~~by Anne Kisly and James Fire
At T.T.U.F. we have previously examined the textual issue regarding Textus Receptus and the Critical Text*, yet we decided that a closer and more thorough examination would have significant merit, especially in light of the fact that more and more churches seem to be compromised/compromising their convictions on remaining upon the Word of God as their sole source for authoritative truth and doctrine (case in point, Anne Kisly’s most recent article “Will the Old Book Stand?”
Will the Old Book Stand?).
*How Near Eastern Religion Invaded the West
To accomplish this, we are using some reference material in book form, as well as information gleaned from the Internet. Our desire is not to stir up controversy for controversy’s sake, but for the sake of the truth. Anne Kisly and I are alarmed and dismayed at the spiritually degenerating nature of the church, and of its leaders, many of which have previously been perceived as strong and valiant for the truth. Likewise the history of Israel has been blemished by such apathy towards the truth of God’s Word, and this brought heartache and sorrow to the heart of God, as represented by His spokesman, the prophet Jeremiah (Jere. 9:1-6); it also eventually, reluctantly brought God’s anger and judgment!
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. (Read the entire portion of scripture!)
It is the Truth of God’s Word that provides us with discernment, direction, protection and encouragement in the face of deception and spiritual seduction, both of which are rampant in today’s world (see Ps. 119:105; 91:4; Col. 2:7; Heb. 4:12; 5:14 [“meat” here meaning the deeper things as found in God’s Word])!
It is the heart’s desire of any believer who truly knows and loves the LORD Jesus Christ (and any who are truly known and loved by the LORD!) to learn God’s Word, and obey it in all things; obviously since the majority of us don’t understand Hebrew or Greek, we read the English (or other language) translations, but which are the most accurate? Or does it make a difference which English translation you read? Some are easier to understand than others; certainly many are turned off by the King James Version for its archaic words and phrases and they avoid it.
There are answers, and by God’s grace and the Spirit of Truth, we pray that we may provide some of them, and encourage the saints to examine this issue carefully (the purchasing of the books we are using for these articles would prove beneficial! We shall include links at the end of this series where you may purchase them), prayerfully for themselves and seek God to reveal the truth and to please God in making the best choices.
Two books that we were led to that treated this subject are written by a Dr. David H. Sorenson and this first series of articles will be based on his first book “Touch Not the Unclean Thing” (based on the verse found in 2 Cor. 6:17).
We will provide summaries of the chapters in this book, make our own comments, and supply further reference materials (Internet links in the main); I agreed to start the series and write articles based on the odd number chapters, while Anne Kisly will write articles based on the even number chapters.
The BACKGROUND of Dr. DAVID SORENSON –
Dr. Sorenson grew up as a third generation Fundamentalist (Fundamentalism being a “relatively modern derivation [that] came into being as a modern movement having its roots in the independent Bible conferences of the latter part of the nineteenth century.”)
Being a fundamentalist, Dr. Sorenson states, simply means “adhering to the fundamentals of the Christian faith” and that there are three characteristics involved in it: 1) Being orthodox (or ‘sound’) in doctrine: supporting the foundational, cardinal, essential truths of historic New Testament Christianity (as opposed to Liberalism or Modernism which questions or outright denies the fundamentals of the faith like the inerrancy of scripture, the deity of Christ and His bodily resurrection, etc.); 2) Separation from apostasy: Theological Liberalism slowly took over the main line denominations in America, those who considered themselves Fundamentalists separated themselves from the apostasy of these denominations; 3) Separation from the world: and its underlying societal system: its philosophies, its values, its entertainments. “. . . suffice it to say that all true Fundamentalists to one degree or another certainly advocated separation from the world on a personal level.”
Dr. Sorenson’s journey into examining the issue of translations of the Bible began when a pastor friend of his gave him a book by David Otis Fuller entitled Which Bible? While it went against everything he’d been taught in seminary on the issue, he discovered that there were two primary Greek texts of the New Testament: the Critical Text (of relatively modern construction) and the Textus Receptus (Received Text, which has been used since antiquity). His seminary training and practice of fifteen years taught him that,
“The critical text and its concomitant use of various modern translations of the Bible (NASB in particular) . . . were acceptable (in theory) as long as it was a ‘good’ translation. Hence by training, I was indoctrinated in the critical text position and taught to be extremely wary of anything which approached using only the King James Version of the Bible as one’s biblical basis. I think,” says Dr. Sorenson, “that I can honestly say that I have sat where many presently sit on this controversial issue.”
The PURPOSE of THIS BOOK –
“This book will attempt to document the historic lineage of the two primary textual bases. On the one hand, the history of the Received Text and particularly one strain thereof, will be found to be associated with our persecuted, martyred brethren in separatist churches across the face of history. On the other hand, the lineage of the Critical text will be shown to be linked to apostasy at virtually every step of its history.”
Dr. Sorenson affirms that through the history of ‘the Bible’ there have been two textual bases, two philosophies regarding the Bible, two types of criticism, and as a result: two different types of Bibles. Due to the fact that one of these is associated with apostasy, and the other with true believers, the doctrine of the Bible becomes of vital and central importance.
CORE ISSUES –
Bibliology is the study of doctrines of the Scriptures and is the core issue, according to Dr. Sorenson. All Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Orthodoxy states that the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scriptures is the truth and upon the Truth of God’s inspired Word we place our faith.
“Verbal” in this sense means that the Holy Spirit of God inspired every word in the Bible. He also inspired it in its entirety as a whole, which is what “plenary” means.
Inspiration in this biblical sense means “God-breathed” as found in 2 Tim. 3:16.
Sorenson states: “God through His Holy Spirit breathed out His very words to the various scriptural penmen as they wrote the various books of the Bible. Verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible is truly one of the foundational tenets of historic Fundamentalism. In 2 Peter 1:21, the Apostle wrote, ‘For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’
The word “moved” (phero) has the sense of being ‘led along’, ‘carried’ or ‘moved’. The thought is how the Holy Spirit so led or moved the minds of the inspired writers that what they wrote were in fact the very words of God.”
Often in conversation with non-saved people, they tell me that “the Bible was written by men” to which I reply, “Well you’re half right.” This usually prompts a questioning look, and I explain with an illustration. I ask them to get out a pen and paper, and to sign their name on the paper. Then I ask them, “Who wrote that name on that paper?”
”I did,” they respond.
“Are you sure?” I ask, and they nod in affirmation. “Now did you write your name or did the pen?”
“I wrote my name using the pen to do it.”
”God used holy men of God as His instruments to convey His thoughts, His Word, His Truth onto the parchment (or vellum); so while men physically did the writing, God did the directing and inspiring, and the Bible in itself by its internal proofs, demonstrates this!”
So, as Sorenson says, “Bibliology therefore is the foundation of all faith and practice. If the Bible ha flaws or is in error, the very foundation of faith is at risk.”
The very foundations of all that the Christian believes, and practices has as its sole basis the Holy Bible, and if this foundation were ever to be prove faulty, our faith would be undone (Psalm 11:3).
Dr. Sorenson contends that because “the critical text and its resultant translations have altered the Word of God which was received and used by Bible-believing churches throughout the ages”, while they have “not eliminated any major doctrines, they have in fact eroded them in numerous places. Ominously, the doctrine which is most eroded is that which pertains to the Person of our LORD. Bibliology is a core issue indeed. But is not Christology a crucial issue as well?”
Unnecessarily Divisive? –
There are those that oppose even the presentation of this issue as being unnecessarily divisive to the body of Christ and in their view is in fact “a non-issue”. Dr. Sorenson readily admits that this is of course divisive and that it ought to be!
“Crucial doctrinal issues are at stake and they go to the heart of all Bible doctrine”. Doctrine indeed is divisive as it “divides truth from error”.
Verbal vs. Thought Inspiration –
As believers in God’s Holy Word, we must adhere to what the scripture says, and where inspiration is concerned, it’s quite clear:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Those adhering to the critical text, and its accompanying views believe in a thought for thought inspiration which means that the “concept of the very words being inspired seems to fade. The impression left is that only the thought is important, not the words.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Its vital that we as followers of Christ JESUS and of His Word, we allow no deletions from the Scriptures, particularly where the Person of our LORD is concerned, yet, as we shall see, the critical text and its resultant modern translations make not a few deletions but thousands (be they only one word, an entire verse, or an entire section)!
“Contrary to the claims that the differences between these two texts of Textus Receptus and the Critical Text (and their resulting translations) are insignificant, there are vast differences between the two Greek texts (and translations). There are approximately 8,000 word differences between the Textus Receptus and the modern critical text. More than 2,800 of the words in the Textus Receptus are omitted in the modern critical text. This is approximately the number of words found in 1st and 2nd Peter; [that is, that] the critical text has deleted the verbal equivalent of [Peter’s two epistles]. How can this be considered an inconsequential issue? If we believe in verbal inspiration, we had best be concerned about the thousands of words missing from the text of the New Testament received and used by God’s people for 1,800 years.”
The NIV, the NASB and most other modern English translations make deletions or seriously question verses as compared to the King James Version. The NIV questioned 45 entire verses and there are 147 other verses with significant portions missing from this version.
“This is not a non-issue. If it is divisive, then so be it. The integrity of the Word of God is at stake,” says Dr. Sorenson, and to that may I add a hearty and heartfelt AMEN!
Because of the fact that the Critical Text has watered down, diluted and deleted the integrity of the very Truth as represented by the Bible, the resultant fruit has spawned in these modern times “an apostasy and major problems connected to the critical text” which is summarily ignored by most biblical scholars today.
In 1998 there were 293 English translations of the complete New Testament plus twenty three more abridged New Testaments. 135 English translations of the complete Bible with an additional ninety-nine abridged Bibles not included.
“There undoubtedly have been more translations added since then. Among the more popular versions like the King James Version, the New American Standard, the New International Version and New King James, not all of them are from the same Greek text. Modern Bible companies often gloss over the fact that there is more than one Greek text. Others use creative advertising to ‘market’ their Bibles . . . their particular version is based upon the ‘earliest and best’ Greek manuscripts’ or ‘scholar’s recommendation’”
Of the popular versions available (including the above mentioned) there are two texts only upon which these are based; the Textus Receptus and the Critical Text; there are no others. King James and New King James are based on Textus Receptus along with only a handful of other obscure versions; all the rest are based on the Critical Text!
Dr. Sorenson contends that “one [of these] reflects the providential preservation of God and the other a human effort. Moreover, as this volume will unfold, it will become evident that the men involved in the development of the Critical Text for the most part have been apostate.”
Dr. Sorenson readily admits that there is contention and controversy regarding this issue, and that good brethren disagree. Since he has seen both sides of this controversy he believes he has insight as to why there is such disagreement.
There are some who hold to the Critical Text, and this fact does not necessarily imply that these men are apostate or “connected with that apostasy”, neither are Fundamentalist institutions of higher learning necessarily apostate. Though, states Sorenson, their leadership ought to know better.
“Many on the side of the Critical Text position have never carefully studied the entire issue. When I was in seminary,” says Sorenson, “both sides . . . were never presented. Moreover, it seemed evident that my seminary professors had never studied the opposing view. With all due respect, in the mid-twentieth century, there had not been a great deal of material written . . .”
Today however there are ample supplies of books defending the Received Text position but those who hold to the Critical text for the most part ignore these sources. A case in point is one book entitled From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man is a compilation of articles written by eleven authors, reviewed by eight academicians from several Fundamentalist institutions of higher learning; it purports to be neutral and yet the position indicated in its pages is clearly supportive of the Critical Text (its bibliography contains scores of books supportive of the Critical Text, and virtually none that hold to the Received Text position, though these are readily available in large supply.
Dr. Sorenson concludes this introductory chapter by saying “. . . that the Word of God is inerrant in its original inspiration and that God has providentially preserved an infallible transmission of it to this very hour. Jesus said,
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
And God spake all these words, saying,
“If we believe in verbal inspiration and the inerrancy of the Word of God, we must be concerned about every word in the Bible . . . God certainly can and will overcome human folly [but] it ought to be our duty to stand for the truth even if it is controversial or divisive. The issue at hand is the Word of God: its integrity, accuracy and trustworthiness.”
WEB SITES of INTEREST related to this Chapter:
MYTHS About The MODERN BIBLE VERSIONS, David Cloud
DEFENDING The KING JAMES BIBLE, D.A. Waite
Dr. DAVID OTIS FULLER’s books available here!
Here is an EXCELLENT SITE EXPLORING THE KING JAMES VERSION, ITS HISTORY and INTEGRITY
This concludes the introductory segment of this article; the next article based on chapter 2 of Dr. David Sorenson's book, Touch Not the Unclean Thing will be coming soon from Anne M. Kisly!