April 3, 1996
Dear Brother Morton,
Thank you for taking time to read my letter and the sample pages from my manuscript and for taking time to write back. I do not think that I have all the answers on the Bible translation issue. I am still studying the issue and am willing to consider all the evidence. I am glad that you seem wlling to discuss the issue with me.
In spite of what the title page of the KJV says, the KJV translators themselves in their preface to the 1611 clearly stated that they were not making a new translation, but that they were making an old one better. As the rules given by King James indicate including the one you quoted the KJV translators were supposed to follow the text of the Bishops Bible and after it only as God's Word in the original languages required. Most KJV-only advocates I have read admit that 90% of the KJV New Testament comes directly or indirectly from Tyndale. It was perhaps these rules made by the head of their state church (King James) Which prevented the translators from following the Hebrew and Greek in all cases. Regardless of the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek, the KJV translators were commanded by a king who had had believers burned that they must keep words such as "church" and "baptism" in their text.
One writer who defends the KJV as the best translation asked.' 'If the supposed promises of God to preserve his Word in perfection secure to us a perfect version in English, why did those same promises fail to secure any such perfect version before the year 1611?... If the promises of God did not secure a perfect version in English before 1611, who can say that they do secure a perfect version after 1611?" "If William Tyndale's Netw Testament may be the Word of God. though less than perfect, and less than absolutely authoritative--if the same may be true of Coverdale's Bible, of the Great Bible, of the Geneva Bible, and of the Bishops' Bible--then the same may be true also of the Latin Vulgate and of the Septuagint, and the same may be true of the King James Version.' You admit that the original KJV of 1611 was not perfect and inerrant and that it underwent a process of polishing or correcting until 1769. After this process of correction for 158 years which resulted in our present editions of the KJV, you now claim that this 'final edition' is not subject to correction. On what Scriptural basis, did you determine that the 1769 edition is the inerrant, inspired one? Your final authority is not in God's Word, but your final authority in effect is you or the men who give us their ex cathedra statement as to which translaton and edition of that translation is the genuine, inerrant one. Are you claiming in your book that the word of God had errors in it until 1769? You have built your view on an unbalanced and overemphasized man-made tradition concerning preservation.
You accuse me of having a 'critical, humanistic mentality.' In all your reasoning and response, you do not quote any Scripture which teaches that believers must use only one translation--the KJV. God's Word in the original languages and in translations does not give a KJV-only command. If you will prove your KJV-only view from the overall teaching of God's Word, I will accept it. A Scriptural view of Bible translation will be consistent with all the doctrines of God's Word. A Scriptural view of translation will use the same standard to evaluate all translations instead of a man-made pronouncement that one translation is the standard.
God revealed His Word to the apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3.6) and not to the KJV translators in 1611. God's Word is clear that there can be no inspired works without living apostles or prophets (2 Pet. 1:20-21, Eph. 3:5, Heb. 1:1-2, Luke 1:70). No believer since the death of John (A. D. 100 or earlier) has had the office of apostle or prophet. Apostles had to have seen Christ and be eyewitnesses of what they testified (John 15:27, Acts 1:21-22,1 Cor. 9.1,1 John 1:1). No more revelation and inspired Scripture have been given since the death of the Apostle John (Rev. 22:13). God's Word was complete in the originals, and thus it lacked absolutely nothing to be added by any translators. After God's Word uas complete, no further inspired, infallible communications can be claimed for any believer, including the KJV translators.
A Scriptural view of translation will not imply that the translating of God's Word involves a second inspiration or additional revelation. Translation of God's Word would come under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The guiding or illuminating of the Holy Spirit, which is available to every believer, does not make believers infallible. To claim that the action of the fallible and uninspired KJV translators in translating the KJV was free from all the effects of sin and any possibility of error without any act of divine inspiration would be in effect to contradict the Scriptural doctrine of the depravity of all men. Nothing short of divine inspiration or a divine miracle uould be sufficient to prevent the KJV translators from making any errors in translation Did the guiding, directing, and illuminating of the Holy Spirit make William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, or the Geneva Bible translators perfect in their translating? God made translators different from each other (1 Cor. 4:7). The knowledge of all uninspired translators is partial, incomplete, and imperfect (1 Cor. 13:12). God's Word is the only complete and final authorIty for the believer, and the Church of England translators of the KJV do not act as mediators and expert interpreters betueen the believer and God (1 Tim. 2:5, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27). It is clearly unscriptural for KJV-only advocates to interpose the KJV translators betueen God and believers and to forbid believers the right to read and interpret the Scriptures in the original languages or in the translation he believes most accurately translates them (1 Tim. 2:5. John 16:13, Rom. 14:12-13, Deut. 12:32). The faithful believer must examine, judge, and decide for himself concerning the issue of Bible translation as he must every other doctrine (John 5:39.1 Thess. 5:21,Acts 17:11).
It is undeniably true that God's preserved Word in the original languages must govern the translation since the translation cannot govern what it was transiated from. The very word 'translation' by definition indicates its need of a source or sources to translate. Of what is it a translation? A correct analytic statement is true by virtue of the meanings of its terms. It is logically and Scripturally impossible for a translation to be the ultimate authority beyond which there is no other. A translation cannot be an exact duplicate of the originals; otherwise, by definition it is not a translation. A translation is not independent and underived since a translaton depends on its underlying texts for its authority. The underlying texts must have greater authority than the translation. If a translation is made to have greater authority than its underlying texts, the translators become the final authority. A KJV-only view depends on a 'Thus saith the KJV translators' instead of a 'Thus saith the Lord.' An accurate translation may be used as an authority.. but not as the final and highest authority. Any accurate translation must remain connected with God's Word in the original languages as a branch to the true vine. God's Word is not bound to only one translation (2 Tim. 2:9).
In brief, the above are some of my scriptural reasons for disagreeing uith the KJV-only view. You suggest that being logical is wrong; thus implying that God is illogical or irrational. Truth always is consistent. One truth cannot contradict other truth. However, a true doctrine can be overemphasized and taken to such an extreme that it is made to contradict other truths. By taking the doctrine of preservation to an extreme, the KJV-only view contradicts many other Scriptural doctrines such as the depravity of man, the priesthood of the believer, the sufficiency of God's Word in the original Languages, the liberty of the believer.. etc. I do not hold an 'all-or nothing' view of Bible translation. It is the KJV-view that demands an 'all-or-nothing' acceptance of the KJV alone. I was attempting to show how a consistent application of the 'all-or-nothing' claim would condemn some KJ\/-only claims. You wrote that 'God never intended for any 'elite group of Christians to have a monopoly on His word,' yet your view establishes a monopoly on God's Word for the KJV translators or for KJV-only advocates. You claimed that you were not going 'to emphasis the opinions of scholars on the way Greek and Hebrew words should be translated,' yet your view establishes the opinions of the KJV translators as the final authority. How is a man-made KJV-only tradition different from a Latin Vulgate-only tradition? No KJV-only command is given in God's Word. You are wrong to command what God has not commanded.
ln essence, the KJV-only view affirms that only one translation (the KJV) is inerrant and inspired. In every question the burden of proof lies on the side of the affirmative--in this case the KJV--only view. Any affirmation is of no authority without proof. 'Saying does not make it so." To assume that the KJV-only view is correct without proof would be an example of the fallacy of begging the question. Until logical and consistent Scriptural proof is given for the KJV-only view, it has no claim to reception by believers. You need to examine the sources of your own view since they are clearly not consistent uith the overall teachings of God's Word. Thank you for your consideration of these matters.
Dear brother Norris:
I have your recent letter before me. Since we have stated our position on the Bible in our book with dozens of Scripture references as a basis, our better judgment tells us extended answers to your letter would be futile. Nevertheless, we will answer one more time. You claim to have read our book, but from some of the charges and statements you make in your letter it seems you only read it piecemeal.
You claim the AV is not our final authority after we have repeatedly stated and demonstrated that it is. Call us a liar or deceived or misguided or whatever else you want (saying does not make it so), but the AV IS our final authority in all matters. Since we came to realize it was God's pure word and the Bible He wanted us to have we have been trying to conform to it instead of conforming it to us. We will not change one word of it to suit our opinion. Our position is clear, but you have yet to even state yours.
You have sent me two letters and eight pages of manuscript concerning the word of God and have not even identified what the your word of God is or where it can be found. You make free use of the terms "God's Word," "The Scriptures," etc., and never identify what you are referring to. You couldn't even answer the simple questions we referred you to in our last letter. What and where is your final authority? Where can I get a copy? But we already know the answer. You don't have any and can't produce any. You betrayed yourself in this regard when you said "...there can be no inspired works without living apostles or prophets." Well, the apostles are dead as are the prophets, and their autographs are gone, therefore there are no "inspired works" in existence. Surely you don't believe one should trust the copies made by "depraved" copyists do you? If translators must make mistakes surely "uninspired" copyists must too. Both are "depraved." As we have seen time and time again, human "logic" always leads to infidelity, and you are no exception. If you have an pure, inerrant Bible, produce it!
It amazes us how people who hold to the mentality you follow reason that the depravity of man is greater than God's promises (Num. 11:23). Of course, you won't say that, but your reasoning only leads to that conclusion. You insist "depraved," "uninspired" men cannot copy God's word without error or translate it without error even after God promised to preserve it in its purity. If so, even in the places where all the "Greek Texts" agree, no one can be sure they are without error because "depraved" men that make errors copied them. Not even the most fanatical five-point Hyper-Calvinists believe man's depravity is stronger than God's promises. God has promised to preserve His word pure and intact and the depravity of man will not hinder Him at all. The difference in our approaches is seen again. You emphasize man and his depravity while we emphasize God and his promises (Matt. 5:17-18). Call it "unbalanced" if you want, but we have a Bible. You appear empty-handed.
If one followed your reasoning, no one could be sure he even had the complete canon. Can you prove from Scripture the NT canon? How can you prove the early believers who determined it didn't make an error? Don't all Christians still have an old, "depraved" nature (Eph. 4:22; etc.)? Matters like this must be taken by faith; believing God is able to deliver what He has promised (Heb. 11:1). We believe the AV for much the same reason we believe the sixty-six book canon is complete. God, by the Holy Spirit, through believers, established, blessed and used both, and we must have PROOF before we will cast aside either. We are not the least concerned that "depraved" man hindered or corrupted God's promise.
You have, again, "logically" reasoned yourself into unbelief. If not, produce your authority. You have listed a few references in this letter, but what do they refer to? You have done nothing but attack the AV and claim it has errors, so they must not refer to it (or are you able to find all the errors?). You say no translation can be a final authority, so that excludes all of them. The original autographs don't exist, so they can't refer to them. All of the Greek copies came through "depraved" men who make errors, so they can't refer to them. What mysterious Bible do they refer to? I want a copy. Again, you have reasoned yourself into apostacy. You may make the often used but thoughtless claim that the word of God is found among all the available Greek manuscripts, but that is like saying it can be found among the words in a dictionary or the letters of the alphabet. Who is going to sort them out? All the "inspired" (your implied term, not ours. You claim the KJ translators were "uninspired") men are gone. The "priesthood of believers" can still err. Who can do it? God can and has done so. Again, you emphasize man's weakness while we God's strength.
In relation to this you make claims implying we believe the AV translators were "inspired." Hardly, we don't even believe the human authors of the autographs were "inspired." In fact, we don't even claim the AV or the autographs themselves are or were "inspired." And you say you read our book? How could you miss the section headed Were The Translators "Inspired"? You are building a "straw man" so you can tear him down. We use Bible terminology when referring to inspiration and insist all Scripture is "GIVEN by inspiration." The Bible doesn't claim inspiration for anyone or anything but God (Job 32:8)! 2 Tim. 3:15-16 doesn't say Scripture is "inspired," it SAYS it is "given by inspiration" (God-breathed). There is a difference. You are using terminology the Bible doesn't use to define things in a way the Bible doesn't define them. Neither Moses, David, Paul, or John were "inspired" at any time (if so, prove it), but God did choose to give His words through them "by inspiration." God was able to do this in spite of their "depraved" state, but you insist He cannot use anyone to preserve the same. No "inspiration" of man is needed; no "impeccability" is required. All that is needed is God! He can use whatever instrument He wants.
God wasn't hindered by using murderers, adulterers, liars, and deniers in giving His word, and He is not hindered in using the like to preserve it if He wishes. He prophesied through lost kings (Cyrus, Ezra 1:1), lost Pharisees (Caiaphas, John 11:49-52), and even animals (Balaam's ass, Num. 22:28-30) without any problem. He can even speak through stones if He wishes (Luke 19:40). You are alone in insisting on "inspiration" of the persons God uses to produce the autographs of His word and preserve it. It sure isn't us or the Scriptures.
You say we admitted the AV had errors until 1769. We only admitted to typographical errors, however. We also stated that modern printings of the AV have some typos also. In fact the Bible we presently use has some in it (Thomas Nelson). We found them by reading it. Larry Pierce, who created the Online Bible software, says his research has found that all currently printed KJ Bibles have typos except one model by Cambridge. He insists the next closest has around one hundred misprints! He also claims that version 6 and later of his program is identical to the 1769 edition. And as found in our book (I guess you missed it), the American Bible Society in 1852 says the 1769 edition is identical to the 1611 autograph submitted by the translators. God apparently has no problem with these very minor typos (usually spelling and punctuation errors). He blessed and promoted all the different editions and printings in spite of them. But, obviously, you do have a problem with them. Since God has purposely destroyed your final authority with the autographs, you see nothing but problems.
However, how do you know the autographs didn't have typos in them? Chapter and verse? Paul didn't write the book of Romans, Tertius did (Rom. 16:22). How do you know he didn't make a mistake? Was he "inspired." How about the verse he authored (16:22)? Paul didn't speak it. Is it Scripture? Tertius was neither an "apostle" or "prophet." 2 Peter 1:21 says "...holy men of God SPAKE...," often someone else wrote it down (Jer. 36:32). Can you prove they always wrote it down correctly? What about Peter's "bad grammar" in his epistles? Scholars say his grammar is much inferior to Luke's. Is errors in grammar "inspired"? You have plenty of obstacles to overcome with "logic." Isn't it easier to trust God?
Furthermore, every reference to "scripture(s)" in the Bible is to a copy, not an autograph, so how can you prove these copies called "scripture" didn't have typos in them? Were the copyists "inspired"? See the mess human reasoning apart from faith in God's word will get one into? As we said in our last letter, preserving His word is God's business. He is the one who promised to do it and He can do it in any way He sees fit. You see problems where God doesn't.
On page two you ask the worn-out question often used by John R. Rice and others asking us to show you in Scripture where God says to use only the KJV You ask that knowing that the KJV is not mentioned by name in the Scriptures and that no answer given will satisfy you. You say as much in the next paragraph and on page three ("No KJV-only command is given in God's Word"). This is the epitome of a rhetorical question: given for dramatic effect instead of an answer. The Jehovah's Witnesses use the same method when they ask a believer to prove the Trinity. They know "trinity is not found in the Bible and that no possible answer will satisfy them. We don't believe the KJV is the ONLY Bible anyway. But you know that already, you apparently just like to be melodramatic.
In relation to this, you ignored our three reasonable questions. They deal with final authority. Only those who have a final authority can answer them without "losing face." But if you don't like reasonable questions, we'll give you a rhetorical one like yours. If you can prove to us from the Scriptures that only the original autographs were "inspired" (we'll make it easier, "given by inspiration") or that only the original languages can fully convey God's word, we will accept your position an spend the rest of our life stumbling around without a final authority to guide us. As we mentioned above and document in our book, the passage Bible correctors use to prove "inspiration" (2 Tim. 3:16) doesn't mention the original autographs at all. The "scriptures" in the context are copies (vs 15). The autographs are the word of God not because they are autographs, but because they are SCRIPTURE! They are no more "valuable" and should be no more "esteemed" than a copy. We mentioned and documented all of this in our book, but you must have missed it. Maybe the pages were stuck together.
In our book we made scores of references to Scripture as a basis for our arguments. We listed fifteen passages dealing with preservation; you reply only with logic ("Until logical and consistent...") We gave seven passages showing methods God used to preserve His word; you answer only with opinion ("It is undeniably true..."). We give two detailed biblical accounts of Scripture preservation, and you answer with only rhetoric ("To claim that the action ). We document three Scriptural accounts where a translation was "given by inspiration;" you answer with only reasoning ("A translation cannot be ). We list three passages that use forms of the word "translate" and show how something translated can be superior to the original state; you answer only with bias ("It is logically and Scripturally [none given] impossible...,"). We show six major places where the AV exalts the deity of Christ while the new "Bibles" detract from it; you answer with nothing. Christ is the center of God's Trinity, redemption, program, and word, so how any book called a Bible treats Him is paramount (Matt. 17:5).
You have not given one relevant verse of Scripture to refute any of the arguments we presented in our book. Neither have you presented any relevant verses as a foundation for your position as it is different from ours. You said your letter contained "Scriptural" reasons for disagreeing with the "KJV-only" view yet you list no references on page one and only one on page three where all of your reasoning is found claiming translations must be inferior. You expect us to cast aside our inerrant Bible because of your "logic"? Where did we ever say the word of God is "bound" to one translation, anyway? Some may say that, but we didn't.
We checked your few references on page two and some of them we agree with. In fact some of them even better support our position than yours. We agree apostles were witnesses of Christ, the canon ended with Revelation, and saints have a responsibility to "prove all things" (prove them against what, though? Theirs or somebody else's preference or opinion? The Jews had the Scriptures as did the Bereans and the Thessalonians to prove by), but others are stretched. Your references on "God's Word.. living apostles or prophets" say nothing about "inspired works" or that Scripture is limited to the originals or "living apostles." You say God made translators different from each other. Sure, so weren't the apostles and prophets different from each other. Your reference includes Paul. You say translators knowledge is "partial." Of course, but the verse you refer to says Paul's knowledge was "in part," and he was speaking Scripture when he said it! These verses help us. We don't believe Paul was ever "inspired." What you say about the translators can be said about any saint in the Bible.
You misrepresent Bible believers by saying we forbid believers the right to believe any other version. Where did we say such a thing? We believe in freedom for believers to print, publish, translate or read any form of "Bible" they want. If one wants to trust the NIV, NASV, or NWT that his business. We believe publishers should be free to print all the new translations they want. They will fade away after a few years as the RV, ASV, and RSV nearly have anyway. As long as they allow us the same freedom, we have no problem.
In the same paragraph, however, you say each believer must determine for himself concerning the Bible and translation issue, yet you criticize us on page one for doing just that and claim we are following men who speak "ex cathedra!" Inconsistent. Contradictory. Who are these men, anyway? We have never found where any of the popes endorsed the AV. Could it be that you will allow someone to "prefer" a Greek text or translation as long as they don't think it inerrant? But if they trust one as inerrant and pure they instantly become "unbalanced and overemphasize man-made tradition"? If so, who is forbidding who?
Your tendency to misquote and misrepresent us is seen again in the second paragraph of page 3. You say we said God was illogical. We believe any rational person could read our letter and understand what we meant. We believe you understand too, you just like to twist words for effect. But in case you didn't, God's methods are impeccable, immutable, and perfectly logical and reasonable according to His nature (Num. 23:19; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 6:17-18; etc.). It is man's logic that is often flawed (Isa. 1:18; Jer. 17:5), thus to man God's methods are often "illogical" (see the entire book of Job). We gave you two references to this affect and could have given dozens more (beginning with Eve's threefold reasoning to eat of the tree, Gen. 3:6), but you don't want to discuss verses. You just want to "reason." All of your logic and reasoning about translations is nothing new to us. We dealt with these matters years ago and settled on the AV and have not had a second thought and have no "mental reservations."
You say truth is always consistent. True, but consistent to who? It's not always consistent to man (we showed you how Peter rejected the truth of the crucifixion). Furthermore, where can truth be found and how will one know it when he sees it? You haven't even revealed what or where your truth is. On what basis do you determine truth from error in the AV, in any other translation, or in any Greek text? What happens when someone else in the "priesthood of believers" thinks different? Who has truth and who error? These are the real issues and you haven't touched them. Our truth in found complete and inerrant in the AV (Jn. 7:17, 17:17).
Concerning AV believers having a monopoly on God's word, we are getting weary of your outrageous claims. Monopoly is defined as having "exclusive control of a commodity." Bible believers don't even have control over the AV let alone other translations of God's word. Anyone can read, quote, print, publish, or sell a KJ Bible without consulting anybody! What kind of monopoly is that? But we understand you are, again, trying to put words in our mouth by implying we believe God's word is only found in the AV. Another "straw man."
If the pure, inerrant final authority could only be found in the original (now dead) languages as you claim, then only a handful of "scholars" (two or three years of Greek in college does NOT a scholar make) would have access to it (and they wouldn't agree on it, they don't agree anyway). All the world would be without God's word unless these people were willing to "mediate" His word to them, and when they did, they would insist that even their translation could not possibly be the final authority or convey God's word in its fullest and purest sense. There would be a true monopoly. Only these "elite" could really have God's word.
We take the position of Edward Hills (quoted in our book) in that since God has used, blessed, and promoted the AV more than any other Bible in history (including the autographs), it must have His "stamp of approval" as His inerrant word in English and is thus innocent until PROVEN guilty. (As we said, this is much the same way we know we have the correct, complete canon.) It is the standard English Bible unless conclusively proven otherwise, so we are not going to waste time in endless discussion of opinions critical to it unless the critic can prove error. No one from your camp has proven one yet, and they have had 385 years to try. Their dilemma is they have no Bible of their own as their final authority to prove error by. Why? Because God purposely destroyed their idols (autographs) like the brasen serpent (2 Ki. 18:4), and even with them gone they still seek after them! And if they did find one, how would they it know it was an autograph? No doubt they would "correct" it with opinion too.
Sure, the "Scholars" cry and protest and say, "This word should be..." etc., but they can't prove that it can't be as found in the AV. Talk and opinion are cheap; proof is something else. No two "scholars" agree on text or translation anyway, so we were not going to clutter our book with such opinionated, empty words.
A couple more things and we'll quit. First (this may surprise you), there is no reason God couldn't slightly revise the AV if He desired. Not to correct any supposed errors (He has been satisfied with it for nearly four centuries), but to update some of the older words to their modern equal (precede for "prevent," etc.). The meanings would not be changed. These changes would be so slight and rare, however, that putting them in the margins would do just as well. But still, He could do it if He wanted. We realize that all of the modern versions lusting to replace the AV claim to do this, but they don't do it without changing the text. Therefore, they are rejected.
Finally, we will close as we closed our book. If we are wrong on our position on the AV then we are guilty of believing the Bible God has used, blessed, promoted, provided, and saved us by too much. However, if we are right and the KJB is the inerrant word of God in English, then all those who reject it as such are guilty of apostacy, rebellion, and unbelief. We believe the former is a much more prudent and safer position. We believe God is able to give us the very words He wants us to have as He wants us to have them, and we are convinced these words are found in their entirety and purity in the Authorized King James Bible of 1611. If you disagree, fine, but remember, no autograph-only command is given in God's word. Also, no original language-only command is given in God's word. You are wrong to command what God has not commanded. We hope you will find that faith in a tangible Bible will serve one better than "logic."
By the way, thank you for purchasing our book.
It has done better than expected. We have had to run a second printing.