Friday, April 27, 2018

A. Campbell’s New Testament and the KJV

In older times, before tomes on the modern Bible controversy were written, most Baptists in the U.S. had little reason to discuss whether the King James Bible was the “only” Bible. For all intents and purposes it was! Once in awhile some controversy arose to ruffle the feathers of Baptist Zion. Alexander Campbell’s “The Living Oracles” New Testament was one such occasion. Baptist opposition to Campbell and his theology included opposition to his New Testament, while expressing support for the King James Bible. The controversy was especially rank in Kentucky, and some records survive of Baptist support of the KJV in this controversy.

The North District Association of Separate Baptists in Kentucky suffered much (and eventually died) from the controversy, much of it surrounding the popular preacher John Smith
“But the records reveal other difficulties which tried the souls of the church members. Even though six full pages of the minutes for the period from October, 1829, to April, 1831, inclusive, were cut from the record book and apparently destroyed, there remains enough in the minutes and in other sources to indicate that the teachings of Alexander Campbell and other kindred spirits disturbed Old Cane Springs. As early as July, 1827, the North District Association had convened in the church there with Elder David Chenault presiding as moderator. The renowned Elder John Smith, often called ‘Raccoon John,’ was present and was arraigned by the brethren for preferring the Holy Spirit to the Holy Ghost in the baptismal ritual, for preferring actually to break the bread when taking the sacrament, and for preferring a more recent translation of the Bible to the King James version. Chenault and a big majority were strongly against him and such innovations.” [History, Old Cane Springs Baptist Church,The trial of Raccoon John Smith is also related in Raccoon John Smith: Frontier Kentucky’s Most Famous Preacher, John Sparks, pages 235-260]

In a letter from ‘Titus’ to Campbell’s periodical, there is a reference to comments of Elder George Waller, saying the KJV translators were providentially protected: 
It is presumption, it is wicked, for an individual, and he a mere smatterer, to take the work of a translation out of the hands of king James’ translators, men so renowned for their learning and piety, who were so providentially protected, and who lived so much nearer the age of the apostles, that they must, consequently, have been much better acquainted with the original language than any man can be in the present age.” [Christian Baptist, Vol. IV, No. 10 (May 7, 1827) [Vol. 4:196-197]. (As quoted in Alexander Campbell and His New Translation, p. 11)]

In July 1827  the Lulbegrud church brought 3 complaints to the North District Association re John Smith, one concerning the Bible directly:
“1. That, while it is the custom of Baptists to use as the Word of God King James’s translation, he had, on two or three occasions in public, and often privately in his family, read from Alexander Campbell’s translation.
“2. That, while it is the custom in the ceremony of baptism to take the candidate into the water, and solemnly pronounce the words, ‘I baptize you, my brother, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,’ ‘he, on the contrary, is in the habit of saying, ‘By the authority of Jesus Christ, I immerse you into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“3. That, in administering the Lord’s Supper, while it is the custom of the Baptists for an ordained preacher to stand at the table and give thanks, and break the loaf into bits, or morsels, small enough to be readily taken into the mouth, and then for the deacons to pass these around in a plate, or some like convenience, yet he leaves the bread in large pieces, teaching that each communicant should break it for himself.” (Life of Elder John Smith: with Some Account of the Rise and Progress of the Current Reformation, John Augustus Williams, Cincinnati, OH: R. W. Carroll & Company, 1870, p. 146)

Report of the Committee on “Baptist Customs and Usages,” at Howard’s Upper Creek, Clark County, Kentucky, 4th Saturday in July, 1831:
“That translation of the Scriptures called King James’s is the version that the five names of Baptists treated of in this report receive, refer to, and confide in as authentic. The principles of government are exhibited in the proceedings of the council at Lulbegrud [the church where they met for a special meeting in April 1830, rlv].” (Life of Elder John Smith: with Some Account of the Rise and Progress of the Current Reformation, John Augustus Williams, Cincinnati, OH: R. W. Carroll & Company, 1870, p. 424)

Williams says to see also “Alonzo Willard Fortune, The Disciples in Kentucky (Lexington, KY: Convention of the Christian Churches in Kentucky, 1932), 82-83, for similar charges against Smith from the Mount Zion Church of the Green River Association.”

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