Friday, December 13, 2013

The Authorized Version as God's Preserved Word

Textual criticism of the Bible has been making inroads in the evangelical world since Westcott and Hort wrote their New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881.  Prior to my alignment with reformed theology, I had no idea that this issue is very important to the believer.  It never occurred to me to think about why there were so many translations of the Bible, nor did I have enough knowledge to make an informed decision on which version to read and study.  I usually went along with the translation that my Pastor was using.  However, in the fall of 2011, I became aware of the need to study this issue more thoroughly and make a sound decision based on personal conviction.

In 'The Authorised Version: A Critical Assessment of Three Modern Versions' preached on November 12, 2011, Pastor G.R. Burrows makes a preliminary observation in his introduction that he is not claiming that the Authorized Version is perfect in every minute detail; he states that there are places where certain words or phrases could have been translated differently (for example the use of the word bishop, when elder may be preferred).  In addition, during in the exposition of the word of God, he says that the preacher might for clarification substitute one word for another to clarify its meaning to help the congregation understand.  He also admits that certain words in the text could have been translated more precisely.  But what he is claiming is that the Authorized Version is based on the most accurate, original text and is the most accurate and faithful translation available today.  My husband and I completely agree, which is why our family reads and studies the King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version (or the Authorised Version, if you are British).

From the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (LBCF), Chapter 1, paragraph 8 (emphasis mine):
"The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.  (Rom. 3:2; Isa. 8:20; Acts 15:15; John 5:39; 1 Cor. 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28; Col. 3:16)"
The on-going, and sometimes confusing, debate between the proponents (including Pastor Burrows above) of the Received Text (which underlies the King James Bible) and the proponents of the Critical Text (which underlies all modern translations) was succinctly summarized by Peairtach on 12/11/13 at the Puritan Board Forum website (NT=New Testament; MSS=manuscripts):
"I think the problem with Warfield and his ilk, from what I'm starting to understand, was that the "Received Text" was, through God's providential preserving of the text of the NT, publically [sic] well known and accepted in the Church, but Warfield et al, were willing to give a place for a different family or families of MSS, with significant differences, some of [sic] MSS which had, for instance, been recently recovered from a waste-paper basket on St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai.

By doing this Warfield wasn't treating the Received Text in a biblical way, as his approach and that of modern textual criticism, theoretically means that the settled text of the Bible which God has supposed to have preserved among us - as we learn from Scripture's view of itself, which view we must start and end with in textual studies - can be opened up at any time by new discoveries, thus undermining our confidence in what we have.

Theoretically, according to modernist textual criticism, there might be a Bible out there in the sands, very different to our own, which may yet be much more representative of the autographs. But that wouldn't be God preseving [sic] the text among us, bit [sic] allowing important textual material to languish in a place where few or none of God's people had access to it - which is incompatible with its preservation and perseverance among us."
Detracting from this textual debate are the adherents of the "KJV Only" crowd who, among other claims, insist that the King James Bible is an inspired translation.  This view is not consistent with the 1689 LBCF as seen above.  Therefore, we Christians who stand with the King James Bible as God's preserved Word for His church, not only stand against those who accept the modern translations as God's Word, but also those who attribute divine inspiration in the translation of the King James Bible.  Satan has skillfully introduced many distractions to deceive and divide the Church, (Eph. 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8).

I find it quite ironic that outspoken proponents of the Critical Text will accept many modern translations as God's Word, such as the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, the New King James Version, and even the King James Bible, even though these Bibles are substantially different in many places.  But then they will criticize other versions, such as The Message or The Voice because they are translated using dynamic equivalence rather than formal equivalence; and therefore, they claim that these translations are not true to the text, so these Bibles should not be considered God's Word.  On what basis can they make that judgment?  Once you've allowed for man to determine what God's Word is or isn't, how can you exclude any man from exercising that right? 

"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," (Psalm 12:6-7).