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:
DR. CLINTON BRANINE
Dr. Clinton Branine is a professor at the Heritage Baptist University in Greenwood, Indiana. This school was founded in 1955 by Ford Porter, author of the widely-used Gospel tract God’s Simple Plan of Salvation. The school was called the Berean Bible Institute at first. In 1967, it was named Indiana Baptist College. Leon Maurer was President during that time. From the beginning, Porter used and supported the KJV. In 1975, the college was moved from the downtown area of Indianapolis to the south suburban area under Dr. Branine, who led the school for ten years. At that time, with the matter of Bible texts becoming more of an issue, the school took the position of the Dean Burgon Society. This is the position of the school today under the direction of Dennis Russell, Jr., the son of the late Dr. Russell Dennis (1932-1998), who was president from 1985, when the Indiana Baptist College was merged with the Heritage Baptist University, until his death in 1998. Russell Dennis, Jr., Dr. Branine, and Greek professor John Krinke are all involved with the Dean Burgon Society. Dr. Branine has prepared a class syllabus teaching this view (The History of Bible Families and the English Bible) and has written several position papers on the text issue in support of the Traditional Text and the King James Version.
The late Dr. Russell Dennis, who had a Ph.D. from Bob Jones University, gave this testimony in a letter to me dated March 13, 1995:
“My story is similar to many others who have always held to the KJV before it was an issue. When it became an issue in the 1970’s, I studied what I could find and deepened my convictions on the TR and KJV. ... In the early 1980’s we came to the conviction that we must defend what we hold dear and precious. We cannot understand how any Bible teaching institution can state that they use the KJV and do not defend it. To us, the KJV is clearly the Word of God and should be the text in college classrooms and in local churches. We invited the Dean Burgon Society to hold their Fifteenth Annual Meeting at HBU in July of 1993, to show our agreement with them.”
In April 1998, the Heritage Baptist University hosted a “Disproving the Myths” conference, the goal of which was “to present information that strengthens believers in the Biblical conviction that God has given us His Word.” The speakers addressed such questions as “What difference does the Bible version issue make?” and “Is Lower Criticism our friend?” Speakers included Dr. Clinton Branine, John Krinke, Pastor Ed Egbert (D.D.), and Pastor Kirk DiVietro (Ph.D.).
While attending that conference, I interviewed Dr. Branine on April 21, 1998, as follows:
Cloud: Could you tell me, Dr. Branine, when you were born?
Branine: June 12, 1926.
Cloud: And when were you saved?
Branine: Seven years later in the month of July.
Cloud: Was that a Baptist church you were saved in?
Branine: No, my mother was led to the Lord was led to the Lord by some old fashioned Pentecostalists. They knocked on the door and led her to the Lord. And so it was about four or five years before we went to a Baptist church. That whole group went to the Baptist church.
Cloud: So you were saved when you were a child?
Branine: Yes, seven years old.
Cloud: Where were you educated theologically?
Branine: I was educated in Denver, CO, at the Rockmont College, which today is called Colorado Christian University. Then I attended the Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary when it was first started and graduated from there in 1951.
Cloud: And you took Greek, of course?
Branine: Yes, twelve hours of Greek.
Cloud: How long have you taught here at Heritage Baptist University?
Branine: About 28 years. While I was pastoring, I taught a class or two. I'd go in on a Thursday about 7:30, early in the morning, and speak two hours or so. Seven years ago, I came over full time.
Cloud: Have you been involved with a mission board?
Branine: Yes, Baptist World Mission. I was on the board soon after it was started.
Cloud: Who founded that board?
Branine: He came out of the old Conservative Baptist Fellowship of churches. It was a hardcore fundamentalist group that pulled out of the CBHMS background.
Cloud: Are you still associated with the mission board?
Branine: Yes, I'm still on the board.
Cloud: Were you educated to respect the Received Text and the King James Bible as the Word of God?
Branine: Well, we did respect that Bible. When I was educated, there was not a real battle over the Bible. They did herald the old American Standard Version in the schools, but it never caught on, so nobody really got excited about it. The scholars thought it was all right. We used it for class when we had to and that was about the extent of it.
Cloud: What about Greek? What kind of Greek text were you trained in?
Branine: We used the Nestles’ Greek text. We didn't know there was anything else. That was all we had.
Cloud: When did you first come across the fact that there was another Greek text and that it was different?
Branine: It was down the road a long time. I was in Rockford, Illinois, and I finally woke up that there was another Greek text. I was given Dr. Wilbur Pickering’s book The Identity of the New Testament Text and books edited by David Otis Fuller. After a few years, I began to delve into those somewhat and began to realize there were problems and difficulties. Then I began in earnest to get all the material I could on the subject. I had an interest in it, so I chased down material.
Cloud: You were first come in contact with the other positions in the early 70's, late 60's?
Branine: It would be in the 60's--mid 60's--when I first became aware there were a real differences.
Cloud: You said that you were in Scotland when you first came across Dr. Edward Hill's book The King James Version Defended, which first appeared in 1956.
Branine: My wife and I were in Scotland on a missionary tour. We had a young couple from our church in Edinburgh. He took me to the bookstores. I had interest in books. I found Ed Hill’s book on the text issue. I secured it and read it all the way back to Retick.
Cloud: What do you believe about the King James Bible today?
Branine: I hold that the King James Bible is the preserved Word of God in English. I hold that the originals were inspired and that good copies from good manuscripts was God's means of preservation. I feel that is what we have in the King James Bible. I do not hold that in regard to the new versions; I feel there is corruption involved.
Cloud: Do you believe this is an important issue today? Do you believe this is a divisive thing among Christians?
Branine: It is divisive, but I feel that it is one of the most important issues we are facing and the outcome of it will determine whether we remain Fundamentalists or not.
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