TESTIMONIES OF KJV DEFENDERS - IAN PAISLEY
Updated August 10, 2004 (first published August 30, 1999) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
This is another installment in our series of testimonies of men and organizations that defend the King James Bible.
Those who want to take a neutral position on the issue of Bible texts and versions often claim that the current defense of the King James Bible and its underlying Greek Received Text is an unnecessarily divisive, near-cultic position that has no historical precedent among fundamentalists and other strong Bible believers. This is historic revisionism of the worst sort. The fact is that only recently have professing fundamentalists begun using and defending the modern versions. Though some fundamentalist leaders might have had their “fingers crossed” when they spoke of the King James Bible as the preserved Word of God in English, multitudes of others believed it was exactly that and believed it without equivocation. And thousands of strong Bible believers during the past two centuries have defended the Greek Received Text as the preserved Word of God and have condemned modern textual criticism as heresy. This is not a new and obscure position that was devised only a few decades ago by a Seventh-day Adventist or by Peter Ruckman, as some would have us believe!
In the book FROM THE MIND OF GOD TO THE MIND OF MAN: A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO HOW WE GOT OUR BIBLE (1999, Ambassador-Emerald Press, Greenville, South Carolina), we find a recent example of the aforementioned revision of history. This book is edited by James B. Williams. Contributors and other men associated with the book include John Ashbrook of the Ohio Bible Fellowship; Keith Gephart of International Baptist College; William Smallman of Baptist Mid-Missions; Ernest Pickering of Baptist World Mission; Larry Oats of Maranatha Baptist Bible College; James Price of Temple Baptist Seminary; Douglas McLachlan of Central Baptist Theological Seminary; Sam Horn of Northland Baptist Bible College; and David Beale of Bob Jones University. This book was promoted at the World Congress of Fundamentalists at Bob Jones University in 1999. An autographed copy was presented to Bob Jones III at an evening session, and he made a passionate speech about it. Within a matter of hours, their stock of the book was sold out and more copies were delivered the next day.
In the Introduction to this book, Dr. J.B. Williams called the defense of the KJV a “cancerous sore” that has resulted in “a deplorable condition in Fundamentalism.” He described the defense of the KJV a “mass of misinformation.” Dr. Williams then traced the history of what he calls “King James Onlyism” back to Seventh-day Adventist Benjamin Wilkinson and to Dr. Peter Ruckman, editor of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin. He then listed “others who have joined in this parade of misinformers, including D.A. Waite, E.L. Bynum, Jack Chick, and Walter Beebe” (page 7). He said: “The list increases with time as more unqualified proponents of the KJV Only view join in the confusion.”
Those are not mild words, my friends. These men say they are concerned about the “mean-spiritedness” and divisiveness of those who defend the KJV, but FROM THE MIND OF GOD TO THE MIND OF MAN sounds very mean-spirited and divisive to me.
Furthermore, having studied this topic diligently for 25 years, having spent many thousands of dollars to purchase related books, having developed one of the most extensive bibliographies on the subject, having gone to great expense to travel to serious research facilities such as the British Library, having corresponded with hundreds of men on all sides of this subject, and having written an extensive history of the defense of the Received Text and the King James Bible, I am convinced that Dr. Williams presents a slanderous caricature of the truth. Dr. Williams ignores the fact that many King James Bible defenders have scholarly credentials at least equal to that of the contributors to From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man.
It is an unequivocal fact of history that the defense of the Received Text and the KJV did not originate with a Seventh-day Adventist, but with godly men in Britain in the 1800s who defended the Greek text underlying the KJV against the new theories of textual criticism, which they considered to be unbelieving and heretical. I have documented this extensively in my 500-page hardcover book For Love of the Bible: The History of the Defense of the KJV and the Received Text from 1800 to Present [available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. http://www.wayoflife.org (web site), firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail), 866-295-4143 (toll free), 519-652-2619 (phone)].
This series of articles is an attempt to help set the record straight. The following is an example of the men and organizations that have defended the Received Text and the King James Bible during the past 150 years:
The Free Presbyterian Church stands firmly in the old Presbyterian faith. They are strictly separated from the apostasy of the hour and hold to the Authorized English Bible. The Free Presbyterian Church was founded in 1951 in Northern Ireland. There are 17 of these congregations in North America and roughly 100 in the world. The following statement on the Bible is from Separated Unto the Gospel, a book published by the Free Presbyterians to explain their position.
“In carrying on this preaching ministry the Free Presbyterian Church has, throughout its history, used the Authorized (often called the ‘King James’) Version of the Scriptures. We wish to avoid the confusion that arises from the use of many different translations and paraphrases in church services. We believe the Authorized Version is unrivaled as a translation of the Scriptures and that it reflects the authentic, historic Hebrew and Greek texts that God ‘immediately inspired, and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages’ (Westminster Confession of Faith, I.8).”
Note that the Free Presbyterians apply the Westminster Confession’s statement on the preservation of Scripture directly to the Authorized Version and to the Received Text. This, of course, is only reasonable, as this was precisely the Text revered by the men who drew up the Westminster Confession.
Many of the Free Presbyterian pastors and laymen have spoken and written in defense of the King James Bible. Ian Richard Kyle Paisley (1926- ) in Ireland is one example. He is Pastor of a noted Free Presbyterian congregation. He is a revivalist and preaches evangelistically across Ireland. He also founded the Democratic Unionist Party to help stem the efforts to unite Ireland under Catholic authority. In 1970, Paisley was elected to the North Ireland Parliament. He was then elected to the British Parliament, and in 1979, to the European Parliament. Paisley’s popularity is seen in that in this latter election he received more votes than any politician in all United Kingdom electoral history. His popularity has not waned. In 1994, he received even more votes than he had in the 1989 election.
I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Paisley on my trip to Northern Ireland a few years ago. He invited me to lunch with him at a restaurant in downtown Belfast, and it was a memorable experience. He told me about his protest against Pope John Paul II at the European Parliament. He told me about the attempts that have been made upon his life. He told me about the man who attempted to assassinate him who was later saved in prison under his preaching. Obviously we do not agree with Dr. Paisley on several important theological matters; but in these days of spiritual pacifism and ministerial cowardice, I praise the Lord for any man who is bold for the truth as he sees it.
Paisley’s bold stand has brought him into a lot of trouble through the years. In October 1988, Paisley was beaten and carried unceremoniously out of a European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France. The occasion was a speech made by Pope John Paul II before the Parliament. As the Pope began his message, Paisley stood and held up a red sign painted in black letters with the words “John Paul II ANTICHRIST.” Paisley shouted, “I refuse you as Christ’s enemy and Antichrist with all your false doctrine.” These were the words spoken by Archbishop Cranmer before he was burned at the stake for his testimony. Paisley was viciously and illegally attacked Catholic parliamentarians, and he was injured in his legs and spine. In 1989, Paisley opposed Billy Graham’s ecumenical crusade in London because of the open participation of the Roman Catholic Church. He turned down an invitation to lunch with Graham, saying that he would have no fellowship with those who deny the faith.
Ian Paisley is also a strong defender of the King James Bible. He has preached frequently on the superiority of the King James Bible and has written a number of papers on this subject, including The Living Bible: The Livid Libel of the Scriptures of the Truth; The New English Bible, New Testament—A Corruption of the Word of God; and The New English Bible, Old Testament—Faithful Translation or Faithless Interpretation? His latest book about the KJV is My Plea for the Old Sword [1998, Ambassador-Emerald International, 1 Chick Springs Rd., Suite 203, Greenville, SC 29609. 800-209-8570 (voice), email@example.com (e-mail)].
Paisley’s position on the Bible was made plain in a message he preached before the World Congress of Fundamentalists at Bob Jones University, Greenville, South Carolina, August 1983. This was published in Bob Jones University’s Faith for the Family magazine, October 1983:
THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES VS. THE CONFUSION OF THE TRANSLATIONS
IAN PAISLEY, 1983
“But HE WHO WROTE THE BOOK PROVIDENTIALLY IN KEEPING WITH HIS PROMISE GLORIOUSLY PRESERVED IT UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION CAME. THEN THERE AROSE A GLORIOUS COMPANY OF TRANSLATORS WHO SET TO WORK TO GIVE THE NATIONS THE BIBLE IN THEIR MOTHER TONGUE. ... I HAIL THIS BOOK THIS DAY. IT REMAINS AMID THE PASSING AND INJURIES OF TIME A HOLY TEMPLE, UNPROFANED BY THE FOOT OF THE ENEMY. IT REMAINS AN INVINCIBLE BUILDING OF GOD AMIDST THE CRUMBLING RUINS OF THE CENTURY. GOD HAS PRESERVED HIS BOOK AND WILL PRESERVE IT.
“And now we come to the Bible’s Translation. ... The Reformation of the sixteenth century was the greatest revival the church had known since the day of Pentecost. It was brought about by the translation of God’s Word, and its propagation and preaching. The Reformation did not give us the Bible. The Bible gave us the Reformation. ... This is a dynamic book. The devil fears it. The pope fears it. I was arrested for giving out copies of it in Vatican Square some years ago, so I just stepped across the border into Italy and continued to give out the dynamite of God’s Word. ...
“And now I say lovingly to my fundamentalist brethren who will differ from me in this: I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT IT WAS AN ERRONEOUS TEXT THAT BROUGHT ABOUT SUCH A SUPERNATURAL INTERVENTION OF ALMIGHTY GOD. NOR CAN I ACCEPT THAT THE MOST RELIABLE TEXTS WERE NOT THEN DISCOVERED. In fact, they weren’t discovered, we are told, until the nineteenth century when one was found in the trash can of a monastery and the other in the Pope’s library. Because of that I can accept what is known as the Majority Text. And I believe that this is the text which originated the line of what we might call our English translations. They were all based on that text. The line through which the King James or Authorized Version has come—it comes to us via Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, the Great Bible, and the Geneva Bible. ...
“Let me state again emphatically that no translation is given by inspiration of God. Inspiration applies only to the original autograph. Inspiration has to do with the giving of the Scriptures, not their translation. And those who speak otherwise deceive those that they address.
“But what is more, the King James Version is a revision rather than a completely new translation. It is unique and special because it comes to us providentially as a direct result of the great Reformation and its line of Bibles. ... SO THE KING JAMES VERSION WAS THE APEX—THE CLIMAX OF THE REFORMATION ENGLISH BIBLES AND CAME WITH A SPECIAL SEAL OF HEAVEN UPON THAT GREAT REFORMATION WORK.
“The King James Version is based on the Majority Text, on the Traditional Text, or the Received Text—received by the believers right up to the Reformation period. Again the King James Version was produced by men absolutely dedicated to the verbal inspiration of the Bible—hence, their use of italics to indicate an English word for which there is no equivalent in the original Hebrew and Greek.
“The language of the King James Version is terse and reverent and is in timeless English that a child can read, learn, and understand. Its very rhythm has led to sanctity of thought, holy awe, and a worshipful approach to God. It is equally suitable to both private and public reading. THE KING JAMES IS SPECIAL AND UNIQUE, NOT BECAUSE IT IS OLDER, BUT BECAUSE OUT OF MORE THAN 100 ENGLISH VERSIONS OFFERED, IT IS IN MY OPINION THE BEST TRANSLATION. We cannot and will not exchange it for an inferior version. Its excellence, its faithfulness, its power, and its witfulness have been proved in our own hearts and in the hearts of millions more.
“Now the question is asked, ‘Have I got God’s inspired Word in my hand?’ I want to answer it. ‘YES, I HAVE GOD’S INSPIRED WORD IN MY HAND.’ THE AUTHORIZED VERSION IS A RELIABLE AND ACCURATE TRANSLATION OF THE VERBALLY INSPIRED WORD OF GOD, and I can pin my hopes on its promises knowing them to be the Word of a God that cannot lie. I CAN ABSOLUTELY DEPEND ON THIS BOOK. IT BRINGS TO ME ACCURATELY AND CLEARLY THE INSPIRED WORD OF THE LIVING GOD—the word eternally begotten in Heaven, and thank God, eternally settled in Heaven. ...
“What is the devil doing now? He’s flooding the markets with a rash of counterfeit and corrupted Bibles. ...
“I trust this night that sinners shall find a way to heaven, that backsliders shall be restored to their Lord, and that God’s people will have a holy fire set alight by God the Holy Ghost within their hearts that we’re going to read this book, we’re going to obey this book, we’re going to preach this book, we’re going to defend this book, and we’re going to propagate this book. May God make the fundamentalists men and women of the one book for Jesus’ sake. Amen” (Ian Paisley, The Authority of the Scriptures vs. the Confusion of Translations).
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