My new blog project exists to redeem Christian terminology from misuse and misunderstanding.
Check it out: Redeeming Words
Anyone out there? Hey! If you’re reading this, thanks for checking back from time to time. So it’s been a while since I posted and decided to make an official, yet indefinite, suspension of this blog.
There are a few reasons why. First and foremost, a lack of energy. Things have been a bit hectic. I left the IFB last year and have been working odd jobs since then. I’ve also joined a new church and have been trying to get more involved therein. In addition, a friend and I have been studying Hebrew together and since I have a tendency to procrastinate, I get the feeling of guilt if I spend time writing a blog post when I should be studying.
Being in an actual Reformed church, I feel like I’m also learning a lot of new things. The more I study theology, the less relevant things in fundamentalism seem to be. As I’ve stated before, fundamentalism doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be left. That is, for those who feel differently about certain doctrine and methodology. Please don’t take that as, if you’re a fundamentalist you have to leave your church. What I mean is that the generation of “young, restless, reformed” shouldn’t seek to be the bridge builders between fundamentalists and evangelicals or the reformers that turn their churches into something different. Just respectfully leave, appreciate what you’ve experienced, and move on. That’s what I did, and now the topic of What’s Wrong in Fundamentalism doesn’t seem so attractive.
I was also motivated by Bob Bixby’s last and final post on Penses (in my view, a must-read). Really, I’ve got nothing left to say in this area. If I return to a personal blog one day, it will have a bit of a different direction. This isn’t to say I won’t hit on contemporary theological issues, which will touch on fundamentalist issues from time to time. But I’d rather focus on topics that are pertaining to where I’m at. After all, it is a personal blog. I’m just trying to figure out where I am at indeed.
But I will be taking my oddly constructed sentences over to my team blogs, King James Only? and Fundamentally Changed. The pseudo doctrine of KJVO still affects many individuals and churches, and I’m glad to be a part of a website that provides information for those who want to look further into it. As for Fundamentally Changed, I actually haven’t contributed yet even though I’ve been a member for months. It will hit on fundamentalistic topics. I plan on reposting a few things and contributing from time to time, but not as often as King James Only. Then, we’ll take it from there. Thank you for all who have read and commented.
Easy to Believe?
The old rugged cross on which Jesus died
Is foolishness to those not made alive
Its bloody details cause them to grieve,
And you say it is easy to believe?
The Greek thinks it nonsense to accept the risen Christ,
The skeptic thinks the disciples pulled off the greatest heist
The New Atheist wishes all Christians would leave
And you say it is easy to believe?
To the Jews it is a block of stumbling,
It provokes the educated toward grumbling,
A story no one could ever conceive,
And you say it is easy to believe?
The Lord invited man to take up his cross,
To count the cost and consider all things loss -
Things the natural man cannot receive,
And you say it is easy to believe?
The scriptures say salvation is of the Lord,
A supernatural work man’s hands cannot afford
To think man can raise the dead is very naive,
The results of these methods can only deceive
Regeneration is the work of the Spirit,
Otherwise men would never hear it
You say that it is easy to believe?
Saving faith is only something God can achieve!
Jesus was a revolutionary leader of a Jewish reform movement against religious legalism and political oppression. Years later, Paul came around and elevated him to a god-like status. The latter is the Christianity we’ve inherited.
This is the argumentation of the day when it comes to refuting Christianity. And I believe it’s fueled by man’s hatred of the Church. This is why I detest the Emergent ideas of repainting the entire faith as if we’ve got it wrong for 2,000 years. Oh believe me, we’ve gotten many things wrong. Christians have done terrible things. And I stick by the motto “Reformed and Always Reforming.” But this doesn’t suggest we’ve been duped all along. The fundamentals have stayed the same. Jesus claimed he was Lord and exalted Himself. Paul wasn’t giving anything new, just elaborating on established truth given to him by Jesus Himself.
In no uncertain terms, the Apostle Paul is inspired by the Spirit to write in Ephesians 1 that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestined to be adopted as God’s children. What does this mean? It means what it says.
The non-Calvinist doesn’t think so, however (I’d like to use terms like Arminian or Semi-Pelagian, but most non-Calvinists I know reject those. A simple glance at a comparison between Calvinism and Arminianism, however, will reveal that many non-Calvinists are at least 4-point Arminians. But I’ll stick with the elusive term, “non-Calvinist” for now). He is adamantly opposed to the idea that God would predestine an individual for salvation. The problem, however, is that the New Testament is replete with that kind of language. Something is predestined by God, but it can’t be me. So what is it? The Package.
It’s sort of like buying insurance. There are several different packages one may choose. One has a higher deductible, but a lower premium. Another includes a rental car, free of charge, if needed. Those kinds of stipulations are worked into the package, and are available for the one who chooses said package. But, ultimately, the choice is yours.
You know that feeling you get when you realize your own shortcomings are not so much greater than others’? Like the fact that the great Apostle Paul struggled with sin is comforting to us who have to fight the flesh daily? It reminds us that we’re all part of this sin-cursed world and we all have a fallen nature.
So when it comes to ignorance, it ought to be no surprise that there are people out there that are just as dumb as I am at times. And while their ignorance is encouraging, it’s also very discouraging.
Last week, I had two different episodes involving atheists. Well, I think they are atheists of some sort. Maybe agnostic. But most certainly antagonistic – toward the Christian faith, that is. Both would describe themselves as intelligent, but I was taken back a bit by two specific things that were said.
The first one occurred at a coffee shop. It’s a privately owned cafe and coffee roastery that I’ve worked out since it opened. Though I don’t officially work there anymore, chances are you’ll see me there if you visit. Last Saturday, I was putting some finishing touches on my sermon preparation for the next morning. I came to get away from distractions at home, but obviously this was no better.
Next year’s conference will be here before I finish this recap. The conference was a blessing to me personally. It helped secure a few things in my heart and encouraged me to trust in God’s sovereignty. I will link to the audio files when they become available. Until then, I’ll have to forfeit my (nonexistent) reporting skills and save conference recaps to the pros.
It’s time for another brief hiatus. I’ll be back soon.
Due to work, I missed the morning session of Day 2, which included 2 messages. However, I was able to listen to them yesterday on CD. What a blessing! Each message fit right into the theme and continued in this wonderful conference of solid, biblical preaching.
Bill Poss, an elder at the host church, kicked it off with the topic, “God’s Sovereign Choice of the Younger Son.” His sermon was very exegetical, drawing from the text the only conclusion that can be consistently made: God will mercy whom He will and harden whom He will. Consequently, the message focused on Romans 9 and God’s unconditional election based on His purpose.
Eric Redmond followed him and spoke on “God’s Sovereignty and the Call of the Pastor.” He had us open to 2 Timothy, and I smugly thought I knew where he was going, but I was surprised. I figured he would preach on Paul’s charge to Timothy, or the qualifications of a pastor, or something to that extent. He did touch on those things, but the thrust of his message actually dealt with Paul’s terrible conditions in chapter 4:9-22 and how Timothy was called to be by his side. The point was clear: the call of God on one’s life is more important than the place in which he serves. Coming from a leader familiar with the tough, transient, often unrecognized nature of urban ministry, this message was profound. For me, it hit home, for I’ve been involved in urban ministry myself and feel that is where God will be using me for the rest of my life.
Today, the Sovereignty of God conference, put on by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, hosted by Bread of Life Fellowship in Haledon, NJ, came to a conclusion. The speakers included pastors from New Jersey as well as James White and Eric Redmond.
Well, I’m no Tim Challies, and I didn’t live-blog it, but I’m going to give a quick recap because this conference was a tremendous blessing to me.
How refreshing it was to attend a conference that had little to do with ourselves, our circle, convention, or denomination, or that promoted anyone’s agenda. The only agenda was the promotion of God’s sovereignty – a true conference on doctrine about God. And I say that it hit the nail on the head.
This conference was much more than expounding on a particular theological position, namely Calvinism. Despite the fact that there’s so much controversy and so many pot-shots going back and forth, the purpose wasn’t to arm us Calvinists with better arguments and more proof texts. Sure, some of the debate points were mentioned, but the emphasis was on the truth of God’s sovereignty as revealed in His word and the implications thereof. Instead of leaving me with ammunition to propagate the agenda of spreading 16th century soteriological nuances, I was left with a sense of awe about our mighty God. I was also given a humility about how I go about thinking about our sovereign God, communicating our sovereign God to others, and serving our sovereign God each day.
Please excuse the incoherency and lack of flow in this post, but I’ve got a few things to say.
I’ve been slacking a bit in blogging, but I think that’s ok. In the meantime, I have posted a few things on the King James Only blog, and, as a result, posts about that topic will be exclusive to that website, for the most part. This will allow me to focus on other topics. I’ve also been lurking around other blogs recently, and a few things have come to my attention. So I’ll make some comments. After all, small-fry bloggers like me have opinions that really matter, right?
The concern over the “YF Reformation” (if I can coin the term) is not diminishing at all. The demographic of 18-35 year old Christians who are tied to fundamentalism in some way (the Young Fundamentalists, “YFs”) is undergoing a major facelift in recent years.
And we YFs haven’t been silent about it. Those who are against the shift haven’t been either. The blogosphere has added significant volume to all our insignificant voices, as well as popularized diatribes and analyses by influential leaders of both camps. Currently, there’s much ado over Dan Sweatt and the FBFI. John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Peter Masters’ assessment of this movement. Colin Hansen’s Young, Restless, and Reformed is still being discussed. And of course, commentary on all of these issues abound from pastors and lay leaders alike.
Certainly, a reformation of sorts is underway. It’s both a privilege and a scary thing to be living in these times. I don’t know how this all will conclude, but God does. He is still in control. And we must remember, reformation is never easy.
I stopped taking notes at around slide #150. I did note some of the Q&A time, but I addressed much of that in previous posts. Plus, I see this series has run its course. So I want wrap to this up with a few concluding thoughts.
1. Dr. Waite’s gentlemanly demeanor. It’s unfortunate that Dr. Waite has to share a position with Texe Marrs, Peter Ruckman, Gail Riplinger, and Samp Gipp. Though he does generalize more than necessary and oddly singles out John MacArthur, Waite comes off as a sincere Christian man who is defending a view he really believes in.
2. Non-ruckmanism. Dr. Waite did all he could to avoid Ruckmanism in his presentation and Q&A. He even went further than most non-Ruckmanite KJVO would go, in saying that the King James Version is not “inspired.” In fact, at one point he said he would hesitate to call anything man-made as “perfect”, and cited the fact that the original 1611 contained the Apocrypha as proof of its imperfection. I was both surprised and in agreement. I doubt Jeff Fugate would be.
3. Decent presentation of typical KJVO arguments. Overall, his 4-point outline is a decent presentation of what the more typical arguments for moderate KJVO are: 1. Text 2. Translators 3. Technique 4. Theology. I would be more than happy to stick with those four headings to counter his claims.
1. Overstating his case. Interestingly, the first time I attended, a man began to proclaim, a little more loudly than was necessary during the Q&A, “you’re overstating your case!” He said he was a Bob Jones grad who actually agreed with Dr. Waite, but wanted to say he overstated his case. I was a bit caught off guard at the time, but now, I couldn’t agree more. To relate textual variation in transmission to the serpent’s questioning in the garden; to make it seem like all modern versions depend on dynamic equivalence and the King James only uses formal/verbal equivalence; to make a long list of terrible synonyms for dynamic equivalence (ignoring the fact that the KJV uses it at times); to include different Bibles which varied one with another in the list of “good” Bibles; and to use the word “deny” as if modern versions actually reject certain doctrines of the Faith are all outstanding examples of how Dr. Waite indeed overstated his case.
2. The scholarship. Dr. Waite presents this to laymen in churches, not scholars in ivory towers. However, that doesn’t mean his claims shouldn’t be backed by good scholarship. Judging by his credentials (and the fact that his works all list those credentials), he should be able to provide a scholarly basis for his claims. But things like claiming the Septuagint was created by Origen “because it is found in his Hexapla” or using the Peshitta (which did not contain 2 Peter, I John 5:7, II John, III John, Jude or Revelation as part of its canon) as part of the good line of “received kind” Bibles lacks that basis. In addition, his out-of-context, tailor-made Westcott and Hort quotes reveal a failure in accuracy, whether oversight or willful deception (I believe the former).
3. Double standards. The argumentation was full of double standards. It’s ok for the KJVO to include different Bibles in his line of pre-1611 “types” of KJVs, but anything different today is not the Word of God. Dynamic equivalence is seen as evil, yet the KJV uses it. Talk of scholarship in the non-KJVO realm is seen as arrogant and man-centered, yet an entire section is given on the great scholarship of the King James translators. The fact that the Nestle-Aland text has reached 27 editions shows it’s “unsettled”, yet the TR itself has gone under multiple editions (roughly 30 according to Art Farstad). The science of textual criticism is man-made and wrong, yet Waite cites Burgon’s reasoning behind the inclusion of variants like Mark 16. Why should that even matter? If we were to employ the same argumentation Burgon did for Mark 16 to the whole New Testament, the King James would not be the result.
4. Lack of counter-argumentation. I realize this wasn’t a debate, but it would have been nice to offer some of what non-KJVO say on this issue. A lot has been written for the other side, but Waite hardly mentions it. The only time he did, he used multiple slides to show how many fundamentalists believe no doctrine is affected by the changes in the modern versions. People like James White, D.A. Carson, and others were dismissed as though they didn’t believe biblically. The audience is left thinking that anyone who is not King James Only is just plain ignorant.
Final thoughts: I attended Dr. Waite’s seminar the first time as a Byzantine/Majority text-type preferred Christian questioning whether or not I made a mistake dropping my King James Onlyism. Afterwards, I was convinced that it was not a mistake. The second time I attended, I had been persuaded by critical text arguments. Though I wasn’t necessarily committed to the critical text at that time, I recognized it as my default position and went into the seminar with an open heart for the King James Only side one more time. At the end, I was even more convinced that King James Onlyism was fundamentally flawed.
Dr. Waite’s seminar will only work for those who are already convinced of the King James Only position, or for those who do not bother to check what is being said. After examination of his points, however, I have hoped to prove in this series that when one does his homework, he will remain unconvinced of the KJVO view.
From now on, I will be writing on the King James issue on the King James Only blog, and will switch to new topics on this blog.
Part VII – Translation Technique (Slides #109-153)
The final section that I have noted deals with the supposedly superior translation techniques employed by the King James translators. One must note that this particular issue is an entirely different one (together with the superiority of the translators) in the stream of elemental KJVO argumentation. This deals with the actual King James Version of 1611, whereas other arguments are more biblical, historical, and doctrinal. Here is where a true King James Onlyist may differ from a Majority/Byzantine preferred, though both may have used similar arguments prior to this. It is also where the moderate King James Onlyist finds little to differ with Ruckman, for the two will always say that the King James rendering is the best, and consequently, only acceptable rendering in every single case.
It is rather interesting to note this, for those in Waite’s camp, who would at least acknowledge the existence of errors in textual transmission (they would say the church recognized and corrected them through the ages), avoid at all costs acknowledging the existence of translational errors in the Bibles of today. How this differs from Ruckmanism is hard to tell – the Ruckmanite believes God did something akin to inspiration during the Hampton Court conference. Those who distance themselves from such a position still give to the King James Version the result of said position.
If everything the KJVO argued for until now were true – that is, God did indeed promise “verbal, plenary preservation”, that there has always been an availability of God’s words “intact”, and that represented by different Bibles at different times leading up until now – I don’t know how a translational deficiency would affect the rest of the position. Yet, that is how King James Onlyism seems to work. It’s zero tolerance. One strike and you’re out. It’s all or nothing, and remember “things that are different are not the same.”
So Waite is, in essence, defending two positions: verbal, plenary preservation and the perfection of the KJV as a translation.
Part VI – The Translators (Slides #84-108)
If I were to mention to a KJV user that modern biblical scholarship continues to advance so that today we have more precise texts and translations of the Bible, I would be charged with “scholarolatry” – the heresy of trusting in man’s wisdom to teach me God’s truth. One pastor in particular prides himself on a sermon called, “Shut up, you don’t speak Greek!” And he’s not alone. Many KJVO preachers love to purposely down-play the study of original languages, calling Greek scholars “Geek” scholars, and, in more extreme circles, accusing those who engage in those kinds of studies as having lace in their underwear.
Now obviously not every King James Only advocate will engage in the tactics explained above, but nearly all of them love to point out the “unsurpassed” scholarship of the King James translators. For the KJVO, scholarship is not all bad – it just ceased to have a place in the conversation in 1611.
In Slides #84-108, Dr. Waite cites Alexander McClure’s Translators Revived to show the amazing credentials of the King James translators. No one doubts that these men were great scholars. But just showing their credentials doesn’t prove they were the best ever. They built upon scholarship of the past and improved it to be the best of its day. Who is to say that hasn’t continued since the Hampton Court conference convened? More discoveries have been made, lexicons have been updated, meanings of words have been given more precision, and much more has been done since the 17th century. Even if McClure is right, and no other group will ever match the scholarship of those men, that doesn’t stop the scholarship and overall work of Bible translation and editing (an ancient practice) from continuing. The whole point brings very little to the table, as no one disputes the fact that these men were great scholars. Still, great scholars have existed since then, and do exist, and all of those men are fallible. I doubt the KJV translators would want the honor of being the last great scholars producing the final Bible ever. They even urged the reader not to take their word all the time when it comes to other possible, variant readings, but to consult other sources.
When reading The Translators to the Reader, it’s interesting how much the King James translators themselves would disagree with the positions of modern King James Only advocates. They support a “variety of senses” in the margins, that not all of the scriptures can be “dissembled” yet matters of faith, hope, charity, and salvation, are “plain”, that difficulties in the scriptures don’t concern doctrinal points of salvation but things “of less moment”, and that a variety of translations is “helpful for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.”
“Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that show of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be so sound in this point. For though, whatsoever things are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostom saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, Hope, and Charity. Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from loathing of them for their every-where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God’s spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with S. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis, it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbor, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts and precious stones, etc. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as S. Jerome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case, doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded. We know that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth, that any variety of readings of their vulgar edition, should be put in the margin, (which though it be not altogether the same thing to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we think he hath not all of his own side his favorers, for this conceit. They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other. If they were sure that their high Priest had all laws shut up in his breast, as Paul the Second bragged, and that he were as free from error by special privilege, as the Dictators of Rome were made by law inviolable, it were another matter; then his word were an Oracle, his opinion a decision. But the eyes of the world are now open, God be thanked, and have been a great while, they find that he is subject to the same affections and infirmities that others be, that his skin is penetrable, and therefore so much as he proveth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace.” (The Translator’s to the Reader, “Reasons Moving Us To Set Diversity of Senses in the Margin, where there is Great Probability for Each”, King James Translators)
An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #66-83: “Things that are different are. . .?”
Part V: The Differences Between the Texts (Slides #67-83)
Slide #67, titled “the Battleground”, introduces the next part in the seminar: the differences between the texts. Waite repeats the statistic of difference also used by the Trinitarian Bible society, a 7% difference. This stands in contrast to the more common statistic of a 2% difference given by most textual scholars. But Waite does support this in slide #68 with the numbers of changes in the Westcott/Hort text. It seems possible that any little change in a word, such as spelling, was considered to be a “change”, thereby producing a larger number than is more commonly given. He also cites Jack Moorman’s count of 2,886 words “missing” in the Nestle Aland text. The problem here is that he didn’t prove that they were “missing” anymore than he can prove whether they should have been there in the first place. The credible theories of harmonization, homoioteleuton (similar endings omitted), and fuller readings due to the expansion of piety (“The Lord Jesus Christ” rather than just “Jesus”) are not even mentioned or refuted. The topic of the percentage of differences between the texts will be addressed later. But it’s obvious that the slides in Waite’s seminar do not tell the whole story. Rather, they leave the audience with an emotional sense of being robbed.
Slide #72, in speaking of the differences between Aleph and B, accuses Westcott and Hort of worshiping Vaticanus (B). That’s rather slanderous. Sure, they may have leaned on it more heavily, because they were sincerely convinced of its superiority, but is that a basis for that kind of accusation? With all the books, seminars, and sentiments for the King James Version, wouldn’t it be more appropriate, following Waite’s reasoning, to charge him and his followers with worshiping the King James?
But what of these differences between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus? Do they not matter?
An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #48-66: More Guilt by Association and Double Standards, too
Section IV (con’t.) – Slides #48-66
Waite points out Westcott and Hort’s reliance on Codex Vaticanus (B) in guiding their textual choices. Therefore, he tries to slander this manuscript as untrustworthy, heretical, and corrupt. It is true that the two clergymen did hold B in very high esteem, but as I noted before, most modern textual scholars and editors find that the theories of Westcott and Hort are outdated. They have been updated and tweaked to the point that what the two Englishmen believed is almost irrelevant (though their theories do provide the basic foundation for modern textual theory). Since Westcott and Hort’s time, more evidence has been discovered to add credibility to the older manuscripts.
Of course, Waite doesn’t mention that. Rather, he repeats some of the tired arguments against B that contribute little to the debate. In speaking of the age of B (4th century), he said, “its words are early, but the material is not.” Honestly, and this is probably just ignorance on my part, I have no clue as to what that was supposed to mean. He then said, “it was preserved because it was in a library in Rome.” True, the Vatican library where it was housed is the reason behind its name. But scholars disagree as to it origin. It wasn’t discovered in the Vatican library until about the 15th century, and Rome, Caesarea, and Alexandria have all been proposed as its original source. But this all leads to Waite’s continued use of guilt-by-association. Slides #49-51 all have the title, “The ‘Deviant’ Origin of Westcott & Hort’s ‘B’ Text.”
Why is it called “Wetcott & Hort’s”? They obviously didn’t create the text. They consulted it. And if consulting Vaticanus is wrong, then the Textus Receptus can’t be trusted. Erasmus consulted B when considering the Comma Johannuem by way of a letter to his friend Paulus Bombasius in Rome. Of course, that wasn’t mentioned, either.
Furthermore, Dr. Waite, a scholarly gentleman with credentials that would suggest he knows much better, repeats the same old “garbage can” lie about the origins of Sinaiticus. It’s one thing for overzealous and undereducated pastors to stand up and say “that Bible was found in a trash can!” but when a man with the academic credibility of Waite repeats it, it’s a shame. And it also reveals the brains behind all the falsehood that is so flippantly proclaimed from pulpits in recent years.
Happy Resurrection Sunday to everyone! God bless you as you praise our Lord for the new life we have in Him! He is a Living, Risen, Powerful Savior! Glory to Jesus Christ!
Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow
and cleanse my hands with lye,
31 yet you will plunge me into a pit,
and my own clothes will abhor me.
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
33 There is no arbiter between us,
who might lay his hand on us both. (ESV)
Because of the wretched sinfulness of man, Job knew that there was no bargaining with God. Man is so rebellious and tainted by sin that he cannot even argue with God. God is so holy and removed from sin that He will not come into contact with sin and compromise His holy majesty. So Job cried for an arbiter. Someone Who can lay hands on both God and man. Someone Who is holy like God yet lowly like man. Someone who can represent man without sinning, because sin would cancel any opportunity to reason with God. Truly, only a God-Man with sinless record can accomplish this task.
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (ESV)
On the cross of Calvary, Friday night, 2,000+ years ago, Jesus of Nazareth became the arbiter for which Job longed. He, being literally an incarnate man, paid for the sins of sinful human beings in His own body. He, being literally God Himself, satisfied the wrath of God for our sins. Though it took a brutal death and humiliation, for us, this truly was a “Good Friday.” May everyone have a blessed Good Friday.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
It is a privilege to be able to post, with his permission, an essay on the topic of the preservation of scripture by Dr. James D. Price. I’ve been helped by some of his articles on the Internet and most recently by his book, King James Onlyism: A New Sect. The 600+ page book serves as a tremendous resource for the issue at hand. It is a textbook I consult often from a trustworthy source.
James D. Price was Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Temple Baptist Seminary in Chattanooga, Tennessee, from 1972 to 2005, and Academic Dean from 2000 to 2005. He has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, with 25 years experience in that profession, serving as a senior research engineer for Franklin Institute Research Laboratories in Philadelphia before moving to Temple Baptist Seminary. He has an M.Div. from Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Tacoma, Washington and a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Biblical Literature from Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Languages in Philadelphia. He has traveled on teaching missions to Germany and the Ukraine. He had been involved in various lay-ministries for over 60 years. He is a member of several professional organizations and the author of numerous journal articles.
He was the Old Testament Executive Editor and Chairman of the Executive Review Committee of the New King James Version of the Bible and a translator and section editor for the Holman Christian Standard Bible. He is the author of several books including God’s Wisdom for Daily Living, Complete Equivalence in Bible Translation, The Syntax of Masoretic Accents in the Hebrew Bible, and A Concordance of the Accents in the Hebrew Bible.
My generation is often accussed of carelessness when it comes to tweaking our doctrine. When we leave one theological position for another, we are treated as if we have not consulted our God in prayer, consulted His Word, or consulted sources of input equally credible to those we are forsaking. Though I’m sure there are many exceptions, this is not the case for me and my peers. In particular, I have spent much time in prayer, Bible study, and deep meditation going over the issue of King James Onlyism. Because of the emotion tied to the position, it is not an easy thing to leave behind. For those who read my blog and disagree with me, I ask you to at least give me the benefit of the doubt. You may believe I am sincerely wrong, but at least agree that I’m sincere.
As I analyze things said by men such as D.A. Waite, I get asked, “so you think you know more than Dr. Waite?” No. Basically, I’m just an observer. I observe the ongoing debate between men much more capable than I. Dr. Price is one of those men. I don’t cling to him as an end-all. But he is certainly one that has given at least as much time to this issue as men on the KJVO side. And his arguments resonate with me more than the others. Here is his article:
Section IV – Guilt by Association (Slides #31-47)
Slides #31 and 32 display the good tree of Bibles and the bad tree, respectively. Again, the problem is that the “good” tree contains Bibles which disagree with each other.
Slide #34 lists four questions that supposedly makes one raise an eyebrow about consulting a modern version. Unfortunately, it is poor logic at its finest – the favorite tactic of King James Onlyism, guilt by association. The reasoning is as follows: since no farmer would put a fox in charge of his chickens, no teller would put a thief in charge of his bank, and no parent would put a pedophile in charge of his children, then no Christian would put a heretic in charge of his Bible.
This interestingly avoids the fact that God is the one who preserves His Word, not man. He is in charge. He determines who will be able to preserve His Word.
Another problem is the double standard used here. If those responsible for modern versions and their underlying texts were “heretics”, what do we consider the KJV translators and those responsible for the TR and MT? First of all, the Masorites who are lauded for their precision rejected Jesus as the Messiah. For the TR, Erasmus was a Roman Catholic priest until he died and Beza was Calvin’s successor at Geneva (an alliance between church and state). King James was responsible for the persecution of non-conformists and for the death of the Baptist Edward Wigtman. The translators were baby-baptizing Anglicans who also advocated persecution for non-conformists. The majority of people that we may thank for the preservation of manuscripts of any kind were Catholic or Eastern Orthodox monks. If guilt by association disqualifies modern versions, it disqualifies the King James Version.
Section III - The Textual Argument (Slides #17-30)
Waite claims that the KJV is God’s only Word because it is translated from superior texts. But the terminology alone seems to defeat this argument: for the Hebrew text, Waite claims that the “true” text is the “Traditional Masoretic Text, Daniel Bomberg Edition, 2nd Great Rabbinic Bible, Edited by Ben Chayyim” in 1524-25. I do not understand how God’s perfectly preserved, “intact” Word could be “edited”; an “edition”; the “2nd” anything; or created as late as the 1500s. Is that not self-defeating in and of itself? Simply because it was not questioned for 400 years does not mean it is the only representation of the original Hebrew.
To provide ammunition for his argument, Waite employs the use of another KJVO common misconception. He cites 8 rules that the Jews used to guard the text from corruption. The problem with that? He is giving the example of the Masorites, a sect that began its precise copying methods no earlier than the 7th century. He has not accounted for the centuries leading up to that time. The Masorites simply worked with what they had.
In slide #28, Waite lists 19 things used by the new versions to “correct” the original Hebrew text. This is a flagrant double standard. The knife cuts both ways here – the KJV and its underlying texts are not free from these standards of emendation. He starts with the Septuagint, which has been documented by some to be more prevalent in influencing the KJV than any other version. His second thing on the list is conjecture. He tells a story of how his professor, Dr. Unger, once made a conjecture in class about a particular passage. Of course, Unger’s conjecture had no bearing on the text and brings nothing to the debate. However, there was someone who has made a conjecture that made its way into a text, and that was Theordore Beza, in his 5th edition of the TR. He conjectured in Revelation 16:5, and his reading stands in the KJV today. The other 17 things on Waite’s list can be proved to have an effect on the KJV.
Section II – “God’s Words Kept Intact”: The Preservation Argument (Slides #5-#16)
Just observing this title, the word “intact” is again an indication of the underlying false premise: the written Word has to be “intact” (entire, exact) in order to be God’s Word. Anything that amounts to anything less than a 100% equivalent of the elusive original is considered counterfeit. Of course, this begs the proverbial, age-old question for the King James Only position: Where was the Word of God before 1611? If differences disqualify all but one version of being the true Word of God, and the King James is that one, what do we do with all the Bibles leading up to the King James of 1611? The Ruckmanite has no problem here, because he believes the English corrects the Greek, and even says the “mistakes in the King James are advanced revelation.” No matter how much he will deny this, the Ruckmanite’s position will always amount to double inspiration. But for men like D. A. Waite, a bigger problem exists. He has (understandably) distanced himself from the ideas of Peter Ruckman. Yet, Ruckman’s position will always be more consistent, because he can always cite English superiority and end the discussion. But Waite actually considers history and textual studies important to the conversation. It seems that he and other “moderate” King James Onlyists mold two positions into one: the Byzantine preferred position and King James Only position. I do not believe, however, there can be an agreement among the two. The Byzantine position, very similar to the Majority Text position, is one that favors the manuscripts that come from the Byzantine family. Though the earliest manuscripts of its kind are no earlier dated than the 4th century, proponents of this position believe this text type represents the original more accurately than eclectic texts which incorporate readings from Alexandrian manuscripts and other witnesses. The manuscripts of the Byzantine family represent the majority of extant Greek manuscripts available today and the majority of manuscripts from at least the 9th century on. Because of a strong belief in church authority and the power of consensus, many believe that these attributes argue for the priority of this text type. The underlying text of the King James New Testament, the Textus Receptus, is based solely on the Byzantine tradition. Though the vast majority of New Testament scholars lean toward the eclectic text position, the Byzantine type preferred position is a respected counterpart. John William Burgon, Zane Hodges, Arthur Farstad, and Wilbur Pickering were among scholars who espoused such a position, and their works continue to have influence on the ongoing debate. Although I believe the eclectic text position has been defended better than the Byzantine text position, I believe honest dialogue between the two can still go on. A main reason for this is that most of the proponents of the Byzantine text position do not make their position a standard of orthodoxy or test of separation. They believe, as do I, that no text or translation is perfect, and apply absolute inerrancy only to the autographs. They typically fellowship with modern version users and are not just loyal to the King James, as many of them support the use of the New King James Version – a version that, oddly enough, KJVOnlysits vehemently reject. The NKJV is also based on the Byzantine platform and differs from the KJV, for the most part, in places in which the Textus Receptus departed from the majority of Byzantine manuscripts. I brought up that concise summary of the Byzantine position to make one thing clear: it is not the same as the KJVO position. But it must be understood because moderate King James Onlyists employ the same arguments of the Byzantine position, even quoting its proponents (especially Burgon), until they get to the year 1611. It seems all scholarship ended in 1611. The main problem with this is that the KJVOnlyist is forced to constantly change his goal.
An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #1-4: The Root of the King James Only Position
My personal view on the King James Only position is that it is rooted in a misconception about the place of biblical inerrancy in Christian doctrine. Its basic premise is: Christianity stands or falls on biblical inerrancy.
To begin his seminar, Dr. Waite began with this very premise. The first slide in his presentation represents the vast majority of KJVO defense works. He begins by quoting Satan in the garden, “Yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1). The audience is told that the very first question in the Bible deals with Satan questioning the words of God. This idea corresponds directly with my theory, and provides the basis for the rest of his argumentation. If any word in the scriptures is questioned on its authenticity, it is equivalent to the work of Satan. Therefore, we must have a Bible that contains all of God’s words, without any question, if we are to believe the Christian message.
The problem with this underlying idea is that Satan was not questioning the words of God, as in His choice of nouns and verbs used to convey the idea. He questioned the message. Satan is opposed to the message God has given to man. No where in the Bible is it said that Satan is consenting to God’s message so long as the words are rearranged or a few words are missing. Upon examination of the portion of scripture used, one quickly finds that meaning is Satan’s intended target, not words:
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (KJV)
The serpent begins his conversation with Eve with a question that provoked her to reiterate God’s initial command. He seems to have purposely misrepresented God’s command in order to achieve a certain response. God restricted one tree, but he asked as if every tree was forbidden. It would be tantamount to a mother asking her son, “Did daddy tell you to play with that ball in the house?” The question is a bit rhetorical. The serpent knew the answer. He wanted to contradict the message, as we shall see.
Introduction – Why This Analysis Exists
Within the span of about a year, I twice attended a seminar on Bible Versions from the King James Only (KJVO) perspective featuring Dr. D.A. Waite, president of The Bible for Today and The Dean Burgon Societies, and pastor of The Bible for Today Baptist Church. The material in both seminars was identical.
Dr. Waite is probably the most important figure representing the non-Ruckmanite KJVO view today. He has great academic credentials, teaching experience, and is an expert in biblical languages. He has been defending the King James Only view for several decades. Having read his book, Defending the King James Version, several pamphlets of his, as many articles as I could find both on the Bible for Today website and the Dean Burgon Society website, including articles by Jeffrey Khoo, Jack Moorman, and Timothy Tow, no one can accuse me of not being acquainted with his position. Combine that with attending his seminar twice, and I can be basically considered an expert!
Well, maybe not an expert. But a common accusation about former KJVonlyists is that they were KJVO until they read a book by James White or something. This is not the case! As for me, I have read a plethora of King James Only material as well as opposing material. My rejection of this position has more to do with prayerful consideration of the issues than just reading one book. I hope I can articulate my objections to King James Only argumentation as I provide this analysis of Dr. Waite’s seminar. I believe a fair examination of Waite’s arguments will be a big step in understanding the King James Only position.
In the final post in this series, I want to consider what Jesus Christ personally taught about the scriptures. What our Lord said about and did with the scriptures are of utmost importance to all matters of bibliology because of the following argument, which I have tried to articulate in this series thus far:
1. The Christian faith is primarily and initially spiritual, not intellectual. The Christian is a believer because of a work that God has supernaturally performed in his heart, not because he intellectually “figured it out.”
2. Working in the person’s heart, the Holy Spirit testifies to Christ, while Christ draws men to Himself, given by the Father. This trinitarian phenomenon results in the believer’s first and foundational affirmation: that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God.
3. Since believers come to Christ first spiritually, they should come to Christ first theologically. That is, a Christocentric model logically follows the believer’s own conversion and spiritual growth.
4. To begin with the Bible, as noble as it seems, is backwards, because no one can hold the Bible in the esteem of a Christian without first being a Christian. We do not believe in Jesus because we first accept biblical authority, we accept biblical authority because we first believe in Jesus. The danger of reversing this causes us to try to squeeze Jesus into our pre-made biblical constructs. Rather, Jesus should have preeminence in our theology to the extent that, if Jesus said or did something contrary to our understanding or theological framework, we should abandon that framework to follow Christ.
So what exactly did Jesus teach about the scriptures?