By Dr. Jeffrey Khoo
Academic Dean, Far Eastern Bible College & Seminary
March 10, 2007
King James Onlyism-a new book by James D Price of Temple Baptist Seminary-joins the ranks of fundamentalist books like From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man (1999), One Bible Only? (2001), and God's Word in Our Hands (2003), in attacking the Biblical doctrine of the verbal and plenary preservation (VPP) of the Holy Scriptures, and the faithful, logical identification of the divinely preserved texts to be the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus on which the King James Version (KJV) is based.
Price's Multiversions Onlyism book was printed with the help of Rev Yap Beng Shin, a Bible-Presbyterian (BP) minister, who earned his MDiv from Temple Baptist Seminary under Price's tutelage. Rev Yap was one of the 11 signers of a statement against the VPP of the Holy Scriptures. Besides Rev Yap, the other signers were Rev Philip Heng, Rev Ong Hock Khee, Rev Tan Eng Boo, Rev Charles Seet, Rev Colin Wong, Rev Anthony Tan, Rev Tan Choon Seng, Rev Eric Kwan, Rev Eddy Lim, and Rev Yap Kim Sin. I would assume that Price's book is not only recommended by Rev Yap but also these other BP ministers who stand with him. For those looking for reasons why the KJV ought to be replaced with modern versions, Price's book is better than most.
Price's involvement in the VPP/TR/KJV debate in Singapore went as far back as 2002 when he wrote a critique of my paper, "A Plea for a Perfect Bible." His critique was circulated among BP churches and members, and grossly misrepresented my position on the VPP of Scriptures by making it purely a translational (English and KJV) issue when it was primarily a textual and doctrinal one (100% inspired and 100% preserved Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words underlying the faithful and accurate KJV on the basis of the twin doctrines of the VPI and VPP of the Holy Scriptures, Ps 12:6-7, Matt 5:18, 24:35 etc). Price's critique heightened the confusion among BP members and churches concerning VPP. I wrote a response to Price's review of my paper and clarified what I meant by VPP. But Price does not seem to care about accurate and truthful reporting for he continues to misrepresent and caricature pro-KJV or KJV-superiority advocates as Ruckmanites and Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA). He insinuates that Presbyterian and Harvard scholar Edward F Hills, and David Otis Fuller, a founding leader of the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC), and D A Waite, President of the Dean Burgon Society believe in the inspiration of the English words of the KJV when they are actually talking about the inspiration and preservation of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words on which the KJV is based. Such slanders did not begin with Price, but with Doug Kutilek who is quoted and praised by Price in his book. If Hills, Fuller and Waite are Ruckmanites and SDAs for promoting the KJV as the best and only faithful English Bible today, then the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Bible League, which promote and defend the KJV and consider not only the modern versions but also the NKJV to be unreliable, should be implicated too. Price unjustly paints with a broad brush, and by so doing creates confusion and scepticism among the believers.
Anyone reading Price's anti-KJV book would likely lose confidence in the KJV and be filled with doubts over the faithfulness and accuracy of the KJV, and its underlying Hebrew and Greek texts. If a Multiversions Only advocate wishes to discourage a KJV user from using the KJV, Price's book might just do the trick. Price spared no effort to show that the KJV is full of mistakes. A young or undiscerning reader might be stumbled and deceived, especially if he does not start with Scripture itself and believe in God's promise of special providence in preserving His inspired Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words on which the KJV is based, and how the KJV is a faithful and accurate translation of those providentially preserved Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words.
According to Price, the KJV is only one version among many good and even better versions. To him, the use of the KJV should be a matter of preference and not principle. Price would deem all who affirm the KJV as "the best, most faithful, most accurate, most beautiful translation of the Bible in the English language, and employ it alone as [their] primary scriptural text in the public reading, preaching, and teaching of the English Bible" to be divisive or schismatic (some even say heretical!). Price ought to be reminded that Truth does divide (eg, John 10:19). For instance, the Biblical doctrine that a man can only be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based on Scripture alone, is surely schismatic and divisive. There are no two ways about it. Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34). This "sword" is a sword of division or separation. Does Price believe this? Does Price who hails from a fundamentalist seminary not teach separation from modernism, ecumenism, charismatism, and neo-evangelicalism? Why is he singing an inclusive, pluralistic, and syncretistic tune by commending and recommending the use of ecumenical, liberal, neo-evangelical, and feminist versions of the Bible which will only compromise and confuse the clear testimony of the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ? It must be said that the KJV, being a Reformation Bible, is a separatist Bible. No wonder it is so disliked, even hated, by non- or anti-separatists!
Now, we do not discount the fact that the modern, neo-evangelical and ecumenical versions which are based on the corrupt texts and/or use the dynamic equivalence method may contain enough gospel to convict and convert the sinner (according to God's election), but this does not make them the "Word of God." They may contain the Word of God like tracts and commentaries do, but they can hardly be regarded as the very Word of God for they stem from the corrupt text of theological liberals, Westcott and Hort, who denied the historicity of the first three chapters of Genesis, the total inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures, and other fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith.
Price wants Christians to be uncertain or agnostic about the precise location of God's Word. He says, "The Bible, like all other things in life, has a measure of uncertainty associated with the identity, the exposition, the interpretation, and the meaning of its text. Sound reason has shown that this uncertainty provides no practical basis for doubting the authenticity or authority of Scripture; instead, reason provides the stepping stone for faith to move beyond uncertainty to full confidence in God's Word." In other words, faith must depend on reason ("the stepping stone for faith") to give it confidence in God's Word. Such a thinking is unbiblical to say the least. Faith does not rest on human reason at all, but on the Word of God alone (Sola Scriptura). Price has placed corrupt and imperfect human reason above the incorruptible and perfect Word of God. He is calling Christians to have faith in human reason and human methods (eg, textual criticism) for their faith to be sure, for he reasons that reason can give certainty to faith if only we have confidence in it. Price who adopts human reason as a superior, or an equal/additional authority to Scriptures proves the point that reason will only lead to uncertainty, even unbelief. It goes without saying that Price's epistemology is utterly wrongheaded.
Biblical fideism, on the other hand, gives rise to certainty not to be repented of. The Apostle Peter tells us that our faith and knowledge must be based on the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:68-69). The Apostle Paul likewise said, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:16).The Bible is not "like other things in life" as Price would have us believe. The Bible is unique and incomparable; there is nothing like it on earth and God forbid that we should belittle it by making it subservient to human reason and methods, and "other things in life." The Bible is perspicuous and not as "uncertain" as Price thinks. It is unbelief that makes the perspicuous Bible uncertain to man, and may we not be unbelieving (John 8:43-47, Mark 16:14, Luke 24:25, 27).
Price's book rings an uncertain and ungodly sound. It is a mixed bag of truth and error, facts and falsehoods. For example, he states truthfully when he says that Hills, Fuller, Waite and Cloud insist on the Textus Receptus (TR) underlying the KJV as the "providentially preserved authoritative text of Scripture," or what he calls "the autographic text." But the next moment he states a falsehood by saying that those men believe "it is the English words that determine the words of the Hebrew and Greek texts, not the Hebrew and Greek words that determine the English." By so twisting the doctrine of VPP, he makes the above men look like they believe in an "inspired KJV," that the English is superior to the Hebrew and the Greek, a position none of them advocate. Having painted TR-only preservationists unfairly with such ugly colours, he then puts his finishing touches to his distorted picture by making them look like Ruckman. Such a below-the-belt tactic Price had well learned from Kutilek.
Price charges the KJV for giving an "uncertain sound" quoting 1 Corinthians 14:8-9, but does not realise that he is guilty of it himself when he insists that there can be no certainty whatsoever as regards the identification of the Perfect Word of God today. Where are God's infallible and inerrant words today? Well it is somewhere out there, but nobody can tell for sure precisely where. Without knowing where God's infallible and inerrant words are, how can we live by His every word (Matt 4:4)?
Price is annoyed that preachers should have "to waste time explaining archaic words, phrases, and idioms." Singapore's first chief minister, David Marshall, who had for his English textbook the KJV, would have scorned at Price's puerile criticisms of the KJV. There are only about 200 archaic words in the KJV. These old words comprise only 0.1% of the KJV. The Oxford, Webster, Chambers dictionaries contain entries for most of these archaic words. The Defined King James Bible has the meanings of all the archaic words footnoted. They are not that difficult to look up and learn. Moreover, to be educated with the King's English is hardly a waste of time.
Price spurns a One Bible or KJV Only position and advocates a Modern Versions or Multiple Versions Only position. To Price, every version has its positive and negative points, and so "it is wrong to suppose that only one translation is adequate for all purposes." I suppose he would spurn an NIV Only, or NASB Only, or NKJV Only position as well, but he does not say so explicitly, but one thing is obvious, he attacks the KJV more than any other version. According to Price's doctrine of imperfect preservation, every Bible (including the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures) contains mistakes. If there is such a thing as a Perfect Bible, it is only the autographs which no longer exist, or it is in the sea of multiple manuscripts and versions, every one of them different and not the same. As far as Price is concerned, no one should presume to know with absolute certainty where the 100% infallible and inerrant Scripture today is. It may be somewhere out there, but precisely where, no believer can tell; the only one who can even come close to telling would be the textual critic, and even then, he cannot be dogmatic or absolutely sure. There is just no perfect standard to judge anything today. This logic of Price is the same kind of logic that turned once-upon-a-time fundamentalist-Bart Ehrman-into an agnostic. Where is the Bible? The Bible is nowhere, and so is God!
This Anti-KJV book of Price would be excellent for those seeking to (1) oppose the Reformed Faith, the Reformation Text, and the VPP of Scripture; (2) discourage the use of the faithful and accurate, time-tested and time-honoured KJV; and (3) push for modern versions to replace the KJV in the church. Any anti-VPP church which embraces the anti-KJV views of Price, and sees the use of the KJV as only a matter of preference and not principle, will ultimately give up the KJV to embrace the modern versions which are based on corrupted texts. May true and faithful Protestant, Reformation, and Fundamental believers and churches beware!