Would you be willing to take an interesting reading-trip with me? Some months ago, a woman in England wanted me to read her novel. I did, but on a scale from 0 to 100, I would place it maybe at 60. It was a little better than boring. No, I didn’t tell her that. For one thing, I did not even know her, but I know you (and you me). Please consider going on this odyssey trip with me. Odyssey? Yes, for there have been amazing twists and turns that I did not know even existed. I had never even heard of Henry Constable, Charles L. Ives, John Leland, William Glen Moncrieff, and many, many others.
There are two other reasons I would like you to join me—beyond sharing interesting things. I ask you to join a new reformation of sorts. When Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door, he did not know a reformation would follow. He was fed-up with false dogma and was willing to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude1:3). Others before me were aware of errors I have also discerned, but their writings have largely been forgotten. Traditionalism in the church pretty much rules in the church today—but should not—as this specific “traditionalism” is a departure from “originalism.” The Bible warns about allowing leaven into the lump—in this case the leaven of pagan-Greek thought. I am one person, but maybe you would be willing at least to see what I have put together—if not add your voice to my wilderness plea. Two voices are perhaps better than one.
Greek scholar Dr. Kim G. Papaioannou, who lives in Cyprus and has a PhD in Theology from the University of Durham (England), wrote in the Foreword, “Paul G. Humber’s current volume is a very welcome and valuable addition … The result is powerful, a theological tour-de-force. One may opt to disagree with Paul on his commentary in one instance or another, but it is next to impossible to disagree with the main point of his study … interspersed between the discussions of the Biblical text are brief notes from the church fathers, early Christian writers who wielded considerable influence in the shaping of the Christian Church.”
Dr. John H. Roller, an adjunct professor of peribiblical studies
at Ambassador Christian College in North Carolina, wrote, “Paul Humber has done an excellent job of truly meticulous Bible study. The best (perhaps the only) way to truly understand the meaning of a biblical word is to look up EVERY occurrence of that word in the text of Scripture and analyze its meaning in each specific context.
Gary Stevenson, a former assistant of mine at Spring Mill Baptist Church and a Christian missionary in western Canada, wrote, “In one of my church history classes at Westminster Seminary about 35 years ago, Dr. Robert Godfrey said that when Luther was challenged by Rome's representatives to justify his different views—‘Are you alone wise?’—he took that question to heart and posed that question to himself—unlike the average modern evangelical. After researching early church fathers, he came to a settled conclusion: No, he did not stand alone in his views; many of the church fathers agreed with him. I see the excerpts from early sources as strong confirmation of the views on hell that Paul G. Humber espouses. He is in line with those much closer to the earliest church and the Biblical writers. His ideas are not novel.”
Athanasius, one of my ancient heroes wrote, “By nature, of course, man is mortal, since he was made from nothing.” He also wrote about man turning “back again into non-existence through corruption” and “wasting out of existence.” In short, Plato was wrong; we do NOT have inherent immortality of soul, but Rome promoted Platonic thought, and Protestants have not yet been able to fully extricate themselves from Roman dominance in this area.
Albert Barnes was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia for 34 years (1830–1867), and his heart ached because he thought olam and aionios meant forever. He wrote, “My whole soul pants for light and relief on these questions. But I get neither; and in the distress and anguish of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever … why man must suffer to all eternity.”
My dad had commentaries by Albert Barnes; so did I. Many pastors have his commentaries. If he had only known that there was indeed relief, but he did not know how to get rid of the skunk-like stench of Platonism.
Clement of Rome lived long, long ago. In fact, it is possible that the Apostle Paul knew him, for in Philippians 4:3, the Apostle Paul wrote about a Clement whose name is in “the book of life.” Want to learn more? Please join my odyssey.
Read what my buddy Justin Martyr wrote. He was born around 100 AD. I even display a portion of the Sinaiticus. It dates to around 350 AD and may be the oldest full Greek manuscript of the Bible we have.
Dr. Edward Beecher, brother to Harriet Beecher Stowe (I write about her, too), graduated from Yale College. He even was the pastor of Park Street Church (Boston)—where I used to visit with my parents (and even later with my wife)! Of course, he lived much before me, but he also is my distant buddy. He wrote that “If Augustine had fully understood the Greek usages of aion and aionios, and the Latin usages of aevum, aetas, aeternus, and seculum, he would have placed no stress on aion, or aionios, or aeternus, as proving endless punishment.”
I even give John Calvin a bit of a spanking. I view him as a brother, but he also was confused with Platonic pollution.
There are math geniuses, like William Whiston (1667-1752), who succeeded Sir Isaac Newton as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University (1703)!
Clement Moore Butler (1810-1890) is another buddy, He was an Episcopal clergyman who served as Chaplain of the Senate from 1849-1853 and died not far from where I live.
I write about Agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll and Dr. Edward White (1819–1898). William Hay Macdowall Hunter Aitken (1841-1927) was an evangelist, but you maybe never heard of him. I quote one of his hymns.
I refer to my exchange on Jan 25, 2106, with David J. Engelsma, professor of “Dogmatics and Old Testament” for 20 years at the Protestant Reformed Seminary in Grandville, MI. He sent these words to me, “Dear Paul … Sound exegesis of Matthew 25 demands that heaven be only as lasting as hell, or that hell be as everlasting as heaven,” but I wrote back the same day, “Rom 16:25-26 disproves your logic, as aionios is used twice there, too (“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God…”). Using some of your words, “Sound exegesis of [Rom 16] demands that [long ages past] be as everlasting as [God],” but we both know your logic does not apply to Rom 16, as there is no eternity past. Time had a beginning!” The main Bible-verse used to affirm unending torment in hell is Matthew 25:46, “Then they will go away to aionios [lasting] punishment, but the righteous to aionios [lasting] life." The Greek word, aionios, is often mistranslated using “eternal,” and the argument goes something like this. Since both “life” and “punishment” are modified by the same Greek adjective, they should be translated by the same English adjective. Okay, but lasting can fit both slots; eternal is not necessary. There are many places where aionios/olam simply cannot mean eternal. The major advantage of using lasting over eternal is that lasting preserves the durational integrity of the original Greek. Eternal is fixed to infinity; lasting, like aionios, can refer to either temporal or eternal durations. In other words, it translates flexibility with flexibility rather than with inflexibility.
Below is a copy of the front cover, but please let me know if you would like me to send the 170 page book. I would also welcome you telling me where I misspell a word, split an infinitive, or jumble things up too much.
Thanks for considering, Paul