Thinking Out Loud

July 15, 2017

Problems with the King James Only Position

Out of the abundance of the heart, the vanity plate speaks. At least we know what matters most to this car owner.

  1. The problem with the original edition contradiction — In both the translator’s preface to the 1611 King James, and in the alternative renderings the translators inserted liberally throughout, there is allusion to the quotation from Augustine which says, in essence, “There is much to be gained from a variety of translations.” The translators themselves did not have consensus on some passages, and recognized that other translators would follow their work.
  2. The problem of “paraphrase” — We often hear the term “paraphrase” used today in reference to The Message bible, but from a linguistic viewpoint there is no such word, all renderings of text for different audiences constitutes translation. (Furthermore, Peterson worked from original languages.) The Message was designed for a specific audience (American) and a specific time (late 20th Century) just as the KJV was designed for a specific audience (British) and a specific time (early 17th century) and nothing makes this more clear than the insertion of “God forbid!” in Romans 6:1.  As a Jew, Paul would never insert God’s name here. (Nor would he be likely to do this as a Christian.) The British colloquialism is unique to the KJV, no other translation follows it at this point. God’s name should not be found in that verse if the translation is accurate. They took great liberties — let’s say they paraphrased — that verse, and this is just one of hundreds of similar issues.
  3. The problem of soteriology — Strong proponents of the KJV-only position totally contravene Revelation 22, and actually add the KJV as a requirement for salvation, inasmuch as a person must be saved through the KJV.  In their view, you cannot come to Christ through any other translation; you must be saved through the King James Bible. So much for the two travelers on the road to Emmaus who met Jesus post-resurrection. Having your “eyes opened” is insufficient.
  4. The problem of foreign missions — Anyone who has spent anytime on the mission field; any American who has shared the gospel with their Latino friends; any Canadian who has witness to their French-speaking Quebec neighbors knows the total absurdity of the KJV-only position in a world context. Still, some extreme groups actually attempt to teach non-Anglophones enough Elizabethan English so that they can read the English Bible and thereby meet Christ.
  5. The problem of history — If the King James is the only acceptable version of the Bible, then what did people do before 1611 to obtain salvation? You’d be surprised at the way some KJV-only advocates work around this. Just as Old Testament people were saved in anticipation of Christ’s perfect sacrifice; so also were people saved through the coming of this one translation. Or something like that. You would think that the Bible was part of the Holy Trinity. Or quadrinity. The Catholics add Mary, why shouldn’t the King James crowd add the Bible? (See item 3.)
  6. The problem of scholarship — Here I refer not to the leading Protestant and Evangelical academics — none of whom give this subject more than a passing thought — but the so-called ‘scholarship’ of the KJV-only advocates themselves. Basically, the problem is that their ‘arguments’ are a house of cards stacked with flawed logic and false premises. Owing more to the spirit of ‘conspiracy theories’ than to anything more solid, their rhetoric is mostly attacks on other translations, particularly the NIV, a translation despised for its popularity and hence a very visible target.  One conspiracy involves the removing of the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” — taken out in cases where it was a scribal ‘run on’ — but if that was the NIV’s intent, it actually missed the opportunity nearly two-thirds of the time. Despite this lack of scholarship, naive followers eat up their every words because people would rather believe the conspiracy than trust the sovereignty of God to sort out any translation issues.
  7. The problem of a ‘house divided‘ — Like the Creation Science community, the KJV-only crowd is divided; but it’s not a simple “old earth versus young earth” type of disagreement. Simply put, some 1789 KJVs are better than other 1789 KJVs. There are nuances of spelling that reflect the textual decisions of different publishers and just because you own a King James Version you may not have the right one. Dig deep enough and you find unsettling division.
  8. The problem of the ostrich mentality — If you read any KJV-only blogs or websites at source, you actually don’t see the phrase, King James Version. With blinders firmly in place, they argue that there is only one Bible and it is the King James Bible. (So what are all those editions in Barnes and Noble and Family Christian? Answer: They are blasphemous.) This is much like saying that New Zealand doesn’t really exist, or that September 11th never happened. If someone’s worldview is that narrow, it doesn’t bode well to trust their opinions on anything else; you’re only going to get denial and revisionism.
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July 31, 2012

Refuting the King James Only Position

  1. The argument from the text itself — In both the translator’s preface to the 1611 King James, and in the alternative renderings the translators inserted liberally throughout, there is allusion to the quotation from Augustine which says, in essence, “There is much to be gained from a variety of translations.” The translators themselves did not have consensus on some passages, and recognized that other translators would follow their work.
  2. The argument from “paraphrase” — We often hear the term “paraphrase” used today in reference to The Message bible, but from a linguistic viewpoint there is no such word, all renderings of text for different audiences constitutes translation. (Furthermore, Peterson worked from original languages.) The Message was designed for a specific audience (American) and a specific time (late 20th Century) just as the KJV was designed for a specific audience (British) and a specific time (early 17th century) and nothing makes this more clear than the insertion of “God forbid!” in Romans 6:1.  As a Jew, Paul would never insert God’s name here. (Nor would he be likely to do this as a Christian.) The British colloquialism is unique to the KJV, no other translation follows it at this point. God’s name should not be found in that verse if the translation is accurate. They took great liberties — let’s say they paraphrased — that verse, and this is just one of hundreds of similar issues.
  3. The argument from soteriology — Strong proponents of the KJV-only position totally contravene Revelation 22, and actually add the KJV as a requirement for salvation, inasmuch as a person must be saved through the KJV.  In their view, you cannot come to Christ through any other translation; you must be saved through the King James Bible. So much for the two travelers on the road to Emmaus who met Jesus post-resurrection. Having your “eyes opened” is insufficient.
  4. The argument from foreign missions — Anyone who has spent anytime on the mission field; any American who has shared the gospel with their Latino friends; any Canadian who has witness to their French-speaking Quebec neighbors knows the total absurdity of the KJV-only position in a world context. Still, some extreme groups actually attempt to teach non-Anglophones enough Elizabethan English so that they can read the English Bible and thereby meet Christ.
  5. The argument from history — If the King James is the only acceptable version of the Bible, then what did people do before 1611 to obtain salvation? You’d be surprised at the way some KJV-only advocates work around this. Just as Old Testament people were saved in anticipation of Christ’s perfect sacrifice; so also were people saved through the coming of this one translation. Or something like that. You would think that the Bible was part of the Holy Trinity. Or quadrinity. The Catholics add Mary, why shouldn’t the King James crowd add the Bible? (See item 3.)
  6. The argument from scholarship — Here I refer not to the leading Protestant and Evangelical academics — none of whom give this subject more than a passing thought — but the so-called ‘scholarship’ of the KJV-only advocates themselves. Basically, the problem is that their ‘arguments’ are a house of cards stacked with flawed logic and false premises. Owing more to the spirit of ‘conspiracy theories’ than to anything more solid, their rhetoric is mostly attacks on other translations, particularly the NIV, a translation despised for its popularity and hence a very visible target.  One conspiracy involves the removing of the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” — taken out in cases where it was a scribal ‘run on’ — but if that was the NIV’s intent, it actually missed the opportunity nearly two-thirds of the time. Despite this lack of scholarship, naive followers eat up their every words because people would rather believe the conspiracy than trust the sovereignty of God to sort out any translation issues.
  7. The argument from a ‘house divided‘ — Like the Creation Science community, the KJV-only crowd is divided; but it’s not a simple “old earth versus young earth” type of disagreement. Simply put, some 1789 KJVs are better than other 1789 KJVs. There are nuances of spelling that reflect the textual decisions of different publishers and just because you own a King James Version you may not have the right one. Dig deep enough and you find unsettling division.
  8. The argument from the ostrich mentality — If you read any KJV-only blogs or websites at source, you actually don’t see the phrase, King James Version. With blinders firmly in place, they argue that there is only one Bible and it is the King James Bible. (So what are all those editions in Barnes and Noble and Family Christian? Answer: They are blasphemous.) This is much like saying that New Zealand doesn’t really exist, or that September 11th never happened. If someone’s worldview is that narrow, it doesn’t bode well to trust their opinions on anything else; you’re only going to get denial and revisionism.

Paul Wilkinson

November 29, 2011

Westboro Seen More Up Close and Personal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:40 am

Isn’t enough coverage enough?  I have to agree with Get Religion’s Bobby Ross, Jr. when he says,

If I never had to read another story about the Westboro Baptist Church and its “staged-for-media hatefests” … I just might make my own sign. “Thank God for small blessings,” it would read. Or something like that.

But I also have to agree with his decision to come back to the story in the light of this 4,000-word article at the Kansas City Star.  Reporter Dugan Arnett got up close and personal with the family and especially Megan Phelps-Roper.  I have to agree with the parts of the article that Ross at Get Religion selected to highlight:

She loves her iPhone and the band Mumford & Sons and the Showtime series “Dexter,” which is about a blood-splatter specialist for the Miami Metro Police Department who also happens to be a serial killer — a complex character both good and evil. She went to high school at Topeka West and got straight A’s. She went to college at Washburn University and got straight A’s. She thought about going to law school, sat down to write her admissions essay and decided she wasn’t all that keen on becoming a lawyer. So she joined the family business.

She is peppy, goofy and, by all accounts, happy.

Oh, and one other thing about Megan: She wants to make it perfectly clear that you and the rest of this filthy, perverted nation will be spending a long, fiery eternity burning in hell.

…and this snapshot:

Megan has little problem handling the vitriol that pours in on a daily basis. Not long ago, she brushed off a Facebook message in which someone told her he planned to travel to Topeka and rape her. But when asked whether she has considered the possibility that the countless people who consider her deranged, insane, nuts and “bat-s—- crazy” might be on to something, she smiles and says, “You can’t listen to the whole world tell you you’re crazy, without wondering, ‘Am I crazy?’?”

Does that last bit show a little fracture in the fortress?

Then there’s:

She has no real friends. Few acquaintances. The majority of her outside interactions comes with the people — journalists, mostly — who stop by to profile the family. Two years ago, after a group of student filmmakers from Holland spent a week in Topeka documenting the church, Megan cried when they finally had to go. She still keeps a voice recording of one of them, a handsome, 20-something guy named Pepijn, saved in her phone.

So sad.  So very sad.  A prisoner of her own convictions.

But that’s also clear in this video; the thing that drew me in to the Get Religion story, a brief clip posted by Jewish News Weekly:

That video is actually about 18 months old, Jewish News Weekly filmed a more recent protest at this video, with an interview that begins just past the 1:00 mark. (The online site also contains this video of  Shirley Phelps-Roper being arrested earlier this summer at a funeral for a soldier, an arrest no doubt complicated by the fact that many of the Phelps clan have legal training.)

Why would God only reveal his truth to this very small handful of people?  Why would the Phelps clan continue relentlessly trying to advance their cause when it’s not advancing?  People aren’t rushing to join their church; the attrition rate is only compensated by the birth of new relatives.  America isn’t listening to their message.  Christians are not supportive of their message.

Why not pack up the signs and consign the protest to photos in albums and clippings in scrapbooks?  

Megan, regardless of who God may or not hate — and I believe he hates sin, but not the sinners — I think he has a much better plan for your life than what you are experiencing presently; it’s not too late to jump on board that alternative future.  When this life is over and you stand before God, you will stand alone; your family will not be alongside you.  Dive deeply into the gospels and gaze into the face of Jesus and allow Him to guide you.

Here again is the link to the Kansas City Star story.

June 23, 2011

Fundamentalist I Cor: 13 — “Love Believes The Worst About Everyone”

My name is Paul and I live in Canada.  Here are some things you might infer:

  1. Paul is a Canadian
  2. Canadians have a love affair with the game of hockey
  3. Therefore, Paul loves hockey.

In actual fact, my affiliation with the game is something that kicks in around playoff time, and like NBC Sports, my full attention isn’t really there unless it’s a deciding game.  I guess when it comes to sports, I’m not much of an athletic supporter.

Now here’s the same kind of logic at work:

  1. Rick Warren condemns the narrow mindedness and legalism of fundamentalists.
  2. Fundamentalists believe in the five fundamentals: The inerrancy of scripture, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ…
  3. Therefore, Rick Warren does not believe in the inerrancy of scripture, the virgin birth…

Do you see the absolute absurdity of this?  Fundamentalists don’t.  They gravitate toward books which condemn anything and anybody which isn’t part of their tightly knit club.  But here’s the thing:

They want the rumors about the apostasy of others to be true.

It gives them a reason to get up in the morning; a reason to eat breakfast and brush their teeth. They thrive on the discovery that any successful Christian author, any prominent Christian broadcaster, any popular Christian pastor may in fact be full of doctrinal error, which is defined by the phrase, “doesn’t believe the same as we do.”  Even if they have to use flawed logic in order to infer it.

In fact, even though I have no problem with God enacting incarnation through virgin birth; even though I trust the inspiration of scripture… etc.; just by writing this I am written off.

Their doctrine is: Love believes the worst about everyone.

Obviously too scary for kids

And of course it truly is love if you are pointing out the error of someone’s ways, right?   I write all this because the January, 2007 book, Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church by Noah W. Hutchings (Bible Belt Publishing) is about to be reissued by Defender Publishing.  Ultra-conservatives actually love this sort of thing, they never consider the possibility that the reports may be sensationalized or blatantly false or logically flawed.

And who is behind the promotion of Mr. Hutchings book?  None other than televangelist Jack Van Impe, the Michigan pastor whose recent rant against Warren and Robert Schuller got a repeat broadcast of his TV program censored by TBN’s Matt Crouch, resulting in JVI pulling the program and its related financial input from the TBN schedule. Highlights from the Beliefnet story:

…Earlier this month, Van Impe named California megachurch founders Rick Warren and Robert H. Schuller as proponents of “Chrislam,” which he defined as “a uniting of Christianity with Islam.” TBN pulled the episode before a repeat broadcast could air…
…“Although I understand, and actually agree with, your position that you ‘will not allow anyone to tell me what I can and cannot preach,’ I trust you understand that TBN takes the same position with its broadcast air time as well,”[TBN president and founder Paul]Crouch wrote in a letter to Van Impe…

I relate all this today because I think it’s important for people in the Evangelical mainstream to recognize that we cannot allow the fundamentalist fringe to set the agenda moving forward.  Van Impe starts to make outrageous statements and support authors who write books which are devoid of logic, and it just diminishes him, putting him in a category with Harold Camping, Terry Jones and even Fred Phelps.

Plus, we’ve got to stop bashing each other and start worrying about our common enemy.  For years, Canada had no Christian radio stations because of a feud that erupted nearly a century ago where early Christian radio pioneers devoted all their airtime to contracting and condemning each other.  Or maybe just stop bashing, period, and simply use the airtime to tell people about Jesus, and allow his words and story to draw people to Himself.

Furthermore, perhaps it’s time the U.S. adopted some of the Canadian understanding that radio frequencies are public property and are to be used responsibly. TBN acted well in this instance and put principle over profit.

May 29, 2011

Christians Everywhere, Meet Your New Spokesmen

These are, as far as the media and many of your un-churched or non-Christ-following friends are concerned, the people who represent everything you believe and stand for.   Meet Harold Camping, Terry Jones and Fred Phelps…

…Notice anything?

April 2, 2011

To Our Muslim Friends: Everything You Need To Know About Terry Jones

  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Baptists
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Pentecostals
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Charismatics
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Episcopalians
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Roman Catholics
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Quakers
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Methodists
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Calvinists
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Puritans
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Anglicans
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Free Methodists
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Lutherans
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Anabaptists
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Mennonites
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Wesleyans
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Presbyterians
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for non-denominational Christians
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Amish
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Greek Orthodox Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Shakers
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Christian & Missionary Alliance
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Salvation Army
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Mormons
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Brethren in Christ
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Evangelical Free Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Pentecostal Holiness Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Apostolic Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Christian Reformed Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Church of God in Christ
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Assemblies of God
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Reformed Church of America
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Calvary Chapel Movement
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Church of the Nazarene
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Harvest Bible Fellowship
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Seventh Day Adventists
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the United Pentecostal Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the United Methodist Church
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the United Church of Canada
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for the Willow Creek Association
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Sovereign Grace Ministries
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Samaritan’s Purse
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Wycliffe Bible Translators
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for World Vision
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Compassion International
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Youth With A Mission
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Campus Crusade for Christ
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Youth for Christ
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Christian broadcasters
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Christian bookstores
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Christian musicians
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Christian bloggers
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Christian schools
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for Christian universities
  • Terry Jones doesn’t speak for me.

Get the picture?

…And ditto Fred Phelps…Why do the smallest voices get the greatest media attention?

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