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As a relatively unknown Bible teacher, I hesitate before taking exception to an associate professor of New Testament.
However, Dr. Carson in his book seems neither to tremble, nor to hesitate in naming the Trinitarian Bible Society’s writings as the object of his attack. Since there is a greater degree of disparity between the Society and Dr. Carson that there is between Dr. Carson and this Bible teacher, I am encouraged therefore to present some comments on the book which Dr. Carson fondly hopes will be a “popular rebuttal” of the rather excellent writings of Terence H. Brown, secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society.Dr. Carson also presumes to take Dr. David Otis Fuller’s ministry to task. In speaking of Dr. Fuller’s widely accepted book, Which Bible?, he feels that he has found scores of arguments used by the contributing writers which warrant his describing the authors as follows, “I am forced to conclude that some of its writers are either extraordinarily imprecise thinkers or simply dishonest: and of course I prefer the former alternative.” (P. 77 K.J.V. Debate).
I trust that I shall not be thought ungracious if I bring to the attention of the learned professor the fact that while he feels there may be some ground for him to describe certain writers as imprecise or even dishonest, if he insists on making such a suggestion; the difficulties mentioned by him, are by no means limited to his side of the question. In fact, a very careful examination of his book may even find Dr. Carson snared and caught up in his own description of the defenders of the K.J.V.
When the reader considers the frontal attack of Carson, on the writings of Terence Brown, David Otis Fuller, and Wilbur Pickering, the question naturally arises as to whether he is courageous or rash. Our examination will clearly reveal that his book, is no David versus Goliath battle, regardless of his efforts to make it so. In criticising Pickering, Carson remarks,
“Pickering’s criticisms of eclecticism are sometimes unfair...and if I understand Epp correctly, although he rightly pinpoints the many weaknesses of eclecticism, (real or potential), he nevertheless offers no better method. His comments are presented as a goad to make us aware of weaknesses and to spur us on to more research in order to achieve greater precision.” (K.J.V. Debate, P. 119)
The confession of Dr. Carson to the many weaknesses of eclecticism, is refreshing. However, a perusal of Carson’s book, reveals that the study of Epp on the weaknesses of eclecticism in order to spur his readers to achieve greater precision has in Dr. Carson’s case at least, been a total failure, as I shall proceed to demonstrate.
The preface of the K.J.V. DEBATE cites Dr. H.H.P. Dressler and Dr. J.B. Richards as having read, “an earlier draft and having offered some helpful corrections.” A Mr. Larry Perkins also is brought forward as having “been of the greatest assistance, and his advice most enriching.” Professor Carson excuses these helpers and friends from bearing the brunt of any criticism that may be evoked by the following pages of his book. It is right and proper that the case should be so. Notwithstanding, this writer contends that they failed miserably in their ministry of guiding, correcting, and advising their champion of the N.A.S.V., N.I.V., and certain other new versions of the scriptures. Thus far they are to be blamed, and no further.
Professor Carson, when writing of the authors whose articles appear in Dr. Fuller’s Which Bible? declares himself “forced to conclude that some of it’s writers are either extraordinarily imprecise thinkers or simply dishonest: and of course I prefer the former alternative.” (K.J.V. Debate, P.77). It is certainly very gracious of Carson to prefer to think of these valiant men as “imprecise thinkers” rather than “dishonest”. Christian charity just might have required the latter term to be withheld from his argument. Seeing that he has introduced the possibility of such a terrible accusation, we shall have to leave it on the record, as something inferred as to a possibility, but something that he has not been able to prove. Professor Carson and his followers will please pardon this writer, if I introduce a third possible term which might describe writers on each side of the version question. The probable alternative to imprecise thinking, or dishonesty is “ignorance”, a much less serious charge than “dishonesty”. I gladly give Dr. Carson his choice of the three terms as he faces this critique of his writing. Seeing that he very properly refuses to accuse the K.J.V. advocates of dishonesty; and in the light of his often voiced rejection of “imprecise thinking” there may remain little for the learned professor to claim for himself than the refuge which I have thoughtfully provided for him. i.e. Ignorance of some vital factors which would give his readers a better perspective.
In his very revealing introduction Dr. Carson writes:
“There has arisen a sizeable and vocal body of opinion that defends the King James Version (K.J.V.) as the best English version now extant. Some of these defenders merely argue strongly; but others have gone so far as to make the adoption of this view a criterion of orthodoxy. They dismiss those who dissent from them as modernists, compromisers, or dupes. I respect their desire to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints: but I disagree heartily with many of their conclusions and even more of their arguments. Lest I be dismissed out of hand as another “modernist”, I protest strenuously, that when I sign the thoroughly conservative Articles of Faith of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary, I do so without the slightest reservation.”
Just how conservative is this Theological Seminary of which he speaks?
After declaring his own adherence to the “conservative” Articles of Faith of his Baptist Theological Seminary, (introduction, page 10) Carson then proceeds to make this amazing declaration:
“Westcott and Hort especially the latter were not quite as conservative as modern evangelicals. Both made statements I regret. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a first rate turn-of-the-century commentary on John’s Gospel more conservative than that of Westcott. And his little book entitle ‘The Revelation of the Father: Short Lectures on the Title of the Lord in the Gospel of St. John’ is superb. Can we not recognize the contributions of such men without writing them off?” (K.J.V. Debate, page 75).
If the professor’s statement at this point is accurate, it constitutes one of the greatest possible indictments of himself and his school of theology.
If his thinking here is “imprecise” it serves as a “cover up” for doctrines of devils, and apostasy in Westcott and Hort. Personally, I prefer to think that the professor is ignorant of the facts of the case. The essence of modernism is the ability of unbelieving men to write Biblical truths in such a fashion that unwary readers fail to detect the hiss of the serpent, who, through the ages, has always been president of the “Yea hath God said” brand of scholarship. Drs. Westcott and Hort were no exceptions to the rule. Professor Carson’s reference to Westcott’s “conservative” book is interesting indeed. In keeping with his insistence that the K.J.V. defenders should consider all of the evidence, I wish to draw to the attention of my readers the following facts.
In assessing just how conservative Westcott was, Dr. Carson fails to give his readers the whole truth. This he requires that the Textus Receptus defenders must do, under penalty of being described as “imprecise thinkers” or possibly “dishonest”. Carson’s reference to one literary work of Westcott of necessity must leave his readers with an unbalanced impression in their minds. Consequently, with earnest desire to deliver the professor from the guilt of misleading his readers, I submit to all and sundry a few facts that will help them to arrive at a knowledgeable decision regarding just how conservative and well balanced Dr. Westcott was. I submit that Dr. Carson was “imprecise” when he failed to bring to the attention of his readers the fact that Westcott authored another booklet. The consideration of which might cause them to hesitate about accepting Professor Carson’s judgment on the matter.
“The most interesting feature of this excursion was a visit to La Salette, near Grenoble. The miracles wrought here at the sacred spring made a great impression on my father. Several narratives of miraculous cures wrought by Our Lady of La Salette were recited in his hearing, and after relating one of the most striking of these, he says: --
A written narrative can convey no notion of the effect of such a recital. The eager energy of the father, the modest thankfulness of the daughter, the quick glances of the spectators from one to the other, the calm satisfaction of the priest, the comments of look and nod, combined to form a scene which appeared hardly to belong to the nineteenth century...An age of faith was restored before our sight in its ancient guise. La Salette, offered a startling change, but to me one full of the most absorbing interest. There we stayed two days as pilgrims...But above all that was grand and lovely the memories of the Grande Chartreuse and La Salette are the most vivid.” (Westcott Life & Letters., Vol 1, page 254-255)
On his return to England he wrote a paper on the subject of La Salette, from which I have quoted above. he had fully intended to publish this article, but refrained from doing so on the advice of Dr. Lightfoot. The professor feared that the publication of the paper might expose the author to a charge of Mariolatry, and even prejudice his chance of election to a Divinity Professorship at Cambridge. The announcement of the paper’s condemnation is thus made to its publisher as follows.
“My dear Mr. Macmillian -- Dr. Lightfoot thinks, after reading La Salette that it might be misunderstood by some persons, and therefore it must be condemned...Dr. Lightfoot and Mr. Benson have both asked for copies, and I should be glad to keep one for myself; for the visit taught me much which I would not willingly forget.“ (Westcott: Life & Letters, Vol. 1, page 256)
The following quotation from “Life of Westcott” reveals that Dr. Lightfoot had more reason to fear that Westcott’s essay on “The La Salette Miracles” might be understood rather than misunderstood. “After leaving the monastery we shaped our course to a little oratory..
It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a “pieta” the size of life (i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ). The sculpture was painted, and such a group in such a place and at such a time was deeply impressive. Had I been alone I could have knelt for hours.” (Westcott: Life & Letters, Vol. 1 page 81).
Westcott Jr. continues.
“My father’s orthodoxy was again called in question two years later. In 1867 he wrote a tract entitled The Resurrection as a Fact and a Revelation, the substance of which was derived for the most part from his essay on The Gospel of the Resurrection. This tract was accepted by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and was already in type, when one of the Society’s episcopal referees detected heresy in it. The writer was unable to omit the suspected passage, as he held it to be essential to his argument, and consequently “his valuable pamphlet” was suppressed.” (Westcott: Life & Letters, Vol. 1, page 256)
Westcott Jr. refrains from revealing his father’s heresy. One cannot help but feel that, if the teaching could be defended successfully, he would have plainly stated the problem, leaving his readers to exercise individual judgment -- but we are denied that privilege. It is not surprising then to discover that one who found “great difficulties of the notion of sacrifice and vicarious punishment,” (Westcott: Life & Letters, Vol. 1, page 231), in the Bible doctrine of the atonement should be judged heretical or the closely connected doctrine of the resurrection. When we read Hort’s biographer, who, incidentally, was his own son, the truly conservative Bible believing Christian is staggered at the extent of unbelief which is revealed in their personal correspondence, which in Hort’s case is declared to reveal his actual thinking on subjects, some of which were never meant for publication. Hort: Life & Letters, Vol. 1 page 8 preface.
For the sake of fair debate and in the interests of enlightening the professor’s readers with fuller evidence than he has provided, I shall here give a few revealing quotes from my documented essay on, “The Thinking, Theories, and Theology of Drs. Westcott & Hort.”
“I am very far from pretending to understand completely the ever renewed vitality of Mariolatry. But is it not much accounted for, on the evil side, by the natural revertence of the religious instinct to idolatry and creature worship and aversion to the Most High; and, ON THE GOOD SIDE, by a right reaction from the inhuman and semidiabolical character with which God is invested in all modern orthodoxies - Zeus and Prometheus over again? IN PROTESTANT COUNTRIES THE FEARFUL NOTION, ‘Christ the believer’s God’ is the result... Another idea has lately occurred to me; is not Mariolatry displacing much worship of scattered saints, and so becoming a tendency towards unity of worship?...I have been persuaded for many years that Mary - worship and “Jesus” worship have very much in common in their causes and their results. On the one hand we speak and think as if there were no real bringing near, such as the N.T. tells of , but only an interposition between two permanently distant objects. On the other we condemn all secondary human mediators as injurious to the one, which is to be found everywhere. But this last error can be hardly be expelled till protestants unlearn the crazy horror of the idea of priesthood.” Vol.2 Page 49,50,51. Life & Letters”.
Will Dr. Carson now continue to stand by his claim that these men were “Not quite as conservative as modern conservative evangelicals?”
“I confess I have no repugnance to the primitive doctrine of a ransom paid to Satan, though neither am I prepared to give full assent to it. But I can see no other possible form in which the doctrine of a ransom is at all tenable; anything is better than the notion of a ransom paid to the Father.” (Hort: Life & Letters, Vol 1, page 428)
The lie is given to these errors in;
1 Tim 2:5 - 6 K.J.V.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
Hebrews 9:14 K.J.V.
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit OFFERED HIMSELF WITHOUT SPOT TO GOD, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Isaiah 53:10 K.J.V.
“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
and many other scriptures.
Zacchaeus came down before his branch broke under him. The question is, will Professor Carson climb down before he saws his branch right off?
In case our beloved enemy is not thoroughly convinced that he should not consider himself and others who accept and defend the corrupted versions, to be only slightly more conservative than Westcott & Hort, I submit the following quotation.
“O that Coleridge, while showing the notion of a fictitious substituted righteousness of a transferable stock of good actions, obscured the truth of man’s restoration in the Man who perfectly acted out the idea of man, had expounded the truth, (for such I am sure, there must be) that underlies the corresponding heresy, (as it appears to me) of a fictitious substituted penalty.” (Hort: Life & Letters Vol. 1, page 120).
“I entirely agree...with what you there say on the Atonement, having for many years believed that the absolute union of the Christian, (or rather of man) with Christ Himself, is the spiritual truth of which the popular doctrine of subsitution is an immoral and material counterfeit...Certainly nothing can be more unscriptural than the modern limiting of Christ’s bearing our sin and sufferings to His death; but indeed that is only one aspect of an almost universal heresy.” Vol. 1 page 430
The writer sincerely hopes that no truly born again believer would ever want to consider Drs. Westcott & Hort only, “not quite as conservative as modern conservative evangelicals.”
If Dr. Carson is right in this assertion we are indeed in the midst of the great falling away, or apostasy that the Bible indicates, clearly, must precede the return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The particular type of ‘conservative evangelical” to which he refers is indeed apostate along with Drs. Westcott & Hort; and it is past time for true Bible believers to separate from such a dead profession. I trust that Dr. Carson was quite ignorant of the truth when he made his strange claim for Westcott & Hort.
Carson’s amazing claim for conservatism for Westcott & Hort, is prefaced on page 75 of his book, by an interesting statement.
“Westcott and Hort are regularly portrayed in nearly diabolical garb; and Origen fares even worse, as the genesis of the non-Byzantine texts is regularly ascribed to him. The FACT remains that all the text types except the Byzantine antedate Origen. This is an historical fact. Westcott and Hort, especially the latter, were not quite as conservative as modern conservative evangelicals. Both made some statements I regret.”
Carson declares a theory as if it were a fact. He presumes that all of the evidence is in regarding the antiquity of the Byzantine text. Has the professor forgotten that his darling Vaticanus and Sinaiticus lay silent for centuries in the strong holds of error, before being brought out of hiding. These manuscripts were highly exalted by Westcott and Hort, that they might shed their dubious light into the world of scholarship; and become the principal reasons for the vast confusion that now reigns in the church. Who is to say that the near future may not bring forth even more of the very evidence of antiquity for the Byzantine text type that so many modern conservative evangelicals seem to dread?
Who is to declare that considerable evidence does not already exist, to which many scholars are turning a blind eye? Others are ignorant of much evidence that has never been brought to their attention in seminary. Regardless of the answer to each of the above questions, one fact remains undeniably clear. Professor Carson obviously considered his statement regarding Westcott and Hort to be historical fact. This essay demonstrates that at this point he is one million miles wide off the mark.
Is it too much to suggest that his “historical fact” regarding the Byzantine and other text types, might be perhaps only one hundred thousand miles away from the mark. The modern defender of the new versions always seem to take too much for granted. Their vaunted proofs and “assured results” so often explode like punctured balloons when unbiased research brings to light the real, “historical facts”.
“What shall we say too about the vast majority of evangelical scholars, including men in whom were found the utmost piety and fidelity to the Word, along with a scholarship second to none? These men hold that in the basic textual theory Westcott and Hort were right, and that the church stands greatly in their debt.” K.J.V. Debate Page 75
If the ‘vast majority of evangelical scholars’ had read, “Life and Letters of B.F. Westcott, by his son”, and “Life & Letters of F.J.A. Hort, by his son”, or even my essay, “The Thinking, Theories and Theology of Drs. Westcott & Hort”, which is based upon these two biographies, they would realize that their thinking has been shaped by a deliberate deception planned by these two men to lead unwary orthodox men into the same position of unbelief which is revealed so clearly in their personal correspondence. That essay also reveals an astonishing variety of deviant thinking, on their part, in many areas of life.
I suggest to my readers that men whose thinking regarding the atonement made by our blessed Redeemer is absolutely blasphemous, are not safe guides when it comes to a question of the manuscript authority for the Scriptures.
Is there any reason for Bible believers to believe that men who are proven by their own private correspondence to be hopelessly astray in their thinking and theology, should be accepted by men who are truly conservative, as if they were almost infallible guides when they consider their basic textual theory? What strange blindness has come upon the people of God? One is forcibly reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to some early conservative evangelicals, who had listened to false teachers.
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you..” Galatians 3:1
“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” Galatians 5:7
Strong, gives the meaning of the word “bewitched” as, ‘to fascinate by false representations’, the word “hinder he gives as ‘to beat back’.
In these two words whose meaning can be described as “To fascinate by false representation, and to beat back," we have the perfect Biblical description of the effect of the thinking, theories and theology of Drs. Westcott and Hort upon the precious blood bought church of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In answer to the Professor’s question, I reply, that Drs. Westcott and Hort, have accomplished in the religious realm, precisely that which Darwin did in the scientific realm, with his theory of evolution. He deceived the vast majority of the experts by manipulating the evidence to fit a preconceived theory. So did Westcott and Hort. Interestingly Hort acknowledges the fact that he had set forces to work on ‘orthodox but rational men’, of which they were not aware.
A revealing quotation from Hort helps us to understand how his already darkened intellect was further deceived by Darwin.
“Have you read Darwin...in spite of difficulties, I am inclined to think it unanswerable.” Hort: Life & Letters, Vol. 1., Page 414
“But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin...I must work out and examine the argument more in detail, but at present my feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable.” Hort: Life & Letters, Vol 1., Page 416
So what shall we say to this man’s textual theories?
Hort’s mind was obviously open to the devil’s lie of evolution. May he not have been marching to the same music when he first called the Textus Receptus “vile and villainous”?
May it not be that the vast majority of evangelical scholars who follow his theory are also in process of being deceived, precisely as Hort had planned?
As we read the following quotation let us keep in mind the very significant words of his biographer.
“In all that he wrote his real self is shown, and nowhere more than in his letters. I should add perhaps that in his letters he was wont to express his opinions with considerable freedom; he would unburden himself to a friend with a remarkable absence of the reserve which otherwise characterized his utterances. For this very reason it would not be right to give to the world without a caution views which he never meant for publication.” (Hort: Life & Letters Vol. 1, Preface pages 7 & 8)
“The errors and prejudices which we agree in wishing to remove, can surely be more wholesomely and also more effectually reached by individual efforts of an indirect kind than by combined open assault. At present very many orthodox but rational men are being unawares acted on by influences which will assuredly bear good fruit in due time, if the process is allowed to go on quietly; but I cannot help fearing that a premature crisis would frighten back many into the merest traditionalism. And as a mere matter of prudence, it seems to me questionable to set up a single broad conspicuous target for the Philistines to shoot at, unless there is some very decided advantage to be gained.” (Hort: Life & Letters Vol. 1, page 400)
There we have a very plain statement to the effect that Hort was deliberately leading orthodox believers into the same diabolical trap into which he and Westcott had already fallen.
May every Christian person who has been led to trust in the theories of Westcott and Hort ponder prayerfully the implications of this hiding of their purpose. Please keep in mind also that the new Bible versions are all greatly influenced by the conniving and deliberate deception of these men. Very occasionally we may find an exception, but usually that is a very weak effort to “improve” the K.J.V.
Let my reader who has abandoned the Textus Receptus ask himself prayerfully before the Lord, if he is not one of those who follow in the train of sincere orthodox men that are being “worked” on by forces or influences of which they are not aware? What a horrible way to lead souls astray! Truly Satanic in every respect. The twentieth century has seen a flood of orthodox men and women fall into this trap.
The Professor has cited certain qualities such as, “utmost piety”, “fidelity to the Word”, and “scholarship second to none”, which he feels marks some scholars who hold that Westcott & Hort were right in their basic textual theory. The intimation is that the possession of the above qualities somehow ensures that those thus singled out for such honourable mention will somehow or other have surely been kept from being deceived by the Textual theory of men who were self confessed heretics and deceivers.
May I suggest that the possession of these qualities will mark out those individuals as special targets for Satanic attack.
When the Apostle Peter was singled out by our Lord for special mention regarding his second to none, understanding of the person of Christ, it was no long before the Devil infiltrated his thinking concerning the necessity of the atonement (Matt 6:17 and verses 21 - 23). His scholarship (?) may just have been the occasion of a little pride in his Lord’s commendation.
We find that he was not corrected by his own learning but by the rebuke of our precious Lord. “Get thee behind me satan.”
Likewise in Galatians 2:13, we find the Apostles Peter and Barnabas, of whom it can be truly said, they were men of ‘utmost piety and fidelity to the Word, along with scholarship second to none.’ All of their learning and piety, and faithfulness to the Lord, as well as Peter’s special training by the Lord Himself, did not at that point suffice to keep Peter from being carried away by the dissimulation (hypocrisy) of the Jews, nor from dragging Barnabus down with him. If the vast majority of modern evangelical scholars who think that Westcott & Hort were right in their basic textual theory, have proven to be more highly resistent to satan’s wiles than the apostles, Peter and Barnabas, then this essay’s warning need not have been written. On the other hand, if they are sincere souls, who have accepted the Westcott-Hort textual theory, without knowing that Hort stated very plainly that he considered evangelical doctrines perverted, rather than untrue; and have also not been made aware that ‘orthodox’ scholars were special objects to be deceived by Hort’s darkened thinking; this essay will have fulfilled a service to brethren beloved who should become greatly concerned when they are made aware of the facts. My feeling is that Professor Carson may be one of the many ‘orthodox’ men, upon whom Westcott and Hort’s theory has successfully worked to such an extent that in him they find a defender for at least some of their thinking.
“It has not been proved conclusively that the Byzantine text-type did not exist before the fourth century. However, although there is not unambiguous historical evidence that it existed before the fourth century, there is clear historical evidence that the other three textual traditions do stretch back to the ante-Nicene period. The theory is a reasonable way of accounting for the appearance in history of this text-type about A.D. 350.”
One cannot help but note with interest that Carson demands, ‘unambiguous’ historical evidence from the KJV defenders for their claim to antiquity for the Byzantine text-type. He does not claim that there is no evidence, but demands, unambiguous evidence.
He then proceeds to set forth a little of the Westcott-Hort conflation theory, for which, to the best of my knowledge, there is no unambiguous evidence of any kind. The whole theory emanates from the strange thinking of Westcott and Hort and others of like mind. Carson declares this theory to be a reasonable way to account for the appearance of this text-type about A.D. 350.
Strange that scholars blindly follow Drs. Westcott and Hort in rejecting the Textus Receptus, which does have surprising evidence of antiquity. They then rest their case upon a theory that can produce no historical evidence. A theory which should be strongly suspect when we consider the evidence of error in the minds of the men who propounded it. D.A. Carson terms his book, a plea for realism. Perhaps this essay should also be designated, “a plea for realism from D.A. Carson.”
“There are two common replies made by the defenders of the TR at this point. Their first concerns the Peshitta Syriac version of the New Testament, and it is found in a publication of the Trinitarian Bible Society:
In his book on the N.T. Canon (1855), Westcott himself saw reason to desert the opinion which has obtained the sanction of the most competent scholars, that the formation of the Peshitto Syriac was to be fixed within the first half of the 2nd century. The very obscurity which hangs over its origin is proof (the italics i.e. underlining, does not belong to Westcott!) of its venerable age, because it shows that it grew up spontaneously among Christian congregations...had it been a work of later date, or the 3rd or 4th century, it is scarcely possible that its history should be so uncertain as it is. In the “Introduction to the N.T. in Greek,” 1882, Westcott contradicted himself on all these points and contended that the Curetonian Syriac was of greater antiquity, and that the Peshitto was an authoritative revision in the latter part of the 3rd or 4th centuries.”
The above quote is taken from “The Divine Original” a booklet written by Terence H. Brown formerly Secretary of the Trinitarian Bible Society, London England.
One may be forgiven at this point, if there comes to mind the fate of one Asahel, who pursued after Abner, refusing to be counselled to the effect that he had tackled an adversary that was simply too much for him to handle. (See 2Samuel 2 verses 17- 23) The outcome must have been very embarrassing to Asahel.
So it might be embarrassing for Professor Carson if, Brown, Fuller, or Pickering whom he assails so vigorously, should take notice of his attack. My thinking is that these men could give a very good account of themselves. However, I have a few comments that I would like to make.
Carson takes exception to Terence Brown’s statement that in 1882, Westcott contradicted himself on all mentioned points which concern the antiquity of the Peshitto Syriac version. Westcott’s confessions contained in the Trinitarian quote, must be found to be embarrassing to the advocates of Westcott and Hort theories. Carson seeks to defend Westcott’s reversal of himself as follows.
‘The expression ‘contradicted himself’ is loaded. In fact, almost thirty years worth of textual research prompted Westcott to change his mind. He is fool who does not change his mind to conform to truth.”Brilliant thought Carson, but read Matthew 5:22b and tremble.
Conversely I might suggest;
Let us see if Westcott was changing his mind to conform to truth, or abandoning the truth to believe a lie. The position of this writer is that the latter was the case.
For consideration of my readers I would submit as follows, concerning the thirty years’ worth of textual research which Carson argues prompted Westcott to change his mind regarding the antiquity of the Peshitto Syriac.
Let us keep in mind that the years referred to by Carson lie between 1855 and 1882.
In 1855 Westcott apparently saw the Peshitto Syriac issue clearly. In 1882 he contradicted his former writing. Was this a turn for the better or for the worse in his thinking? I suggest that evidence indicates a retrograde step. In 1860 Westcott appeared to be clear on the matter of evolution. We find Hort writing to him in the following vein.
“It certainly startles me to find you saying that you have seen no facts which support such a view as Darwin’s”. (Hort: Life & Letters Vol.1, page 431) In 1881, after approximately twenty years worth of such research we find that Westcott capitulated to some aspects of the evolutionary theory. He now says,
“And here again nature illustrates the lesson of the Bible. No result has been established more certainly by recent investigations than the gradual passage from lower to higher types of life in the natural world through enormous intervals of time”. (Lessons from Work. Westcott, page 153.)
Very early in His years at Durham, Westcott wrote a book which was a revelation of the confusion and unbelief that prevailed in his mind.
Concerning this book, “Religious Thought in the West”, Westcott’s son informs us.
“This clear statement of the scope and aim of the writer is made still clearer by the denial that it can be shown that the vital force of any other great religion is alien from Christianity.” (Westcott: Life & Letters, Vol 2, page 143)
There you have it. The man who found great difficulties in the idea of vicarious suffering in the atonement, finally reveals that he does not know what Christianity really is. I find no reversal of this statement in the record of his later years. One would think that thirty years of research might have helped out in this realm also.
In May 1889 just seven years after his great learning had caused him to change his thinking of the Peshitto Syriac, Westcott writes;
“I like to recall the touching incident of the Bishop of Lincoln seeking very shortly before his death the blessing of his infant grandchild, whose hands, at his request were laid upon his head.” (Westcott: Life & Letters Vol. 2, page 88)
This pathetic record reveals alarmingly the spiritual vacuum in which Westcott and his like minded theologians moved.
Professor Carson (KJV Debate, page 76) declares that certain writings of the defenders of the KJV bring him to the place where he must either laugh or weep.
Which will he now do as he reads this utterance of the man whose thinking and theories have so greatly influenced him and the majority of conservative evangelicals? This man whose great friend Dr. Hort called the Textus Receptus “vile”, who together with his many friends questioned, or even in Hort’s case, ridiculed the atonement, obviously went further and deeper into confusion as the years passed. Shall we now accept his ‘mature’ testimony which Carson would love to use for his ends in his attack in the KJV and its advocates?
Why did not Dr. Carson inform his readers of the deviant thinking of Westcott and Hort, at the time he termed their theory, ‘reasonable’? surely no right thinking person would laugh at the Bishop of Lincoln. Shall we not then with Professor Carson, “weep” as we think of him? The KJV advocates might also shed a few tears for Carson and the ‘vast majority of modern conservatives’, who like sheep being led to the slaughter, tenaciously hold to the theories of Westcott and Hort.
Carson claims that he has found ‘scores of times’ in Dr. Fuller’s great book, “Which Bible?”, arguments which he claims are the result of ‘imprecise thinking’ or ‘dishonesty’ in the writers who are responsible for the various articles contained in the book.
After carefully checking Carson’s claims, one cannot but think that he rather hoped that no one would ever read “Which Bible?” to check up on him. He gives only two illustrations of the attitudes to which he objects. In the first case he appears to build a bit of a straw man, and then to tear it manfully to pieces. He reads something into the article which is not there, and then proceeds to find fault with that which might be inferred. His second argument is pitiful, and misleading in the extreme. Be sure to read Dr. Fuller’s excellent book and see for yourself. As I read Carson’s criticisms of it, I neither laugh or weep. Rather I am reminded of a man picking barnacles from the side of a great ocean liner. He holds up that which simply is a reminder of its immense service and declares that he has found a flaw in the ship. You will have to do better than that Professor before you convince anyone to abandon the KJV for NASV or NIV.
In context Dr. Logsdon is referring to Dr. Davis Otis Fuller’s books, “Which Bible?” and “True or False?”
“I carried these titles with me all summer long, and immersed myself in them. I have never underscored books so much as I have done in these. They enhanced my appreciation of the KJV as the true revelation of God as no other writings. As a member of the editorial committee in the production of the Amplified New Testament, we honestly and conscientiously felt it was a mark of intelligence to follow “Westcott and Hort”. Now, what you have in these books strikes terror to my heart. It proves alarmingly that being conscientiously wrong is a most dangerous state of being. God help us to be more cautious, lest we fall into the snares of the arch deceiver.”
In a personal letter to the writer of this essay, the same scholar writes with reference to the New American Standard Version.
“When questions began to reach me, at first I was quite offended. However, in attempting to answer, I began to sense that something was not right about the NASV. Upon investigation, I wrote my very dear friend, Mr. Lockman, explaining to him that I was forced to renounce all attachment to the NASV...I could not add much to what Dr. Fuller has in his books, copies of which you possess. I can aver that the project (NASV) was produced by thoroughly sincere men who had the best intentions. The product however, is grievous to my heart and helps to complicate matters in these already troublous times. God bless you as you press the battle.”
“Another way of saying this without using the word verbally (although I have no objection to the term provided its meaning and purpose be rightly observed) is found in the now-famous “Ligonier Statement,” signed by John M. Frame, John H. Gerstner, Peter R. Jones, John Warwick Montgomery, James I. Packer, Clark H. Pinnock, and Robert C. Sproul:
We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God: We hold the Bible, as originally given through human agents of revelation, to be infallible and see this as a crucial article of faith with implications for the entire life and practice of all Christian people. With the great fathers of Christian history we declare our confidence in the total trustworthiness of the Scriptures, urging that any view which imputes to them a lesser degree of inerrance than total, is in conflict with the Bible’s self-testimony in general and with the teaching of Jesus Christ in particular. Out of obedience to the Lord of the Church we submit ourselves unreservedly to his authoritative view of Holy Writ.”
“As far as I know, none of the subscribers to this statement accepts the preeminence of the Byzantine text. In fact, I cannot think of a single great theological writer who has given his energies to defend a high view of Scripture and who has adopted the TR, (Textus Receptus - CJC), since the discovery of the great uncials and, later, the papyri and other finds. The theologically and Biblically sensitive and precise writings of such men as Benjamin B. Warfield, James I. Packer, John W. Wenham, and others all defend “inspiration” in the classic sense, but none of them feels forced to follow the TR (Textus Receptus) as a result.”
It is interesting to note that having previously branded some K.J.V. men as imprecise, Carson now presents us with a select list. Each of these writers are described as “the theologically and Biblically sensitive and precise writers...” It would appear that these men have the unqualified endorsation of Professor Carson. He appears to be happy to announce that of the signers of the “Ligonier Statement”, not one is found to accept the preeminence of the Byzantine text. So far as his ‘theologically and Biblically sensitive and precise writers’ are concerned, we are told “None of them feels forced to follow the TR (Textus Receptus) as a result.”
Among the list of these commended scholars is the name of John W. Wenham.
It is interesting to note that Carson writes his “Critique of the Identity of the New Testament Text” as an appendix to his KJV Debate. At some length he endeavors to counter Wilbur Pickering’s scholarship. It must be slightly more than disconcerting to Professor Carson to hear the testimony of one of his highly recommend scholars, which was given as a result of reading that book.
With reference to that happy day when the Lord opened his eyes as to the error that he had been in, and speaking of the book that the Lord used to help him in at least one giant step in the right direction, John W. Wenham summarizes Pickering’s book:-
“This is a shocking book--at least it delivered a shock to my system. It
is not often that one reads a book which re-orientates one’s whole approach
to a subject, but that is what this has done for me. It is a frontal
attack upon the Westcott and Hort theory of the N.T. text, the general
soundness of which I had accepted without question for forty years.
Two or three years ago I had the first tricklings of doubt about it:
then I chanced to read George Salmon’s “Some Thoughts on the Textual
Criticism of the N.T.” (1897), which increased the trickle to a stream:
now with this book it has become a flood...It is now acknowledged that
both the Neutral and the Western texts are edited. Aleph (sinaiticus)
and B (vaticanus) differ from one another in 3,000 places in the gospels
alone -- this not including differences of spelling. B is “disfigured by
many blunders in transcription” (F.G. Kenyon); Aleph is far worse. They
are not good witnesses...In looking for a breakthrough, Pickering poses
the sixty-four thousand dollar question: How are we to account for the
Byzantine stream of MSS--a stream which is at the same time enormously
varied, yet relatively homogenous? His answer is simply that it had a
common source, not in a fourth-century revision, but in the autographs.
The Western and Neutral texts are the aberrations, while the Syrian text
represents the best tradition...In his assault on the textus receptus,
Hort convinced the world that the witness of the majority of MSS was
unimportant. But he could only sustain this if he could plausibly argue
his fourth-century revision. This is not an academic matter, for it
affects the wording of the hundreds of millions of scriptures which we
are distributing across the globe. It is shocking to think that we may
have been giving the world bad text.” (The Evangelical Quarterly (Jan. 79)
Reviews and Notices of Preface Rev. Revised p.31)
Well Spoken Wenham!!
Enlightened Christians have been sounding this warning for many years. Carson writes many of these Christians off as not really being knowledgeable on the subject. Perhaps now that he hears from his own, ‘Theologically and biblically sensitive and precise’, John W. Wenham, he may have second thoughts about the matter. The writer of this essay contends that the new version bible movement is the greatest and most successful attack of the devil against the Church of our Lord and Saviour, in the twentieth century.
Here the author of the KJV Debate discourses learnedly on the subject. It is only slightly heart warming to read;
“Therefore where verbal inspiration has been affirmed or pre-supposed, it has been ascribed only to the autographs...Now both of the above statements. ..stress the fact that inerrancy, infallibility, or any other term or phrase, obtains in the original documents, the autographs...to concede that total inerrancy or verbal inspiration in restricted to the autographs does not mean that we have no sure word from God.” “A large conceptual distance exists between the statement, “The scriptures as originally given are not inerrant,” and the statement, “The scriptures as originally given are inerrant, even if we do not have the autographs.”
It is my opinion that we might search for a long time before we found anyone even among the heretics who would say that there were errors in the autographs. It is not unreasonable to suppose that all would politely agree with Carson that a “large conceptual distance” would indeed be in effect between those who agree that the autographs were inerrant and those who deny the fact.
If my readers will now refer back to the “Ligonier Statement”, it will be noted that the signers
“hold the Bible, as originally given...to be infallible and see this as a crucial article of faith with implication for the entire life and practice of all Christian people. With the great fathers of Christian history we declare our confidence in the total trustworthiness of the Scriptures, urging that any view which imputes to them a lesser degree of inerrancy than total, is in conflict with the Bible’s testimony in general and with the teaching of Jesus Christ in particular. Out of obedience to thee Lord of the church we submit ourselves unreservedly to his authoritative view of holy writ.”
What should we then say concerning men who would cast doubt about the accuracy of the autographs? Would we say that they are “slightly less conservative than modern evangelicals,” including Dr. Carson and his school? Would Dr. Carson wish to identify even remotely with such men?
The following quotation is taken from a secret, “confidential” document, prepared and initialized by Westcott, Hort & Lightfoot. It was distributed to carefully chosen scholars in 1871. Acceptance of its affirmations would ensure the apparent success of the ‘hatchet job’ that they planned for the KJV. As a result these brainwashed scholars would bring forth the revised version of 1881.
In context, they are discussing internal evidence of the ancient manuscripts. Even the autographs do not escape the “yea hath God said” of these satanically inspired men.
“Yet the supremacy of external evidence, and that historically estimated, is nowise shaken by the existence of a few passages, (They are very few) where a reading would be condemned on the ground of authority, is unquestionably right. Here the rational interpretation of the facts is that the words intended by the apostolic author either were written down wrongly by the amanuensis, or were very early corrupted by a slip in transcription : that the text so corrupted was for a while faithfully copied: and that the true reading was presently restored by a virtual conjecture of a scribe. This paradox of corruption in the oldest and best attested reading demands equal recognition in the somewhat less rare cases in which all the ancient attempts at correction have been unsuccessful...”
Those men who agreed to judge the “Textus Receptus” vile, and villainous, exalt the exceedingly corrupt Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and would have rejected the Ligonier Statement, seriously question the autographs.
It is astonishing to think that the ‘vast majority of conservative evangelicals’ would heed the theories of those men, who refuse to believe that the Eternal, Omnipotent God could enable Holy Spirit inspired men to produce a perfect written record of that which He spoke to them. This is something that is accomplished every working day of the week, by many hundreds of thousands of business men. That is they get their secretaries to write the precise words that they desire in order to communicate their message to others. That is so easily accomplished by man, but in the darkened intellects of the Cambridge trio, there was doubt as to God’s ability to bring into existence an infallible Scripture.
If Carson was aware of the heresies and errors of Westcott and Hort, listed before in this essay, and knew of those unholy statements concerning the autographs, he was verily guilty of withholding truth from his readers when he dismissed it all with the simple words, “Both made some statements I regret.” In that case his book would be meant to provide a deliberate cover up for these men, and the charge would have to be as he suggested, “Dishonesty.”
Ignorance or dishonesty it was, and I hasten to state, I prefer to think that it was the former in Dr. Carson’s case. Slightly less conservativeindeed!!!
As the LORD is witness to what they have signed, and to that which I have written, I now call upon these scholars, namely John M. Frame John H. Gerstner, Peter R. Jones, John Warwick Montgomery, James I. Packer, Clark H. Pinnock, and Robbert C. Sproul: (Along with Professor Carson) to solemnly warn their readers and students that Drs. Westcott and Hort come under the condemnation of Ligonier Statement and the Word of God (Rev 22) Let them warn those who trust them that Westcott, Hort, and Lightfoot, whose initials appear on the confidential document quoted above, are in conflict with the Bible’s self-testimony in general and with the teaching of Jesus Christ in particular. Let them submit themselves unreservedly to the authoritative view of Holy Writ, of their precious Lord and mine also. Let them earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and in so doing expose, the heresies, of the men whose theories have been so widely accepted.
For Christian scholars to have endorsed Westcott and Hort as being slightly less conservative than modern conservative evangelicals would be no more than a sin of ignorance. God is very gracious to such misdeed, when those are guilty repent and confess (Proverbs 28:13 KJV).
For scholars and their followers to continue to endorse them after reading the facts contained in this essay, could be construed a sin of willful disobedience.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have
dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from
the great transgression.
Psalm 19:13 (KJV)
All emphasis in quotes are those of the author of this essay, to direct attention of my readers to salient statements.
Dr. Carson’s name is listed as one among twelve “Doctors” of theology who give their endorsement to James R. White’s error packed attack on the position of those who very properly hold to the absolute supremacy of the Authorized King James Version. Watch for The Anti King James Version Conspiracy response to White’s The King James Only Controversy.