud for joy to see
In those grey deeps the azure of her own.

Walter De La Mare

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Apostles' Creed: Epilogue

(Except for a bibliography, this is the last in our series of more than 30 articles on the Apostles' Creed.)

"People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe.  There never was anything so perilous as orthodoxy.  It was sanity:  and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad.  It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic . . . To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would have been obvious and tame.  But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect"
                                                G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

            "Is the Christian religion something revealed by God in Christ, which therefore demands our grateful obedience, or is it something to be made up by ourselves to our own specification, according to our immediate desires?  When we assent, as I am convinced we must, to the first alternative, we must also insist that the second is not only false but bogus, and that our true fulfillment and happiness is not to be found by following our own whims but by giving ourselves to God in Christ, who has given himself for us"
                                                            Eric Mascall, Saraband

            "There is nothing commonplace in the creed.  Every statement is designed to set us thinking."
                                                            A. E. Burn, The Apostles' Creed

         Theology is a way of loving God with the mind, of serving Him, as it were, in the interior courts.  Our journey through the creed, I trust, has helped make that love more well-informed and that service more effective and efficient. 
         But the life of the mind is very hard work.  Error and hazard lie around us on every side.  We find, often to our dismay, how much easier it is to be wrong than right.  The truth is a treasure, elusive but valuable.  We must seek it diligently and with the circumspection proper to the task.  We acknowledge gratefully, therefore, every reliable signpost left for us by those courageous men and women who walked the path of faith before us.  One of the finest and most enduring of those signs, I am convinced, is the Apostles' Creed, that simple yet profound affirmation wrought in the crucible of hard human experience and careful, enlightened reflection upon God's revelation in Christ to a fallen world.  In that sense, the Apostles' Creed is like a map, laying out before us the safest routes of theological exploration and the dangers that attend them, as well as the safest places of rest and the most memorable vistas.  Like any good map, the creed does its work all in the right proportions.
         The Apostles' Creed is not exhaustive.  Indeed it contains not much more than a mere hundred words.  In those hundred words, however, the very foundations of the historic Christian faith are laid and the substance of the faith is articulated.  Widespread and careful instruction in the contents of the creed, therefore, is an important first step in faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities entailed in the theologianship of all believers.  After all, you cannot well live or spread a faith that you do not understand.
         Nevertheless, much that is valuable and true in Christianity is left out of the creed, though nothing essential is overlooked.  The creed is complete, though not exhaustive.  The Apostles' Creed neither raises nor answers all questions; it summarizes a revelation and a world view from which those questions can most fruitfully arise and be addressed.  Thus, though others perhaps consider the creed's brevity a weakness, I think it profound and instructive, a lesson not to be missed:  Nearly all the issues that separate one band of Christians from another find no mention in the creed -- not the various modes of baptism, not the proper form of ecclesiastical government, not the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom, not the mode of Christ's presence in the Eucharist (if any), not the relationship between church and state or Christianity and citizenship, not the forms of prayer, not the nature or extent of biblical inspiration, and not the sequence of the end times, as important as those issues undoubtedly are.  In other words, the Apostles' Creed summarizes the Christian faith in a way that has stood firm for centuries and yet manages to avoid all the pitfalls of the pervasive theological factionalism that now shamefully cleaves the Church in all directions.  In that fact lies a second profound lesson:  That which divides the various churches is normally no essential part of the Christian faith.  Under the creed's tutelage, we discern the foolishness of majoring on what it considers minor issues.
         To put a different point on it, we are responsible for what we believe, for how we believe it, and for how we apply it.  In light of that manifold responsibility, the Apostles' Creed is of great use to us because it identifies what we are obligated to profess.  From the standpoint of the creed, we learn to say "This is the faith:  Further than this we can go, but further than this we must not require; short of this we can fall, but short of this is not historic Christianity."  No doubt there is more to Christianity and to life in a fallen world than the Apostles' Creed and the doctrines contained within it, which is why I recognize the Apostles' Creed as a most serviceable theological base, but do not preclude anyone moving out from the creed in various theological or liturgical directions, or denigrate them for doing so.  I advise them, however, not to make their secondary theological decisions and directions primary or to require them of others.
         Some of our difficulties arise not from the brevity or circumspection of the creed, but from our failure properly to understand and to use what actually it does contain, which is considerable:  Christianity's answer to life's ultimate questions:  Who am I?  Where did I come from?  Where am I going?  Is there a God?  What happens after death?  Is this life all there is?
         Such questions do not daunt us, for here in the creed is consolation; here is insight and truth.  This would renew the Church, this would change the world, were Christians truly to believe what they say they believe when they recite the creed, and were they courageous enough to conduct their lives accordingly.  The faith we recite ought by all means to be the faith we live.  If it were, neither the world nor we ourselves could ever be the same.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hound Dog, Hoffa, and War

My grandfather was a union enforcer, a knee-capper.  At places like John Deere, Farmall and J. I. Case, he kept union members in line, doing and voting as they were ordered.
They called him “Hound Dog” because, if he were on your scent, he would track you down.  That was never the good news because he was very good at this job.
Hound Dog was just one cog among many in the vast machine of union coercion and lawless strong-arming.  For decades, that machine has been known for its acts of violence.  In the past, as in the infamous Kohler strike, it dynamited non-strikers’ cars, fired shotgun blasts into their homes, terrorized workers’ wives and children, and literally broke the necks of their opponents -- as in the tragic case of William Bersch.  Equipment was sabotaged, cars overturned, and multiple persons beaten by thugs known euphemistically by the unions as “morale builders.”
The morale builders of today are no different.  Just this week, in Longview WA, hundreds of longshoremen, armed with baseball bats, stormed the new terminal, smashed windows, damaged railroad cars, dumped tons of grain, and took people hostage.  They shut down ports from Seattle to Tacoma.
So when James Hoffa, Jr., the loud-mouthed barbarian-with-a-bullhorn who stands atop the current pile of union thuggery and goondom, calls his army to war, as he did in the recent Detroit area pep-rally for President Obama, I take him seriously.  When he calls on his lackeys to “take out the sons of bitches” known as the Tea Party, I don’t hear the joke.  Given President Obama’s proud embrace of Mr. Hoffa, the rhetoric of war has become the left’s ostensible new civility. 
When Hoffa says that middle-class Americans are looking for a fight, he’s completely wrong.  They’re not looking for a fight; they're looking for jobs -- millions of them -- jobs that unions like his have helped destroy, and which the far-left president he backs is powerless to produce.  Indeed, that president has destroyed them by the millions.  His progressivist nonsense makes it so.
I’m proud to say that Hound Dog eventually quit his union job, denounced the tools of violence, and became a riverboat captain on the Mississippi.  He became a genial, jovial, raconteur -- a PG-rated version of Garrison Keillor.  He was proof that if you get the man out of the union, you might get the union out of the man.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"You don't; you just don't"

           You don’t call a joint session of Congress in order to deliver a campaign speech.
You don’t call a joint session of Congress as a mere ploy in a political chess game.
You don’t call a joint session of Congress in order to deliver a “to-be-continued-in-a-couple-weeks-when-I’ve-thought-this-out-more-fully” locker room speech for political partisans.
You don’t call a joint session of Congress in order to deliver nothing more than Stimulus Jr., or Shovel Ready 2.0.
And if your speech is so important that it merits a joint session of Congress, you don’t shift it haplessly around trying to avoid professional football, thereby reducing your allegedly momentous address to little more than a political pre-game show.
You don’t unless you’re a desperate amateur and have run out of ideas.  That brand of nonsense is the mark of a community organizer, not the prudent tactic of a master statesman, and not the purposeful and productive plotting of the most powerful man in the world.

Monday, September 5, 2011

John the Baptist and Aristotle: The Failings and Futility of Natural Theology Revisited

I take it to be a widely accepted belief among Christians, including those who advocate natural theology in the Aristotelian vein, that from even before birth (Luke 1: 41), John the Baptist knew God in Christ (and therefore God Himself) better than did Aristotle.  If so, then the point to remember is that John the Baptist did not know Him.  We have John’s own word on it, twice.  The sinful human darkness into which we all are plunged is so deep and so all-engrossing that even John the Baptist himself did not know God when confronted by Him face-to-face (John 1: 31, 33).
We understate the case merely to say that John the Baptist was not the light (John 1: 8, 21).  It’s worse than that:  Even with his impressive devotion to God, even with his prophetic insight, even with his undaunted boldness, and even with his compelling articulation of the message of repentance -- all of which combined to make him famous -- John the Baptist himself did not know the Light (John 1: 31, 33) until it had been divinely pointed out to Him by a miraculous, historical revelation, whereby he actually saw with his own eyes the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ like a dove and (presumably) heard with his own ears the heavenly voice uttering its Divine attestation.  John himself twice admits (John 1: 31, 33) that, before witnessing that divine sign, he did not know Him, and did not recognize the only One who has seen the Father and made Him known.  But because of that divine sign, that descending Dove, which replaced John’s ignorance with knowledge, John knew and John testified (John 1: 34).  Without that miraculous sign, John the Baptist was no better off than the Pharisees, who did not know, and did not recognize, God Himself when He stood directly before them (John 1: 26).  They did not know Him Who alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14: 6).  They were human beings, and, on their own, they could not know Him.  Indeed, even with God Himself plainly and directly before their eyes, they did not know Him.  Apart from His saving grace, no one does or can.  In their depraved and debilitating solidarity, they were stuck on the wrong side of the canyon of impossibility.  They could not know God by their own devices (John 1: 18).  If, despite all their great revelational advantages, both John the Baptist and the Pharisees were blind and could not know God, how then, one wonders, without all those advantages, but with all their debilitations, could Aristotle, the pagan? 
Though he was not the light, John the Baptist was a witness to it.  But he was a witness to it only as a result of Divine intervention, only as a result of miracle.  To move from his natural condition of ignorance, even the privileged condition of an ancient Jew, to the position of witness required the action of God, an action obviously not available to all persons generally, but to those who, under the providence of God, saw the divine attestation that marked out Christ.  God made the Son known, and the Son, in turn, makes known the Father.  John had to witness the Holy Spirit descending in visible form upon the Son before he knew God, the very One Who confronted him there.  Short of that miracle, even John the Baptist did not know, and could not know, what we all need to know:  God, Who is revealed only in Christ (Matt. 11: 27).
Please remember for whom this impossibility loomed so large.  Please remember what sort of person was stranded on the island of impossibility.  It was not simply some typological everyman; it was the best and highest of us all:  not just a prophet, but one whom Jesus said was “more than a prophet” (Matt. 11: 9).  We have it on the Highest Authority that John the Baptist was simply the greatest of us all (Matt. 11: 11).  Yet, even the greatest among us is less than the lowest member of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 11: 11).  The momentous God-caused shift from John the Baptist’s (and our) natural condition to knowledge of God indicates that only by means of God’s doing, not ours, do we desperate sinners get placed above the highest of human beings.  Only then do we get to know God.
Amazingly, even then, even after that Divine intervention on his behalf, John the Baptist entertained the most severe doubts.  Even then his knowledge was shaky and required additional divine demonstration, which God in Christ supplied: “the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up,” both literally and metaphorically (Matt. 11: 5).  If the greatest among us required such remarkable divine doings both in the beginning and the sustaining of his knowing God, how much more does Aristotle need it, and how much greater is Aristotle’s darkness because he had neither?  Yet, despite that darkness, so many Christians turn to him for theological methods, rubric, support, insight and apologetics.  Jesus is no Aristotelian.  Neither is Paul.  Nor should you be.    
From the highest to the lowest, each one of us finds himself or herself in the position of Jacob and his ignorance:  “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it” (Gen. 28: 16).  For this ignorance, Aristotle’s machinations are no cure; they are one more form of its many symptoms.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is the Apsotle John doing Greek Philosophy in the Prologue to his Gospel?

One often hears that by employing the word "logos" in the prologue to his gospel, the apostle John was making use of Greek philosophy.  He was not.
But don't take my word for it; listen to the commentators.  I cite here nearly twenty passages from the commentary tradition, copied almost at random as I came to them in my study.  The number could easily have been doubled, even tripled.  Notice that the list of commentators here presented includes some of the most erudite and accomplished Biblical scholars ever, folks like F. F. Bruce, B. F. Westcott, F. Godet, L. Morris, O. Cullmann, and others.
In other words, the very most one could say about the contention that John employs Greek philosophy in his prologue is that the best scholars generally deny it.

(1.) “There can be little doubt that the roots of the ideas contained in this term [i.e., “logos”] are to be sought in the O. T.” (Ross, p. 135).

(2.) “[Philo’s] misty, vague philosophizing is worlds away from John’s concrete, historical outlook on the personal Logos, who from times eternal was with God and who became flesh in Jesus Christ.  The theory that John derived the term Logos from Philo is very wide of the mark; there is no real evidence that John had ever heard of Philo.  It is just as wide of the mark to regard John as having derived this term from Greek philosophy” (Ross, 136).

(3.) “But, though [John] would not have been unmindful of the associations aroused by the term, his essential thought does not derive from the Greek background.  His Gospel shows little trace of acquaintance with Greek philosophy and less dependence upon it.  And the really important thing is that John in his use of Logos is cutting clean across one of the fundamental Greek ideas.  The Greeks thought of the gods as detached from the world, as regarding its struggles and heartaches and joys and tears with serene divine lack of feeling.  John’s Logos does not show us a God who is serenely detached, but a God who is passionately involved.  The Logos speaks of God’s coming where we are, taking our nature upon Himself, entering the worlds’ struggle, and out of this agony winning men’s salvation”  (Morris, pp. 116-17).

(4.) “[T]he “Word” irresistibly turns our attention to the repeated “and God said” of the opening chapter of the Bible.  The Word is God’s creative Word (v. 3).  The atmosphere is unmistakably Hebraic”  (Morris, pp. 117-18).

(5.) “[W]e find that in other biblical authors, as well as in John, the word [i.e., “Logos”] is never used to signify the divine Reason or Mind; nor indeed those of any human creature”  (Alford, p. 677).

(6.) [Comparing Philo and John] “There is a wide and unmistakable difference between his logos and that of the Apostle” (Alford, p. 679).

(7.) “It would be difficult not to recognize in these first verses an allusion to the beginning of Genesis”  (Godet, John, 243).

(8.)“The term 'Word,' no less than the term 'in the beginning,' serves to recall the narrative in Genesis; it alludes to the expression:  'and God said,' repeated eight times . . . All these sayings of God John gathers into one single, living word” (Godet, John, 245).

(9.) Logos as reason “is foreign to the N.T.” (Godet, John, 246). 

(10.) “The word 'logos' in John, signifies as in the whole Biblical text, word.  In Philo, it signifies, as in the philosophical language of the Greeks, reason.  This simple fact reveals a wholly different starting-point in the use which they make of the term. . .
“In Philo, the existence of the Logos is a metaphysical theorem..  God being conceived of as the absolutely indeterminate and impersonal being, there is an impassible gulf between Him and the material, finite, varied world which we behold.  To fill this void, Philo needed an intermediate agent, a second God, brought nearer the finite; this is the Logos, the half-personalized divine reason.  The existence of the Logos in John is not the result of such a metaphysical necessity. God is in John, as in all the Scriptures, Creator, Master, Father.  He acts Himself in the world, He loves it, He gives His Son to it:  we shall even see that it is He who serves as intermediate agent between men and the Son (6: 37, 44) . . . in John everything in the relation of the Logos to God is a matter of liberty and of love, while with Philo everything is the result of a logical necessity. . .
“To the view of Philo, as to that of Plato, the principle of evil is matter; the Jewish philosopher nowhere dreams, therefore, of making the Logos descend to earth, and that in bodily form.  In John, on the contrary, the supreme fact of history is this:  “The Logos was made flesh” (Godet, pp. 287, 288).

(11.) “It is not in Greek philosophical usage, however, that the background of John’s thought and language should be sought . . . The true background of John’s thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation.  The ‘word of God’ in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance” (Bruce, 29).

(12.) “John’s standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo” (Roberston, 3, 4).

(13.) “It constantly happens in the history of thought that the same terms and phrases are used by schools which have no direct affinity, in senses which are essentially distinct, while they have a superficial likeness . . . A new teacher necessarily uses the heritage which he has received from the past in order to make his message understood”(Westcott, p. xv).

(14.) “It is admitted on all hands that [John’s] central affirmation, ‘the Word became flesh," which underlies all he wrote, is absolutely unique.  A Greek, an Alexandrine, a Jewish doctor, would have equally refused to admit such a statement as a legitimate deduction from his principles, or as reconcilable with them” (Westcott, xv).

(15.) “Philo and St John, in short, found the same term current, and used it according to their respective apprehensions of the truth.  Philo, following the track of Greek philosophy, saw in the Logos the divine Intelligence in relation to the universe:  the Evangelist, trusting firmly in the ethical basis of Judaism, sets forth the Logos mainly as the revealer of God to man, through creation, through theophanies, through prophets, through the Incarnation. . . In short the teaching of St John is characteristically Hebraic and not Alexandrine” (Westcott pp. xvi-xvii).

 (16.) “We must not overlook the fact that the Gospel of John begins with the same words as the first book of the Old Testament.  If we, like the first Christians of the Diaspora, were accustomed to reading the Old Testament in Greek, this would immediately catch our attention” (Cullmann, p. 250).

(17.) “[T]he Gospel of John did not derive from the widely spread Logos idea a doctrine of general, not exclusively Christian, revelation . . . on the contrary it completely subordinated the extra- and pre-Christian Logos to the one revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth, and in this way, completely re-formed it”  (Cullmann, 254).

(18.) “If the author takes over many statements about the Logos from Hellenism as well as from the Old Testament, he does not mean to say thereby that the Greeks, for instance, because they spoke of the Logos, already possessed true knowledge.   That would be a modern way of thinking.  This is what the evangelist is saying:  The Greeks spoke of the Logos without knowing him” (Cullmann, 264).

(19.) “False philosophy was dealing out to the world all kinds of error in regard to God and the modes of the Divine existence.  What darkened reason was thus struggling after when ‘the world by wisdom knew not God,’ John was commissioned to set forth, as God’s own revelation of Himself.  The Evangelist borrowed none of his doctrines from those systems.  But he takes, in this case, a term that had become so universally familiar in the chief philosophies of the world before Christ’s coming, and this Logos that they had spoken of so blindly and ignorantly, he declares unto them” (Jacobus, p. 21).