What’s The Big Deal with Sam Gipp?

On August 7, 2013, I added Gipp’s fourth video, in which he demonstrates ignorance of the English language. Among other misinformation, he says we do not spell trafficked with a k and that the word is spelled in an “archaic” way. This is in fact the only way this way could be spelled. From his presentation, it is apparent that “Dr. Gipp” does not even understand the meaning of the term archaic

We have no need of the originals, even if they were available. (“The Answer Book”)

This is Sam Gipp’s statement about the non-necessity of the original texts of the Scriptures. He openly admits that the King James Version of the Bible has replaced the original texts (and does so with a very poor, allegorical exegesis of Jeremiah 36). This kind of teaching is dangerous. It parades around with a thin veneer of academic respectability.

Over the past eight months or so, Sam Gipp has released three well produced videos supported the King James Version Only position. These videos, available on their own website have been circulating all over the internet.

I have to be honest. When the videos first came out, I had no idea who Sam Gipp was. He runs in camps that I was never a part of, even when I was King James Only. As I have learned more about him, there have been some serious questions that have come to mind.

Sam Gipp’s Questionable Ethics

On the surface, Gipp appears to be a well-intentioned man who just wants people to have the “perfect Word of God”; but underlying most of his argumentation is a distrust of anything or anyone who disagrees with him that manifests in a kind of academic bait and switch. He intentionally oversimplifies things, creating false dichotomies in which only his position has the “right answer.”

What’s more, the staged and often stiff questions presented to him by his interlocutors create straw man arguments for him to demolish. Particularly, his anti-everybody else position becomes evident at the end of his third video. He challenges his listeners and essentially states that if you use any version of the Bible other than the KJV, including Greek and Hebrew, then you are in danger of heresy because you’re clearly just looking for reasons to doubt the Scriptures.

Gipp pulls this bait and switch over and over again, both in the videos and on his website. In his “Answer Book” section, Gipp deals with “If King James did not authorize the Bible for use in churches, who was it translated for?”

Ignoring the fact that Gipp does not acknowledge the rich heritage of translations from which the King James Version was revised and acts like it appeared in a vacuum devoid of accurate English translations, Gipp’s logic works something like this:

  • The Bible belongs in the hands of the common man.
  • The Roman Catholic Church does not want the Bible in the common man’s hands.

(Both are true statements, as far as they go.)

  • The Roman Catholics did not translate the King James Version.
  • The modern versions keep people from knowing God’s Word.
  • The Roman Catholics are using modern versions to brainwash the common man.

Subtly, Gipp pulls the bait and switch. He conveniently ignores that the man behind the Greek text used for the KJV was Roman Catholic. He never mentions that the Anglican Church that produced the KJV was violently opposed to dissenters, like Puritans and Baptists. He never mentions that the Roman Catholic Church openly allows the use of the King James Version of the Bible, even if recommending you use a modern version.

(Incidentally, the Vatican recently held an exhibit of the Catholic roots of the King James Version. Check it out.)

If you watch the way Gipp argues in his videos, he does this constantly. Particularly, in the second video he uses the fact that modern versions are updated from time to time as an argument for trusting the KJV; but he does not acknowledge in any way that there have been several updates of the KJV text for spelling, grammar and word choice.

Sam Gipp’s Dualistic World

His three videos can be distilled to these three arguments:

  1. The KJV comes from the Antioch text. Other translations come from Egypt. Antioch=good. Egypt=bad.
  2. Modern translations cut things out of the KJV. They get updated. KJV=complete. Modern translations=edited.
  3. Using modern versions is looking for errors in the Bible. Only KJVO people don’t question the Bible. Acceptance=faith. Academic rigor=hatred of God’s Word.

Each argument is made in a bait and switch way. For example, in the first video he asks a series of questions about “What do you know about…?” He uses these questions to set a “principle” that anything coming from Egypt is evil and gnostic; and that anything coming from Antioch is good and healthy. He does this using proof texting and questionable hermeneutics.

James White does a great job of destroying these arguments in his response to Gipps’ video, so I won’t respond. I will just post the link.

While I don’t agree with James White on some minor things, I think he does a great job here of exposing the fallacies that Gipp presents.

The reality is that Sam Gipp has created a very Gnostic, neo-Platonic view of the world. While claiming that Gnosticism influenced the church in Egypt, Gipp is unaware that he has himself employed this world view. Since, in his mind, Egypt represents the world and sin, he has marked anything that comes out of Egypt as evil. It is corrupted and broken. Then he proceeds to label anything from Antioch as good and healthy. This is Gnosticism draped in pseudo-history.

A simple study of the Scriptures will refute this dualistic, Gnostic worldview.

And here lies another hint of Gipp’s unethical approach to the topic. While he claims that the Scriptures are for all men, he sets himself up as an authority on the interpretation of Scripture and has developed a scheme for presenting the Scriptures while withholding information through his method of oversimplification as well as bait and switch.

Sam Gipp’s Confusing Academic Situation

On his website, he gives his name as Evangelist Samuel C. Gipp, Th.D. There is very little information about Gipp’s degree, but from all indications, his Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) is an honorary degree from Pensacola Bible Institute, presented to him by Peter Ruckman.

This is a bit confusing since the Doctor of Theology is generally considered to be a research degree and not an honorary one. In most academic fields, it is considered roughly equivalent to a Doctor of Philosophy.

But this is what Gipp has written about honorary degrees, on his own website:

An honorary doctorate is just that. It is bestowed upon the recipient by some college or university as a way of honoring him or her for some outstanding merit, or service to that school. It must be remembered though that an honorary degree cannot bestow an “instant” expertise in the area named…Their opinion on Bible questions certainly wouldn’t outweigh the findings of an earned degree. Or even of someone who holds no degree but has thoroughly investigated all of the available evidence. (“The Answer Book”)

He also makes it quite clear that one does not need Bible college or advanced degrees, and that such things often detract from your understanding of the Scriptures:

A Bible college education seldom strengthens a student’s faith that the Bible is perfect. (“The Answer Book”)

There is a strange irony then that the first of Gipp’s “What’s the Big Deal About the KJV?” videos shows him in a clearly academic setting. Bible college is apparently acceptable if it is 1) taught by someone with an honorary Th.D. and 2) presents the KJV as the only authoritative version of the Scriptures. Otherwise, you should not trust it and you don’t need it.

Fight the Ignorance!

Don’t listen to Sam Gipp and receive what he says passively like his sock puppet listeners do in the videos he is making. He is presenting textual, historical and doctrinal errors. He is teaching a false dichotomy and painting a very complex issue with broad brushes to cast his own position as authoritative and any other position as sinful and evil.

I have no doubt that Sam Gipp believes he is right. He accepts his own oversimplified view of the world and believes in his “research” and his own credentials.

But he is wrong – on many fronts; and he is using deceptive, manipulative practices to make himself look correct.

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A Clear Exposition of Psalm 12 as a Whole

1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth;
For the faithful fail from among the children of men.
2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour:
With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips,
And the tongue that speaketh proud things:
4 Who have said, “With our tongue will we prevail;
Our lips are our own: who is lord over us?”

5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now will I arise,” saith the Lord;
“I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words:
As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord,
Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
8 The wicked walk on every side,
When the vilest men are exalted. (Psalm 12, KJV)

Why do an exegesis of this Psalm?

The King James Version Only camp loves to quote verses 6-7 of this chapter as a proof text for their position. Despite the fact that countless commentaries and even the marginal notes of the translational ancestors of the KJV like the Geneva Bible contradict them, KJVO believers insist that the “them” in verse 7 is “the words of the LORD” in verse 6 and that this indicates the need for, as one pundit puts it, “a 100% pure version of the Bible.”

This passage has been cited this way so many times in various forums, that it led me to do an expositional study of the passage. My hope and prayer is that by understanding these verses in their proper (and immediate) context, our brothers and sisters will be encouraged by the content of the psalm rather than continuing to apply a poor hermeneutic to it.

The Structure of the Psalm

The psalm is composed of four distinct sections or stanzas.

1. The call for assistance (1-2)
2. Accusation against the wicked (3-4)
3. YHWH’s response (5-6)
4. Response to YHWH (7-8)

The Call for Assistance (1–2)

Clearly, the psalm is meant to reflect a period of oppression or attack. The author, traditionally King David, is really struggling. He declares that he is on the verge of collapse. (Ceaseth is Hebrew גמר. See perfect in Psalm 138:8.) This is a personal feeling but it is also felt in the entire faith community. Both “the godly man” and “the faithful” (plural) are under duress.

The particular issue in view appears to be lies and false witness against the people of God. Vanity (שוא) implies emptiness. The imagery also seems to indicate manipulation of others through flattery (חלק) and deceit.

The Accusation Against the Wicked (3-4)

The prideful attitude of these accusers becomes clear. The psalmist quotes their bravado and empty words of self-confidence before YHWH. They proclaim that they will overcome and bow to no authority but themselves (v 4).

YHWH’s Response (5-6)

This blasphemy of self-worship frames YHWH’s response. The psalmist picks up the motif of the poor and oppressed crying out. This motif looks back as far as Abel’s innocent blood (Genesis 4), mingling it with imagery that appears in the opening of Exodus and is repeated in Judges.

YHWH hears the cries of those these self-worshipers are destroying, and he says, “I will arise.” This concept is picked up by the prophets Isaiah (14:22) and Amos (7:9).

Because the psalmist attributes this statement to YHWH himself, we have every reason to believe this declaration is meant to be taken as a declaration of YHWH’s will, and as mentioned before, it conforms with his character as demonstrated in both Genesis and Exodus.

God himself is speaking, and His words are actions. This is a statement of great importance. It is a response to prayer, and a declaration of action from YHWH himself.

It is immediately on the heels of this declaration that the psalmist declares, “The words of the Lord are pure words: As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Response to YHWH (7-8)

Notice that there is an immediate shift in the object of the Psalmist’s words. He now speaks directly back to YHWH. Verse 6 is not a direct address to YHWH, but rather an affirmation of the words spoken by YHWH. In liturgical use, verse 6 may have been a refrain that was meant for the assembled believers to recite. (It is important to remember that the psalms were meant for public recitation by the faith community, not personal reading.)

But verse 7 addresses YHWH directly. It is a response to YHWH’s declaration in verse 5. The psalmist responds to YHWH in thanks that he will preserve and keep. But what will he preserve and keep? It is the “godly man” and “the faithful” in verse 1. The psalm is not a declaration of the Word. It is a call for help, a prayer for intervention. And YHWH answered the Psalmist’s prayer.

And if it weren’t completely clear, the statement is immediately followed by a clarifying statement in verse 8 addressing the justice to be dispensed against the wicked. These wicked people surround the “them” of verse 7. This again looks back to verse 1.

Conclusions

A clear, simple reading of this psalm as a liturgical song of prayer and divine response indicates that this passage is misread when one applies the affirmation of verse 7 to the statement of verse 6. Verse 6 is a communal affirmation while verse 7 is the answer of prayer.

This passage makes no guarantee of a “100%” preservation of the Scriptures as “the words of the Lord” which requires a single translation of the texts.

It does, however, encourage those who are facing opposition, persecution and false witness that YHWH does not abandon his people and he will “arise”.

A Critique of Thomas Holland’s View of the Last Six Verses in Revelation

I recently noticed that the Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism chose to address the writings of an influential King James Only proponent: Thomas Holland. Holland represents the best kind of King James Onlyism, from what I have heard of him. He is honest and deals with the evidence at hand – or at least tries to. At the end of the day, he sticks with his guiding principles and faith in the perfect preservation of all of God’s words, no matter what the evidence. But his writing style is more helpful than many of the KJV proponents I have read.

The journal article focuses on Holland’s explanation of the last six verses of Revelation and his valiant attempt to explain away the consensus that Erasmus translated these verses from the Latin into Greek (for his N.T. edition), since he had no Greek manuscripts that covered that portion of Revelation.

Jan Krans, whose written a book on how Erasmus and Beza handled their translation work, takes Holland to task for what amounts, ultimately, to poor scholarship. Here is the abstract for his paper:

With Thomas Holland’s lengthy discussion of a reading in Rev 22:19 as an example, this article shows how Holland’s way of doing New Testament textual criticism falls short on all academic standards. With respect to the main issue, Erasmus’ retranslation of the final verses of Revelation, Holland fails to properly find, address and evaluate both primary and secondary sources.

I was impressed by how carefully and fairly Krans treated Holland, even as he systematically dismantles his every argument. At the end of the day it is quite apparent that Erasmus did translate from the Latin into Greek resulting in several unique Greek readings in these few short verses.

Equally apprent is the fact that Holland engages in special pleading and circular reasoning in trying to explain away the obvious. He casts doubt upon this historical reality (and definite problem for the TR – since most of the errors remain in all copies of it) in any way he can. He throws suspicion on whether Erasmus really said he translated it from the Latin, then he says the translation job was really good, then he says actually Hoskier thinks that another manuscript was used by Erasmus. In each case, Holland is misreading his sources and misses the mark of the truth.

Like it or not, Erasmus translated from Latin into Greek. The only Greek copies which support his mistranslations were copied after the presence of his Greek NT, and were influenced by it. This fact is admitted by Hoskier and is the consensus of careful scholars. Anyone who claims the Textus Receptus is perfect, has to grapple with this fact. I would argue that we can’t just believe what we want to believe and turn a blind eye to history and textual evidence. We have to face them head on. Reading thisarticle will help in that process. And I’d recommend William Combs’ articles on this matter as well.

Here’s some more info on Krans:

Jan Krans, Ph.D. (2004) in Theology, is Lecturer of New Testament at VU University, Amsterdam. He is currently working on a comprehensive overview and evaluation of important conjectures on the Greek New Testament. He is the author of Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament (Brill, 2006) and also contributes to the the Amsterdam NT Weblog. His book is available online through archive.org.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8 by C.L. Bolt

This article isn’t brand new, but I believe it is a worthwhile contribution to our blog. I came across this essay as its author, C.L. Bolt, and I interacted on a mutual friend’s comment thread on Facebook. Mr. Bolt was happy to have me re-post it here. Be sure to check out his website, Choosing Hats, an excellent resource of presuppositional apologetics.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8

by C.L. BOLT on DECEMBER 31, 2010

The Comma Johanneum as a Textual Problem

Introduction

The phrase “Comma Johanneum” is the name given to a short clause of a sentence found in 1 John 5.7-8 which has become a famous problem in textual criticism. The word “comma” as it is used here just means a short clause of a sentence and “Johanneum” refers to the writings of the Apostle John.[i] The phrase “Comma Johanneum” thus refers to a short clause of a sentence (comma) which has some relevance to the writings of John (Johanneum). The Comma Johanneum can be found in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 1 John 5:7-8 (KJV)[ii]

Continue reading

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.

Answering John MacArthur on the Ending of Mark

Recently, Dr. John MacArthur finished preaching through the New Testament (after nearly forty years). His last sermon covered the biggest controversy in the world of textual criticism: the ending of the Gospel of Mark. Dr. MacArthur sided with the majority of careful Christian scholarship and defended the position that Mark ends his Gospel at vs. 8. In the sermon (available to watch on Youtube), he gives a brief survey of textual criticism, the various manuscript types, and the evidence for and against the ending of Mark.

As I listened to MacArthur’s sermon, I winced at his handling of the textual evidence. He painted the picture in rosy kind of way, making the evidence in favor of his position seem insurmountable. In reality, the picture is quite different from the reality, and this question is one that should not be decided so cavalierly. It isn’t black and white and a simple matter of going with the ancient manuscripts on this point. The issue is much more complex than that. At the end of the day, I think MacArthur takes the correct position (I could still be persuaded otherwise, however), but at the very least he should be more transparent with the evidence. I understand wanting to instill faith in the Scripture and wanting to help people have confidence in textual criticism. Bending the truth (at least in the way you present the evidence) doesn’t help, however.

Pastor James Snapp, who is a proponent of equitable eclecticism and has studied long and hard on the issues surrounding textual criticism, has answered John MacArthur in a series of three 13-14 minute YouTube video clips. James is a frequent commenter around here, and doesn’t always agree with every position that I personally have taken. But he is fair minded and tries to go where the evidence takes him. He does a good job marshalling the evidence for the inclusion of Mark 116:9-20 and explains numerous errors that Dr. MacArthur made in his sermon.

Not every error is equally damaging, and not all the evidence that Snapp presents is convincing. I walked away from Snapp’s series with more questions about this matter which I intend to research further, but I am not completely convinced that the majority of Christian scholarship is just completely duped on this point. Snapp doesn’t explain how the various alternate endings of Mark arose, and that is a matter to explore. Why would anyone chop off the ending of Mark and keep the rest of his Gospel? What’s so special about the ending?

Regardless, I wanted to make you aware of Snapp’s rebuttal and post his video clips below. Snapp is very fair and charitable toward Dr. MacArthur, and presents a perfect example of how to engage in a disagreement honorably and respectably.

Has anyone else seen some kind of response or additional elaboration from MacArthur’s church on this question? Or do any of our readers have additional thoughts to share on this matter? Please join the discussion in the comments below.

Logic, Reason, and the Scriptures

On his site, What Is Truth?, a KJV Only pundit presented a rather lopsided perspective on the King James Only position being “the only logical position to take on the English Bible today.” He made it very plain that any other position is inferior to his own. He continues, “Yes. Any other position is illogical.”

Since I have commented on his site but never had a comment approved (largely because he has been banned from this site for insulting other commenters as well as the authors), I thought it might be worthwhile to answer his logic here. I will provide his syllogism and then present the logical fallacies.

Here is his central thesis: One set of words in one set order is the Bible.

(Because he takes such great care to submit this exact word order, I must assume that he intended to write it this way even though it produces a syntactically odd phrasing.)

Without addressing any of the syllogisms he develops from the thesis, let’s ask some questions about this idea.

Is one set of words in one set order the Bible?

We must acknowledge that in order for this statement to be true, it must be ubiquitous. There must be one definitive, absolute order for the set of words. There can be no variation, no alternate readings.

There must be an absolute authority setting down the one set of words in one set order, and that would include the ways the books are put together into an anthology as well as which books to include and which not to include. It requires that someone make a definitive declaration about the one set of words in one set order.

This is not what we see in church history. It took quite a while for the churches to come to a consensus on the books of the New Testament. What’s more, for most of its history, the church relied on a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint) as its primary text rather than the original Hebrew. There are significant variations between this Greek version and the Hebrew originals. Which is the one set of words in one set order for the church?

Where is the one set of words in one set order?

Moreover, how does the English translation known as the King James Version represent this one set of words in one set order? Does the King James Version restore the one set of words in one set order? If so, then who knew the one set of words in one set order prior to the King James Version?

If it is not the KJV – if this one set of words in one set order is the Textus Receptus and the Masoretic text, then how did one know the order prior to the publishing of Erasmus and the other TR editions? The manuscripts they have include a number of variants (which are easily sorted for the most part), but there is not a single manuscript that IS the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus is a term for the printed editions composed from the manuscripts available.

Is the one set of words in one set order comprehensible?

Finally, if there is truly one set of words in one set order then it stands to reason that there must be one, absolute standard of understanding these words. The word set, which must be therefore divine and eternal, must be knowable in all ages. There must always be a set of knowledge for the words themselves.

But we find this is not true. The King James translators struggled with many of the words in Hebrew and Aramaic. The languages were dead for all intents and purposes, and the knowledge of the meaning of words was often difficult to decipher. Comparative studies and archaeology have helped us in the intervening centuries, but there are still many words in the original texts that we are not certain how to translate. Any translators will say this – even TR-only translators.

Conclusion

It simply does not make logical sense that God would preserve one set of words in one set order but then allow the meaning of those words to be lost.

It does not make logical sense that one set of words in one set order had to wait for the publication of the Textus Receptus or the restoration of the Hebrew Old Testament in order to be known.

It does not make logical sense that this one set of words in one set order exists in human experience.

What we have is transmitted, miraculously aligned manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. We have many translations in other languages, and multiple editions of those that appear in the original languages. We have a beautiful tapestry of manuscript tradition, woven by several millennia’s worth of believers who reverenced the Word of God. We have good manuscripts and bad ones; and we should reverence them all.

As you can see, logic relies heavily on the thesis. When you begin with a statement and take it as axiomatic, you can represent any position as if it is absolute. The core thesis presented can be demonstrated to be false, but when one does a deductive reasoning from the thesis without questioning it, the thesis appears to be true. As I hope I have demonstrated, this particular thesis is not nearly as absolute as it might first appear.

I don’t fault this pundit for his article or his logic. I believe his central thesis is faulty – but not because he is a bad person or wishes to mislead people. He has the core human right to believe as he does, and I understand that means he will be biased against those who do not accept his logic and ideals.

True objectivity is not as possible as our modernist fore-bearers believed it was.Logic is often faulty and biased because it is developed by humans. It is relative to the experience and beliefs we bring to it. It is a human tool which is used by humans for humans, and as such it falls short of the divine.

And that is only logical.