Modern Textual Criticism's Role in the Breakdown of Morality


October 23, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -

In our book
For Love of the Bible we document the defense of the King James Bible and the opposition to modern textual criticism for the past 200 years.

One of the men that defended the KJV in the late nineteenth century was George Sayles Bishop, the pastor of the First Reformed Church of Orange, New Jersey. A brilliant preacher and a mighty defender of the Protestant faith, he fought valiantly against the Higher Criticism that was permeating Christianity in his day. Like John Burgon XE "Burgon, John" and many others, Dr. Bishop plainly understood the intimate association between Higher Criticism and Textual Criticism.

In a discourse preached on June 7, 1885
, “The Principle and Tendency of the Revision XE "English Revised Version" Examined,” Bishop issued a devastating charge against the Westcott-Hort critical Greek text and the new English version that was founded thereupon (the English Revised Version).

In this address he observed that most Christians did not understand the true character of modern textual criticism and its role in the revision of the English Bible. He warned that textual criticism appeals to scholarly pride. He considered the principles of modern textual criticism to be “twaddle.” He refused to accept the witness the Vaticanus manuscript because of Rome’s utter apostasy.

Bishop stated that the objective of the prominent Unitarian and Modernistic textual critics was to undermine the divine inspiration of Scripture and to weaken the doctrine of Hell, and he observed that if this objective succeeded, it would result in the complete moral breakdown of society. He understood that modern textual criticism’s tendency to break down the authority of God’s Word has devastating consequences.

Events have proven Bishop correct in every point.

Consider the following excerpts from this 120-year-old sermon, which is as relevant today as when it was first preached:

“I have set before myself a simple straight-forward task—to translate into the language of the common people and in lines of clear, logical light the principles involved in the new version of the Bible and just in what direction it tends. This thing is needed. Nothing at the present time is more needed nor so needed, for I am convinced that the principle at the root of the revision movement has not been fairly understood, not even by many of the revisers themselves, who,
charmed by the siren-like voices addressed to their scholarly feeling, have yielded themselves to give way, in unconscious unanimous movement, along with the wave on which the ship of inspiration XE "Inspiration" floats with easy and accelerating motion, toward rebound and crash upon the rocks” (p. 60).

“That a few changes might be made in both Testaments, for the better, no man pretends to deny; but that
all the learned twaddle about ‘intrinsic and transcriptional probability,’ ‘conflation,’ ‘neutral texts,’ ‘the unique position of B’ (the Vatican manuscript) ... that all this theory is false and moonshine and, when applied to God’s Word, worse than that; I firmly believe” (p. 61).

“Because I am a minister of Christ ... BECAUSE MY BUSINESS IS TO PREACH AND TO DEFEND THIS BOOK, I CANNOT AND WILL NOT KEEP SILENCE. ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’” (p. 62).

“THE REVISED VERSION XE "English Revised Version" OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IS BASED UPON A NEW, UNCALLED FOR, AND UNSOUND GREEK XE "Greek" TEXT—that mainly of Drs. Westcott and Hort XE "Westcott-Hort" , which was printed simultaneously with the revision and never before had seen light and which is the most unreliable text perhaps ever printed—one English critic says, ‘the foulest and most vicious in existence’” (p. 66).

“I WILL OPPOSE B THE VATICAN MS. FIRST, FOREMOST, ALTOGETHER, SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS THE VATICAN MS., BECAUSE I HAVE TO RECEIVE IT FROM ROME, BECAUSE I WILL HAVE NO BIBLE FROM ROME, NO HELP FROM ROME AND NO COMPLICITY WITH ROME; BECAUSE I BELIEVE ROME TO BE AN APOSTATE. A worshipper of Bread for God; a remover of the sovereign mediatorship of Christ; a destroyer of the true gospel, she teaches a system which, if any man believes or follows as she teaches it, he will infallibly be lost—he must be. ... I will not take my Bible—not the bulk of it—from her apostate, foul, deceitful, cruel hands. ‘Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’—I fear the Latins bearing presents in their hands” (p. 69).

“I have been confirmed in what had before been
A GROWING CONVICTIONTHAT THE REVISION MOVEMENT, DATING FROM THE FINDING OF TISCHENDORF’S [Aleph], unconsciously to most, but consciously to the Unitarian XE "Unitarian" —to the Messrs. Vance Smith XE "Smith, G. Vance" , Robertson Smith XE "Smith, W. Robertson" , etc.—liberal members of the New Testament Company, was RUNNING STEADILY IN ONE DIRECTION THROUGH THREE POINTS: 1ST. TO WEAKEN AND DESTROY THE BINDING FORCE OF INSPIRATION IN THE VERY WORDS. 2d. To weaken and destroy the five Points of Grace founded on ‘Free Will a Slave.’ 3d. To weaken and destroy the old-fashioned notion of Hell as a place and a state of immediate, everlasting and utterly indescribable torment into which impenitent men go at once the moment they die” (p. 74).

“The Revised Version XE "English Revised Version" weakens and removes the deity of Christ in many places—one I mention in particular. 1 Timothy 3:16 XE "First Timothy 3.16" XE "Christ’s deity" XE "God was manifest in the flesh" , ‘Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.’ The Revised Version [as do all modern versions] leaves out
Theos, God ... Dr. Scrivener XE "Scrivener, F.H.A." , the foremost English critic, says it is Theos. ... That conviction of Dr. Scrivener is my conviction and on the very same grounds—A CONVICTION SO DEEP THAT I WILL NEVER YIELD IT, NOR ADMIT AS A TEXT OF MY FAITH A BOOK PRETENDING TO BE A REVELATION FROM GOD WHICH LEAVES THAT WORD OUT. THE HOLY GHOST HAS WRITTEN ITLET NO MAN DARE TOUCH ITGREAT IS THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS, GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH” (pp. 78-80).


“1. A general weakening all along the line toward Rome XE "Roman Catholic" . This must be, if Rome is to furnish the basal document which is to determine our Bible. ... No wonder I say that men have gone up valiantly to Church Courts to overturn if possible, the declaration of the Old School Assembly of 1845 by a vote of 173 to 8, that Rome is apostate and her baptism as a baptism into an apostate system is utterly invalid.

“2. A second Tendency of the Revision XE "English Revised Version" is to loosen the Revelation of God from the letter, and to cast it floating out upon the winds. How can God inspire thoughts, ideas, but by words? Did you ever have a thought in your mind, an idea that was not in words? Never. If Inspiration is not verbal, in the very words, it is nowhere.

“3. The tendency is to remove from men that fear of penalty, which, say what we please, is the kingbolt of the Divine Government over the world. TAKE AWAY THE DOCTRINE OF HELL-FIRE AND THE WORLD WOULD BECOME ONE GREAT SODOM. ...

“The time has not come for a New Translation of the Holy Scriptures. The Church is not spiritual enough. The Principle has not been settled, and the Data are not all in” (George Sayles Bishop XE "Bishop, George" , “Sheol: The Principle and Tendency of the Revision XE "English Revised Version" Examined,”
The Doctrines of Grace and Kindred Themes, 1910, pp. 60-87).

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