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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), 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. THOMAS STROUSE
Thomas Strouse (1945- ) is the Dean of the Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary of Newington, Connecticut. Strouse left a teaching position at Maranatha Baptist Bible Seminary in 1988 and founded Tabernacle Baptist Bible Seminary in Virginia Beach, Virginia, under the pastoral oversight of Rodney Bell, heading up the Doctorate Program at Tabernacle until 2000, when he moved to Emmanuel. Strouse has a B.S. in industrial engineering from Purdue University, an M.Div. in theology and Biblical languages from Maranatha Baptist Graduate School of Theology, and a Ph.D. in theology from Bob Jones University. Strouse was a founding member of the Dean Burgon Society (1979) and stands firmly for the Received Text and the King James Bible. In a letter to this editor dated March 2, 1995, Strouse said:
“I took a course on textual criticism at Maranatha under Dr. M. James Hollowood. He was a close friend to Dr. D.A. Waite and used some of his materials to defend the textus receptus in 1972. In 1974-78, I was at BJU and was exposed to the critical text and I found it inferior to the textus receptus. Maranatha was started in 1968 by Dr. Cedarholm who used the textus receptus until his successor, Dr. A.Q. Weniger, came in 1983. I left Maranatha in 1988, after trying to preserve the foundational heritage of MBBC in regards to the text, the local church doctrine, and fundamentalism, and failing.”
The following is excerpted from Strouse’s book The Lord God Hath Spoken: A Guide to Bibliology, published in 1992:
“The student of the Bible must recognize that the Bible’s underlying texts are extremely important. ... The student of the Word should use the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew OT because it is the standardized and traditional text of the OT, and the student should use the Received Text of the Greek NT because it is superior to the Critical Text and Majority Text textually, historically, and Christologically. Not only is the text of the Bible important, but so is the translation of the Bible. Since the Masoretic and Received Texts are superior, it follows that their resultant translation, the KJV, is superior. ... THE KJV IS THE WORD OF GOD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. It has no errors in it because it carefully reflects the original language texts closest to the autographs. The AV, like all translations, has ‘language limitations,’ but these are not errors.”
In 1980, Dr. Strouse published A Critique of D.A. Carson’s the King James Version Debate (1980). He argues that Carson’s book has “a potential of causing a devastating impact upon fundamental Christianity,” and he gives four reasons for this charge: 1) The King James Version Debate (KJVD) is for the most part non-technical, and it is written to the pastor and laymen. 2) The KJVD obfuscates the central issues in textual criticism and translations. 3) The subtitle of the KJVD, A Plea for Realism, immediately casts a shadow upon the usage of the AV and/or the TR for whatever reasons it is used. 4) The KJVD undermines the supernatural approach to textual criticism by using the oft-repeated argumentation based on the naturalistic principles of Lachmann, Westcott and Hort.” Strouse then deals with each of the 14 arguments Carson uses in his attempt to overthrow the Authorized Version. The following excerpt from the introduction and conclusion of this study shows Dr. Strouse’s position on this issue:
“One of the key issues in contemporary fundamental Christianity is Bibliology, the doctrine of Scripture. Included in this controversial issue certainly is the authority, inspiration and preservation of Scripture. ... Satan has cleverly fostered a barrage of translations upon the Christian public to cause doubt to be cast upon both the doctrine of Scripture and subsequently all doctrines. Certainly God is not the author of this confusion concerning His Word. And because of this confusion, Christian pastors, laymen, missionaries, etc., are doubting the validity and fidelity of their long-standing translation of the Word of God, the AV. ...
“In conclusion, it is hoped that the concerned pastor or layman is not mislead by Carson’s fourteen theses. It is apparent that Carson presents only one side of the picture, and certainly his picture is not beyond refutation. In fact, his position is permeated with theologically fallacious arguments and with statements insensitive to historical data. He stresses conflation, harmonization, and transcriptional probability similar to his mentors—Westcott and Hort. CARSON’S APPROACH TO TEXTUAL CRITICISM IS NATURALISTIC, LEADING TO THE SUBJECTIVE, ECLECTIC TEXT. THE SUPERNATURAL APPROACH, WHICH CARSON IGNORES, STARTS WITH GOD’S PROMISES AND ENDS WITH GOD’S WORD. May believers realize that the AV is the best English translation available today because it is based on the best Greek text (TR), and may believers use this approved standard both in private and public worship unto the praise of His glory!” (Strouse, A Critique of D.A. Carson’s The King James Version Debate, pp. 1,21).
A meeting entitled “National Leadership Conference, Coping with the Issues of the Next Generation of Fundamentalism,” sponsored by Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, was held Feb. 27-Mar. 1, 1996. One of the seminars dealt with the subject of Bible texts and translations. While many, if not the majority, of participants were antagonistic toward what they frequently label “King James Onlyism,” we are happy to note that a paper defending biblical preservation was presented at this seminar by Dr. Strouse. The paper, titled “Fundamentalism and the Authorized Version,” dealt with various views of preservation which are prevalent today: No Preservation, Partial Preservation, Heavenly Preservation, and Verbal Plenary Preservation. Dr. Strouse defends the latter position, which results in accepting the Received Text and the Authorized Version as the preserved Word of God. An excerpt from this paper follows. The entire report can be viewed at the Bible Version section of the End Times Apostasy Database at the Way of Life Literature web site – http://www.wayoflife.org.
“The real issue beneath the textual debate between the Received Text (TR) and the Critical Text (CT) is whether or not God, having verbally inspired His Word, has indeed cast 7% of it into the furnace of rationalism. Those who hold that the TR is essentially equal to the autographa believe themselves to be on solid footing Biblically, Theologically, Practically and Historically. …
“Perhaps the strongest theological argument for holding to the TR as the preserved words of God is simply that the position itself arises from a strong sense of the mighty power and faithfulness of God Himself. TR adherents believe in a God Whose wisdom foresaw the need for an inspired and preserved Scripture, and Whose omnipotence guaranteed that men throughout Christian history would have one. One wonders about the theology of those who are still in the process of deciding upon the best of numerous readings in their Greek NT. …
“In practical terms the TR adherent has enormous assurance when he preaches from any passage of Scripture in his Bible, confidently believing all of it to be the Word of God. But what must the CT adherent or MT adherent do when he preaches from a passage which has variant readings? Does he decide himself or take the editor's variant reading? It is hard to imagine such a ministry having any solid footing, especially if expository preaching is being attempted. …
“The unsettled text of the Critical Text and the uncertain translational techniques of the modern versions should be sufficient cautions to the fundamentalist about moving away from the certainty of the standard, received and authorized Bible. …
“The author has some concerns for fundamentalism. Why would some want to move away from the tried and reliable 400 year heritage of the TR/AV for new translations based on uncertain textual techniques and unproven spiritual value. After all, the AV has been identified with fundamentalism for many years. James Barr makes an astute observation:
“‘For fundamentalist society as a whole the Authorized Version functioned as the direct and immediate expression or transcript of divine revelation. ...The virtual use of only one English version, and it one originating within very traditional early seventeenth-century Christianity, thus indirectly but very powerfully supported the alienation of the fundamentalist public from, and its opposition to, the positions, interests and methods from which all biblical criticism grew and on which it depended’ (James Barr, Fundamentalism, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1978, pp. 210-211).
“Others make the same claim for the AV with fundamentalism. The new-evangelical Robert Gromacki admits that the AV is the Bible of fundamentalism (Robert Gromacki, New Testament Survey, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974, p. xii). Fundamentalist leader Ian K. Paisley preached a sermon in the World Congress of Fundamentalism at Bob Jones University Campus in 1983, citing the resolution of the congress on the Holy Scriptures: ‘We recognize the unique and special place of the Authorized King James Version providentially preserved by God in the English-speaking world’ (Ian R.K. Paisley, ‘The Authority of the Scriptures vs. The Confusion of Translations,’ Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, August 1983, cassette). …
“This author believes that Beza's 1598 Greek Edition of the New Testament is essentially equivalent to the very words of the NT autographa. This view is based on Christ's promises of Providential Preservation of Scripture, on the inextricable relationship between the doctrine of verbal, plenary inspiration and the doctrine of verbal, plenary preservation, on the practical consideration that 93% of it is without doubt the preserved text, and the remaining 7% has been universally ‘received’ by Christians as authentic, and on the historical validation that this is the received, standard, and authorized text of multitudes of believers.
“MAY FUNDAMENTALISTS UNDERSTAND AND PROCLAIM THE GREAT BIBLIOLOGICAL TRUTHS OF INSPIRATION, INERRANCY, INFALLIBILITY AND PRESERVATION, SO THAT FUTURE BELIEVERS WILL HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITY AND ASSURANCE OF MICHAIAH, WHO ‘HAD HEARD OUT OF THE BOOK ALL THE WORDS OF THE LORD’ (JER. 36:11)” (Dr. Thomas M. Strouse, Fundamentalism and the Authorized Version, Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, 296 New Britain Ave., Newington, CT 06111. 860-666-1055).
Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary is a ministry of Emmanuel Baptist Church and Dr. J. Michael Bates is Founder and President. The school’s literature emphasizes that “Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary is an independent, local-church, Baptist seminary which stands without apology for the Word of God (Textus Receptus/KJV), for our Baptist heritage, for a balance between biblical scholarship and practical application, and for the primacy of preaching.” The school will not seek accreditation with the state of Connecticut or with any secular accrediting association. The seminary currently offers three degree programs: Master of Biblical Studies (32 hours), Master of Divinity (96 hours), and Doctor of Ministry (32 hours). The Master of Divinity requires 12 hours of Greek and 12 of Hebrew.
The following is from the school’s doctrinal statement: “We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Old and New Testaments and the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. We believe that the process of inspiration ceased with the autographa. The Textus Receptus is essentially the preserved autographa and the Authorized Version (KJV) is an accurate and trustworthy translation of the TR. Consequently, the Authorized Version is the Word of God in the English language.”
Dr. Bates is the author of the 346-page Syllabus on Inspiration, Preservation, and the KJV (2000). It covers the nature and transmission of the biblical text from a viewpoint of confidence in God’s promises.
Dr. Strouse has authored many publications dealing with Bible defense. His 1992 book “The Lord God Hath Spoken: A Guide to Bibliology” deals with revelation, inspiration, canonicity, illumination, and interpretation. A 1996 publication is entitled “Fundamentalism and the Authorized Version.” In 2001, Dr. Strouse published an excellent book on preservation titled “But My Words Shall Not Pass Away: The Biblical Defense of the Doctrine of the Preservation of Scripture.” He compares a faith position with that of modern textual criticism, which assumes that God’s Word was not divinely kept. Dr. Strouse has also authored an effective reply to the book From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man.
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