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.
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.