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THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE ADVANCED BIBLE STUDIES SERIES “THE BIBLE VERSION ISSUE”
Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
866-295-4143 (toll free), fbns@wayoflife.org (e-mail)
http://www.wayoflife.org (web site)

The following is an excerpt from the Advanced Bible Studies Series course on The Bible Version Issue, which is available from Way of Life Literature. (It is best to order them by phone at 866-295-4143, but they can also be ordered from the newly redesigned online order form at the Way of Life web site, http://www.wayofife.org.)

There are currently 20 titles in the series, and any of them can be special ordered in large print and in ring coil binding. We don’t believe that you will find better quality, more truly life-changing Bible courses from any other source. They are based strictly upon the King James Bible and the powerful word studies assist in the understanding of the KJV but never cast doubt upon it. They are thorough and comprehensive. They are very practical and have the objective of producing well-equipped Christian soldiers that have a solid understanding of the Bible. They stress holy and obedient Christian living and separation from worldliness and error, exalt evangelism and the New Testament church, and promote world missions. They emphasize the crucial differences between law and grace and positional and practical sanctification, and they continually fortify the student’s understanding of the life-changing doctrines such as justification, substitutionary atonement, and eternal security. The courses are non-Calvinistic and interpret Bible prophecy literally. The student will be prepared to stand against the wiles of the Devil and to refute the major theological heresies of our day. One pastor said the books “are extremely helpful for any Christian, no matter where they are spiritually; the practical application is extremely helpful and edifying.”

The Advanced Bible Studies Series can be used as private study guides for the individual Christian, as Sunday School lessons, as textbooks in Bible colleges, as part of a home schooling curriculum, as study material in jails and prisons, for discipling new (or older) Christians, and as refresher study material for Bible College graduates.

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INTRODUCTION

1. There are many reasons why the Bible version issue must be faced.

a. The Bible version issue must be faced
BECAUSE IT IS FOUNDATIONAL (Ps. 138:2). The Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice. Nothing is more important than the issue of to what degree we can have confidence in the Bible that has come down to us through the centuries. Many are saying that this is a side issue, a non-essential, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

b. The Bible version issue must be faced
BECAUSE THERE ARE THREE COMPETING GREEK NEW TESTAMENTS TODAY.

(1) There is the Received Text underlying the King James Bible and other Reformation versions. The Received Text is published today by the Trinitarian Bible Society, the Dean Burgon Society, and others.

(2) There is the Critical Greek text based on the Westcott and Hort of 1881. This is published by the United Bible Societies and others. Consider some facts about this New Testament as compared with the Received Text:

(a) It is shorter than the Reformation Greek text by 2,886 words, which is the equivalent of the omission of the entire books of 1 and 2 Peter.
(b) It omits or questions 45 entire verses -- Mt. 12:47; 17:21; 18:11; 21:44; 23:14; Mk. 7:16; 9:44; 9:46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:9-20; Luke 17:36; 22:43-44; 23:17; Jn. 5:4; John 7:53--8:11; Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29; Rom. 16:24; and 1 Jn. 5:7.
(c) In addition it omits significant portions of 147 other verses.
(d) It
weakens the doctrine of Christ’s deity (e.g., it omits “who is in heaven” from Jn. 3:13; it omits “God” from 1 Tim. 3:16) and other key doctrines.

In these studies we will show where and when the “shortened New Testament” of the Critical Greek Text originated.

(3) There is also the “Majority Text” of Hodges and Farstad published in 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

(a) It differs from the Received Text in more than 1,000 places.
(b) For example, it omits Mat. 27:35; Lk. 17:36; Acts 8:37; and 1 John 5:7.

We analyze the Majority Text in
Faith vs. the Modern Bible Versions, Part IX, “We hold to the KJV because we reject the ‘Majority Text’ position.”

c. The Bible version issue must be faced BECAUSE OF THE ONSLAUGHT OF MODERN VERSIONS IN THE LAST 50 YEARS.

Some of the modern English versions since 1952:

1952 -- Revised Standard Version
1959 -- Berkeley Version in Modern English
1960 -- New American Standard Bible
1961 -- New English Bible
1962 -- Modern King James Version
---------- The Living Bible
---------- Clarified New Testament
1964 -- Anchor Bible
1965 -- Amplified Bible
1966 -- Jerusalem Bible.
1968 -- Barclay’s New Testament
1970 -- New American Bible
1971 -- King James II Version
1972 -- The Bible in Living English
1973 -- The Common Bible (RSV)
---------- New International Version
1976 -- Today’s English Version (Good News for Modern Man)
----------- The Holy Bible in the Language of Today, An American Translation
1978 -- Simple English Bible
1979 -- New King James Bible
1984 -- A New Accurate Translation
1988 -- Christian Community Bible Translation
1989 -- Revised English Bible
1990 -- Simplified Living Bible
---------- New Revised Standard Version
1993 -- The Message New Testament
1995 -- Contemporary English Version
---------- New International Readers Version (NirV)
---------- New International Version Inclusive Language Edition
1996 -- The Bible for Today's Family
---------- The New Living Translation
2002 -- Today’s New International Version (New Testament)
---------- The Message (whole Bible)
2004 -- Holman Christian Standard Bible

It is important to understand that the Bible version issue did not really “heat up” for fundamentalists until the 1970s. There were modern texts and versions prior to this, going back to the 1800s, but they were never widely used among fundamentalists or even among evangelicals. The English Revised Version of 1881 was never popular. The same was true for the American Standard Version of 1901. The Revised Standard Version of 1952 was popular only within liberal denominations. The New American Standard Bible of 1960 had a small following among scholarly evangelicals and even a few fundamentalists but it was never widely popular. It was not until the publication of the New International Version that a modern version began to be widely used outside of theologically liberal circles. Faced with the growing popularity of the NIV, many fundamentalists began to look more carefully at the Bible version issue and as a result many books began to appear in defense of the King James Bible. Any time one sees a body of apologetic literature in church history, it is because something has happened to challenge the traditional position in some realm. The number of books defending the KJV has been multiplied since the 1970s for the simple reason that it is being challenged at this time in a way that it was not challenged prior to this.

d. The Bible version issue must be faced
BECAUSE SOME FUNDAMENTAL BAPTISTS ARE SUPPORTING THE MODERN TEXTS AND VERSIONS. In recent years several books have been published by fundamentalists in support of modern textual criticism.

(1) These include Facts on the Kings Only Debate by Ankerberg and Weldon (1996); From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man edited by J.B. Williams (1999), One Bible Only: Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible by Roy Beacham and Kevin Bauder (2001), Bible Preservation and the Providence of God by Sam Schnaiter and Ron Tagliapietra (2002), and God’s Word in Our Hands: The Bible Preserved for Us edited by J.B. Williams and Randolph Shaylor (2003).

(2) These books present the standard myths of modern textual criticism. They claim, for example, that the differences between the Received Text and the Critical Text are slight and insignificant and that no doctrine is affected by the textual changes.

(3) These books also take a harsh position against those who defend the King James Bible. In the introduction to
From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, the editor, J.B. Williams, calls the defense of the KJV a “cancerous sore” that has resulted in “a deplorable condition in Fundamentalism.” He describes the defense of the KJV a “mass of misinformation.” Williams and the other fundamentalist writers who have jumped on the modern textual criticism bandwagon paint the entire field of King James defense with the broad brush of Ruckmanism.

e. The Bible version issue must be faced
BECAUSE, GENERALLY SPEAKING, ONLY ONE SIDE OF THIS DEBATE IS GIVEN TODAY.

(1) Consider some examples of this:

(a) First we have the testimony by a man who trained under the famous Southern Baptist professor A.T. Robertson. This was given in a letter to David Otis Fuller in the 1970s. “Dear Dr. Fuller: On May 12, 1970, you wrote me a very kind letter and sent me some sample materials from your book Which Bible? You might as well have been shooting a popgun at a stone wall. My mind was so strongly fortified in the doctrine of Westcott and Hort that I could not for one moment consider the King James Bible. Had I not studied Textual Criticism under the great Dr. A.T. Robertson? I thought that you were just one of those die-hard Fundamentalists who were striving to keep the Christian world under the bondage of traditionalism. Such men are interested only in pleasing the people by catering to their ignorance, prejudice and sentimentality! But just a few weeks ago I happened to read your two books, Which Bible? and True or False? For the first time a little new light shone in. I saw that there is another side to the argument. DR. ROBERTSON HAD NOT GIVEN US ALL THE FACTS. As I perused your selections from Burgon and Hoskier, the idols of B and Aleph started to totter, and soon they fell off their pedestals. That was all I needed. I bought a copy of the Textus Receptus and am now using it. Thanks to you” (William T. Bruner, Ph.D.).
(b) Consider, next, the testimony of Alfred Martin, former Vice-President of Moody Bible Institute: “The present generation of Bible students, having been reared on Westcott and Hort, have for the most part accepted the theory without independent or critical examination. To the average student of the Greek New Testament today it is unthinkable to question the theory at least in its basic premises. Even to imply that one believes the Textus Receptus to be nearer the original text than the Westcott-Hort text is, lays one open to the suspicion of gross ignorance or unmitigated bigotry” (Martin, “A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Textual Theory.” Th.D. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, May 1951).
(c) Finally, we have the testimony of Dr. Donald Waite. “For about twenty years I was in darkness about this issue. I knew almost nothing of it from roughly 1951 to 1971. I was at Dallas Theological Seminary from 1948 to 1952. That was my Master of Theology. Then I stayed an extra year, 1953. Throughout those years we were simply told to use the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament, which we did in the Greek classes. ... I didn’t know there was any other Greek text. I majored in classic Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan, 1945-48. I took three years to get my four years of work. ... Then I came to Dallas Seminary. I was learning New Testament Greek, and I didn’t pay much heed to the text. ... I just assumed that was the only one to use.”

(2) This situation is typical. What the first testimony said about A.T. Robertson not giving all the facts can be said today about professors at BJU, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and many other fundamentalist institutions. Students who graduate from these institutions generally have no firsthand knowledge of the writings of Frederick Nolan, John Burgon, Edward Miller, Herman Hoskier, and Edward F. Hills, to mention but a few of the scholarly men who have written in defense of the TR-KJV. What is given in these schools is a mere caricature of the “King James Only” position drawn from the writings of extremists who believe the King James Bible is “advanced revelation” and other such things.

(3) It is my desire to give all the relevant facts in the Bible text-version debate. I am convinced that if a believer will approach this subject with an open and prayerful heart, desiring to know the truth and willing to follow wherever it leads (Jn. 7:17), leaning not upon his or another man’s understanding but leaning solely upon God (Prov. 3:5-6; Jer. 17:5), not fearing man (Prov. 29:25) nor honoring man above that which is written (1 Cor. 6:4), basing his position solely upon the Word of God (John 8:31-32), that he will come out on the side of the Masoretic Hebrew Old Testament and the Received Greek New Testament and of faithful translations thereof, such as the KJV in English.

2. Consider some basic misunderstandings pertaining to this issue:

a. The Bible version issue is largely a choice between the old language of the KJV and the updated language of the modern versions. This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

b. The changes to the modern versions do not affect doctrine.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

c. The difference between the Greek Received Text and the Critical Text is slight, amounting to only one page of material.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

d. The King James Bible is too difficult for most people to understand.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

e. The scholarship of the Reformation era was inferior to that of today.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

f. Those who defend the King James Bible believe that the preserved Word of God is only in English and that God’s people should not study Greek and Hebrew.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

g. There is no good defense of the Trinitarian statement in 1 John 5:7.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

h. The King James Version has been updated in thousands of places.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

i. Westcott and Hort were evangelical Bible believers.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

j. The modern Critical Text is based on older manuscripts than those upon which the Received Text is based.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

k. Today’s evangelical scholarship is dependable. This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

l. The Erasmus Received Text is based on a mere handful of manuscripts.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

m. Erasmus promised to add 1 John 5:7 to his Greek New Testament if only one manuscript could be supplied that contained it.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

n. The Bible version issue should not result in divisions among God’s people.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

o. It is the defenders of the King James Bible that are causing the trouble.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

p. The King James translators said that all of the versions are good and acceptable.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

q. The “thee’s” and “thou’s” of the King James Bible should be removed because that was merely Elizabethan English and to remove them has no doctrinal significance.
This is not true, as we will demonstrate in this course!

3. As I approach this issue, I do so with the following biblical presuppositions.

The evolutionist would have me put aside my biblical presuppositions when I study the natural record and the textual critic would have me put them aside when I study the manuscript record, but I will not put biblical presuppositions aside for any reason. As David W. Norris wisely observes: “We have a clear choice between one of two diverging pathways, the road of faith or the road of human reason and unbelief. Do we begin with the Word of God or do we begin with the word of men? This is the question and it has in the first instance little to do with texts, but with the faithfulness of our God. ... For it to be of any use, textual study must be grounded upon what the Bible already says about itself.
If we do not begin with the Word of God, we shall never end with it!” (Norris, The Big Picture).

Eight Biblical Presuppositions for Approaching the Bible Version Issue

a. I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible contains everything that we need for faith and practice. It is able to make the believer “perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Obviously, then, nothing else is necessary. I do not have to rely on priests or scholars or tradition or extrabiblical sources.

b.
I believe in the soul liberty of the believer, meaning that each believer can know the truth for himself and is responsible to test everything by God’s Word (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 2:15-16; 1 Thess. 5:21). Thus, it is evident that the child of God can make his own decision in the important matter of the Bible text-version issue. I do not ask my readers to depend on me and to follow my teaching; I ask them simply to prove all things and hold fast that which is good and to receive my teaching with all readiness of mind and to search the Scriptures daily whether these things are so.

c.
I believe in the simplicity of sound doctrine (Mat. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:26-29; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Jn. 2:20). If a doctrine is so complicated that the average child of God must lean upon a specialized priest or scholar, that doctrine is not Scriptural. The New Testament faith is not an elitist issue. It was committed to ordinary people.

(1) One example of this is Calvinism. For instance, James White claims that Dave Hunt doesn’t understand Calvinism even though he is an intelligent man, a believer, and he has studied the issue diligently. I am convinced that if something is that complicated it can’t be the truth. (I also believe that Dave Hunt understands Calvinism very well, in spite of what James White claims.)

(2) Another example is modern textual criticism. The child of God is required to depend upon the textual scholars, because it is impossible for an ordinary believer to make textual decisions. Textual criticism involves such things as conflation, recension, inversion, eclecticism, conjectural emendation, intrinsic and transcriptional probability, interpolation, statistical probability, harmonistic assimilation, cognate groups, hypothesized intermediate archetypes, stemmatic reconstruction, and genealogical methods. Consider a sample of textual criticism from A.T. Robertson: “In actual practice appeal should first be made to the external evidence of the documents by first coming to understand the value of internal evidence of single readings. It will be seen that we have to consider the internal evidence of single readings, the internal evidence of single documents, the internal evidence of groups of documents, the internal evidence of classes of documents. That way of putting it appears paradoxical, but it is literally true that the scientific use of the external evidence (documents) turns on the application of the principles of internal evidence as seen in single readings. But the two methods must agree in result if one is to have confidence in his conclusion. ... The two kinds of internal evidence are transcriptional and intrinsic. ... It is best to begin with transcriptional evidence and then to consider intrinsic evidence” (Robertson,
An Introduction to Textual Criticism, pp. 149-150). It is impossible to reconcile this level of complexity with the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and with the scriptural fact that God has chosen the weak of this world to confound the mighty (Mat. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:20-29).

d.
I believe that all things should be done unto edifying (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 14:26; 2 Cor. 12:19; Eph. 4:12, 16, 29). Any biblical research that does not result in spiritual edification is wrongheaded and is disobedience to the plain commands of the Word of God. I can candidly say that none of the many books I have read on modern textual criticism has spiritually edified me. I have found them intellectually interesting, frustrating, and confusing, but never edifying.

e.
I believe in the reality of the devil (1 Pet. 5:8).

(1) One of the devil’s chief goals since the Garden of Eden has been to attack and corrupt the Word of God and to confuse people’s minds in regard to it. His first words to Eve were, “Yea, hath God said?” (Gen. 3:1). Consider the following important lessons from this first attack:

(a) The devil questioned God’s Word (v. 1). This is the first step toward openly denying God’s Word. If the devil can cause a person to entertain doubts about the authenticity of the Scriptures at any point, it is likely that he can cripple him spiritually and open the way for increasing unbelief. The Bible is questioned on every hand today, even by those who claim to be “evangelicals.” They say, “Did God really create the world in six days?” or “Did God really destroy the entire earth with a flood?” or “Did Moses really write the Pentateuch?” or “Do the Gospels contain the very words of Jesus?” or “Is Revelation really a prophecy of the future?” or “Is Hell really a place of fire and eternal conscious torment?” I see the hand of the old serpent in all such questionings.
(b)
The devil denied God’s Word (v. 4). This is the skeptic’s approach to the Bible. He mocks it and openly denies that it is true. We find this, too, on every hand, in Hollywood movies, in the pages of popular magazines and newspapers, in bestselling books. The blatant denial of God’s Word is even made by those who profess to be Christians.
(c)
The devil substituted his own words for God’s Word (v. 5). This is what false religions such as the Roman Catholic Church do with their extra-biblical traditions. They say, “We believe in the Bible but we also believe in our traditions and councils and popes.” This was the sin of the Pharisees, who “made the commandment of God of none effect” by their tradition (Mk. 7:9). The dynamic equivalency method of Bible translation also substitutes man’s words for God’s. (See Faith vs. the Modern Bible Versions, Part VIII, “We Hold to the King James Bible Because We Reject Dynamic Equivalency.”)

(2) As these studies progress, we will see that the devil has continued to attack God’s Word throughout the church age. The child of God must therefore be alert to his activities in this field. It is impossible to understand the Bible text-version issue if one does not understand the devil’s hatred of God’s Word and if one does not make this fact a prominent part of his “textual criticism.”

f. I believe in the pre-eminence of faith (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17; 14:23). The only way to understand the Word of God is by faith.

(1) Faith is based only on God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). The modern textual critic refuses to approach the Bible text-version issue by faith and mocks those who do, and fundamentalists who are supporting the modern texts are following in their footsteps. For example, Samuel Schnaiter of Bob Jones University critiques Wilbur Pickering’s Majority Text position as follows: “Finally, although Pickering has avoided an excessive reliance on theological presuppositions in his presentation, it is nevertheless clear that a theological presupposition essentially undergirds his entire purpose” (“Focus on Revelation,” Biblical Viewpoint, Vol. XVI, No. 1, April 1982, Bob Jones University, “Textual Criticism and the Modern English Version Controversy,” p. 72). How strange and frightful (and instructive) to see a professed fundamentalist criticizing a “theological” approach to the Bible text-version issue!

(2) We do not have to answer every question that can be asked (i.e., about the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, Inspiration, or Preservation); we only have to believe God’s Word.

(3) Our faith must therefore be in God, not in man (i.e., not in human scholarship, in the KJV translators, in Erasmus, or in John Burgon or some other defender of the traditional Reformation text).

g. I believe in trembling before God’s Word (Psa. 138:2; Prov. 30:6; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 22:18-19). The Scripture is not an ordinary book; it is the Word of the Living God and as such one must exercise extreme caution in handling it. Even to tamper with the words of a human author is a serious matter and there are laws against it, but how much more serious is it to tamper with the words of Almighty God! I have read dozens of books by textual critics, and there simply is no fear of God in their approach to the words of Scripture. The textual critic approach is strictly a matter of human scholarship and the Bible is simply another book.

h.
I believe in the necessity of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-16; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27). Apart from the Holy Spirit, nothing about the Bible can be properly understood. Unregenerate men who lack the Spirit are not qualified in this field. The book From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man claims that it doesn’t matter if textual critics are skeptics. “… a textual critic may be an unbeliever when it comes to the Bible’s doctrinal truths. But when it comes to the Bible’s text--to this question of the Bible’s words--a textual critic is initially little more than a reporter” (From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man, p. 71). In his mistitled book “The Truth of the King James Only Controversy,” BJU professor Stewart Custer uncritically cites the following men in his “Select Bibliography” -- Bruce Metzger, Kurt Aland, Eberhard Nestle, Alexander Souter, B.F. Westcott, and F.J.A. Hort. He does not think it is important that his readers know that to a man these critics blatantly denied the infallible inspiration of Scripture. This approach is wrongheaded in the extreme! A wise position was that of Joseph Philpot, Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, and editor of The Gospel Standard. In 1857 he gave six reasons against a revision of the KJV, the first being that the biblical scholars of that day were “notoriously either tainted with popery or infidelity” (Joseph Charles Philpot, “The Authorized Version of 1611,” The Gospel Standard, April 1857). That was true then and it is even truer today. Philpot then asked an important rhetorical question, “And can erroneous men, dead in trespasses and sins, carnal, worldly, ungodly persons, spiritually translate a book written by the blessed Spirit?” The biblical answer is NO!

Modern textual criticism, which gave us the modern Bible versions, is not founded upon dependency upon faith or the Holy Spirit or any of the aforementioned things. Textual critic George Ladd wrote: “One does not solve a problem of divergent textual readings by prayer or by the inner illumination of the Holy Spirit; but only by an extensive knowledge and skill in the science of textual criticism” (Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism, 1967, p. 81). This is an unbelieving position. The Bible is a supernatural and spiritual Book and nothing about it can be known apart from the application of spiritual tools.

Though some evangelicals and fundamentalists who use textual criticism might claim that they also are following the Holy Spirit, the principles of textual criticism are contrary to this. David Sorenson observes: “Some proponents of the critical text may claim that the Holy Spirit has led them as well. However, the working editors of the critical text are steeped in rationalistic philosophy and scientific reconstruction of the text. Their entire philosophical base is not inclined to such a Fundamentalist notion of seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit” (
Touch Not the Unclean Thing, p. 58, f 30).

4. My personal testimony about the Bible version issue

I was not trained in the defense of the King James Bible in Bible College. My conviction on this issue came some years after I graduated. The man that led me to Jesus Christ in the summer of 1973 gave me a King James Bible and that was the Bible that I had as I started my new life in Christ. It was a large print, plain text Bible with no cross-references or marginal notes. A couple or three months later I went to the Southern Baptist bookstore in my hometown of Lakeland, Florida, and asked the sales lady if she could recommend a version that was easier to read. She told me that she did not recommend that I switch from the King James Bible (don’t forget that this was more than 30 years ago!), but when I persisted she sold me a
Today’s English Version New Testament. I took it home and read it through and found that indeed, it was as easy to read as the morning newspaper; it was also as vapid and spiritually unsatisfying as the morning newspaper! So I put it aside and continued with the King James. I also purchased a Dickson Analytical Study Bible. It is a good study Bible in many ways but scattered throughout the text are brackets containing alleged “better readings” from the American Standard Bible. I pretty much ignored them. At that point I understood nothing of the textual issue and I assumed that the modern versions merely updated the King James language.

I attended Tennessee Temple Bible School beginning in the fall of 1974. In Greek class we used the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, but the textual issue was never explained. At that point I still did not know that there is an immense difference between the critical Greek text and the Reformation text. My Greek teacher, Mr. Dean, was educated at Dallas Theological Seminary and his position was that there is no real issue in the textual-versional debate, that the Word of God is in the Critical Text and the Received Text, in the NASV and in the KJV. He taught us that there is no doctrinal issue in this debate. Though only the King James was used in the chapel at Tennessee Temple, most of the teachers treated the version debate as a non-issue and one of my teachers, Roger Martin, used the NASV in the classroom. To my knowledge, there was only one teacher at Temple in those days who took a stand for the King James Bible on the basis of its Greek text, and that was Bruce Lackey, the Dean of the Bible School. He offered a course on Bible versions but I didn’t take it. I simply was not tuned into the Bible text-version issue at that time. There were some Ruckmanites in the student body who caused a ruckus from time to time and got themselves kicked out of school. They had a habit of speaking disrespectfully to some of the teachers and disrupting the classes, but they didn’t last long and I was glad to see them leave. In fact, a Ruckmanite taught at Temple for a short while. I had him for a course on prophecy, but he was forced to leave part way through the semester. He did not say anything about the Bible version issue in his classes but he was teaching hyper-dispensationalism, and, again, I was glad to see him go.

Anyway, when I graduated from Bible School in 1977 I was unprepared to face the Bible version issue. I still held to the King James Bible, but I didn’t know why and I was beginning to have doubts about it. Because of my experiences with the Ruckmanites I was somewhat prejudiced against the defense of the KJV, knowing only their cantankerous approach to the issue.

I will describe an experience that occurred soon after my graduation from Temple that further prejudiced me against a “King James Only” position as defined by Peter Ruckman. When we were on deputation in 1978 to raise support for our missionary work, I gave my testimony at a Camp Meeting at a church in Jacksonville, Florida, describing how the Lord saved me out of a rebellious “hippy” lifestyle. Two young men approached me afterwards and explained that they were the typesetters for a fundamentalist publication called
The Bible Believer’s Bulletin and asked if they could have permission to print my testimony. I wasn’t familiar with the publication and readily gave them permission, not knowing that this was Peter Ruckman’s own paper. When my testimony was published (beginning on the front page) they sent me a copy and I was amazed and disheartened at the things that I read from Ruckman’s strange pen. As far as I can recall, this was the first time that I had actually seen his writings. He was calling men such as Lee Roberson and my teachers at Temple (and anyone else who disagrees with him) names such as “jackass,” “poor, dumb, stupid red legs,” “silly asses,” “apostolic succession of bloated egotists,” “two-bit junkie,” “two-faced, tin-horned punk,” “incredible idiot,” “bunch of egotistical jack legs,” “conservative asses whose brains have gone to seed,” “cheap, two-bit punks,” “stupid, little, Bible-rejecting apostates.” After we got to the mission field I wrote to Ruckman and told him that I rejected his ungracious, carnal attitude and his cultic approach to the Bible version issue. I told him that I was just a young preacher and that I did not know him personally, but that I suspected that his multiple failed marriages had embittered him. I told him that I was a writer and that I intended to warn others about him, which is exactly what I have done in the years since then.

When I got to the mission field in South Asia in early 1979, I was again confronted with the multiplicity of texts and versions. One of our objectives was to have Bible study materials translated into the indigenous language, but as there were competing translations in that language we had to make a choice.

It was at that point that I began to study the issue of texts and versions for myself and to build a library of materials on this subject. When I began reading the works edited by D.O. Fuller, the works of Edward Hills, etc., I did not automatically believe what they were saying. I jotted down many critical notes and questions in the margin of these books, and I PRAYED EARNESTLY FOR WISDOM.

When I was newly saved and faced with the multiplicity of churches, not knowing which doctrine was correct or what church to join, whether Pentecostal, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc., I took John 7:17 and 8:31-32 to heart and believed that if I would do what these Scriptures commanded I would be led in the truth as these Scriptures promised.

“If any man WILL DO HIS WILL, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, IF YE CONTINUE IN MY WORD, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

To know the truth, one must continue in God’s Word and one must be willing to obey what God says.

As I investigated churches and doctrine, I continually searched my heart before God, earnestly desiring to be willing to obey Him in all things and praying that if I was somehow secretly unwilling in some matter that He would reveal this to me and help me to be willing! I searched the Scriptures for hours every day, memorizing, meditating, and trying to apply them to every area of my life. I practically wore out a copy of
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance that first year, learning the meaning of Bible words.

I held on to these promises and I am confident that God led me through the maze of churches and the confusion of doctrine during the early years of my Christian life and that He grounded me in the truth.

When some years later I faced the maze of Bible texts and versions, I went back to these same promises and held on to them as I investigated this issue, and I am convinced that God has led me to the truth.

5. My research in this field

Knowing that the following will doubtless be misconstrued by those who oppose me on this subject and that I will be falsely charged with puffing myself up, I believe I should proceed anyway to describe my research in this field.

The course Faith vs. the Modern Bible Versions and its two companion volumes are the mature fruit of 25 years of labor in this field. I did not choose this subject; it chose me. I have never had the goal of becoming a prominent defender of the King James Bible. I am not a textual critic; I am not a Greek and Hebrew scholar; but from the first time that I began studying this subject I have been fascinated with it and I have been utterly convinced that it is foundational and essential. It was this conviction that motivated me to begin writing on the subject, and it is a conviction that has grown ever deeper through the years. I am as convinced that modern textual criticism is false as I am of anything in life. When I began to learn that the commonly held views on Bible texts and versions are nothing but myths, I simply had to try to tell someone else! Like Jeremiah, the words of God were like a fire within me and I could not keep quiet.

When I first began studying the Bible text-version issue for myself in about 1979, I determined to verify quotes and to cross check every statement to the best of my ability. I wanted to base my research upon primary documents as much as possible. I have pursued that goal over the past quarter century.

Today I have a large private library of materials on this issue, including a large percentage of the books that have been published in this field in English in the past 200 years. To my knowledge, for example, I have practically every history of the Bible that has been published through 2004, including the rarest, such as John Foxe’s
Martyrology (1641), John Lewis’ A Complete History of Translations (1818), John Strype’s Ecclesiastical Memorials (1826), Thomas Fuller’s Church History of Britain (1837), Christopher Anderson’s Annals of the English Bible (1845), and the Parker Society’s Writings of Miles Coverdale (1844) and Writings of William Tyndale (1848), to name a few.

My personal library contains roughly 1,000 books and pamphlets dealing directly with the history and text of the Bible and at least that many more volumes that bear on this subject in a more general way from church history and other realms, dating from the 17th century to the present.

I have read 600 books and pamphlets and 2,000 articles touching on this topic and I try to keep abreast of the new research on both sides of the issue.

I have done many weeks of research at libraries and museums such as Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.; Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia; the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville; the British Library; Heritage Baptist University’s collection of rare Bibles; the Mack Library at BJU; the Museum of Waldensian History at Torre Pellice, Italy; the Moravian Museums in Pennsylvania and North Carolina; the Scriptorium Center for Biblical Studies in Orlando, Florida; the Cambridge University Library; the Spurgeon Library at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri; Wake-Forest University Library; the Waldensian Museum in Valdese, North Carolina; the William Tyndale Museum in Vilvoorde, Belgium; the Gutenberg Museum in Germany; and the Erasmus House in Belgium.

I have walked in the footsteps of Bible editors and translators at places such as the Oxford University where Wycliffe and Tyndale and many of the KJV translators were educated and where two of the KJV committees did their work; Cambridge University where many of the other KJV translators were educated and where two of the KJV committees worked; St. Mary the Virgin Church where Wycliffe was condemned for his “heresy” of rejecting transubstantiation; the parish church of Lutterworth where Wycliffe preached; Blackfriars and St. Paul’s where Wycliffe was tried; Bartholomew Church where Tyndale was ordained; Little Sodbury Manor where Tyndale lived; St. Adeline’s Church where Tyndale preached; Fulham Palace where Tyndale unsuccessfully begged permission to translate the Bible; Vilvoorde, Belgium, where Tyndale was martyred; Hampton Court Palace where King James I agreed to authorize the translation of the King James Bible; Lambeth Palace where Bible readers were imprisoned in Lollard’s Tower; Paul’s Cross where Wycliffe and Tyndale Bibles were burned; the Jerusalem Room at Westminster Abbey where parts of the King James Bible were translated; the house in Brussels where Erasmus completed the 3rd edition of his Greek New Testament; the Alps of northern Italy where the Waldenses copied their precious handwritten Scriptures during the Dark Ages; and Rome, the headquarters of the ecclesiastical system that for at least 800 years persecuted those who translated and read the Bible.

I have investigated the history of the Bible not only in Great Britain and Europe, but also in the Philippines, Korea, India, Nepal, Macau, Singapore, Burma, and other countries.

I have conducted correspondence with and had personal discussions with published defenders of the King James Bible, including men now deceased such as David Otis Fuller, Bruce Lackey, Marion Reynolds, Bob Steward, and James J. Ray, Bruce Cummons, as well as D.A. Waite, Thomas Strouse, David Sorenson, Ian Paisley, Michael Bates, Clinton Branine, Terence Brown, Perry Rockwood, Jack Moorman, Don Jasmin, Ken Johnson, D.K. Madden, Michael Maynard, Peter van Kleeck, Cecil Carter, Denis Gibson, Chuck Nichols, Charles Turner, Bob Barnett, Kirk DiVietro, Timothy Tow, and Jeffrey Khoo, to name a few. I only regret that I did not begin my research a little earlier, so that I could have communicated personally with Dr. Edward F. Hills, probably my favorite author on this subject. By the time I learned about him and attempted to contact him in about 1980 his widow informed me that he was in Glory.

I am thankful for these men and have learned so much from them. I am continually amazed at how the Lord gives fresh insight to men who are committed to His Word. Many of these men have broken new ground in this field of research. Edward Hills broke new ground with his believing approach to the textual issue and with his understanding of the intimate association between theological modernism and modern textual criticism. Terence Brown broke new ground by writing insightful articles on this subject when few others understood its importance, articles that vastly increased the understanding of God’s people in this field. D.O. Fuller broke new ground by reprinting some of the important 19th century works defending the Received Text and the King James Bible and for introducing John Burgon to a new generation. Everett Fowler broke new ground with his minute analysis of the differences between the texts and versions. D.A. Waite broke new ground with his effective four-fold defense of the KJV and with the massive number of studies he has published on this subject. Jack Moorman broke new ground with his excellent research into the history of the text, among other things. Thomas Strouse broke new ground with his believing approach to the reception and canonization of the Scripture. Michael Maynard broke new ground in the defense of 1 John 5:7-8. Many others could be mentioned.

I have published the following books on the Bible version issue, in addition to roughly 100 articles.

Unholy Hands on God’s Holy Book: A Report on the United Bible Societies
(1985)
Myths about Modern Bible Versions (first as a series of booklets in 1986 and then as a single volume beginning in 1999)
A Most Frightful Deception: The Good News Bible and Translator Robert Bratcher (1986)
Examining the Hodges-Farstad Majority Text (1989)
Dynamic Equivalency: Death Knell of Pure Scripture (1990)
Wycliffe Bible Translators: Whither Bound? (1991)
Living Bible: Blessing or Curse? (1991)
A Tribute to David Otis Fuller (1992)
Modern Bible Versions (1994)
What about Ruckman? (1994)
For Love of the Bible: The Battle for the Authorized Version and the Received Text from 1800 to Present (1995)
Modern Versions Founded upon Apostasy: The Theology of the Men who Developed the Modern Textual Theories (1995)
Rome and the Bible: The History of the Bible through the Centuries and Rome’s Persecutions against It (1996)
Answering James White’s “The King James Only Controversy” (1998)
Testimonies of King James Bible Defenders (2000)
Faith vs. the Modern Bible Versions (2005)
The Modern Bible Version Hall of Shame (2005)
The Bible Version Question-Answer Database (2005)
Answering the Myths on the Bible Version Debate (2006)
The Glorious History of the English Bible (2006)
Why We Hold to the King James Bible (2006)
In the Footsteps of Bible Translators (2006)

I don’t say these things to puff myself up in the eyes of men, the Lord being my witness. I am listing my credentials for one reason only, and that is to encourage my readers that I have applied myself diligently to this subject and have made every effort to get my facts right. I understand all too well that the research of KJV defenders is widely belittled and ridiculed by those who think of themselves as the sole keepers of scholarship.

6. Please understand that you do not have to prove your position on this issue to the satisfaction of the defender of the modern versions; you only have to prove it to your own satisfaction before God in light of His Word. Further, you are not required to answer every question a critic of your position can ask. No one can answer all of the questions that can be asked on any side of this issue.

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The previous is an excerpt from the
Advanced Bible Studies Series course on The Bible Version Issue, which is available from Way of Life Literature. (It is best to order them by phone at 866-295-4143, but they can also be ordered from the newly redesigned online order form at the Way of Life web site, http://www.wayofife.org.)

There are currently 20 titles in the series, and any of them can be special ordered in large print and in ring coil binding. We don’t believe that you will find better quality, more truly life-changing Bible courses from any other source. They are based strictly upon the King James Bible and the powerful word studies assist in the understanding of the KJV but never cast doubt upon it. They are thorough and comprehensive. They are very practical and have the objective of producing well-equipped Christian soldiers that have a solid understanding of the Bible. They stress holy and obedient Christian living and separation from worldliness and error, exalt evangelism and the New Testament church, and promote world missions. They emphasize the crucial differences between law and grace and positional and practical sanctification, and they continually fortify the student’s understanding of the life-changing doctrines such as justification, substitutionary atonement, and eternal security. The courses are non-Calvinistic and interpret Bible prophecy literally. The student will be prepared to stand against the wiles of the Devil and to refute the major theological heresies of our day. One pastor said the books “are extremely helpful for any Christian, no matter where they are spiritually; the practical application is extremely helpful and edifying.”

The Advanced Bible Studies Series can be used as private study guides for the individual Christian, as Sunday School lessons, as textbooks in Bible colleges, as part of a home schooling curriculum, as study material in jails and prisons, for discipling new (or older) Christians, and as refresher study material for Bible College graduates.