David Cloud of Way of Life Literature republished a 2006 article he had written on the topic of Bible versions entitled, “Biblical Presuppositions on the Bible Version Issue.” His apparent goal is to show how his King James Onlyism is supported by simple presuppositions arising from the scriptures, and contrary positions are not. Obviously, I disagree.
I appreciate David Cloud’s zeal. I used to be an avid fan of his and I am not seeking to do any personal harm. I simply would like to answer this article, for I feel it is misleading.
He begins with this analogy:
The evolutionist would have me put aside my biblical presuppositions when I study the natural record and the textual critic would have me put them aside when I study the manuscript record, but I will not put biblical presuppositions aside for any reason.
Though Cloud and his kind reject sweeping generalizations from the other side in which he and others are lumped together with the likes of Peter Ruckman and Gail Riplinger, he seems to have no problem returning the favor. Not every text critic takes things as far as Bart Ehrman; not every text critic takes things as far as Bruce Metzger; in fact, not every text critic takes things as far as Daniel Wallace. Most importantly, not everyone who rejects the doctrine of King James Onlyism is automatically a text critic. But Cloud’s article is set up as if those who reject his exclusive-allegiance-to-one-revision-of-one-edition-of-one-seventh-century-Anglican-translation-of-the-Bible-into-Elizabethan-English are, by default, checking their biblical presuppositions at the door – a view that I and many others who hold to my position reject. So much for fair representation, for I agree whole-heartedly with Cloud’s statement, “I will not put biblical presuppositions aside for any reason” even though I strongly disagree with his conclusion.
EIGHT BIBLICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS FOR APPROACHING THE BIBLE VERSION ISSUE
1. I BELIEVE IN THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
I agree with this doctrine. I believe Christ taught it (Matthew 4:1-4; 15:1-9; John 8:26-28; 14:10; Luke 16:27-31). As a non-King James onlyist, this presupposition does not have to be abandoned to hold to my position.
2. I BELIEVE IN THE SOUL LIBERTY OF THE BELIEVER
I am very strong on this doctrine as well, particularly as a Baptist. I see no contradiction in holding to soul liberty and rejecting King James onlyism. Cloud’s next statement is rather interesting:
Thus, it is evident that the child of God can make his own decision in the important matter of the Bible text-version issue. I do not ask my readers to depend on me and to follow my teaching; I ask them simply to prove all things and hold fast that which is good and to receive my teaching with all readiness of mind and to search the Scriptures daily whether these things are so.
This is coming from the same source that would condemn Bibles with footnotes because it lets the reader decide for himself rather than depend on translators and editors. In his article, “The Ungodly Fruit of Modern Textual Criticism,” Cloud says:
“The contemporary doctrine of eclecticism has elevated the Bible student as the master of the text and has resulted in a massive decline in the authority of the Scriptures in this generation. In a typical Bible study in a church that has bought into eclecticism, every individual is an authority unto his or herself as to what Greek manuscript or Greek text or English translation to follow in any given instance. There is no dogmatic authority for any statement, because someone can always come up with an alternative reading.”
I claim that my adherence to individual soul liberty makes me a great opponent of King James Onlyism than David Cloud adherence to the same is a cause for his acceptance of KJVO.
3. I BELIEVE IN THE SIMPLICITY OF SOUND DOCTRINE (Mat. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:26-29; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Jn. 2:20).
Again, I agree with the above statement. I cannot agree where Cloud is going with it, however, which is that accepting modern versions is less simple than the doctrine of King James Onlyism. Simply put, King James onlyism is not a “simple” doctrine. The Bible version issue as a whole is not that simple, for a large portion of it deals with extra-biblical date. No where in the scriptures does God tell us which Bible, which family of manuscripts, or which text would bear His signature. To assert that maintaining a King James Only position is in accordance with “the simplicity of sound doctrine” is absurd.
Just as absurd is the part in which Cloud goes off topic for a minute to make a point. I cannot resist but quote and remark on what he said:
“One example of this [non-simplistic “elitism”] is Calvinism. For instance, James White claims that Dave Hunt doesn’t understand Calvinism even though he is an intelligent man, a believer, and he has studied the issue diligently. I am convinced that if something is that complicated it can’t be the truth. (I also believe that Dave Hunt understands Calvinism very well, in spite of what James White claims.)”
Dave Hunt is a man who has publically admitted that he knows very little about the Reformers and their writings. If you read Hunt (as I used to do regularly, as a follower of his), you will soon come to the conclusion that he does not understand Calvinism. One can be an intelligent believer but that doesn’t necessitate a sufficient understanding of every issue under the sun. Just take a look at Debating Calvinism written by both Hunt and White and you will see that Dave Hunt lacks a proper understanding of Reformed theology (I also believe Cloud is guilty of the same).
Back to the main issue, Cloud then complains that textual criticism forces lay people to be subject to text critics in a way similar to Catholics and their priests. This ignores two things: 1) the King James only layperson is still subject to Byzantine monks, Erasmus and editors of the Textus Receptus, the King James translators, and the “scholars” on the KJVO side of things propagating their extra-biblical reasons for using only the King James Version, and 2) not every Christian who does not hold to King James onlyism is automatically engaged in textual-critical studies. The former is significant, because Cloud then gives textual-critical terminology and an example from A.T. Robertson to show just how “confusing” this issue can really be. Are we to believe that, in order to arrive at a King James Only view, one is not going to examine things like the origin of ancient manuscripts, the men behind text editions, the transmission of the text, textual variation, and the like?
I agree with the presupposition concerning simplicity. But I do not believe every wind of theology is simple. Simple things exists and deep things exist. God can be known, yet His ways are past finding out. Our faith in the Word of God is simple. But that does not mean that the 2,000 year old issue of Bible versions and translations is as simple.
4. I BELIEVE THAT ALL THINGS SHOULD BE DONE UNTO EDIFYING (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 14:26; 2 Cor. 12:19; Eph. 4:12, 16, 29).
I endorse this presupposition, with the understanding that at times certain actions do not edify immediately but have the goal of edifying in the end. One such example would be church discipline. Another, perhaps more significant in this discussion, would be the “ministry of warning” to which brother Cloud believes he has been called. His refutations of hundreds, if not thousands of fellow believers over the years have not all been edifying. Yet, I’m sure he would say that, in the end, he is warning Christians so that they will in fact be edified. I would agree, of course, because false teachers and false teaching exists.
I, along with many others, propose that King James onlyism is false teaching. So it is obvious that writing on the subject should take a form of soberness and a tone of admonition that may not seem edifying in the beginning, but are trying to accomplish the very thing Cloud does in his “end times apostasy database.” Secondly, taking all the literature written on the subject as a whole, is there really any doubt which side has been the most demeaning, hysterical, and insulting? Even pushing Riplinger, Marrs, and Ruckman aside, the writings of Sorenson, Cloud, Waite and others are full of accusations about other believers that are either untrue or purposely embellished. This is, regrettably, an issue that stirs a lot of emotion, and while both sides have been guilty of not being edifying enough, it doesn’t take much to see that the King James Only crowd wins the prize in this category. It is interesting how Cloud’s statement here coincides with what John MacArthur said about James White’s, The King James Only Controversy:
“Best of all, the book is spiritually edifying. That is especially refreshing, because much written on the subject is anything but edifying.” I guess it all depends on how one looks at things.
Finally, if Cloud’s intention is to say that simple works like theological journals and textual apparatuses are not edifying because they are too technical and do not cause any Christian growth, then I would assume he is also against Christian research magazines, archaeological reviews, 1st century cultural studies, and other technical analyses that shed more light on our Faith.
5. I BELIEVE IN THE REALITY OF THE DEVIL (1 Pet. 5:8).
Again, I also believe in this presupposition. The devil is very real. But Cloud repeats the same charge, that Satan’s questioning of God’s Word in the garden is somehow related to textual variation found in the transmission of the text. That is a huge leap not warranted by the Bible. He makes another leap, that of tying together the acceptance of modern versions with questions like “did God really destroy the earth with a flood” and “did Moses really write the Pentateuch?” This ignores the great distinction between the two issues.
6. I BELIEVE IN THE PRE-EMINENCE OF FAITH (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17; 14:23).
I believe in the preeminence of faith as well, and my faith in God’s Word has not shrunk one iota since rejecting King James onlyism. Cloud, point, however, is to say that the King James only view is rooted in faith whereas the alternative view is not. He quotes a BJU author who criticized Wilbur Pickering’s Majority text position because it leaned heavily on a theological presupposition. What about the possibility that those presuppositions can be wrong? Certainly David Cloud is no majority text supporter. If he engaged in a debate with Pickering, the two would be using argumentation to support each’s own presupposition.
I have faith that the evidence will always be in favor of Christianity, just as I have faith that geological and biological evidence will always support Creation. I am not afraid of the data. I also see that Jesus and the apostles did not always quote directly from the same Old Testament text. I do not need commentaries or textual critics to see that, either; just a copy of the Old Testament and a copy of the New Testament. Yet, I have faith that in each case, it was God’s Word that was quoted. Contrary to Cloud’s assertion, a presupposition of faith does not necessitate King James onlyism.
7. I BELIEVE IN TREMBLING BEFORE GOD’S WORD (Psa. 138:2; Prov. 30:6; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 22:18-19).
I too believe in trembling before God’s Word, not only in reading and listening to it, but in obeying it. A rejection of King James onlyism does not give me permission to play around with God’s words lightly. Just because many textual critics are liberal and unashamed doesn’t mean they all are. Just because some King James onlyists use English to correct that God-breathed Hebrews and Greek doesn’t mean all do. Sweeping generalizations do not help in either case.
8. I BELIEVE IN THE NECESSITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (1 Cor. 2:12-16; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27).
Of course, I also believe in the necessity of the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth. But Cloud’s purpose of listing this presupposition is to say that all versions other than the King James are products of humanistic rationalism, while the King James is the only one the Holy Spirit has approved (which he is asserting, by default). While he lists some men on the critical text side, he doesn’t attempt to prove that Erasmus was guided by the Holy Spirit, or that Beza’s corrections were guided by the Holy Spirit, or the TR editions of the Elvizers or Stephanus were either. We aren’t told that the King James translators were guided by the Holy Spirit but we are left to assume to because the modern versions are definitely not. He quotes George Ladd as saying, “Textual critic George Ladd wrote: “One does not solve a problem of divergent textual readings by prayer or by the inner illumination of the Holy Spirit; but only by an extensive knowledge and skill in the science of textual criticism” While it is true that textual criticism is a science that tries to consistently choose the best readings based on certain evidences, who is to say that the Holy Spirit is not involved? What methods did Erasmus use and how do we know the Holy Spirit was involved then? David Cloud leaves us with nothing but assumptions.
In conclusion, I agree with all eight of David Cloud’s biblical presuppositions: the sufficiency of scripture, the soul liberty of the believer, the simplicity of sound doctrine, all things being done for edifying, the reality of the devil, the preeminence of faith, trembling before God’s word, and the necessity of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I am not King James Only. Though much more can be written as to why I am not, an obvious gap must be highlighted.
The King James Version came out in 1611. These 8 biblical presuppositions come from truths that are over 2,000 years old. One can believe in them in the first century, but couldn’t possibly be King James only. There exists a 1,611 year plus gap between the presuppositions and the conclusion. During those 1,611 plus years, a multitude of manuscripts, codices, versions, translations, and text families arose and were used by Christians. King James Onlyism singles out one version. To get from these 8 presuppositions to the King James Version is a tremendous gap that must be filled by much more than 8 simple biblical truths. They do not automatically lead to a King James Only view. Therefore, this article is misleading. The issue is much more complicated than David Cloud reveals here
Though Cloud and his kind reject sweeping generalizations from the other side in which he and others are lumped together with the likes of Peter Ruckman and Gail Riplinger, he seems to have no problem returning the favor. Not every text critic takes things as far as Bart Ehrman; not every text critic takes things as far as Bruce Metzger; in fact, not every text critic takes things as far as Daniel Wallace. Most importantly, not everyone who rejects the doctrine of King James Onlyism is automatically a text critic. But Cloud’s article is set up as if those who reject his exclusive-allegiance-to-one-revision-of-one-edition-of-one-seventh-century-Anglican-translation-of-the-Bible-into-Elizabethan-English are, by default, checking their biblical presuppositions at the door – a view that I and many others who hold to my position reject. So much for fair representation, for I agree wholeheartedly with Cloud’s statement, “I will not put biblical presuppositions aside for any reason” even though I strongly disagree with his conclusion.