Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Translating the Word of God


The book of Islam – the Quran (or Koran) – can never be considered a Quran if translated out of Arabic into another language. A translated Quran is not the Quran! Arabic is seen as a sacred language, and any translation a mere interpretation. “…any translation of God’s Book is a human effort. It is not, and will never be a Scripture.”[i] Christians, on the other hand, have no problem calling a translation Scripture or The Bible.

Inspiration gave the word of God (2 Timothy 3:15-17). We validly speak of having the inspired word of God today – but, as a process, inspiration is past tense. Preservation keeps the word of God (Isaiah 30:8). Translation multiplies the word of God – makes it available to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.

By what authority do Christians translate the Bible out of its original languages? Most of us assume, presuppose – maybe never think about whether or not there is heavenly authorization to translate the inspired scriptures out of the original tongues into other languages. Does any command, precept, or example in the Bible itself support it?

Christians have often neglected a careful exposition of why we gladly translate the Bible into other languages. Often it is not taught. Nevertheless, most Bible-believers intuit that they can and should use Bibles translated into their own languages. A few arrogant academics adamantly assert that those who don’t know the Bible in the original languages do not know the Bible. Thankfully, these are few and far between – and folks who are poor readers in their first language are some of the best living-out-the-Bible-Christians that I know! On one hand, Christians are able to recognize and appreciate scholarship. On the other hand, true Christians do not create castes of greater and lesser degrees based on the languages in which they read their Bibles!


Christians translate the Bible for historical, practical, and theological reasons. I will address the first and last of these three. Practically, Christians do not demand converts to read and speak any of the Biblical languages. In fact, they encourage them to find and learn of him in a language they understand.

Creeds and Confessions
Most of our Baptist confessions of faith have not addressed the translation of the Bible. I know of only a few – the London Confession of 1677/1689, the Orthodox Creed of 1679, Philadelphia Confession of 1742 (a revision of the 1689 London Confession). This is unfortunate, in that we have not kept it before us confessionally. Books of Systematic Theology sometimes address the topic. [To see excerpts from these confessions, select Translating, in Creeds and Confessions.]

An Orthodox Creed: Or, a Protestant Confession of Faith of 1679 (General Baptist)
Article XXXVII. Of the Sacred Scripture. The Authority of the holy Scripture, dependeth not upon the Authority of any Man, but only upon the Authority of God,(331) who hath delivered and revealed his mind therein unto us, and containeth all things necessary for Salvation;(332) so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any Man, that it should be believed as an Article of the Christian Faith, or be thought requisite to Salvation.(333) Neither ought we (since we have the Scriptures delivered to us now) to depend upon, hearken to, or regard the pretended immediate Inspirations, Dreams, or Prophetical Predictions, by or from any Person whatsoever, lest we be deluded by them.(334) Nor yet do we believe that the Works of Creation, nor the Law written in the Heart, (viz.) Natural Religion (as some call it), or the Light within Man, as such, is sufficient to inform Man of Christ the Mediator, or of the way to Salvation, or Eternal Life by him;(335) but the holy Scriptures are necessary to instruct all Men into the way of Salvation, and eternal Life. And we do believe, that all People ought to have them in their Mother Tongue,(336) and diligently, and constantly to read them in their particular Places and Families, for their Edification, and Comfort. And endeavour to frame their Lives, according to the direction of God’s Word, both in Faith and Practice, the holy Scriptures being of no private Interpretation, but ought to be interpreted according to the Analogie of Faith, and is the best Interpreter of it self;(337) and is sole Judge in Controversie.(338) And no Decrees of Popes, or Councils, or Writings of any Person whatsoever, are of equal Authority with the sacred Scriptures. And by the holy Scriptures we understand, the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, as they are now translated into our English Mother-Tongue, of which there hath never been any doubt of their Verity, and Authority, in the Protestant Churches of Christ to this Day.
(331: 2 Pet. 1.19, 20, 21. 2 Tim. 3.15, 16, 17.; 332: Joh. 20.30, 31. & 21.25.; 333: Mat. 22.29. John 5.39, 46, 47. & 10.35. & 17.23. Prov. 30.5, 6. Josh. 1.7. Rev. 22.18. Deut. 12.32.; 334: Isa. 8.20. 2 Pet. 1.19. 2 John 7, 8, 9, 10. Mat. 24.23, 24, 25, 26. 2 Thess. 2.7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15.; 335: I Cor. 1.20, 21, 22, 23, 24. & 2.6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14. Rom. 15.4, 5. & 16.25, 26. & 1.16, 17, 18. Gal. 5.22. Rom. 11.31, 32. & 10.13. to the 21.; 336: I Cor. 14.4, 9, 10, 11, 19. Col. 3.16.; 337: 2 Pet. 1.20, 21. Acts 15.15, 16.; 338: Mat. 22.29, 30. Acts 17.10, 11, 12, 13. & 18.28.)

London Baptist Confession of 1689 (Particular Baptist)
1.8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.
(Romans 3:2; Isaiah 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28; Colossians 3:16)

The translators of the King James Bible gave the following defense of the work of translation (in “The Translators to the Reader,” King James Bible, 1611):
But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue? as it is written, Except I know the power of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shall be a Barbarian to me. [1 Cor 14] The Apostle excepteth no tongue; not Hebrew the ancientest, not Greek the most copious, not Latin the finest. Nature taught a natural man to confess, that all of us in those tongues which we do not understand, are plainly deaf; we may turn the deaf ear unto them...Therefore as one complaineth, that always in the Senate of Rome, there was one or other that called for an interpreter: so lest the Church be driven to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in a readiness. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most Holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which means the flocks of Laban were watered [Gen 29:10]. Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) [John 4:11] without a bucket or something to draw with; or as that person mentioned by Isaiah, to whom when a sealed book was delivered, with this motion, Read this, I pray thee, he was fain to make this answer, I cannot, for it is sealed. [Isa 29:11]

William Tyndale, as quoted in the Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, touching Matters of the Church by John Foxe, 1563 Edition, Book 3, p.570
“I defie the Pope and all his laws (and said), If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doest.”

History and Tradition
History and tradition are not authoritative, but support the principles we find in Scripture. Jews were translators of the Old Testament Scriptures.  The Targums, some possibly dated to 400 BC, are Aramaic translations or paraphrases of the Old Testament.[ii] The OT was translated into Greek in the 2nd and 3rd centuries before the time of Christ (called the Septuagint or LXX). The apostles may have used the Targums (quoted in Greek) or quoted from the LXX in their writings. Christians were translators of both the Old and New Testaments, from early post-apostolic times.

Origen’s Hexapla, compiled sometime before AD 240, organized the Old Testament into six columns – the Hebrew text, a transliteration of the Hebrew into Greek characters, and four Greek translations. Jerome’s translation into Latin was commissioned AD 382 and was done sometime afterward – but there were also Latin translations prior to that of Jerome. These considered together are called Vetus Latina, Old Latin or Old Italic, and are perhaps the earliest Christian translation of the Bible. According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915), it was in North Africa (or possibly Antioch in the East) rather than Rome that the earliest translation of the scriptures into Latin was made – possibly as early as the middle of the 2nd century AD. Also in the 2nd century (circa AD 150) a Syrian named Tatian created a “harmony” of all four Gospels translated from Greek into Syriac. There is some evidence that Ulfilas, or Wulfila created an alphabet for the Goths, and translated the Bible into Visigothic using that alphabet by about 389. The alphabet and Bible translation served the purpose of Ulfilas propagating his Christian views among the Goths.

The research of William Stephen Gilly (1789–1855) indicates the Waldenses translated the New Testament into Lingua Romana or Roumant (a common language in southern Europe at the time), by the 12th century AD, and apparently later financed of the French Bible d’Olivétan (or La Bible qui est toute la Sainte Ecriture) in AD 1535 by Pierre Robert Olivétan. The first complete Bible in English was translated by John Wycliffe and others by 1382.  The Reformation burst forth with Bible translations into multiple languages, in contrast to and defiance of the Roman Catholic standard for reading, studying, and worshipping in Latin.[iii] The spread of translations of the Old and New Testaments match the spread of Christian outreach into the world (e.g., Armenian (410), Syriac (508), Arabic (680), Hungarian (1410), Spanish (1478), German (1534), and so on). The Catholic insistence on one translation, the Vulgate – combined with insistence on the priority of their church and the Pope – was destructive to the Christian faith.


Ultimately, Christians translate for theological reasons. Translators, Creeds, Confessions of Faith, all make some general or specific appeal to the Bible as its own authority for translating it into other languages. I offer the following considerations.

The Tri-lingual Word
Christians revere the original writings of the biblical authors as inspired – but they do not revere any one language as sacred. God inspired the Bible in not one but three languages! The Old Testament is given in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic. Even though Jesus came to the world as a Jew, a son of Abraham, a son of David – to the Jews in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Judea – God did not give the New Testament in Hebrew, but in Greek. Further, he even included some Aramaic words in the New Testament![iv] To read the Bible in the original, one could not learn one language, but 3 languages.[v] This suggests God did not intend believers of all different languages to the uttermost parts of the earth devote a lifetime of study to three foreign languages in order to hear a word from God. Interestingly, when the king of Persia had an important message for his kingdom, he put it in the letters/alphabet and language of all the peoples of the kingdom. (e.g. Esther 1:22; Esther 3:12; Esther 8:9). Surely God of the Bible exhibits no less concern for his subjects than the pagan king of Persia!

The Great Commission
The Great Commission implies translation. Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. The command is not “go and teach Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to all nations” but “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). To teach everything Christ commanded we must either give individuals and churches advanced lessons in three languages or else a translation in their mother tongue.” The apostles, early churches, and anti-pædobaptist churches throughout history have understood it as the latter. How can we teach them to observe what they cannot understand?

The nature of gospel salvation
Romans 10:13-17 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The nature of gospel salvation and the testimony of the apostles testifies that preaching and hearing precede believing. One cannot call on God apart from belief. Belief is producing by hearing, and the hearing comes from the preaching of the word of the sent preacher. The going church does not expect and enforce years of language lessons in order give out the word of God. The preaching is first, heard in one’s own language. The believing is second, in one’s heart.

The Pentecostal sign
Acts 1:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. On the Pentecost following Jesus’s resurrection the apostles spoke in tongues and hearers heard, each in his own language. The example of the Pentecost sign presupposes and illustrates taking the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, and to all sorts of languages.[vi] The inspired word of God must not be heard in only one language, but it available in many. The word is translatable! Lamin Sanneh, a professor at Yale, put it this way: “Pentecost signaled the expansion of Christianity beyond the boundaries of one language, race and culture.”

A distinction of sounds
In 1 Corinthians 14:3-28 Paul makes a point of edifying instruction. All together edify, edified, edifieth, and edification are found seven times in verses 3, 4, 5, 12, 17 and 26.[vii] Notice also, “except they give a distinction in the sounds…words easy to be understood…if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian…in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” Paul implies the need of translation when he promotes edification in a language one can understand above demonstration in a language that could not be understood. The why? Edification and comprehension are more desirable. More importantly, the word should be understandable rather than foreign.

Search the scriptures
Commands to read, search, and rightly divide the scriptures presuppose the ability of those under that command to obey it. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. “The necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life...”[viii] The scriptures make us wise to salvation (2 Timothy 3:15; John 20:30-31), are written for our instruction and to induce comfort and hope (Romans 15:4), and furnish us completely for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Searching the scriptures exhibits a nobility of character not found in those who do not. Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Hide the word in your heart
Psalm 119:11 and Colossians 3:16 offer some implications about the language of the heart – each one’s first language or mother tongue. The rich indwelling of the word is impossible in a language that is unknown, and difficult in a language that is not well-known. In Psalm 119 the exaltation of the forever-settled word (v. 89) that is a lamp and a light (v. 105) includes meditation (v. 15), longing (v. 20), remembrance (v. 52), rejoicing (v. 162), speaking (v. 172), and delight (vs. 16, 174). How can one mediate, remember, and delight in a sealed book? (Cf. Isaiah 29:11-12).

The Gospel for every tongue
There are redeemed and clothed in white robes out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9). John ate of the “little book[ix] and was to prophesy before many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings (Revelation 10:11). The angel who had the everlasting gospel[x] preached to all them that dwell on the earth – to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, to every language (Revelation 14:6; cf. Galatians 1:8-9).  The gospel for all nations, preached to all nations, signifies the need for the gospel in the tongues or languages of all nations.

The Translated Word
Jesus is the Word. He is the alpha and omega – the first and last of the alphabet and all letters in between (Revelation 1:8). The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). In the supernatural and sublime act of incarnation, the divine Spirit was translated into human flesh, whereby he might reveal himself. God the Spirit as God the Flesh Man met men where they are and inerrantly revealed himself, as the Word and by his words. He spoke to man in ways they could understand, in their own language, so to speak. God’s miracle of incarnation well illustrates how the written word may be “incarnated” into the various languages of the peoples of the world.


Authority for the translation of the inspired words of God will not be found in an explicit command, “Thou shalt translate all these words into other languages.” Rather it is implicit, found in the nature of the God who gave the word – the God of all the earth (Cf. Isaiah 54:5) – and the nature of the word itself – a word for all people, tongues and nations (Cf. Isaiah 45:22). Scripture itself, our rule of faith and practice, contains all the elements of which Bible translation is a necessary consequence.

The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
(Psalm 68:11)

[i] True Islam web site
[ii] After the return from exile, Aramaic rather than Hebrew was the usual language of communication among the Jews.
[iii] For example, the Council of Trent (4th session, 1546)  “ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition…be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic [i.e., authoritative]; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.” – Decree Concerning the Edition and Use of the Sacred Books, 1546
[iv] For examples, see Matthew 5:22; 27:46; Mark 5:41; 7:34; 11:9; 14:36; John 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:22.
[v] In addition to the New Testament in Greek and the Old Testament primarily in Hebrew, some portions of the Old Testament were written in Aramaic – Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Daniel 2:46-7:28; one verse in Jeremiah – 10:11; and two words in Genesis 31:47 (Jegar-sahadutha).
[vi] This is not a direct apples-to-apples comparison. Speaking in tongues was superficially a speaking gift because it was a language, something spoken – but primarily tongues was a sign gift. The tongues in Acts 2 were for a sign and fulfillment of prophecy. They were not necessary for simply communicating the gospel. Many people miss the fact that the people present were able to communicate with one another in a common language. See Acts 2:7, 12, where they were “saying one to another.” They could have understood in whatever common language they spoke, without the gift of tongues.
[vii] As translated in the King James Bible.
[viii] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, p. 116
[ix] Revelation? The New Testament? John was to both eat (digest) and prophesy (declare) the words of the little book (Cf. Psalm 119:103 and Ezekiel 3:1-3). The book was open, accessible (Revelation 10:2, 8).
[x] The gospel is everlasting, or eternal. Its truths have always existed, and are immutable, or unchanging. The redemption it provides is everlasting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Various KJVO Statements by Baptists

The following statements are random, based on search results I easily found with the DuckDuckGo search engine (plus a few from my minutes collection). They begin to demonstrate the faithfulness to the King James Bible across a wide variety of Baptists both by theology and location.

Free Will Baptist
Statement of Faith, Original Stone Association of Free Will Baptists, Tennessee
B.  We believe the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1: 20-21).  The King James Version of the Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the Association.

Articles of Faith, First Free Will Baptist Church, Greenwood, SC
6. Scriptures — we believe that holy men of old wrote the Bible as they were moved, (lit. “Being borne along”) by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21, which harmonizes with 2 Timothy 3:15, which teaches that all Scripture is inspired.” (Lit. “God breathed” or “breathed out by God”).  This means that the Holy Spirit so superintended the writers of the Holy Scripture that, although they utilized their own vocabularies and  experiences, they wrote the very exact message God intended without any omission, addition, or error which means that the Bible is theologically, historically, scientifically, and geographically correct since the Holy Spirit is incapable of erring.  Being plenary verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit guarantees the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible in every area in which it speaks and makes it the highest authority and guide for the believer.  The King James Version of the Bible shall be the official and only translation used by the church.

Christian Unity Baptist Association
Articles of Faith of the Christian Unity Baptist Association, North Carolina
2. We believe the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, is the scriptural word of God given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. John 5:39, Rom. 16:25-26,11 Tim. 3:15-17, Acts 28:23-28, II Pet. 1:20-21. We believe in using only the King James version of the Bible.
[The Christian Unity Baptist Association was formed September 27-28, 1935 in Ashe County, North Carolina. Historically tied to the Regular Baptists of the region, the Christian Unity Baptist Association varied from its predecessors, becoming a somewhat primitivistic Arminian body. They continued the rite of feet washing, taught falling from grace, allowed women ministers, and practiced open communion. The Articles of Faith that include the King James Bible were adopted at their first meeting in 1935.]

Missionary Baptist
First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, Springfield, Oregon
“Only the Authorized King James Bible contains the Word of God.”

Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptist Church, Texarkana, Texas
“We believe and teach the King James Bible; while you are welcome to use any bible translation you choose, we only use the King James Bible. We believe the scriptures both Hebrew and Greek text was properly translated for King James and completed in 1611.”

Statement of Faith, Interstate and Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association
I. We believe in the infallible, verbal inspiration of the whole Bible (2 Peter 1.19-21; 2 Timothy 3.16) and specifically, that the Bible is the Word of God and does not merely contain the Word of God. We reject any and all modern translations and or versions which are not substantially in keeping with the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible.

Old Regular Baptist
Articles of Faith, Fifty-Ninth Annual Session of the Northern New Salem Association of Old Regular Baptist of Jesus Christ, August 5-7, 2016 (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio)
Article 2. We believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the 1611 Authorized King James version of the Bible are the written words of God, and the only rules of Faith and practice. 2nd Peter 1:21, 2nd Tim. 3:16

Articles of Faith, One Hundred and Eighteenth Annual Session of the Sardis Association of Old Regular Baptist, September 10-12, 2010 (Kentucky)
Article 2. We believe the scripture of the Old and New Testaments of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible are the written words of God and are the only rules of faith and practice.

Primitive Baptist
Articles of Faith, Senter District Primitive Baptist Association, Ashe County, North Carolina (From the Minutes of the Nintey-third Annual Session, Senter District Primitive Baptist Association, September 6-8, 1946)
2. We believe that scriptures of the Old and New Testament as translated in the 1611 King James version of the Holy Bible, is the written work of God and the only rule of faith and practice.

Articles of Faith, Mars Hill Primitive Baptist Church, Hoboken Georgia
2nd. We believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, of the original King James Bible, are the words of God, and the only rule of FAITH AND PRACTICE. References: 2 Peter 1:21; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Luke 24:45; Isaiah 8:20 (Also “Our beliefs and preaching are from the King James Bible.”)

Separate Baptist
Articles of Doctrine for All Associations, Separate Baptists in Christ
Article 1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the infallible Word of God, and the only safe rule of faith and practice, using the King James version of the Holy Bible for English-speaking people (We believe that non-English speaking people should use a Bible comparable to the King James version of the Holy Bible.). Rom 15:4, I Cor 10:11, II Tim 3:16-17, Gen 1:1 through Rev 22:21.

Union/Regular Baptist
History of White Oak Mountain Union Baptist Church, Helton, Ashe County, North Carolina
“None of those preachers had been to college, and none had had any religion or divinity courses, but t hey all knew the King James Bible (the only acceptable Bible there was) inside out.” (by Pamela Spencer Sizemore)

United Baptist
Articles of Faith, Old Zion Association of United Baptist, Kentucky
Article 5.  We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament of the Authorized King James Version to be the infallible Word of God, taken then for our only rule of faith and practice; and nothing to be added or to be taken from them.

Articles of Faith, Paint Union Association of United Baptist, Kentucky
5. We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as recorded in the AUTHORIZED KING JAMES VERSION of the BIBLE, to be the infallible Word of God, take it for our only true rule of faith and practice, and nothing is to be added or taken from it.

Other Associations
Articles of Faith, Minutes of the Forty-First Annual Session of the Central Baptist Association, Inc., August 1-3, 1996 (TN,VA), p. 20
2. We believe that the Old and New Testament scriptures as recorded in the King James translation of 1611 to be the written and revealed word of God, and are the only rules of faith and practice. II Tim. 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21.

Articles of Faith, Minutes of the One Hundred Seventy Second Annual Session of the East Washington Association of Regular Baptist Churches of Christ, September 15-17, 2005 (Arkansas) p. 12 
2. We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (King James Version) are of Divine Authority, and the only Rule of Faith and practice. II Peter 1:21; II Tim. 3:16.

Constitution, Minutes of the 101st Annual Session of the New Hope Baptist Association, September 22-24, 1984 (Georgia) p. 15 
Article 2. We believe and receive the Original King James Version of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God, and that they contain the only safe rule of faith and practice.

According to John Sparks in The Roots of Appalachian Christianity (p. 304) the articles of faith of the Paint Union had been changed only once in the life of the association (up until the time he was writing, of course), and that was “in 1989 to advocate the use of the King James version of the Bible and no other.”

In Giving Glory to God in Appalachia: Worship Practices of Six Baptist Sub-Denominations, Howard Dorgan (p. 16) tells of the Mountain District Primitive Baptist Association peacefully changing one of their articles of faith in 1978. “The article had read: ‘We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament is [sic] the written word of God and the only rule of faith and practice.’ The change resulted in the following: ‘We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as translated in 1611 into the King James Version of the Holy Bible, is the written word of God and the only rule of faith and practice.’” Such changes in most cases reveal a change in the articles of faith to reflect practice, rather than a change in practice.

Monday, March 19, 2018

KJV-Only predates Wilkinson

…by over 100 years!

It is a common assertion of the KJV-Discreditors[i] that “King James Onlyism” originated in 1930 with Seventh-day Adventist Benjamin Wilkinson in his book Our Authorized Bible: Vindicated. For example, in “The Unlearned Men: The True Genealogy and Genesis of King-James-Version-Onlyism,” Doug Kutilek writes, “Every KJVO advocate is a lineal descendant of Wilkinson, Ray, Fuller and Ruckman…”

Now, I reckon there is an element of truth in that – when we view KJVO as a movement within Fundamentalism. Ray and Fuller definitely show dependence on Wilkinson in their writings, and later fundamentalists show dependence on Ray and Fuller. But every KJVO advocate is not a lineal descendant of Wilkinson, et al. Some aren’t “descendants” at all! As someone who spends a lot of time in dusty Baptist records, I could intuit that acceptance of the King James Version as THE ONLY BIBLE had a much longer history among Baptists – even if the idea might not be sophisticated and was unsupported by a writing culture (i.e., producing books like Wilkinson, Ray, & Fuller). The variety of primitivistic Baptist groups that use only the KJV – who probably never heard of Ray and Fuller before the rise of the internet, and some maybe not even now – should give the historian pause from making dogmatic assertions about the origin and extent of so-called “KJV-Only.”

In The Menace of Modernism William Bell Riley briefly referenced an “old” belief that the King James Bible was inerrant, even though he figured “that such fogies in Biblical knowledge are few, and their funerals are nigh at hand.” Lo and behold, some of the “old fogies” spoke out in Tennessee 100 years before Riley wrote his book in 1917 – yes, 1817!!

In the history of the Original Tennessee Association of Primitive Baptists supplied at the New Providence Primitive Baptist Church website, it is recorded that the Tennessee Association of Baptists “established the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible as its standard” in their 1817 meeting. The minutes reveal the accuracy of this statement.

Troubled by the assertions of “a Mr. John Hutchison, a Methodist circuit rider…that a translation by Mr. John Wesley had been received by the Baptists as sacred more than twenty years ago,” the association answered “from the best authority we have received from England, Wales, Germany, and the United States, such a thing has never come to our knowledge, but we are certainly informed that the Old and New Testament translated by order of King James the 1st, has been always the standard for the Baptists.” Another query followed. How should the churches “behave ourselves towards preachers, and people that have altered the New Testament and those that adhere and propagate the same?”
“Answer: We believe that any person, either in a public or private capacity who would adhere to, or propagate any alteration of the New Testament contrary to that already translated by order of King James the 1st, that is now in common use, ought not be encouraged but agreeable to the Apostles words to mark such and have no fellowship with them; and for the authority of our belief we refer to the following scriptures, viz: Deuteronomy 4th Chapter and 2 verse, Chapter 12 and 32 Chapter 28 and verse 14, Joshua 1 and 7, Proverbs 30 and 6, Rev. 22 and 18, 19, 2 John 10 verse. ”[ii]
One may object to the accuracy of their history (“King James the 1st, has been always the standard for the Baptists”) or how they determined to respond to the threat (“mark such and have no fellowship with them”). However, it is impossible not to see – and admit, if you’re honest – that this body of Baptists adhered to the King James only 113 years before Benjamin Wilkinson wrote any book, and 55 years before Wilkinson was even born. The Tennessee Association went so far as “to mark such [as make any alteration of the New Testament] and have no fellowship with them.” That sounds pretty KJVO to me!

Anti-KJV historians, please revise your history – and your polemics based on that history.

[i] While one often sees charges online about the extremes of KJV-Onlyists such as Riplinger and Ruckman, it often goes without mention that there are extremists who fight the King James Bible. In the book From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man: A Layman’s Guide to How We Got Our Bible (edited by James B. Williams) these extremists are called out and labeled “King James Discreditors” or “KJV Discreditors.”
[ii] From pages 2 and 3 of the minutes of the Tennessee Association of Baptists (org. 1802), when meeting at Hickory Creek Meeting House, Knox County, Tennessee, October 4ff, 1817. Those who wish to see for themselves may download the minutes HERE.

The great god Entertainment

“For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make whatever use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of Heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.”
A. W. Tozer in The Root of the Righteous, 1955, pp. 32-33

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thy Will, Not Mine

I previously posted F. W. Pitt’s hymn The Rock and This is the True God. I haven’t found much biographical information on him, but what I feel is accurate can be found HERE.

The following poem is credited to F. W. Pitt in Christian Missions, a supplement to the Gospel Herald.

Lord, when I cannot understand
Thy silence in the hour
When I most need Thy helping hand
And Thy delivering power.
This shall my joy and comfort be.
That so it seemeth good to Thee.

When things on which my heart is set
Thy sovereign will denies.
If I am tempted to forget
That Thou art just and wise.
Let this my joy and comfort be.
That so it seemeth good to Thee.

When those I love from me depart
To mansions in the skies.
And sorrow overwhelms my heart
And blinds my weeping eyes.
Oh, Lord! Let this my comfort be.
That so it seemeth good to Thee.

Thus, onward to the very end.
My Lord, my God, my All,
I will not doubt my heavenly Friend;
But, whatsoe’er befall.
This shall my joy and comfort be.
That so it seemeth good to Thee.

— F. W. Pitt (as printed in Christian Missions, April, 1945, p. 20)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

KJVO, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

King James in the Menace of Modernism

In recently reading about the “King James Version Debate,” I have noticed a certain ad hominem argument about the origin of the “King James Only” position. (I’m sure I’ve read this before and it just failed to sink in.) This argument finds the origins of KJVO within Seventh-Day Adventism, and some Baptists seem especially fond of applying the guilt by association label. For example, Doug Kutilek writes, “In the realm of King-James-Version-Onlyism, just such a genealogy of error can be easily traced. All writers who embrace the KJV-only position have derived their views ultimately from Seventh-day Adventist missionary, theology professor and college president, Benjamin G. Wilkinson (d.1968), through one of two or three of his spiritual descendants.”[i]

It is a fact that Benjamin George Wilkinson (1872–1968), author of Our Authorized Bible: Vindicated, was a Seventh-day Adventist – at least a missionary, educator, and theologian. He served as Dean of Theology at the Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland (then known as Washington Missionary College). In 1930 he published Our Authorized Bible: Vindicated. In it, Wilkinson defended the text of the King James Bible and, according to Kutilek, “attacked the Westcott-Hort Greek text…expressed strong opposition to the English Revised Version New Testament… manufactured the erroneous idea that the medieval Waldensian Bible was based on the Old Latin version and not the Vulgate, and that the Old Latin version was Byzantine in its text-type.” It is also a fact that David Otis Fuller’s 1970 book, Which Bible, reprinted much of the Wilkinson material.[ii]

As David Cloud notes, “Whether Fuller was right or wrong in reprinting some of Wilkinson’s writings (and hiding the fact that Wilkinson was an Adventist) is something each reader will have to decide for himself” – and Cloud has definitely decided he was wrong (I agree). But Cloud also points out that Wilkinson did not always create new ideas about the Bible, but repeated argument that were made by others long before. He mentions “A number of articles were published in the [Trinitarian Bible Society] Quarterly Record at the turn of the century critiquing the ERV and supporting the Received Text…Another example was fundamentalist leader William Aberhart (1878-1943), who stood for the Received Text and the King James Bible in western Canada during the first half of the twentieth century” and that “One of his sources was the writings of John William Burgon, whose book The Revision Revised was first published in 1881.”

Perhaps Wilkinson’s book is the first book-length defense of its kind “vindicating” the King James Bible. I don’t know of another that is earlier. Perhaps one can play with the word “movement” and argue that there was not a King James Only Movement prior to Wilkinson (and more particularly, the fundamentalists who agreed with and promoted the same ideas he had). One simple fact is that there was no need for a KJVO movement prior to advanced efforts to replace it with other English Bibles.

Another simple fact is that support for the King James Bible as the English-speaking Bible may not have been sophisticated prior to this time – but it did exist. Other that the ether-world of scholars, I suspect that the average English-speaking Christian found their King James Bible to be a trustworthy repository of the inspired word of God.

The Menace of Modernism by William Bell Riley (New York, NY: Christian Alliance Publishing Company, 1917) shows that to be the case.[iii] Riley’s primary focus was a defense against modernism. In his introductory material he divides the attitudes toward the Bible into three “conceptions.” He called his view “the true conception” – wherein “The Bible is divine in origin, and human in expression (p. 13).” He disputes “the new conception” of the modernists – that “The Bible is purely human in its origin and authorship; second, the inspiration of the Bible exists only in its ability to inspire, and finally, its interpretation is a matter of mental convenience (p. 10).” He describes “the old conception” – including those who believed the King James Bible was inerrant. He incorrectly assumed that this “old conception” as on its last leg, probably thinking most inerrantists approved of his “true conception.”
On this point we are inclined to think that, even unto comparatively recent years, such a theory has been entertained. The result, of course, is to make a sort of fetish of the book. That is why, in many a family, it is kept on the center-table and seldom used. They do not want to soil its sacredness. Dr. Arthur T. Pierson tells the story of a Karen village into which a travelling Mussulman had come bearing a mysterious book, which he told the Karens was sacred and entitled to divine honors. It was accepted, and wrapped in muslin and encased in a basket work of reeds, like Moses’ cradle. The mysterious book became deified and venerated, a kind of high priest and sacristan combined. When Boardman came to the village he was asked by the Karens to examine it, and it was found to be the ‘Book of Common Prayer and Psalms,’ an Oxford edition in English, and Mr. Boardman, with joy, entered upon its exposition, and like Paul at Athens, declared unto them the true God. And even now in more remote districts, where educational advantages have been few, the history of the Bible is unknown. Of its translation from language to language they have never learned, and yet I think it would be accepted without fear of successful controversy that such fogies in Biblical knowledge are few, and their funerals are nigh at hand.
“To be sure, there are multitudes who do not understand that the Scriptures were originally written either in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek; that all the original versions were lost, and that the copies of the New Testament date many years this side of Jesus, and that our Scriptures are translations which have come by the way of the Septuagint and Coptic versions, and have been improved in the passage by Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Tyndale, Covedale, and others; that in 1611, seventy of the most scholarly men, at the King’s command, gave us our ‘authorized version,’ and that between 1870 and 1885 the Canterbury Revision Committee, made up of a hundred of the world’s most accurate scholars, accomplished the text of the Revised Version. To claim, therefore, inerrancy for the King James Version, or even for the Revised Version, is to claim inerrancy for men who never professed it for themselves; to clothe with the claim of verbal inspiration a company of men who would almost quit their graves to repudiate such equality with prophet and apostle.” (pp. 7-9; bold italic emphasis mine; the book is now available in reprint, and a partial view Solid Christian Books: Menace of Modernism, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, October 7, 2014)
One hundred years ago (1917), fundamentalist William Bell Riley knew that a “KJVO” position existed, that is was “old,” and believed that it was laying on its deathbed. But it is still here, and shows no signs of dying any time soon! Most importantly to my post topic, Riley’s written recognition of this position predates Benjamin Wilkinson’s book by 13 years.

[i] The Unlearned Men: The True Genealogy and Genesis of King-James-Version-Onlyism; See also “The Background and Origin of the Version Debate,” in One Bible Only: Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible, p. 44.
[ii] It seems to be agreed by many that God Wrote Only One Bible (1955), by J. J. Ray, uses much of Wilkinson’s material without attribution. I have never seen this book, but discovered the 1976 edition is online HERE.
[iii] Some pages – particularly the relevant ones – are missing in this HathiTrust scan.