Today I will be using this blog post to respond to another blogger named Clarke Morledge. He posts at sharedveracity.net and he recently wrote an article about Michael Heiser. Of course, Heiser has been a frequent topic on this blog and Mr. Morledge linked to one of my articles about Heiser.
I was glad for the link. It was a blessing. Some of the info about me in his post was incorrect and I wrote a comment that attempted to clear up the misunderstanding. Mr. Morledge graciously responded and he wrote the following comment that I will be responding to in this post.
Hopefully this exchange will be a blessing. I would like to say upfront that there will be no personal attacks or snark in this article and anything that may sound like that is only a result of my poor writing.
As usual, my comments are in bold.
Hi, Vake. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Thank you, too.
I am glad to hear that you recommend some of the things that Greg Koukl teaches. I do, too. I stand corrected in my blanket assertion that you do not value contemporary evangelical scholarship. At least we have some common ground here. Amen.
I do not sense the need to address further any particular “issue” with your article that takes Michael Heiser to task at the moment. We would have to cover some more basic ground before trying to do any of that. This is 100% correct, sir. I am really happy that you are familiar enough with this debate to know this. Unfortunately many don’t understand that the most important topic and doctrine is “Final Authority”. One of this blog’s goals is to help some people to see that. Praise the Lord.
I am curious to know if you would really describe yourself as a “King James Only-ist”, and if so, why you believe that position to be so compelling? Yes sir. I am a “King James Only-ist” and I will try to use the rest of this post to show why I believe that position to be so compelling. If I may, I would like to ask the question back to you. You believe that something besides the KJB is the perfect and preserved words of God, correct? I would like to know why you believe THAT position to be so compelling. If I had to sum up my argument, it would be that King James Only-ism fits the evidence better than any other position I’ve heard.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but the assertion that the Greek text that undergirds the King James Version of the Bible inerrantly preserves the actual original New Testament, appears to be based on a presupposition, rather than a position arrived at on the basis of actual evidence. Here I will need to correct a misunderstanding. KJV onlyism believes the King James Bible. What you are describing is a form of TR Onlyism. Whether the TR (or one of the TRs) inerrantly preserves the actual original NT or not is not my point. In fact, I find that the TR is wrong in some places. For example, it is wrong in I John 2:23 where my copy of Stephanus’ 1550 TR lacks “but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” Where the TR and KJV differ shows the difference between a TR-Only and KJV-Only person.
To be clear, I find great value in the King James Version, Amen. and I am persuaded that on certain passages that the KJV does a better job in getting at the original meaning of the text, better than most modern Bible translations. If I may ask: Based on what standard do you find it to have done “a better job”? How can a person prove that? If the answer is “scholarship”, then how is “scholarship” proving it? But the overall analysis of the available evidence seems to favor the efforts of modern translations to get at a more accurate reading of the original Greek New Testament, than the KJV was able to get at it, and even better than the Textus Receptus that came out after the first edition of the KJV was published in 1611. Two things here. First, I hope you are not suggesting that the TR came out after 1611. There are some TRs that came out after 1611, but many are from before. My Stephanus TR is from 1550. Second, how can a person know “accuracy” from something that doesn’t exist. I hope we can both agree that the original Greek New Testament does not exist today. It is gone (and probably never existed in one book or codex). So how can a person determine “accuracy” when there is no target? These are the issues that I have with people who say the KJV is wrong. I ask them, “Based on what?” And they can’t answer.
That being said, I commend most scholarly modern translations that make good faith attempts to footnote where the modern Nestle-Aland text differs with the KJV/TR. Are you suggesting that the Nestle-Aland text is the “original Greek”? We both know that they change the text every 5 or so years. They’re on the 28th edition now. There have been some major changes over the years. Which one is the “words of the living God” (Jer 23:36)? In other words, while the Bible does not err, it is comforting to know that even the best Bible translators today show a good deal of humility in accepting the possibility that they themselves might err when it comes to making difficult decisions about a particular textual issue. It would appear that the original KJV translators under King James’ supervision would have agreed as much with their own work. I do not agree that the KJV translators would have placed as much emphasis on the corrupted manuscripts of Vaticanus (B) or Siniaticus (א). But this is just theorizing on both our parts. As far as their attitude towards “making difficult decisions about a particular textual issue”, then yes, you are right. The KJV translators would agree with you. However, I consider this a mute point as many of the translators were amillennial, high church, baby sprinklers which I categorically reject. They produced something that God used in spite of their problems. We see the same thing with the author of most of the Psalms, David. He was a murderer and an adulterer, but God still used what he wrote as Scripture.
I did glance at your pro-KJV-only article that critiques Michael Heiser’s view on modern Bible translations:
I think you will find that any rejoinder to your arguments that I would give will probably parallel James White and D.A. Carson’s work on the subject. I am not anywhere near a scholar at White or Carson’s level, so I do not think I would be able to contribute any more to a discussion that has been worked over many, many times. Fair enough, then I will thank you for letting me contribute my arguments. If I were to sum up the issue that I have with them, it would be that they don’t apply their criticisms of the KJV to their own theories about what I call “Nothing Onlyism”. If a person wants to be critical, that’s fine. But they should be equally critical of both sides. I have never observed White or Carson to have done this.
I would ask you a follow-up question, assuming my understanding above is correct: On a scale of 1-to-10, with 1 having a low level of confidence, and 10 having the highest level of confidence, how would you rank your confidence in your belief that the Greek text behind the KJV is THE preserved original text of the New Testament? 8 or 9. But I hope I’ve laid out enough already for you to understand that while I believe the Greek text behind the KJV to be many lightyears better than the Wescott-Hort and Nestle-Aland texts, I still don’t believe any edition of the TR is completely perfect. I put that only on the King James Bible. I base this on “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Psa 12:6-7. By definition, each purification is better than the last.
Thanks, and blessings to you in your blogging. Thank you and to you as well.
PS. I also have a couple more articles with more proofs. I’ll link those here.
9 thoughts on “Reply To An Evangelical Blogger About The KJV”
Hi, Vake. Thank you for taking the time to give an extensive response to my reply, and doing so with kindness and carefulness.
You asked a fair question. Do I “believe that something besides the KJB is the perfect and preserved words of God, correct? [You] would like to know why [I] believe THAT position to be so compelling.”
I do hold to a doctrine of preservation of Scripture, in that I believe that God, in His mercy, has given us the tools of textual criticism to allow us to confidently have Bible translations that accurately communicate the Word of God to each and every generation. He did so in 1611 with the KJV, and He is continuing to do so with modern translations as well. God has generously given us His Infallible Word. If and when translators have made errors, it is not the fault of God, but the fault of fallible human beings. Thankfully, those areas where there are uncertainties do not impact any significant point of doctrine, and even critics like Bart Ehrman recognize that.
I am not a scholar in this area, but I have sat under the tutelage of such wise and godly teachers who have participated in the production of wonderful Bible translations, like the English Standard Version and the New International Version.
I found it interesting that on a scale of 1-10, you would place yourself at either an 8 or 9, in terms of how much confidence you have in your position. I am curious then to know why you are not a 10 on such scale. For that matter, why not a 7? What type of evidence would you need to see, as to the reliability (or unreliability) of the Alexandrian textual tradition, in order to move you either up and downwards on that scale?
Thank you. Blessings to you in your blogging!
Hi again Clarke,
I don’t want to read too much into your response, but I will ask for the sake of clarification. Do you believe that any Greek, Hebrew, English, or other language’s Bible is absolutely 100% perfect? If so, which one? You mentioned both the ESV and the NIV. Both have differences. They cannot both be 100%. One or both has to be in error if they are different. Some differences really matter. The difference in Rom 11:6 has a huge impact on OT salvation. Or Rom 14:11, Do men confess to God or aknowledge God? In Gen 3:16, is the woman’s desire “for” or “contrary to” her husband? In John 17:6, did Jesus reveal God’s name or not? In vs 19, are we “truly sanctified” or “sanctified in truth”?
These are important disinctions and differences. They can’t both be 100% perfect. Which one is “His Infallible Word”? How can one determine which one of the differences is correct?
The main doctrine this affects is the doctrine that God is trustworthy. If we believe that there is one error in the Bible, how can we be sure that there aren’t 2? If 2, then why not 50? Etc, Etc, Etc.
As per the second part of your comment, you have unfortunately missed my point. I am a 10 out of 10 confident in my position which is that the KJB is perfect. You asked about my confidence in the TR. THAT confidence is an 8 or a 9. There are differences between the TR and KJB and for that matter the Masoretic Text.
As far as my changing my confidence in the Alexandrian textual tradition (which is a 0 out of 10), it would be impossible since there are so many differences between the manuscripts that I’m not convinced they are truly the same family. It would be like trying to classify crocodiles and eagles as dogs. They aren’t alike at all except in the fact that they aren’t lions. The only thing the main “Alexandrian” manuscripts have in common is that they are different from the Antiochan, Syrian family of manuscripts. Since Antioch was the main center of Bible Christianity in the books of Acts, I’d also need to find evidence in the Bible that Egypt is a good place. Having read thru the entire Bible dozens of times, I’m confident that evidence isn’t there.
Since these are impossible, I’ll go with the Antiochan textual family, of which the King James Bible is the outstanding member. More info is in the links in my article.
Thank you for your time,
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Hi, Vake. Just a few responses below to your kind response above.
The fact that you regard the KJV at a confidence level of 10 is very telling. It indicates that no amount of evidence could ever dissuade you from changing your view. Therefore, if I were to try to muster a case, with evidence, to demonstrate that modern translations are indeed reliable, then you will go to great lengths to find ways of dismissing each argument, in order to defend your view.
This is why I see a problem in presuppositionalist type of thinking. If someone already has made an assumption, with a conclusion in view, where the assumption can not be altered by the presentation of evidence, then you will arrive at that desired conclusion every time.
On the other hand, if someone follows the evidence wherever it leads, then if that someone is open to the work of God to change hearts and minds, then the evidence can be a powerful tool to be used by the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation. All of us have presuppositions that subconsciously lead us down ways of thinking that could be dangerous. However, a fair consideration of the evidence, in developing a cumulative case for the Christian faith, can bolster our confidence that the God of the Bible can indeed be trusted.
I will just make one specific argument here, since it is apparent that any attempt by me to present evidence contrary to your presuppositions will be met with failure. I simply offer an argument to express my line of thinking.
If you look at Romans 11:6, the addition of “But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” by the underlying KJV text is not necessarily a bad edition (James White does see a problem here, however: _The King James Only Controversy_, p. 225). The main point is that the addition is unnecessary. There are plenty of verses in Scripture that describe the doctrine of grace, in opposition to salvation by works (see Ephesians 2:8-9), and this is not limited to the New Testament. In Romans 4, Pauls goes to great pains to show that Abraham was elected not on the basis of works, but rather, on the basis of God’s electing grace, appealing to what we read from Genesis.
There is no doctrinal loss suffered by leaving off the KJV Romans 11:6b at all. It makes more sense that the Byzantine textual tradition somewhere added 11:6b in an effort to balance 11:6a, more than it does in suggesting that the Alexandrian tradition deleted 11:6b. What evidence would show what they would have deleted 11:6b from?
The doctrine of biblical inerrancy applies to the original autographs, not to subsequent copies made down through the centuries. Thankfully, the embarrassment of riches we have with so many New Testament copies available give us a high degree of confidence that the Bible translations we have today can be trusted.
We can not assign a 100% to any manuscript tradition, for that would assume that we have the original manuscripts available, from which to compare, and we do not. However, the discipline of textual criticism continues to give us more and more evidence by which we can continue to say that the major Bible translations can indeed be trusted. The KJV is still a good translation, and even excels in certain places over modern translations, but with the more we learn from the manuscripts that continue to surface, the more we can see that the modern translations are improved over the KJV.
Hopefully, my example above gives a little insight into how this kind of evidentialist thinking works.
I will sneak in one more point to say that Alexandria did not become a major church center until after the Book of Acts was completed. A large community of Jews were there in Alexandria, and the evangelization efforts in Egypt after the New Testament era were quite fruitful, which explains why Alexandria eventually did become a leading church center, along with Antioch.
You might be aware of Jeff Riddle, who is an ecclesiastical text tradition proponent, who lives not too far away from me, who offers what might be a very informed take on Romans 11:6. But his presuppositionalist thinking is pretty well made clear, too. He is pretty much a one-man show regarding his viewpoint:
I often wonder, why if the KJV tradition is so strong, why no one has been able to put together a modernized version of the KJV. Do you have an answer for that? I know that the ESV version that the Gideons use comes pretty close, but it baffles me why KJV-Only folks do not get on the ball and come up with a modernization of the KJV.
I like to refer people to look at the work of Mark Ward, who works at Logos Bible Software (FaithLife). Ward is a former KJV-Only scholar, but still has a warm appreciation for his KJV upbringing. His book _Authorized_ really helped me a lot, and he has a helpful blog and YouTube channel, too:
When I first became a believer, I did not attend a KJV-Only church, but it was pretty close to it. In Mark Ward’s terminology, that church was “KJV-Preferred.” There were some good things with that church, but I just had a hard time as a teenager reading the KJV back then. I was so thankful that the NIV was available and I could actually read it.
Thank you for your time.
Blessings to you in your continued blogging!
The 10 point scale discussion is pushing towards opinion and philosophy and away from the topic at hand. At some point, it gets hard to imagine that new evidence come to light that will change my mind about certain things. I doubt new evidence will come up to demonstrate that I have more than 5 fingers on my hand or that WWII didn’t happen. There is nothing wrong with being 10 out of 10 certain of many things. I would apply that to the evidence for the KJB. You wouldn’t. That’s fine. I wasn’t brought up to be KJV-only. After a fair consideration of the evidence, it all seemed to point to it’s validity and so I followed the evidence from being “Nothing-Only” to being KJV-Only. Almost 15 years of study later, it’s hard to fathom some evidence being discovered that would contradict the evidence that I’ve seen or, more importantly, the doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures.
I would ask what evidence YOU would need to change your mind that “We can not assign a 100% to any manuscript tradition”. What evidence do you have that “The doctrine of biblical inerrancy applies to the original autographs,”? Certainly this evidence cannot be found in the Bible. If “scripture is given by inspiration of God” 2 Tim 3:16 then that inspiration has to apply to copies. Unless you think Timothy (vs 15), the Bereans in Greece (Acts 17:2), and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:32) all had the original autographs.
I think that there are a few questions that you didn’t answer about the conflicts between the NIV and the ESV. That’s fine. But also, you completely missed my point about Rom 11:6 as you missed my point about the 8 or 9 certainty about the TR. In so doing, you have somewhat proven my point. Without having the words of a Final Authority, there is a subtle flexibility to change words and “read into” texts what isn’t there. It seems you have done that with my words twice now. I also note that you change “it was counted unto him for righteousness” into “Abraham was elected” in Rom 4. These things are not the same. More evidence of the importance of King James-Onlyism.
You were the person who wrote that we should discuss the King James issue before we could address other specific points of doctrine. You have now switched. Fine. But my point is that Rom 11:6 is different between the NIV and the ESV. Their respective translations is the source of the doubt not the King James Bible. If you would like to discuss how people before the cross and tribulation saints are saved, we can do that. But even your recommended versions can’t iron out how Rom 11:6 comes out on the subject. However, I would rather deal with the issue at hand as you first mentioned: the topic of Final Authority.
As far as Mark Ward, I have read his book about 5 times now and have written a whole series of articles about the problems with his book. At some point, it became clear that his mistakes and errors were deliberate. Him and Heiser have earned very little respect from me and I’ve certainly waded through enough of their material.
As far as updating the text, I addressed this in my series about Mark Ward. I would say that updating is a slippery slope. Which dialect should the update be in? South African English? Pacific Northwest English? Welsh English? If each dialect gets its own update, which of those is “authoritative”? Who should be entrusted with the updating? And how often should the language be updated? Why don’t we think that the Greek and Hebrew should have been updated? If there should be an update every 30 years, as Ward thinks, should there have been 33 updates of the Psalms from the time of David until the time of Christ? No one in the Bible acts like that. Therefore, I and thousands of other KJV-Onlyists are just trying to be like Christ and Paul, etc in their attitude towards the Bible.
Hope some of this makes sense. I’m sorry these get so long so fast.
Hi, Vake. Thank you for the spirited interchange.
I just have a few follow-up responses that might clarify some things. You asked me back this: ‘I would ask what evidence YOU would need to change your mind that “We can not assign a 100% to any manuscript tradition”.’
The best way I would frame an answer, since you hold to a KJV-Only perspective, is to say what would convince me to conclude that the current manuscript tradition curated in the Nestle-Aland texts, and even the newer Tyndale House version, could be superseded by the KJV-only text if we were to discover 2nd-3rd century (or better yet, 1st century!!) text renderings that reflected the KJV-only-Byzantine tradition as opposed to the Alexandrian tradition, that currently dominates the textual criticism field. It will be interesting to see how the implementation of the newer Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) will impact translations going forward.
I welcome new evidence, and would be open to change my mind, having the full confidence that we are continually making great progress to more faithfully represent the original manuscripts. I see nothing to fear in what discoveries the Lord might have in store for us, to celebrate beauty of His Word.
Regarding the definition of biblical inerrancy, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy puts it this way:
We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.”
I “switched” topics from discussing Dr. Michael Heiser’s work to the KJV-Only discussion because Heiser’s work is based on decades of peer reviewed study, by many evangelical scholars, much like the peer-reviewed study that has given us modern Bible translations. If you find the well-established, peer-reviewed study of textual criticism to be suspect, which you do, I can not see why you would even bother with the peer-reviewed study associated with Dr. Michael Heiser’s work, based on new discoveries made from research on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other Second Temple Judaism sources..
I am very curious though. If you conclude that the textual critical scholarship that has given us modern Bible translations is truly suspect, would you care to explain why such persons do not follow the line of thinking you embrace? What do you think motivates them? I know that you do not trust the modern Bible translation guild, but why?
So, when DO you think that advocates of the KJV-Only tradition will come out with a new translation, reflecting modernized English, based on the KJV-Greek texts? I know that you think updating is a “slippery slope,” but consider it from this angle: I think it actually might help your position, if we actually had something like this, that people can embrace as being just as readable, if not more so, than say the ESV and NIV. More folks then might be more prone to entertain your arguments.
By the way, the idea of the 1-10 scale is to try to measure confidence in one’s beliefs. So, if you are at a 10, and you can not imagine that level of confidence changing, then that pretty much settles where we are at in the discussion. We could revisit Romans 11:6, etc., but I am not sure what the point would be.
Thanks again for the interchange.
I am seriously impressed by how fast your can write! Sorry for my delays.
As to evidence, of course we will just have to disagree. I would need a mountain of witnesses to overthrow the mountain of witnesses to the Majority text. Is it really somehow wrong to believe that there is not a huge mountain of evidence hidden out there? That seems to me the most solid view towards textual evidence and we both know that it is a fundamental difference between the perspective of KJV-Only and the perspective of textual critics. I don’t buy their axioms and suppositions, therefore I disregard their conclusions. I completely respect your liberty to disagree, but I would never teach that as a good way to handle the evidence.
I am glad to explain why textual critical scholarship does not follow my line of thinking. It connects to my thoughts above. Of course I do not pretend to know the motivations of each and every member, but I can speak to the vast majority of them. They are infected with the same thinking that dominates all groups of “higher knowledge”. That is that in order to be considered part of the group, you have to already subscribe to the group’s doctrines. If you don’t subscribe to their doctrines you cannot be part of their group. We see this with evolutionary biology and climate change etc. Why don’t evolutionary biologists reject evolution? Obviously because you must accept evolution in order to be an evolutionary biologist. If you reject man made global warming, then you can’t be an “actual” climate scientist. If a man doesn’t accept the group’s tennants, then they are cast out.
Of course we both know there are very qualified people who disagree with the current “scientific consensus”.
As an example, my teacher, Dr. Peter Ruckman was the best Hebrew student at Bob Jones and also taught Biblical Greek for 30 years. He had more than enough accomplishments to be considered a scholar in the Biblical languages. But because he rejected the doctrines of the textual critics, he was reviled and still is to this day. Examples can easily be found across all “scientific” disciplines.
Finally, there still seems to be a disconnect between your understanding of TR-Onlyism and KJV-Onlyism. If the TR were my Final Authority, then I would admit you have a point about updating from the King James Bible. The issues from my last response would overrule that happening, but I would have to admit to you having some validity. But I am not TR-Only. I am KJV-Only. I believe that the KJB is perfect, given by inspiration. The respect and admiration that you have for the lost originals, I have for the KJV. I wouldn’t change the words any more than you would change the words of the original copy of John that the apostle himself wrote, etc.
Again, I hope that makes some sense.
Also I have a comment from you in my spam folder. Not sure how it got in there. Would you like me to publish it?
No, thank you. I think I tried to submit a comment twice, thinking that the first one was lost when my Internet connection dropped. We’ve already discussed the matter.