Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Role of the Bible Versions in the Last Days

Since it's the Bible versions controversy I've spent most time on in this blog I suppose I ought to attempt some sort of explanation where it fits into the last days scenarios that are the overall framework I have in mind here.

The extremist KJV-onlies are always characterizing the modern Bible versions as part of the Great Apostasy of the last days and I think they are right, but I don't like their conspiracy thinking and general tone. Believing as I do that the Revised English Bible Westcott and Hort came up with is a travesty based on corrupted Greek texts and an unconscionable mutilation of the English as well, I can easily attribute it to a work of the devil. Of course. But that doesn't mean I think that Westcott and Hort consciously served the devil. Most service of the devil is done by human beings without the slightest idea that's who they are serving, and there is no reason whatever to suppose them to be conscious of their complicity. Westcott and Hort probably thought they were serving the true church of Christ (of course so do the Mormons and the Jehovah's witnesses and so on, and Liberal "Christians").

That said, the question remains what the devil's purpose was in doing this.

In a way it's obvious of course. Anything that corrupts the Bible would make the devil happy. But in specific, doesn't it lead people into sin who assume the right to judge scripture for themselves? With so many versions out there, pastors feel obliged to investigate the Greek or Hebrew in order to best preach a passage, and even rank-and-file Christians are encouraged to use their Concordances and Greek and Hebrew lexicons to determine for themselves what the best reading is. This is done casually, as if the Bible were just like any other book rather than the word of God. Well, that's the legacy of Westcott and Hort, who treated it as just like any other book. That has become the attitude of the entire church in these last days.

Concerning the differences in the Greek texts, KJV supporters point out that the majority of verses found in the KJV that are not found in the modern versions do have doctrinal import, concerning the Deity of Christ and the supernatural events that validate His identity and mission. The new versions people answer that none of these doctrines have been completely left out of the new Bibles and are taught just as faithfully from these Bibles as from the KJV. They also theorize that it wasn't that they were left out of the new versions, anyway, but instead that they were added into the textual tradition behind the KJV. James White called this the "expansion of piety." This is merely a plausible hypothesis although they treat it as if it were a fact, and also treat the opposing point of view as if it were unquestionably wrong, that those verses were subtracted instead. What seems to go generally unrecognized is that either way, whether by adding or subtracting, this is condemned by God, and it isn't something to be lightly glossed over. Both the new versions and the KJV CANNOT be God's word; either one or the other is based on corrupt texts, texts that were tampered with and changed against God's clear warning.

So the devil is happy to create such a dilemma and get people to deny it as well, to subtly demote the Bible in people's minds, lead them to subtly put their own judgment above God's, subtly dampen their sense of reverence for God's word, introduce doubt as to its trustworthiness that simply has to come along with the multiplicity of versions, and so on, but does he also have an ultimate last days mission for the new versions?

Some think so. Assuming the KJV-only position that the corruption was a subtraction of terms that existed in the original, it is easily explained as serving a Gnostic view of Christ that deprives Him of His identity with God among other heresies. With such an agenda most of the new versions could be used to feed the Antichrist's imposture of Christ (called The Christ in much of New Age teaching). It's not too hard to imagine that some verses which affirm the true identity of Christ in the KJV could be quoted from the new versions, where they are without the cues to Deity, in order to affirm another's identity as "the Christ" in some contexts. People who don't know the Bible wouldn't have any objection, they could be shown it right there in black and white, and those Christians who have the new versions wouldn't be able to say without great effort that a particular verse really meant the true Christ if at face value it doesn't necessarily. And if they don't know the Bible well, they too can be misled.

Well, it's possible.

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