The Dean Burgon Society's Statement on the Providential Preservation of The Holy Scriptures
Approved by the Executive Committee
|I.||The Dean Burgon Society's Statement on the Bible|
|II.||The Dean Burgon Society's Statement on the Providential Preservation of the Holy Scriptures|
|A.||The Importance of Both Inspiration and Preservation|
|B.||The Original Process of Inspiration|
|C.||The Results of Inspiration Extended to Exact Copies of the Originals|
|D.||God Promised to Preserve His Word|
|E.||God's Word is Preserved in Accurate Translations of the Original Language Texts|
|F.||God Intended That His Word be Translated Accurately in All Languages|
|G.||An Accurate Translation of the Proper Original Language Texts Can Be Called the "Word of God"|
|H.||Accurate Translation Aims for a Complete Equivalence From the Original Language Into the Second Language|
|I.||The Biblical Use of the Word "Inspiration"|
|J.||The Providential Preservation of the Original Language Texts Has Been Held Throughout Church History|
|K.||The Superiority of the Authorized Version Even Today|
|L.||The Dean Burgon Society's Continued Recommendation of the Authorized Version|
We believe in the plenary, verbal, Divine inspiration of the sixty-six canonical books
of the Old and the New Testaments (from Genesis to Revelation) in the original languages,
and in their consequent infallibility and inerrancy in all matters of which they speak
We believe that the Texts which are the closest to the original autographs of the Bible are the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text for the Old Testament, and the traditional Greek Text for the New Testament underlying the King James Version (as found in "The Greek Text Underlying The English Authorized Version of 1611").
We, believe that the King James Version (or Authorized Version) of the English Bible is a true, faithful, and accurate translation of these two providentially preserved Texts, which in our time has no equal among all of the other English Translations. The translators did such a fine job in their translation task that we can without apology hold up the Authorized Version of 1611 and say "This is the WORD OF GOD!" while at the same time realizing that, in some verses, we must go back to the underlying original language Texts for complete clarity, and also compare Scripture with Scripture.
We believe that all the verses in the King James Version belong in the Old and the New Testaments because they represent words we believe were in the original texts, although there might be other renderings from the original languages which could also be acceptable to us today. For an exhaustive study of any of the words or verses in the Bible, we urge the student to return directly to the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text and the Traditional Received Greek Text rather than to any other translation for help.
II. The Dean Burgon Society's Statement on the Providential Preservation of the Holy Scriptures
A. The Importance of Both Inspiration and Preservation. Bible inspiration and Bible preservation are supremely important. The undermining or destroying of either doctrine renders the other meaningless. If the Bible is not verbally, plenarily, and inerrantly inspired, and if inspiration does not extend to all matters of which the Bible speaks, it does not matter if the Bible has been preserved or how it has been preserved. It also follows that, if the Bible has not been preserved, it does not matter how it was inspired.
B. The Original Process of Inspiration. Inspiration deals with God's revelation of truth which man did not know and which man could not know apart from Divine revelation. God used men whom He chose and prepared in order to write these Words upon the original manuscripts. Since God made no mistakes in inspiration, these original manuscripts were, inerrant. The very Words were written down exactly as God intended. These manuscripts were ultimately collected and formed into a canon and then preserved for the benefit of later generations. This entire process from the writing of the manuscripts to their ultimate preservation was not accidental, nor did it happen by chance; rather, the entire process was superintended by God the Holy Spirit.
C. The Results of Inspiration Extended to Exact Copies of the Originals. The results of Inspiration, however, cannot be limited to the original manuscripts, but must be extended to include exact copies which were made of the originals. This is evident because it was the Words which were inspired rather than the ink, the writing materials, the handwriting, or even the writers. It was these Words which were infallibly "breathed out" by God the Holy Spirit through His human writers. These Words were in Hebrew/Aramaic in the Old Testament, and in Greek in the New Testament. This process of inspiration will never again be repeated because the canon has been closed. However, the product of inspiration, which is the exact Words which God the Holy Spirit breathed out in the original languages, remains, even though the original manuscripts are no longer in existence. Any exact copy of the Words of the original manuscripts is as much the inspired and inerrant Word of God as were the original manuscripts.
Promised to Preserve His Word. This should not be surprising because
God has promised to preserve His Word. The Bible says, "Concerning thy testimonies, I
have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever" (
E. God's Word is Preserved in Accurate Translations of the Original Language Texts. God has preserved these Scriptures not only in the original languages, but also in accurate translations made of them. Must one learn Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic to be able to read God's truth? Did God intend that the whole world be taught Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic before the gospel could be preached to them? Must Pastors be Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic scholars in order that they may teach people the Holy Word of God? Certainly not. On the day of Pentecost, as recorded in , "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (verse 5). As the Apostles spoke, they were all amazed and asked, "How hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" This supernatural witness of the church at Jerusalem showed the Word of God going out to all the nations of the world in their own individual languages. God's Word went out with equal authority in all those languages to all those nations on the day of Pentecost.
God Intended That His Word be Translated Accurately in All Languages.
Without question, God intended that His Word be translated accurately into all
languages to fulfill the Great Commission to preach the gospel to every creature
G. An Accurate Translation of the Proper Original Language Texts Can Be Called the "Word of God". Can an accurate translation of the Bible be called the true "WORD OF GOD"? Yes it can. God's truth is in no way confined to the original language texts of Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic and available only to those who understand these original languages. We believe God made it clear in His Word that He intended that all the nations of the world hear His true Word in their own languages.
H. Accurate Translation Aims for a Complete Equivalence From the Original Language Into the Second Language. The English word, "water," is known to the chemist as H2O. In Latin it is "aqua." In Hebrew it is "mayim." In Greek it is "hudor." Now when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4 and called Himself the Living "water," does this English word have less truth than "hudor" in the original Greek? Of course not. However, not every word in one language has an exact or complete equivalent in another language. Sometimes a single word in one language must be translated by several words in another language. Also, in order to clarify the meaning of the translation, translators must frequently add words which are implied but not actually present in the original text. The Authorized Version placed many of these added words in italics in order to distinguish them from the Words which are actually found in the original text. In addition, the order of the words in each sentence in one language may differ from the order of the words in the same sentence in another language. However, to the extent that a translation provides the actual or complete equivalence in another language of the word counterparts of the original Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic, it is an accurate translation of the true, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and therefore is the true Word of God in that language.
I. The Biblical Use of the Word "Inspiration". Notwithstanding the many extraneous and non-Biblical definitions of the word "inspiration," this word is found only once in the New Testament. Much insight is given to this term by studying the context where it was used:
"And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make these wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the Man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (
The Scriptures spoken of here were the Old Testament Scriptures studied as a child. These Scriptures had been copied many times from the original Hebrew. After centuries of Providential preservation, they were still called the "Holy Scriptures." They were originally inspired to have a lasting effect "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, [and] for instruction in righteousness." They were also originally inspired in order that every man of God "may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
The Providential Preservation of the Original Language Texts Has Been Held Throughout
Church History. The following doctrinal statement testifying to
various historical churches' belief in the providential preservation of the original
language texts of Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek is found virtually word for word in the
following Historic Confessions: (1) The London Baptist Confession of 1677 and 1689;
the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of about 1743; (3) the Westminster Confession of 1646;
(4) and the Savoy Confession of 1652. The wording from the LONDON
BAPTIST CONFESSION of 1689 is:
8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old,) and the New Testament in Greek, (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, AND BY HIS SINGULAR, CARE AND PROVIDENCE KEPT PURE IN ALL AGES, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them 13. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read16 and search them,17 therefore, they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,18 that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.19.
(Chapter I, "OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES" "8," pp. 9-10 of "Things Most Surely Believed Among Us--The BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH OF 1689"; Evangelical Press, 136 Rosendale Road, London, S.E.21.)
K. The Superiority of the Authorized Version Even Today. The Authorized Version has been, and continues to be, the God honored, most accurate, and best translation from the proper original language texts of the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative Word of God for the English-speaking nations. Spurgeon add of it, "We are all fully assured that our own English version (meaning the A.V. of 1611) of the Scriptures is sufficient for plain men for all purposes of life, salvation, and godliness." Although there have been many changes in spelling and punctuation since 1611, there are very few words that are different from our Authorized King James Bibles of today. These changes were not the fault of the translators of the Authorized Version, but the result of changes in the spelling and punctuation of our English language.
L. The Dean Burgon Society's Continued Recommendation of the Authorized Version. We expect that the Authorized Version will continue to occupy this honored position in the foreseeable future as well, and we hereby re-affirm our confidence in it and recommend its continued use in Bible believing church pulpits, Pastors' studies, homes, Bible School. classes, and formal classes in Bible Institutes, colleges, and theological seminaries.