Where Do We Stand?

Last week’s post generated plenty of conversation. I hope to highlight one of the points brought to light in a future post; namely, I will post on Tischendorf’s discovery of Sinaiticus and how the story is portrayed in the KJVO debate on all sides.

What got me thinking, though, is more along the lines of our personal backgrounds. I realize some of our regular guests have shared their own story, but I’m not sure that I even know where everyone stands on the issue. I see we have folks who regularly comment in support of the TR or MT but are not necessarily KJVO. We have others who are very critical of the CT but again, not KJVO. Then we have some who are indeed KJVO. I am also very interested in your theological leanings, as we’ve had people here who are not Christian at all. It helps to know who we’re talking to.

I’m wondering if those of you who regularly comment here (or who have in the past) would mind providing a little theological background and insight into your current thoughts on the Bible version issue. My fellow contributors are welcome to chime in as always. Even though we’ve given short bios on the authors page, and even though we all come from the IFB KJVO position, we have not all given our full position on this topic and I’m sure we even differ among ourselves.

To keep the commentary to the point, would you please follow these guidelines and answer these questions:

Guidelines: Please keep it brief yet specific. Please refrain from replying to a comment unless it addresses a specific point made (perhaps for an elaboration or clarification rather than an argument).

Questions:

1. What kind of church do you attend, if any?
2. What is your role in ministry, if any?
3. Has your position on the Bible version issue changed? If so, how?
4. How would you describe your current perspective on the TR, MT, and CT?
5. How important is this issue to you and how significant is it to your theology as a whole? (for example, do you practice separation if someone does not agree, etc)
6. What English Bibles do you recommend and use?
7. What resources have helped you, and which would you urge people to stay away from?
8. Finally, to keep things friendly, share with us what your favorite food is.

The above do not necessarily all have to be answered, or answered in order, but if you could frame your comments around these topics that would help us keep things clear and concise.

Update: KJV Only Debate ON AIR

The show went well. Damien and I co-hosted the Understanding Our Times Radio show for Kevin Thompson. We shared our stories regarding KJV Onlyism and were able to address the debate. 30 minutes goes by fast, but we covered quite a bit of ground. The show is available for free download from BlogtalkRadio. Click here and then click on the download button (or else just listen online). The direct link for the mp3 is here.

Taking the KJV Only Debate ON AIR

Saturday evening, we’ll be taking the KJV Only debate ON AIR.

Kevin Thompson of Understanding Our Times Radio, has asked me to guest host his radio show for him this week.  He’s had me on the show as a guest before discussing Fundamentalism and Reformed Theology.  With Kevin’s blessing, I’ve decided to throw open the phone lines and discuss the issues surrounding KJV Onlyism.  I’ll share my own story as a former TR-Onlyist.  And I may have another KJVO Debate contributor with me as a co-host (Damien).

So please feel free to tune in to the show live, or download the free podcast in .mp3 or other formats.  The download is available pretty much immediately after the show’s completion.  If you have a question you’d like to call in with, we’ll be taking callers.  Details are below.

Understanding Our Times Radio Show
Guest Host: Bob Hayton
Time: Saturday 5:00-5:30pm CST
Where: online at BlogTalkRadio
Call-in Number: 347-945-7171

Meet Erik DiVietro, aka ‘That Liberal’

My name is Erik DiVietro. I am the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Merrimack, New Hampshire – a congregation formed from two congregations in 2010. I have been a senior pastor since 2004.

My testimony is brief and simple. I was raised in the church, professed Christ at an early age and then turned on him because I equated him with the mess I observed in Christianity. During college, I yielded to Christ and turned back to him. To this day, I consider myself an atheist who cannot get past Jesus. If it were not for Jesus being the extraordinary God-man of the Gospel and the testimony of His Spirit through the written Word, I would have no problem rejecting the Christian faith.

Because of Jesus, I embrace the fundamentals of the faith – that he is the Living Word and that the Written Word was inspired to bear witness of Him. Jesus is everything, and to me that is not just a cliche.

I graduated with honors from Boston Baptist College in 1998 and received a Master of Arts with high honors from Masters’ International School of Divinity in 2006.

My father is the somewhat prominent Textus Receptus scholar Kirk DiVietro who is responsible for the Logos Bible Software digital editions of both the Stephanus 1550 and Scrivener 1894. He is also a permanent member of the Dean Burgon Society and is actually hosting the 2010 DBS meeting.

I was raised in the King James Only culture. While I have tremendous respect for my father and his exceptionally well-reasoned positions, I found that most KJVO people do not approach their position with anything even approaching objectivity. Sadly, many who claimed to be men of God would use misinformation, incomplete statements and revisionist history to support their position.

I consider myself a post-denominationalist. I believe that the church needs to embrace its diversity rather than to fight over who is right and wrong. While affirming the basic fundamentals, I believe that it is necessary for the church to step away from their polemics and semantics and reframe the fundamentals in a broader context.

My primary areas of writing are in history and language. I do not consider myself a textual scholar but I do like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on the sweep of history and the matrices of the Church in its development. Although I focus mostly on ancient history, I have spent a lot of time recently studying the Middle Ages and the Church’s development there in an attempt to understand the matrix from which modern western Christianity has emerged.

My style of writing is often a broad blend of different disciplines. We like to say that I paint with a broad brush and then sort the details out later. I tend to ‘think grey’ – in other words, to challenge presuppositions at the core. This is sometimes irritating to others; and I apologize in advance.

There are several words I use quite often:

  • MATRIX – this is the ‘womb’ in which an event or idea occurs. It involves culture, language, world view and a multitude of other influences. There are three broad matrices through which the church has filtered – the ancient, the medieval and the modern. Each taints our perspective, so I have a tendency to highlight the matrix from which certain thinking emerges.
  • SEMIOTIC – this the study of the meaning of words (semantics is the study of the USE of words). When you’re dealing with a subject like the King James Bible, you are often crossing semiotic matrices and the discussions get very messy.
  • MYOPOGESIS – interpretation of the Scripture without consideration of the matrix you are in and the matrix it was written in
  • HISTORIOGRAPHIC – this is the study of the writing of history. For example, Eusebius of Caesarea wrote for Constantine’s court. Josephus wrote for Vespasian’s court. This influences their perspective and the way they wrote their histories.

I’ve very glad to participate in the KJVODEBATE blog, and I hope to be a help to everyone who visits here.

Jason’s Story

My story is short. I’m not sure about short and sweet, but it is short.

I was raised in the southern part of the USA, “away down south in Dixie.” My raising was in a Christian home. We were Baptists, and I remain a Baptist.

Our particular group of Baptists is a group that is very exclusive and somewhat anti-intellectual. In fact, much more so that most IFB’s with which I’m acquainted. We were also KJVO.

The funny thing is that there never were any reasons given for our being KJVO. I was eighteen years of age when I heard my first argument in favor of KJVO. It was just assumed that we were that, and no mention was made of it in an effort to defend it.

As time went on I felt the “need” to defend KJVO’ism. Thus I found “Let’s Weigh The Evidence.” Later I found David Cloud. I must say that David Cloud’s ministry has many good points. Though I do not know him personally, I have corresponded with him some and found him to be a generous person. It was through his generosity that I got a couple of his books, though I could not afford them. His KJVO books in my library are extensively underlined. I had found someone who could give a reasoned defense of the King James Version Only position.

So I thought.

There was a problem, however. I simply could not find myself declaring holy men who loved Jesus heretics even if they did use other translations of the Scriptures. I could not line up with what were sometimes very extreme and harsh attitudes toward those who used translations other than the KJV. If one loved the Scriptures it would seem that they would love their brothers in Christ. That did not seem to be the case, though, among the KJVO people. They seemed to be very divisive.

As time went on, I could not find it logical to take the all or nothing position of the KJVO position. After all, suppose that there were errors in other versions. Why should that mean that they were totally bad? The Word of God is God’s Word wherever it is. It is God’s Word even if there are mistakes in places. Of course, I’m not speaking of the inerrancy issue, but translation issues and issues concerning textual variants.

That led me to lean toward a Textus Receptus Only position, then to a King James Preferred position.

As a matter of fact, I still prefer the King James Version for several different reasons that I may present in the future.

Finally, a few weeks ago I read “The King James Only Controversy” which led me to realize that the “scholarly” arguments in favor of KJVO’ism were flawed.

So, here I am today, loving my KJV, but referring to other translations, and finding myself feeling a little more free in Christ.

From Ruckmanism to Riches — Philip’s Story

Up until recently, I had gone to churches that were King James Version Only all of my life.  I read the books that were available to me as a youth such as New Age Bible Versions, and some of D. A. Waite’s books.  Honestly, I loved it.  I went to a high school where they used modern versions, and I felt it was my mission to spread the “truth” to as many of my fellow students and teachers as possible.  Once I got a job, I went on shopping spree from Bible For Today and Ruckman’s mail order catalogs to “learn” as much as I could about how the people behind the modern versions were all members of a secret Alexandrian Cult.

After attending an Independent Fundamental Baptist college, my KJVO views became more charitable.  Maybe people behind the modern versions weren’t evil… Just horribly misled.  I became aware of a book called The King James Only Controversy and viewed it with the same fear and contempt I may have had towards a book like The God Delusion, if it had existed at the time.  Luckily, I paged through one of my professor’s copies and saw red ink all over the margins and across the text of every page, and this was all the confirmation I needed that the KJVOC was just a bunch of unscholarly fluff. Before leaving college, I had a chance to pen my magnum opus, a defense of the KJV translation of “Easter” for a single occurrence of the word pascha in the New Testament.  I started building my defense from what I “knew” was true, that Easter was the proper translation, and worked backward from there, selectively finding quotes, definitions and “evidence” that supported my presupposition.  It got high marks, of course.

Fast forward a few years.  One of my children goes to a preschool at a Baptist church down the road from us.  I notice while sitting in the auditorium for one of their little concerts that the Bibles in the pews are New International Version.  After my initial disappointment, I start thinking about it…  These people genuinely seem to love God.  How could this be if they are using a counterfeit Bible?   Wouldn’t it lead them away from God?  If these Bibles were the cornerstone of Satan’s devious and conniving plan to turn people away from the truth, why did it seem to have the opposite effect?

Coincidentally (?) around this same time, I was having a sort of minor crisis of faith at my own church.  I wasn’t by any means a “good Fundamentalist”–I knew that some day I would probably have to stop going to movie theaters, get rid of all of my DVD’s, attend Thursday night visitation every week, wear suits to church, and so on, in order to really be close to God, but at the time being, I was content in my mediocrity.  This was the status quo for some time until–and I won’t go into the details about exactly what transpired here out of respect for my former pastor, but suffice it to say–I realized that my pastor didn’t always have all the answers.  In fact, as I thought a little further about the case he was building in that sermon, it seemed to have an awful lot of logical fallacies. But if we were wrong about this, what else could we be wrong about?

This initiated a very careful, thorough study of everything I believed.   I realized that if I didn’t do it now, I may just be burdening my kids with something that should have been the father’s responsibility.  So I changed my outlook on truth and started coming at things from a different standpoint.  Instead of caring only to prove my treasured beliefs were correct, I sincerely prayed for and sought truth.  It was a liberating feeling. I learned how to have an open mind, being able to adapt my viewpoints as I researched a subject.  And, I think, most importantly, as I read not only books, but even the Bible, I got a thrill out of trying to throw out my presuppositions as I read and really determine what the author was saying.  So by the time I was ready to defend or reject my King James Onlyism, I got myself some books, some for KJVO and a couple against it.

The first thing I noticed was that when the KJVO authors I was reading wrote books, they tended to read their own presuppositions into a text.  No one is perfect, and of course I will always do it myself to some degree, but what I saw seemed to be people just skimming books, trying to find little fragments of text that supported their position, and ripping this out of context and using it as “evidence”, regardless of whether or not the author was actually saying what they supposed he was.  I decided to go back and read some of the source materials frequently used in the debate, and came out with a totally different picture than what was being painted by the authors of the KJVO books. It wasn’t much later that I had to admit I had been wrong about the issue all my life.  This is not a concession that one makes lightly or without much deliberation.

I also found that I wasn’t alone.  You see stories similar to this all over the internet these days.  I believe this is due in large part to being able to research things on-line, without having to finance enormous personal research libraries.  And for every story written, I believe there are many more that are unwritten.  I hope that in adding my story to the mix, some people will be blessed by it.  I certainly do not mean to offend anyone, and I look forward to meaningful interaction on this topic and many others through this blog.

A King James’ Journey — Bob’s Story

The King James Only debate played a major role in my journey out of extreme independent Baptist fundamentalism (IFBx).  I’ve written my story elsewhere.  But I want to focus here on my journey with respect to the King James Only debate.

I grew up with the King James Version, but  I don’t believe my church was always officially King James Only.  In the late 80’s or early 90’s King James Onlyism was on the march.  Some area churches were decidedly Ruckmanite, and while we didn’t attend those conferences we fell under the sway of their influence.

I remember knowing only the KJV was acceptable.  At age 12 I was given a Thomspon Chain Reference Bible (KJV), and my uncle showed me how to use it.  His was an NIV, however.  And I was uncomfortable with that already.  His explanation that it is easier for people today to read, just didn’t sway me.  I was already prejudiced in favor of KJV Onlyism.

I didn’t know all the reasons why, however.  Why not the NIV or the New King James?  At age 14, my dad surrendered to be a missionary and we started deputation.  As we traveled around, I’m sure we had the chance to pick up some tracks or pamphlets describing why the King James was the only version to be trusted.  I can remember being in a Christian bookstore in an indepedent Baptist church and seeing Gail Riplinger’s new book: New Age Bible Versions.  I flipped through the book, and I found the freaky cover with the Satanic symbols quite intriguing.

As a teenager, and even earlier, I was privileged to be invited over to my grandparent’s house frequently.  And we would often discuss Biblical topics among other things.  My grandfather was a class mate with Norman Geisler for a time at William Tyndale College (Detroit Bible Institute).  He used the KJV too, but thought other versions were helpful for study.  His father, a missionary to the upper peninsula of Michigan with the Hiawatha Land Mission (from the GARBC, now Continental Missions or something), owned a copy of the Berkley Version and evidently approved of referencing it for study purposes.

It wasn’t until at age 16, when I came across a copy of The Way of Life Bible Encyclopedia by David Cloud, that I really read up on the topic at all. Continue reading