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"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Jan 3, 2017

This is the introductory episode to a series on the Bible Versions issue. If you haven't ever looked into the issue around Bible Versions, we encourage you to listen to this series. It's not about name calling, or conspiracy theories: it's about fact and logical reasoning. In this introduction we'll talk about a believer's desire for truth, and what to expect in this series.

Here are the notes for this episode:

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Bible Versions Part 1: Introduction

  1. What’s this series’ goal?
    1. This is not about denominations. It’s not about any doctrine particularly. It’s about the scriptures.
    2. This is not a name calling session. The whole of Christianity is sorely lacking in humility and a true care for truth in the Body of Christ. I’m not going to go into conspiracy theories, quote Gail Riplinger or Peter Ruckman, or demonize those with whom I disagree. In fact I’m going to point out the faults even in those with whose view I agree. Because if you’re wrong about something you’re wrong. Even when you hold to a correct conclusion, your reasoning in your argument, or the way in which you bring it forth, can be wrong.
    3. This series is mainly just a desire to provoke some people of multiple doctrinal persuasions to do some examination.
    4. There was an excellent, and godly, professor of Semitic philology at Princeton Theological Seminary a little more than a century ago named Robert D. Wilson. This man learned 45 languages and dialects for one purpose: to defend the Old Testament from liberal higher criticism. When he was asked by Philip E. Howard how he managed to accomplish that feat he was answered with, “As a man is interested in his roses, [he] doesn’t think of the thorns.” The point being that a man doesn’t consider the difficulties and the thorns when he is working on those things that are dear to his heart.
    5. Too many people profess to love the Lord, and His Word, but take no care to study it. They take no care to understand how we have it, its translation, or its transmission. I find that to be a point of hypocrisy, or at least an unintended form of nervous neglect.
    6. People get comfortable with “church” and keeping the status quo. Generally, Christians have a close group of brethren, then a church family, and then certain denominations or ministries that they support. People get nervous at even the notion that their “group” could be wrong in something. As a believer, you have a responsibility before the Lord Himself to seek out the truth regardless of what it means for your present situation.
    7. I will tell you, that if you take the time to listen through the following episodes you almost assured to learn something. I’m going to be pointing to several good works that I would recommend any believer to read, but especially those in positions of teaching and preaching. I mean that regardless of what view of the scriptures you take.
    8. I’m certainly not infallible, or complete in my understanding of these issues; but this is an issue that has been close to my heart for several years. I’ve read up on multiple viewpoints regarding the Bible versions issues, and I desire to just put some things out for other believers to examine and consider for themselves.
    9. Believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who says that He Himself is the Truth, should not be afraid to find out facts about anything and to examine ourselves in light of them. I agree with Philip Howard who said “that textual and historical Biblical controversies should be taken out of the region of subjective personal opinion, into the region of objective, clearly attested fact.” (Philip Howard in the foreword to Robert Wilson’s, “Is Higher Criticism Scholarly?”)
    10. Too many people don’t base their views on facts. We are told strong opinions, and kept in ignorance by fear and emotions. There are even many sincere people who just have a blind spot, or something they’ve never examined. I promise though, that if you listen especially to the episodes on textual criticism and textual theory you’ll see two things clearly:
      1. If you are willing to learn a few definitions and exercise your brain muscle a little bit you will see how simple the issues really are.
      2. You will be encouraged to study and look into new things, and the result will be that you will have better confidence in God’s Word.
  2. Experience in the Bible Versions Issue
    1. Background and growth in understanding
      1. Conversion and wandering
      2. Led to an IFB church
      3. The good and the bad about an IFB church
      4. Private study and prayer leads to a change in doctrinal understanding
    2. Charles Finney said, “I have not yet been able to stereotype my theological views, and have ceased to expect ever to do so. The idea is preposterous. None but an omniscient mind can continue to maintain a precise identity of views and opinions. Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge. The discovery of new truth will modify old views and opinions, and there is perhaps no end to this process with finite minds in any world. True Christian consistency does not consist in stereotyping our opinions and views, and in refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast, as we can obtain further information. I call this Christian consistency, because this course alone accords with a Christian profession. A Christian profession implies the profession of candour and of a disposition to know and obey all truth. It must follow, that Christian consistency implies continued investigation and change of views and practice corresponding with increasing knowledge. No Christian, therefore, and no theologian should be afraid to change his views, his language, or his practices in conformity with increasing light. The prevalence of such a fear would keep the world, at best, at a perpetual stand-still, on all subjects of science, and consequently all improvements would be precluded.” (Finney, Systematic Theology)
  3. A Believer’s Desire for Truth
    1. A willingness to examine your position doesn’t mean you can never be confident of your position. It only acknowledges that you don’t know everything.
    2. There are generally two groups that get into deep discussion about Bible versions. There are those who are more “scholarly” in a sense. These want to talk about MSS and textual criticism and such. Then there are those who are more simplistic in their faith. These two tend to polarize and have very strong beliefs.
    3. One thing you must acknowledge, regardless of your background or supposed education, is that you don’t know everything. Desiring truth necessitates that you be willing to be corrected. When we come to the Lord, or even discuss the things of scripture, everything is on the table. Truth is truth regardless of how you feel about it.
    4. So, for the more “scholarly”, you must come the table willing to acknowledge that you might have wasted years of study on things that weren’t true or profitable at all. That doesn’t mean that it’s true. It just means you’re willing to be corrected.
    5. For those who are more simple in their faith, you must acknowledge that God might require you to go pick up a book and study diligently about something you don’t know about. What would you have to fear when we’re promised that the Lord gives wisdom to those who ask Him for it?
    6. It’s the fear of the Lord, His Word, and the importance of the issue at hand that should cause us to humble ourselves.
  4. Bifurcation
    1. Oftentimes the effect of bringing this subject up creates an “either-or” mentality in the wrong manner. It “must” be this or it “must” be that: never let anyone, other than the Lord, force you into such a mentality over doctrinal issues. It rarely is the case that things are that simple. Only God really knows enough to plainly state things in so simple a manner. (black or white illustration)
    2. I’ll mainly be talking about the two main viewpoints that I continuously encounter: (1) that the KJV is perfect in its English translation; and (2) that every Bible version is to be accepted and compared as equally valid.
    3. When I say “both sides” or talk in that language I’m not saying that these are the only two sides of the issue—as you’ll see if you just listen through to the end. But I’m going to be focusing on these two because in my experience they are the most prevalent. I’m not trying to bring you to a “false crisis” or an “either-or” mentality.
  5. Introduction
    1. The goal of this series, again, is to provoke people to base their stance on fact and not conjecture or opinion. There is a lot of emotionally charged opinion floating around masquerading itself as a scholastic achievement. Really, most conversations I’ve had about this issue with people of varying beliefs are ones of pride, arrogance, childishness, lack of humility, lack of a real desire for truth, protecting one’s denomination more than God’s name, slander, libel, strawman fallacies, ad hominem fallacies, and just plain lying. You can also lump in most books written on the subject.
    2. You must humble yourself. I don’t know everything. My knowledge of that fact is what enables me to learn and be corrected. If you are not willing to be corrected, then be sure that if you are wrong: you will certainly never find out. I don’t care how established you are in ministry or reputation. I don’t care how smart you think you are. I don’t care how many books you’ve read. I don’t care how simple your faith is. The Body of Christ is just that: a body. Many members being compacted together by that which EVERY joint supplies. If God revealed everything supernaturally to everyone individually then we wouldn’t have any purpose for teachers in the Body of Christ.
    3. Many people retreat to just simply quoting Philippians 3:15, “…if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Most don’t actually understand it or really mean it though. Think about it for a minute. Exactly how is God going to make it manifest unto you? Do you expect a bolt of lightning to hit your head while you’re praying and for the Lord fill you with knowledge so that you don’t have to study anything? The Lord certainly can do that: but so can a deceiving spirit. I’ve known people who’ve testified of it. In the scriptures the believers reasoned together prayerfully about things, and they searched and studied God’s Word. Believers praise the Bereans all day long but won’t do what they did.
    4. The simple thing is this: fact will always bear witness to the truth of God. Truth is self-consistent. A believer is not a relativist. We think in absolutes because when God says or does anything it is objective and absolute. Get down to facts. Clear the ground of emotion and your desire for comfort and familiarity. We’re talking about God’s Word here! Please take time to seriously examine your heart and motives. Everything is on the table when it is to be examined before God.
  6. What we’re going to talk about
    1. The Nature of Translation (meaning, words, types of translation, is there a standard by which we are to determine when to translate a certain way, etc.)
    2. Manuscript evidence and Textual Criticism (what is it, and is it scientific, and why)
    3. Textual Theory (How the scholars look at the manuscript evidence)
    4. Who are Westcott and Hort, and does it even matter?
    5. Does James White’s book, “The King James Only Controversy: Can you trust modern translations?” accurately portray the Bible versions issue?
    6. Conclusion
  7. According to the Lord’s will that’s what we’re going to go over.