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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
Truth or Lies?
A number of publications seek to attack and destroy the verbal and plenary perfection of the Bible. They claim that the Bible is verbally and plenarily inspired (VPI) but not verbally and plenarily preserved (VPP). Simply put, they want Christians to believe that the Bible was only infallible in the past but no longer infallible today.
In attacking the present infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures and the identification of an existing infallible and inerrant Scripture in the original languages in the inspired and preserved Hebrew and Greek words underlying the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV, these anti-perfectionists, anti-preservationists, anti-TR/KJV, pro-Westcott-Hort modern-versionists falsely accuse believers of the present perfection of Scriptures as schismatics, heretics and even cultists by linking them to Ruckmanism and Seventh-Day Adventism (SDAism). Their writings imply that it is simply unscholarly and even sinful to suggest that Christians today indeed possess a 100% infallible and inerrant Bible.
Henceforth, I will refer to such propagators of untruth generally as “the accusers,” bearing in mind that not all of them share exactly the same beliefs with regard to the VPP and the KJV, as some among them even inexplicably profess love for the KJV—notwithstanding their readiness to find fault with the KJV and/or the original language texts (words) underlying the KJV. The title of “arch-accuser” goes to Doug Kutilek who contributed a chapter to the faith-denying and doubt-casting book called One Bible Only? authored by the faculty of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (with support from Bob Jones University).1 In that book, Kutilek maliciously and mischievously paints with a broad and contemptuous brush all pro-KJV advocates as Ruckmanites.
If Kutilek had kept his criticisms of Ruckman to Ruckman alone we would not have cared, but he linked sound defenders of the KJV like Edward F Hills,2 David Otis Fuller,3 David Cloud,4 D A Waite,5 to Ruckman! This is hitting below the belt. He also unjustly accused pro-KJV defenders of SDAism just because D O Fuller quoted from SDA Benjamin Wilkinson who so happened to defend the KJV as well in his book Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930).6 This is a common tactic by detractors to mislead, to paint white as black so that people will not see the white but only the black, and to make people think that the black they see is indeed white. Such sophistry is usually employed by those who have no case or a weak case, who have to resort to such low blows to score their points in order to look credible.
It is a well-known fact that authors like Hills, Fuller, Cloud and Waite by no means defend the KJV in the way Ruckman does. It is clear from the writings of Hills, Fuller, Cloud and Waite that they do NOT espouse at all the beliefs of Ruckman that:
(1) the KJV is doubly inspired;
(2) the KJV is advanced revelation;
(3) the English KJV is as or more inspired than the original language Scriptures;
(4) the KJV can be used to correct the original language Scriptures;
(5) there is no need whatsoever to study the Biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek due to an “inspired” English translation;
(6) the KJV cannot be improved on (The Defined King James Bible7 edited by D A Waite and S H Tow and published by Bible For Today is certainly an improvement of the KJV);
(7) the KJV is the only Bible that has gospel or salvific content;
(8) those who do not use the KJV are condemned to hell; and
(9) all non-English speaking believers must learn English to know the Truth.
Hills, Fuller, Cloud and Waite are all essentially speaking of the infallibility and inerrancy of the inspired Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Scriptures behind the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV. The KJV does not stand independently or separately. It is dependent on its original language source texts, and these source texts (words) known by various names—Byzantine, Majority, Received—are the infallibly preserved apographs of the inerrant autographs.
As far as non-English translations or versions of the Bible go, all non-English speaking believers are encouraged to use the Bibles they have in their own native tongue, but they ought to use that version which is closest to the inspired and preserved Byzantine, Majority and Received texts, and as far removed as possible from the Alexandrian, Minority, and Westcott-Hort texts. They ought also to use a Bible that is translated by means of the verbal equivalence method (word-for-word) rather than the dynamic equivalence method (thought-for-thought) in keeping with the twin doctrines of VPI and VPP. Biblically and theologically trained pastors and teachers are necessary to teach faithfully the whole counsel of God, expounding from the inerrant Hebrew and Greek Scriptures God has infallibly preserved, namely, the Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus of the Protestant Reformation, all the truths that God has given using the best version or translation the people have in their hands.
Dr Benjamin Wilkinson (an SDA) does not own the King James Bible. The King James Bible was not translated by SDAs but by Reformation and Protestant scholars of the highest calibre during the reign of King James in the early 17th century. The King James Bible is for everyone who loves the Bible and desires to have the best and most faithful English Bible ever produced for their meditation and edification. Neither does Wilkinson own the “copyright” to the Biblical doctrine of VPP which belongs only to the Lord Jesus Christ who said in all three Synoptic Gospels, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33).
Wilkinson did not pioneer the defence of the KJV. The original defence of the KJV may be traced to the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS)8 which was originally founded in 1831 to defend the biblical and fundamental doctrine of the Trinity and the 100% deity of Christ—hence its name “Trinitarian.” The clearest proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity is 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” This most excellent verse has been scissored out by Westcott and Hort, and the modern versions. The TBS in its defence of the Trinity found it most necessary also to defend 1 John 5:7 as found in the underlying preserved Greek text of the KJV. By so defending the KJV and its preserved underlying Greek text, is the TBS now SDA just because Wilkinson at a later time happened to defend the KJV and its underlying Greek text too? Note that the TBS is stoutly against Westcott and Hort, and the modern versions, and even considers the NKJV untrustworthy.9
The Bible League10 is another early defender of the KJV. Founded in 1892, the Bible League resisted the “Downgrade” in Great Britain. The modernists were throwing out one doctrine after another including the foundational and indispensable doctrine of the divine inspiration and total inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible League was founded to contend earnestly for the historic Christian Faith. Since its inception, the League has endeavored “[t]o promote the Reverent Study of the Holy Scriptures, and to resist the varied attacks made upon their Inspiration, Infallibility and Sole Sufficiency as the Word of God.” Insofar as the Bible versions issue is concerned, the Bible League unashamedly holds to the view that “the Authorised Version is the most accurate and faithful English Bible translation available today.” Its latest publication (2004), a 126-paged book authored by Alan J Macgregor and titled Three Modern Versions is a most timely critique of the NIV, ESV and NKJV. It is significant to note that Macgregor quoted Wilkinson’s Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, but in a footnote Macgregor wisely explained his use of Wilkinson’s material thus:
It must be pointed out here that while there is some good material in Dr Wilkinson’s book, there are also a number of inaccuracies. He was a Seventh-day Adventist (a fact that many who quote from him fail to reveal). Some who support the use of modern versions of the Bible allege that one of the reasons for Dr. Wilkinson’s strong opposition to the Revised Version of 1881 was that it altered two verses which Adventists regard as proof-texts in support of their doctrines: Acts 13:42 (which they regard as teaching the necessity of Gentiles keeping the Sabbath or Seventh Day), and Hebrews 9:27 (which Adventists believe teaches soul sleep). I have sought to be selective in the quotes I have used. Some might argue, why quote from him at all, if he was a member of a cult? The answer is that despite his Adventist views … there is nonetheless some sound evidence in his book that rightly exposes facts concerning the Westcott and Hort Text, and the errors of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. He also provides solid, factual support for the superiority of the Received Text.11
This allegation that the belief in the verbal and plenary preservation of the Scriptures and the defence of the KJV is a “new doctrine” and a “new practice” has been very much the tactic of anti-VPPists, anti-TRists, and anti-KJVists to vilify the fundamental doctrine of the infallible preservation of the inspired words of the Holy Scriptures to the last jot and tittle as promised by our Lord Himself in Matthew 5:18, and the goodness of the KJV and its underlying Hebrew and Greek Texts, so that the unknowing populace would automatically shun the good old doctrine of VPP, the good old TR, and the good old KJV without consciously giving them a second thought. Some of the accusers even claim to be “preserving our godly paths” (Jer 6:16)! Can this be so?
David Cloud rightly says that such new attacks against KJV defenders “has increased in intensity in recent years and is finding a home even among those who claim to be Fundamentalists and Bible-believing Baptists.” Cloud quoted from the Rev Denis Gibson (a minister of the gospel who has served in Presbyterian and Baptist churches since 1958, and a regular contributor to the international devotional guide—Read, Pray and Grow) who in a letter to him dated April 19, 1995 wrote, “I see a real hostility that has been generated in the minds of some of the younger pastors. There does not seem to be, on their part, a serious interest in dealing with this issue … It is the hostility, however, that is troubling. Sides are forming and deep prejudices are evident. To be ‘a King James man’ is now a term of opprobrium. This opposition is within ‘so-called’ evangelicalism, not as in the past, from the liberal-modernist camp.”12
Is it no wonder that the Trinitarian Bible Society, noting a significant change in theological climate in Christendom, felt compelled to issue a comprehensive statement in 2005 defining what it believes to be the Doctrine of Scripture?13 D P Rowland, the General Secretary of TBS wrote in the Society’s Quarterly Record (April-June 2005), “Today, as has been stated, things are very different. The doctrine of Scripture has been, and is being, assailed on every side; not least from within many branches (including those taking the name of ‘evangelical’ and ‘reformed’ and may I add ‘fundamentalist’) of the so-called ‘Christian Church’ of our day. The Committee, therefore, considers it necessary for the Society clearly and unambiguously to state where it stands on this most fundamental of all doctrines.”14
New assaults on the foundational and indispensable doctrine of the infallible preservation of the inerrantly inspired words of Holy Scripture require updated statements and more definitive terms to affirm Christianity’s fundamental beliefs concerning the forever infallible and inerrant Scripture, hence our term—“Verbal Plenary Preservation”—as expressed in the Constitution of the Far Eastern Bible College, and True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church:
(1) We believe in the divine, Verbal Plenary Inspiration (Autographs) and Verbal Plenary Preservation (Apographs) of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the perfect Word of God, the Supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21; Ps 12:6-7; Matt 5:18, 24:35);
(2) We believe the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament underlying the Authorised (King James) Version to be the very Word of God, infallible and inerrant;
(3) We uphold the Authorised (King James) Version to be the Word of God—the best, most faithful, most accurate, most beautiful translation of the Bible in the English language, and do employ it alone as our primary scriptural text in the public reading, preaching, and teaching of the English Bible.15
What is the real problem today? Is it not the unequal yoking of “reformed” and “fundamentalist” theology with the textual-critical method of Westcott and Hort and the “inerrant autographs alone” view of Warfield,16 their resultant corrupt text and modern perversions? Why are “reformed” people agreeing with certain fundamental Baptists who castigate the doctrine of special providential preservation as a “new doctrine,” non-existent before 1648 and the Westminster Confession? Why are certain Biblical fundamentalists well-known for their Biblical conservatism and separatism speaking favourably of rationalistic methods of Biblical criticism, modernistic critical texts, and the ecumenical and neo-evangelical modern versions? Has there not been a downgrade today within reformed Christianity and historic fundamentalism? If so, is this not a backsliding away from the 16th and 20th century Reformation movements?
Our sincere and earnest prayer is that Bible-believing and Bible-defending Christians would not just believe and defend the Verbal Plenary Inspiration (VPI) of Scripture, but also the Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) of Scripture. The Bible was not only infallible and inerrant in the past (in the Autographs), but also infallible and inerrant in the present (in the Apographs). These Apographs are the providentially and specially preserved Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and texts underlying the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV.
As a defender of the VPP of Scripture and the KJV, I praise the Lord for the Trinitarian Bible Society’s latest position statement on the Bible as published in its Quarterly Record, April-June 2005. The TBS identifies and describes the underlying texts of the KJV as follows:
“The Trinitarian Bible Society Statement of Doctrine of the Holy Scripture” approved by the General Committee at its meeting held on 17th January 2005, and revised 25th February 2005 declares:
The Constitution of the Trinitarian Bible Society specifies the textual families to be employed in the translations it circulates. The Masoretic Hebrew and the Greek Received Texts are the texts that the Constitution of the Trinitarian Bible Society acknowledges to have been preserved by the special providence of God within Judaism and Christianity. Therefore these texts are definitive and the final point of reference in all the Society’s work.
These texts of Scripture reflect the qualities of God-breathed Scripture, including being authentic, holy, pure, true, infallible, trustworthy, excellent, self-authenticating, necessary, sufficient, perspicuous, self-interpreting, authoritative and inerrant (Psalm 19:7-9, Psalm 119). They are consequently to be received as the Word of God (Ezra 7:14; Nehemiah 8:8; Daniel 9:2; 2 Peter 1:19) and the correct reading at any point is to be sought within these texts.
The Society accepts as the best edition of the Hebrew Masoretic text the one prepared in 1524–25 by Jacob ben Chayyim and known, after David Bomberg the publisher, as the Bomberg text. This text underlies the Old Testament in the Authorised Version.
The Greek Received Text is the name given to a group of printed texts, the first of which was published by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. The Society believes that the latest and best edition is the text reconstructed by F.H.A. Scrivener in 1894. This text was reconstructed from the Greek underlying the New Testament of the Authorised Version.17
Can the accusers fault the TBS for letting us know which texts have been preserved by the special providence of God and used by the TBS as its final point of reference in all its work? If they find fault, it may be because they want to paint VPP as merely a theory with no specific texts that can be found or identified in practice (i.e. in the real world). If VPP is destroyed or undermined by them, the immediately underlying original Hebrew and Greek apographs become of no consequence and it would then not matter if Christians use perverted modern versions since such versions can also claim to be ultimately traceable to the unavailable autographs. VPI without VPP can lead to the floodgate being opened for the inclusion of the heretical Gnostic gospels and perverted modern Bible versions.
The above TBS statement, similar to the Preamble I wrote in my booklet—KJV: Questions and Answers—published by Bible Witness Literature Ministry in 2003, is stricter and more definitive. The Preamble is reproduced in full below:
A Personal Affirmation of the 100% Inspiration and the 100% Preservation of the Original Language Scriptures Underlying the King James Version
- I do believe in the divine, verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the Word of God, the Supreme and final authority in faith and life.
- I do affirm the biblical doctrine of providential preservation that the inspired words of the Hebrew OT Scriptures and the Greek NT Scriptures are “kept pure in all ages” as taught by the Westminster Confession.
- I do believe that the Texts which are purest and closest to the autographs of the Bible are the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, and the Traditional Greek Text for the New Testament underlying the King James Version.
- I believe that the purity of God’s words has been faithfully maintained in the Traditional/Byzantine/Majority/Received Text, and fully represented in the Textus Receptus that underlies the KJV. Providential preservation is not static but dynamic.
- I do believe that God’s providential preservation of the Scriptures concerns not just the doctrines but also the very words of Scripture to the jot and tittle (Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18, 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33, Rev 22:18-19).
- I do not deny that other faithful Bible translations, including foreign language ones, that are based on other editions of the Textus Receptus can be deemed the Word of God.
- I do believe that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture, and hence there can be no discrepancies in the Bible. All alleged discrepancies are only apparent and not actual. Principles of harmonisation should be employed to offer possible solutions, but calling such discrepancies “scribal errors” is not one.
- I do not believe we need to improve on the TR underlying the KJV. I do not want to play textual critic, and be a judge of God’s Word. I accept God’s special hand in His providential work of Bible preservation during the Reformation.18
May the Reformation cry that is based on the Reformation Bible ring loud and clear today—not Sola Autographa but Sola Scriptura!
“For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (2 Cor 13:8).
1 James B Williams, ed, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man (Greenville: Ambassador-Emerald, 1999); James B Williams and Randolf Shaylor, eds, God’s Word in Our Hands (Greenville: Ambassador-Emerald, 2003); Roy E Beacham and Kevin T Bauder, eds, One Bible Only? (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001). For a review or critique of the above books, see Thomas Strouse and Jeffrey Khoo, Reviews of the Book From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man (Pensacola: Pensacola Theological Seminary, 2001); Jeffrey Khoo, “Bob Jones University and the KJV,” The Burning Bush 7 (2001): 1-34, “The Emergence of Neo-Fundamentalism: One Bible Only? or “Yea, Hath God Said?,” The Burning Bush 10 (2004): 2-47, “Bob Jones University, Neo-Fundamentalism, and Biblical Preservation,” The Burning Bush 11 (2005): 82-97; D A Waite, Central Seminary Refuted on Bible Versions (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 1999), Bob Jones University’s Errors on Bible Preservation (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 2006).
2 Edward F Hills, Believing Bible Study (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1977), The King James Version Defended (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984); Theodore P Letis, Edward Freer Hills’s Contribution to the Revival of the Ecclesiatical Text (Philadelphia: Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1987).
3 David Otis Fuller, ed, Which Bible? (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1975), True or False?: The Westcott-Hort Textual Theory Examined (Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1983).
4 David Cloud, For Love of the Bible (Oak Harbor: Way of Life Literature, 1995), Faith versus the Modern Bible Versions (Port Huron: Way of Life Literature, 2005).
5 D A Waite, Defending the King James Bible: A Four-fold Superiority (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 1996).
6 Fuller, Which Bible?, 176-318.
7 D A Waite, S H Tow, D A Waite Jr, eds, The Defined King James Bible (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 2000).
9 “The NKJV would not be a good choice for use as a primary translation to be used daily … In private use, numerous users of the AV who have attempted to change to the NKJV found that the NKJV lacked the trustworthiness which they had come to expect from the AV. The NKJV was not found to be a Bible in which they could put their trust.” G W Anderson and D E Anderson, The New King James Version (London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1995).
10 See www.bibleleaguetrust.org.
11 Alan J Macgregor, Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV and NKJV (Wiltshire: The Bible League, 2004), 12-13.
12 See Cloud, For Love of the Bible, 8.
13 “Statement of Doctrine of Holy Scripture,” Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record 571 (April-June 2005): 6-14.
14 Ibid., 8 (words in italics are mine).
15 Articles 18.104.22.168, 2, 3 of the “Constitution of True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church,” The Burning Bush 11 (2005): 99.
16 “Dr. B. B. Warfield was an outstanding defender of the orthodox Christian faith, so much so that one hesitates to criticize him in any way. Certainly no Bible-believing Christian would wish to say anything disrespectful concerning so venerable a Christian scholar. But nevertheless it is a fact that Dr. Warfield’s thinking was not entirely unified. Through his mind ran two separate trains of thought which not even he could join together. The one train of thought was dogmatic, going back to the Protestant Reformation. When following this train of thought Dr. Warfield regarded Christianity as true. The other train of thought was apologetic, going back to the rationalistic viewpoint of the 18th century. When following this train of thought Dr. Warfield regarded Christianity as merely probable. And this same divided outlook was shared by Dr. Warfield’s colleagues at Princeton Seminary and by conservative theologians and scholars generally throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Even today this split-level thinking is still a factor to be reckoned with in conservative circles, although in far too many instances it has passed over into modernism.” American Presbyterian Church (APC), “B. B. Warfield and the Reformation Doctrine of the Providential Preservation of the Biblical Text,” in www.americanpresbyterianchurch.org/preservation.htm, accessed on February 24, 2006. See also Edward F Hills, “A History of My Defence of the King James Version,” The Burning Bush 4 (1998): 99-105, and Theodore P Letis, “B. B. Warfield, Common Sense Philosophy and Biblical Criticism,” in The Ecclesiastical Text (Philadelphia: Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1997), 1-29.
17 “Statement of Doctrine of Holy Scripture,” 10-11 (emphasis mine). For the complete document, go to www.trinitarianbiblesociety.com/site/qr/qr571.pdf.
18 Jeffrey Khoo, KJV Questions and Answers (Singapore: Bible Witness Literature, 2003), 6-7.
Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo is the Academic Dean of Far Eastern Bible College, and an Elder of True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church.
– Published in The Burning Bush, Volume 12 Number 2, July 2006