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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), email@example.com (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:
Philip Mauro (1859-1952) was a patent lawyer who argued before the bar of the United States Supreme Court. As patent counsel for the Columbia Phonograph Company, Mauro had repeated encounters with Thomas Edison. Mauro was converted in 1903, ten years after he had been admitted to the bar. He had an Episcopalian background, but by age 45 he was a skeptic in regard to religion. In the spring of the year 1903 he attended a church service almost by accident, and it changed his life. Impressed with the friendliness of the people, Mauro returned to the church several times and was eventually born again through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Following is the story in Mauro’s own words:
“Certainly I was thoroughly discontented, desperately unhappy, and becoming more and more easy prey to gloomy thoughts and vague, indefinable apprehensions. . . . Life had no meaning, advantage, purpose, or justification; and the powers of the much-vaunted intellect seemed unequal to the solution of the simplest mysteries. The prospect before me was unspeakably dark and forbidding.
“I strolled out in my usual unhappy frame of mind, intending to seek diversion at the theatre. This purpose carried me as far as the lobby of a theatre on Broadway and caused me to take my place in the line of ticket purchasers. But an unseen hand turned me aside, and the next thing that I remember was a very faint sound of singing which came to my ears amid the noises in Eighth Avenue, near 44th Street, fully a mile away from the theatre.
“There is no natural explanation of my being attracted by, and of my following up, that sound. Nevertheless, I pushed my way into the building (a very plain, unattractive affair, bearing the sign ‘Gospel Tabernacle’) [pastored by A.B. Simpson, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance], whence the sound emanated, and found myself in a prayer-meeting. I took a seat and remained through the meeting.
“I was not much impressed by the exercise, and in fact was not at all in sympathy with what transpired. What did, however, make an impression upon me was the circumstance that, as I was making my way to the door after the meeting, several persons greeted me with a pleasant word and a shake of the hand, and one inquired about my spiritual state.
“No natural explanation will account for the fact that I was constrained to return to a place so utterly devoid of attractions and so foreign to all my natural tastes and inclinations. The people were not in the social grade to which I had been accustomed, and I would have found nothing at all congenial in their society .... I do not remember how many times 1 went to these meetings before 1 yielded to the Spirit’s influence, and I do not remember that I was conscious of any benefit from attending the meetings, which, from the ordinary standpoint, would have been pronounced decidedly dull.
“I did not know the nature of what was happening, for I did not believe in sudden conversions. I supposed that a change of nature, if it occurred at all, must be very gradual-an ‘evolution,’ in fact. But my ignorance of the process did not stand in the way of the mighty power of God, acting in grace, to quicken me into new life. I called upon the name of the Lord with a deep conviction of sin in my heart, and that was enough.”
“I should have supposed that, in order to convince me of the truth of the Bible and Christianity, it would be necessary to employ the best efforts of a faculty of the profoundest theologians versed in all the arguments of sceptical philosophy, and able to furnish plausible replies to them. But God, in His wisdom, sent me to learn the way of everlasting life from a company of exceedingly plain, humble people, of little education, to whom I regarded myself as immeasurably superior in all the higher branches of knowledge. It is true that these people knew very little of what is taught in the colleges and seminaries; but they did have that knowledge which is the highest and most excellent of all... ‘the KNOWLEDGE of Christ Jesus my Lord.’...”
“Perhaps the most wonderful change which was manifest to my consciousness, was this, that all my doubts, questionings, scepticism, and criticism concerning God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; concerning the full inspiration, accuracy, and authority of the Holy Scriptures...; concerning the sufficiency of Christ’s Atonement to settle the question of sin, and to provide a ground upon which God could, with perfect righteousness, forgive and justify a sinner; and concerning an assured salvation and perfect acceptance in Christ, were swept away completely .... I had no notion at all that intellectual difficulties and questioning could be removed in any way except by being answered, one by one, to the intellectual satisfaction of the person in whose mind they existed. But my doubts and difficulties were not met in that way. They were simply removed when I believed on the crucified One and accepted Him as the Christ of God, and as my personal Savior” (The Story of Philip Mauro, Gordon P. Gardiner).
After his conversion Mauro became a bold Christian and wrote many books on Christian themes. He was a fundamentalist and taught believer’s baptism by immersion. In addition to an original copy of his book Which Version, I have collected four other books by Mauro for my library. These are Man’s Day (London: Morgan & Scott, 1908), The Characteristics of the Age and Their Significance (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1918), The World and Its God (New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1905), and Baptism (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1977 reprint of the 1914 original). He wrote dozens of other books and booklets, including The Truth about Evolution, The Progress of the Apostasy, Sanctification, God’s Apostle and High Priest, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, The Wonders of Bible Chronology, Evolution at the Bar, Dispensationalism Justifies the Crucifixion, Speaking in Tongues, Our Liberty in Christ, and Believing on the Son of God. He defended the faith in an uncompromising and gracious Christian manner and saw people saved through the distribution of his colporteur booklets. Though not a dispensationalist, he stood against theological modernism, evolution, Pentecostalism, and other isms of his day.
Mauro wrote the legal brief that was used by William Jennings Bryan to defend the Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in the public schools. This was the famous “Skopes Trial.” Bryan won the case against the famous trial lawyer Clarence Darrow.
Because of his profession, Philip Mauro had opportunity to witness to many well-placed individuals, including Thomas Edison. This is the account in Mauro’s own words:
“Mr. Edison is now in his eightieth year; but his mind is evidently as keen as ever. All his life his attitude regarding things not seen--God, the human soul, life hereafter, etc.--has been severely skeptical. But now, in the sunset of his days, he has undertaken the investigation of those great matters, with a desire to know the truth, but with insistence upon PROOF. ‘1 want FACTS,’ was the way he expressed the attitude of his mind. Owing to Mr. Edison’s deafness, it was difficult for the editor to speak to him. But it was better so; and the promise was given that he would read attentively a short letter on the matter discussed.”
Following is the letter Mauro wrote to Edison the next day:
“Dear Mr. Edison,
“It was a real pleasure to see you and hear your voice again. Moreover, the matters touched upon in our conversation of yesterday gave me much to think about.
“You want facts. So do I. A reasonable man’s belief should rest upon nothing less substantial than well attested facts. So here is a fact for you:
“God (whom you reverently call ‘the Supreme Intelligence’) loves you and wants your love in return. My visit to you and this letter are evidence of it, though, of course, not sufficient to prove to your satisfaction either that God is, or that He cares for Thomas Edison. But wait.
“Another fact: God is Light.
“How do I know? I know in the only way that light can be known by experience. For the nature of light is such that it admits of being known only in the way of experimental knowledge. 1 am saying this to the man who has had more to do with the development of artificial light than any other who ever lived in this dark world, and who probably knows more about light, in a practical way, than any other. How then could the existence and the nature of light be demonstrated to one who had been shut up all his life in a dark cell? It could be done only in some such way as by opening a window; and then the light would enter, and prove itself.
“This 1 say, because you are seeking a solution of the mystery of life and the soul by the way of analogies from nature. Very good. Much truth can be got in that way; as Butler, in his famous Analogy has abundantly shown. I hope you will continue your investigation, and in your customary thorough-going fashion; for it is the most important you ever undertook. And in this connection I call your attention to a clear and pertinent analogy; the point of which is that the proof you demand can be had only by experiment. For myself, I know that God is Light, and that He sheds light in the heart that is opened to Him, because I put the matter to the test of experience twenty-three years ago, and have enjoyed the consciousness of spiritual light ever since. Moreover, my experience is that of millions of others.
“Let me remind you that light will not force its way into a place that is tightly closed; but that, if only a tiny chink be opened, in it comes, proving itself.
“Likewise Christ, who is ‘the true Light,’ does not force Himself into the chambers of the soul against the human will. For the nature of the matter is such that, like the smell of a violet, the color of a sunset, or the taste of honey, it can be known only by experiment. The ‘Good Book,’ that you asked me not to quote, says, ‘Come and see,’ ‘Taste and see.’ Is not that strictly scientific?
“You have been truly doing God’s work in helping to enlighten the darkness of nature. But there is a spiritual darkness too. So follow the analogy, and it will lead you straight to the truth, and to the solution of the whole mystery of human existence.
“With sincere affection and respect, (Signed) Philip Mauro.”
Interestingly, Mauro was aboard the Carpathian when it rescued survivors from the Titanic in 1912.
Beginning in the 1920s, Philip Mauro wrote in defense of the King James Bible and in opposition to the critical Greek text which had been introduced thirty years earlier, and to the modern versions which were beginning to flow from it. Mauro’s 1924 work Which Version? Authorized or Revised? was reprinted in David Otis Fuller’s True or False. Mauro leaned heavily upon the research of John Burgon, but his logic was his own. This brilliant lawyer carefully represented the side of the Traditional Text. The thing that characterized Mauro is that which characterizes each defender of the Received Text and the KJV: faith in God’s providence and an emphasis on Bible preservation:
“...In view also of the leading part the English speaking peoples were to play in shaping the destinies of mankind during the eventful centuries following the appearance of the Version of 1611, we are justified in believing that it was through a providential ordering that the preparation of that Version was not in anywise affected by higher critical theories in general, or specifically by the two ancient Codices we have been discussing. For when we consider what the A.V. [Authorized Version] was to be to the world, the incomparable influence it was to exert in shaping the course of events, and in accomplishing those eternal purposes of God for which Christ died and rose again and the Holy Spirit came down from heaven—when we consider that this Version was to be, more than all others combined, ‘the Sword of the Spirit,’ and that all this was fully known to God beforehand, we are fully warranted in the belief that it was not through chance, but by providential control of the circumstances, that the translators had access to just those Mss. which were available at that time, and to none others. This belief in no way conflicts with the fact that man’s part in the preparation of the A.V. is marked, and plainly enough, by man’s infirmities” (Mauro, Which Version?).
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