I read a rather fascinating statement the other day by a brother who believes the English Standard Version to be far superior than the King James He declared that any view which teaches preservation has occurred in only one family of texts, in one Greek text or in one translation bears the scriptural and/or historical burden of proof.
Now, common sense would dictate that when an individual deviates from the standard or norm, the burden of proof to validate why he is straying or erring from the original point of reference actually lies upon the one departing. Our position on the KJV is essentially the same as that of most "orthodox Christians" for nearly three hundered years.
For four hundred years God has used the Authorized Version as the Bible which formed nations, birthed religious freedom, established hundreds of thousands of churches and blazed a trail around the globe to people groups in need of the Gospel. No other English version of the Bible can make that claim.
Scripturally, the tenor of words which demand a proof or evidence of God’s power do not arise out of a heart which exalts God’s words, but are commonly from those who lightly esteem them. The rebellious Jewish leaders during the ministry of Jeremiah constantly demanded proof of his words. The leaders during Malachi's days grieved God with their words against Him, demanding proof why they should obey His commands. The Pharisees and lawyers (scholars of Jesus’ day) attempted to catch our Lord in His words – to trap him or even twist His words into an untruth. Unfortunately, it is not a rare thing for those who trust in man's ability over God's to question God's ways or His works.
God has never been limited by man’s destructive effect upon His words.
- After Moses, in his great wrath, brake the tablets of stone which contained the very words of God, God Himself carved upon two new tablets the very words again. Moses then placed them inside the ark, this action thus caused referring to the ark of God in a new term, “the ark of the testimony.”
- After the wicked king of Jerusalem cut Jeremiah’s prophecy with a penknife and burned it in the fire page by page, God spoke the words again in Jeremiah’s ear and as Jeremiah pronounced them Baruch the scribe recorded them – and God added more words after the first set of words were recorded.
- Jesus Christ, in Matthew 5:17-18 declared that not “one jot or one tittle” shall pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. The ark of the covenant had disappeared centuries earlier, but our Lord was confident enough to know that the exact words which Moses recorded – even the very strokes of those Hebrew letters – was in their possession at that very point in time. The Lord Jesus Christ did not give the explanation of exactly HOW those very words were preserved, just that they were and that they will continue to be preserved.
I teach clearly and plainly that the King James Version is the authoritative translation in the English language and therefore we are blessed to hold in our hands a perfect Word of God, without error, in our own mother tongue. I believe the very words of God have been providentially preserved for us in the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Received Text - basically as God delivered them in the original autographs. I counted at least 251 times in the Old Testament and 67 times in the New Testament where reference was made to the exact “words” of God, and not merely His “word.” The “words” are the vehicles which convey the message of the “word.” The “message” or “word” is not the only item which Scripture declares will be perpetually preserved – but the “words” which actually convey that message. When we tamper with the "words" the message itself, or the "Word," is altered. The consistency of those who claim God's "Word" has been preserved, but not His "words" is suspect; any honest person with common sense must admit that the alteration of God's words actually changes His Word. As other men have so aptly stated, "Things that are different cannot be the same."
I view this phraseology as a deceitful and subversive "play on words." Many preachers and educational institutions brazenly make an attempt to to frame their allegiance to “God’s Word” as being authoritative, preserved and even inspired “in the originals” without an honest clarification to the layman of what he actually holds in his hands. They wish to appear consistent with the accepted "orthodox" position through the centuries, but in truth they have deviated from that historical position which true Bible-believers have held.
I wish those who claim to have God’s Preserved Word, but not His actual words, would be honest to their congregations and stand in their pulpit and boldly announce that they do not believe God’s actual words are even in existence. I make my position clear, why do they make murky, clouded statements instead of being plain and clear? I doubt they would have the gumption to declare that were it not for recent scholarship, we would not even have an understanding of the basic message of God. I wonder if they would be so bold as to explain in detail how they hold to the position that God's Word is actually a work in progress, that man possesses just a basic message but they cannot be dogmatic about the specifics of that message. I would imagine that if many preachers and pastors would make their position abundantly clear, without any misunderstanding, and be honest and avow that God’s actual words do not exist – their congregations would probably throw them out on their ear. Instead, they continue their deceptive speeches and speak of their love for and allegiance to “God’s Word” (meaning only the message, not the actual words) all the while changing and adapting that message for each successive generation and culture. To make matters worse, I read their hollow "platitudes" for the KJV and how much they revere it – while at the same time amputating verses and phrases, altering the message by exchanging "harsh" words for ones much more appeasing or palatable and amending God’s explicit commands into mere beneficial suggestions. This practice of obfuscation saddens my spirit and grieves my soul.
I call also as witnesses the very men who gave us the texts upon which all of the modern translations are based in evidence against themselves. The chief translators which perverted the Greek and Hebrew texts were ungodly and unsaved men. Griesbach, the father of modern textual criticism, did not believe in the deity of Christ and held the presupposition that every text which favored theological orthodoxy should be a suspect text. George Vance Smith, a committee member for the ERV, wrote that Jesus is not God and does not have the nature of deity. He further wrote about inspiration of the Bible (as a Bible translator), “It nowhere, in truth, claims inspiration, or says anything definite about it. The biblical inspiration, whatever it is or was, would seem, like the genius of Shakespeare, to be unconsciously possessed. The phrase ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ and its equivalents are simply to be referred to the style of the prophet; or to be understood only as indicating his believe that what he was about to say was conformable to the Divine Will…It is scarcely allowable, in short, to think of inspiration as being or acting in the dead words of any book.” The Bible claims its words are living, while this translator claims it to be dead. B. F. Westcott rejected the Bible claims of infallibility, embraced Darwinism fully – thus believed the first three chapters of Genesis to be fable, believed that the concept of Christ bearing the sins of man was "immoral and counterfeit" and the blood of Christ is not necessary for man’s salvation. Fenton J. A. Hort was even more vocal in his unscriptural views – denying the bodily resurrection of Christ, claiming the Bible is only literary and not dogmatic for faith and even in writing to Westcott in 1861 encouraged the two to be silent about their true beliefs or they would be unable to complete their “version” of the Bible because they would be branded with suspicion for “what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy.” Therefore, it is not surprising to see the texts which they preferred are intentionally weakened in these very areas.
The modern translators, who may not all be unbelievers, follow the same trail blazed by their academic forefathers in a deceitful and dishonest representation of their version of the Bible. Wayne Grudem, one of the catalysts behind the ESV, states it "is an essentially literal translation that stands as today's direct inheritor of the great King James Version. tradition," and claims a direct line of descent. The preface to the English Standard Version claims that it is a part of the "fountainhead of that stream" of Tyndale's Bible and the KJV. However, if one simply keeps reading the preface to the ESV, they discover that the RSV, not the KJV, is the starting point of the ESV. Why would the translators claim that the ESV sprang from the KJV, when, in truth, it did not? Could it be because the RSV was widely recognized as being a very liberal version when it was introduced? After it was first published completely in 1952, Dr. C. F. Lincoln, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, began his 1953 Critique of the Revised Standard Version by stating, "There are two very obvious but nevertheless very weighty reasons for condemning this version as an unreliable and unacceptable translation for the reverent Bible believing Christian," and also, "It is evident that the personal views of these men have been introduced into the text of this new translation." Another misrepresentation given by ESV translators is the claim that that they have taken advantage of "older, more reliable Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of various books of the Bible," which is a distortion of the truth. Bishop Ellicott, the chairman of the revision committee for the English Revised Version of 1881 is on record admitting, "The manuscripts which Erasmus used differ for the most part, only in small and insignificant details from the bulk of the cursive manuscripts. The general character of their text is the same. By this observation the pedigree of the Received Text is carried up beyond the individual manuscripts used by Erasmus...that pedigree stretches back to a remote antiquity. The first ancestor of the Received Text was at least contemporary with the oldest of our extant manuscripts, if not older than any one of them." The text of the KJV did not originate in 1516, Erasmus simply compiled and printed the Textus Receptus, he did not "write" it. While the text of the ESV is primarily based on 5 "codexes" or manuscripts, dating to the 4th, 5th & 6th Centuries, the Byzantine Text is actually older than them all. Thus the ESV (printed in 2001 and already needing 2 more "face lifts" in 2007 and again in 2011) is actually based on newer, more recent texts than the Authorized Version. Finally, I must not overlook the fact that the RSV was published under the direction and design of the National Council of Churches in 1946 & 1952 and revised again in 1971. As far as the National Council of Churches, Dr. Lincoln further wrote, "The NCC...has, since 1908, proved to be unBiblical in its objectives, socialistic in its aims, and destructively modernistic in its doctrine...True Christians know too well the character of this sponsoring organization to approve it at a trustworthy guide in determining and safeguarding the text of Holy Scripture." The RSV is a poor starting point for the ESV, and hardly is a successor of the KJV - more honestly it is a successor of the ERV, which was actually an attempt to correct the KJV, not retranslate it.
More scriptural evidence is found in the Bible itself as we are given clear warnings and commands that no individual should ever take it upon himself to alter, change, distort, pervert or remove any of Gods “words.”
Isaiah 59:21, "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”
Proverbs 30:5-6, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."
Psalms 12:6-7, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
2 Chronicles 34:21, "Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book."
Deuteronomy 18:18-19, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."
Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Matthew 5:17-18, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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."
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, "Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."
Revelation 22:18-19, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Proof? Sure, how about 400 years of evangelism and doctrinal clarity? Or examples of preservation of Scripture within the very Scripture itself? Or perhaps the importance and distinction placed by God on not only His “Word” but His very “words?” Or clear commands that no man is to alter or change God's words? Should we not at the very least, trust in claims of what the Bible says about itself?
So, go ahead and place your trust in the scholarship of men who actually hated the very Book of Books they were “translating” (or more accurately “editing”). I would rather place my trust in the very item which enabled me to be born again – the incorruptible seed of the Word of God – and its very words.
"1 Corinthians 1:27-29, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."