Friday, July 31, 2009

King James Onlyism Interview (Initial points, part 2)

This is a continuation of the King James Only series. Part1 links here
Questions will be in purple answers in black. Headings in red, explanatory comments by CD-HOST in green

What is the King James Bible

What do we mean by King James Bible? Does the inerrant part of the bible include bracketing information like chapter titles and conclusions. For example the ending in 1611 for Hebrews, "Written to the Hebrewes, from Italy, by Timothie" is this inerrant, that is can I be sure that Timothy wrote Hebrews and did so from Italy?

By the King James Bible I simply mean the actual TEXT of the King James Bible is the complete, inspired, preserved, infallible and 100% true words of God. I do not defend the Prefatory remarks, though some of them are quite good.

What is the status of translator notes and other more literal readings within the KJV?

Sometimes they are of value and other times not. They are not inspired. The so called “more literal readings” are not always the best means of communicating or translating God’s words. ALL modern versions like the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, NKJV are far less literal than is the King James Bible, so it is a little silly to bring this up as some kind of objection to the accuracy or inerrancy of the King James Bible. It is the TEXT alone that we defend as the inspired and inerrant words of God. We believe God Himself guided the translators as to the correct TEXTS and meanings of those texts.

Is there a single King James which is inspired and inerrant or are there multiple ones? If a single 1611, 1769; Oxford, cambridge; with Apocrypha (pre 1826) or without (post 1826) etc...

Here you are confusing two very different things. One is the alleged “various revisions of the King James Bible” with “printing errors” and stylistic changes. There has never been a revision of the King James Bible. The real issue of the Printing Errors Ploy that the “No bible is the inerrant words of God” side brings up. You will find these objections addressed in the following article.

What is the status of the King James version Apocrypha?

Apocrypha never was the inspired words of God. The King James translators themselves did not consider them inspired. It is more than a little inconsistent and hypocritical for the modern versionists to even bring up this criticism. Why? See the following article about Why the 1611 KJB and other bible versions included the Apocrypha (article with additional information)

What is that status of the various Greek and Hebrew manuscripts (like the Bomberg Hebrew, Stephanus Textus Receptus...)note for reader the Bomberg, Stephanus, Clementine Vulgate and LXX were the main source text.

God guided the KJB translators to the best texts among all the variant readings out there. The KJB is the sovereign work of God in history.

Translation issues

When you say, “The Old Testament is based solely on the Hebrew Masoretic texts, in contrast to the NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman CSB and other modern versions that frequently reject the Hebrew readings. “ What exactly do you mean that the NASB is less literal then the KJV? It would seem to me that something like Jay Green's (MT/TR interlinear) is much more literal than the KJV on the same underlying texts?

I mean exactly what I said. The KJB is far more literal than the NASB and the others I mentioned, but again, a strict literalness is not always a good thing.

OK let example on that. Take a classic example like Isaiah 7:14. The Masoretic Text does not say "virgin" here, that comes from Matthew and the LXX. Why is it acceptable for the KJV to diverge from the Hebrew here?

Again, I disagree. Translating that Hebrew word as virgin is perfectly acceptable and even many Jewish translations have done so too.

I'm not familiar with any. I presume you meant in English and not Christian/Jewish. Can you name an Jewish translation which uses virgin?

These 3 online Jewish translations all have "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 and the clincher is the N.T. where the verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

Here is one online - BayithaMashiyach -- NASB with name changes
And another Jewish translation online - Word of Yah -- ASV with name changes
And another Jewish translation - House of Yahshua -- KJV with name changes

The word almah is only used 7 times in the Old Testament. It is translated 4 times as virgin in the KJB and 3 as maid. A maid or maiden was a young, unmarried virgin. See Exodus 2:8. The Hebrew Publishing Company 1936 Jewish translation has a "young woman" (who in Jewish culture were assumed to be virgins), but has translated the same word as "virgin" in Genesis 24:43 and in Song of Solomon 1:3 and 6:8.

I have one more question. The KJV was noted for replacing places in the Hebrew that are repetitive with variation. In other words the KJV translators altered structure of the Hebrew. You have been attacking modern versions for being too lose with the Hebrew. How would you respond?

Give some examples, and I will show you that the Jewish translators themselves do this very thing. However the nasb, niv, rsv, esv, Holman stuff clearly reject entire Hebrew readings. The KJB does not.

Genesis 32:20 and the repetition of face. The KJV notes themselves they are dropping the last face and breaking with the Hebrew; and while they don't say why it is pretty clear that you are allowed more repetition in Hebrew than in English.
20And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me*.
* = of me: Heb. my face

The literal "face" is redundant in this case since it has already been mentioned. ALL bible versions and translations do stuff like this. Even 3 Jewish versions like the Jewish Pub. Society 1917, the Complete Jewish Bible, and the Hebrew Pub. Company 1936 all read exactly like the KJB here. So too do the RV, ASV, NASB, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NKJV and Holman.

Arguments for the uniqueness of the KJV

When you say , “So is it OK for you to believe that there was no perfect Bible before 1611 but not for me to agree with you?” What's outlandish is the claim of particularity. That this particular bible is in some way so far uniquely better.

Well, it may well seem outlandish to you because you do not believe such a things exists as a complete, inspired and infallible Bible. To me it makes perfect sense since I understand God's words as teaching that He would preserve His words in a tangible Book. I believe in this Book; you do not.

The English bibles before the KJB were generally quite good. They were not the perfect words of God, but quite good. You do not need to have a complete and perfect bible to get saved or to learn many good things about God, Christ and the history of redemption. Those bibles contained much of God's words, but they were not perfect.

Does that apply to today's bibles? Are they pretty good but not ideal?

Yes, basically, but I believe the modern versions like the NASB, RSV, ESV, Holman and NKJV are actually getting worse in many ways rather than better than even versions like Coverdale, Tyndale, Geneva and Bishops' bibles.

Do you believe there were supernatural resources. If so what was the mechanism and purpose of their interaction?

Other than the hand of the sovereign God, No.

So to make it clear. Do you believe:
1) The translators for the KJV had assistance from God in their selection of alternatives?
2) The translators for the KJV had actual revelation?

Yes, God guided their selections. That is what I believe. God led them to both the correct texts and the correct translations of those texts. That is what I believe. You do not have to accept this.

Referring to the thesis, "The King James Bible as being the only complete, inspired and inerrant words of God in Bible form", what we do we mean exactly by "only"?

Good question. We do not mean that ONLY those who read the King James Bible are saved. God can and does use any bible version out there no matter how poorly translated or no matter how much is missing. The gospel of salvation through the shed blood of the Lamb of God is still found in them all and God can use them to bring His people to faith in the Saviour. God can use a simple bible tract, a good hymn, the NIV, NASB, RSV, any Catholic version, the Jehovah Witness version or the Cabbage Patch version is He wishes. The gospel is still found in them all. However that does not make them the complete and inerrant words of God. They are not.

You said in your essay, "The King James Bible alone is without proven error, and this in spite of intense opposition and criticism from the Bible correctors and modern scholarship". We may have to swing back to this but would constitute a proven error? As far as I can tell you are rejecting the authority of the Greek over the KJV. Even in theory how would one prove an error?

Some errors are easy to prove. Can God be deceived? The nasb says He was. That is an error.

You had written in your essay, "The King James Bible is always a true witness and never lies or perverts sound doctrine. This is in contrast to all modern English versions that do pervert sound doctrine in numerous verses and prove themselves to be false witnesses to the truth of God." I don't quite follow how you would know this one way or the other. You believe in scripture as the source of doctrine. So "sound doctrine" comes from scripture. In particular base text plus interpretation yields a collection of doctrines. Obviously a different base text could result in a collection of different doctrine, but I'm not sure how you can call one sound and the other unsound. To determine soundness you would need a judge over and above the base text (the bible). What is that judge?

I.E. let say I have
Bible 1 which leads to the doctrine that salvation is from eating duck food
Bible 2 which leads to the doctrine that salvation is from playing jacks

How do I determine whether bible 1 or bible 2 is more sound?

False doctrine is determined by the consistent teaching of the Bible itself. If something clearly contradicts other parts of the Bible, then it is false. Did you read the article? I gave several examples (link to article mentioned)

For an article showing that the true Historic Confessional position about the inerrancy of the Bible supports the King James Bible view, rather than the recent position of "the originals only". See: link

The confessions relate directly to the Bible and the words of God; not doctrines of the Catholic church.

Yes but why not? Why couldn't you apply the same spirit of argument more broadly?

You are the one trying to come up with an argument here that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. I'm strictly talking about what the words of God are, not what they might mean as interpreted by any number of different groups or organizations.

God has promised to preserve His wordS IN A BOOK here on this earth till heaven and earth pass away. He either did this and we can know where they are found today, or He lied and He lost some of them, and we can never be sure if what we are reading are the true words of God or not.


Link to part3 of this series. 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

reply to Ecclesial Deism

There is a discussion thread on Called to Communion entitled Ecclesial Deism where some blatantly false assertions about history are being made. Normally I'd reply there but that community is simply too rude to allow for conversation, if there is any desire for conversation I can enforce rules of discourse here.

Let me first quote the comment directed at a woman Joy which is repeated several times:


Thanks for your comments. If you think that the Church immediately fell into the ‘error’ of apostolic succession, then how does your position avoid ecclesial deism? Do you posit the continual existence of an unknown remnant, preserved for 1500 years, that didn’t believe in apostolic succession, but simply preserved the apostles’ doctrine, and then finally handed it on to Luther? Why wasn’t there some great controversy or debate, as the ‘heretical’ practice of apostolic succession universally swept over the Church in the first and second centuries, and swallowed up the original notion that ecclesial leadership was based entirely on agreement with the Apostles’ doctrine? Or do you posit that there was such a great controversy, and that the winners later blotted out all records of it from Church history? Or did the Apostles so poorly transmit to the churches their instructions regarding the basis for Church authority, that nobody made a peep as the ‘heresy’ of apostolic succession swept over the entire Church, because no one even realized that it was wrong?
Of course a great controversy is precisely what we do see in Church history. From the earliest writing we see attacks on the notion that the apostles are the source of doctrine and that authority should come from priests. A good example is the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, where Mary presents pages of the actual teachings of Jesus while Andrew and Peter (representing the Catholic church) reject the real teachings because they only accept the things the savior said to them. This theme gets developed even further in Pistis Sophia again apostolic succession rather than revelation is attacked as being contrary to the instruction of Jesus.

I'm going to make a short list of 10 documents that demonstrate this very war that is being claimed never occurred did in fact occur. There was a widespread attack in the early church on apostolic authority. I think I could likely do 50-100 and that is just from what survives.
  1. Gospel of Mary Magdalene -- discussed above
  2. Pistis Sophia -- Peter's rejectionism is expanded to the whole doctrine of hyclic, psychic and pneumatic Christians.
  3. Dialogue of the Savior -- likely authored about 120 where the Jesus himself attacks the notion of spiritual authorities of any sort.
  4. Mark where the apostles are constantly denigrated as being essentially idiots. They reject the savior as he dies. There is no appointment of the apostles.
  5. Gospel of the Ebonites somewhere between 140-200 rejects the supposed apostolic church (pre-Catholic Church) as being the church founded by the apostles is falsifying their bible.
  6. The Gospel of Thomas rejects that there are a distinguished group of people called "apostles" everyone is a disciple.
  7. In the Book of John the Baptizer is essentially a counter to Luke/Acts which builds the case for the construction of the church as John -> Jesus -> Peter -> Paul -> Church.
  8. The Great Declaration of Simon Magus argues that just as thought and soul are invisible the true church equally invisible, the visible church, apostolic church, is corrupted like the body.
  9. The Apocryphon of John argues against those who claim you need to follow their rites to be saved.
  10. The Sayings of Jesus (Sufi) attacks the apostolic church as a financial scam designed to rip people off by selling them a false message of Jesus.

The list should stand as the 10 that popped into my head immediately. But with the exception of the Gospel of Mary I missed the most important one:

Marcion, arguably the most influential early 2nd century Christian leader. He argued that none of the other apostles besides Paul had understood Jesus at all. He collected Paul's letters along with a Gospel into a single book (a primitive form of the New Testament) and this not the church was the ultimate authority.

Monday, July 27, 2009

King James Onlyism Interview (Introduction, part 1)

I have been a discussion with Will Kinney on King James Onlyism. Will runs a site, Brandplucked. I wasn't sure where this interview would end up going. It turned out there were 3 major areas of discussion:

1) The nature and definition of the bible
2) particular properties of the KJV
3) Why the vulgate doesn't meat the criteria for a complete inerrant bible and a historical timeline.

For those looking for more on this topic:

And with that I'll let Will Kinney open with a long introduction. Everything below this line is his (original Note everywhere he has a scriptural reference the mouse over will point to the NET, this is a blog wide setting I can't change for this series.

"The Bible is not the inspired and inerrant word of God"

Most Christians today do NOT believe The Bible IS the inerrant and infallible word of God.

This statement may seem shocking at first, and many pastors and Christians will give the knee-jerk reaction saying that they do believe the Bible IS the infallible word of God. However, upon further examimation, it will soon be discovered that when they speak of an inerrant Bible, they are not referring to something that actually exists anywhere on this earth. They are talking about a mystical Bible that exists only in their imaginations; and each person's particular version differs from all the others.

As one liberal theologian pointed out in his review of Harold Lindsell’s, The Battle for the Bible, the only real difference between the conservative and liberal positions on the Bible is that the conservatives say the Bible USED TO BE inspired and inerrant, whereas the liberal says it NEVER WAS inspired or inerrant. BOTH positions agree that the Bible IS NOT NOW inspired or inerrant.

As brother Daryl Coats so aptly says: "If the Bible was inspired only in the original manuscripts, no one in the entire history of the world has ever had an inspired Bible. The original autographs of Job and the books of Moses had disappeared more than a thousand years before the first book of the New Testament was written, so no one has ever owned a complete Bible made up of the “divine originals.” Nor, has anyone ever owned a complete New Testament made up of “inspired originals”, because the originals were distributed among more than a dozen individuals and local churches."

God said: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD." Amos 8:11

The Lord Jesus Christ also stated in Luke 18:8 "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"

The apostle Paul wrote concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, EXCEPT THERE COME A FALLING AWAY FIRST..." 2 Thessalonians 2:3

The number of professing Christians who do not believe in a "hold it in your hands and read" type of inspired Bible has steadily increased over the years since the flood of multiple-choice, conflicting and contradictory modern bible versions began to appear about 100 years ago.

The following testimonies about the character of Evangelicalism today were made by key Evangelical leaders. The irony is that these same men are part of the problem they lament. Each of these men has been guilty of endorsing modern bible versions.

"MORE AND MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS HISTORICALLY COMMITTED TO AN INFALLIBLE SCRIPTURE HAVE BEEN EMBRACING AND PROPAGATING THE VIEW THAT THE BIBLE HAS ERRORS IN IT. This movement away from the historic standpoint has been most noticeable among those often labeled neo-evangelicals. This change of position with respect to the infallibility of the Bible is widespread and has occurred in evangelical denominations, Christian colleges, theological seminaries, publishing houses, and learned societies" (Harold Lindsell, former vice-president and professor Fuller Theological Seminary and Editor Emeritus of Christianity Today, The Battle for the Bible, 1976, p. 20).

"WITHIN EVANGELICALISM THERE ARE A GROWING NUMBER WHO ARE MODIFYING THEIR VIEWS ON THE INERRANCY OF THE BIBLE SO THAT THE FULL AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE IS COMPLETELY UNDERCUT. But is happening in very subtle ways. Like the snow lying side-by-side on the ridge, the new views on biblical authority often seem at first glance not to be very far from what evangelicals, until just recently, have always believed. But also, like the snow lying side-by-side on the ridge, the new views when followed consistently end up a thousand miles apart. What may seem like a minor difference at first, in the end makes all the difference in the world ... compromising the full authority of Scripture eventually affects what it means to be a Christian theologically and how we live in the full spectrum of human life" (Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1983, p. 44).

The neutral method of Bible study leads to skepticism concerning the New Testament text. This was true long before the days of Westcott and Hort. As early is 1771 Griesbach wrote, "The New Testament abounds in more losses, additions, and interpolations, purposely introduced then any other book." Griesbach's outlook was shared by J. L. Hug, who in 1808 advanced the theory that in the second century the New Testament text had become deeply degenerate and corrupt and that all extant New Testament texts were but editorial revisions of this corrupted text.

As early as 1908 Rendel Harris declared that the New Testament text had not at all been settled but was "more than ever, and perhaps finally, unsettled." Two years later Conybeare gave it as his opinion that "the ultimate (New Testament) text, if there ever was one that deserves to be so called, is for ever irrecoverable."

H. Greeven (1960) also has acknowledged the uncertainty of the neutral method of New Testament textual criticism. "In general," he says, "the whole thing is limited to probability judgments; the original text of the New Testament, according to its nature, must be and remains a hypothesis."

Robert M. Grant (1963) adopts a still more despairing attitude. "The primary goal of New Testament textual study," he tells us, "remains the recovery of what the New Testament writers wrote. We have already suggested that to achieve this goal is well-nigh impossible." Grant also says: "It is generally recognized that the original text of the Bible cannot be recovered."

"...every textual critic knows that this similarity of text indicates, rather, that we have made little progress in textual theory since Westcott-Hort; that WE SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO MAKE A DEFINITIVE DETERMINATION AS TO WHAT THE BEST TEXT IS; that we do not have a clear picture of the transmission and alteration of the text in the first few centuries; and, accordingly, that the Westcott-Hort kind of text has maintained its dominant position largely by default" (Eldon Epp, "The Twentieth-Century Interlude in NT Textual Criticism," Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, p. 87).

"As New Testament textual criticism moves into the twenty-first century, it must shed whatever remains of its innocence, for nothing is simple anymore. Modernity may have led many to assume that a straightforward goal of reaching a single original text of the New Testament--or even a text as close as possible to that original--was achievable. Now, however, REALITY AND MATURITY REQUIRE THAT TEXTUAL CRITICISM FACE UNSETTLING FACTS, CHIEF AMONG THEM THAT THE TERM 'ORIGINAL' HAS EXPLODED INTO A COMPLEX AND HIGHLY UNMANAGEABLE MULTIVALENT ENTITY. Whatever tidy boundaries textual criticism may have presumed in the past have now been shattered, and its parameters have moved markedly not only to the rear and toward the front, but also sideways, as fresh dimensions of originality emerge from behind the variant readings and from other manuscript phenomena" (E. Jay Epps, "The Multivalence of the Term 'Original Text' In New Testament Textual Criticism," Harvard Theological Review, 1999, Vol. 92, No. 3, pp. 245-281; this article is based on a paper presented at the New Testament Textual Criticism Section, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida, November 1998).

George Barna, president of Barna Research Group, reported that a study exploring the religious beliefs of the 12 largest denominations in America highlights the downward theological drift that has taken place in Christian churches in recent years. The study found that an alarmingly high number of church members have beliefs that fall far short of orthodox Christianity. ONLY 41 PERCENT OF ALL ADULTS SURVEYED BELIEVED IN THE TOTAL ACCURACY OF THE BIBLE. Only 40 percent believed Christ was sinless, and only 27 percent believed Satan to be real.

Of the Baptists surveyed 57 percent said they believed that works are necessary in order to be saved, 45 percent believed Jesus was not sinless, 44 percent did not believe that the Bible is totally accurate, and 66 percent did not believe Satan to be a real being. Barna said, "The Christian body in America is immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy."

Pastor Michael Youseff's Message on His "Leading The Way" program. The title of todays message was "The Bible, The World's Most Relevant Book - Part 2. In his message he gave statistics of a poll that was conducted. Here is what the poll revealed:

85% of students at America's largest Evangelical Seminary don't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.

74% of the Clergy in America no longer believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.

What Christians really believe

A book by George A. Marsden, "Reforming Fundamentalism" quotes a survey of student belief at one of the largest Evangelical seminaries in the US. The poll indicated that 85% of the students "do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture."

This book also lists the results of a poll conducted by Jeffery Hadden in 1987 of 10,000 American clergy. They were asked whether they believed that the Scriptures are the inspired and inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters:

95% of Episcopalians,

87% of Methodists,

82% of Presbyterians,

77% of American Lutherans, and

67% of American Baptists said "No."

The Barna Research Group reported in 1996 that among American adults generally: 58% believe that the Bible is "totally accurate in all its teachings"; 45% believe that the Bible is "absolutely accurate and everything in it can be taken literally."

"Support dropped between that poll and another taken in 2001. Barna reported in 2001 that: 41% of adults strongly agrees that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches."

"Seminary students, future pastors and leaders in the church, show very little support for the inerrancy of the Bible position. What does that foretell about the future of the church? Undoubtedly, just as the poll results show in the 1996 - 2001 time frame, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE BELIEVING THE BIBLE IS INERRANT WILL DROP."

No Absolute Truth

The explosion of modern versions has encouraged the student to pick and choose his own preferred readings and has created a tendency to treat every Bible lightly and to look upon none as the final words of God.

Sam Kobia, Secretary, World Council of Churches, ENI 1-23-04:"Having a variety of translations available encourages the Bible to be read in a plural and ecumenical way. HAVING A VARIETY OF TRANSLATIONS AVAILABLE IS A PRECIOUS TOOL IN THE STRUGLE AGAINST RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM." (Caps are mine)

A popular New Age religious site that endorses all religions of the world is called Religious Tolerance. Org.

This site has some interesting comments regarding the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible. They ask: Does inerrancy really matter?

"From one standpoint, this doctrine is of great importance, because it determines, at a very fundamental level, how Christians approach Scripture."

"To most conservative theologians Biblical inerrancy and inspiration are fundamental doctrines. Unless the entire Bible is considered to be the authoritative word of God, then the whole foundation of their religious belief crumbles. If the Bible contains some errors, then conservative Christians feel that they would have no firm basis on which to base their doctrines, beliefs, morality and practices. The books of the Bible must be either inerrant, or be devoid of authority."

They continue: "To most liberal theologians, the Bible is not inerrant. They believe that its books were obviously written and edited by human authors: with limited scientific knowledge, who promoted their own specific belief systems, who attributed statements to God that are immoral by today's standards, who freely incorporated material from neighboring Pagan cultures, who freely disagreed with other Biblical authors." (Religious

What I personally found of great interest is the following comment in the same article. The people at Religious Tolerance noted: "Some Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians CONSIDER A PARTICULAR ENGLISH TRANSLATION TO BE INERRANT. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE AMONG LAY MEMBERS IN THEIR BELIEFS ABOUT THE KING JAMES VERSION. But most conservatives believe that inerrancy only applies to the original, autograph copies of the various books of the Bible. None of the latter have survived to the present day. We only have access to a variety of manuscripts which are copies of copies of copies...An unknown number of errors are induced due to Accidental copying errors by ancient scribes or intentional changes and insertions into the text, made in order to match developing theology." (Religious

Most Christians who do not believe the King James Bible or any other version are now the inerrant, infallible, complete and pure words of God, define Inerrancy in the following manner: “When all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible IN ITS ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPHS and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether relative to doctrine or ethics or the social, physical or life sciences.” (P. D. Feinberg, s.v. “inerrancy, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology Inerrancy & the autographa.)

The usual tap dance performed by those who deny any Bible or any text in any language is now the inerrant, complete and infallible words of God is typified by the following quote: "Inerrancy applies to the autographa, not to copies or translations of Scripture. This qualification is made because we realize that errors have crept into the text during the transmission process. It is not an appeal to a “Bible which no one has ever seen or can see.” Such a charge fails to take into account the nature of textual criticism and the very high degree of certainty we possess concerning the original text of Scripture."

Well, this may sound very pious and good, but the undeniable fact is that this Christian scholar is talking about "a Bible no one has seen or can see".

As for this gentleman's "nature of textual criticism" is concerned, this so called "science" is a giant fraud and a pathetic joke played on the unsuspecting saints who might think these men actually know what they are doing. I have posted a series on the "science of textual criticism" that reveals the true nature of this hocus-pocus methodology of determining what God really said. You can see all parts of this study, starting with:

Here are some facts taken directly from the Holy Bible. You do not need to be a scholar or seminary student to get a grasp of what the Bible says about itself. You either believe God or you don't.

The Bible believer first looks to God and His word to determine what the Book says about itself. The Bible cannot be clearer concerning it's preservation:

Psalm 19:7: "The law of the LORD is PERFECT, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is SURE, making wise the simple." The "law and testimony of the LORD" = His words.

Isaiah 40:8: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."

Psalm 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."

Psalm 138:2: "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."

Psalm 100:5: "For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

Psalm 33:11: "The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."

Psalm 119:152, 160: "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that Thou hast founded them for ever. ... thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."

Isaiah 59:21: "... My Spirit that is upon thee [Isaiah], 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."

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."

Matthew 24:35: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

John 10:35: "... the Scripture cannot be broken."

God has promised to preserve His wordS IN A BOOK here on this earth till heaven and earth pass away. He either did this and we can know where they are found today, or He lied and He lost some of them, and we can never be sure if what we are reading are the true words of God or not.

God's words are in a BOOK. Consider the following verses: "Now go, write it before them in a table, and NOTE IT IN A BOOK, that it may be for the time to come FOR EVER AND EVER." Isaiah 30:8

"Seek ye out of THE BOOK of the LORD, and READ: no one of these shall fail...for my mouth it hath commanded..." Isaiah 34:16

"Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of THE BOOK it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalm 40:7-8

"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." Revelation 22:19

I believe the King James Bible is the inspired, inerrant and complete words of God for the following reasons:

#1 The Old Testament is based solely on the Hebrew Masoretic texts, in contrast to the NASB, NIV, ESV, Holman CSB and other modern versions that frequently reject the Hebrew readings. The Old Testament oracles of God were committed to the Jews and not to the Syrians, the Greeks or the Latins. "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." (Romans 3:1-2) The Lord Jesus Christ said not one jot or one tittle would pass from the law till all be fulfilled. - Matthew 5:18

Therefore any bible version like the NASB, RSV, ESV, NIV, NET, Holman Standard etc. that rejects these Hebrew texts automatically disqualifies itself from being the true words of the living God.

See my two articles on how the modern versions all reject the Hebrew texts.

#2 The King James Bible alone is without proven error, and this in spite of intense opposition and criticism from the Bible correctors and modern scholarship.

"Seek ye out of THE BOOK of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail..." Isaiah 34:16.

#3 I believe in the Sovereignty and Providence of Almighty God. God knew beforehand how He would mightily use the King James Bible to become THE Bible of the English speaking people who would carry the gospel to the ends of the earth during the great modern missionary outreach from the late 1700's to the 1950's. The King James Bible was used as the basis for hundreds of foreign language translations, and English has become the first truly global language in history.

The indebtedness of the King James Bible translators to their predecessors is recognized most clearly in the Preface to the reader where they state in no uncertain terms: "Truly, good Christian reader, we never thought, from the beginning, that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one; but TO MAKE A GOOD ONE BETTER, or OUT OF MANY GOOD ONES ONE PRINCIPAL GOOD ONE, NOT JUSTLY TO BE EXCEPTED AGAINST that hath been our endeavour, that our mark."

The King James Translators also wrote: "Nothing is begun and perfected at the same time, and the later thoughts are the thoughts to be the wiser: so if we build upon their foundation that went before us, and being holpen by their labors, do endeavor to make better which they left so good...if they were alive would thank us...the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished."

See article Can a Translation Be Inspired?

#4 The King James Bible is always a true witness and never lies or perverts sound doctrine. This is in contrast to all modern English versions that do pervert sound doctrine in numerous verses and prove themselves to be false witnesses to the truth of God.

"Thy word is true from the beginning, and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." Psalm 119:160

"A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies." Proverbs 14:5

In contrast, all the modern versions like the NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV contain proveable and serious doctrinal errors. See my article on No Doctrines Are Changed?:

#5 At every opportunity the King James Bible exalts the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ to His rightful place as the sinless, eternally only begotten Son of God who is to be worshipped as being equal with God the Father. All modern versions debase and lower the Person of Christ in various ways.

"GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." 1 Timothy 3:16. (compare this verse in the NIV, NASB, ESV, and Holman) See also John 3:13; Luke 23:42, and 1 Corinthians 15:47.

See article on The Only Begotten Son

#6 The explosion of modern versions has encouraged the student to pick and choose his own preferred readings and has created a tendency to treat every Bible lightly and to look upon none as the final words of God.

The Bible itself prophesies that in the last days many shall turn away their ears from hearing the truth and the falling away from the faith will occur. The Lord Jesus asks: "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD." Amos 8:11

"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." Jeremiah 6:16

The new versions like the NIV, NASB, ESV, and Holman Standard all reject the Traditional Greek Text, and instead rely primarily on two very corrupt Greek manuscripts called Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. These so called "oldest and best" manuscripts also form the basis of all Catholic versions as well as the Jehovah Witness version.

See my article that shows what these two false witnesses actually say:

If you mistakenly think that all bibles are basically the same, I recommend you take a look at this site. It is in two parts, but very easy to read. It shows what is missing in most modern New Testaments.

I recently came across a blog link where a man made an in depth study of what is missing from the NIV New Testament when compared to the Traditional Greek Text of the King James Bible. It appears to be quite complete. Take a look. You will probably be surprised at what you see. Here is the link:

For an article showing that the true Historic Confessional position about the inerrancy of the Bible supports the King James Bible view, rather than the recent position of "the originals only". See:

In and by His grace alone,

Will Kinney

"There is NO Inerrant Bible"


Friday, July 24, 2009

KJVonly interview starting

I'll be starting a new interview series with a KJVonlyist presenting the case from a historical and liberal to neo-evangelical position. This will be one of my formal interviews (i.e. he gets to edit the final to make sure it reflects his views).

If you would like me to ask any questions or make sure any topics get discussed please feel free to comment here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paul's evil twin

I'm thinking of starting a series of Simon Magus. I had originally planned do this sort of methodically to start with F.C. Baur's analysis from the 1840s ( PDF) and then move in G.R.S. Mead's investigation. Then after that move onto church fathers in light of the New School and their results from the 1970s. Sort of my usual mixture of bible study and history.

Now normally those sorts of threads don't get much in the way of conversation. The arguments are long, detailed and there isn't that much to say. But since this blog is getting really active in terms of discussion lately, instead of just presenting an argument let me open up with a question (note verses list auto-magically link to the NET bible):

We have four stories in the bible about a collection for the Saints of Jerusalem being taken up, and rejected over a theological dispute.

The first story is Acts 8:18-24; a story of Simon Magus offering the Jerusalem group money for his endorsement, "the ability to lay hands to give the Holy Spirit".

The second is a story of Paul collecting money mentioned in the epistles: Gal 2:9-10, 1 Cor 16:1-4 , 2 Cor 8:1-4, 2 Cor 9:1-2, Romans 15:25-31. In Gal 2:1-10 we see a theological dispute and in Gal 2:11-21 (particularly Gal 2:13) we have the Jewish community breaking with Paul over it.

The third is a story also about Paul. In Acts 24:17 Paul indicates his reason for coming to Jerusalem was to give a collection to the saints in Jerusalem, but in this story the theological dispute in Acts 21 got in the way. There are hints of trouble in Acts 15:1-29 the unstable compromise; Acts 21:18-27 and the purification ritual as well as more dispute in Acts 15:22-41.

And finally a fourth story also in Acts, a briefly mentioned local fund raising effort describe in Acts 11:27-30. There are enough similarities to suspect we know about this incident from Josephus, as well. In this case Agabus is King Agabar of Esessa, a convert to Judaism that reconverts his family to Christianity. He is the husband of a woman names Queen Helen of Adibene who in Josephus is a huge opponent of circumcision.

The stories are all similar in some senses and different in others. What Baur's question was: are we looking at one, two, three or four different underlying events? What Baur speculated was that this was all really one event, and the real story looked like:
  1. Paul arrives in Jerusalem with the collection and wants endorsement for his position. Helen an opponent of circumcision is a major backer.
  2. The Jerusalem group rejects his position and rejects his money;
  3. Paul heads to Rome and the Jerusalem church and Paul break and are never reconciled.
  4. Paul develops a theology that scripture and not institutions as authoritative,
  5. The 2nd century church wants to downplay the degree of the split.
That is in Baur's view Paul and Simon were based on the same historical figure, Paul represents a positive view of this figure while Simon represents the negative view. There are other ways in which Acts makes Simon into Paul's evil twin. We had mentioned before the conversations with Felix and the traveling to Rome. There is at a deeper level Paul being a Roman collaborator during the occupation. In Acts, Paul is made into a Roman citizen, he works for the High Priest (which makes him part of the occupation). Paul in the epistles never mentions this level of connection with Rome, the furthest he goes is Phil 3:5 where he mentions he persecuted the early church. The historical Simon Magus on the other hand was tied closely to the Romans. He was an entertainer known to Claudius' who became an advisor and friend to Governor Felix. It is also worth mentioning we see another one of these parallels. In Acts 9:5-9 and Acts 13:4-12 there is a story temporary blindness on the one hand about Paul and on the other about "the Sorcerer" who was a follower of Jesus. Other details fit as well like the mention of Felix and Drusilla talking to Paul (Acts 24:24-7). Simon was close to Drusilla and had convinced her to marry Felix (Josephus).

But more deeply Acts presents Paul as a miracle worker. The performance of miracles forms a major part of Paul's apostleship. He was supposed to have made a blind man see again (Acts 13:6-12), to have enabled a cripple to walk (Acts 14:8-10) and to have raised a young man from the dead (Acts 20:7-2). Even his handkerchief had miraculous powers (Acts 19:12). His miraculous powers also enabled him to survive stoning unscathed, although those who stoned him thought he was dead (Acts 14:19-20) and to survive what would have been a lethal snakebite (Acts 28:3-6). There is no hint of magical powers anywhere in the Epistles. On the other hand Simon Magus, is a David Cooperfield type illusionist and by universal agreement of Jewish, Roman, Christian and Gnostic sources an excellent illusionist (though some think him a magical being).

And there non canonical similarities. For example Paul travels with a virgin named Thecla, who founds a bunch of churches and is even today thought of as essentially the founder of the convent movement (see Acts of Paul and Thecla). While Simon picks up a consort by the name of Helen, whom he identifies as a Queen and goes on to found a bunch of churches.

Josphus provides a semi-explicit identification.  Paulus is Latin for small.  Josephus uses either "Atomos" (Greek for small) or Simon depending on the manuscript in this line, "and he sent to her a person whose name was Simon/Atomos" in Antiquities 20.7.2.

In the Acts 11:27-30 passage it makes no sense why the donors would pass the money through Saul. It makes a great deal of sense if this reference is to Simon, who is a trusted assistant to Governor Felix (proctor of Palestine 52-60). Right after that we have the persecution of the church by the Romans (Acts 12:1-3). So lets turn our previous theory around and make it all Simon we end up with a story like:
  1. Queen Helen of Adibene believes in Judaism but rejects circumcision, especially for her son Izates bar Monobaz. As a result she becomes active in the budding Christian movement and she becomes the benefactor and possible lover to Simon a major opponent of circumcision.
  2. There is a famine in Palestine. King Agabar and Queen Helen put together a relief fund. Like most politicians they use funding to advance their agenda in particular Helen passes the money to the (proto-)Christian community through Felix's assistant Simon Magus.
  3. Simon arrives in Jerusalem with the collection and uses it to help with food and to advance his theological position in the Jewish community.
  4. The opposition to his theology if it is not going to be accepted is naturally going to come first from other Christians, the Jerusalem group led by James. The Jerusalem group can't be bought off and rejects Simon's money.
  5. Simon complains to Felix about the Jerusalem group and James is killed.
  6. The Jerusalem faction remains hostile to the Samaritan faction.
  7. Simon travels with Felix to Rome six years later, Helen travels with him. He becomes a sect leader, and after this Peter and he meet up at some point in the 60s.
  8. The 2nd century church in writing Acts patches in different versions of the story told from different perspectives.
This is a lot of speculation though. So how do you think this evil twin got into Acts? Could Simon just be a placeholder for the old anti-Pauline literature from Peter's school? Could Tertullian's "apostle to the heretics" (his term for Paul) and Irenaeus "father of all heresies" (Irenaeus name for Simon) be the same man? Could it be that because the collection is seen (to this day) positively by the Jewish community the church tried to the credit for it by attributing it to Paul, but they couldn't disentangle the collection story from the persecution. Is it just coincidence and there are really several collections?

Here is my theory. If you look at Justin Martyr's comments about Simon, you'll see the connection that the church father's frequently drew. Simon is the "father of heresies" and in an indirect way the founder of the Marcionite church (which competed with the Catholic church in the 2nd century) as well as the Valentinian movement.
And, thirdly, because after Christ's ascension into heaven the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods; and they were not only not persecuted by you, but even deemed worthy of honours. There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Cæsar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god, and as a god was honoured by you with a statue, which statue was erected on the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription, in the language of Rome:— Simoni Deo Sancto, To Simon the holy God. And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him. And a man, Menander, also a Samaritan, of the town Capparetæa, a disciple of Simon, and inspired by devils, we know to have deceived many while he was in Antioch by his magical art. He persuaded those who adhered to him that they should never die, and even now there are some living who hold this opinion of his. And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works. All who take their opinions from these men, are, as we before said, called Christians; just as also those who do not agree with the philosophers in their doctrines, have yet in common with them the name of philosophers given to them. And whether they perpetrate those fabulous and shameful deeds — the upsetting of the lamp, and promiscuous intercourse, and eating human flesh— we know not; but we do know that they are neither persecuted nor put to death by you, at least on account of their opinions. But I have a treatise against all the heresies that have existed already composed, which, if you wish to read it, I will give you. (Apology I.26; Magicians not trusted by Christians)
Marcion when he showed up in Rome wanted to buy the papacy 200,000 sesterces (several million dollars in today's money); the church rejected the money because they disagreed with him theologically. In particular they were not willing incorporate Marcion's notion of a creator God separate and distinct from the God of Jesus (the foreign God). The story of Simon was enhanced during the time when the church was rejecting Marcion's money, to the point that the term "Simony" became associated with paying for office which is not even what Simon does in the story, Acts 8 story.  

On the other hand Paul's epistles talk about the collection.   In the politicized atmosphere of the second century church the Pauline collection is also getting talked about in terms of Marcion and Simon. So the writer of Acts has to make it clear that Paul's collection was an entirely different sort of thing, that Paul is accepted as an apostle before any money is involved. The collection plays a minor role. The rejection story involving Simon probably never happened this is a morality play about what the church did with Simon's successor and Peter's successor. In other words the goal of the author of Acts is:
  1. Defend the church's rejection of Marcion's money by pushing it back in time.
  2. Distance Paul (the hero of Acts) from Simony.
  3. Not give Simon the credit for a large collection from Agabar, that he was involved in. In particular because that money was accepted and was popular.
What still remains to discuss though is if the connection between Paul and Simon is real historically but the author of Acts is unaware of this connection. Is Simon "Paul's evil twin" not just as an accident? Is there more than just politics to the fact that the early second century heretics identify themselves as followers of "Paul" while their proto-orthodox critics identify them as followers of "Simon"? If they are one man, why are the writings attributed to Paul so different from those later attributed to Simon? Even if we are looking at two men and not one, if their histories are this intermixed there are questions about who did what? To do this we need to know who was Simon, and how Paul got to be the major writer of the New Testament.

See also:
More on Simon Magus:

Friday, July 17, 2009

4 marks of a hellbound man

So I'm checking out some of latest sermon by John MacArthur and he has one called 4 marks of a hellbound man. In it he lists the 4 characteristics that he believes lead to damnation:
  1. Self righteous
  2. Worldliness
  3. Unbelieving
  4. Willfully ignorance
Tell me that Mr. "Truth War", "Lordship salvation", "Charismatic Chaos"... didn't just preach a sermon against self righteousness and willful ignorance. John, please turn your bible to Matthew 24... "Woe to you, hypocrites"...

See Also:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is it a sin to see someone naked?

So I'm having a debate, well maybe not a debate. More like swatting of off the wall comments regarding the whole porn thing on compegal. We were making some progress but it was very slow going.

The last post was by some woman who goes by TL where she quotes a mistranslation of the Hebrew to prove a point, even though the mistranslation doesn't actually say what she needs it to say. I would have responded there but the moderators decided to close down discussion, because after all we shouldn't actually do what the bible says.

Now normally I hear bad arguments all the time. But what I was shocked to discover how lousy the commentary is on Gen 9:22 in most Christian bibles including my favorite bad translation the ESV. In fact the Reformation Study Bible even uses the mistranslation in the ESV to teach the moral lesson that nakedness is bad.

So this issue is actually worth responding to since I suspect the mistake is probably common, and there should be some sort of easily available refutation. I'll quote TL not because of anything unusual, she seems to be reasoning from the English but because she deserves the credit for making me aware of this issue. So to make sure it is clear, I don't think she is being dishonest she just uses bad tools. In this case she choose the NKJV, which preserves as many of the mistranslations in the KJV as possible, and for all practical purposes uses 400 year old dictionaries and underlying texts. Here is her translation and conclusion:
Gen. 9:20 (NKJV) And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said: “ Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brethren.” 26 And he said: “ Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem, And may Canaan be his servant.

I think that there is a moral principal here that is related to the subject of porn and other people’s nakedness (outside of medical reasons). It is not morally acceptable to view other people completely naked as a recreational exercise, especially in the act of sex. (link to original)
Well it is an interesting analysis I'd say a huge jump from a single incident involving nakedness to an entire doctrine. Can I pick any historical story in the bible where someone says something bad to someone else and derive a moral law from it? Just think of the fun! The real problem that exposing nakedness of his father (וַיַּרְא חָם אֲבִי כְנַעַן אֵת עֶרְוַת אָבִיו ) is an expression, it has nothing to do with "nakedness" in a literal sense. The tradition of the overly literal translation goes back to the KJV. Which is odd because the bible itself defines the term in Lev 20:11 (NKJV) "The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them." That is uncovering your father's nakedness is having sex with his wife, its not seeing his wang.

The NET has a nice commentary on Lev 18:7 where the same expression is used (I'll also quote the NKJV):
Lev 18:7 (NKJV): The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. She is your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness.
Lev 18:7 (NET): You must not expose your father’s nakedness by having sexual intercourse with your mother. She is your mother; you must not have intercourse with her.

Commentators suggest that the point of referring to the father’s nakedness is that the mother’s sexuality belongs to the father and is forbidden to the son on that account (see B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 120, and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 294). The expression may, however, derive from the shame of nakedness when exposed. If one exposes his mother’s nakedness to himself it is like openly exposing the father’s nakedness (cf. Gen 9:22-23 with the background of Gen 2:25 and Gen 3:7, 21). The same essential construction is used in v. 10 where the latter explanation makes more sense than the former.

And if you read Lev 18 you see a long stream of "uncovering nakedness referring to sex". Note the reversal here where uncovering the nakedness of someone is sleeping with their spouse which is called in the NKJV "their nakedness" (I guess to make the passage unintelligible if you don't reverse translate) (all from the NKJV):
6'None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD.

7'(F)You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness.

8'(G)You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness.

9'(H)The nakedness of your sister, either your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover.

10'The nakedness of your son's daughter or your daughter's daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours.

11'The nakedness of your father's wife's daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness.

12'(I)You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's sister; she is your father's blood relative.

13'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, for she is your mother's blood relative.

14'(J)You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's brother; you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt.

15'(K)You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son's wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.

16'(L)You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother's wife; it is your brother's nakedness.

17'(M)You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, nor shall you take her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; they are blood relatives. It is lewdness.
This use of uncovering nakedness as sexual humiliation is the reason that the Talmud (Sanhedron 70a\b23\b0) translates 9:22 as Ham having either castrated or sodomizing Noah (see Rashi on Genesis 9). My personal take is that Canaan is the product of Ham and Noah's wife, which makes the mention of Canaan in Leviticus 18 very explicit. The author of Genesis 9 is presenting a myth about the origins of the sexual wickedness of Canaan. The castration of Noah (either literally or by sleeping with his mother) prevents Noah from having a fourth son so Ham's fourth son "Canaan" is cursed to do as Ham did (sexually) and be enslaved by the two righteous brothers for it.

And just as Leviticus 18 opens with
Lev 18:3 (NKJV) According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.

As an aside, my recommend bibles for the OT the NJPS and the NISB both covered this well, and the NET which is my recommended evangelical translation did a nice job.

OK so what is the lesson to be learned:
1) Uncovering nakedness shows up a lot in the bible. Hopefully this little discussion is worthwhile.
2) There is a good reason 0% of the bible bloggers recommend the NKJV.
3) Fundamentalists, as usual, are full of malarky if you check all their facts.
4) There is no prohibition against nakedness in the bible.
5) The arguments against porn are really shoddy.
6) There is no way to have an intelligent conversation about sex on a christian board, and I need to get around to more posts on my sex and fundamentalism series.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Porn addiction

One of the topics that comes up with incredible regularity in discussions of Christian marital sexual issues is "porn-addiction". You frequently hear people argue back and fourth whether various teaching lead to porn addiction or properly address porn addiction; which presents a problem since it is like asking whether certain teachings increase or decrease the likelihood of being attacked by leprechauns. Of course making a case that porn-addiction, or anything else doesn't exist is rather difficult. In this case it is really bad. People have heard a lot about it. They can point to dozens of websites which address porn-addiction, and while it is rarely mentioned there is a very official sounding "Society for the advancement of Sexual Health" which has conducted a study showing that 3-5% of the American population have a sex addiction. There are even books on treating porn addiction.

So am I some flat earther denying the obvious? With this crisis continues to spread why am I writing a blog post that there is no crisis? Well let me first point out I'm not alone in this opinion. There are some who agree like the: American Psychiatric Association (Diagnostic Service Manual), The National institute of Health, the World Health Organization (the International Classification of Diseases), National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In fact there are a total of exactly zero reputable health organizations that believe that pornography addiction exists.

OK but that is just an appeal to stodgy secular authority. Obviously they are behind the times and they never heard of this widespread disorder. Well actually no, its come up in the literature the best arguments were made and the mental health community found them lacking. In 1985 then Attorney General Meese held a commission on pornography and produced a report on the addictive effects. Not one reputable group would endorse the report or the existence of this addiction. The National Institute of Health wanted to distance itself from the "science" in this report and released an official report (Byrne and Kelley 1986, available online) which indicated that there was no evidence of any correlation between pornography usage and long term changes in sexual preferences of behavior ever documented in over 100 years of study. And not only that what evidence that did exist tended to show correlations the opposite of what the Attorney General had claimed.

At the same time Weston did a study of pornography users and found 3 reasons they used pornography:
  1. to aid masturbation,
  2. to see their fantasies acted out,
  3. to avoid intimacy in a relationship,
#2 is the reason people use most forms of video entertainment. There was evidence that people who had feelings of shame associated with masturbation associated this with pornography but the underlying desires were no more common in heavy pornography users than light or non users. In other words it tested out like a masturbatory aid not a cause of "sex addiction", people wanted to masturbate just as much and those who felt shame about masturbation blamed it on the porn. For most of the conservative this is likely to be where they are getting their view from. Ideologically they or their husbands may believe because of their saved condition their desire to masturbate would be lower than that of the unsaved, and statistically there is simply no difference. Since the reason they still have these urges couldn't be that their religious view of sexuality is wrong the obvious culprit is pornography even though has been demonstrated to have no effect.
#3 is interesting, essentially it involves people that have sexual desires they themselves disapprove of and/or don't want to share with their partner. From a Christian perspective these could be seen as a way of diminishing the potency of temptations. In general experiments show that this usage is pornography as a coping mechanism, the alternative to pornography for those sorts of desires is to stroke them in other ways. Examples of what this would look like would be a man who considers himself heterosexual, using gay porn; if he were liberal he's just consider himself bi-curious but since he is conservative he might associate the desire with porn since it couldn't be coming from inside him. Another example might be a woman attracted to sex scenes involving anonymous sex / blindfolded sex who morally strongly believes in monogamy.

At the core of the mental health community rejection has been the distinction between a compulsion and a desire, and an unwillingness to see pornograhy as a paraphilia. In particular for something to be a compulsion and not a desire fulfillment shouldn't bring pleasure, which is simply not the case with masturbation. A desire given into gives pleasure: for example eating chocolate on a diet is innately pleasurable or laying around in bed and not doing chores is innately pleasurable. In both cases the person doing these things may feel guilty, but the activities themselves are intrinsically pleasurable. A compulsion conversely the activity itself is not intrinsically pleasurable, but not doing it causes psychological distress. For example someone compelled to open and shut every door three times.
In terms of paraphilias the definition used is “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving (1) nonhuman objects, (2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or (3) children or other nonconsenting persons. That is to say non-normative stimulation, since most pornography is stimulating to most people it is by definition normative.

The most definitive academic article on this topic is Martin Levine and Richard Troiden's The Myth of Sexual Compulsivity in the Journal of Sex Research (v25, n3, p347-63). They had 8 major findings:
  1. The original belief in sexual compulsions comes from the patient's belief that they should be able to stop masturbating or having a variety of sexual partners. That is the diagnosis arouse from patients not from the medical community. Essentially there is an assumption that frequent non relational sex is uniformly abnormal.
  2. They demonstrated that feelings of being out of control were generated by sexual behavior outside cultural norms, that is violators took cues from their culture as to what is normative sex. The prevalence of behaviors however is only loosely correlated with culture, however. They examined debates contrasting the 70s with its sex positive attitudes to the 80s and determined that even with very slight shifts in values certain types of diagnosis became much more common. Carnes (1983) one of the first researchers to use the term "sex addict" confirmed that his coining of the term was cultural.
  3. Typical withdrawal symptoms involving physiological distress (example: diarrhea, delirium, convulsion and death) are not present.
  4. Sex addict councilors do not recommend abstinence as the desired outcome, which is atypical for addictions counseling. The patient is "cured" when they only engage in relational sex, which in the authors opinion is essentially medicalizing morality.
  5. They cite the debate and research done into "hyperactive sexual desire disorder" (1980) and the complete lack of any evidence that this exists. "Sex addict" seemed to be coming from the A.A. culture and just a rephrase of a disease whose existence had already been refuted.
  6. Quadland did behavioral analysis of "sex addicts" vs. a control group and found that the only distinction they had was that the control group experienced sensations of relation and love/affinity when engaged in the same acts. In other words "sex addicts" are not acting differently than the normal population they just feel very guilty about doing the same things.
  7. The Carne model (common model from the 1980's of identifying sexual addiction, similar to models in use today) tests for sexual addiction label couples who see themselves as engaging fully consensually as sex addicts. In particular partners who engage in non-procreative sex practices they themselves don't enjoy but consider to be important to maintaining the relationship.
  8. They do acknowledge the existence of sex as an emotional coping mechanism. It seems to operate in a similar fashion to: excess work, prayer, parenting and intimate friendships.
What Levine and Troiden deomonstrated was the purpose of the campaign to create this diagnosis is not medical but rather to "use psychologists as a billy club for driving the erotically unconventionally into the traditional sexual fold".

In Flanigan's Enterprises, Inc. v. Fulton County, Georgia the evidence regarding pornography addiction was examined by a court. They examined ten studies which claimed to show a connection between pornography and criminal behavior. In nine of the ten studies which were presented to confirm secondary effects there was no statistical methodology at all, nothing but case studies and claims. In one of the ten studies the methodology was so flawed the court excluded the findings and concluded that there was not a single piece of evidence for the claimed secondary effects (see Kernes article below for details).

Hecker,L.L.; Wetchler,J.L.; & Fontaine,K.L. (1995) found that the religiosity of the therapist was the single biggest determining factor in whether a male patient was diagnosed as sexually addicted. That is to say religious therapists saw normal male behavior as outside the norm. The same year Sexual compulsivity among heterosexual college students examined the causes of risky sexual behavior (unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners). Of interest to this article is that frequency of masturbatory behavior correlated strongly with sexual desire and not with much else.

The next 13 years of research are the same. People cheat on their diets even though "they really don't want to". I waste far too much time on internet religion discussion, even though I really don't want to. And by exactly the same mechanism people use porn who wish they didn't. Food is not intrinsically addictive, nor is blogging nor is porn.

People respond to porn the same way they do to any other class of entertainment. Most people have seen kid style entertainment documentaries that like you would see on animal planet. Some people really like those and move onto the harder stuff on the history channel or discovery channel and if they get really out of hand they start reading books by the people in those documentaries intended for a general audience. At this point the kid level documentaries are completely unsatisfying. In children this cycle can lead to them becoming scientists or historians, and in adults can lead to adults taking community college courses or rigorous self education. If we had an ideology that Genesis 2:17 should be applied liberally then there would be Christian anti-documentary sites by those book buyers about having suffered the long term effects, how animal planet and PBS are gateways trapping hundreds of thousands each year into this cycle of destruction. And there would be debates about which preachers were addressing this in the most biblical way.

You can not pray really hard to stop breathing
You can not pray really hard to stop urinating
You can not pray really hard to stop defecating
You can not pray really hard for your hair and nails to stop growing
You can not pray really hard to stop ejaculating

It is all the same.
The fact that you can hold your breath for a minute or two doesn't mean you can hold it for an hour
The fact that you can hold your pee in for a hour or two doesn't mean you can do it for a day
The fact that you can not defecate for several hours doesn't mean you can go a week without
The fact that you can be chaste for a few days or maybe a week doesn't mean you get to 25 as a virgin, or go a month without ejaculating.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Voice Translation

The Voice translation is a new translation by Chris Seay and co. The group's goal in the project was to produce a “holistic,” “beautiful,” “sensitive” and “balanced” New Testament that present-day readers could identify with. In short their goal was to produce a modern liturgical version, designed to be read out-loud or at the chapter level. To be excellent for quick reading or public reading the bible needs to avoid complex vocal constructions, which generally means short sentences or clauses and connection of ideas. Also obviously contemporary language. Such a bible would not designed for line by line study.

In addition to the use of modern language and aggressive punctuation; the way The Voice translation creates a verbal flow is by using a a play-like format with italicized in-text explanations. There is also occasional commentary to pull the structure together dramatically. Each book in the New Testament is preceded by a brief introduction explaining its background and significance. You can see this in the free online version of the Voice's John.

What is interesting about this new translation is that “writers rather than the scholars were tasked with producing the first draft.” Then, scholars, “working from the Greek or Hebrew, adjusted the translation to capture the nuances of the original.” That is typically a bible is written by translators and then edited. This bible was written and then translational issues were corrected. The puts the focus is on flow not on detailed accuracy. I think the accuracy is fine I recommend this bible for its intended uses. In particular:
  1. This is a great choice for a first read of the bible. The text notes assume unfamiliarity which is rare in most study bibles. It reads as almost as easily as The Message and keeps the focus on the text itself unlike any study bibles.
  2. This is one of the very few bibles I know that work well for informal out-loud reading. There are huge differences between what is retained vocally vs. visually. For preaching through a large section of a chapter or any other reading outloud.
  3. This out-loud readability makes it a good choice for an informal liturgy.
So I fully concur with Thomas Nelson's press release:
And we have a significant change in the liturgy of many churches that excludes that appointed time allotted for the specific reading aloud of the Sacred Text (sometimes in concert with a Lexionary and sometimes just as a focus where the whole congregation stands for the reading of the Word). Both of these changes have been made at the sacrifice of the oral experience of the Bible....The Nelson team created The Voice translation with this perspective in mind. Specifically, the screen-play format, the linguistic and historical information included in italics, and the contextualization that is present in the commentary makes The Voice ideal for public reading and understanding. (Thomas Nelson press release)
This focus on flow and readability however does come at a cost. Since, there aren't many reviews of the The Voice I hope my regular readers will forgive me if I'm a I'll be a bit more pedantic than normal and assume some readers not familiar with translation philosophies might be reading this review. In translation the closer you stay to the text the more accurately you capture the original structure but the less you can accurately capture the meaning. As you move away from the original structure you are able to better capture meaning. As you move even further away from the original structure you in effect rephrase the ideas of the text in your own language. It ceases to be translation and instead becomes a paraphrase. The graphic below shows the major translations as they move from the most literal, interlinears which preserve Greek word order to formal translations which preserve the positions of phrases with a sentence, to dynamic which preserver the order sentences to paraphrase which preserve the order of ideas.

I personally put translation into 9 groups with the voice in the 8th group (loose dynamic):
  1. Hebrew/Greek, Diglot or Hebrew/Greek Reader (NA27, Majority /Byzantine Text, Textus Receptus, MT-Heb)
  2. Interlinear translation (Brown & Comfort, Marshall, McReynolds, Concordant interlinear)
  3. Highly literal (AMP, NASB, YLT, Mounce, Concordant)
  4. Formal (ESV, KJV, ASV, NKJV, NRSV, RSV)
  5. Balanced (TNIV, NET, NIV, HCSB, Price)
  6. Tight Dynamic (REB, NAB)
  7. Dynamic (NEB, NJB, CEV, NLTse, Gaus)
  8. Loose dynamic (NLT1ed, GNB, Voice)
  9. Paraphase (MSG, TLB, TAB, JBP)
I've bolded The Voice as a recommend loose dynamic translation preferring it to either of the two others that I'm familiar with, the Good News Bible or the 1st edition of the New Living Translation (note: the 2nd edition is what is generally available that appears under item 7 and is bolded). Loose dynamic translations like The Voice are very good at getting across "the main idea" but not so good at getting across secondary ideas in the text. So they are really not suitable for anything where verse by verse reading matters in particular this is a poor choice for expository preaching or bible study. As I mentioned above this was written than corrected so the translation philosophy is highly inconsistent. Finally, it goes without saying that the informal liturgical style is the exact opposite of what would be desired for formal liturgical church or function.

While I think the formatting works very well in all aspects except one. The Voice footnotes aren't numbered in the text, instead a generic asterisk is used and the verse referred to in the note. You can see an example of this in the John chapter on page 161 (John 1:23-8). I think this format is difficult, it can be unclear which phrase the note is applying to. But even in the best case this requires looking backwards through the text for the verse number, looking down to find the associated note and then on a few pages having to looking up to find the chapter number. Given the demographics of The Voice I'd assume most people are comfortable with standard footnoting conventions, this seems like a mistake. Footnotes are used for translation commentary, glossary and cross reference so they aren't rare though not overwhelming either.

In terms of the internet, this is an emerging church product so basically conservative reformed Christians bash it. No one has really written a decent reply so, I guess I will. The most detailed and accurate review is a hostile one by Chris Rosebrough of Extreme Theology (review part1 part2). He's an ESV guy so not unexpectedly he hates the theology of the The Voice. A good example (using one from the free sample in case you want to check context) is John 1:13:
  • Brown & Comfort (literal): The ones not of bloods nor of [the] will of flesh nor of [the] will of a husband but of God were born.
  • ESV (formal): who were born, not of blood, nor the of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • NET (mediating): children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.
  • NLT (dynamic): They were reborn -- not of a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
  • Voice (12-13)(loose dynamic): He bestows this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God's will. Because we are born of this world, we can only be reborn to God by accepting his call.
If I were translating I personally would mix dynamic and formal here. I wouldn't want to lose John's clausal structure but I think the "bloods" to "blood" translation is far too literal, and men rather than husband is just plain wrong. The reference to bloods here is critical, but it relies on the Greek idiom that the fetus grows on blood which is not an American English idiom. You could translate it keeping blood with a technical term, something like "not from fetoplacental circulation" but that shifts the tone too much. The key is to retain the spirit vs. flesh theme from John while changing idioms i.e. being dynamic to be made more explicit. Anne Nyland's The Source Bible does a great job for this verse "children not born from a woman nor from the purposes of the natural realm nor from the purposes of a man, but born from God". Suzanne McCarthy goes similarly with:
children not born from the womb of a mother
nor from the will of the natural body
nor from the will of a father,
but born from God.
Incidentally I use the ESV here for the formal because Mr. Rosebrough does. The NRSV is similar, "who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh of man, but of God." I think it is interesting he picks this verse to defend formal because in my opinion it show the relative merits of both. The ESV's use of "man" over husband here, especially because they use man for so many other Greek words, and then being literal with blood desexualizes and thus loses the connection between the man and the birth. I also don't like the tense changes, the ESV is far too free with tenses for a formal translation. The NET and the NLT IMHO do a much better job in capturing the key connection lost by the ESV. On the other hand the NET/NLT is completely artless, this is a poem loaded with the height of imagery in Christianity and while they capture the meaning better their text is flat.

So what about The Voice? You get the gospel message without any of John's flavor. Those who accept the divine voice of God are reborn as children of God not children of flesh. Mr. Rosebrough in his critique blows a gasket because this is the Arminian gospel and not the Calvinist gospel. The ESV drops the sexual metaphor to emphasize unconditional election and irresistible grace, "not by the will of man", The Voice drops it to emphasize decision theology. From my perspective, both are equally bad. Flesh vs. spirit is one of the five main themes of John, I don't want either Arminius or Calvin to pollute John. But I think this sort of simplification is acceptable in The Voice, this sort of theological commentary in the text is much worse in a bible whose stock and trade is its "essentially literal accuracy" than in a bible whose stock and trade is "first time readers will get it, and it sounds good when read out-loud". By the time someone is ready to discuss limited vs. unlimited atonement I hope that they wouldn't use The Voice, and I believe Chris Seay would agree with me. So with Rosebrough (and again I picked his review because he did the best job in a hostile critique) by seeing what this looks like from the other side might appreciate "turnabout is fair play" and perhaps appreciate why the English Standard Version raises such strong objections.

In short while I've read the hostile reviews, I don't think they address the core function of The Voice. Blow through at normal reading speed John 1:1-14 out-loud with a reader unfamiliar with the them from the ESV and see what someone is actually retains. Or if you want an actually accurate translation the same thing would happen with the NRSV. Then try it with The Voice, I think they would get a lot. This bible is designed for verbal retention from unfamiliar readers, the critiques aren't analyzing assuming the intent it was designed for.

Pieces of The Voice are available separately:
As a closing note Thomas Nelson also published The Truth War which is essentially an anti-Emerging church hate piece by MacArthur, as well as the MacArthur Study Bible. I'll give them a lot of credit for being open minded, but I wouldn't want to be around when they have author's Christmas party.

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