Monday, September 28, 2009

Allegations: Schismatic, a Bad Name, and Arrogance

Pastor Mike Harding, who commented much more nicely on the first post of the Bibliology and Separation series, wrote this at SharperIron on September 23, 2009:

I was reading Kent Brandenburg's blog about this matter. One of the comments he allowed to be posted compared myself, Doran, and Pratt as using the tactics of the "New Atheists". Another on his blog said that though they are not Ruckmanites, they preferred Ruckmanism over against the CT as the lesser of two evils. Those kind of comments give Fundamentalism a very bad name. That is the kind of Fundamentalism that Kevin Bauder has been crticial of and rightly so. By the way, the same commentor also condemned MacArthur as a heretic on the Blood. Though I disagree with JM on numerous points, it is not fair to call JM a heretic on the blood. However, so often KJVO types participate in this kind of slander. In my opinion men like that are simply schismatic and I would not have ecclesiastical fellowship with them. Their ignorance is only surpassed by their arrogance.

I'd actually like to have things be civil between Mike Harding and myself. We see a lot of things exactly the same in doctrine and practice, but he doesn't seem to want as much peace as we can possibly have. In this case he didn't link to the post with this statement, so no one would get to see the context of the comments to which he was referring. Very ironic is that this paragraph that he wrote at SharperIron actually illustrates what P.S. Ferguson was talking about when he said that they use the tactics of the "New Atheists." If you saw the "New Atheist" comment in the context, it wouldn't look so bad. Without the context, it looks like that P. S. may have been calling these men atheists, but here's the entire quote from P. S.:

Like many of the polemicists on the New Atheist movement, Harding, Doran, Pratt, all assume that caricatures and insinuations trump arguments. It puts me in mind of Cicero's old dictum, "When you have no case, abuse the plaintiff.”

P. S. was referring to a bunch of abusive statements made by these men (Harding, Pratt, etc.) concerning King James Version advocates. I still love them, and I was pointing out their bad behavior. Harding chooses to pluck the two words, "New Atheism," out of the context to make it look worse than what it was. I would wonder if Harding is ignorant of the New Atheist movement and the kind of debate these men have used in the glut of new books they've written. P. S. was only paralleling the polemical similarities, not the doctrinal ones.

The second comment that Harding made was that someone "said that though they are not Ruckmanites, they preferred Ruckmanism over against the CT as the lesser of two evils." Everyone should know that no one used the words that Harding said they did. No one defended Ruckman. No one. At best he was referring to a comment made by Gary Webb:

I have been strongly "anti-Ruckmanism" because of the double-inspiration issue [as well as Ruckman's personal life, ungodly spirit, & crazy doctrines]. However, I have to admit that, concerning the Bible in English, the Ruckmanite position is FAR BETTER than the Critical Text position. The CT position not only undermines the King James but EVERY Bible, including whatever "version du jour" the CT crowd is promoting.

That doesn't sound like support for Ruckman. Later Joshua added:

[N]o one is supporting Ruckman here. I pointed out earlier that no one touches him or his followers with a ten foot pole. . . . If Gary is advocating supporting Ruckman just because he's better than Ehrman Ill eat my King James Bible.

Later Webb clarified:

If you are sounding a warning to the effect that I (and perhaps others) would consider Ruckmanism or those that hold it as potential brethren with which to have fellowship, I would find that fairly ridiculous.

It really does seem like Harding is the one that wants to stir things up with his representation of what is said. All that was said was that Ruckman gets far more attacked than someone like Bart Ehrman by fundamentalists and yet Bart Ehrman leaves men with far more doubt in the end about the Word of God. Perhaps Harding can't apprehend that kind of nuance.

Next Mike made this statement:

By the way, the same commentor also condemned MacArthur as a heretic on the Blood. Though I disagree with JM on numerous points, it is not fair to call JM a heretic on the blood. However, so often KJVO types participate in this kind of slander.

If you scroll down the comments on both articles I wrote on Bibliology and Separation, not one person, not a single one, said that MacArthur was a "heretic" on the blood. None. No one. Scroll down the comments yourself. So Harding tells the whole SharpIron world that I allowed a comment that said that MacArthur was a "heretic on the blood," and yet no one made that statement. The only person who said anything about MacArthur and heresy was Harding himself. He wrote:

Mac was not and is not heretical on the blood period. Bob Jones Jr. was mistaken on that issue. BJU does not consider Mac heretical on the blood today.

Somehow Harding was thinking of his own comment and that BJU, his alma mater, were the ones that said MacArthur was heretical. P. S. Ferguson said something about MacArthur and the blood issue, but all he said was this:

Despite MacArthur’s deeply disturbing views on the blood of Christ, total lack of biblical separation by preaching with Ecumenists and Charismatics in his ministry, promotion of rank CCM music at his conventions, BJU Board Member, Mike Harding, imperiously dismisses those who oppose MacArthur for their “the total lack of appreciation or honest commendation for men such as John MacArthur by some in our circles.”

P. S. Ferguson said MacArthur's view on the blood was "deeply disturbing." That's it. And then Harding broad brushes "KJVO types" as saying "this type of slander." A slander is a lie. Mike Harding, no one called MacArthur a "heretic." You are obviously ignorant of what I believe about heresy, because I've never called MacArthur a heretic. You are the only one who brought it up. I too think that MacArthur's view on the blood is deeply disturbing and I have been very careful in explaining why over at Jackhammer (here and here). I asked Harding whether he believed MacArthur's views were unscriptural. He said nothing, but then he jumps to calling us "slanderers" based on something that wasn't even said. Isn't that slander itself? I'll let you judge that rather that stooping to the Harding smear of all KJVO people. I really do want to get along with Mike Harding as much as possible, and the way to do that is to interact based on civil discourse.

Of course, Harding ends with a flurry of language, attacking us as schismatics and arrogant and ignorant. I would fly to anywhere in the country and debate Harding on the issue of the text. He should mop up an arrogant ignoramus. I already said I would do that with James White. I would even host him here in California for a debate if he wanted to get some sun in the winter months. We could video record it and have it available for posterity.

In the meantime, I would call on Mike Harding to reconsider what he has said. I think he has some explaining to do. I expect a retraction over at SharperIron. I know that's what I would do if I were him. And if there is anything that I say that is slanderous, I will be glad to admit it. Until then, I don't think the "they're idiots!" kind of argumentation is effective or should be given any kind of credit.


I sent a copy of this via email to Mike Harding at the same time I published it so that he could clear up any misrepresentations. He does think that he was mistreated here entirely in the comment section and mainly from P. S. Ferguson. He's not happy with me that I allowed the comment. He says that he wasn't going after those that take our view of the KJV, TR, and preservation, but the Ruckman/Riplinger crowd only. And I can appreciate that, but I was making only a very narrow point, that is, that the CT/eclectic side of the issue also uses name-calling as a technique. That was further validated in the SharperIron comment. I'm not even saying that he or Doran are wrong for using that type of language if they believe what they believe. I was just saying that it isn't an either/or on the style of criticism offered. The CT/eclectic side, especially James White, constantly talk about the KJV side as being the ones guilty of not being nice. That is not an argument either way on this issue, but it is being used that way. I think it is debunked by what we read in the quotes coming from the CT/eclectic side.

I don't believe I started this. All I did was point some things out that someone else said. P. S. referred to more things that people had said. Actually there has been a lot more said by the eclectic/CT side that is untrue and not very nice. I don't think that pointing out what we see happening is bad; I think it's good.

I reread P. S. Ferguson's comment and it was very strong. I wouldn't have said it how he said it, especially one or two specific sentences, but the essence of it I agreed with. I see what P. S. is writing to be very much akin to what Peter Masters wrote recently in criticism of the "conservative evangelicals." He, like me, sees, if any criticism at all, a very soft, civil criticism of MacArthur and his kind, accompanied with hefty portions of praise, but a very strong negativity toward KJV supporters by the non-revivalist fundamentalists. Harding may be targeting the English inspirationists and preservationists, but it reads absolutely broad brush, because delineations between the positions are not made.

Has this been personal? Yes. From both sides. We've been combative. People are going to have to sort out what they believe the truth is. I've got more to say on this issue as I move on in the Bibliology and Separation series.


J said...

I find it strange that BJU is referenced as some sort of authority on JMacs false teaching, as if "hold on guys, my parachurch organisation changed its mind on that one, he must be all right" carries any sort of weight.

I think folks read books like James White's and feel comfortable and secure using any old CT distortion because, hey, I'm a million miles away from the crazy Riplinger/Ruckman crowd they're talking about in here. Then they discover reasoned defence of the TR and it gets harder, but they cling on to their comfortable false teaching (I don't care how Biblical it might be, BJU, JMac and the other conservative evangelicals in the "universal church" can't all be wrong!) while deep down harbouring the suspicion that they must, they just must be somehow linked to those Ruckmanites, because everyone knows they're wrong!

Then they come here and BEHOLD, ONE COMMENTER has said something that may be construed as possibly thinking that one of the end results of Ruckman's twisting might be doing less spiritual damage than the commonly held faithless CT belief - and it all makes sense! They're what's wrong with Fundamentalism! I knew it! I feel so much better now! Those compelling straw men from all the anti-KJV books must definitely apply, because I think I caught a glimpse of straw.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I think you're right.


PS Ferguson said...

Thanks Kent for the insightful defense. I would hope that Mike Harding did not read properly my remarks and responded to what he thought I wrote. If you read the recent comments by Pratt, Straub, and Harding it is clear they have assumed a privilege of declaring absolutes on the textual issue (without a single Scriptural promise) while denying this to others (who have an abundance of Scriptural attestation). It is tragic that when we expose the lack of Biblical and historical foundation to the CT advocates position they respond in a hail of vitriol masquerading as “objectivity” and “reasonableness.” They are wholly inconsistent in their support for neutral apostate textual criticism in creating a "new Greek text" which was entirely unknown by the Church through the ages. For what can be argued by “neutral” scientific studies by apostates into the Christian faith today can be argued out of the Christian faith tomorrow. A good case in point is the statement on SI today by Bauder who correctly observed of Common Sense Realism,

“God and His Word were no longer axiomatic. These became matters to be defended, and that defense now involved the methodological priority of doubt and the appeal to neutral foundations within the immanent order.”

With such a presuppositional position, you would imagine that Bauder would reject abdicating the task of receiving the Words of God from the true remnant church (ironic for a local Church Baptist) to apostate textual critical scholars such as Bruce Metzger and Cardinal Martini. Each of us must decide what methodology we will employ, and will do so on the basis of our belief as to the hand of Providence in transmitting the text of Scripture to posterity either through the Church or by apostate scholarship. Kent has written a book and I have placed a researched paper online setting forth the biblical and historical presuppositional positions for the TR/KJV position. It would be useful if these “scholars” could deal with some of these arguments. Perhaps they could begin to educate us who they say are “theologically ignorant” on SI or here by actually answering this basic question (assuming they believe in the sufficiency of Scripture):

“What biblical presuppositional framework guides us to all the Words of God today?”

Anonymous said...


I would tend to agree. I've felt for a long time that a lot of the impetus behind the often envenomed opposition to "KJV-Onlies" is simply because of ignorance, and worse, an unwillingness to learn, on the part of many CT supporters. It's simply easier to cast stones at those dumb ol' KJVOers than it is to have to step outside the box and critically examine the Critical Text.

As for the tone and tenor of Pastor Harding's post at SI, I've seen it before. I'm sort of an "old hack" when it comes to internet, um, discussions. I've seen my share of people who try to use internet fora as excuses to say things they'd never say to somebody's face, and who say them in "friendly" arenas because they know they're not likely to get called out on them.

Kent Brandenburg said...

P. S.,

I think you hit right on with the comment. I too have read Bauder's series and am scratching my head on this very issue, which happens to be the only one that Bauder has written (or edited), One Bible?, and yet it takes the Common Sense direction that he so describes. It seems obvious to me, but I'm not thinking he has bibliology in view as he writes. I would guess that he visualizes issues of soteriology and worship---or in other words, he has a blind spot on this one. I think your question at the end is a good one.


Again, I can't disagree. What you said seems right to me.

Ben said...

I recently ran across the blog,, one of his posts asks if it is “Broken” or “Given” and/or did Paul accurately quote Jesus when reading the KJV.

The verses in question are Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24. Luke uses the word “given” and Paul uses the word “broken”, so is this an error in the KJV or is there another explanation?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Ben.

It's kind of an incomplete idea, that is, that there are differences between Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24. Why? Because there is also a difference between Luke 22:19 and Mark 14:22/Matthew 26:26. We don't have to assume that what we have in Luke 22 and 1 Cor 11 and Mark 14 are every word that Jesus said. He did say those Words. This is classic harmonization that is required throughout scripture. For instance if you read the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6 and Matthew 5-7, they read differently too. However, we don't think those were the only words that Jesus said. They are words that He said, but He said more than them.

I appreciate the gadfly's gotcha, but it doesn't work. Instead, he ought to get biblical presuppositions about preservation and trust the Word of God.

bhardecker said...

I actually like Dr. Harding's preaching. I heard him speak twice - one the topic of Repentance and the other is on Our Incomprehendable God. Then of course a number of his messages on Music and exposing the errors of CCM. I also notice how he almost always begins with a warm word of commendation for the people which he associates himself with. I really like a preacher who knows his Bible. Dr. Harding is a rare preacher within sectarian Fundamentalism.

If Pastor Brandenburg, and Dr. Harding could have a dialogue regarding the CT/TR issue, it would really be worth tuning into.

PS Ferguson said...

First of all, let us examine in the methodology of Ruckman and Harding. In passages such as 1 Samuel 13:1, Harding advocates using a translation or version to correct the Hebrew text. He says “On account of my theological conviction regarding the inerrancy of the autographa, I believe the original Hebrew text also reads ‘thirty,’ even though we do not currently possess a Hebrew manuscript with that reading” (God’s Word in Our Hands, 361). Sounds like a CT Ruckmanite to me!

Secondly, when we talk about ad hominen lets just audit a few quotes by Harding and his associates. Mike Harding scoffs, “KJV Onlyism is the greatest embarrassment to historic Fundamentalism that I know. It shows how intellectually bankrupt and dishonest some aspects of Fundamentalism really are. It is laughable if it were not so serious in its consequences.” He also mentions, “the unending KJV only non-sense.” Dr Jon Pratt of CBTS claims that there are a “group of churches for whom the Bible version issue is paramount, but such a view is historically and theologically ignorant.” His historical analysis goes back to Dr. Clearwaters in 1901! He goes on to mention “fallacies of sound logic, revisionist historicism, and bold-faced scare tactics employed by King James Only supporters are not characteristics of scholarly fundamentalism” as “an indelible stain on the garments of modern-day fundamentalism.” Gerald Priest of DBTS equates KJVO people with pelagians and Gnostics. Priest says,

“Many “evangelical” heresies are simply the old ones with new names, e.g., Open Theism, a form of Pelagianism (Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd); Man-centered soteriology, a form of Semi-Pelagianism (Charles Finney, Dave Hunt); Self-esteemism, a form of Gnosticism (Robert Schuller), Annihilationism, a form of Socinianism (Clark Pinnock, John Stott) and King James-onlyism, a relatively new heresy in response to numerous Bible versions (Peter Ruckman, Donald Waite, David Cloud), to name a few.”

Another, James R. White warns about King James Bible proponents “undercut the very foundations of the faith itself.” Doug Kutilek calls KJVO people such as Dr DA Waite and David Cloud as “lemmings.” As the saying goes, people in glass houses………….

Gary Webb said...

Brother Ferguson,
I am afraid you are not going to be a very popular person if you keep supplying factual documentation of the slander provided by the CT crowd.
I was recently charged in a personal e-mail with being dishonest in saying that the staff of a certain mission board did not believe in a preserved Bible. When I supplied the documentation, the person who had challenged my integrity at least said he could see how I might think they didn't believe in preservation ... but he did not apologize for his unjustified reproof.
I want to be careful about my speech so as to not offend my Lord. Sometimes my flesh makes me impatient, & then sometimes I believe that the Lord would have us use the same type speech that Jude did or that the Lord did in Matthew 23. After all, the text of the Bible is pretty important (see Revelation 22:18-19).
Again, my experience in having arguments with the CT guys is that when I provide Scripture & facts to state my position, I am often met with the fact that I am an ignoramus.
G. Webb

Joshua said...

Just thought I'd jot down a few thoughts about the "ignoramus" claims:

I see a few parallels between evangelical viciousness towards the preservation of God's word and the standard evolutionists viciousness towards creationists.

Both the evolutionist and the evangelical are taught by those in places of "higher" learning that only fools and idiots hold the opposing view: and also that simply holding that view completely discredits you as someone to be taken seriously.

Have you ever been the first creationist that an evolutionist has talked to? Remember the surprise, the incredulity, the assumption that you must be incredibly ignorant? Remember the way they trotted out tired old arguments like they were devastating trump cards? Remember when they realize they have no answers to your arguments, but they're still convinced they're right because anyone whose anyone knows you're wrong?

Holding to a preserved Word of God gets you in exactly the same situations. You're an idiot. You're a fool. You're one of those guys I've heard about but can't believe I'm seeing face to face. Haven't you read the KJV Preface? Surely God doesn't want the Chinese to have to use the KJ! There were revisions to the 1611! You're the enemy of true Christianity!

It reminds me a lot of the way the Reformers complained about the brutality of the Catholic church against those that disagreed, but then turn around and carried out the same brutality against Baptists once they ascended to power. They just can't see their hypocrisy and the similarity of their behaviour with those they oppose.

Kent Brandenburg said...


What you said rings true completely.


Your first sentence, very funny.


I agree with what you are saying, and look at the Gerald Priest comment that links up Waite with Ruckman. That is an ignorant comment if there every was one.

Anonymous said...

I want to preface my remarks below by stating that I am emphatically NOT trying to be either insulting, nor am I trying to score cheap rhetorical points.

What we're seeing in much of fundamentalism and conservative Evangelicalism is, I believe, nothing new. It's the same process that took the faithful Maccabean freedom fighters who were willing to give their very lives for the inspired Word of God and who were lauded in Hebrews 11, and turned them into the Pharisees of Jesus' day.

What was one of the defining characteristics of the Pharisees, as we can derive from the Gospel accounts? They placed the teachings of men above the Word of God. Man's tradition and "wisdom" trumped what the simple text of God's Word said. That's what we see today with the CT supporters in fundamentalism. They place the words of Reb Metzger, Reb Kittel, and Reb Aland over and above the Word of God.

And if you prefer the Word of God over the words of men, as Jesus did, then you are called "ignorant and unlearned" as Jesus was. How dare this man - who didn't even get accredited by our schools - get up and teach that we're wrong! He's not just factually incorrect, he's ignorant and evil and schismatic! Because of that, we don't even have to try to attempt to demonstrate his factual incorrectness - it's enough to just be obnoxious and arrogant to him in public fora.

Essentially, the attitude displayed by the CT supporters who act like that is true-to-life Phariseeism.

d4v34x said...

I didn't comment at the time, but when I read the "new athiests" comment, I understood it to meant to include Harding, Pratt, etc. I too wondered why it went unchalleged by brother Brandenburg.

The quest for greatest possible peace could be closer with the commenter taking responsibility for the affect of his words while clarifying their intent. I know his syntax does not necessitate such a reading, but such a reading is perfectly legitimate, perhaps even strongly implied, given the syntax.