Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Actual History of King James Onlyism

King James Only people aren't obsessed over their history.  I haven't even heard a King James Only person bring up the history of King James Onlyism (KJO).  However, the opponents of KJO seem to be very interested and want to be its historians.  In the last few months, I heard two versions of KJO history, one from Kevin Bauder (Central Baptist Theological Seminary) and the other from Bill Combs (Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary---pts. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Bauder did not go out of his way to make-up a KJO history.  Somebody asked him a question.  But Combs went out of his way to write one.  I consider myself to be a historian.  I've taught history for over 20 years.  I've read a lot of history, both good and bad.  To get the correct history, you've got to want it.  You've got to want to be accurate.  These guys don't write like historians.  They write like opponents of KJO.  What they say and write is supposed to pass as some kind of scholarly treatment of the topic, but it reads like nothing of the kind.  When you research and write a real history, especially if you are an opponent, you're going to get some insight into the analysis, really attempting to get behind it.  They don't do that.  Perhaps you've heard the term "hack."   It's someone who demeans someone else for political purposes, churning out something quickly and of a low quality.  That's how Combs' five-part series reads.  No one reading it should see it as the actual history of KJO.  It's a caricature for those with an identical point of view as Combs.  He shows zero empathy for what he targets in his assessment.

I understand the point of these men writing a "history" of KJO.  They've got to make it seem like something recent, like a cult.  Setting up the fake history of KJO makes a way for a different narrative, one in which the view of Bauder and Combs, textual criticism, will look historic, as if this is how Christians always believed.  They really don't have a history as of yet, at least one that will make their position look good.  So they'll tell a KJO story, a fictional one, to detract from their lack of a personal one.  A "history of KJO" is a red herring to their absence of a history.  And it doesn't matter to them that they have none.  What matters is that they can be an orthodox and unquestioned user of multiple versions of Scripture.  Multiple-versionism must be seen as normal Christianity and some form of one-Bible-onlyism as extreme and heterodox, leaving them unquestioned.  I get it.

Very interesting about the history that Bauder and Combs present is that they contradict each other.  Bauder says KJO started in 1930 with a book by a Seventh Day Adventist, Benjamin Wilkinson.  Combs says it started in England with Dean Burgon and then spread to America.  The Seventh Day Adventist lie is the most popular of the two, because that's the one told by James White, Douglas Kutilek, and even Wikipedia.  It would make me laugh if it weren't so sad.  So Combs is departing from the KJO-history reservation.  Perhaps I should be happy that KJO has several more years under its belt with Combs, except that it seems that Combs' "history" reaches back a little further to swat down Dean Burgon.  That way Combs can deal with two separate types of KJO.   The Wilkinson history seems to get at Ruckmanism and starting back with Burgon will also repudiate the TR-only brand of KJO.   Think of the former as the Southern Revivalist brand and the latter as the D. A. Waite Northern Fundamentalist brand.  With Combs new history---his story and he's stickin' with it---he can attempt to take down both brands of KJO.  Voila.

A good reason to tell the history of KJO now would be to undo what Bauder and Combs, et al., have written.  If KJO is new, we should know that too.  It's true that KJO could only be since 1611.  That isn't first century.  But KJO really is a corollary position to OBO, that is, one Bible only.  That doctrine goes back to the New Testament, just like the doctrine of justification by faith, what some will call a reformation doctrine.  KJO isn't a 20th century or 19th century doctrine.  It's a corollary to the OBO, a first century doctrine.  On the other hand, MVO, multiple version only---that's not New Testament.  It wasn't even invented by Christians.  And that's the doctrine Bauder and Combs wish to defend by making up a fake history of KJO.

A Summary of the Actual History of King James Onlyism

King James Onlyism is a corollary to one-Bible doctrine, like the Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe doctrine.  So OBO goes back to the New Testament and the faith once delivered.  Scripture teaches an inspired and settled original text to which words were not to be added or from which words were not to be taken away (Rev 22:18-19).  New Testament churches and genuine Christians continued to believe that and teach it.  It goes back to the first century like justification by faith goes back to the first century.  It wasn't controversial that God gave His people one and only one canon of Words that they received (Jn 17:8).  This has been the mindset of God's people since God revealed every one of His Words and all of them (1 Thess 2:13).  God the Spirit of Truth would lead His people to all truth, not just some of it (John 16:13).

When we can get a large enough historical sample size to judge if OBO was where Christians were post-printing press, we find that is how they were continuing to believe and teach.  Kurt Aland himself admits this, when he writes:

We can appreciate better the struggle for freedom from the dominance of the Textus Receptus when we remember that in this period it was regarded even to the last detail the inspired and infallible word of God himself.

John Owen represents the above sentiment as he wrote in the 17th century:

The whole Scripture, entire as given out from God, without any loss, is preserved in the copies of the originals yet remaining. . . . In them all, we say, is every letter and tittle of the word.

Without bias, Richard Muller reports the OBO account in volume 2 of his Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.

OBO entered the post printing press era as the reigning thinking of Christians and then continued that way through the 19th century.   OBO thinking affected a KJO thinking.  The KJV was referred to, as a norm, as the received version.  Harper's Magazine in 1859 printed the following:

We believe we may safely assume that whatever new translations of Scripture may be made for scholars or private reading, the use of our received version will never be superseded by any other among the people.

OBO and KJO are grass roots.  Christians know intuitively and instinctively, as part of their nature, that there is but one Bible, written by God.  Since Christians had received under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that one Bible, that should continue as the Bible.  This is the very thinking reflected in the historic confessions of genuine Christianity.   Those who wrote those confessions thought the same.

Dean Burgon came along to defend the attack on that belief, that thinking.  Dean Burgon didn't start that.  Sure, there were men who assigned perfection to the King James Version.  But when you say "perfection," you have to define what that means.  It's an accurate translation of a perfectly preserved text.  Some have gone further than that, but all of it comes out of the flow of Christian thinking from New Testament times that there is one God, Who inspired one Bible, and that we would always have that one Bible accessible by means of Divine preservation.

Combs is way, way off base when he writes:

By the 1800s one can find occasional statements by an odd individual here and there arguing for the perfection of the KJV. This was probably bound to happen. When a particular version has nearly universal preeminence and has been in use for a long period, it can easily be ascribed with the qualities of the original language writings (inspiration and infallibility). This is, in fact, what happened when Jerome produced his Latin Vulgate translation ca. A.D. 400. He ran into stiff opposition from those who were used to reading their Bible in the Old Latin manuscripts, which they considered inspired.

The OBO and KJO doctrine and thinking wasn't and isn't parallel to the top down Roman Catholic produced Latin Vulgate.  That's entirely a strawman invented in absence of Scriptural presuppositions.  Not to be missed is Combs' language "odd individual here and there."  In 1852, the American Bible Union printed this statement:

The Society declares its adherence to the commonly received version, without correction, and its determination never to aid in its correction directly or indirectly; neither to do the business itself, nor to procure it from others.

Oh yes, "an odd individual here and there."   The Southern Presbyterian Review in 1859 asks:

Does not our Constitution of the American Bible Society mean that we circulate King James' English Version and that only?  Did not the founders and fathers of our society intend to restrict themselves to this in the solemn pledge of the Constitution to circulate only the received version?

More oddness.  That sneaky American Bible Society.  In 1898 in A History of the Baptists in the Middle States by Henry Vedder, he writes:

At the annual meeting, May 25, 1850, after a discussion that extended through three sessions, it was decided that the society should circulate only the Received version in English, without note or comment.  That decision without doubt represented the wish of the great majority of the Baptist denomination at the time, nor was there any considerable change of sentiment at any time thereafter.

Many more of these quotes could be supplied to pile on the agreement with these thoughts.  This is the actual History of King Jame Onlyism.


PSFerguson said...

Thanks Kent

Combs and Bauder need taken to task for their latest follies. I like a lot of what Bauder writes, but on this issue he is completely out of his depth.

Their combined "research" reveals that they are truly ignorant of Church History or revisionists of the worst order. Either way their words should not be trusted on this issue.

Like yourself, I did not come to my position on the text by the words of Dean Burgon or Benjamin Wilkinson. I settled on the perfect preservation position by first looking at what the Bible said and then comparing that paradigm with the facts of 2,000 years of Church History. Frankly, I don't know where Bauder or Combs get their position from. The "Multiple Bible Only" Doctrine they espouse is not found in any Bible I have read!

It would help if these men actually did their own research rather than letting JB Williams or Doug Kutilek make it up for them. I attach the research that I did personally:

Anonymous said...

loving it...can't wait for next part.

Unknown said...

These C.T. folk like to ridicule & belittle us because we Believe what the Scripture say about itself, its unfortunate that this blindness of theirs doesn't let them see the infidelity of their Critical Text suppositions & theories.