Monday, December 17, 2007

Is KJVO a Great Danger to Historic Fundamentalism? part three

Mike Harding is a well-known pastor in the midwest, who is on many various fundamental boards, including the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship. He is also one of the authors of God's Word in our Hands, a contribution from the fundamentalist electic text crowd to their view of the text issue. Mike Harding has written recently that using the KJV only (which I've explained in the other two posts) is:
1. A Great Danger
2. The Greatest Embarassment to Historic Fundamentalism
3. Intellectually Bankrupt
4. Dishonest
5. Laughable
6. Serious in Its Consequences
7. A New Sect

I've been analyzing his claim, essentially showing how that it is just the opposite. It will be up to you to decide. Obviously, God is our final judge and He is the One we should all be concerned about. I hope we all keep that in mind, that is, that we want to take the biblical position, the one that honors the Almighty.

So far I've covered #1-4, and now we continue.

5. Laughable

I can honestly say that I've never been able to laugh at false doctrine. Even if KJVO were false doctrine, how is it something to laugh at? I've thought about how funny I think the critical text and eclectic guys are with their positions, and I can't scrape up one chuckle out of their positions. I get only sorrow or anger. I can't even feel ambivalent about their position, let alone laugh at it. Don't get me wrong; I'm not against laughing. It has crossed my mind to ridicule them. It's just that some things aren't funny---false doctrine is one of those.

But Mike Harding finds KJVO to be laughable. I have to say that I find this often to be the case with fundamentalists of Harding's stripe. It is completely mean-spirited, not in fitting with a scriptural Christian testimony. I'm not saying he's not saved; I'm saying that laughing about these kinds of things doesn't fit with what the Bible describes as Christian character. It's one thing to laugh, but another thing to report it as if he is proud of laughing.

To these guys, "laughable" stands as some sort of argument. You should all know that it doesn't work as an argument to anyone except to one influenced by such carnal weaponry as being laughed at. We see this type of strategy with the unbelievers in 2 Peter 3. They laugh (scoff) at the doctrine of the second coming. It's laughable to them. Why? Because they can't see Christ. He hasn't shown up, even though He promised He would come. They laugh to intimidate. I can't be happy about this kind of laughter.

I guess that "laughable" would be to say that the perfect preservation of Scripture position is stupid. In Scripture, doubting God is stupid. In the end it is God Who will laugh at those who don't trust Him. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision" (Psalm 2:4).

6. Serious In Its Consequences

This one is very much like "a great danger," mentioned earlier. What are the consequences of believing that there is only one Bible? Harding says they are serious. In my opinion, they are only seriously good, so in that way, I agree with him. The consequences of KJVO are seriously good. However, I do think that believing that we have options when it comes to the Bible has very serious, bad consequences. People often stop trusting Scripture. When I go door-to-door in evangelism, many times I hear inviduals tell me that there are "so many Bibles out there." That's reason enough for them not to believe the Bible. How can they know "which Bible is true?" This has been created by the many versions of the Bible that all have different words. And they do. And this is Harding's position, the one that causes this kind of doubt.

And then there is the matter of inerrancy. The MVO (Multiple Version Only) people go all over the place with this, and everything has become extremely convoluted. They tell people that there are up to 7% differences between texts, and yet the Bible is inerrant. And then when you look at the Critical Text, you see actual errors and contradictions in the text. And they say that it doesn't matter, because all the doctrines of the Bible are still in there. They say that not all the errors were purposeful, only some of them. And they say that we don't know what the original words were, but we do know that those words were perfect. And how can we trust that? How can we trust that the Words were perfect in the originals? They say that God could keep men from putting errors in the original, but that He hasn't been able to do that or hasn't chosen to (even though He promised He would) with the copies that we still have.

And has this made a difference? Of course it has. People often believe the Bible is without error and then these MVO men get their teeth into these professing believers. Man after man has turned from the faith because they once thought the Bible was perfect. Do they really want to give up the world and the pleasures of sin for something that doesn't sound like it is so sure? And these MVO guys say that it is sure enough. But is it perfect?

Cults and false religions have a field day with "mistakes" in the Bible, constantly quoting MVO men to make their point. They feel justified in taking a stand against Scripture because of the teaching from the MVO that there are errors in the Bible.

Do you see where the really serious consequences are? They are not with the people that believe there is only one Bible.

7. A New Sect

There are really two parts to this charge from Harding and James Price. Are those of the belief that there is only one Bible a sect? And is this belief new? We should understand what a "sect" is first. Wikipedia says:
In the sociology of religion a sect is generally a small religious or political group that has broken off from a larger group, for example from a large, well-established religious group, like a denomination, usually due to a dispute about doctrinal matters. In its historical usage in Christendom the term has a pejorative connotation and refers to a movement committed to heretical beliefs and that often deviated from orthodox practices.
Notice that Wikipedia recognizes that the word "sect" is a pejorative term. That's what Price and then Harding are doing. What is a pejorative, by the way? Wikipedia says:
A word is a term of derision, or a phrase is pejorative, if it implies contempt or disapproval. The adjective pejorative is synonymous with derogatory, derisive, and dyslogistic. When used as an adjective, pejorative has two meanings: (1) tending to make or become worse, and (2) tending to disparage or belittle. When used as a noun, pejorative means "a belittling or disparaging word or expression."
So Price and Harding are being purposefully derisive with their term "sect," in an attempt to belittle KJVO men. It accomplishes very little to deride someone, but that's what the MVO people choose to do. It's how they are. They are name-callers. Name calling is the MVO modus operandi. How intelligent do you believe that this kind of mud-slinging is? Just asking. Because it does remind me of the ancient Chinest proverb:
He who throws mud loses ground.
Of course, if it is new, then maybe KJVO is a sect. But is it? Or is it possible that the new belief is the MVO belief? The truth is that the MVO position is the new position, rising up in the same era as the Jehovah Witnesses, the Campbellites, and the Mormons. Calling a position of 'only one Bible' something new is sheer revisionism. However, it is important to the MVO people to create their fake history. They must make the Scriptural belief in preservation look brand new.

How do they make the position of one Bible look new? When you read God's Word in our Hands and Sproul's God's Word Preserved, they spend a big chunk of their books attempting to invent their history. Go ahead and read them yourselves. They go back into the 17th century with a few quotes, including the preface of the KJV by the translators, to show that men were not against improving a translation. That is a non-point, a totally moot issue. It doesn't make any difference at all regarding one Bible. Then they go into the 18th and 19th century doing the same thing, that is, giving quotes that show that men didn't mind changing the words of the translation to give the sense of their meaning. Again, these quotes don't show at all that these men didn't believe in one Bible. Around the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century, you start reading quotes of men who thought it was fine to tweak the words in the actual text of Scripture. Of course, this was after the rise of Biblical criticism and then the work of Westcott and Hort, the Revised Edition of 1881, and then especially Benjamin Warfield's brand new interpretation of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Warfield loosely constructed the WCF, reading textual criticism into "providentially preserved," and giving the MVO guys the history that they didn't have. Now the MVO's choose to believe that they have an ancient history. It is definitely the ostrich with the head in the sand. This is a common twist of "scholarship," that is, to invent a history when there is none. And they talk of "dishonest." This is dishonesty to the fullest degree. If they have any honesty and intelligence, they would do away with this tactic, which is all it is, a strategy.

And now the MVO books spend page after page stating the new history. On top of that, they invent a history for one Bible people with the whole Wilkinson (the 7th Day Adventist) and David Otis Fuller history. Believe me; God's people have believed in one Bible and that God preserved all His Words perfectly. That's what history shows. I have no doubt that Wilkinson and Fuller believed the same, but they did not start the belief in one Bible. I've written enough on this before, so I'm going to provide links to other things I have written to show the true history of the only one Bible belief (here, here, here, and here; also look at some of Bro. Tom Ross's writing here).

Mike Harding and others are hanging on to a belief with great tenacity that is bereft of Scriptural presuppositions. You should judge for yourself and not be intimidated by their ridicule and bullying tactics. God's Word is perfect. Every Word is preserved and accessible to God's people.


Anonymous said...

Labouring to establish a NT Baptist church a few instances have opened my eyes to the spirit and error of those who are MVO. I'll briefly share:

1. A man started evangelizing with me on Saturdays. He has a zeal for souls. One Saturday, after finishing our time together he canvassed his own neighborhood. He called me later and told me of a man who accosted him at the door saying "You guys worship King James and I worship Jesus". My man did not know how to respond, in fact he himself was not yet KJVO, I was still teaching him about that. All this becuase he had a John and Romans that was King James. Nothing like a critical text guy to try to pour cold water on someone evangelizing for God. Of course I am not saying all MVO's are like that. Yet I have never in my life had a man come to my door preaching the Gospel with a modern perversion in his hand. If he did come I would surely have a lot more kindness toward him.

2. Recently we had a home Bible study with 4 new converts. A guest showed up with an NIV. I had already planned to study a bit about Bibliology.(In fact it was actually your discipleship course, Kent, I believe it is week 11). I began to teach about innerancy and infallibility. Our guest who happens to be a church of Christ pastor said " I believe in those things, but that they only pertain to the originals". I simply pointed out that we do not have the originals. Immediately a man very innocently said to him "What is your foundation?, if you do not have the originals how do you know what is really the word of God". I pointed out that with his position HE FULLY RELIES ON MAN AND MODERN SCHOLARSHIP TO DISCOVER WHAT HE THINKS THE REAL READINGS ARE. We rely on God's promises which are fullfilled in the M.T./T.R. Of course the man got upset and basically tried to attack our authority. The truth prevailed. But in that scenario which position was more dangerous to the faith?

If the MVO's were asked the same question "what is your foundation?" They would be forced to explain to them about the exciting details of textual criticism finally coming to the conclusion that we actually do not know what the words of God are. How edifying for those new converts.

I am glad that I can speak like Jesus as one having authority when I am teaching people what the word of God really is.

BJ Nordgren

Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

Thanks for writing these articles and defending such an important truth! Its good to see these wicked doctrines slammed down to the ground! Keep up the good work!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Those are excellent first hand, in the trenches, examples, Bro. Nordgren. I can say "Amen" to them as well, not to spite the MVO guys, really not at all, but because it is truly what takes place. I recognize that "errors in Scripture" isn't what anyone will tell someone in evangelism, but it is true that some kind of convoluted explanation must be given which takes authority away from Scripture.

Thank you too Bro. Cardot.

Unknown said...

I was glad to see you are continuing in your series. I have been working through the sites you recommended to me, but I still have this persistent question: what does "perfectly preserved" mean? If words are left out/added, if words are interpolated, if phrases are added in at some point, do these constitute less than perfect? All of these are seen in the TR.
If "perfectly preserved" means something different, then what does it mean?

Reforming Baptist said...

"They go back into the 17th century with a few quotes, including the preface of the KJV by the translators, to show that men were not against improving a translation. That is a non-point, a totally moot issue. It doesn't make any difference at all regarding one Bible. Then they go into the 18th and 19th century doing the same thing, that is, giving quotes that show that men didn't mind changing the words of the translation to give the sense of their meaning. Again, these quotes don't show at all that these men didn't believe in one Bible."

The KJV was an improvement version since it borrows straight from Tyndale and the Geneva Bible and others. The KJV translators whole preface is to defend themselves from Geneva Bible Onlyists of the day. KJVO is clearly not a historic Christian position.

Oh, btw, I love how you always call a statement "a moot point" when you don't like it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi again Enoch,

I'm planning on answering some of your questions in the last comment, but regarding errors in the TR, how do you know there are errors in there unless a textual critic told you there were?

And William,

I want to let you know---I have zero antagonism toward you personally. I like you. Putting that aside, I think there were two major points you made, and I appreciate you communicating those to me.
First, my position is that there is only one Bible and it is the text behind the KJV, the Hebrew and Greek. You would know the basis if you read Thou Shalt Keep Them, which is a scholarly work. I recognize that the English translation was built upon other translations. Again, however, is there one Bible or several Bibles. God gave one, so how can we say two? I also showed the historicity of this position in the links I gave you. I could write more and we will in the sequel to TSKT.

Second, I hope you don't use the term "always" in your marriage. When I've used it, I've found it almost always :) gets me in trouble. I call something a moot point when it is a moot point. You maybe don't know what a moot point is. It is a point that doesn't make any difference to an argument; there is no use in debating it, because it doesn't matter.

Since preservation is in the Greek and Hebrew words, then all the quotes about translation don't make any difference. You say I call things a moot point if I don't like them. I am completely ambivalent toward those quotes made in God's Word in our Hands and God's Word Preserved. They don't add anything to an argument about preservation. How could I not like them? They're fine.

So I guess you would be ready to retract that statement, because here is one occasion at least that it has nothing to do with anything I don't like. I do believe they wasted their time with those quotes, because they don't relate to the issue of preservation, only translation. If you think I don't like those quotes, then you really don't understand what I believe.

Unknown said...

You are not answering the question. Let me state it another way. Do you affirm or deny that the TR as represented by Scrivener does not exist elsewhere in extant manuscripts in that exact form (by which I mean the particular Greek words in their particular order)?
Also, so you affirm or deny that the TR as represented by Scrivener is the in the exact form as the original autographs (again, the particular words in their particular order)?
If you affirm the first question or deny the second question, how then was the word of God "perfectly preserved?"
Or is my construction of "perfectly preserved" somehow missing what you are getting at?
I hope this makes sense.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'm going to, as succinctly as possible, state our position, Enoch, which lines up with Scriptural presuppositions (does that matter to you?).

1. Every letter and word preserved in the language in which it was written.
2. Generally accessible to believers of every generation.

I don't have any physical evidence of one hand-copied manuscript identical to Scriveners or ben Chayyim. However, based on God's promises accompanied by enough tangible evidence, I believe that all the words were accessible to every believer in every age.

I believe that since the standard for Scripture is perfection, in the printed copy period, I believe that the churches agreed upon one Bible, therefore, canonizing those Words, believing this based upon God's promise to lead into all truth. The churches agreed upon the words, therefore, the Holy Spirit agreed upon the Words. Those were the Words used by God's people for those 3-400 years between 1500 and 1900. God preserved His Word by His Spirit through His churches.

You tell me if that doesn't answer your questions about perfection.

Unknown said...

There is a difference between "every letter and word preserved in the language in which it was written" and "only those letters and words divinely given to the original authors in the original manuscripts." I can easily preserve every word and letter and still add additional words (and therefore not preserve "perfectly").
But this does fall short in that the TR preserves words not found in other extant Greek MSS.
However, if you agree with my differentiating between preserving "the words" versus preserving "only the words," then what is the objection to using the Majority Text--the variations occurring between it and the TR are relatively few (about 1900) and touch no major doctrine. Could we not say that the Majority Text equally preserves the text? Because the TR is not without emendations, though fewer in number (when considering all of its forms) than those between it and the Majority Text.
And since the churches (and I'm not sure how you are defining this term) settled on the TR for about 400 years, do we then say that the Vulgate preserved the word of God perfectly when the churches settled on it (and I am not referring here to the Catholic Church, which is not the true church)?

Unknown said...

One more comment. To this point I have avoided commenting on scriptural interpretation. Let me say why by using an example.
A friend of mine believes in Old Earth creationism. He believes he arrives at this point through a careful examination of scripture and its corroboration in the physical world. But when I challenged him on the issue, he came out with his lynch-pin reason: God is not a liar. To his thinking, if God created objects deep in space with the appearance of great age and seemingly pointing to events far in the past but which did not actually happen, then God is a liar.
So I asked him about the biblical statements about the creation of man--did he believe in special (non-evolutionary) creation of man. He agreed that he did (he is a professor of microbiology at a reputable university in my area--he believes biological evolution to be impossible). I asked him had God, in creating man with the appearance of age, lied? Because the difference between the two is only a matter of degree.
The point I am making is, the lynch-pin of your argument lies in the physical record of the manuscript transmission. You are using words like "generally accessible" and "every letter is preserved" without giving those words any real meat. You then want to apply a spiritual understanding to your lack of definition.
I do agree that God has preserved his word. But the nature and specificity of that preservation is where you and I diverge. And the location of your support for that needs to be in the physical evidence, because you are preferring one physical copy over another physical copy.
I hope this makes sense.
I look forward to further discussion.

Unknown said...

Do you ascribe to the following statement made by Francis Turretin:
"Although we give to the Scriptures absolute integrity, we do not therefore think that the copyists and printers were inspired (theopneustos), but only that the providence of God watched over the copying of the sacred books, so that although many errors might have crept in, it has not so happened (or they have not so crept into the manuscripts) but that they can be easily corrected by a collation of others (or with the Scriptures themselves). Therefore the foundation of the purity and integrity of the sources is not to be placed in the freedom from fault…of men, but in the providence of God, which (however men employed in transcribing the sacred books might possibly mingle various errors) always diligently took care to correct them, or that they might be corrected easily either from a comparison with Scripture itself or from more approved manuscripts. It was not necessary therefore to render all the scribes infallible, but only so to direct them that the true reading may always be found out. This book far surpasses all others in purity."
(Institutes of Elenctic Theology, translated by George Musgrave Giger, edited by James T. Dennison, Jr. (P&R Publishing, 1992), I:72-73.)
I'm still trying to understand the meat of your understanding of "perfectly preserved."

Anonymous said...

Great articles Br Kent - I have been reading Mike Harding's contributions on "Rusted Iron" defending the BJU endorsement of a Mormon:

He twists the former FBF position on the Moral Majority using the same metholdogy that he approaches the textual question. However, the facts are that the Moral Majority were not advocating religious fellowship with Mormons either but advocating that you could be a "fundamentalist" and support a morally conservative candidate. That is EXACTLY what Bob Jones III has done despite Harding's semantic gymnastics. These "Funnymentalist" leaders like Harding will do and say anything to protect their positions within the CBTS/FBF/BJU love-in circles.

I have been reading through your book on Preservation and it is generally very convincing. I like the chapter on the perfect passives on the Greek especially.

One question that I have is why do the writers apply a pre-suppositional commitment to the preserved text being committed to "immersed believers" churches when that cannot and is not established by church history. For instance, the KJV which we both seek to defend as well as the Geneva, Tyndale translations etc were translated and "preserved" through the actions of men who, in general, were the polar opposite of Baptists. I think you would be better arguing that God has preserved the text through the "true remnant church" rather than artifically forcing Baptist polity (which I like) on the issue. However, I am sure you have an answer for this.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hey Sam!

Thanks for your comments. To answer the question you asked at the bottom. We don't believe in a universal church, which is a big reason why we don't go with a remnant church belief, but is why both local-only Baptists and universal church Protestants can go with an ecclesiastical text type of position. I often refer to a remnant of believers who support our view of preservation as historic evidence of our position.

However, we ask what is the true church and believe it is answered in the churches separate from the state church that were preserved. There's a lot more to this. Some of it is answered in this post:

For all others,

Very soon I will put up a post answering all the text questions I've gotten here and on Jackhammer, so you can link to here in answer to questions.

Anonymous said...


The KJV was a Baptist Bible, because they had Waldensian Bibles in front of them, and the Waldensians were Baptists. Furthermore, Tyndale (and the KJV NT is c. 90% Tyndale) either was a member of a Baptist church or believed in Baptist doctrines. See my essay on the Reformers at:

I don't have time to comment more on this right now, so I may or may not reply to questions.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Thomas Ross