Sunday, August 31, 2008

Repentance from sin COULD stop Gustav in its tracks, people, yes, even at the last minute!

Amos 3:6: . . .shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Especially the people of New Orleans should do this, especially any who consider themselves Christians, but in fact any of them.

All that's needed is a recognition of the sins of the city and of the nation and people getting on their knees by the hundreds, preferably thousands, to confess and repent of those sins and ask for God's mercy. On top of the known sins of New Orleans, its general corruptions, its Mardi Gras celebration, there is also the crime wave that followed on Hurricane Katrina and the construction fraud. Repentance could start there at least.

Showing mercy for the sufferers of any disaster is God's requirement of us, but so is warning of his judgments which He isn't going to stop without repentance. American style we apply human knowhow to the problem. We set up an efficient system for escaping the city, we send in aid of every kind and we otherwise stand back and let Gustav do its thing, planning to pick up the pieces afterward. True, those systems weren't in place last time and the city took the full fury of hurricane Katrina, but that time all we heard was how they SHOULD have been in place, how remiss the government was. Well, I suppose it was, but that misses the point that HURRICANES ARE IN GOD'S POWER, and if they are going to destroy an American city that's by HIS design, and our REAL job is to seek His face to find out why and repent of the causes. There was no repentance for the causes of Katrina, just as there was no repentance for the causes of 9/11, and here God is going to send another walloping from His merciful hand of judgment, and the meaning of Gustav will likely also be ignored.

The Republican convention will be curtailed to some extent while various delegates and would-be attendees make themselves available to help with the expected devastation. Again, it's good to help the sufferers but what the Bible calls the "arm of flesh" which is human strength, is of no real use in the things of God if used without seeking Him. SO much better if those who consider themselves Christians among the Republican delegates got on their knees to plead for God's mercy on the nation.

I wrote President Bush after 9/11 to ask him to call a day of repentance and prayer for the nation then, as some previous Presidents of the US had done in the past. Of course he didn't. We've become "multicultural" in the last few decades (instead of the melting pot we used to be), and we might offend somebody if we acknowledged the one true God over the various false gods around the world, now worshiped by sizeable numbers of the American population. Again I'd ask Bush to do the same now, as Gustav approaches, but instead he's going to present his own presence in support of the sufferers as if he has any power over hurricanes. It's God's appeased wrath we need to be seeking, not our President's useless speeches.

Some of course called Katrina God's judgment, but they focused exclusively for some reason on an annual gay celebration there. Others have denied it and point out all the ways Katrina could have targeted that particular event but didn't. It's a fair point. There's rarely one cause for God's judgment but rather an accumulation of sins over years. Also, God's judgment may come as a cleansing, as the Flood did in Noah's day, as the Babylonian Captivity was for the land of Israel, and preventing the holding of a celebration dishonoring to God could be as much of the reason for a massive disaster as punishment. But that celebration does have to be listed among the sins of New Orleans to be repented of. Mardi Gras which has a pagan origin, a massive pagan celebration of the flesh before the Catholic period of Lent, has to be figured in the mix of sins. And in answer to this latter writer I linked, who asks why God would have waited 35 years to judge a city (or a few hundred years for that matter), anyone who knows the Bible knows that's how God works. Sins accumulate over time before God brings judgment on the scale of a Katrina or Gustav -- or the Babylonian Captivity or the end of the world.

Later. Here's an article about the wider economic impact caused by these gigantic hurricanes. It includes a hint about another thing to repent of: after Katrina they reestablished casinos that God had seen fit to have wiped out the first time around. We don't learn.

Later still. I was wondering where the interruption of the Republican convention fit into God's judgment. Well, it seems obvious to me now. The Republicans have been in charge of the nation for the last eight years. They did not seek God, they did not call for days of repentance. Pres Bush called Islam a "religion of peace" effectively befriending enemies of both God and our nation. He also hosted an ecumenical (i.e., idolatrous) prayer service after 9/11 in the National Cathedral, mixing God's enemies with Christians. It's not too late to repent though. Bush could still get alone with God and seek to understand these things and even yet call a time of repentance on behalf of the nation before he leaves office.

I can't imagine why God gave the Republicans Sarah Palin. We deserve the Marxist Obama or Hillary as punishment. Maybe there are still enough of us who seek His glory that He continues to have mercy on us.

Thank You, Lord, for Sarah Palin

American politics has become so ungodly in recent years there may be no justification for a Christian even to vote any more, since any vote, usually of necessity for the lesser of two evils, is usually a vote for something or someone one's Spirit-taught conscience can't fully endorse.

Do you let the worst prevail because you can't in all conscience even endorse the less bad? Do you abandon the world of politics altogether as "of this world" because Christians are supposed to be in the world but not of it? Or do Christians have an obligation to vote against the worst because of our calling to be salt and light to the world?

I've been debating all this with myself for a while now.

Now I want to report that John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for Vice President has unexpectedly inspired me. My first knowledge of her existence came with that very announcement and the speech she gave on the occasion.

She comes across as an articulate, tough-minded and honest patriotic American motivated not by the usual power politics but a genuine desire to serve the country, with a record of already having faced down corruption as governor of Alaska. She's also a Christian, as well as an idealistic and very real and likeable human being rather than a self-serving politician.

I didn't think it was possible to be inspired at all in this election, it's all looked so hopelessly mired in the politics of sin and self-indulgence and anti-patriotism that took off in the sixties with the Cultural Marxists. Then along comes this fresh face with an honest and godly agenda and the personality to be persuasive, and I'm nearly giddy with the hope that God isn't quite ready to throw us out with the trash.

I say this even as Hurricane Gustav is approaching along the same path as Katrina of three years ago, that destroyed so much of New Orleans, again threatening that city along with the vulnerable oil wells in the area. Gustav is expected to arrive about the time the Republican Convention is getting underway on Monday. There are many levels of God's judgment to be thought about here if it disrupts that event along with devastating the Gulf Coast, leaving displaced persons and destruction of property in its path, plus the consequent rising prices across the nation.

Time will tell, but I'm rooting for Sarah Palin and for the country. I'm even rooting for John McCain now. A man who could choose Sarah Palin deserves my vote. May God have mercy in the midst of judgment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh if only the seminaries and pastors would read Dean Burgon's Revision Revised.

I wonder how the seminaries teach the Bible versions history, what books top their reading list for the course. Clearly it is taught in most seminaries in such a way as to recommend the modern versions. But how much do they teach of the other side?

There's an online site by a Michael Marlowe who calls himself The Bible Researcher, who is very informative on many things. He has some degree of seminary training as I recall. He was one of my sources for the understanding of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 as requiring women to cover our heads in church now as well as in Paul's day. But on the subject of the Bible versions he has capitulated to the establishment point of view. I was very disappointed to discover this. He dismisses Dean Burgon as simply overstating his case. He probably represents the majority of the scholarly Christian community.

I deeply wish that Dean Burgon's book were taught in the seminaries at great length. I think if the book were studied in the seminaries and also by pastors in the churches, before they set about teaching on the subject of the versions, it might well revolutionize things, it might well lead to a complete rethinking of the subject. Even if it didn't persuade all or even many, some honest souls would just have to recognize the superiority of his reasoning, his excellent knowledge, his thoroughly mustered evidence.

And he's SO funny too. His sarcasm in dismissing the ridiculous excuse for scholarship he finds in the work of Westcott and Hort is priceless. I still want to assemble some of the best quotes from him, especially in answer to James White, but I can't just toss it off, I'm going to have to work to put it together well. Meanwhile, I just had to say this much. Anyone who wants to read the book online will find it at David Cloud's site, and D A Waite's site sells it as well as hosting the Dean Burgon Society.

Lord, won't You have mercy on the church and open the eyes of many of her leaders on this subject among others?

KJOs need to be a LOT more careful than this!

Well, a Christian commentator whose talks on a variety of last-days issues I've appreciated pretty much for a few months now, despite some lapses, has gone over the edge this time. He's reading a text that would have us revere all the misspellings of the original KJV as God's own inspired word:

Believers Beware of Counterfeit King James Bibles.

Of course there were misspellings in the 1611 KJV -- it was one of the many sorts of errors, or was it merely inconsistent spellings -- corrected between then and the 1869Cambridge edition, misprints, typos, misspellings, inconsistent spellings and whatnot. Or if they were all merely inconsistent and not misspellings for that reason, what difference does it really make? (I'm answering someone who has taken me to task for this in the comments section).

On the list of words the writer thinks have been mistakenly altered in some new editions of the King James is the word "ought" which later editions have replaced with "aught." He INSISTS that "aught" is wrong. "Ought has been changed to aught," he complains, and in a Bible quote at the top of the page he emphasizes what he believes to be the correct spelling:

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. [his emphasis].

It takes someone ignorant of the English language to prefer this spelling in this place.

The reader of this tract on counterfeit King James Bibles also happened to recommend the 1828 Webster's Dictionary in this same talk, obviously unaware that Webster himself disagrees with his source about the spelling "ought:"

Webster's 1828 Dictionary:

Aught, the true orthography.

AUGHT, n. ...
This word should not be written ought.
[my emphasis]

1. Any thing, indefinitely. But go, my son, and see if aught be wanting.
2. Any part, the smallest; a jot or tittle.
There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken. Josh. 21.

I didn't check all the words our anxious adviser listed to be held as pure and untouchable, but one I recall is the old spelling asswaged as opposed to assuaged, so I did check the Webster's 1828 again, and found:

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

ASSWA'GE, See Assuage.

Is the old Webster's the authority or not?

Another King James Bible purist on this subject accepts changes in spelling up to the 1869 Cambridge edition but is adamant that that edition is the zenith of perfection and equivalent to God-breathed scripture, in which no one should dare change one dot or semi-colon:

Really, if we have to accept typos and misspellings and inconsistent spellings and archaic terminology as the ordained perfect word of God not to be tampered with we'll drive ourselves stark raving bonkers. We have to leave SOME room for human error and natural change over time in this enterprise. The first English Bibles were not perfect. This is acknowledged by all. Yet they were God's word nevertheless. It is only the King James that has been decreed perfection. The King James translators themselves do not seem to have held this opinion of their work; I have to agree with James White about that much. They assured their readers that they had only the intention of making a good translation better. According to the judgment of the next two and a half centuries they succeeded admirably. Nevertheless that 1611 translation underwent a number of editions with corrections and changes (by whom I'm not clear). And still, by the mid-19th century there were apparently reasonable voices raised -- I suppose they were reasonable -- Dean Burgon seems eminently reasonable -- advocating some further minor changes in the Authorized Version, which eventually led to the convening of the Convocation of the Southern Province of the Church of England for this purpose. Had they done what they were charged to do, we'd have a slightly different King James Bible now that had the status of THE Authorized Version, and we would not have the hundreds of other versions. But this gathering of scholars issued after many years in The New Greek Text produced by Westcott and Hort, by the best opinion (in my opinion) a desecration of the word of God, yet it is now the foundation of the vast majority of the Bibles in the English-speaking world, and even beyond as they are also the basis for translations into other languages.

I have not seen any opinion from that time that the King James was perfect exactly as is. I may be wrong but I haven't yet seen it. That opinion seems to have sprung up in the 20th century. Correct me if I'm wrong please. [8/28: I recall that the Northern branch of the Anglican church refused to be involved in revising the Authorized Version. I suppose it might be possible to find some statements from them].


The commentator whose reading of the Bible Counterfeits page at the Biblebelievers site I'm commenting on also seemed to be saying that any use of the lower case "s" when referring to the Spirit or spirit of God shows tampering with the text. The page he read does not say that, but he seemed to be saying that. In answer to him it has to be pointed out that the original 1611 King James has it that way, and all the Bibles since then have it both ways but unfortunately all do not agree on which should be where. I do not know whether the 1611's choices are acceptable to those who object to the misuse or not:

Ge 1:2 And the earth was without forme, and voyd, and darkenesse was vpon the face of the deepe: and the Spirit of God mooued vpon the face of the waters.
Ge 6:3 And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not alwayes striue with man; for that hee also is flesh: yet his dayes shalbe an hundred and twenty yeeres.
Ge 41:38 And Pharaoh said vnto his seruants, Can we find such a one, as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?

The point is that he is wrong if he thinks ANY use of the lower-case "s" is a case of "leaven" (the introduction of false teaching among the words of truth)! Comparing the original with the current KJV on my Swordsearcher Bible program I do see that the usage is not the same between them. But the point is that lower case "s" is sometimes correct. It depends on the context which should be lower case and which upper case, so you have to understand the reasoning for each choice. I'm not up on this, except that some of them are clearly referring to the Holy Spirit of the Trinity and others are referring to God's spirit in something like the sense of the human spirit, the spirit of God Himself. But again, the point is that there ARE valid uses of the lower case "s" in relation to God. Bible Protector explains this somewhere. This is really an issue for the experts. This guy at biblebelievers who wrote the text is setting himself up as the judge of things he doesn't know enough about!

And double please! BRITISH SPELLINGS are not God-ordained over American spellings! "Saviour" is no more God-ordained than "Savior!"

No, no, no! This is myopia and superstition!


I agree that too many Bibles are changed by publishers who have no business doing it. But that doesn't mean that some changes are not needed from time to time, only that the right people should be doing them. It should be a very serious undertaking done by true Bible-believing experts, scholars in the relevant language, appointed by some body of church authorities who share the same basic theology. Changes were made to many editions of the 1611 up to the time of the 1869 Cambridge. Who made them? Why do we accept them but not later ones? This is a serious question. Who is it that decreed that Check List on Biblebeliever's site and why should I trust THEM?

(I have had to rewrite this post a few times before getting it more or less clear. I hope I have finally succeeded. Sorry if I have confused all one and a half persons who might have visited during the reconstruction process.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Taking a punch to the gut from the modern Bible versions defenders

Well, now I've ventured into the camp of the new versions defenders and find Burgon dismissed as overstating his case (I have to agree he probably does that, at least he seems to enjoy dramatizing it, but his case is solid without it), and Scrivener brushed off as simply one of the conservatives, and so on, while they respect the reply to Burgon by one Bishop Ellicott (which in my opinion Burgon demolished beyond recovery), and treat Westcott and Hort as respectable contributors to the history of Bible translation.

They don't condemn the fact that W&H completely disobeyed their assignment to MINIMALLY revise the Authorized Version / King James. Shouldn't the character of the revisers matter?

Have they compared the attitude of the AV (King James) translators which demonstrates their reverence and fear of God with the attitude of W&H who sound like regular secular academics?

Do they care that W&H expressed the typical rationalistic doubts of their time about the supernatural elements of the Christian revelation?

They don't seem to be bothered much that there were eminent scholars of the time who considered the texts used by W&H to be corrupted and in fact known to and dismissed by the King James translators. No, they just wave this away: Oh it's not all that bad.

It doesn't seem to bother them that W&H not only used a whole other set of corrupted texts, but also changed thousands upon thousands of words in the English, most of them tiny little changes without any justification whatever, which Bishop Wordsworth described as "change for change's sake." This is something I discovered for myself in this blog when I looked at the various versions of Psalm 91. (How ironic that White opens his book with a sanctimonious little sermon against change for change's sake when if you do any comparisons at all you have to see that that kind of change is HUGE in the new versions).

And it doesn't bother them that Christians can't quote the Bible to each other without having to stumble over different terminology and sometimes not even be able to recognize the passage being quoted.

And it doesn't bother them that ordinary Christians, including Christian pastors, are burdened with the job of translation and textual criticism as part of their normal Bible study without the slightest expertise. We're just supposed to expect this extra work as part of our commitment to Christ (James White says something like this). I see nowhere that all Christians are expected to be Bible translators and critics, far from it, we are told to conform ourselves to the image of Christ, period. We should be able to trust that God has provided us those gifted to take care of such responsibilities for us. It appears that the last time He did so was with the King James translation.

Something went very very wrong in this Bible revision enterprise. Surely it has a lot to do with the influence of rationalism that had already corrupted the church of England by that time. It must also have a lot to do with the habits of intellectual work, which can easily pollute the spiritual life if not diligently brought into submission to Christ. Yeah, when they sound like academics instead of Christians, something's wrong. And many seminary trained pastors sound like that too.

Quite the towering multiply-interlocking snare the devil has built on this one. The smooth condescending tone by Christians in praise of the revisers and their coup against the church, plus the stubborn superstitiousness and intemperate revilings by the Christians who take the KJO position out to nevernever land, seal the deal.

Well, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds. However, if this is judgment against the church, the only thing that will work is Christians waking up and repenting.

I'm finding this awfully exhausting and discouraging right now. But I'm going to keep slogging through White.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How the Bible Version Truth-Tellers have been Suppressed

A couple of quotes found in Dean Burgon's The Revision Revised, from Bishop Wordsworth, a contemporary of Westcott and Hort, commenting on their Revised Version of 1881:

I fear we must say in candour that in the Revised Version we meet in every page with small changes, which are vexatious, teasing and irritating, even the more so because they are small; which seem almost to be made for the sake of change.

[The question arises,] ---Whether the Church of England, ---which in her Synod, so far as this Province is concerned, sanctioned a Revision of her Authorized Version under the express condition, which she most wisely imposed, that no Changes should be made in it except what were absolutely necessary, --- could consistently accept a version in which 36,000 changes have been made; not a fiftieth of which can be shown to be needed, or even desirable."

---Bishop Wordsworth

Why is it that such worthies as this Bishop, and Dean Burgon himself, and Prebendary F.H.A. Scrivener who was on the revising committee with Westcott and Hort -- all of whom denounced the Westcott and Hort revision in no uncertain terms, conclusively denounced it, and in the case of the latter two from a position of scholarship certainly equal to and likely exceeding theirs -- are completely ignored by the advocates of the new versions???

Apologists for the new versions simply ignore them or slightingly quote some minor point, if they mention them at all, and most seem never to have heard of them. James White's The King James Only Controversy, paperback edition, has one index reference to Dean Burgon, and three to F.H.A. Scrivener. He mentions both on page 91 only to affirm that neither was a purist King James supporter, seeing a need for some corrections in it. (I cannot find any reference to Scrivener on pages 78 and 80 although the index lists those pages for his name. Perhaps I'm tired and I'll find his name tomorrow.)

But these are the ONLY references to the thoughts of the GIANTS of scholarship who found Westcott and Hort's work to be utterly worthless {note, 1/23/10: according to a comment posted below today Scrivener found some merit in some of W&H's choices}, in probably the most influential book by the biggest name on the side of the new versions.

Burgon's work is monumental and should have been lethal for Westcott and Hort, yet HE fell into obscurity while THEIR execrable doings have infected God's word around the world???

Oh surely the church is indeed under God's judgment!

Here's a quote from Scrivener:

Prebendary Scrivener was on the committee of the Revised Version of 1881 and was about the only one who had the great scholarship and courage necessary to cross swords with Westcott and Hort. Listen to his words taken from his Plain Introduction, Vol. II., pp. 291-92 and 296,

"Dr. Hort's system, therefore, is entirely destitute of historical foundation. He does not so much as make a show of pretending to it; but then he would persuade us, as he has persuaded himself, that its substantial truth is proved by results. . . . With all our reverence for his (Hort's) genius, and gratitude for much that we have learned from him in the course of our studies, we are compelled to repeat as emphatically as ever our strong conviction that the hypothesis to whose proof he has devoted so many laborious years, is destitute not only of historical foundation, but of all probability resulting from the internal goodness of the text which its adoption would force upon us."

Thus you have a clear, unimpassioned criticism from a learned contemporary of Westcott and Hort. . . .

A Biblical comment on leftist politics

Thought I'd post Edward Hills' short political remarks in his book about the King James. Anyone up on the current political situation has to recognize how prescient such a comment was back in 1956. The passage was updated, but he died in 1981 so that's as far as the updating went. They knew more about the real threat of the Communists even in 1956 than they are given credit for, and today the same threat has just about taken us over from within and people remain blind to it still. The leftist propaganda mills have been only too effective.
Adam Smith's famous book had far-reaching effects. For one thing, it transformed economics from a practical concern into an academic matter. Soon economics was taught in universities and written about in scholarly publications by theorists, many of them with little actual experience in commerce and industry. Then, as the years rolled by, these scholarly "economists" grew more ambitious. No longer content merely to teach and write but desiring to rule, they gravitated more and more toward socialism. Discarding Adam Smith's principle of laissez-faire, they founded organizations and political parties to work for state ownership and control of economic resources. One of the best known of these socialistic associations was organized in 1884 by a group of English radicals. Since their strategy was to bring about social changes gradually, they named themselves the Fabian Society after the ancient Roman general Fabius, who won a decisive victory through the policy of delay. Not less sinister, all through the later 19th century there lurked in the background the communist party of Marx, Engels, Bukharin, and Lenin, who developed Adam Smith's emphasis on the importance of labor into a program of world-wide revolution and world-wide governmental ownership and control allegedly for the benefit of the workers.

The catastrophic changes of World War I fanned all these smoldering embers into flames which reached our own country in 1933. Since that date the government of the United States has fallen increasingly under the domination of subversive elements (socialists, Fabians, communists) commonly called the "Liberal-left." With this Liberal-left at the helm, our American ship of state has met with disaster after disaster, especially in the international sphere. Since World War II communists have taken over Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, and parts of other regions such as Indochina, the Near East, Africa, and South America. More than one billion human beings have been enslaved. And when we come to armaments, the situation is still more frightful. In 1962 the United States had 2 1/2 to 10 times as much nuclear firepower as the Soviet Union. (102) In 1972, after the signing of the Salt I armament agreement in Moscow, Dr. Henry Kissinger acknowledged that the Soviets had a 3-to-1 advantage over the United States in explosive tonnage. (103) But the only response of the Liberal-left to this terrible danger has been to cancel the B-1 Bomber, delay production of the neutron bomb, and give away the Panama Canal.

For many years it has been evident that the long-term objective of the Liberal-left leaders is to bring about the surrender of the United States to the Soviet Union. This drastic step, they believe, is necessary in order to establish a World Government. In 1958 the U. S. Senate was thrown into furor by tidings of a book entitled "Strategic Surrender," which had been prepared by the Rand Corporation, the first and greatest of the federal government "think-factories," and distributed to the U. S. Air Force. (104) In 1961 a bulletin was prepared by the State Department proposing surrender of military power to a United Nations Peace Force. (105) This also was discussed in the Senate, but this time there was no furor. Instead the bulletin was defended by a liberal Senator as "the fixed, determined, and approved policy of the Government of the United States of America." (106) In 1963 a study was made by a group of 60 scientists and engineers headed by Nobel-prize-winning physicist Eugene P. Wigner in the area of civil defense. The group proposed a tunnel grid system which for the price of $38 billion would provide all U. S. cities of over 250,000 population with protection against nuclear attack. Their report was submitted to the Defense Department and placed in storage. (107) Similarly, on Feb. 9, 1967, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended a plan providing a thin anti-missile defense for the entire United States and added protection for the 50 largest cities. (108) A bill endorsing this plan was passed by the Senate 86 to 2 on Mar. 21, 1967, but Defense Secretary McNamara said it would be too expensive ($4 billion a year for 10 years), and so nothing was done about it. (109)

In 1969 appropriations were voted for two anti-missile sites, but only one was constructed, and even this was abandoned in 1975. In contrast, the Russians have a fully operative anti-missile system around Moscow. Most of their new factories are built away from large urban areas, and Russian society is now equipped to go underground at short notice, with immense shares of foodstocks buried. Missile sites also have been hardened to about 15 times the strength of those in the United States. (110)

If the projected "strategic surrender" of the United States to a Russian dominated United Nations actually takes place, Bible-believing Christians everywhere will be facing persecution and death, and the preaching of the Gospel will well nigh cease. Until Jesus comes, therefore we must do our duty as Christian citizens. We must expose and oppose the evil program of the Liberal-left and work for the re-armament and security of our country. All available resources must be allocated to this end. Wasteful programs must be discontinued.

Does this mean that we are to return to the economic doctrines of Adam Smith? Not quite. For Smith was a skeptic, a friend of David Hume, and because he was a skeptic he failed to appreciate, or even to consider, the most important of all the causes of the wealth of nations, namely, the blessing of God and the influence of Christian Truth. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6-33). Even earthly interests prosper best under the sunlight of the Gospel. This is why even unbelievers, even those who reject the Saviour whom the Gospel proclaims, prefer to live in Christian countries rather than non-Christian countries and in Protestant countries rather than in Roman Catholic countries. And the testimony of history is to the same effect. The Near East, for example, was once the richest region in Christendom, but after the Mohammedan conquest it speedily became poverty stricken. At the time of the Reformation Spain and Italy were the most wealthy nations in Europe, while England was poor and Scotland barbarous. Then the Gospel came to Britain, and this relationship was reversed. And in all North and South America the only wealthy nation is our own United States, in which alone (with the exception of the Protestant provinces of Canada) the preaching of the Gospel has had free course.

While defending our country, therefore, we must not forget to defend the Bible, for this is still more basic. Honesty, moral purity, and trust in God are the foundations of national and personal prosperity, and these fundamentals are taught only in the holy Scriptures. Two things have I required of Thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me (Prov. 30:7-8). But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).

Edward Hills versus James White

Another beautiful book by a beautiful Christian scholar, Edward F. Hills. You can even read it online.

Section III., 3., (d) How to Take Our Stand—Through the Logic of Faith

How do we take our stand upon divine revelation? Only in one way, namely through the logic of faith. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Since this Gospel is true, these conclusions logically follow: First, the Bible is God's infallibly inspired Word. This must be so, because if our salvation depends on our believing in Christ, then surely God must have left us an infallible record telling us who Jesus Christ is and how we may believe in Him truly and savingly.

Second, the Bible has been preserved down through the ages by God's special providence. This also must be so, because if God has inspired the holy Scriptures infallibly, then surely He has not left their survival to chance but has preserved them providentially down through the centuries.

Third, the text found in the majority of the biblical manuscripts is the providentially preserved text. This too must be true, because if God has preserved the Scriptures down through the ages for the salvation of men and the edification and comfort of His Church, then He must have preserved them not secretly in holes and caves but in a public way in the usage of His Church. Hence the text found in the majority of the biblical manuscripts is the true, providentially preserved text.

Fourth, The providential preservation of the Scriptures did not cease with the invention of printing. For why would God's special, providential care be operative at one time and not at another time, before the invention of printing but not after it? Hence the first printed texts of the Old and New Testament Scriptures were published under the guidance of God's special providence. Thus when we believe in Christ, the logic of our faith leads us to the true text of holy Scripture, namely, the Masoretic Hebrew text, the Textus Receptus, and the King James Version and other faithful translations. It is on this text, therefore, that we take our stand and endeavor to build a consistently Christian apologetic system.

I fled to this book to cure me of the depressing effect of reading some of James' White's The King James Controversy earlier this evening. I'm getting far deeper into this topic than I ever wanted to get. I've prayed that the Lord would show me if He really wants me to do this or not, if it's necessary or of any real use for me to do it, and to guide me by His Spirit if so. It's a chore to do this, I can never read enough, but I do continue to read. I haven't even finished Burgon's book. I've had White's book for a long time, even read some of it years ago. I still agree with the notes I wrote in the margins then, but now I know more so my notes are going to increase quite a bit.

In his chapter 2, A Short History of Unbelief, Hills gives a wonderfully concise history of how the naturalistic and liberal approaches to textual criticism grew out of rationalism.

The contrast with White is striking. White's assumptions are all rationalistic even though he uses Christian and Biblical concepts freely. Hills' are the language of faith, which is the ONLY way we should approach the problem of Bible translation.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Repenting of disdainful and intemperate attitudes

I think I'll copy here at the top the note I added at the bottom of the post Extreme KJVOs lose the debate for the rest of us, where I lament my acceptance of a pejorative term:

Sat, Aug 23. I would like to confess that I was uneasy with the phrase "fever-swamp" although I indulged it in the above discussion. I shouldn't support insulting terms. I fell into it because I agree with Wilson's basic position, and because, well, it's descriptively apt. Some of the extreme KJVOs tend to be pantingly preoccupied with the devil's doings to the point of losing a humble reasonable and Christian perspective and making war on mere flesh and blood. However, I've never really liked the style of Credenda/Agenda either. There's a flippancy and jocularity to it that puts me off. (And a sort of artsy snobbism too). I'm glad to find them on the side of the KJV (really, the Textus Receptus), however, and hope they will continue to fight this particular fight.
And while I'm confessing and repenting, I'd like to say something about how I understand the KJVO impulse to denounce and revile an opposition that has so much apparent demonic influence as the modern Bible versions defense does, but truly that's an impulse of the flesh and accomplishes nothing. In fact I may personally have been cured forever from that particular fault by seeing how it misleads otherwise good defenders of the KJV like Gail Riplinger into indefensible accusations of other good defenders such as David Cloud, and the inexcusable way Texe Marrs dealt with James White as shown on White's series about Marrs at You Tube. Does this make me "disdainful" of God's people, and enjoying the company of the Critical Text people, as a poster here has suggested?

Well, in sharing Douglas Wilson's term "fever-swamp" as far as I did, to that extent I shared in his disdain for the extreme KJVO people. But I've repented of that. As for favoring the company of the opposition, I can hardly abide listening to James White, if you want to know the truth, it's a struggle to hear or read him. It's just that when someone on the KJV-only side attacks him the way Marrs did, I'm no happier with our side, and worse, it gets harder to see how the important issues can be rescued from such irrational and unChristian behavior.

Humility is always the right path, even when you are dealing with the devil, in fact it's the most powerful position to take against the devil. Confess your sins and he has nothing he can bring against you. We are not always right, and I don't see anything in scripture that tells us we're to revile the devil, let alone any human being. In fact "revilers" are on the list of those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God, along with fornicators and drunkards and extortioners and so on. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Webster's 1828 has: REVI'LE, v.t. re and vile.
To reproach; to treat with opprobrious and contemptuous language.
She revileth him to his face.
Thou shalt not revile the gods. Ex. 22.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you. Matt. 5.
REVI'LE, n. Reproach; contumely; contemptuous
language. Not in use.

Mt 27:39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
Mr 15:32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
Joh 9:28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.
1Co 4:12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
1Pe 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Yes, this controversy is an arena where we're bound to experience plenty of spiritual warfare, but fair criticism is not spiritual warfare unless you resist it. It's really too bad when the people who are on the right side are attacking others on the same side, using the devil's own weapons.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Update on Bible translators losing their voices

I've been working on collecting some links on the Bible versions controversy and ran across this on David Cloud's site. This is on his page where he criticizes Gail Riplinger's book, New Age Bible Versions. The implication seems to be that it was Mrs. Riplinger who started the whole idea that the translators of the new versions had lost their voices, but whether she did or not, apparently her accusation that Westcott lost his voice is false:

6. On page 448 Mrs. Riplinger says:

“Westcott's biographer cites that in 1858 ‘he was quite inaudible’ and by 1870 ‘his voice reached few and was understood by still fewer.’”

Riplinger uses this quote to support her claim that Westcott lost his voice and sees that as a judgment of God for tampering with the Bible.

The fact is that Westcott did NOT lose his voice. Riplinger cites volume one of The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, but the quotes are misused. The first quote is from a statement about how that Westcott, as a young student, disliked public speaking. “He [Westcott] took his turn of preaching in Chapel, but he dreaded and disliked the duty, and he was quite inaudible to many of the boys” (The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, vol. 1, p. 198).

There is nothing here about Westcott losing his voice. The second of Riplinger’s quotes is taken from a letter from a Dr. Butler, who said that Westcott, when he was 35 years old and teaching at Harrow, still had a weak public speaking voice.

“His voice was not yet a force in the chapel. It reached but few, and it was understood by still fewer” (The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, vol. 1, pp. 272-273).

Again, there is not a hint that Westcott lost his voice. It is a figment of Mrs. Riplinger’s fertile imagination.

To my mind this also casts some doubt on the KJVO version of the incident on the 1995 John Ankerberg Show where Texe Marrs and other KJVOs claim the NASB translator Dr. Wilkins temporarily lost his voice. However, from the video exchange at You Tube that I posted earlier,

I still can't see that the segment posted by James White could possibly have been what the KJVO people were remembering. Unfortunately I suppose we'll never know.

The readiness of the extreme KJVO advocates to read God's judgment into such incidents, and also to personally pronounce God's judgment against their opponents, on almost any aspect of this discussion, does not speak in their favor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Extreme KJVOs lose the debate for the rest of us

Jogging around the internet looking in on sites that discuss the KJV-versus-modern Bibles controversy eventually leads me to the impression that the biggest impediment to demonstrating the superiority of the KJV is its defenders on the far fringe, those who make the KJV into The One And Only Perfect and Complete Word of God. This position attracts reams of more-or-less reasonable objections from anti-KJV people, such as:

which detracts from the most important work of demonstrating the utter abject corruption of the modern Bibles. Whether the KJV is or is not the perfect Bible, whether it needs some minor updating or should be left alone, the fact of the matter is that it is the only clear light on the path we have, while most of the church is unaware of this fact, skipping heedlessly along in the murky light of the counterfeit Westcott and Hort Revision of 1881.

I have come to believe that it is extremely important to convince people of the falseness of those Bibles most are trusting in these days, but it seems to be the hardest thing to do, even to get anyone's ear for the subject. Then when just about every discussion bogs down in the extreme claims of the KJV-Only "fever swamp" camp, as Douglas Wilson refers to it, it seems the necessary work is unnecessarily made nigh on impossible.

Speaking of Douglas Wilson, the view I'm expressing here is pretty much in line with his, and I've meant to post a link to his site since I started on this subject. Maybe now is finally the time to do it. Here's where he refers to the KJVO fringe's "fever swamp" mentality:

Today we have a chaos of translations vying for the customer's attention, and the only people who still consistently use the King James Version are members of isolated fundamentalist groups. This means that virtually the only defense one is likely to encounter for the KJV is a defense which appeals to the usage of Moses and Paul, who both spoke Elizabethan English (a little-known miracle), or the indisputable fever-swamp-fact that the translators of the NIV also belong to the Council of Foreign Relations, which in its turn is plotting to place all nations under a one-world government. Thus, non-KJV translations are seen by some for what they really are—nefarious preparation for THE BEAST.

Are these the only choices?Do we have to choose between the Bible belonging to the fundamentalists of the fevered brow on the one hand, and the Bible for the skateboarding Youth of Today on the other? The answer is, well . . . yes, we do.

Yes, we do. Those are the only choices we have right now. He wrote that a decade ago by now, but nothing much has changed since then. (Except that I have come to the conclusion that although I don't like some of the arguments on the KJV-only side I am KJV-only myself and there are some good arguments in favor of it out there.)

(By the way, I try to keep up with the "fever swamp" facts of the fundamentalist fringe myself. I think there's something to a lot of it. Some of their rather far-out scenarios really could be on the horizon for the very last days and it doesn't help for us to be underestimating the power of the devil or the scheming of fallen human beings. The possibility that there are human beings knowingly involved in satanic deceptions isn't at all surprising, of course. I really don't know how much to believe of what is claimed about the Illuminati and similar occult organizations, but there's nothing in principle hard to believe about their existence and aims. The main thing is that it wouldn't be good for the church to be caught by surprise by some long-brewing preternatural evil scenario that could blow people's expectations of what's possible and render us unable to respond appropriately. It's not important in itself that such plots are possible, but it might be important to be aware of the possibility of some rather spectacular signs and wonders related to such plots as the last days unfold. Not to mention some odd political alignments perhaps. I hope I'll get around to a post on this general area of thought eventually).

I love the cover of this particular issue of the magazine, Credenda/Agenda, in which Wilson and company explore the problem of the "Textus Rejectus," which alludes to the substitution of Westcott and Hort's corrupt texts for the Greek Textus Receptus which underlies the KJV: (Unfortunately you can't magnify the page to appreciate the picture of a Precious Moments cartoon child sitting at the desk of Erasmus, the original compiler of the Textus Receptus on which the KJV is based. I don't know how to post pictures here yet, but you can find the painting of the real Erasmus at his desk at Google Image.)

This page is a list of quotations in support of a pure Bible, the KJV and the Textus Receptus:, some of which are:

I have just spent the better part of the last five years attempting to localize just what was the specific dynamic, or chain of events, that led to this bankrupt state within the modern confessional churches. Obviously we all know that Biblical criticism lay at the heart of the matter, but what I wanted to discover is how and why so many well-armed and forewarned ecclesiastical bodies could all fall in time, one after another, without so much as knowing the process had taken place. Certainly everyone rightly feared and trembled at the German higher criticism, with its speculative theories about sources and carrying out an agenda dictated by the various philosophical schools of German Idealism. But it was while everyone was staring steadfastly at this Philistine, would-be invader of the Church, that time and again an apparent out-flanking took place and fall ensued. How and why?

-----Theodore Letis

For an orthodox Christian, Burgon's view is the only reasonable one. If we believe that God gave the Church guidance in regard to the New Testament books, then surely it is logical to believe that God gave the Church similar guidance in regard to the text which these books contained. Surely it is very inconsistent to believe that God guided the Church in regard to the New Testament canon but gave her no guidance in regard to the New Testament text. But this seems to be just what many modern Christians do believe. They believe that all during the medieval period and throughout the Reformation and post-Reformation era the true New Testament text was lost and that it was not regained until the middle of the nineteenth century, when Tischendorf discovered it in the Sinaitic manuscript Aleph and when Westcott and Hort found it in the Vatican manuscript B.

-----Edward Hills

The distressing realization is forced upon us that the "progress" of the past hundred years has been precisely in the wrong direction—our modern versions and critical texts are several times farther removed from the original than are the AV and TR! How could such a calamity have come upon us?!

-----Wilbur Pickering

A calamity, yes, yes, a calamity, but the vast majority of the churches are sleeping through it.

It's nothing but a red herring to try to answer all the objections people come up with to the King James Bible. The only way to deal with these challenges is to concede that maybe it's so, maybe it has these flaws, but that whatever its flaws they are nothing compared to the disaster that is the Westcott and Hort alternative. If you cling to the KJV perfectionist position you will never get to the Westcott and Hort problem.

I'm just going to link another page here, Wilson's debate with James White, in the same issue of Credenda/Agenda: Here Wilson tries to get the focus onto who should have the responsibility for determining which of the manuscripts are to be accepted, the Confessing Church or Autonomous Scientists. How exactly the church validated the KJV he doesn't make clear enough for me, and calling Westcott and Hort Autonomous Scientists has me a bit bemused too -- I might even prefer the fever-swamp crowd's Devil Followers, but I'll have to give it some thought.

I'd have been happier if he'd quoted Burgon to show the corruption of the W&H manuscripts.

More to come.

Sat, Aug 23. I would like to confess that I was uneasy with the phrase "fever-swamp" although I indulged it in the above discussion. I shouldn't support insulting terms. I fell into it because I agree with Wilson's basic position, and because, well, it's descriptively apt. Some of the extreme KJVOs tend to be pantingly preoccupied with the devil's doings to the point of losing a humble reasonable and Christian perspective and making war on mere flesh and blood. However, I've never really liked the style of Credenda/Agenda either. There's a flippancy and jocularity to it that puts me off. (And a sort of artsy snobbism too). I'm glad to find them on the side of the KJV (really, the Textus Receptus), however, and hope they will continue to fight this particular fight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Random thoughts on the KJV situation

Sometimes I ponder whether I should accept the KJV-only position that the English of 1611 was specifically inspired* by God and shouldn't be changed for any reason, even to update it so that the average person now might have fewer problems with it. What's compelling about this position is the idea that the KJV just IS the word of God and we aren't to tamper with the word of God.

But I can't stick with this position for long because it makes 1611 English into a special language, THE language of the Bible. It reminds me of the Jewish claim that Hebrew is God's own holy language, or the Muslim claim that Arabic is God's own language, and didn't the Roman church do the same with Latin at one time? There's a cultic superstitious and above all chauvinistic (cultural pride) feel to it that bothers me. In the case of the Hebrew and Arabic claims, there is the idea that special subtle God-given meanings lie embedded in the language that are not available to the rest of humanity. Perhaps something similar was claimed for Latin, I don't know, but they sure fought the idea of the people getting the Bible in their own language.

Now some KJV-only defenders go so far as to claim something similar for the English of the KJV. There are degrees of this position, the most extreme claiming that the English of the KJV is the true inspired language of God, even over the original Greek of the New Testament writers. The simplest version is just that God gave it so we shouldn't think of changing it. I do believe that in the KJV we definitely have God's inspired* word and I also believe that He providentially preserved it by means of the selection of the translators of the time. I can't say the same for any of the translations or versions that have come down from the Westcott and Hort revision. None are in that sense God's word at all. God's word has nevertheless been partially preserved in them almost in spite of themselves, but they are a corruption and should be thrown out.

But although I believe the KJV IS God's word as is, I also believe that it could be updated without losing its inspired* status, if the updating were done by men of the same caliber as the original KJV translators. As a practical matter I'm convinced this isn't going to happen, and even convinced that any such project in present circumstances would have far worse consequences than insisting on leaving it as is. But in principle I believe it could be properly done, so I'm not a 1611-English-only KJVO advocate. I believe the Lord gave His word to the entire human race and English simply happens to have been particularly blessed in the last few centuries. It is also true that the KJV makes a fine foundation for translations into new languages. But all this is merely God's providence in historical reality. That is, in fact the KJV is the perfect preserved Bible of our day, but in principle the perfect preserved Bible could just as well have been in the Chinese language as in English. Or Russian -- or updated English.

It does bother me that some KJV English words that aren't even archaic are nevertheless misread by many because they are not used by the average person now with the same meaning they had then. A couple of simple little examples are "mean" and "dumb." "Mean" in the KJV contexts I'm thinking of denotes: ...low in rank or birth; ...base; ...despicable. ... worthy of little or no regard. ...Of little value; humble; poor...

But an unwary modern reader may read it more like "cruel."

As for "dumb," surely we know in the KJV it means mute or unable to speak, as in "deaf and dumb," but I've heard it quite seriously explained to mean "mentally challenged."

These are the only two that come to mind, but there are others; one in particular I keep trying to remember but I'm afraid some of my Senior Moments are turning into Senior Months.

Those are reasons we might need to update the KJV anyway. Actually, I'd probably end up just wanting to see these words learned by readers rather than changing them.

Another thought that has been rolling around in my head is something Scott Johnson raised in his latest installment on the KJV: Why so many have been taken in by the new versions. It is a matter of spiritual discernment after all. If you have the Holy Spirit shouldn't you be able to recognize there is a problem there and reject them?

Well, yes, the power is certainly potentially there, but how many of us have completely put off the flesh? How easy is it for any of us to break out of a spiritual deception on our own? It was VERY hard for me to get out from under the charismatic movement for instance. And even after I knew the new versions were bad I gave in to the pressure of the Christian community around me to deny my own discernment. Pastors who accept the new versions are usually not only in a congregation of likeminded people but may be part of a community that includes their seminary colleagues, or a network of contacts within their denomination and so on, other men they admire, and often rightly so, for their exemplary Christian lives. These are all mutually reinforcing factors.

In my case the first recognition that the new Bibles were not to be trusted came just before I left the charismatics, having seen the errors there about the same time, which makes me think it helps a great deal to have at least one toe already out of the Door of Deception, as it were, in order to be open to the possibility that there is even more deception in your life than you had any idea could be so. I remember telling an elder in my charismatic church that I thought Gail Riplinger had something important to say, and getting the answer back that I needed to "test her fruit" because her book had produced the "bad fruit" of "divisiveness" in the churches. "That's not fruit!" I blurted out. That way of turning God's word against itself, so typical of charismatic thinking, had to be one of the last straws before I left that church. Truth does have a way of being a divisive influence against falseness.

I have to suppose that there is some degree of dissonance over the Bible versions in the spirit of anyone who has the Holy Spirit, perhaps at what you'd call a subliminal level, hardly noticeable, and of course we know we can drive the Spirit away too, by leaning too heavily unto our own understanding. I had a definite feeling of dissonance, an unease, a sort of grating feeling in my spirit, but I think I could have gone on in that condition to the end of my life if circumstances had never brought it to the surface of my mind.

Then too, we all have spiritual gifts in different proportions. Some have more of the gift of spiritual discernment than others do. We're the Body of Christ, composed of many members of many spiritual gifts and talents of all kinds and degrees. The ones who have it also have the responsibility to help those who don't have it, or have less of it.

And last, it may be that few of us pray enough these days, get alone with the Lord enough, fast to know His mind enough. God uses all these means to teach our spirits. If these means of grace were practiced with a serious commitment of time and concentration, we'd shake off the dullness of our spiritual condition in short order. Or, also, we just don't obey the commands enough to put on the full armor of God, test the spirits, guard our hearts, remain watchful. (I do think if we kept up the former -- prayer mostly -- it would be easier to keep up this latter too though. It all starts with looking to the Lord).

Real Christians are truly a sleeping giant, The power of God is potential in us, but what will wake us out of our sleep? What would get even a few of us to rise up as the body of Christ we are and confront the enemy who has been only too efficient at keeping us useless?
*I realize later that "inspired" is the wrong word. Only that which God himself inspired in the original writer can be called "inspired." So I should say the translation of the KJV was "preserved" or "overseen" or "guided" by God.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Was America ever a Christian Nation?

Just had a brief discussion with a friend about whether or not the American founders were Christian, that made me realize that the question needs to be better defined.

If what we mean is that they were orthodox Christians, believers in the whole Bible as God's word, believers in the traditional Confessions and Creeds, at least the main names we think of as the Founders were not Christians, with at least the one exception of James Madison.

It is interesting that Madison is particularly revered by atheists when he may be the only born-again Christian among the founders. They claim him as their own because of his strong advocacy of separation of church from state, but they misunderstand: his interest was not in protecting the state from the church, but in preserving a pure church and a clear salvation message from the interference of the state.

John Adams was a Unitarian who denied the deity of Christ, Jefferson denied all the supernatural claims of the Bible, Benjamin Franklin found George Whitefield's preaching at the Great Awakening * (called at this link the "first") quite fascinating but he never gave in to the message. George Washington appears to have been more of a Mason than a Christian. It's possible he had a saving faith nevertheless, at least some claim so, but it isn't certain. We know he prayed, we know he attributed his successes in the Revolutionary War to God, and there were plenty of signs that God watched over him and his leadership.

It also depends on who is considered to have been one of the Founding Fathers. We usually think of the main names, but by some reckonings over eighty men can be counted as contributing importantly to the formation of the new nation. Among all those one would expect that at least a few of them would be true Bible-believing Christians.

But if what we mean is a basic Christian mindset, cultural Christianity, then all of them should no doubt be called Christians. If what counts is church attendance and the celebration of Christian holidays and the general observance of a Christian moral code, and an appreciation of the Christian heritage, including the Bible (not counting its supernatural revelations), then we can call the Unitarians and Deists among them Christians too. All of them belonged to a recognized Christian denomination.

So it depends on what we mean by "Christian" whether they were Christian or not. Is the point only to establish that the nation was culturally and more or less philosophically Christian? I think it wouldn't be hard to show that this is so based on the general thinking of the founding generation. Even John Locke's supposedly secular philosophy, from which the founders drew much of their inspiration, was Christian in its basic concepts. He'd studied under the Puritan John Owen. who had taught a strong line of religious tolerance between different Christian sects and denominations. Owen was a genuine Christian, whose books are still important guidance for Christians today, Locke may not have been a believer himself, but Locke certainly took much from his mentor.

In the most general sense, the philosophical sense, America can be called a Christian nation.

But it's also important to note that at least one preacher of the day felt the Constitution had ended up selling out the Christian cause. Can't remember his name at the moment.

On the side of a more genuinely believing Christian character of the nation is the fact that prayer was early on instituted in meetings of the Congress, at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin. American government institutions have always acknowledged God since then. There was certainly a strong general sense that there is a God who is sovereign over nations, and He was honored and appealed to. This was often done "in the name of Jesus Christ" as well. Various Presidents over the years even called the nation to days of repentance, prayer and fasting for its protection. I doubt the nation could ever have been as successful as it was without that. The early public schools also used the Bible and Christian confessions and creeds as the basis for their curriculum. It's because this general acknowledgment and dependence on God has been waning, while violations of His Law have been more and more accepted, that the nation is now under Judgment. The National Cathedral today is also given over to every kind of false religion, pagan religions, anti-Christian religions, which shows the deterioration of the Christian mindset in the nation.

Whether individual American leaders were genuinely born-again believers is a separate question.

It's been a while since I've investigated all this and I don't know whether I'm going to follow it up beyond this much, but I wanted to get a few categories sorted out for any further discussion that may occur to me.

* This Wikipedia article is not the best reference. I will try to find better ones later.

Later: Here's Jonathan Edwards' description of the Great Awakening in his part of New England.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bad translation snares a good Bible teacher

Listening to a favorite preacher I'm having a problem with his use of one of the modern translations.

He's quoting Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and instead of "the world was without form and void" he says "the world BECAME shapeless, empty and dark" and goes on to make much of how this supposedly reflects the fact that God doesn't make anything that isn't perfect, and how its becoming ugly and dark shows the entrance of sin into the world. Sort of as a parable of what was to come later.

But that point is pretty strained it seems to me, and the translation "became" isn't supported in any Bible version I have easy access to. All those at Blue Letter Bible, for instance, say it WAS without form and dark. The NIV, however, does have one of its famous footnotes at this point, saying it could possibly mean "became." Yeah, and Strong's has "become" as one of the possibilities too. So we're all made translators these days.

Why isn't it respected that eminent scholars and translators chose "WAS?" Why is the ordinary Christian given this option to translate the Bible over the experts who did so already? Especially the KJV scholars who were head and shoulders above the translators of any subsequent version, certainly above Westcott and Hort according to Dean Burgon who ought to know. So the ordinary preacher is given all this power to make judgments he's in no position to make, even if he learned some basic Greek in seminary. If Westcott and Hort's Greek was on the schoolboy level, as Burgon judged it, why should any pastor think his is any better than theirs? (This favorite Bible teacher I'm talking about did not go to seminary or Bible school, just for the record).

And then I have to ask why this Biblically grounded and highly spiritual teacher would go with a footnote anyway -- unless he's using a translation that's not on Blue Letter Bible's list. In any case it leads him into some questionable reasoning: God makes everything perfect so it MUST be that it was sin that brought the void and darkness at the beginning of creation. I'm afraid this is probably a case of his LIKING the idea of a certain kind of perfection, defending God's honor as it were, but really leaning to his own understanding. Happens all too easily to the human race. And the situation in which we're all invited to make our own decisions about what God really said certainly plays into this human weakness.

I dunno. Other explanations for the pre-world formlessness occur to me that don't challenge God's mastery. Anything in the first stages of existence might be describable as formless and void. How about the blastocyst stage before the embryo takes shape? In fact how about the early embryo itself, that doesn't yet show the form of the creature it is going to become? In fact I also think of stages of cooking, simple chemical operations. The first stages are pretty formless before the egg in a sauce thickens it or a cake emerges from the batter. I'm sure the same thing is true in chemistry in general. Or how about the example of the formless lump of clay before it becomes pottery? The biblical image of the Creation is of the Holy Spirit brooding over this unformed earth to bring it to birth, which even the human creator imitates in making something from unorganized material.

As usual, just because he has spiritual sense and basic Biblical knowledge, this preacher is able to go on to make valid points about the effects of sin and especially the sin of pride, even spiritually powerful points, but in relation to the Bible it's more of a rescue operation than a true building on the word of God, but of course the preacher who doesn't have Biblical grounding or spiritual sense has no hope of getting on track at all.

Is the Todd Bentley Healing & Revival Circus With Real (Bad) Angels and Tattooed Man breaking up?

I haven't done a post on the Todd Bentley supposed "revival" that's been going on in Lakeland, Florida for the last few months, but intended eventually to put up some links to other discussions of the phenomenon. Andrew Strom and Scott Johnson and a few blogs I check in on from time to time have been keeping tabs on this "outpouring" of anything but the Holy Spirit.

Now I get an email from a friend quoting J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, on his apparently rather sudden disillusionment with that "revival," brought about by the breakup of Bentley's marriage. It's a touchingly even painfully honest assessment of the charismatic mentality that sucks believers in the spiritual gifts into outrageously false spectacles like the Todd Bentley show:

. . . this week, a few days after the Canadian preacher announced the end of his visits to Lakeland, he told his staff that his marriage is ending. . . .

Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?

To put it bluntly, we’re just plain gullible.

From the first week of the Lakeland revival, many discerning Christians raised questions about Bentley’s beliefs and practices. They felt uneasy when he said he talked to an angel in his hotel room. They sensed something amiss when he wore a T-shirt with a skeleton on it. They wondered why a man of God would cover himself with tattoos. They were horrified when they heard him describe how he tackled a man and knocked his tooth out during prayer.

But among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: "This is God. Don’t question.” . . .

Why didn’t anyone in Lakeland denounce the favorable comments Bentley made about William Branham?

This one baffles me. Branham embraced horrible deception near the end of his ministry, before he died in 1965. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Elijah—and his strange doctrines are still embraced by a cultlike following today. When Bentley announced to the world that the same angel that ushered in the 1950s healing revival had come to Lakeland, the entire audience should have run for the exits. . . .

Why didn’t anyone correct this error from the pulpit? Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy, not spoon feed deception to them. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so flippantly contaminated.

A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley’s news hit the fan. He said to me: “I’m now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment.” Ouch. Hopefully we’ll learn our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter shows up.

This is a great start, certainly for his own spiritual health, and we can hope the same for some of his readers as well, but I'm sure he hasn't yet appreciated the half of it, the tenth of it, when it comes to the problems with the charismatic movement. So much of it is riddled with out-and-out demonic manifestations and corrupted discernment that he hasn't yet seen, all we can do is pray that God will continue to open his eyes, but hope for the movement itself has pretty flimsy supports. Grady still thinks it's just a matter of Bentley being "corrected" by loving Christian leaders (some of whom themselves are rightly under suspicion by the discerning), but all the signs are that Bentley is not even remotely Christian to begin with.

Even while appreciating any honest self-appraisal from this camp, knowing how hard-won it has to be, one might nevertheless want to say "I told you so" or "It's about time" or "Too little too late" as Andrew Strom did in his blog a couple weeks ago:

It may be too late, because a great deal of damage has been done by this false revival already, and the fact that Bentley's own camp may be dispersing will probably not stop its galloping career across the world.

It did cross my mind that perhaps the breakup of the Lakeland dog and pony show could be thanks to Scott Johnson and friend who went there not too long ago and spent much of their time praying against the evil in it.

More to come on this subject I'm sure.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A call to death to self, to life in Christ, and a note on the handicap of having a false Bible.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I've been appreciating the writings and talks of Zac Poonen, of Bangalore, India. I've listened and read enough now to have encountered some areas I disagree with him about, but overall his main message is so true to Christ I'm going to overlook the disagreements for now. This is exhortation to the Spirit-filled life that we just don't find except in old books, at least as old as A.W. Tozer and Leonard Ravenhill and Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

His main page:

A page of books you can read online or order for cost:

A page of links to topical Bible studies:

And along the bottom of the page are links to other pages of sermons and teachings.

His teaching solves for me the problem of the charismatic errors while supporting the basis for genuine Pentecostal and charismatic expectations, my hope for revival, the enlivening of the Lord's true people in these last days. He believes in the gift of tongues for today but judges that some 90% of them are counterfeit. I can go with that -- at least until I have solid reason to think otherwise. He's never been in a charismatic congregation, he simply takes his understanding of the spiritual gifts for today direct from the Bible and because of his strong emphasis on what the Christian life costs, I find him believable.

His denunciations of the prosperity teachings as the complete contradiction of the Biblical message are sharp and to the point. His main message is the Exchanged Life, that is, the giving up of our life for Christ's life within us. The more we die to self the more we live to Him and for Him and through Him. This is more than just getting sin out of our lives, it's also mortifying the flesh in giving up everything we are to Christ. The more we mortify our flesh the more we have of the Spirit. This is classical Christianity, but finding it in the morass of apostasy and confusion these days is not easy. If you have a strong spiritual leading in this direction you can pick out the occasional gems from the muck, but usually it means you need to go to the older writers.

And we need to do this because we need the right kind of spiritual food, the right kind of exhortation, to strengthen us in these days of silly self-indulgent fleshly "Christianity."

I do have to say that it bothers me a lot that Zac Poonen is trusting in the new Bible versions. Clearly he wants a simple English text to get across the simplicity of the gospel, and he thinks the KJV is not accessible to his people. So he goes to the Amplified or the Living Bible at times. I do find it disappointing to hear him quote a well known passage in anything but the KJV wording. It's just another proof of how Westcott and Hort damaged the church. A Spirit-led preacher can still make use of the bad versions, but it's discouraging to hear him make a case for, say, how God's word has "eyes of the heart," going on to explain that this is because it's the heart that concerns God more than the intellect, apparently not knowing that the KJV has "eyes of the understanding." Also, to call the Holy Spirit the "helper" isn't exactly wrong, but "comforter" was the choice of the truly God-inspired KJV writers.

See, most preachers and teachers of the Bible think all the versions are merely different translations of the same basic word of God. They trust the translators to have given them viable options that all express God's own mind and heart, and if they prefer one word over another themselves, it's usually on the basis of what they think their hearers will grasp best. The idea that one is right and another wrong does not necessarily enter into it.

If they try to inform themselves of the controversy and the history of the versions, they usually stop with the apologists for the modern versions. They may be (rightly I think) put off by some of the extreme King-James-only advocates.

You'll hear a talk from time to time on the Reliability of the Biblical Manuscripts which simply never gets into the subject of the different lineages and qualities of manuscripts, or anything relevant to the KJV only position. They'll argue from the great many manuscripts in existence, and from techniques of textual criticism that can establish lineages back to the originals, that our Bible is reliable, as if all our Bibles were basically the same, without ever mentioning that there are whole lineages of corrupted texts as well as trustworthy ones, that also go back to ancient times.

The KJV translators were aware of these textual traditions and rejected those they found to be corrupt in their own judgment, which included the texts that were later preferred by Westcott and Hort and now made the basis of almost all the non-KJV Bibles today. Now the different lineages and traditions are treated more or less as equal, more or less as God's word, but if they get into it at all a modern scholar will simply flatly claim that the Westcott and Hort texts are superior, only because supposedly they are older. (Recently I've run across the assertion that as a matter of fact there are other ancient texts that still survive, even from the lineage that underlies the KJV, texts OLDER than those that underlie the new versions. My argument has been (basically Burgon's I believe) that a text that happened to survive from the 2nd century has no particular claim to being superior to a whole lot of texts that survive from the 4th, 6th or 10th centuries, because all it means is that the older one wasn't used as much, wasn't copied as much, wasn't appreciated by the church. In fact the Sinaiticus text that now underlies the new versions was found in a wastebasket in a ruined monastery. But if there are even older portions of the Bible of the KJV type, that's great to know.)

So preachers in all good faith accept the modern versions, accept whatever rationalizations they've learned from the modern scholars, are probably put off by the shrill and denunciatory tone and outlandish claims of some of the KJV-only camp, and so the church limps on to the Last Day with its sword a tad dull and its shield more often than not dangling uselessly at its side.

Well, I think some good preachers can for the most part rise above the handicap. But they are a rare breed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Side Issues to be avoided in the KJV controversy (Did Dr. Wilkins really lose his voice or not?)

Scott Johnson is continuing the study of the Bible Versions problem, now getting into a general defense of the King James. He's collected most of the information I'd discovered myself in my own researches, which I'm not getting posted here as I'd hoped to do, so his talks are a good resource for me to link. A lot of it is in his PDF document which is linked at the button just below the Play button. (It's the same document for all his talks on this subject).

In this study he quotes mainly from one text, James Melton's Fighting Back, an online book which can also easily be found by googling it. (If the music is distracting to you, it's also available here). Melton makes it clear that he is not arguing the case but only presenting the main points of the KJVO position. Johnson simply reads it and does not check his facts independently, so it remains for that to be done.

I want to consider just one minor incident here, that Johnson brings up at the very beginning of today's talks, that I think unfortunately demonstrates how the real issues in the KJV debate get lost in side issues and misrepresentations and misunderstandings. This concerns an incident that occurred back in 1995 on a John Ankerberg Show discussion of the KJV-only controversy. Johnson reads a rather famous article describing this alleged incident, that is widely published on the internet, titled Bible Scholar Loses Voice on the John Ankerberg Show. This was written by Texe Marrs, a fervent KJV-only advocate, though few of the sites that publish it attribute it to him.

(Various sites where it is published:

The Marrs/KJV-only account is that one of the new version translators on the show, Dr. Wilkins, translator of the NASB, actually completely lost his voice, at least for a short period of time, ironically when attempting to answer a question about the very claim that many new version translators had lost their voices, demonstrating that this is what happens to people who tamper with God's word.

I haven't researched this claim enough to have a judgment of my own about it. I did, however, do a little google-tracking of the brouhaha around the Ankerberg Show event and the first thing I found was an exchange of videos on You Tube between someone named Calcium Boy and Dr. James White, well known defender of the new versions. The first episode I ran across was one of Dr. White's answers to Calcium Boy:

Calcium Boy had called Dr. Sam Gipp, who was one of the KJVO panel on that same John Ankerberg Show, to make him aware of a video recently offered by Dr. White on You Tube purporting to be THE segment of the Ankerberg Show where Dr. Wilkins had lost his voice. It's a segment in which Dr. Wilkins has a catch in his throat and stops to drink some water. Dr. Gipp responded on Calcium Boy's answering machine that that was NOT the incident in question, and called it a "deception," which of course raises the question of Dr. White's integrity and so on and so forth. So Dr. White now shows that same piece of video tape again, which he apparently thinks must be the incident the KJVO people are talking about. (By the way he says this was cut out of the original broadcast, of which White has the tapes. He says it was put back into the DVD version of the program when it was digitized later so that's how he happens to have it. He also says that his own remarks were cut out to make room for this episode in the digitized version, and he plays both versions for us to see).

As I watched it what I found hard to believe was that anybody could possibly think anyone would consider that to be a case of losing one's voice. It just can't be the incident the KJVO people have in mind. On the tape a big deal is being made about a little catch in the throat that nobody would make in any normal conversation, but WOULD make if some previous incident had occurred that they wanted to make fun of.

The first thing that occurred to me was that some other voice-losing incident must have occurred earlier that they are referring back to by laughing it off as a joke. I mean, in itself, somebody's having a tiny frog in his throat and having to drink some water is not something to even notice, let alone have a jolly old time about. Wilkins makes a joke of it right away after his little cough and says "Oh, I'm losing my voice" which everyone else laughs at. I don't know what the original was, but this cannot possibly be it, and I don't see why James White doesn't recognize this obvious fact. It CAN'T be it. NOBODY would make such a fuss over such an incident, not even your craziest frothing-at-the-mouth KJVO advocate (and that does seem to be how some of them are regarded by White and Company). The only people making a fuss over it are the ANTI-KJV people because, obviously, it MUST refer back to something that had happened earlier.

Why doesn't White catch this? John Ankerberg does:
Second, in previous shows Ankerberg had commented about Riplinger’s claim that new translations editors had lost their voices. He wanted an answer on this to quell the rumor and set the record straight since, obviously, none of the people present had lost their voices and neither did they know of this occurring to anyone else.
This is in fact a plausible enough explanation -- of the segment itself, that is, why they were joking around about a mere frog in the throat. It doesn't explain why the KJVO people remember an actual incident of voice-losing, however.

The Ankerberg report goes on to point out Marrs' errors:
But on the segment reported by Marrs, this was not Ankerberg’s question. Ankerberg’s question was to ask Wilkins about the credibility ofRiplinger’s book. So Marrs has distorted the context as well.

Third, the event in question was not at all like Marrs reported it. Dr. John Weldon, Chief Researcher for ATRI, personally reviewed this segment of the tape where Wilkins supposedly lost his voice. He didn’t lose his voice at all; he merely developed a "frog" in his throat which took about five seconds to cough out. This happens to people all the time and is hardly a sign of God’s judgment, nor would it be unexpected with someone who had just flown in from Athens, Greece and was tired. In response, Wilkins simply cleared his throat and said, a bit embarrassed, but half in jest, "I’m losing my voice." Everyone laughed and he took a drink of water and then proceeded to answer Ankerberg’s question concerning the unreliability of Riplinger’s book. He went on immediately to state that the Lockman Foundation had spent six weeks in investigation of Riplinger’s book and that "what I personally found is that virtually everything she says is wrong, or a misquotation or a deliberate deception of people…."

Right, but this can't possibly be what the KJVO people had in mind. Even making allowances for errors of all sorts as well as exaggeration of the incident itself, how can anyone suppose that Texe Marrs actually considered this to be an incident of losing one's voice? I can't buy it. I don't know what the explanation is, but it's just too hard to believe that Marrs would have misread such a trivial incident. In this incident Wilkins didn't lose his voice at all. He experienced a small catch in his throat and that didn't even stop him from going on to joke about how it meant "I'm losing my voice." THEN he took the glass of water. The whole thing looked staged to me (but I guess I could be wrong). And Sam Gipp directly denied it was the incident in question in his response on the answering machine recording put up on You Tube by CalciumBoy.

One thing I'd like to know is what Thomas Strouse who was also on the KJVO side on that program would say about it now. I couldn't find the answer on a brief google but I'll probably look more later.

I end up not knowing what the truth is about this alleged incident of Dr. Wilkins' supposedly losing his voice, but the segment White posted can't possibly be it, that's all.

What this shows more than anything else, I'm afraid, is how easily this discussion bogs down in irrelevancies and side issues. James White didn't miss the opportunity to call into doubt the credibility of Sam Gipp by quoting a few statements from his book that have nothing to do with the voice-losing incident. Dr. Gipp is apparently a defender of the most radical KJVO position, a follower of Peter Ruckman, a position that goes so far as to claim the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament didn't even exist (why this is an issue I'm not quite clear about), and no doubt supports the position that the King James Bible is absolutely the word-for-word perfect God-given text that must not be changed at all for any reason whatever. So White ridicules his position on the Septuagint, and he calls it "lying," which I guess is supposed to so impugn his character that we are advised not to trust him when he says that segment of Wilkins coughing isn't the one Marrs was writing about and they all witnessed.

Clearly there is no connection between the two things and shouldn't White steer clear of that sort of thing? Well, Gipp did it too when he called the segment "deception." Shouldn't Christians exhibit that old KJV word, "charity" to their opponents, assume the best rather than the worst, and stick to the known facts instead of making accusations? It may be that White really does think that's the only incident that could have been meant. Even to think that means his judgment of his opposition is a tad lacking in charity, but still, he may really believe what he said.


While all this cross-talk is going on, the main points are getting missed, as I see it, but then I'm not on the radical end of the KJVO position so maybe I see it this way for that reason. Anti-KJVOs aren't going to do anything with an article like Marrs' except ridicule it as this You Tube exchange shows, and in in my opinion in the context of the overall debate it's best to leave Marrs and other extremists out of the discussion. There is now no way to prove that Wilkins lost his voice on that show, and Marrs' attitude to White is not exactly exemplary Christian behavior, (which has to be said about Gail Riplinger's way of dealing with David Cloud too). Neither is White's exemplary, but he's probably THE advocate for the new versions we need to refute, so we can't ignore him, we have to answer him and it needs to be done well.

I think we should concede that the KJV could have errors and need some correction, and even advocate that such corrections be made under the right conditions, but the main job here is to show the corruption of the new versions, and as long as the argument is based on defending a perfect KJV this main job is not getting done. We don't need to focus on the character of Westcott and Hort even, we merely need to show that they were commissioned to do some very minor corrections and that they did something entirely different. Dean Burgon's work shows the corruption of the texts they used, and also shows the deceitfulness of their violation of their trust in changing thousands of words that by no stretch of the imagination could be called necessary. This is where the focus should be.

Even focusing on all the changes made and the words and phrases of the KJV that are left out of the new versions doesn't by itself win the argument, because the opposition's main claim is that their texts are superior to those of the KJV, so that whatever differences are to be found between the KJV and the revisions, theirs are the right ones. (Of course the many differences even between the revisions themselves can also be mustered to show that isn't the whole story).

Again, Burgon's expert judgment of the different Greek and Hebrew texts is the place to start, showing the corruption of those chosen by W&H and perpetuated in all the new versions today, a corruption that was recognized by the KJV translators as well. Exposing the sleight of hand W & H pulled in the thousands of unnecessary changes should be the left hand knockout punch that follows the right (or vice versa).


There is plenty more at You Tube on the Ankerberg incident for anyone who is interested.

This one is apparently an earlier video by James White in which he claims he just found out about the digitized version of the John Ankerberg show that includes the previously left out segment of what he calls the voice-losing incident, though it's really just Wilkins having a frog in his throat for a second and making a joke out of it as losing his voice:

This is "CalciumBoy's" reply to White's discovery of the supposedly original footage of the voice-losing event:

The next one in this series is the one by White I included in the body of the post above and commented on, but I'll repeat the URL here as well:

And this is CalciumBoy's answer to that: I agree with him that the segment White posted can't be the one Marrs and Gipp were referring to.

Then there's a series of four videos by James White aimed at discrediting Texe Marrs. Part I:
Part II of White on Texe Marrs:
In Part III White is going to get back to the lost voice segment and it's the same thing
Then Part IV "Why do these people WANT to believe what they do?" White is asking. Well, he says, the KJVO people were soundly routed so Texe Marrs is saving face. I don't see this. The anti people are raising irrelevancies and the KJVO people don't get sufficient time to answer. For instance Ankerberg and White raise the point that the KJV had marginal notes though the KJVO people object to the marginal notes in the other versions, isn't that a contradiction? Strouse says no, it's because those marginal notes are from the Nestle-Aland text (basically the Westcott-Hort text), and that's exactly the reason and it's completely valid. It just didn't get emphasized enough: