Monday, December 15, 2008

Proorizo in the King James Bible

A Critique of Joseph R. Holder’s King James Translation of προορίζω [proorizo] Versus Other Contemporary Translations.

The full text of Elder Holder’s essay/word study can be read
HERE. He inspects the six uses of the word προορίζω [proorizo] in the Greek New Testament and the corresponding translations of it in the King James Bible. The word study is designed to take effect on those of us who love and use the King James Bible – the particular effect being to reject the idea of God’s predestination of things. Brother Holder notes that when people are referenced in four uses of proorizo, the KJB uses predestinate. When “associated with impersonal events” the translators use different English words rather than predestinate.

We can agree on:
1. In Romans 8:29, 30 and Ephesians 1:5, 11 the KJB uses predestinate/d; in Acts 4:28 and I Cor. 2:7 determined before and ordained before are used.
2. The King James translation is accurate.

It may seem, those propositions granted, that Elder Holder’s case is proven. It may seem -- but not so fast. Let us look at the whole picture. In my opinion, this study contains some errors in logic. The first few I will pass over briefly then move on toward more weighty matters.

It is a linguistic fallacy that two different English words cannot mean the same thing. There are English words that have the same or similar meaning, semantic overlap, etc. Of itself, the fact that different English words are used in different verses proves little. Will we take the position that every usage of two different words in the KJB must mean two completely different things? If we believe this “different words principle” is valid, let us apply it consistently. For example, always omit the word “love” from any and all preached or written references to I Corinthians chapter 13. “Love” is found nowhere in that chapter in the KJB.

Next is an underlying ad hominem fallacy that implies guilt by association. “Predestinate” is used in the ESV and NASB where it is not in the KJB. Then the Christian who references predestination in Acts 4:28 or I Cor. 2:7 is associated with these contemporary translations. Yet some Christians used “predestinate” to refer to things long before any of these modern translations existed. They evidently didn’t get the idea there.

And Elder Holder makes the mistake of attributing his conclusion – avoiding any implication of attributing to God the acts of those who crucified Jesus – as the reason the King James translators made particular word choices. This is an assumption at best. It would be interesting to investigate the beliefs of the King James translators regarding predestination.

But now I pass on to Elder Holder’s conclusion. For the sake of argument I will try to stick with his terms. But this is more than a disagreement of word choices.

The author defines predestination as causative or controlling when it applies to people and their salvation. But then he asserts that God’s involvement in events/things (particularly the crucifixion; no notice is taken of I Cor. 2:7) is neither causative nor controlling, with no investigation of the actual words in Acts 4:28 in the King James Bible. In the end, Elder Holder rests his case before he makes it.

The false dilemma or the “horns of a dilemma” fallacy. Given his two choices – “Did God effectually take over the minds and actions of otherwise law-abiding civil servants and religious leaders and force them to commit the dreadful acts that they committed against our Lord? Or did God intervene in the evil intents of these men and prevent them from doing far more than they did?” – one might naturally choose the latter. But these are not our only choices. Did God permit the actions of wicked civil servants and let religious zealots commit dreadful acts against our Lord in His determination to “bruise Him,” “put Him to grief” and “make His soul an offering for sin”? Or did He control their actions? Or could it have been one of several other ideas folks might hold? Perhaps a combination of causation, control and/or permission? Or determination of the acts of the wicked without culpability for those acts? Bible students hold more than just the two explanations of this essay.

The false cause or cum hoc, ergo propter hoc (with this therefore because of this). The events surrounding the coming of Christ are taken as examples “of divine limitation rather than divine cause.” But this is an assumption in which the facts prove what one already believes rather than founding the belief. Examples of divine limitation could just as well be examples of divine cause. The facts do not distinguish one from the other. That “Jesus came into the world at a time when Rome governed Judah…” can just as well be cause as limitation. If not, why not? “The timing of the crucifixion the day before a religious holiday…” can just as well be cause as limitation. If not, why not?

So God was merely intervening at intervals to limit what happened to Jesus? Never mind that Jesus came in the fullness of time that God actively determined and accurately prophesied. God determined when and where and by whom Jesus would be born. It was neither accident nor permission that the Spirit overshadowed a particular young virgin in a particular era. God was active in determining the crucifixion, yea, even before the foundation of the world. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him and make His soul an offering for sin. God gave Pilate authority (John 19:11), for without it he had no power against Jesus. God spared not His Son, but delivered Him up for us, Rom. 8:32. God gave Jesus the cup to drink, John 18:11. God awakened the sword against Him, Zech. 13:7. These and other verses contain the language of causation, not permission; action, not passivity.

Now let us inspect what the King James Bible records in Acts 4:28 and I Cor. 2:7.

Ordained before the world. I Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Holder takes no notice of this beyond citing it. A consistent approach would mean that God only permitted Paul to reveal the hidden mysteries and did not actively determine anything before the world began. But God was deliberate in hiding it (Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:9) and active (not passive) in revealing it. And He determined/ordained this to be before the world began. Cf. I Cor. 2:10, God hath revealed.

Determined before. Acts 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Is Acts 4:28 in the language of causation or permission? Notice the King James Bible says the truth = against Jesus, Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles and Israelites were gathered together (passive) to do what? Whatsoever God and God’s counsel determined. This is not permission. God had determined these events. And they are before determined (pre-determined). Notice a parallel passage in Acts 2:22-23. Jesus was delivered how? By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The men of Israel in their acts were wicked. Peter does not pass this off as God merely allowing it to happen. Neither does he charge God with wickedness. There are no words in these verses of God passively permitting the crucifixion or simply prohibiting things from getting out of hand. It is a curious theology indeed in which God predestines the end (eternal glory of His people) but fails to predetermine the means (the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross). The Bible declares that Jesus stood a lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Cf. I Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8).

In my opinion, Elder Holder fails to make the case. He does not give sufficient reason that the King James Bible translations of proorizo prove God did not predetermine things/events before the foundation of the world. We can for the sake of argument accept Elder Holder’s terms and speak of God predestinating people and determining before things. If this were only a disagreement of word choices, it could be resolved quickly. But one will find that in dropping predestinating and speaking of determining before, Elder Holder and other limited predestinarians still will not agree that God determined beforehand and brought to pass the events of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is not so much in the words that we disagree, but in the theology.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is intriguing. I think I'll have to read it a few more times.