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

Leaving King James Onlyism Behind – Damien’s Story

exitI didn’t grow up with the King James Version, but I did have an inquisitive nature from a very early age. This would pay off later as I embraced the King James Version Only (KJVO) doctrine. The church I went to from a child used the New American Standard Bible (NASB) as its version of choice. I’d say the church was along the lines of a MacArthur type church: Baptistic, non-denominational, premillennial, Reformed, conservative music and dress, touching the IFB border, but without the ability to decide whether or not they were “in” because the Bible version thing alone had them ostracized (along with obvious other features). Though the pastor was an original member of the Majority Text society (which I found out much later), the Bible version was never an issue. I went to an IFB church as a teenager and was taught the KJVO perspective. Let me be sure to say that the people in this church did not jump down my throat with the issue. They were very charitable. I showed up to my first Bible study with my NASB, and was given a KJV in place of it (for unity’s sake). But as I continued to attend the church, I found that my Bible wasn’t really a Bible at all. I was so soon convinced of the issue that I threw away my copy of God’s Word and bought a King James.

Continue reading

Q & A: Text Families & the Majority of Greek MSS

In a recent forum post, I left a comment which could almost stand as its own post.  After first asking about the many hundreds of differences between Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (Aleph), someone provided the following question.

“Can we take all of the extant manuscripts from all the manuscript families, collect all the words that the majority agree, remove all the words where they differ, and arrive at one settled text? Has this already been done?”  It seems that W&H arbitrarily chose which words they wanted in their text – correct me if I’m wrong.

To which I replied with this answer.

Great questions. I agree some of the points of the other side sound plausible too. This is a sticky issue. I wish it was as simple as count em all, spit out the results, and publish the resulting supra-Majority text. The problem is we have to account for the readings from a geneological viewpoint, as the article Phil quoted from at the top of this here post makes clear.

Readings found in both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, when those 2 manuscripts disagree so often, are signficant. They point back in time to an original copy that spawned at least 2 different geneologies. Copy 1 we’ll call it, gave birth to 2a and 2b, these each gave birth to 3a and 3b, all the way down to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. In time each line became completely separate, so to see agreement in the great-great grandchildren of 2 different family lines, point to a single ancestor, and an early one at that.

Now for the Byzantine manuscripts, these were mostly all copied in one area, Byzantium. That area was the only place in the world where both the Bible texts used by scholars and pastors and the Bible versions used by the people in the pew where both in the same language: Greek. In other parts of the world, Greek was no longer spoken. So in Northern Africa, the texts were in Greek, but the common versions were in Latin or in Coptic, or in some other local language. Now it makes sense that if we wait long enough, pretty soon the numbers of Greek manuscripts (version-like and text-like) produced in Byzantium are going to be so many that they will become the majority of all Greek copies. Since the majority of the copies hail from one location, it is expected they will be of one basic textual variety. Now if we stand up and say “the majority of manuscripts support reading X”, are we really fairly representing the case? We are just proving that the Byzantine boys were awful busy. And those boys were Greek Orthodox church boys, too.

A reading supported in various locations, and in various time periods, and by texts from a variety of languages (Greek, and also the early version languages like Latin, Coptic, Syriac, etc.), and one that has attestation from texts which are quite old, is more likely to be the original reading, then one supported by one location, one language, and one time period (late).

Hope this helps some. So much can be said, and that adds to the confusion factor, immensely!

I hope this Q & A is helpful for those who will begin to read this new blog, where we hope to accumulate many blog posts on the KJV Only discussion.