Category Archives: translations

Was John R. Rice a Heretic?

Back in 2011 I wrote what has been my #1 most visited post. As far as I know, I’ve never re-posted it…until today. Therefore, the following is a slightly updated rendition of the “classic.” Enjoy!

In the meantime, this morning (April 6, 2016) I’m going to be preaching to the student body of Bryan College, Dayton, TN. Prayers appreciated.

The Doctor

I would like to pose a question to my brothers and sisters who refuse to recognize any other translation: Was John R. Rice a heretic? If you don’t know of whom I am referring, let me give you a little background information.

Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. John R. Rice (d. 1980) was one of the most well-known fundamentalist writers and evangelists of the 20th century. He wrote more than 200 books and booklets which were published in many languages and sold all over the world. He condemned the compromise, liberalism, and apostasy being taught at major denominational colleges and seminaries, and fought for a return to holiness and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But what I think he will always be remembered for is his founding of the weekly paper, the Sword of the Lord.

For the record, I highly respect Dr. Rice, and my personal library contains several of his works published back in the 1960’s. However, even though Dr. Rice was a great preacher and author, he was not flawless; he said some things back in the day that I have a hard time with. On the other hand, he also said some things that would shock the average reader of Sword of the Lord, especially those who believe the KJV is the one-and-only perfect, preserved text for the English-speaking world.

From 1611 to 1901

Unlike the Sword which continually decries any other translation as dangerous and confusing, Dr. Rice actually recommended the 1901 ASV. (OK, would somebody get a glass of water for the fainting KJV-only person on the floor?) Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, actually said that the…

“…American Standard Version, translated in 1901, is perhaps the most accurate of all versions… It takes advantage of the three great manuscripts – the Sinaiticus, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts – which were not available when the King James Version was translated.”   from, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Wheaton: Sword of the Lord, 1962), p. 59.

As an overall explanation of his beliefs on the topic of multiple translations, Dr. Rice also stated:

“[There] are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all… Have copyists passed on to us any major errors so that in any particular matter we miss the Word of God? There is abundant evidence that they have not. Do the various translations differ materially on any doctrine, any fact of history, any Christian duty, on the plan of salvation, or the Person of Christ, or any comfort or instruction? No, they do not! God has preserved His Scriptures. – from, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969), p. 355.

Now, according to many legalists, at least to those who refuse to read or use any other translation of the Bible than the King James 1611, Dr. Rice, who had probably been one of their heroes, is now a liberal. What a shame! He did so much!

Original or Translation?

I believe that God inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe He gave it to us in the original autographs. I believe that He has preserved copies of those originals in the examples we have of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts. What I do not believe is that the King James Version was the one-and-only, forever-settled-as-pure-and-inspired translation. It is ONLY a translation. To say that no other English translation is the Word of God is to say that the Geneva Bible, 51 years older than the KJV, was just a book.

The Kings James Version of the Bible changed the world. We should all be grateful for it. I still use it many times when preaching, and especially when memorizing verses. But even though the KJV was and is a blessing of God, His Word is preserved in the ORIGINAL TEXTS. Anything other than the original languages, including the King James, is a translation.

Do No Harm

Our goal should be to use the best translations of the texts at our disposal when we are preaching and teaching, comparing them with each other and the originals, when possible, so that we can better understand how God’s Word should be understood in today’s language. After all, if you can’t understand it, doing you no good is the least of your worries – doing harm because of a faulty understanding based on a changed vocabulary is far worse. That is where the REAL heresy comes from.

But hey, it doesn’t matter which translation, if you are not reading it and studying it on your own, you might as well be reading Harry Potter and the Temple of Whatever.

READ your Bible. STUDY your Bible. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and study. If you do, several wonderful things will happen: you won’t be ashamed in the end (2 Timothy 2:15); you will find light for your path (Psalm 119:105); and you will know how not to sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Even the ASV, ESV, HCSB, or the NIV will tell you that!

Right, Dr. Rice?

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General Survey of Understanding and Belief

In the twentieth chapter of Acts, the Apostle Paul called for a meeting with the elders of the church at Ephesus. Knowing the dangers posed by “wolves” from the outside and perverse deceivers on the inside (vs 29-30), He warned them to pay close attention to the things he had taught them. After all, they were responsible for flocks purchased by God with his own blood (v28) – what a thought!

Paul said (v27), “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Well, folks, I’ve been pastoring this little flock for nearly 8 years, and I’m afraid I might have left something out. Therefore, I thought this little survey (conducted anonymously) might help me determine some areas where I need to do some “declaring.” I don’t want to be guilty of shunning any of God’s counsel.

Glance over the following survey. How would you answer? (The “U” is for “unsure”)

2o16 General Survey of Understanding and Belief

  1. Jesus became God
    1. When born of a virgin
    2. When filled with the Holy Ghost
    3. When resurrected from the dead
    4. None of the above
  2. How many books in the Bible
    1. 55
    2. 66
    3. 100
  3. There are errors in the Bible because it was written by men. T / F / U
  4. God is
    1. One God, but with three names
    2. Three Gods with one Name.
    3. One God in three Persons.
  5. Jeremiah fought the battle of
    1. Jericho
    2. Nineveh
    3. None of the above
  6. Because Jesus prayed to the Father, that made him less than the Father. T / F / U
  7. You have to be filled with the Holy Ghost to be saved. T / F / U
  8. Where does the Bible say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”?
    1. Matthew 7:19
    2. Romans 12:1
    3. None of the above.
    4. Unsure
  9. Have you determined your own spiritual gifts? Y / N
  10. Do miracles still happen today? Y / N / U
  11. Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but by different names. T / F / U
  12. Jesus was the first “born again” Christian. T / F / U
  13. Adam and Eve were literal people. T / F / U
  14. Salvation can be lost because man has a free will. T / F / U
  15. We become angels when we die. T / F / U
  16. Everyone will eventually go to heaven, sooner or later. T / F / U
  17. Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead; He was a spiritual being. T / F / U
  18. Those who have died are
    1. Asleep until the resurrection
    2. In heaven or hell right now
    3. No more – they ceased to exist
  19. The proper day to worship is the Sabbath, but it was changed to Sunday by the Catholic Church. T / F / U
  20. You must be baptized to be saved. T/ F/ U
  21. Abortion is OK until the baby can breathe on its own. T / F / U
  22. The only difference between the religions of the world is how we choose to worship God T / F / U
  23. It is a sin to drink or smoke. T / F / U
  24. The King James Version of the Bible is the only one given by God to the English-speaking world. T / F / U
  25. Modern translations of the Bible deny the Virgin birth and divinity of Christ. T / F / U
  26. God’s power on earth is limited when we don’t give Him permission to use us. T / F / U
  27. We should only pray to God the Father or Jesus, not the Holy Ghost. T / F / U
  28. I feel God is angry or disappointed with me most of the time. T / F / U
  29. It doesn’t matter how you live as long as you love God. T / F / U
  30. Preaching and teaching are pretty much the same thing. T / F / U
  31. There’s a difference between the God of the OT and the God of the NT. T / F / U
  32. I am sure of my salvation. T / F / U
  33. Things I’ve done in the past keep me from being used by God. T / F / U
  34. I feel confident I could show another person how to be saved. T / F / U
  35. People who answer surveys in Church are guaranteed a blessing. T

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De Nyew Testament 

Once again I am composing a post upon my old iPhone (would someone set up a GoFundAnthony account and buy me an iPhone 6?). 

I’m sitting in a school bus, under a bridge, all alone, after dropping off a bunch of kids on a summer field trip. They are riding the Riverboat while I sit here waiting. But, it’s a great opportunity to read and study. 

Anyway

One of the treasures I picked up the last time I was in Charleston was a new Bible. But this Bible is a little different – no, it’s a LOT different – from others I have: it’s in a different language! And I am reading it! 

De Nyew Testament is a translation of the New Testament into the Gullah language. No, it’s not a paraphrase or a for-fun parody of the KJV; it’s a literal translation of the NT into a genuine language. Gullah (also known as Geechee or Sea Island Creole) is a language “traditionally spoken along the coastal area of South Carolina and Georgia.” 

According to the preface, it took more than 25 years for folks from Wycliffe Bible Translators and the American Bible Society to pull this translation together. And let me tell you something: it’s worth getting. 

If you are a fluent reader of English, then you can read Gullah. It will take some practice, but you’ll get used to it and start to pick up on its rhythm. 

So, here I was under a bridge, in a school bus, next to the riverfront, reading a little from the Gullah version of the NT, when tears filled my eyes. And because of that, I wanted to write this post so I could share with you the particular verse of Scripture that got me. Read it through a few times, then let me know if it blessed you the way it blessed me 🙂 

“Look yah! We oughta study pon how de Fada da bless we wid e lob! E da lob we sommuch dat e call we e own chullun, an we e chullun fa true. People ob de wol ain been know who God da, an cause ob dat, dey ain know we.” 1 John 3:1 (Gullah)

“Look yah!” We ought to be studyin’ about how the Father has done blessed us with His love! Glory be to God! 

   

 

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, book review, God, translations, Uncategorized, worship

Thursday Thoughts (Who Knew?)

Hello, dear friends and subscribers (both friend and evil, stalking foe)! It is another Thursday evening where I am, and boy is it getting cold! Cold, I tell you! Explanation point!

So, what is on my mind? Oh, nothing too much, only the fact that I am now the wearied owner of a new label: Bible corrector.

Yes, according to someone on Facebook with the last name of LaRue, I am…

“…a Bible corrector. At least that’s settled. You can take your Egyptian mentality and shove it.”

A Bible corrector? Yes, a Bible corrector.

And according to other comments, I’m not a Bible believer, either. No, I am but an “apostate” Bible corrector with an “Egyptian mentality” evidently capable of being inserted into my nether regions. Eeeeewwww!

But why?

Receiving the Theology Award from Temple Baptist Seminary

Receiving the Theology Award from Temple Baptist Seminary

Why is this preacher…this defender of the faith…this hated conservative…this herald of God’s grace…this humble little Baptist fuzzball…not a believer, but a correcter?  Simple…I dared to suggest a word in the King James Version of the Bible could be amplified by a closer study of the original Greek (New Testament).

I mean, seriously! Who knew that suggesting κεράτιον (translated as “husks” in Luke 15:16) might be something other than what covers an ear of corn could be equal to getting in bed with Beelzebub?

Therefore, instead of an Independent, Fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist, I’m a Non-autonomous (cause I’m Southern Baptist), Convoluted, Bible-correcting, Apostate Egyptian. And all this time I thought I was following Christ.

That’s not a cross I’m carrying?

Who knew?

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A Long Post About “Begotten” and Awkward Outbursts

I hate it when someone tells me that they are listening to me, but then do other things while I am talking. For example, when I talk to my wife, I prefer that she put down the phone, the dishes, the laundry, and quit sending emails and texts when I have something important to tell her (notice I used the word “and,” not “or” in the list of things she does). Call me selfish, but it is important to me that I know someone is listening when she says she is.

The reasoning for this preference of mine became embarrassingly evident last night at Taco Bell. My wife said she was listening to me, but only partly so. I will now share with you how I know this to be true.

The Subject

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I preached a sermon drawn from John 3:16. It was a powerful message stressing the grace of a loving God who would give His One and Only Son, Jesus, as a ransom for our souls. It was a message that also stressed, among other things, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Therefore, part of the sermon dealt the Greek word monogenēs (translated “only begotten”).

So, last night, after church and choir practice, my family and a friend went to Taco Bell for a late night gut bomb. As we sat there in the restaurant, my wife asked me to go back over some of the things I shared regarding the King James word “only begotten.” As I began to do so, I noticed she was only half-listening as she tried to maintain another conversation with our two daughters sitting with us.

I shared how that it was unfortunate for so many KJV-only-ers to come down harshly on other translations that change “only begotten Son” to “One and Only Son.” Many claim that the change is an attempt to pervert Scripture; to deny the divinity of Jesus. Yet, what many don’t understand is that the word “begotten” is not the best word that could be chosen to support the very biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

“Only-Begotten”

The King James Study Bible’s notes on John 3:16 explain monogenēs (translated “only begotten”) in the following way (note the highlighted parts):

The Greek word monogenēs is used by John to convey only the unique relationship between God the Father and Jesus as the Son of the Father. It serves to distinguish Christ as the only Son of God, in contrast with the many children of God. The uniqueness of this relationship is further emphasized by the fact that we become the children of God whereas Jesus always was the Son of God.[1]

Note, nothing is said about why the word “begotten” was used in the first place, nor what the  definition of monogenēs actually is. According to sources such as A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, the Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon, the Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint, and the Greek Lexicon of the Septuagint, the word translated “only-begotten” actually means “unique,” “only,” and “the only member of a kin, only-begotten, only (of children) Jgs 11,34; id. (of God) Od 14,13; alone in its kind, one only.”[2]

So, even though “only-begotten” can be used to translate monogenēs, it is obvious that the actual theological meaning implied is that Jesus is the One and Only, totally unique, never created, always God, Son of God – the Word made flesh. Therefore, in my opinion, it is unnecessary for KJV-onlyists to condemn the translating of monogenēs into language that more accurately reflects the theology they are actually trying to preserve.

I find the following selection from Eardmans Bible Dictionary very interesting…

The KJV translation of Gk. monogenḗs “only, unique, one of a kind,” used (following Vulg. Lat. unigenitus) with reference to both Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) and Issac (Heb. 11:17). Most other translations consistently read “only,” while the NIV translates “the one and only” with regard to Jesus. In English “only begotten” implies a created being, an implication not conveyed by the Greek term (cf. Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38).[3]

As I explained to my wife and a friend, there is nothing wrong with changing a word to better reflect the actual meaning, especially when the modern understanding of the word being used tends to give credence to an un-biblical, heretical theology!! Consider the following section (especially the bolded parts) from Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible

The phrase “only-begotten” is not an accurate translation and should not be used in any of the nine passages. This phrase is derived from the Latin Vulgate (a translation of the Bible from about the 5th century which has been quite influential on other translations) and reflects certain theological debates about the person of Christ. …Ultimately the phrase “begotten not made” leads to what theologians call the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. …“Only-begotten” is an incorrect translation. The idea being stressed is the uniqueness of Jesus’ relation to the Father. [4]

The irony is that I am the one who will be slammed and denigrated as a liberal “operative of Satan” who wants to change the Truth of Scripture. In the meantime, I am doing nothing but trying to “take heed unto…thy doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:16).

The Punchline

So, sitting in Taco Bell, I talked with my friend about monogenēs, at one point breaking down the word into its two parts, “mono” and “genes.” Unfortunately, sometime in the conversation I made a slip and mixed my words, saying “homogenes” (as in homogeneous). When I looked at my wife and asked, “Are you even listening?” She loudly, where everyone in the whole stinking place could hear her…

“HOMO! I got it! I GOT the HOMO!”

Here’s a lesson: if Greek bores you, keep silent about it in public places.


[1] King James Version Study Bible ., electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).

[2] Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint : Revised Edition (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft: Stuttgart, 2003).

[3] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 782.

[4] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1590.

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Is There a “Hired Heretic” Union?

Happy Whatever!

Whether you are celebrating Halloween or Reformation Day, I hope your day is a happy one. I don’t wish anyone ill will, even if you’re dressed like a witch with a sugar craving, or sneaking around nailing lists to church doors. Just have fun and be safe, OK?

Bus Sitting

At this moment I am sitting on a school bus in Riceville, Tennessee. After my morning route I drove 60 kids from Battle Elementary to a farm. So, while the little munchkins are out finding pumpkins and petting goats, I’m trying not to freeze.

My only problem is that I forgot to bring a hat, a jacket, or any kind of food or drink. All I have is my iPhone, so that’s why I’m blogging. It will take my mind off my hunger.

Caustic Comment

A while back I wrote a post entitled “Was John R. Rice a Heretic?” In that piece I dealt with the issue of KJV-onlyism and the fact that Dr. Rice, founder of Sword of the Lord, was not a KJV-only subscriber. What came after were a slew of hateful comments from KJV-onlyists (preservationists).

Therefore, instead of complaining about being cold and hungry in a bus parked in a corn field, I wanted to share with you the latest and greatest comment I’ve received. I hope you will be encouraged and uplifted as you read the following words most assuredly written in love…

My beloved, nothing is ever going to change the truth that God has preserved his word in the English language only in the old king james 1611. Frankly speaking,If you don’t see the truth it is just because the god of this world has blinded you.
Your modern versions translate the word virgin to young woman,perverting the virgin birth of our saviour. Are you not ashamed of that,you hired heretic from the pit of hell?
You can say I’m harsh but the fires of hell will be more harsh on you because these modernists who pervert God’s word have hired a candidate of hell like you to speak good of them.
Who do you even think you are to copyright God’s word? CAN’T YOU SEE WHY GOD WILL THROW YOU INTO HELL AND LEAVE YOU THERE FOREVER?

Besides never knowing I owned a “copyright” on any version of the Bible, I am surprised to find out that I was hired by modernists to pervert the very doctrines I thought I believed. If the dark forces of liberalism paid this “candidate of hell” anything, it wasn’t negotiable at the bank. I’ve been cheated!

I guess that’s why I’m sitting, shivering, and starving on this bus as I try to earn a few extra dollars. Evidently, being an unknowingly hired heretic from the pit of hell doesn’t pay very well.

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Wel Come

The Sign

I was being a good son this evening. My mother needed help replacing an air conditioning window unit in her bedroom, so I had been up at her house on the mountain. On the way back I stopped by a gas station to keep from having to walk home.

Wel ComeAs soon as I parked next to a fuel pump, a scrolling sign caught my attention. My little girl, Haley, even though she is dyslexic, said, “Daddy, what is wrong with that sign?”

Honestly, I don’t think anything was wrong with the sign; all the lights worked perfectly. There must have been something the owner of the store was trying to say.

Interpretation

What could it mean? What is Mr. Patel trying to say? This might be a good time to break out my old hermeneutics text book. Or, on the other hand, I could forget the obvious possibilities and think of some more unusual possibilities.

What is meant by “Wel Come“? Here are some ideas.

  • The “L” is missing. In reality, the store owner wanted some privacy to enjoy his collection of beer and nachos, but patrons insisted on wanting to buy things. Therefore, out of frustration, he gave in to their demands to enter and put up a sign meant to say, “Well, just come in, if you insist.”
  • Mr. Patel is praying for a well so that he can keep from buying fuel from the Saudis.
  • It could be an attempt to tell passersby to comb their hair.
  • Maybe it is a Hindu prayer for health?

All I know is that despite the spelling differences, and despite the context, the sign in the window could not mean what we think it means – that’s too obvious. Surely it does not simply mean, welcome.

Too Obvious

This reminds me of verses of scripture that are so obvious, yet people refuse to accept them at face value. They claim textual variances, human writers, and all sorts of things as reasons the Bible could not mean what it says. For example, many people, even so-called Christians, have read “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) and come to the conclusion that it has to mean something, but NOT that Jesus is the “only way.”

Many atheists look at the obvious “design” of the universe and come to the conclusion that even though it looks like a finely-tuned machine, there can’t be a Designer. They come up with every possible solution to the question of origins, no matter how remote, in order to discount the obvious. They say, “Show me the evidence,” then attempt to discredit any given to them.

Welcome

The most logical meaning of the sign in the window, based on every other sign in windows I have seen in my lifetime, is that the store owner was saying, “Welcome!” He may have misaspelicated, but the meaning was obvious.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV). What’s so hard to understand?

You are WELCOME.

 

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