Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Engagement of Others on the Modern Versions or King James Version

For the Apostle Paul to leave Judaism for faith in Christ, he had to count his old religion as dung.  Paul's life and lifestyle was woven into Judaism.  It was a major break to say he had been wrong and now he was going an opposite direction and taking a different position.  Today you don't see that much.

I'm confronted with the consideration of wholesale change every time I evangelize in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I sat in the living room two days ago and talked to a Hindu man from Nepal, who had been in the United States for two years.  We talked for about an hour and he was about 75% sure on his English.  It would take awhile to get across everything he needed to know to leave his family religion.  This kind of situation is more common than ever in the United States, where a person is further away from sufficient salvation knowledge, including for multi-generation Americans.

I grew up in a home where my parents were saved when I was a toddler, so I grew up in a Christian home.  In one sense, my parents, sister, brother, and I grew up as a family.  However, since I've been saved, even since I've been a pastor, I have made changes in beliefs and practices, and so has our church.  I would say 5 to 10 pretty major changes, that really affect our lives personally and drastically.  If the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice, Christian growth means a willingness to change when you see something in the Word of God.

I haven't noticed that most men and churches are willing to change, unless it is a leftist direction or someone might say, downward direction.  It's easier to get more loose or become more like the world, and that's happening.  People are sliding to the left or downward.  It's easy to see that churches are changing.  It's not a reaction to the Word of God, which means it doesn't fit with the historical positions and practices of Christianity.

Mark Ward wants churches that use the King James Version to change, and he has just written another post encouraging them instead to start using a modern version, which was published by The Gospel Coalition, an organization from the left of evangelicalism.  Each new post seems to go a little further than the last.  The last time he challenged fundamentalists to separate from churches and leaders that use the King James Version only (KJVO), based upon their disobedience to 1 Corinthians 14.  In this very latest, in a translation to the gospel coalition crowd, Mark adds both that "KJV-onlyism is not a Christian liberty issue" and that it "makes void the Word of God by human tradition."  He implies KJVO are weaker brothers, whose consciences are bound by extra or unscriptural scruples.  He didn't challenge The Gospel Coalition to separate from KJVO like he did the fundamentalists.

To change, it is true that I would need to be convinced by scripture and this is something, it seems, that Ward maybe notices about his target audience.  However, would Mark Ward be willing to change based upon the teaching of the Bible?  I and my church use the King James, based upon scriptural presuppositions.  I am not convinced that Mark takes his position based on scriptural presuppositions, but he's arguing like this is important.  This is new for modern version proponents.  They didn't come to their position from scripture and yet here Mark Ward is using scripture to persuade textus receptus proponents to use a modern version.  I want to stay on that track.

Some commented on Ward's essay.  They discussed how to persuade a King James Only person.  One wrote:
Often they have strong built-in assumptions, and if you can ask them some good questions, and thereby pull out a few of the key pieces in their house of cards, it will crumble. I like to ask (if the conversation seems to be headed a direction where this question is helpful) "Which Textus Receptus edition do you believe is the perfect one? The answer might be 'I didn't know there was more than one?' or 'I guess the one that the KJV is based on' and either of these responses can lead to the collapse of the house of cards.
He's right.  This is the kind of question that eclectic or critical text, modern version, adherents will ask.  It doesn't do what Mark Ward does.  It doesn't try to persuade using scripture.  On top of that, it's a straw man -- it doesn't prove anything.  Those who use the textus receptus know there is more than one TR edition.  That's not a stumper.  I'm differentiating from a Ruckmanite, double inspirationist, or English preservationist, someone who thinks the English corrects the original language text. Scrivener published an annotated textus receptus that actually shows the tiny number of differences between TR editions.  Since eclectic or critical text or modern version proponents don't start with scriptural presuppositions, they assume others approach the issue the same way they do.

A house of cards analogy alleges everything built upon some kind of single, thin element, which removed would bring down an entire viewpoint.  When we wrote our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them, we very purposefully presented the biblical doctrine of preservation.  We didn't answer questions, like, "which TR," because the answer to that question won't matter if someone won't accept or doesn't even care about what the Bible teaches about its own preservation.

I like to read the doctrinal statements of churches.  I read them and I read a lot of them.  If someone sends me his doctrinal statement, I almost always read it.  Very often, the statement on the Bible is right toward the top.  I have also read historic confessions and creeds.  It is easy to see what men said in the past and what's left out today.  Did scripture stop teaching some of the doctrine of the past?

Bibliological statements have changed.  Today people act like nothing has changed.  It has.  And if it has changed, someone should start explaining how the Bible stopped teaching what people once said it did.  I started off by talking about change, because that's what Mark Ward wants KJVO to do.  He gives them a doctrinal basis and he warns that if they don't, he and others are going to separate from KJVO.  He makes some harsh conclusions about these churches and men.

By the way, in not a single instance have I heard anyone on his side interact with Ward's commentary, except to say something inane, like, it was really good or they really liked it or you've really got to listen to him.  I actually have a hard time believing that anyone really believes him.  They like the outcome, but I haven't heard specific support for his exegetical basis.  I've found that's normal for that crowd of people.

I do think that the modern version position, the eclectic and critical text view, is like a house of cards.  It isn't built on anything substantive that will hold someone firm.  It didn't start from scripture.  Only recently have some arguments been invented, so not a priori, but a posteriori.  I'm not saying they didn't start with arguments -- they just weren't scriptural.  They started with naturalistic or rationalistic presuppositions.  They have come to the party late with their scripture, like a revivalist preacher who has a sermon and then goes looking for a text to back it up.  I still have not read a single laid-out, scriptural, doctrinal explanation or presentation for the eclectic text or modern version position.  What Ward does is like throwing out a proof text, completely out of context, and KJVO are supposed to jump on this very flimsy raft with him.  If we don't, The Gospel Coalition or John McWhorter might laugh at us.  We might lose a platform privilege at a big fundamentalist event.

What really does get someone's attention when it comes to the doctrine of the Bible.  What matters?  Inspiration?  We should look at what someone says the Bible teaches about inspiration.  That has changed in the last few hundred years.  The statements have changed.  Why?  Did someone learn something from the Bible or what happened?

Something missing that is very, very noticeable is a doctrine preservation.  If you go to a conservative evangelical church website with a very thorough doctrinal statement, like Grace Community Church, you will not see anything about the preservation of scripture.  Nothing.  Why is that?  The Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession both have preservation in their statements.  Those statements have been expounded upon in great detail through the centuries.  I'm picking that church out, because it is well known.  This is not unusual.  Sure, many KJVO churches have some wacky statements about preservation, that are unscriptural, but other churches have nothing.  Nothing is a change too.

I haven't looked at the statement of our church for a little while, but this is the first sentence under the section on scripture:
We believe that the Holy Bible as originally written was verbally inspired and product of Spirit-controlled men, as well is Divinely preserved in the same fashion, and therefore, has truth without any mixture of error for its matter.
By "in the same fashion," we are saying "as originally written" and "verbally."  It's a short statement for a website, and we have a longer one, but we say something about preservation.

If I were going to ask questions about this issue, the house of cards would start falling for me, if someone couldn't provide some kind of systematic scriptural basis for his position.  I could ask a lot of questions like that, which people cannot answer.  Sometimes they will not answer.  Most of the time, I've found that they don't care.  They do. not. care. that their position has never been buttressed by scripture and especially that it didn't start that way.  It actually goes further.  Most of them are annoyed when I ask, and they want to end the conversation, because bringing up appropriate scripture on the subject is an unacceptable inclusion into the discussion.  The Bible triggers them.

So.  What is important to me is a scriptural doctrine of preservation.  The doctrine must also must be historical.  If it is new, it better be very, very persuasive from scripture.  It should be both, but if it isn't historical, the scriptural part ought to do away with the old, wrong position.  That's how change happens, don't you think?  I don't separate over the use of the modern version.  God promised to preserve His Word.  I believe God.  I don't want someone to imply God is a liar.  I don't want people to doubt what He said.  I want to guard the doctrine of preservation.  It's the wrong doctrine over which I separate.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists are changing the doctrine of preservation without a scriptural basis, mainly by just leaving it out.  To tell you what I really think, I believe they are dishonest in just leaving it out.  It's like Mormons leaving out the part about the special underwear.

I have a difficult time, I must admit, believing that someone, who never started with a scriptural or historical position on the preservation of scripture, wants me to change my position based on scripture.  He's got a lotta lotta work to do.  A lotta.  He can show up on multiple podcasts, in exciting and noticeable varied other media, and before Trump-like stadiums of people and it won't start a ripple of change on the surface of my pond.  He's using the wrong or faulty pebbles.


Anonymous said...

I spent 7 years in a eclectic text, fundamental Baptist church, the last 19 months of which was on staff. One of the things that started me seriously questioning the eclectic-text position, is that when I would knock on doors, or talk to other personally about their need for salvation, one of the most common objections that I would get is that the Bible had been changed over the years, so that it could no longer be trusted.

I found that the world was essentially espousing the same bibliology as our church was. I realized that if I preached our church's doctrine of preservation to them, it would only confirm their position of unbelief. I also realized something else, the world was not getting this position from scripture, and neither was our church.

For the eclectic-text crowd only 7% of the New Testament is in question, but how many people know which 7%? I have studied the issue extensively, and I still don't know exactly which 7%. And then I see in my Bible, "That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). Am I not supposed to know that I am getting every word of God? Then, I found out that the phrase but by every word of God is part of that 7%, and I thought, there is no way this can be the right position.

When I got saved, I did so partly because I came to realize that the Bible can be trusted 100%, so I trusted what it said about salvation. Humanly speaking, if somebody would have told me that I could only trust 93% of the NT, I would have never come to Christ.

Mat Dvorachek

Kent Brandenburg said...


Very good comment. I agree with it completely. I think it is all true. You won't hear people say it. They can't, I guess, even though it is true.

Bill Hardecker said...

Mark Ward assures everyone that Dan Wallace (the text expert) has labored to show, only a tiny percentage of textual differences are both meaningful and viable. So we can all go home now, and pick up a modern version and give no thought to verses like Matthew 6:13b; Mark 16:9-12; John 1:18; John 6:69; John 7:53-8:11; Luke 23:34; Acts 8:37; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 3:10; 1 John 5:7-8 among many other non-meaningful and viable Bible verses. I don't know what they mean by tiny percentage but when you look at a TR based translation like the KJV and an eclectic text translation (just pick any), the differences do not seem tiny at all. Many more can be said about Ward's latest article. So to echo Pastor Brandenburg's central point, where is Ward's (or any Modern Version Onlyist) doctrine of Biblical Preservation? Martin Chemnitz (ca. 1580's) believed in it. So did Johann Gerhard, Johannes Andreas Quenstedt, Baier, Musaeus, Hollaz, John Owen, Francis Turretin, the historic Reformed Confessions, including even the Lutheran's Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675) cite significant teachings on Biblical Inspiration and Preservation. More importantly, is there a Biblical doctrine of Perfect (or Providential) Preservation at all? I think the Biblical Theology expounded in TSKT proves that such doctrine exists (it doesn't just "exist", if you read the Bible carefully, it is pervasive). What response did TSKT received? Mainly ignored, if not ridiculed. Where is the careful response analyzing exactly where the TSKT writers were in error in their Scriptural exegesis? Oops, we shouldn't go there (ala Ward). I guess, we have to take Wallace's expert opinion instead. I mean, after all there are worse experts out there, Ehrman, Spong, etc. Here are three ways to graciously engage a multiple version onlyists: 1. Talk about a Biblical Theology of the Divine Preservation of the Scriptures (show them actual Bible verses that talk about the preservation of the Scriptures). 2. Talk about how unsettling it is to have an unsettled/uncertain Word (show them that God's Word is actually clear, and settled). 3. Get them to read great books like The Revision Revised (Burgon), Forever Settled (Moorman), The KJV Defended (Hills), TSKT, The Lord God Hath Spoken - Revised and Expanded (Strouse), etc.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I can't believe that other fundamentalists, any of them, actually believe that they should separate from KJVO of the TRO variety because (1) the KJV doesn't edify sufficiently due to insufficient intelligibility, (2) they don't have Christian liberty to use the TR only, because it's a sin, (3) and they are undoing biblical authority through their tradition of men. I haven't read anyone who specifically supports these arguments, Ward's biblical arguments.

If I was attempting to persuade a modern version person, I would want to know what they used their modern version. If it was Ward's intelligibility argument, I would ask if he knew that it came from a different underlying text. Upon understanding that, I would deal with the preservation of scripture from the Bible.

I've only argued in writing with men. When I go door to door and encounter evangelicals who use modern versions, there are other issues that come up first. I start with the gospel to see if they are saved, and I've found a majority of their people don't understand the gospel. Their churches are usually worldly in their worship and pragmatic, using unscriptural methodology of the modern church growth movement. The methods result in large numbers of attenders not being saved.

Kent Brandenburg said...

The numbers on the blog went up and wondering why, I wondered if anyone referenced here, and I found a review of Mark Ward's article at Evangelical Textual Criticism:

And then Mark Ward himself commented:

In his comment, he says this: "And what I haven't heard persuades me of my approach, too: I haven't heard any direct answers to the English-focused argument of my book. KJV-Onlyism hasn’t gotten any real talking points together yet. They keep wanting to change the subject back to textual criticism."

It was an interesting comment in light of the comment right before it actually giving a direct answer to his English-focused argument.

Later, someone else gave another argument that was interesting. I don't agree with it, but it seems like the type of argument a critical text person might have. I don't believe the NT authors quoted from the LXX, as neither do several other experts on the LXX. Scripture does say they do or did. I've written on that many times here, but I still thought it was an interesting argument.

Of course, I've answered Mark Ward's arguments thoroughly and directly here, so his comment seems dishonest. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt though and say that he means that he doesn't like my answer, which is often, I've found, that people will say you're not or haven't dealt with their argument.

One more thing. It was interesting to see the psychobabble for discerning why people still use the KJV in the comment section. This would be called, being gracious, as they pat each other on the back for their graciousness.