Sunday, June 23, 2019

Interacting With A Few King James Only Talking Points

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a post on an otherwise interesting blog operated by Pastor Kent Brandenburg, where he defends his King James onlyism against claims of that translation being influenced by the Latin Vulgate. As is the typical fashion for doing article critiques on this blog, we begin this discourse with a quotation from the author:

          "Those who use a Latin Vulgate attack either are ignorant of the position of KJO or of history, or are just devious."

          The King James Version was for the most part based on the accessible Greek manuscripts at that point in time. However, those same manuscripts were late in history and incomplete in a few places. As a result, the Vulgate was consulted as a source to aid in translation. Some of the verse readings of Erasmus’ came from the Latin in places where he had no Greek text. Stephanus assumed the superiority of the Latin text in various places. Theodore Beza occasionally reconstructed texts using Latin readings. In fact, the reference to "Lucifer" in Isaiah 14:12 of the King James Version was derived from the Latin Vulgate itself. It simply cannot be denied that certain portions of the King James Version were influenced by Latin manuscripts.

          Latin influence itself is not exactly a negative thing. Latin manuscripts are not necessarily devoid of scholarly merit and value. Preservation of Scripture would be the preservation of a Latin translation for people who spoke and wrote in Latin. The Vulgate was translated from the Greek manuscripts available at the time. The primary King James Version only argument is with the New Testament texts.

          "The view of the Protestants and Baptists came out of a pre-enlightenment way of thinking, transcendent thought, that started with God and Who He was. They took a position that came out of the exegesis of Scripture, in complete contrast to Roman Catholicism."

          Notice how the author distinguishes between Protestants and Baptists. This is wrong for at least two reasons. Firstly, Baptists are a sect within Protestantism. And secondly, all true believes across the globe make up the family of God in an equal sense (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Corinthians 1:2). God wants individual congregations to fellowship and help each other in time of need. We as individual members of His church need each other (1 Corinthians 12:12-26), especially in this age of secularization. The problems of other denominations are also our problems. Baptist landmarkism is wrong and divisive. This excerpt is relevant here in that it exposes the hollowness of the reasoning behind Baptist bride theology:

          "The Landmarkists cite their succession as following, among others, the Montanists, Cathari, Paulicians, and Albigenses. Each of these groups taught anti-Christian heresy. The Montanists famously taught a new prophecy, denying the sufficiency of Scripture and promoting new revelation. The Catharist sect (And their Sub-Sect, the Albigenses) taught Marcionism, claiming that there are two separate gods in the Bible and the Old Testament god was evil. It also taught Dualism, which states that all physical things are evil and all spiritual things are good. The Paulicians were a group of Adoptionists, claiming that Jesus wasn’t eternally God but instead became God at some point in his life."

          If one does not believe that King James onlyism as an ideology can be divisive, then take a look at one of the excerpts from Kent Brandenburg's own church doctrinal statement:

          "This church will not associate with liberal, new evangelical, or pseudo fundamental churches and organizations. We will not fellowship with the World or National Council of Churches, ecumenical evangelism, Charismatic, the Southern or American Baptist Conventions, Conservative Baptists, and cult, and church or denomination that differs from our articles of faith, churches that will not separate from worldliness or compromise, churches that fellowship with churches with which we will not fellowship, and churches that fail to practice discipline on those members that leave our church not in good standing."

          Notice how every group of churches is without distinction lumped together with the cults. It would have been much wiser and humbler for these people to simply state what they do believe rather than sweeping away a host of different conventions and denominations. Another problem that arises is the question of who gets to define specifically what is worldly and sinful. This is not to say that doctrinal differences do not matter at all, as truth by its very nature is objective. Doctrine does matter. But at the same time, there are certain degrees of doctrinal error that do not merit the discontinuation of fellowship. There has to be a biblically balanced view of separation and unity among brethren. The two cannot be totally separated from each other. The Apostle Paul spoke of matters that are "of first importance" (1 Corinthians 15:3).

           Unfortunately, it seems that the likes of Kent Brandenburg have a very difficult time with reasoning in categories. Every matter is viewed as either black or white. There are no "grey" areas for these people. The kind of thinking displayed in the quoted excerpt above should to any rational person literally result in a jaw-dropping or eye-rolling reaction. Talk about some resounding and dumbfounding arrogance! Legalism has no doubt divided churches and families.

          Moreover, it is not as though the Apostle Paul had the King James Version (or even a specific manuscript family) in mind when he said that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16). There are simply no passages which forbid us from having multiple translations of the Bible (though not having a primary translation for study purposes is unwise) or get specific as to how God's Word would be preserved. Following are some questions that are applicable to the vast majority within the King James Only Movement:

          How does dogmatically upholding traditions that are nowhere to be found in the Bible not testify against our belief in it being self-sufficient?

          If the King James Version contains the inspired, proper form of English, then how come King James only proponents do not speak it in their ordinary lives?

          If all modern Bible versions are satanic perversions, then how does one account for the numerous conversion testimonies to biblical Christianity through the usage of detested translations such as the New International Version?

          How could Kent Brandenburg's position be the "historical" one, when the scholars and theologians who composed the London Baptist Confession and Westminster Confession of Faith did not even have access to the thousands of manuscripts that we have discovered? How can we know that the men who lived during the late medieval period and Renaissance would have taken his same stance on these matters?

          "The modern multiple-versionists represent a post-enlightenment thinking that begins with man's reason. It does not rely upon the beliefs of God's churches for centuries. Instead of depending on the Holy Spirit by faith, they reject what the churches received for the forensics of scientific theoriticians. They not only abandon an old and accepted Bible, but the testimony of the Holy Spirit through His churches...They reject historical bibliology for the uncertainty of textual scientists."

          These statements sound oh-so pious, but are not established in fact and even undermine the trustworthiness of Scripture. We have no promises from God to preserve every jot of His Word in the Textus Receptus. Believers in the first century did not have these nice leather-bound Bibles as do we folks in modern-day America. First century Jewish synagogues had Old Testament scrolls which no doubt contained a handful of textual variants. The Bible has much greater depth in history and reality than what King James only advocates allow for. Admitting to the existence of textual variants does not amount to a denial of biblical inspiration and inerrancy. His Word has not been lost, but preserved through a large quantity of manuscripts.

          If we cannot trust the earliest extant manuscripts available, then we have no objective reason to trust the later Byzantine manuscripts or Textus Receptus. King James onlyism in all its forms is inherently destructive to the trustworthiness of the Bible.

          Erasmus, himself a Roman Catholic, engaged in textual criticism as he completed his work. The King James translators no doubt did the same thing. Whenever people evaluate the quality of manuscripts, they themselves are engaging in rationalistic textual criticism. Thus, Kent Brandenburg has raised a hypocritical double-standard.

          Interestingly enough, the Puritans preferred the Geneva Bible over the King James by and large. The author being critiqued misleads his audience with an astoundingly bad and illogical historical narrative.

          God originally had His Words transmitted in the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages. Does this not prove that God would desire the same to be done in the common tongue for every civilization? It sure does. Furthermore, the King James translators would definitely not object to rationalistic textual criticism, as is evidenced by this excerpt from the 1611 preface:

          "But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue?"

          What the King James only position essentially boils down to is the adamant clinging to an extra-biblical tradition. It is a variation of the great apostasy tale, which can also be found in Mormonism. The issue is not so much a disputation on textual criticism, as many within this movement disdainfully condemn other translations for merely using up to date language. Language by its very nature is prone to evolve. It is much better to depend on a wealth of available manuscript evidence than with some vague or undefined "Ecclesiastical Text" theory.

4 comments:

  1. Well done, Jesse!

    Another facet is the FACT the the KJV Only movement was started by a Seventh-day Adventist, i.e., a member of a heretical cult!

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  2. Kent BrandenburgJune 25, 2019 at 2:03 PM

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  3. Well, the early "KJVO's" weren't really KJVO, rather they held it up as superior to all previous translations and that was a different battle. The new battle came from the SDA, as part of the fight against the Wescott & Hort text. There really weren't "new" texts to fight until W/H and the translations based on it.

    KJVO really isn't about the KJV per se, rather it is about the Received Text supposedly being superior to other texts. BUT when other translations use the same texts, except with corrections in translation, they are vilified as "corrupting" the TR.

    Idolatry, pure idolatry.

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  4. Kent BrandenburgJuly 2, 2019 at 1:47 PM

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