“6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12:6-7)
While noting the King James Bible critics of the late 1800’s, we know that Christians for over three centuries believed the King James Bible (in English) was the inspired word of God and never wrote a contrary article or book. Many are around today. These believers, for one reason or another, simply do not engage or debate the issue and are content to serve the Lord without any attention given to them. Some pastors are among these and we find no fault with that course. However, some of us have been thrust into the issue by ministry positions such as teaching in Bible colleges or having to meet the issue of church member(s) who affect the fellowship of a church by their lack of faith.
I was thrust into the issue by virtue of being a Bible teacher in a school in the 1970’s where the issue was inserted by certain faculty members caught up in the critical movement. Their view of inspiration and translation affected every course in the school. Students quite naturally wanted to know the issue and my duty as a faculty member demanded that I become knowledgable of the various arguments and be able to handle the issue. Later, as a pastor I had my own Bible school and that demanded a continual watch from pulpit and classroom over the perversion of scripture. Now in foreign mission work, training nationals in Bible schools, the need is as great as then, if not greater.
Like our missionary forefathers, We have been unusually blessed in a few remote locations to not even need to mention the issue because no Bible of any kind was known or preached until we came. What a blessed and fruitful ministry those areas are! To go into an area where denominationalism and Bible skepticism does not exist is almost unbelievable as to the power of God’s word coming to the people. But even in foreign lands, many places are already infected with doubt and unbelief, thanks to the critics of the King James Bible.
The Beginning Of Modern Bible Criticism
When the Revised Version of 1881 appeared in England, there were immediate reactions from men such as F. H. A. Shrivener, Dean Burgon, E. W. Bullinger, etc. These men were every part as much learned, and more so, than those on the 1881 revision committee. They were completely adept in the original languages and manuscripts and were very vocal of the machinations of Westcott and Hort, the lead instigators of the revision in 1881.
The objections were all based on the original language manuscript level. To my knowledge, none of the leading opponents to Bible revision based their objections on the English text itself other than complaints from a strict literary level. For over fifty years the only objections to the new translations were all based on the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts used and the translation methods employed. No one dared to venture out and claim that the English translation of the King James Version actually was the inspired word of God. That would have been “unscholarly”. The common fear was that to do so would give the English Bible translators equal standing and inspiration with the original scripture writers. Some also feared that this would be tantamount to “double-inspiration” and that would give possible credence to the silly claims made by the Book of Mormon and other cult material of divine inspiration.
Reticence to do this was also because the traditional and standard definition of inspiration held that only the original writings were inspired scripture. This seemed to satisfy all. No one really wanted to or could tackle the sticky issue: true preservation, or transmission of that originally inspired text down through the centuries to us.
The argument of preservation (to my knowledge, first put forth midway in the past century by Edward F. Hills and the Trinitarian Bible Society) was that God had providentially preserved the inspired text by many copies through the centuries. These texts did differ somewhat but were alike enough so that they were in the same “family”; this was the best explanation of how we still had the “not quite but something close to the original words of God today, somewhere.” There was no definite location of those words. Since men are sinners, even the “godly ones”, no copies and no translator(s) of these manuscripts of the same family could produce perfect translations and, thus said to be just as inspired as the originals.
Thus began the manuscript argument: was the Hebrew Massoretic text, Textus Receptus, Majority Text or the critical Westcott/Hort text the most accurate representation of the original text? Very little has been discussed regarding transmission of the original text down through the centuries until the printing press.
Of course–although few but the liberals declared it—this actually meant no one really knew which WORDS the LORD had originally spoken, except those in the first generation who had the originals! The inevitable result of either camp winning meant that we only had a general knowledge of God’s original thoughts or message in the Bible books but not the exact words. Add to the uncertain preservation problem, the attacks on the translation of various words in the King James Bible and the devil has in a subtle way removed the authority of the Bible from the mind and heart of many.
Painting Yourself In A Corner
The definition of “only original inspiration” forged by the fundamental scholars, in order to remain respectable men in the eyes of human reason, ignored what the Bible said about itself and brought the Body of Christ to an impasse of a claim to believe “a Bible” but never really knowing what God said in that Bible. In acceptance of this “holy and most reverend view,” the Church plunged itself into a nebulous view of scripture. The English Bible (as well as Hebrew and Greek) was stripped of its infallibility and the inspired words lay lost and hidden somewhere in the manuscripts, text copies and lexicons, hit and missed (perhaps) by present day “scholars”. This never ending search for absolute truth painted itself into a corner and couldn’t get out. A circuitous route of the dog chasing its own tail!
What Does The King James Bible Say About Inspiration And Itself?
The Bible claims to be the word of The Lord and also gives specific warning regarding changing, adding to, or taking away the WORDS found therein.
“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.” (Deuteronomy 4:2).
“5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6).
“18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Now, the question before us is this: were these warnings merely for the original manuscripts and first hearers/readers and not intended for future generations?
If so, we are in a peculiar situation. Being told we are not to alter, add to, or subtract from the WORDS, how can these warnings be taken seriously if all the WORDS are not before us? Would God pronounce such warnings knowing that the very WORDS would not be available to us?These are serious questions and the traditional definition of inspiration and preservation are not sufficient to answer. All present doctrines on inspiration and preservation of scripture are totally inadequate and bring into doubt the Omnipotence and Omniscience of God.
An attribute of God must be Omniscience: all knowing of past, present, and future. Of necessity, even without arbitrarily forcing the will and actions of men, He must know every eventual result of every man’s actions or else He is limited in knowledge, waiting like a creature to see the outcome, and can not be God. Should He only be capable of giving warnings regarding actions, never intending or able to carry them out, He is capricious and nothing more than one of the gods of the Hindu, a figment of fallen man’s imagination.
Not only are there warnings as to tampering with His WORDS, there are blessings promised to those who read and obey them. In itself, this requires those WORDS to be available to read and obey. And with this there must be active, present involvement and power of God in every point of time to carry out both warnings and blessings.
There is no possible way that His WORDS were only inspired in the original manuscripts, lost in the centuries and copies, so that no one is really sure that this word should be here or another word there, perhaps and maybe a general thought only remains—–and a Holy, Just and Righteous God could hold any man accountable for having major doubt as to what God ever said at any time! This is the precise position the doctrine of “only the originals were inspired” brings us to. Those who profess it don’t really know if there were any “originals” at all. No one has an “original “. The Bible critics try to bring respectability to their sin by saying, “Oh, this search for the real words of God is what we are trying to do.” The Bible critic is like a bureaucrat who makes a law in order to give himself a job while he ignores the law of God.
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). Here is God manifest in the flesh and He speaks of WORDS that are as eternal as God Himself. In this one sentence He links His WORDS with all the WORDS of God ever spoke to mankind. No mortal can say this, only Deity. And, in this saying goes the Omnipotence of God to insure His WORDS will never pass away. They did not pass away with the time between He said it and the several years until it was written by Matthew; the WORDS did not pass away when Matthew’s original turned to dust; the WORDS did not pass away with the handwritten centuries of copies until the printing press, and the WORDS are in my hand today. They will still remain when time is no more. All of the scholar’s books shall pass away wherein are all their “how’s” “why’s” “what ifs” because “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
There are many things God allows man to do but these things never take God by surprise or change His determinate will or purpose. At the same time there are things that God determines to do Himself, apart from the opposition of the devil or flesh. For example, although after God made the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, Abraham disobeyed God at times and was punished for it, neither Abraham’s nor his descendants’ disobedience annulled the promises of that covenant. So it is with many of God’s purposes and so it is with the WORDS of God. He has magnified His WORD above all His Name and God will not allow those WORDS to be lost or long ignored no more than He would allow Himself to be lost to man.
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138:2).
Whatever problem this poses to man’s intellect does not void the promises of God regarding His WORDS and WORD. It does not matter if you do not know where the WORDS of God were 2,000 years ago. Your problem is that you have a Book before you that claims to be the WORDS of God. If you deny one of those WORDS, you deny them all and in doing so deny its Maker and its Defender. Well, what about this other translation?” one might say. “What about it?” Is my response. Do you believe every WORD in it? Here brings an “interesting rule”: the only person who believes he has the inspired, infallible, inerrant, eternal WORDS and WORD of God in his hand is the person that believes the King James Bible is his final authority in all matters of faith and practice. There it is, plain and simple. It is a matter foremost of childlike faith in God and His Bible. Faith believes that God is, not “was”. (Hebrews 11:6).
Reason tells us it can’t be this simple. Human logic gives you many ways to laugh and ridicule. God’s words to man were not first in a Book on earth, they came here a line and there a line. The Bible did not just fall from heaven one day; a long, a prolonged process was behind its total formation. There were the writers, living apart from each other, in some cases hundreds of years apart, never one knowing another, writing His words alone. Then how did it come together? History says councils put it together, men with men, sinners all but still a Book emerged out of the past. A Book that had first this, then that, but One volume grows and completes, strangely consistent in all of its content, moving from an original heaven and earth in its Genesis to a New Heaven and earth at the end. And, more strange than that, it has a scarlet thread of blood running from a lamb at its beginning to a bleeding Lamb at its end. Man in a strange story, inexplicable test at first, fallen, then redeemed at the end through that trail of blood, leading all to One Lamb. Struggles, tests, trials, sufferings, yet at the end all made right through One who started it all.
Men take the Book and write their entertainment, dreams, fears, hopes, and achievements by what it says. Hated and feared, loved and cherished, it sets apart friends, family, and even tears a man from himself and makes him wretched and fulfilled at the same time. What Book is this? None can duplicate its strength although many try. The Book builds kingdoms, nations, presides at birth and death and even decorates not only the tombs of those who loved it, but also those who hated it most. Generations come and go, tombstones rise and crumble, but it remains. Truly it is as its Author said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
What a pitiful worm that takes upon itself to remove it, to replace it, to improve on it! Have your little day, but know this: like all others you will leave your frail house of clay when you would not have it so, and your children will mourn your passing—for a few days. Your memory on this earth will fade like a morning glory hides its bloom from the morning sun and then drops into the dust in a few days. But the Book you hated or loved will continue to bring forth and tear down. And you, pitiful, frail, you?You, a son of Adam, will be in the hand of its Author from whence you first came and was warned again and again in the recesses of your soul, “Lovest thou me?”