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.