Shallow Baptist churches that are uneducated in the Bible and in the fundamental issues of the day are ripe for the devil’s picking, and they are falling away from the truth on every hand.
Bryan Samms is pastor of River City Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, which under his leadership (beginning in 2016) transitioned from a conservative fundamental Baptist Church to a contemporary evangelical church. According to his own testimony, after he took the pastorate, he came to a “conviction” that modern versions such as the New King James Version, the New American Standard Version, and the English Standard Version, are to be preferred above the King James Version. He subsequently transitioned his church to the modern versions.
Now he is teaching other pastors to make the transition.
Samms hosts an annual Church Advance conference. In February 2023, it featured Cary Schmidt, who served for 22 years as the the associate pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church, Lancaster, California. Schmidt currently pastors Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newington, CT, which he has transitioned from a conservative fundamentalist to a contemporary evangelical stance.
Following is an excerpt from the first part of Samms’ podcast interview in which he explains how he accomplished the transition away from the King James Bible:
Bryan: The reason for me [to lead my church in making the transition] were two-fold.
First, I became scripturally convinced about the version issue.
Secondly, my children. Honestly, the most important thing to me was my own children. I did not want them growing up in a family where either (a) I told them something I didn’t believe, or (b) force them to be hypocrites because they could read a new translation, but couldn’t let anybody else know about it.
What am I going to do if I’m in a King James Only church and my kids are reading the ESV? What am I going to tell them? You can’t tell people at church. To memorize Scripture, you are going to have to go over there and use this [KJV], but at home, you know, you can do this [ESV]. I just think that duplistic thing creates [hypocrisy]. It might be easy for us to do, but it isn’t easy for kids to swallow.
[D. Cloud - If you were a pastor of a “KJV only” church and had come to a conviction against the KJV, you could do the honest thing and resign.]
I’ve told the story many times before, but I believe it is worth repeating. My son was in ABEKA homeschooling curriculum, back during Covid, and I was getting my doctorate at the time. This was the spring of 2020. Schools had shut down. I decided to use the time down from church to finish my doctorate. And my son was doing homework. One of his homework assignments for his Bible class was to read the story of David and Goliath, and I was kinda excited. I said, Man, this is going to be great. I sat down with him to help him with his homework, and he was going to read 1 Samuel 17. And pretty much every other word I’d tell him how to pronounce it, tell him what it means. I’m thinking to myself, Wait, I know the whole story almost by memory. You know what word he’s struggling with. You have been through this enough. Finally, he asked me this question: “Well, dad, if it means that why doesn’t it just say that?” I said, “That’s a great question, dude, a great question.” From that point forward, my kids never used the King James again in their devotionals. My two older kids are doing their own devotions. They are reading the ESV. This was long before we did this as a church, or even on air. I just said, “My kids aren’t going to go through this.” By the time they are 20, this is over. I know, my daughter who is 15 right now, we aren’t playing the game anymore. She isn’t going to be reading the King James when she is 20. She’s not. I mean, I don’t have the conviction. She doesn’t have the conviction. So I did it for my kids.
The third thing is I did it for the future of my church, feeling like the next pastor cannot be bound by this. Chances are he’s likely going to be younger than me. I mean, I’m in my mid 40s now. The chances of me resigning and the next pastor being older than me are slim to none. It’s likely going to be young guy. Of course, by that time, I might be 60. So he might be 40. That guy is not going to be King James Only, 9 times out of 10. And [if he were] he certainly would not be interested in my church. Or he will be in training. So let’s go ahead and deal with it.
OK. So, that’s the background. Now I bring this into the certainty that I am going to make this change, at my church, and through the podcast, publicly.
Specifically speaking, what steps did I take when I actually made the transition at River City? So I think we should walk through these. I think I wrote down eight steps.
Step 1 is formulate clear biblical convictions on bibliology. Formulate means you need to learn, study, grow, and create your convictions on the matter. You should be able to write a research paper on it, a position paper is what they call them now. This should be clear with you. If you aren’t certain, don’t do it. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” If you are not sure about the move, then don’t change, because convictions and clarity must go together. If you going to lead in major change, you’d better be clear. You must formulate your position from the Bible. A conviction means, “I can’t change this.” I have a conviction about Scripture. I believe it is inspired, and I believe preservation is predominately a reference to original manuscripts. And [in mocking mannerism] I’ve heard all the guys rooting and tooting on Twitter, “I ain’t seen the manuscripts and neither have you.” What we mean is that the word “preservation” in the Bible is not speaking of English translations, it is speaking of the Word that God gave, which was not in English. I know that is SO novel, but it is really simple. Once I believe that it is inspired and the original is preserved, then I make my best position on a language translation based upon formal equivalency and readability. It’s that simple. You have got to have a Bible that is true to the original languages, and you have got to have a Bible that you can read. Those are convictions. So the King James falls out of line on the second one. The Message falls out of line on the first one. Eugene Peterson never intended for it to be a translation. So if you read it like that, it is a great help, just like the Amplified Version of the Bible. But we wouldn’t even consider those as Bibles. They are paraphrases. It’s like a commentary. But within the two, I have to pick something that is reliable and that is readable. Those are the issues. Those are my convictions. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe it is preserved in the original manuscripts. Then as far as translation goes, I have to pick something that is reliable and readable. So, because the King James is not readable to most people, and certainly many parts of it (and that’s where Mark Ward comes into the conversation). Once I sorted through all of this theology and then sorted through the book Authorized, the convictions were there. I am literally convicted I am not going to use the King James Version of the Bible in my church, and to my family. So that’s it. Now, all of the sudden, something has to change.
[Luke: Q. Are there any translations that you are kinda hesitant on these because of their philosophy of translation?]
Sure, you find things that are more intentionally more dynamic in their equivalence. They are trying to convey the thought. [Like the NIV, NLT.] Then there are those who are trying really to be formal. When I made the transition, I told the church that I am recommending five translations to you for your own personal reading, for your family. These are modern translations that are formal in equivalence. New American Standard, New King James Version, English Standard Version, Christian Standard Bible. Then, of course, the NIV is going to be over in the [dynamic equivalency] spectrum. For me, I wanted to be more safe in the reliability, the formal. So, you can over to the NIV or the New Living Translation or the CEB, there are tons of them, but I’m not going to want to use those predominantly for worship. Again, I’m not against people that do. I’m just saying, for me I have the conviction that formal equivalence is a priority, and I can find readability and formal equivalency together. So that’s why the ESV was on the table for me, New King James was, and, frankly, Christian Standard Bible was. I may have gone with that if it wasn’t so new at the time. So I have versions we would not use as the teaching Bible at the church.
I preached from my New King James in an ESV church, and in the particular text I was preaching from there was virtually no difference.
[Luke: I will chime in here and say, there is very little difference, other than the old English words, between the ESV and the KJV.]
[D. Cloud - This is definitely not true.]
Samms - Don’t skip this step. Here’s the thing. Don’t go ramrodding something in. If you are not articulate, and if you do not know, and certainly if you are not convicted about it, you don’t want to [do this]. You could easily destroy a church over this.
[D. Cloud - That he is promoting something that could “easily destroy a church” is a very loud warning of the unsound character of his program.]
Step 2 you gotta be sensitive to your own unique ministry concept.
Let me make this kinda sub statement here. The consciences of your people [in a “KJV only” church] have been mistakenly, yet passionately, tethered to this position. Here’s the problem. Some people have been forcefully, dynamically told that Psalm 12:6-7 is a promise about the King James Bible. I know it’s not. You know it’s not. Anybody that is a fairly cognitive reader of the Bible, a student of grammar, a student of context, is gonna say that is talking about the people being preserved, not the words. I’ve heard people try to twist that one out and explain it away.
Let’s just be honest here. Psalm 12:6-7 has nothing to do with the Bible. But what do you do with John Smith in your pew who has been told, and not just told but told passionately, that it was tethered to the Bible? And he thinks in his mind he has a conviction. So here’s something everybody needs to understand about my church. Our change had already happened. Our church split in 2019 over bigger issues, over philosophical issues: styles, black ceilings in the auditorium, you know, modern worship, and a myriad of other things. So by the time I changed Bibles in 2021, it was all over. The covid purge had happened. This was a whole new church. This is the third church I pastored. I pastored the original church. I pastored the carnal church where people started coming out of the woodwork. And now I am pastoring my church. I may pastor five churches along the way.
So I would say to you that you need to know your own unique ministry context. Here’s the question. If you changed the Bible right now in your church, would it destroy your church? If the answer is yes, don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t even talk about it.
Let me make a couple of statements about how you can begin changing the ministry context. First of all, you may not be able to. If you know you may never change it, you might need to leave. Just face it.
[Luke: You are saying that if you have this conviction as a pastor, but you know your church and it might destroy your church, it might actually be time for you to make a transition?]
Absolutely. You need to change ministries, or start changing the context, or live with it.
In what ways can I begin to shift the ministry context? And this may take five years. It may never happen. Number 1, I’m going to eliminate any kind of King James Only lingo. I’m just going to eliminate it. I’m going to quit saying things like, “Open your King James Bible, bless God. How many are glad for the old book?” I’m going to start defanging this. Number 2, I’m going to test waters by maybe mentioning things like this: “If we were translating this word today, we would say this word means this.” Now, if you are in an ultra radical King James church, you can’t even say this. You will know because you will have a line a mile long at your office door.
If you are a little more intentional, you will test the waters; you will start saying things. I think it’s terrible to say this is a bad translation. Come on, you are surely not that arrogant. This is what sophomores in Greek 1 do. They say, “The King James is a terrible translation.” Like you know more than that committee that translated the King James? No you don’t. But I can say, “If this word were being translated in 2023, we would say this.” Or, “In the original language this is a present tense active voice imperative mood verb.” And what I am showing is that there is study going on here, and it is my job to teach you the Bible.
Then, later on in the process, someone preached here and used a different translation. That was two years before we changed. ... I bought him a beautiful King Jame Bible, calfskin leather, had his name put on it, and sent it to him with a note saying, “Thank you so much for coming and preaching. I’m so honored that you are coming. I bought this Bible for you and in my context it would really help me if you wouldn’t mind using this Bible. I can explain it if you want. This church has traditionally been King James Only.” I just sent it and never said another word about it. The night he preached, Nov. 5, 2018, the service started at 5pm. He thought it started at 6. He shows up at like 4:58. Music started. Huge crowd. He walks in, sits down in our conference room, and he is being very slow. And I saw him pull out an ESV. I just decided the best thing for the spirit was not to say anything. There were a couple of people who said something, but not many. In fact, one of my deacons, I went to him after the service. I walked up to him. His name is Jeff. I said, “Jeff,” and I was going to tell him that story. And he stopped me and said, “It’s a doubtful thing, preacher, don’t even worry about it.” Because I had recently preached on Romans 14.
Step 3 - Which would be the final step, I would say, you need to be teaching your people about latitude. You need to be teaching your people about gray areas. Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8-10; and many other places. You need to be teaching them that there are Christians who have different opinions about things, and it’s OK. Individual soul liberty. Which we don’t believe as Baptists, even though it is in the acrostic.
[Luke: There are several more steps, which we plan to get to in the next hour. Join us for Church Advance with Bryan Samms.]
The previous paragraphs are from “The Translation Transition,” an interview with Bryan Samms by Luke Clayton at the Church Advance YouTube channel.
COMMENTS ON BRYAN SAMMS’ “TRANSLATION TRANSITION” BY DAVID CLOUD
Bryan Samms refutes a Ruckmanite view that the English Bible was given by inspiration and is unalterable in its jots and tittles. Men such as Samms do not clearly define “King James Only,” but when they interact with it, they interact with a Ruckmanite position. There are large numbers of preachers who are labeled “King James Only,” but they understand that the chief issue is the text. They use the King James Bible, first of all, because it is translated from the right Hebrew and Greek texts. There are other fundamental issues, but the textual issue is the fundamental of fundamentals. (See “King James Only,” www.wayoflife.org.)
Samms overstates the difficulty of the language of the King James Bible. He says his son struggled with 1 Samuel 17 in the King James Bible, and that “pretty much every other word I’d tell him what it means.” That makes no sense. The only words in that passage that need explanation are place names (Gath, Ephrathite, Bethlehemjudah, Ekron, Shaaraim), measurements (ephah, cubit, span, shekel), and items of military equipment (coat of mail, greaves, target). Those would need to be explained in any literal translation of the Hebrew. The only antiquated word in the entire passage is “assayed” (v. 39), which means attempted. The Trinitarian Bible Society publishes a list of 618 antiquated words. It is called Bible Word List. Most of these can be understood by considering the context. There are only about two hundred words in the KJV that have become so antiquated that they have changed meanings or have dropped entirely out of common usage, so that you really need a dictionary to understand them. Multiple studies have found that the KJV is written on an 8th to 10th grade level. The KJV was rated as “very easy prose” by Dr. Rudolf Flesch. In the book The Art of Plain Talk, 1946). The KJV has a small vocabulary of only 6,000 words (Albert Cook, The Authorized Version of the Bible and Its Influence, 1910). Shakespeare used a vocabulary of roughly 21,000 English words. The King James Bible is composed of simple words (an average of 1.31 syllables and 4 letters per word). This goes back to the work of William Tyndale. British historian James Froude observed: “The peculiar genius—if such a word may be permitted—which breathes through it—the mingled tenderness and majesty—the Saxon simplicity—the preternatural grandeur—unequalled, unapproached in the attempted improvements of modern scholars—all are here, and bear the impress of the mind of one man—William Tyndale” (History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, III, p. 84). Children who are old enough to read are old enough to learn the discipline of daily Bible reading/study, and they are old enough to use sound Bible study tools. It is our passion to help young people become effectual Bible students. Beginner’s tools include the Strong’s Concordance, Believer’s Bible Dictionary, Believer’s Bible Commentary, and Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. See the course The Effectual Bible Student, which has video classes, textbook, review questions, and tests. This course is particularly designed for teens, though it is beneficial for properly prepared pre-teens and for older saints. https://www.wayoflife.org/books/
Samms ignores the importance of maintaining the distinction between the second person singular and plural pronouns. A large part of the antiquated feel of the King James Bible is due to the retention of the old English distinction between the singular and plural second person pronoun (thee, thou, thy, thine - ye, you, yours). This had already fallen out of common use in the early 17th century, but it was maintained for accurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek. The British biblical scholar J.B. Lightfoot wrote, “Indeed, we may take courage from the fact that the language of our English Bible is not the language of the age in which the translators lived, but in its grand simplicity stands out in contrast to the ornate and often affected diction of the literature of the time” (cited from The Divine Original, Trinitarian Bible Society, London, England). Pronouns beginning with “t” are singular (thee, thou, thy, thine) and those beginning with “y” are plural (ye, you, yours). One way to remember this is that a “t” resembles one stick (singular), while a “y” resembles two sticks (plural). (“Thy” and “thine” correspond to “your” and “yours.” If the noun placed after “thy” begins with a vowel sound, “thine” is used: thy book; thine eyes.) Consider one small example of the importance of maintaining this distinction: Genesis 18:3-4. “And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in THY sight, pass not away, I pray THEE, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray YOU, be fetched, and wash YOUR feet, and rest YOURSELVES under the tree.” In verse 3 Abraham is speaking to and of the Lord (thy, thee), but in verse 4 he is speaking of all three of the persons who appeared to him, including the two angels (you, your, yourselves). Modern English translations, including the New King James Version, have lost this important distinction. (For more examples, see the report, “Isn't the King James Bible Too Difficult to Understand?”
Samms ignores the textual issue. He deals only with translation methodology (formal equivalency vs. dynamic equivalency) and the language (antiquated vs. updated). This is a gross error. His main point is that the King James language is old; therefore, it should be replaced with a modern version. In reality, the most fundamental issue is the textual issue. The Reformation Bibles were based on the Hebrew Masoretic and the Greek Received Texts, whereas the modern versions, beginning in the late 1800s, are based on a Text that was formulated by the theories of textual criticism, theories that were invented by theological liberals, unitarians, and men deeply influenced by them. Consider the testimony of John Burgon and Edward Miller, 1896: “That which distinguishes Sacred Science from every other Science which can be named is that it is Divine, and has to do with a Book which is inspired; that is, whose true Author is God. ... It is chiefly from inattention to this circumstance that misconception prevails in that department of Sacred Science known as ‘Textual Criticism’” (The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, p. 9). Dr. Edward Hills warned, “If you adopt one of these modern versions, you must adopt the naturalistic New Testament textual criticism upon which it rests. This naturalistic textual criticism requires us to study the New Testament text in the same way in which we study the texts of secular books which have not been preserved by God’s special providence” (Hills, Believing Bible Study, 1967, pp. 226, 27).
The essential nature of the textual issue has been documented extensively since the gradual rise of textual criticism in the 19th century: John Burgon (The Revision Revised, 1881), George Samson (The English Revisers’ Greek Text Shown to Be Unauthorized Except by Egyptian Copies Discarded by Greeks and to Be Opposed to the Historic Text of All Ages, 1882), Edward Miller (A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 1886), Solomon Malan (A Vindication of the Authorized Version of the English Bible, 1856). In the 20th century, the textual issue has been dealt with by
Herman Hoskier (Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment, 1914), the publications of the Trinitarian Bible Society; Alfred Martin (doctoral dissertation, Dallas Seminary, “A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Textual Theory,” 1951); Edward F. Hills (Ph.D., Textual Criticism, Harvard, The King James Version Defended: A Christian View of the New Testament Manuscripts, 1956); D.A. Waite (Defending the King James Bible: A Four-fold Superiority, 1992), and David Sorenson (Touch Not the Unclean Thing: The Bible Translation Controversy and the Principle of Separation, 2001), to name a few.
The Greek text produced by modern textual criticism is shorter by 2,886 words, which is equivalent to removing the entire books of 1 and 2 Peter from the Bible (Jack Moorman, Missing in Modern Bibles, 1981). Modern textual criticism removes or questions dozens of entire verses: Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:9-20; Luke 17:36; 23:17; John 5:4; 7:53-8:11; Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29; Romans 16:24; 1 John 5:7. It further removes a significant portion of 147 other verses. There is a strong doctrinal element to these omissions, as the above-mentioned books have documented.
Samms ignores the theological liberalism that has permeated the field of textual criticism from its inception. We have already mentioned this, but it bears repeating as a separate point. I first learned of this when I researched the theological stance of the editors of the third edition of the UBS Greek New Testament which was our textbook at Tennessee Temple in the 1970s. I began this research in the early 1980s and pursued it for about three decades, building a large personal library on this subject and spending many days in the British Library, Regent College Library, Vancouver, etc. The result was published in the book The Modern Bible Version Hall of Shame. While not every adherent of modern textual criticism is a modernist or a unitarian or a skeptic, most of its chief architects and proponents have been. Evangelicals such as the Baptist A.T. Robertson and the Presbyterian B.B. Warfield did not develop textual criticism; they did not collate manuscripts or devise theories; they merely rehashed and passed along that which they had received from the rationalistic fathers in this field. Presbyterian scholar Robert Dabney in 1871 observed that evangelicals adopted the critical text “FROM THE MINT OF INFIDEL RATIONALISM” (Dabney, “The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek,” The Southern Presbyterian Review, April 1871). Consider a very short list of the rationalistic fathers of modern textual criticism: Johann Semler, Johann Griesbach, Karl Lachmann, George Vance Smith, Westcott and Hort, Philip Schaff, Ezra Abbot, Joseph Thayer, Eberhard Nestle, Hermann von Soden, James Moffatt, Edgar Goodspeed, Henry Wheeler Robinson, Frederic Kenyon, Kirsopp Lake, C.H. Dodd, Willard Sperry, Kenneth Clark, Walter Bauer, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Bart Ehrman, Eugene Nida, Bruce Metzger, Arthur Voobus, Matthew Black, Carlo Martini, Kurt Aland, Barbara Aland, and Johannes Karavidopoulos.
Samms ignores the theological liberalism that has permeated evangelical scholarship over the past 70 years. This is well-documented by evangelicals themselves, such as Harold Lindsell (The Battle for the Bible, 1976, and The Bible in the Balance, 1979), Richard Quebedeaux (The Worldly Evangelicals, 1978), Francis Schaeffer (The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1983), David F. Wells (No Place for the Truth, 1993), and Iain Murray (Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000). “Evangelical” Bible translators have been tainted in a myriad of ways, and this fact cannot must be prominent in any discussion of modern Bible versions.
Samms ignores the authority issue. A church’s authority is weakened by a multiplicity of versions. This issue was well stated in 1856 by Anthony Cooper, better known as the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury. He saw the issue of Bible revision particularly as it turned upon the matter of authority and the standard of absolute truth. He understood that to multiply English versions and rob the people of the standard of an “authorized version” would leave them at the mercy of the scholars. Speaking before the British & Foreign Bible Society, May 1856, the Earl gave this rousing opposition to the revision of the Authorized Bible: “Destroy that common consent to receive an ‘authorized version,’ and my belief is that you have inflicted a deadly wound on the cause of the propagation of the truth among all the nations that speak our language. ... At present we have the ‘Authorized Version,’ and we consent to receive it. We are, therefore, all on an equality; when we enter into a controversy we are on an equality; the laity can exercise the Berean privilege of examining the scriptures ‘to see whether these things be so,’ and cannot be told by those from whom they differ, ‘it may agree with your version, but I have another and a better one, and therefore, I can have no controversy with you.’ ... When you are confused or perplexed by a variety of versions you would be obliged to go to some learned pundit in whom you reposed confidence, and ask him which version he recommended; and when you had taken his version, you must be bound by his opinion. I hold this to be the greatest danger that now threatens us. it is a danger pressed upon us from Germany, and pressed upon us by the neological spirit of the age. I hold it to be far more dangerous than tractarianism or popery, both of which I abhor from the bottom of my heart. This evil is tenfold more dangerous, tenfold more subtle than either of these, because you would be ten times more incapable of dealing with the gigantic mischief that would stand before you” (cited by Edwin Bissell, The Historic Origin of the Bible, 1873, p. 355). The Earl had great foresight. His testimony echoes down the corridors of time and gives me courage to resist the modern versions, which have produced precisely the confusion he prophesied.
Samms misstates the matter of Psalm 12:6-7. He says, “Let’s just be honest here. Psalm 12:6-7 has nothing to do with the Bible.” He is wrong to be so dogmatic about this. In The Genius of Ambiguity--The Translational and Exegetical Rendering of Psalm 12:7, Peter Van Kleeck demonstrates that there is an ambiguity in the Hebrew text that allows for an interpretation of God’s words and God’s people. He cites many commentators and translators who interpreted Psalm 12:7 as a promise of the preservation of the words of God. These include Michael Ayguan, Martin Luther, Miles Coverdale, John Rogers (Matthews Bible), Geneva Bible, Henry Ainsworth, and Matthew Poole. Van Kleeck’s report was completed in the process of pursuing an M.A.R. at Calvin Theological Seminary. Others who have held the position that Psalm 12:7 is a promise of the preservation of God’s words (or both God’s people and God’s words) are John Wesley, Adam Clarke, Joseph Benson, William MacDonald, Robert Alden (Everyman’s Bible Commentary), Stuart Briscoe (The Preacher’s Commentary), and Warren Wiersbe. Further, even without Psalm 12:6-7, the promise of the preservation of God’s Word is a clear teaching of Scripture. See, for example, Ps. 100:5; 111:7-8; 119:89, 152, 160; Pr. 30:5-6; Isa. 40:8; 59:20-21; Mt. 5:18; 24:35; Joh. 10:35; 1 Pe. 1:23-25.
Samms illustrates the non-dogmatism and slippery slope of the modern version position. He distinguishes between versions on the basis of formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence, but he does not clearly warn about any version. He says, “For me, I wanted to be more safe in the reliability, the formal. So, you can go over to the NIV or the New Living Translation or the CEB, there are tons of them, but I’m not going to want to use those predominantly for worship. Again, I’m not against people that do. I’m just saying, for me I have the conviction that formal equivalence is a priority...” Those who follow the leadership of men like this are cast upon the tumultuous sea of modern versions (“there are tons of them”) with no Pole Star to guide them.
Samms illustrates that the New King James Bible is a bridge to the contradictory, ever-changing world of modern versions and to the corrupt field of textual criticism. When Samms led his church away from the King James Bible, he chose the New King James Bible, but he admits that it is not a standard. It is only one of a multiplicity of versions that he recommends to his people. Those who move away from the King James Bible to the New King James are lulled into a sense of security that they have moved merely to an updated and improved King James, but actually they are being weaned away from the King James and its underlying Hebrew and Greek texts toward accepting the modern versions. Kirk DiVietro, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Franklin, Massachusetts, attended one of the Thomas Nelson planning meetings that prepared for the publication of the New King James. He testified to me that the Thomas Nelson representative plainly stated that their goal with the NKJV was to create a bridge to the modern versions, to break down the resistance of those who still revere the KJV. Following is Pastor DiVietro’s testimony as he gave it to me by email on January 9, 2005: “Over 20 years ago I attended a pre-publication meeting of the NKJV held by the Thomas Nelson People and hosted by the Hackman’s Bible Bookstore in Allentown, PA. I am personal friends with the owners who took great delight in seating me next to the brother of the main translator of the NIV. The meeting was attended by over 300 college professors and pastors. At the meeting we were treated to a slide presentation of the history of the English Bible and in particular the King James Bible and its several revisions. During the presentation of the NKJV the Thomas Nelson representative made a statement which to the best of my memory was, ‘We are all educated people here. We would never say this to our people, but we all know that the King James Version is a poor translation based on poor texts. But every attempt to give your people a better Bible has failed. They just won’t accept them. So we have gone back and done a revision of the King James Version, a fifth revision. Hopefully it will serve as a transitional bridge to eventually get your people to accept a more accurate Bible.’ Because of the years, and because I did not write it down, I cannot give you the speaker’s name and I cannot promise you that this is word for word correct, but the meeting so seared my spirit that I have never picked up and opened a NKJV. I can tell you that this is absolutely the substance and nearly the exact words of what was said.”
The majority of independent Baptist churches, in our experience, are frightfully uneducated in fundamental issues of the day, such as sacred vs. contemporary worship, the Bible text-version issue, and Bible separation and associated principles of evangelicalism vs. fundamentalism.
A large number of pastors are not serious educators. They are not serious students themselves, and they do not educate their flocks. The standard philosophy is that any sort of serious Bible education is for a few only, whereas the Bible gives the example of all of the saints being educated to be students and teachers. See Psa. 1:1-3; Joh. 8:31-32; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 3:16; 2 Ti. 3:15-17; Heb. 5:12-14; Tit. 2:3-5. We are convinced that a typical Bible Institute education is the mere beginning to equip EVERY born again child of God for the great business God has given him in this present world: as a priest, an ambassador of Christ, a teacher, a soldier, a prayer warrior, an exerciser of spiritual gifts, as the father as the spiritual head of the home, and as the mother as the keeper of the home.
Baptist churches that are uneducated in the Bible and in the fundamental issues of the day are ripe for the devil’s picking, and they are falling away from the truth on every hand.
SOME RECOMMENDED MATERIALS ON THE BIBLE VERSION-TEXT ISSUE
The Revision Revised by John Burgon, 1881
A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament by Edward Miller, 1886
Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment by Herman Hoskier, 1914
“A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Textual Theory” by Alfred Martin, doctoral dissertation, Dallas Seminary, reprinted in True or False, edited by D.O. Fuller
The King James Version Defended: A Christian View of the New Testament Manuscripts by Edward F. Hills, Ph.D., Textual Criticism, Harvard, 1956
Text and Time: A Reformed Approach to New Testament Textual Criticism by Dr. Edward F. Hills
Touch Not the Unclean Thing: The Bible Translation Controversy and the Principle of Separation by David Sorenson, 2001
The Modern Bible Version Hall of Shame
Identity of the New Testament Text by Wilbur Pickering. “I believe a Majority Text position is insufficient, but in terms of textual transmission a perfect preservation TR/KJV position is very similar in terms of what happened in the transmission of the text of Scripture; what would change is a recognition of the role of pre-reformation Anabaptists and a recognition that in about 1% of textual variation a reading in use by God's people was not in the majority of the copies made mainly by Greek-speaking monks. For that reason, books like Wilbur Pickering's Identity of the New Testament Text are helpful for those who are more advanced Christians, as Pickering deals with the nitty-gritty of textual matters in a way that is not found in some of the more introductory level defences of the TR/KJV. The works of Scrivener, Hoskier, and Burgon are also valuable for more advanced students, who, grounded in what Scripture teaches about preservation and Biblical ecclesiology, can see from their works how God preserved the text while not believing whatever they say that conflicts with Scripture's promises” (Thomas Ross).
Wilbur Pickering’s Textual Apparatus - “For someone who wants a textual apparatus, Pickering's apparatus in his published Greek NT according to Family 35, or the free version at his prunch.org website (Christians need to watch out for the Pentecostal stuff on his website), actually gives the percentages of Greek MSS that have various readings. That is far superior to, say, Metzger's Textual Commentary, which gives the reasons the Nestle Aland editors chose their readings but does not say something like "by the way, 97% of the MSS read with the TR here but we don't care about that." Someone who wants a deep dive into the actual MSS can get Reuben Swanson's books where for Matthew through 2 Corinthians the actual readings of the various MSS unbelieving critics think are important can be seen. Swanson documents that the apparatus in the NA27, UBS4, etc. is full of inaccuracies” (Thomas Ross).
Thomas Ross maintains a list of resources on the Bible text-version issue at https://faithsaves.net/Bibliology/
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