Circling the Bunkers

Circling the bunkers
A Russian Bunker Source: Flikr.com

Sometime ago, I met a learned man. My aunt in the United States introduced me to him and he gave me an appointment to see him at the faculty.

Aside from being a respected professor in his field, he is also a clergyman in the Anglican Church.

My meeting with him was purely regarding my career, but as we began talking, he started to admonish me on my personal life. He began to tell me stuff about my thoughts and relationship with God which no one – not my relatives or anyone else – could have known except by supernatural means.

I looked on in surprise with my mouth almost ajar as he probed into my life and appealed to the biblical story of David and Goliath and how with God on my side, I will become victorious in life. I knew right there that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through him.

By the way, that’s not the first time that God would send someone to strengthen me in my time of despair. The first time I experienced that was in 2014 during my Masters at the University of Ibadan.

A Christian professor from another faculty suddenly walked up to where I was seated before the lecture started and told me a certain thing which no one else knew. At that time I was depressed and was about throwing in the towel, but what he said gave me hope and confidence in God.

In the case of this Anglican Venerable, although I treasured his counsel, I didn’t expect that a man in “that” denomination would be a mouth piece for God. You see, my family were baptized and raised in the Anglican Church, but the controversy that occurred when my parents exited the denomination left a degree of cynicism in my mind.

I had little trust in anyone in a position of leadership in that church because I perceived them to be opposed to the move of the Holy Spirit. Later as I reflected on this experience, God spoke to my heart: “You can’t pocket My Holy Spirit!

How true!

All along, I had been putting the Holy Spirit of God in a test tube of sorts. I had concluded that He could only speak to me through certain pastors or ministers that I revered or those from the denomination I approved of. That was a “we alone” mentality, and thank God for demolishing it.

This mentality is what I call “circling the bunkers.” A bunker is a defensive military shelter designed to protect people and valued materials from falling bombs or other attacks.

A bunker is mostly built underground – and metaphorically speaking – it is a fortress of ideas or practices that is specially protected or defended by individuals with an agenda.

Circling the bunkers is a preconditioned thinking in which a believer invests so much in church traditions, denominational positions, theological systems or outward labels as criteria of spiritual legitimacy and is more ready to defend these than the gospel of Jesus Christ itself.

Many believers today have sadly missed out on God’s intervention in their lives because they assumed that He can only speak or supernaturally work through their preferred or “our own” vessels.

But God can and does ministers through vessels who don’t meet up with our self-made conditions.

I want you to understand that God is not limited by denominations, institutions or human vessels. In fact, God can use a weak, despised, uneducated and a very young person to confound the strong, influential, wise and mighty of this earth.

Yet, many people have a problem accepting others on the basis of minor doctrinal differences or finicky rules:

An Arminian is teaching theology? I’m not interested.

He’s a pre-triber? Nope. Bye.

A Christian woman wearing make up and jewelries? She’s a Jezebel!

An evangelist dancing disco, wearing jean trousers, a hand chain and a even a tattoo? Have mercy Lord, he’s a false convert.

You are from that denomination where you speak unknown languages and raise your thighs when praising God? Out.

That pastor doesn’t use the King James bible? Heretic alert.

I remember when I started a Facebook Christian group six years ago, one guy demanded I put a Bible verse on all my articles because as far as he’s concerned, if a Christian doesn’t have a Bible verse for everything he writes, he’s going by “human wisdom.” He’s defending his fundamentalist bunker.

Couple of years ago, a friend tagged a pastor of a popular Nigerian Pentecostal church to my Facebook post, Unmasking the Queen of Heaven, and the man said something like:

“I was following along when he was quoting the Bible to expose this spirit, but you see when he began quoting these historical and religious non-biblical sources, he lost me. I don’t give attention to such write ups.”

Nothing new here. In the cute little world some people live in, the Bible is the only authority that must be appealed to: history must be scorned, logic should be rejected, science despitefully spat on, arts (especially African arts) demonized, theology should be relegated and unless it’s Jewish culture, it should be trampled upon.

This is what I call a “fundamentalist heritage.” It’s a constructed mental box that is obsessed with dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” at the risk of being labelled an apostate. They can take just one sentence you made and turn it back at you with a polemic of 2000 words and quotes from an entire chapter of the Bible.

We must not fall into the delusion that unless a person speaks or writes like our own pastors or reverend or elders, he must be messed up or absolutely false. This is how people miss out on God’s treasures.

I have known people who found the truth of Scripture even while they were still trapped within a religious system of deception and by God’s leading, they eventually found their way out, especially when they realized they couldn’t change the system.

God used a mute donkey to convey His message to a recalcitrant prophet. And there are times He will use poor, broken vessels to reprove, instruct, reveal His will or work in the lives of His people. That’s the sovereignty of God.

In the Bible we have an example of a prophet who discredited God’s revelation because he felt only his “clique” could legitimately speak for Him.

When God permitted a deceiving spirit to lead Ahab to his death, out of 400 prophets, Micaiah had a different message – a genuine insight into the heavenly conference. When he prophesied Ahab’s death at Ramoth Gilead, a respected prophet reacted:

“Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked” (1 Kgs. 22:24)

Such arrogance! Notice, he was not dedicated to God’s truth but a “party line.” Just talk like we do and you belong. This prophet felt he had a patent on the Spirit of God. He thought he had a corner on His revelation.

This is why it is dangerous to follow anyone who tells you he is the only mouth piece of God, or that his ministry is the only one that carries God’s approval.

Elijah nearly fell into this trap when he said, “I am the only one left” – the only one jealous for God. But God made Him realize that He has marked out for protection seven thousand in Israel who have neither kissed Baal nor bowed to him.

I do not have a corner on God’s truth. I am not the only contender. My blog is not the only place where truths are being shared. There are many others who have been labouring before me and will continue when I am no more here. That leaves no room for arrogance.

In Matthew 23, Jesus assessed the situation and rightly called the religious leaders of His day, “blind guides” (vs. 16, 24), “fools and blind” (vs. 17, 19), and “blind Pharisee” (v. 26). They were blind because their hearts were hardened and they idolized their outward piety above their inner spiritual state.

In Romans 11:25, Paul explained Israel’s mistake: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”

Their hearts were hardened because they were blind to what God is doing. The same can happen to a Christian too – stuck up in a traditional or denominational rot and blind to the move of the Holy Spirit.

The key is to accept others just as Christ has accepted us. He “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4, 6).

It was by His grace – not our works – that we were accepted, so we should extend that same grace to others. We need the ministry of the brothers and sisters outside our bunkers.

Finally, our focus should be on Jesus Christ as the sole standard (Heb. 12:2). It’s self-righteousness when we judge people by their outward labels rather than their devotion to Jesus Christ and His Word. It’s self-righteousness when we compare ourselves to others and judge them on that basis. God has only one standard for righteousness: Jesus Christ.

Facts About Bible Versions

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How was the Bible preserved? Why are there many Bible versions? Do we really need them? Which Bible is God’s Word? Have modern versions removed verses from the Bible?

These questions have formed a crescendo in the church and have been fuelled, in part, by a fringe movement known as “King James Onlyism” (KJO).

The KJO crowd believe that “God wrote only one Bible, and for us today it is the Authorized Version – 1611, King James Version.”

They are aggressive and dogmatic about their claims and often appeal to wild conspiracy theories for support. (Gail Riplinger’s dishonest and slanderous book, New Age Bible Versions readily comes to mind).

A notable KJ onlyist, Steve Anderson and his friends, also produced a New World Order Bible Versions movie, which repeats the same slippery-slope, conspiracy-driven arguments against Bible versions except the KJV – a tirade not easily dismissive as a laughable hogwash.

A reviewer on Amazon aptly points that the movie “seems to be a direct plagiarism of the book New Age Bible Versions by Gail Riplinger … [It] is nothing but a tiny, unprofessional version of [her book].”

This divisive controversy calls for presenting facts about Bible translations. When Christians are well informed in this area, they can easily make up their minds and not get caught up in fanatical conundrums.

Autographs and Manuscripts

The Bible was given by divine inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16). “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21).

The prophets and apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write. The OT was written in Hebrew, the book of Daniel, in Aramaic and the NT in Koine Greek. The original writings, which have not been discovered, are called “autographs.”

The first time a person writes something, it’s called an original autograph. After then, it is a copy. For instance, there are no autographs of the 10 commandments, since Moses destroyed it (Ex. 32:19). But God gave him a copy of the exact words (Ex 34:1).

This is the principle behind Biblical preservation – making exact copies of original writings. Scribes carefully copied the books of the Bible from the autographs into scrolls and preserved them.

These copies gave rise to use of manuscripts (meaning “hand copy”) which was necessary to spread God’s Word across the globe and reach people of different languages.

Some manuscripts were materials like papyrus and leather which decayed quickly in damp climates, so original writings were recopied many times even within the Biblical period.

Due to the climate, papyrus documents from this period were mostly preserved in a dry desert, cave or shelter.

In the first few centuries after Christ, the prevalent style of NT Greek was the uncial text. In later centuries, the form of writing Greek was the minuscule or Byzantine text.

Because there are more Byzantine-style texts (dated to 8th-10th centuries) discovered than others, the Byzantine texts are also called “the Majority Text.”

While copying texts, scribes sometimes had difficulties writing their copies perfectly, thus, there were some textual variations in manuscripts – mostly spelling or numerical errors – which affected no doctrine.

Bible scholars who made translations had to critically examine the manuscripts and get the earliest Hebrew or Greek copies available.

The closer the text was to the time of the apostles, the more important. The number of manuscripts containing a verse was also considered. Through this manuscript tradition, translators could reconstruct the original readings and give a more accurate rendering.

The remarkable preservation of the Bible is a fulfillment of God’s promises: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Mt. 24:35; Is. 40:8).

These promises stand true for the Word of God in every language or translation. It’s the height of irrationality to limit these Bible promises to a 17th century Bible version.

Erasmus and The Textus Receptus

All through church history, people have always had affinities for particular Bible translations.

The first Old Testament translation into Greek – the Septuagint (shortened as LXX) – was made circa 280 B.C. It was used extensively in the time of Christ and the apostles and also by Greek-speaking Jews. Some people debated its use in the early church but it was later accepted.

When Jerome translated the LXX into the Latin Vulgate in 405 A.D., it sparked a controversy as the people preferred the LXX translation. This brought Jerome into disagreements with Augustine of Hippo. Later, the Latin Vulgate became “the only Bible known and read in Western Europe” for 1000 years! (David Schaff, Our Father’s Faith and Ours, 1929, p. 172).

The rationale behind Godly translations is to put God’s Word in a language or form that can be widely understood by people. The language we read the Bible is not important; what matters is that we read its inspired message in a form that we can understand and respond to.

Since the Gospel is to be preached “to every creature” and “among all nations” (Mk. 16:15, Lk. 24:47), everyone should be able learn God’s Word in their own language without having to learn another language. Erasmus had this intention.

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) was a Catholic priest and scholar with a unique outlook. He said:

I vehemently dissent from those who would not have private persons read the Holy Scriptures nor have them translated into the vulgar [common] tongues...” (Preserved Smith, Erasmus: A Study of His Life, Ideals and Place in History, 1962, 184).

He decided to produce a Greek translation of the New Testament. He had 10 manuscripts: 4 from England, 5 from Basle and one borrowed from his friend, John Reuchlin. These texts however, weren’t ancient (they were largely Byzantine texts). For instance, Reuchlin’s manuscript, the oldest, dates to 10th-12th century (Mangan, Life, Vol 1:374-375).

When the work was completed, Erasmus dedicated it to Pope Leo X. In spite of being based on ten not very ancient Mss., Erasmus’ Greek text was later regarded as “Textus Receptus” (the Received Text). It was later edited and the King James version was translated from it.

His Greek text was criticized because the people were used to the Latin Vulgate. However, there were some problems with his work.

In a bid to quickly complete his work, he added some margin notes from the manuscripts into the text of some verses (which eventually found their way into the KJV).

The Reuchlin manuscript he used didn’t have the last 6 verses in Revelation 22, so Erasmus had to translate them from the Catholic Vulgate to fill in the gap, and noted this in a footnote. This was how a blunder crept into the KJV wherein the “book of life” appears in Rev. 22:19 whereas, every extant Greek manuscript has “tree of life.”

First John 5:7 (Johanneum Comma) was also missing from every Greek text he had, so he omitted the verse.

When his work was published, this omission sparked an outrage and charges of heresy were about to be levied on him. After some effort, he found the verse in a 16th century Greek minuscle 61 text (which he suspected was doctored) and eventually introduced it so “that there be no calumny” (Erasmus, 166).

Perfect Version Anyone?

Before the KJV, there were other English versions: the Tyndale (1525), Coverdale (1535), Matthew (1537), Great (1539) and Geneva Bible (1560). When King James I ascended the English throne in 1603, the Geneva Bible was the people’s favourite.

In 1606, King James approved an English translation to be used in all the churches of England, which was easily understood by the people. The KJV was translated by 54 scholars and completed in 1611. In the preface, they wrote:

But how shall they understand that which is kept close [veiled] in an unknown tongue? … indeed without translation into the vulgar [common] tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) without a bucket or something to draw with…” (The Translators to the Readers, 4).

This proves that the KJV translators would not object to modern translations if they were intended to present the Scriptures in a language understandable to everyone.

The KJV translators never claimed to have produced the only true Bible version, but rather stated that “a variety of translation is profitable for finding out the sense of the Scriptures.”

They admit to consulting other “translators and commentaries” to improve on their work. Yet KJ onlyists attack those who use other translations!

The KJV was criticized in its time too. In fact, it took 40 years before it replaced the Geneva Bible which the people loved. The translators stated that “the very worst translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession … is the word of God.”

Nowhere does the Bible teach that God will preserve His word only in form of a 17th century English translation.

If the Geneva and Coverdale English Bibles weren’t God’s Word, neither is the King James Bible. The KJV owes much to these earlier translations.

If the KJV alone was God’s preserved Word, then the great Reformation (1517-1603) took place without God’s Word and the KJOs can as well swim to Rome. This would also imply that German, Chinese or Twi Bibles are not Bibles, since the whole world must learn 17th century English and read the 1611 KJV if they would have God’s Word.

The KJV 1611 translation wasn’t perfect or inerrant since it “rapidly went through several editions, nearly all of which had changes in the text. The edition of 1614, for example, differs from the original in over 400 places” (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Oxford Univ. Press, 1993, 730).

The 1611 edition had the apocrypha books as well as listings of Church feasts including the Virgin Mary’s feast days, which were later removed.

The 1613 edition (called the “Wicked Bible”) left the word “not” out of the 7th commandment, thus endorsing adultery. The present KJV we use was revised in the 18th century (James B. Williams, Editor, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man. Greenville, S.C.: Ambassador-Emerald International, 1999, p. 159)

For the KJV to be perfect in every word, the translators must have the same infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their translating as the writers of Scripture, but the translators never claimed inspiration or perfection for their work.

They wrote alternate meanings “in the margins, where the text is not so clear.” There are over 8,000 alternate English renderings in the margins of the KJV. Why? Because the translators were not inspired to know the exact meanings.

For example: the KJV failed to distinguish between the Devil (Gr. diabolos) e.g in Matt. 4:1 and demons (Gr. daimonion) e.g in John 13:2. It also fails to distinguish between hell (Gr. hades) in Luke 16:23 and the lake of fire (gehenna) in Matt. 5:22.

It uses the pronoun “it” for the Holy Spirit in John 1:32, Rom. 8:16, 26 and 1 Peter 1:11.

It renders the Greek word hierosulous in Acts 19:27 as “robber of churches” whereas it should have been “robber of temples.” Yet some KJOs insist the KJV is more accurate than the Greek or Hebrew manuscripts!

The KJV’s obsolete English words grossly obscure the meaning of passages like Num. 20:14; 1 Cor. 16:13, 2Kgs. 22:14; Esther 3:13; Acts 28:13; Cor. 6:11-13, 1 Thess. 4:15, Songs of Solomon 5:4; 2:11, 12 etc. Compare the obsolete wordings used in the KJV with modern translations to see how confusing the former can be even to a native English speaker.

It uses the word “unicorn” for wild ox, “satyr” for wild goat, “cockatrice” for common viper, “apothecary” for perfumer, “dragon” for monster, “barbarian” for foreigner and “shambles” for meat market.

To argue that a 400-year old translation with words like “firkins”, “ouches”, “bolled”, “sottish”, “besom”, “chode”, “bruit”, “anon”, “wotteth” or “strakes” is clearer than modern English translations requires a high degree of mulishness. This was why newer English translations were necessary. An obsolete rendition obscures understanding.

Reuben A. Torrey sums up the Christian position on Bible versions:

No one, as far as I know, holds the English translation of the Bible as absolutely infallible and inerrant. The doctrine held by many is that the Scriptures as originally given were absolutely infallible and inerrant, and that our English translation is a substantially accurate rendering of the Scriptures as originally given” (Difficulties in the Bible, Chicago: Revell, 1907, 17)

The Modern Versions

In the 19th and 20th centuries, more Bible manuscripts were discovered: codex Sinaiticus (c. 350 AD), the Bodmer 14, 15 (c. 175 A.D.), Ryland 547 (c. 125), and Magdalen (c.70-80).

Thousands of pieces of manuscripts older than the Byzantine texts (which the Textus Receptus [TR] or “Received Text” relied on) have also been discovered. These earlier texts became the foundation for modern Bible versions.

The main difference between the KJV and modern translations (like the NIV, RSV, NASB etc.) is that the latter are based on more ancient manuscripts. Manuscript textual variation is another reason. These variants resulted from:

1. Copyist error – papyrus is not as clear as white paper, so a little imperfection on it can be mistaken for a letter.

2. Expansion of piety – a scribe, in attributing honour to the Lord may write “the Lord Jesus Christ” or “Jesus Christ” instead of Jesus.

3. Marginal notes – these were sometimes written to explain the text because one Greek word can have different English meanings.

For example, John 3:36 (KJV): “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” The NASB reads: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life.”

The Greek word apeithco has a primary meaning (disobedience) and secondary meaning (unbelief).

The NASB chose the primary meaning, while the KJV chose the secondary. Both are correct because faith in Christ naturally results in obedience to Him.

4. Parallel influence – a scribe copying the epistles can come across a sentence in Colossians that looks like Ephesians. Though the passages do not read the same, he may be tempted to render them as same.

For instance, Col. 1:14 and Eph. 1:17 read the same in the TR, but in earlier texts, only Eph. 1:17 has the phrase “through his blood.” But KJOs still run around like chickens with their heads cut off, screaming “This is a conspiracy to remove the blood of Jesus!”

Translational differences also occur when there are no textual variations, but differences in sentence structure, grammar or influences of culture-centric words.

The KJV used what are called dynamic equivalents or culture-centric words e.g in Romans 3:4 which reads “…God forbid” (There is no “God” in the TR). The term “God forbid” was a common expression in 17th century England. The NIV reads as: “may it not be.”

Let’s examine some verses KJOs use to “prove” that modern versions have turned our swords into butter knives.

(a) KJV: “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him” (Lk 2:33)

NIV: “The child’s father and mother…”

Is this denying the Virgin Birth?

No. In Luke 2:48 (KJV) Mary refers to Joseph as Jesus’ father. In John. 6:42, Jesus is called the “son of Joseph.” In Lk 2:27 and 2:41, the KJV talks of Jesus’ parents.

If KJOs are being consistent, they must also attack the KJV. That Joseph was called Jesus’ “father” is not a denial of the Virgin Birth. What do you think Jesus called Joseph?

b) KJV: “…Lo, I see four men walking loose…and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Dan 3:25)

NIV- “…like a son of the gods.”

Is this denying Christ’s pre-existence?

Not at all. Nebuchadnezzar’s servant speaking here was a pagan who believed in many gods, so in context, “a son of the gods” is correct.

While the pre-existence of Christ is well supported by the NIV, this verse is a wrong one to use as support. The fourth man in the fire was an angel of God.

c) KJV: “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)

NIV: Verse missing.

Is the NIV denying faith in Christ as a condition for baptism?

No. This verse is not in the NIV and others because only a very few Greek manuscripts have it – none earlier than the 6th century.

Erasmus inserted it into the TR due to its presence in the Catholic Vulgate and the margin of one manuscript he had. Marginal notes are not part of the Bible.

d) KJV: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life…” (Mt 7:14)

NKJV: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life…”

Is the NJKV ‘the devil’s bible’ for rendering this “difficult”?

No. The Greek word here is thlibo (Strong #2346). Out of the 10 times it occurs in the NT, the KJV renders it as “narrow” only here. Elsewhere: throng (Mk. 3:9), afflicted (2Cor. 1:6, 1Tim. 1:10, Heb. 11:37), troubled (2Cor. 4:8; 7:5, 2Thess. 1:7), suffer tribulation (1Th. 3:4) and trouble (2Th. 1:6).

Therefore, the term “difficult” is closer in meaning than “narrow.” The KJO argument is quite unfortunate because a good translation ought to be consistent.

e) KJV: “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus…” (Acts 4:27)

NIV: “…against your holy Servant Jesus…”

Is the NIV denying the Sonship of Jesus?

No. The Greek word there is pai (Strong #3816) and it means a male child, boy, a male servant, especially as a title of the Messiah.

The “servant” rendering would be more correct since in context, Jesus ascended as a Man (not a boy), and the apostles were presenting Him as Israel’s Messiah (“whom thou hast anointed”). Both the Sonship and servanthood of Christ are taught in the KJV and NIV.

f) NIV: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.” (Mt 5:22)

NIV: Jesus “looked around in anger…” (Mk 3:5).

KJOs say that while the KJV adds “angry without cause” to Matt. 5:22, modern versions omit the word making Jesus out as a sinner under judgement.

True, modern versions have the word “without cause” (Gr: eivkh) in their footnotes though it’s found in a wide number of manuscripts. It was apparently deleted due to the seeming contradiction.

However, if one reads Matthew 5:22 in context, it’s clear that Jesus was speaking of sinful anger or calling one’s brother a “fool.” He wasn’t speaking of righteous anger like the one directed at the rebellious Pharisees.

In a bid to poison the well, KJO folks fault the NIV, claiming Virginia Mollencott, a lesbian, was a part of its translators. Nice try. She was only a literary (stylistic) committee – not a translator – for a few months; and she resigned when her sexual view was exposed.

Until the day comes when the homosexual lifestyle of King James I invalidates the KJV, this moot point doesn’t merit a response (see King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire by David M. Bergeron).

The KJV (which I do use) is a good version. In areas where it differ from modern versions like the RSV, NKJV or NIV, no doctrine is affected (except in cases of New World Translation, Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version, The Message etc.).

They all present the gospel and the cardinal doctrines of the Bible – if one reads the entire text and doesn’t take an isolated verse here or there to prove a point.

A position maintaining that the KJV is God’s Word while others are not, is dishonest, incoherent and intellectual suicide.

To tell millions of Christians saved and nurtured in the faith by the NIV or NKJV that they use the devil’s bibles, is harmful to the body of Christ.

KJO advocates should stop making an idol out of the KJV and start studying its message, praying and living a Christ-centered life.

New Age Bible Versions?

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“KJV Onlyism” is a relatively new movement among Christians. It affirms that the King James bible version of 1611 is the only inspired, true and perfect Bible in the world today.

Thus, they reject the NIV, NLT, RSV, NASB, and all other modern Bible translations (even the NKJV) because they were allegedly drawn from “corrupted” Egyptian manuscripts.

As a former KJV onlyite who used to view fellow Christians using modern Bible versions as “apostates”, it was the ill-logic, fanaticism and intellectual dishonesty that mare this position that ultimately led me out of it.

In the early 90’s, a KJV-only theory came up that all Bible versions except the KJV were textually laced with New Age ideas by two scholars – Fenton Hort and Brooke Westcott.

This idea came from a woman named Gail Riplinger, through her book, New Age Bible Versions (published in 1993). Her theories are still adhered to by a number of King James onlyites.

Although I can’t endorse some very flawed Bible translations (e.g. New World Translation, the Clear Word bible etc.) and I have some reservations toward liberal paraphrases like the Message bible, I consider it destructive for a Christian to regard all English Bible versions except the KJV as “the devil’s bibles.”

Riplinger claims that the purpose of her book is to prove that there is “an alliance between the new versions of the Bible (NIV, NASB, Living Bible and others) and the chief conspirators in the New Age Movement’s push for a One World Religion” (p. 1).

This statement indicates that her approach wasn’t objective, because she had already decided on her conclusion. The book is actually based on a conspiracy theory – an attempt to find New Age philosophies behind every bush and shadow.

Most of what she did in the book was to collect New Age concepts, teachings and strategies and impose them upon modern Bible translations, while at the same time rationalizing away the KJV’s similar vulnerability.

Anyone who knows about New Age spirituality will find the claim of the New Age movement forming an alliance with Bible translators to create a one world religion to be quite outlandish and in fact, a leap in the dark.

For one, the New Age movement doesn’t see (or use) the Bible as their final authority. The conspiracy theory appended to them by KJVOs appears to be a convenient rationale to evade the scholarly reasons for the differences between the KJV and modern English translations.

There are other problems with Riplinger’s book:

I. On page 2 she quotes Edwin Palmer, an editor of the NIV, who said: “[F]ew clear and decisive texts say that Jesus is God.”

There is nothing “New Age” about this statement, it’s a fact. No matter which Bible version you use, there are fewer than 10 places in the New Testament that explicitly say that Jesus is God, though hundreds more verses implicitly reinforce this basic truth.

2. On page 318 she said: “Real references to Jesus as ‘the Christ’ are rare; however the NKJV and new versions literally paint their pages with this pawn.” (p. 318)

The term ‘the Christ’ doesn’t imply a New Age connection. In 1 John 2:22, the KJV has the word ‘the Christ,’ does this also makes it New Age?

The word ‘the Christ’ occurs in the KJV 19 times and 3 times in the New Revised Standard Version, so using Riplinger’s weird logic, then the KJV would be more New Age than the NRSV.

‘The Christ’ occurs in these passages because in Greek, the word (Cristov) has a definite article (“the”). The only exception is 2 Cor. 13:3 which many modern translations didn’t render as ‘the Christ.’

3. The NIV for instance, is accused of removing up to 64,000 words from the Bible. Actually, no words are “removed.” The problem is that KJV onlyists are using the KJV as the standard by which all other Bible versions are to be judged. But the KJV is not the standard and cannot be the standard.

There were several English translations of the Bible – Wycliffe Bible, Tyndale Bible, Geneva Bible, The Bishop’s Bible – before the KJV of 1611. So why not choose one of these as the “standard”?

The Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts should be the real standard of determining if words were or weren’t added to the text, not a 17th century English translation.

One can as well use the NIV as the standard and say “The KJV has 64,000 words added to the Bible.” Is that reasonable?

To an unbiased mind, the areas of differences between both translations are minimal and do not affect any doctrine. There is no “conspiracy” on the part of newer versions to hide the deity of Christ or any essential doctrine.

For example, let’s compare Galatians 4:7 in the KJV and NIV.

The former has the phrase “through Christ” (though it’s not found in the more ancient manuscripts) while the latter doesn’t.

Using Riplinger’s logic, we would conclude that, “The new versions deny the centrality of Christ in salvation.” But this is untrue because in Romans 5:1, 11  and other places in the NIV, we are shown the role of “our Lord Jesus Christ” in saving us.

If the NIV or modern translations wanted to hide the role of Christ, such words wouldn’t have appeared in them at all.

On the other hand, there are places in the NIV/NASB/ASV etc.  where the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned but the KJV curiously omits it. Jude 1:25 in the NIV reads :

“To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

But the KJV says: “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

Romans 1:4 in the NASB reads: “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

But the KJV reads: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Using the logic of KJV onlyites, we would say: “The KJV has denied the Lordship of Christ!”

4. On page 81, she wrote: “Luke 4:34 reveals that only the devils call Jesus the ‘Holy One of God“.

This argument is banal. Jesus is called the “Holy One” in Acts 2:27 (KJV). Does this mean the KJV is New Age?

5. The NIV is attacked for replacing the word “God” with “He” in 1 Timothy 3:16. This is somewhat questionable, but the NIV does indicates “God” in its textual footnote, so I fail to see a New Age conspiracy there.

On the other hand, there are places where the NIV has the name of “Jesus” but the KJV has “he” instead e.g Matt. 4:19

NIV: “Come, follow me,”Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 

KJV: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Again, in Acts 4:25, the KJV omitted the word “by the Holy Spirit” while modern translations did not.

NLT: “You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans?”

KJV: “Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?”

If the case were to be in reverse, that the NIV, NLT and ESV omitted “the Holy Spirit” in one single text, we will never hear the end of it, how “mutant versions are pushing the Holy Spirit into the closet.”

But to attack modern translations at one point while ignoring the KJV when it fails on that same point is intellectual suicide, inconsistency and rank prejudice. A sound argument is always consistent.

6. It is claimed that the name Lucifer was “removed” from Isaiah 14 of modern versions (by New Age translators?) and replaced with the title “morning star” so as to make the passage refer to Jesus.

This is where the research and competence of the author should be doubted by every reasonable believer. The Hebrew word in the text is llyh which means “shinning one” or “morning star.”

The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew lexicon states that llyh means “shinning one, epith of king of Babylon” (“How are thou fallen, shinning one, son of dawn!” i.e. star of the morning). The Liddel and Scott Lexicon defines llyh as “bringer of the morn, morning star.”

The term “Lucifer” doesn’t appear in modern translations because it only appeared in Jerome’s Catholic Vulgate which the KJV translators used. (It was the Bible of Western Europe for more than 1000 years). Jerome translated llyh as “Lucifer” which according to Cassell Latin Dictionary means “light-bearing, light-bringing.”

The Septuagint, Targum Jonathan and the Peshitta, which are all ancient versions of the OT, do not have the word “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12.

Just because modern Bible versions do not follow Jerome’s translation doesn’t mean they are identifying Jesus with Lucifer!

7. Mark 10:21 in both KJV and NIV were compared and it was stated that “New Versions” delete the word “take up the cross” (p. 22)

The omitted word didn’t appear in the NIV because the early Greek texts (Nestle Aland) used didn’t contain it.

The word “take up the cross” occurs in all other places such as in Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 and Matthew 16:24, referring to the same story. The command doesn’t become less important because it wasn’t contained in the same number of times as the KJV.

8. The NIV is said to be “New Age” because it deletes 13 words from 1 John 4:3, thus “denying that Jesus is the Christ.”

On comparison, the only part that seems to be missing is “Christ has come in the flesh.” Though the reason for its removal here is unknown, on a closer look, we see that the phrase actually appears in verse 2! This is it:

“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God. Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God“.

So the NIV actually contains the very word KJV onlyists accuse it of trying to remove! New Age conspiracy? Nope.

9. The NIV and NASB rendering of Romans 1:20 was labelled New Age for not containing the term “Godhead” (p. 184)

The KJV used the term “Godhead” in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9. But the KJV translators rendered different Greek words in Rom. 1:20 and Col. 2:9 as the same English word.

In Romans 1:20, the word there is qeiothj meaning “divinity” or “divine nature” whereas in Colossians 2:9, it’s qeothj which means “deity” (the state of being God). Yet, due to ignorance misinformed individuals have been roused to slander a more accurate rendition.

10. Several tables are presented in this book comparing the KJV with modern versions.

On pg. 1, a table is titled “Do You Have a “holy bible?” It lists out 10 Bible verses in the KJV and NIV where the word “holy” wasn’t used in the latter.

In one of these 10 verses, Matt. 12:31 (KJV), the word “holy” was in italics because it wasn’t in the original text; it was supplied by the translators. Yet Riplinger found it convenient to include it as example of modern versions being “unholy.” She’s using the KJV to judge the Greek text of the NT! How preposterous.

Now, if this criteria is valid, then the NKJV meets up as a holy Bible and it shouldn’t be attacked, yet Riplinger says that the New King James Version is also of the Antichrist! (pp. 101-2). This is highly irrational.

Now, does it mean it’s a sin for the KJV to have “the book of life” in Rev. 22:19 when every Greek manuscript has the “tree of life”? What of Acts 8:37 and 1 John 5:7 which have very slim manuscript support?

If one wants to use this same methodology, one can also make a table titled “Do you have a spooky Bible?” and list out 10 places where the KJV uses the word “ghost” instead of “Spirit”?

Or how about we compare the KJV and other English translations and point out places where the KJV uses “it” rather than “he” for the Holy Spirit (John 1:32, Romans 8:16, 26 and 1 Peter 2:11)? What will these prove? It would rather prove that no translation is perfect!

11. On pg. 2 Riplinger wrote:

The Greek text used to translate the NIV, NASB and others was an edition drastically altered by a Spiritualist (one who seeks contact with the dead through séances), who believed he was in the ‘new age‘.”

This is another rhetoric meant to poison the well. There was an end note there referring the reader to The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, Volume II (London, 1903), p. 252 which actually says: “…the Son of Man will vindicate His sovereignty by showing that He satisfies every need and every capacity which the struggles of a new age have disclosed.”

Riplinger took this man’s words out of context in order to link all modern Bible versions with the occult – and this deceitful trend reverberates all through her book.

Several Christian scholars, including KJV defenders like David Cloud have also pointed out the many holes in this absurd “New Age bible” theory.

KJV onlyism thrives on lies and sensationalism and even worse, such falsehoods have done much spiritual damage to Christians who were saved by reading these Bible translations.

It bears the bad fruitage of divisions, fear and false accusations within the church. But I will say this: don’t let anyone destroy your faith in God’s Word with cunningly devised fables.