Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Embarrassing History of the Doctrine of Preservation for the Multiple Versionists

Is the historical doctrine of preservation an embarrassment to multiple versionists (MV)?  I do ask this question in part because one MV recently asked if the preface of the King James Version (KJV) was an embarrassment to King James Onlyists (KJO).  The preface is supposed to be embarrassing to someone like myself because the translators wrote that their translation needed to be improved if it could---that's the gist of it.  Thing is, I know that my present KJV (the 1769 Blayney edition) changes the English words some from the 1611.  So why would I be embarrassed?  I'm still KJO.  I'm supposed to be embarrassed.  So why am I not embarrassed?  Well, because the KJV is the only English translation that comes from its particular original language words.  The New King James Version (NKJV) has different words as a basis for its New Testament text (I've written about this before here).  I've pointed out those words to people, and even though it totally debunks that argument, they remain silent about it (reason:  they don't care).

The KJV translators say nothing in their preface about changes in the underlying text.  They don't say, "If you find the actual text of Scripture, then please change the underlying text of what we translated."  Nope.  I can't be embarrassed about that, because it never happened, so I can think about it only in a hypothetical.  "If they did say that, would I be embarrassed?"  And I still have to admit that I wouldn't be embarrassed.  I'm glad that never happened with the translators, but if it did, I wouldn't be embarrassed, because my position, my faith, my doctrine, doesn't come from the King James translators.  I don't even think they generally represent historical Christian doctrine.  Some of what some of them believed or taught is orthodox, historical Christian doctrine, but not all.

I guess this comes down to what is actually embarrassing, or what makes us embarrassed.  I've been ashamed of myself on various occasions.  What I hope is shameful or embarrassing to me is when I contradict Scripture with my belief and behavior.  For instance, if I stopped believing what God said about the preservation of Scripture and what Christians have believed about it, I would be ashamed of myself.  That keeps me from going that direction, even if it would result in having some new found popularity among evangelicals and fundamentalists, and maybe I wouldn't get made fun of as much as I do.  But actually, when I received Jesus Christ, I gave up me for God.  As I've grown as a Christian, I've noticed that the world tries to put pressure on you by attempting to make you feel silly or weird for what you believe and practice.  The world uses worldly means and arguments to do so.  Strength from the Lord directs and enables me not to be swayed with that kind of technique or manipulation.  Often this works, however, which is why Satan and his system keeps doing it.

But all of the above brings me to the proposition that the biblical and historical Christian doctrine of preservation should embarrass evangelicals and fundamentalists about their views and positions.  MV should be embarrassed in light of what the Bible teaches and what Christians have believed.  MV should be embarrassed that they can't find their positions in history and that they contradict what the Bible teaches.  MV should be embarrassed for their faithlessness, which doesn't please God.  MV should be embarrassed that they have undermined the faith of many, these little children that they have caused to stumble---it would be better that they put a millstone around their neck and throw themselves into deep water, like Christ taught.  I would be ashamed to be them.  Their position doesn't stack up with the Bible or with history.

By the way, try to find a presentation from a MV that teaches the Bible and history on preservation.  You won't get developed teaching, anything systematic out of them.  They are at their best when they are merely criticizing (and usually just ridiculing) what Christians today write and believe on this subject.  They don't have their own written-out positions though. I've tried to get some of them to do it, but as they go to the Bible, they run into some major problems.  The Bible contradicts their positions.  At most, they are reactionary to what other people believe and practice.  Their stuff, however, like the major offerings of old-earth creationists, starts with science, and then attempts to frame Scripture to accommodate their science (so-called).

Now when I bring these things up, like I have with Daniel Wallace, he agrees.  He knows his position isn't historical.  He knows his position isn't what Christians have believed.   Kurt Aland knew he didn't take the biblical and historical position.  When I bring the historical part of this, William Combs at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary is silent.  He chooses instead to deflect with sarcasm or insults and snide remarks.  He is low hanging fruit for all of those himself, but that is not the spiritual weaponry that anyone needs.  His use of carnal weapons, including the embarrassment-over-the-preface-of-the-translators argument, indicates that he desperately has little to nothing going for him. He should operate in faith, but he continues in uncertainty and doubt.  He ignores the faith of the churches on this issue for the popularity of the society of scholarship, science falsely so-called.  It reminds me of the temptation of the church at Corinth to fit in with the various wisdom of the Greek philosophers there, even though it clashed with apostolic doctrine.  They denied the bodily resurrection for the mere immortality of the soul, because the former would have meant clashing with the scholars there.  All of this should be embarrassing.

What is sad to me is that men are not embarrassed about their clash with a historical and biblical doctrine of preservation of Scripture.   My opinion is that they actually are embarrassed, which explains the venom and the anger with which they write.  It is sort of like Peter's anger when he warmed his hands at the fire when he denied Jesus.  He was angry.  He had to make questions go away and did so with his anger and his language.  If you don't have truth to tell, and the Word is truth, not the preface of the translators, you've got to take the strategy that Peter took.  The scoffers that Peter wrote about in 2 Peter 2-3 are similar.  They have scientific arguments against the second coming of Christ, and Peter said, we've got a more sure word of prophecy.  The scoffing was there to protect the lifestyle.  Men like Wallace and Combs have positions to protect too.

It's embarrassing to be contradicting Scripture.  It looks faithless and weak.  I've seen men in these positions, when they are on the side of weakness.  Instead of actually being strong, they put on a show of strength.  That's what the articles on the preface of the KJV look like to me.  They are a giant bluff.  It has nothing to add to historic bibliology.  These men can't go to the Bible for their positions, so they have to lean on authority-by-best-quote, something like what occurred with the religious leaders of Jesus' day.  They speak as ones having no authority.   It's embarrassing.  It should be.  I think it is.  Perhaps in what is even more embarrassing, they'll say, "no, I'm not embarrassed."  Shame on them.


Gary Webb said...

In my only sit-down conversation with someone trained at BJU who holds to the Critical Text position, he asked me my reasons for holding to the KJV only position. I proceeded to go from passage to passage. I went to Matthew 5:18-19 & pointed out that Jesus said that not a single one of the smallest Hebrew consonants would be lost, nor any of the vowel pointing, AND that the text determined the "least commandments" that we were to obey. His reply: "So?" I went to other passages like Revelation 22:18-19 & showed that, in order to know if someone had changed the "words of this book", there had to first be a settle New Testament text. I showed him that by the omission of one word ("yet) in John 7:8, that the Critical Text made Jesus a liar. But, low and behold, no matter what I showed him from the Bible, it made no difference to him. I came away baffled as to how a "fundamentalist" could care so little about what the Bible taught on this issue. I assume it did not matter to him what the Bible taught because the word of his professors carried more weight.

Anonymous said...

The KJV-only position is emotional rather than factual. So are its proponents above.

It is evident to us that some of our contemporary brethren have adopted the peculiar doctrine that the Lord God has failed to preserve the God-breathed Original Text of the Holy Scriptures, and that the 1611 King James Version of the Bible is now the preserved, infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God for the English-speaking people of the world. Accordingly, we declare the following:

Whereas it is evident to us that such radical and outrageous claims are founded in fiction rather than in fact, that this false teaching is often white-washed as doing honor to the Word of God, that it has become to its proponents a cure all for issues of Biblical authority, that it has been the source of many more problems than it attempts to resolve, and that it has become a divisive issue among many good and well-meaning brethren; and,

Whereas we agree, in a colloquial fashion, that every fairly accurate and reliable translation of the Holy Scriptures is the Word of God, we assert that verbal inspiration and its resultant character -- preservation, inerrancy, and infallibility -- belong exclusively to the God-breathed Original Text in its original autographs; and,

Whereas we believe that claiming inerrancy to the KJV erroneously elevates its authority above its own underlying texts, and necessarily introduces the heretical notion of advanced revelation; and,

Whereas we believe that such teaching seeks to discredit and to undermine the integrity and the authority of the God-breathed Original Text in its original languages, and is therefore a subtle and a disguised attack upon the inspired Word of God in the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures;

We therefore pronounce this relatively newly invented dogma attributed to the lost and repeatedly revised 1611 KJV as heretical, and we pronounce its teachers heretics. Accordingly, we believe that members of the modern KJV-only Movement, after the first and second admonition without repentance, must be marked publicly and must be separated from, by all who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity.

Dr. Habib J. Khoury, M.A., TH.D.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Dr. Khoury,

Thanks for coming by. It's too bad that you either (a) didn't read the post itself, or (b) didn't understand it. I would think, as a professing M.A. Th.D. you would have had suitable reading comprehension to do so. Your comment reads as a cut and paste. So I ask that you interact with the post instead of cutting and pasting something you wrote about people who believe differently than the post.

I am interested in what you believe the "Original Text" is, because we believe preservation is found in the God-breathed Original Text, not in the English.

Gary Webb said...

Dr. Khoury,

I was also going to ask you if you had read the posts, since you did not see Dr. Brandenburg's statement about the Hebrew & Greek texts. We are "King James only" because the King James translation is based upon the proper, preserved, original language texts, and not the texts of rationalistic, textual criticism. Also, you seemed to miss that my comments indicated that my position on the textual debate is not based upon "emotion" but upon what the Bible teaches itself. What the Bible teaches is "fact" regardless of what "scholars" say.

I do not believe you base your textual position upon a "grammatical, historical interpretation" of Scripture as your website claims. Your statement on the Scriptures says: "We similarly believe that the Lord God faithfully has preserved the original Biblical Texts in the sum total of the manuscripts extant thus far." Since the "sum total" includes corrupt texts that vary greatly, how would you know what the actual, original readings are? You also indicate a distrust in the Word of God preserved in the Hebrew Masoretic & Greek Received texts, saying: "Therefore, we believe that doctrine should be established solely from those passages about which Textual Criticism has raised no doubts." This is not Biblical faith, but rationalism.

Your website says that saving faith is essential to proper interpretation. I agree. However, it is also obvious to me that infidel scholars produced the Critical Text [Aland, Metzger, Black, Martini, etc.] and that their rules for textual criticism are not Biblical, but are rationalistic unbelief. If an infidel cannot interpret Scripture, should he be allowed to determine what the text of Scripture is?

I would encourage you to read a little further on Brandenburg's blog. Here you will read a Scriptural defense of the "King James only" position which does not in any way claim what your blog states: "Whereas we believe that claiming inerrancy to the KJV erroneously elevates its authority above its own underlying texts, and necessarily introduces the heretical notion of advanced revelation; and..." We do not claim any "advanced revelation" in the translation of the KJB. The KJ translation merely accurately translates the original texts.

Unfortunately, many who hold to the Critical Text position, as you do, are completely ignorant of the Scriptural, logical, factual position of those who hold a "King James only" position BECAUSE of the preserved, original language texts from which the King James translation was made. You should not respond to what you think you know, but rather to what we have actually written.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I could not have said it better than what Dr. Webb said it. I'm sure he and I could say even more about your comment.

I've found that most fundamentalists don't know historical bibliology. If they did, one would think that they would interact with what men wrote in the 16th-18th century on bibliology, but they choose to ignore it. From my reading of your idea of "heresy," you yourself would be the heretick, because you divide from historic bibliology. Our position is the biblical and historical one, not based on emotion or even mere intellectualism. I would be interested in your establishing modern textual criticism from the Bible. I haven't read one of those yet, so I welcome your biblical presentation.

Steve Rogers said...

Someone please tell me this whole comment thread is a comedy relief spoof by Pastor Brandenburg and Pastor Webb and that this "Doctor" and his "make money traveling and selling my writings" blog/website is a joke. Now I know how brainwashed some fundamentalists have become with talking points and straw men, especially regarding the preservation of the text, but this is ridiculous. And so, whereas, we, (I'm sorry, I mean I) find the labeling of those of us who believe the historic position of a perfectly preserved text, as "Heretics" nauseating, we ( I really mean I) will not comment further, except to say amen to the article and an even heartier amen to Bro. Webb's defense.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm pretty sure he's serious. He does, as much as you can't see it as anything but a spoof, essentially give the MV type of talking points. They works because they are unchallenged in that world, like evolution in a public school.