New Age Deism: Part Two

   God’s Providence or Inspiration?

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” –Ecc. 1:9

For over 400 years the “King James only” controversy has been a source of consternation among Christians. It should not be. Since Satan first said to eve, “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”, (Gen. 3:1) Satan has been untiring in his effort to create doubt in the minds of God’s people as to the reliability of His Word. Why should we be the exception?

The label “King James Only” was given to those Christians who believe the KJV to be the Word of God in the English language by the “any ole book’ll do” crowd. It’s not new. The KJV has been under attack throughout its 400 year history, in spite of the fact that it has been blessed by God more than any other version. Neither of these labels accurately reflect the views of those to whom they are applied.

The “any Bible” group believes that the true Word of God has been lost over the centuries, but that it can be recovered through the “science” of textual criticism. In the meanwhile, they are content to use whatever Bible version best suits their personal spiritual and intellectual preferences.

The “King James Only” group believes that the KJV is the Word of God in the English Language and reject other versions as unnecessary and counter productive to our faith, in that they imply the KJV cannot be trusted, is in error and needs to be corrected.

Users of the King James Bible are often asked, “Do you believe the King James Version is inspired by God?” An accurate answer to that question requires an understanding of the difference between the “providence of God” and “the Inspiration of God.”

Most of us believe that the original manuscrips from which the KJV was translated were inspired by God and are preserved by God’s providence. We believe further that the translation of those manuscripts into the English language was superintended by the Holy Spirit protecting it from error.

Inspiration is a one time communication between God and the inspired author who recorded God’s words. In inspiration, God deals with individuals directly so that each book of the Bible has a single author.

With Providence, God works “behind the scenes:” so to speak, using multitudes of people and events, often seemingly unrelated, to bring about His will. Providence can only be seen through the lens of hindsight. It is only through observing the workings of God in the events of history that we can clearly see His providence.  Both providence and inspiration are unmistakably taught in the Bible.

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Providence “Literally means foresight, but is generally used to denote God’s preserving and governing all things by means of second causes.” Although the word “providence” only appears once in the Bible (Acts 24:2), and that in a flattering remark by the orator Tortullus, at the arraignment  of Paul before Governor Felix; the evidence of God’s providence is found on almost every page of the historical books of the Bible.

The one that most readily comes to mind is the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, the most frequently referenced story in the Old Testament. The story begins in Genesis chapter 15, and continues through Exodus Chapter 14. If you haven’t read it lately, I suggest you do, noticing the “coincidences” that, had they not happened, God’s promises and prophecies to Abraham concerning his posterity could not have been fulfilled.

In Gen. 15:5 when Abraham was ninety-nine years old and yet childless, God made him a promise:

“And [God] brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” (Gen:15:5)…..

A few verses later God gives Abraham a prophesy concerning the fulfillment of that promise.

…“And [God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;  And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” (Gen. 15:13-16) (emphasis added)

Four generations later, God, through His providential processes, sets events into motion that would result in the literal fulfillment of this prophesy. God, who sees “the end” from the “beginning,” often speaks of prophesies as though they were already accomplished, as He does here. Although more than four hundred years would elapse in “our time” from when God begins to fulfill the prophesy until it is finished, God sees those years as one event.

The two main characters in the story of God’s deliverance of Israel are Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, and later, Moses. I am sure that Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and father of Joseph, had no idea of the chain of events he was setting in motion when he, in an act of fatherly concern, sent his young son Joseph to check on his older brothers who were in the fields tending the family’s sheep. One cannot read the story without marveling at the times the providence of God (we might call them coincidences) appear. For example, Jacob’s sending Joseph to the fields, his brother’s attempt to kill him, and the caravan of Ishmaelite merchants, who had perhaps been traveling for days or even months, and “just happened” to be passing by at exactly the right time for Joseph to be sold to them as a slave, thus preserving his life.

Arriving in Egypt, Joseph just happened to be sold to Potiphar, a Captain of the guard. Later when Joseph just happened to be alone in the house with Potiphar’s wife she tried to seduce him. As a result of Joseph’s refusal to yield to the temptation, he just happened to wind up in prison along with Pharaoh’s baker and butler, where God gave him the opportunity to interpreting two dream for them. Coincidently, both men had different dreams on the same night… and on the story goes. Space does not permit listing all of the “providentially-coincidental events” in Joseph’s life or in the life of Moses which followed some four hundred years later, but, I’m sure you get the picture.

Similar stories are found throughout the Old Testament, continuing in the New Testament and the life of Christ and the establishment of His church. The Old Testament canon ends with the book of Malachi. All the prophesies concerning the coming of the promised messiah had been written and God closes the curtain for four-hundred “silent” years. However, behind the curtain God was busily preparing the world for the coming of the Messiah and the building of His church.

Between 336 and 323 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered most of the Mediterranean world from Greece to India, spreading the Greek language and Culture throughout the civilized world of that time. Following Alexander, the Romans began expanding their empire, and by the time of Christ the Roman government ruled Europe and the Middle East. When God again raised the curtain of silence with the book of Matthew, the cultural “homogenization” brought about by the colonizing practices of both Greece and Rome; the adoption of the Greek language as a common language; and the political stability provided by the Roman government had created an ideal environment for the ministry of Christ and the Spread of His church during the first century A.D.

The same providence of God that preserved and guided the lives of Joseph and Moses created the linguistic and political environment that greeted the birth of Christ, making it possible to fulfill the promises to Abraham and the prophecies of  the Old Testament concerning Jesus. There is also ample evidence, both biblical and historical, that God also preserved His Word through the centuries following the close of the New Testament canon which ends with the Book of Revelations.

Indeed, it would be an unjust God who would judge mankind according to His Word, if that Word did not exist or was not always available for those who would seek it. Millions of people during the past four centuries have believed that the King James Bible is the infallible, complete, living Word of God, preserved and handed down from the apostles and prophets, and translated into our language under the providence of God.

In our next few articles we will endeavor, if God wills, to show how God has preserved his Word down through the Ages, so that each of us can have and hold in our hands, a book that we can confidently say, “This is the Word of God, obey it.”

To be continued…

New Age Deism

New Age Deism

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (7) Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” –Psalm 12:6,7

Psalm 12:6,7 is one of the clearest and strongest statements in the Bible concerning the doctrine of Scripture preservation. This Psalm was written by King David about 1,000 B.C. Both Jews and Christians for the next 2,800 years considered this passage to be a promise from God to His people to preserve His words until the end of time. Today, very few English language Bibles carry the same wording, subject or meaning as in Verse 7. The above quote is from The King James Bible. The following are typical quotes from other versions.

New Living Translation: “Therefore, LORD, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation,”

English Standard Version: “You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.”

New American Standard Bible: “You, O LORD, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever.”

International Standard Version: “You, LORD, will keep them safe, you will guard them from this generation forever.”

New International Version: “You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked,”

New International Readers Version: “Lord, you will keep needy people safe. You will always keep sinners from hurting us.”

In each of these instances the translator violates one of the fundamental principles of proper English grammar, Substantive words or phrases always refer to the nearest antecedent, in this case, the “pure words” of verse six. These examples can only be viewed as an attempt to obscure the eternality of God’s Word.

What Happened?

In the middle of the nineteenth century the “new science” of Textual Criticism began to be introduced into our bible colleges and universities. I refer to this new science as “New Age Deism” because of its similarity in thinking to the old “Deism” heresy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The new deists believe that God inspired (created) the Bible in the form of manuscripts written by men inspired by God. Like the deists of old, they believe that God completed His creative work, and then stepped aside, leaving its destiny to the ravages of time and the foibles of human nature.

The original manuscripts or scrolls on which God’s words were recorded were long ago worn out, destroyed during times of persecution, or otherwise lost to the progress of time. Today, there is not a single “original” in existence, and has not been for many centuries. We have only copies, of copies, of copies, etc., from which to ascertain the words and will of God.

Using extant (existing today) manuscript copies and fragments, from various sources, modern scholars attempt to reconstruct the original text of Scripture. Sorting out these manuscripts and fragments and determining which ones are authentic and which are spurious is a part of “textual criticism.” The end product of this process is referred to as “source text” and is used to translate the original language into the various versions of the Bible.

There are today, more than 200 versions of the English Bible sold by publishers around the world. As you can see from the six examples given at the beginning of this article, these versions do not always agree with each other, even though they are all translated from the same source text, with the exception of the King James version. The result is a confusing collection of Bibles with different wording and different messages concerning many of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. The variety of bible translations in our churches has caused, and is causing, major problems for churches everywhere.

The faith of many Christians in the trustworthiness of the Bible they are using for their bible study and personal devotions is undermined. Many become discouraged, believing they cannot understand the Word of God without a knowledge of the original languages. Church attendance continues to fall and many churches have closed their doors forever.

There are many spiritual and cultural reasons for the decline in church attendance and Christian living, but certainly, the “confusion of Bibles” is one of the major factors. Mankind needs rules to live by. The new deistic thinking prevalent today calls into question the existence of any dependable, objective standard by which to govern our lives and worship our God.

This New Age Deism has so infiltrated and influenced our bible colleges that very few pastoral and missionary students graduate and enter into the ministry without first being indoctrinated in this modern heresy. Since most born again Christians still believe in the infallibility of their Scriptures, this conflict of beliefs cause many pastors to become hypocrites in the pulpit. While they preach to their congregations that the Bible from which they preach is the infallible, inerrant, eternal Word of God they secretly believe in their hearts that no Bible on earth meets this high standard, including their own.

The three men most responsible for the plethora of Bible versions used among Christian churches today are Brook Foss Westcott (1825–1901), Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828–1892), and Eugene A. Nida (1914–2011). Neither of these three man give any reliable testimony of their conversion to Christianity or to having a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Westcott and Hort both seem to base their hope for eternity on their infant baptism and connection to the “church”. Nida’s testimony is that he “went forward” during his family church’s “alter call”, at the age of four, after which his proud mother constantly encouraged him to become a missionary, which he finally did.

Both Westcott and Hort questioned the inspiration of Scripture, denied the doctrine of infallibility, and believed the creation story in Genesis and many other biblically recorded events to be myths. Both were enamored with their contemporary, Charles Darwin and were confident that his theories would be proven right in the end. They also denied the doctrine of eternal punishment, and both were favorable to the Roman Catholic doctrines of purgatory, baptism, justification by works and other Catholic doctrines. Westcott was a devout socialist and postmillennialist, believing the “church” could create Heaven here on earth. Both he and Hort were caught up in the spiritualism fad of the late nineteenth century, becoming founding members of a club called the “Cock and Bull Club,” which they called the “Ghostly Guild.” Its purpose was for “the investigation of ghosts and all supernatural appearances and effects, being all (the participants) disposed to believe that such things really exist”…

In spite of all this, Westcott and Hort enjoyed some fifty years of being accepted by the churches of Europe and America as the foremost Bible Scholars of their time. In 1881 they published “The New Testament in the Original Greek” which was to become the standard text on which all modern English Bibles today are based . The WH text has been edited and revised many times by others, eventually developing into the latest version of the Greek New Testament, The Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies/ (NA/UBS) Greek text, now in its 27th edition. However, after all the editing and revisions applied to the text by other “Bible scholars” during the twentieth century, it still remains essentially the same text as the Westcott and Hort text of 1881.

Assuring bible publishers they will always have new editions and/or versions to publish, the United Bible Societies established the self-perpetuating “Committee on Bible Translations” (CBT) in 1965 to translate the New International Version, and to continue monitoring advances in bible scholarship and changes in the common language. The intent is to continue to edit and/or revise the UBS/NA texts to insure that bible versions using that text are kept up to date with the latest advances in “Bible scholarship.”

There are over 5,000 manuscripts in existence today, divided into two text “families:” the Majority Text and the Minority Text. More than 95% of the “Majority manuscripts” agree with the traditional text underlying all Christian Bibles published before 1881. These include, the Old Latin Bible, the Syrian Bible, the Tyndale Bible, the Great Bible, The Bishop’s Bible, The Geneva Bible, the King James Bible, Luther‘s German Bible, and others. These manuscripts are collectively known as The Majority Text, The Byzantine Text, The Antiochian Text, The Universal Text, The Received Text or the Textus Receptus.

The remaining texts, estimated by some scholars as less that 2% of the total number of extant manuscripts, are referred to as The Minority text and form the basis for the Greek New Testaments published after 1881, from the Westcott and Hort text to the very latest United Bible Society /Nestle-Aland text from which virtually all modern English Bibles are translated.

As “scholars” debate, argue, posture and otherwise confuse bible-reading and bible-believing Christians about manuscripts, one question is almost completely overlooked: What does the Bible teach about the inspiration and preservation of Scripture? Until we have satisfactorily answered this question, all the scholarly wisdom of college professors, Bible teachers, and Bible critics amount to nothing.

The word “manuscript” does not appear in the Bible. However the phrases, “Words of the Lord,” “Word of the Lord,” “Words of God,” and “Word of God,” are found 328 times in the Old and New Testaments. This number does not include the number of times the phrase “My Word(s)” and “Thy Word(s),” referring to God’s Word are used. It is the Words of the Bible that are inspired, not the manuscripts those words were recorded on.

There are hundreds of passages in the Bible that bear testimony to the authority, inspiration and preservation of Scripture, below are four of the best known examples from the New Testament.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

“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 5:18)

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
(Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21,33)

Every quote in the New Testament of an Old Testament scripture bears witness to the writer’s belief in the preservation of God‘s Word. When Jesus says in Matt. 4:4 “it is written” he states his belief in the authority of a statement given by God and recorded by Moses some 1500 years before. And, he uses the present tense, is written,” and not the past tense, “was written.” The same is true in 2 Timothy 3:16 when Paul says, is given by inspiration of God,” not “was given.”

When Jesus says, every word,” in Matthew 4, or Paul says in 2 Timothy 3, all scripture,” they are both saying that Scripture is not just an inspired book, but, that every word in it, both collectively and individually, is inspired and authoritative. Also notice in Matthew 5:18 when Christ says, “My words shall not pass away!” He does not say, “My thoughts shall not pass away,” “My doctrine shall not pass away,” or “My teaching shall not pass away,” but, “MY WORDS shall not pass away.” Again, it is the words that are inspired, no more and no less. Once God has spoken, His words are eternal. “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalms 119:89) This fact destroys the entire foundation on which New Age Deism is based. We do not need the Word of God restored. We already have it. We have always had it. We will always have it. We just need to believe it, and to obey it.

This brings us to a discussion of Eugene A. Nida mentioned above. Nida began his career in 1954 as a linguist for the American Bible Society, a member society of the United Bible Societies, . He quickly moved up to the position of Secretary for Translations. A dedicated ecumenicist, Nida was a major figure in the joint effort between the Vatican and the United Bible Societies (UBS) to produce cross-denominational Bibles in translations across the globe. The New International Version (NIV) is the crowning achievement of this effort in the English Language.

Nida is best known for his development in the use of “dynamic equivalent” translation, later changed to “functional equivalent”. Both of these expressions are usually described as “thought-to-thought” or “sense-to-sense” translations. Both are essentially very bad paraphrases which Noah Webster defines as:

PAR’APHRASE, verb transitive To explain, interpret or translate with latitude; to unfold the sense of an author with more clearness and particularity than it is expressed in his own words. ~Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language

When you paraphrase the Word of God, you no longer have THE Word of God, you have the translator’s understanding of its meaning. Since it is the Holy Spirit that reveals the meaning of God’s Word to believers, a thought-to-thought translation is, at best, only the translator’s commentary on the words translated. A Bible version can rightly be called “The Word of God” only to the extent that it contains accurate word-to-word translations of the original Words of God. It is God’s words by which man will eventually be judged, not what we believe God meant or should have said.