“Biblical Calvinism – An Introduction to the Doctrines of Grace” by Dr. Curt Daniel, Part 1

“We only use the term “Calvinism” for shortness. That doctrine which is called “Calvinism” did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth. Perhaps Calvin himself derived it mainly from the writings of Augustine. Augustine obtained his views, without doubt, through the Holy Spirit of God, from diligent study of the writings of Paul, and Paul received them from the Holy Ghost and from Jesus Christ, the great founder of the Christian Church. We use the term then, not because we impute an extraordinary importance to Calvin’s having taught these doctrines. We should be just as willing to call them by any other name, if we could find one which would better understood, and which on the whole would be as consistent with fact.

The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, is the truth that I must preach today, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as pairing off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.” -C. H. Spurgeon


Who rules the universe, God or Man? That is the basic question of theology. The system of theology known as Calvinism answers without any apology or compromise, “God is King.” Virtually all other systems of theology may say they agree, but upon closer scrutiny they place Man on the throne with God, or even depose God completely and enthrone Man.

Perhaps you may have wondered just what this Calvinism is to make such a bold claim. Obviously it is associated with the name of John Calvin, but its theology is much older. It is taught in both testaments of the Bible. Many of the early church fathers taught it, especially the great Augustine. Most of the Protestant Reformers were either Calvinists or in basic agreement with its theology, such as Martin Luther. Then there were the English and American Puritans, such as John Bunyan and Matthew Henry, almost all of whom believed in Calvinism. Later Calvinist preachers and theologians include Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, A.W. Pink, Martin Lloyd-Jones and James I. Packer. Calvinism has especially thrived in Britain, Holland and America.

Most Protestant denominations that originated in the Reformation are founded on official confessions of faith that are clearly Calvinistic, such as the Westminister Confession (Presbyterianism), the Canons of Dort (Reformed), the Thirty-nine Articles (Episcopalianism), the Baptist Confession of 1689 (Baptists), the Savoy Declaration (Congregationalism) and many others. Historic Lutheranism is very close to Calvinism. So, the theology of Calvinism is quite old and has stood the test of time. It is not a theological fad.

Calvinism is a branch of Evangelical Christianity, holding to all the essentials of the faith, such as the full authority of Scripture and the deity of Christ. Since the time of the Reformation, Arminianism has been its chief rival within Evangelicalism. But while historic Calvinism has been a bulwark against the inroads of Rationalism and Liberalism, Arminianism tends to open the door to Liberal theology. This is because Arminianism weakens the Godness of God and exalts the humanity of Man, while Calvinism emphasizes over and over that God is God and Man is Man.

If one wanted to sum up the distinctives of Calvinism, then he need only learn the meaning of the words “Sovereign Grace.” All Evangelical theologies will agree that salvation is solely by God’s grace, but Calvinism alone says that it is sovereignly given to whomever God chooses to grant it. To fully understand the words, then, one must understand the Calvinist teaching on the sovereignty of God and what we call “the doctrines of grace.” These are usually summed up as the Five Points of Calvinism by the popular acronym TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistable grace, and Perseverance of the saints. But, as we shall see, it all gets back to the question of who rules the universe.

We might add that Calvinism stresses the five great doctrines rediscovered in the Protestant Reformation, namely Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Solo Christo (Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory). Since we believe that all doctrines must be tested by Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21; Isa. 8:20), you are invited to search the Scriptures and see if Calvinism is indeed the teaching of the Word of God.

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Dr.Curt Daniel is a knowledgeable student and teacher of Reformed theology and history. His approach is to “leave no stone unturned” in pursuing the truth of Scripture. His breadth of knowledge enables him to easily glean from the theological giants that have gone before.

Dr. Daniel attended Central Bible College (B.A.), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Edinburgh (Ph.D.). Dr. Daniel teaches, preaches and publishes theological works consistent with Scripture and Reformed Theology.

The entire teaching series “The History and Theology of Calvinism” by Dr. Daniel can be found at Monergism.com. You can listen online and/or download any of the available lessons. I have long since downloaded the entire series and listened to all of the lessons. There are other good series about our subject and perhaps I will share some of those at the end of this series of blog posts.

There’s some personal history to share. There was a time when I was about as ‘anti-Calvinism’ as a man can get. I swallowed everything bad I heard about John Calvin, hook, line, and sinker. I drank the Kool-Aid. In fact, I don’t remember hearing anything good about John Calvin and Calvinism. My journey from idolizing the autonomous free will of man toward Reformed Theology was the result of serious Bible reading concerning the real state of fallen man according to Scripture as well as actually studying the actual history of John Calvin and Calvinism. I’ve also become familiar with many Reformed theologians, both living and dead.

If you are wondering what Calvinism (Reformed Theology) means to this old soldier, I am compelled to say that my salvation, which is ALL of God, has become more and more precious to me through the years. Knowing that even my decision to embrace Christ as my Savior and Lord was an act of God only serves to make a man more humble as time goes by.

California Wildfires and Bethel’s ‘Miracle Workers’

The catastrophic fires raging in California have resulted in Christians all over the world to pray for God’s sovereign intervention and protection for everyone affected, both victims and responders.

An article at Pulpit & Pen had this to say concerning the California wildfires and the leader of Beth, Redding, Bill Johnson:

Bill Johnson, the leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California, claims that God has given complete power regarding what happens on Earth to man. Charismatics, like Johnson – especially those who teach Word-Faith theology, believe that they can exercise control over disease, sickness, and even weather. Bethel Church is the leading proponent of “teaching the miraculous” in the world. With the Carr fire consuming land near their headquarters and in their home county and outskirts of the city, Bethel leaders and members have been decreeing and declaring their power over the fire, calling down rain and demanding that wind stop. Unsurprisingly, their ability to control that which is controlled by God alone has proven futile, and 25 Bethel leaders have lost homes in the fire.

Bill Johnson has even told his congregation/followers that God is in charge, but not in control:

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The article continues:

The Bible likens prophets and supposed miracle-workers who claim to perform feats that they cannot and false teachers as being like “clouds without water,” an analogy that is fitting as Bethel pastors call down rain that doesn’t come.

They are clouds without water, carried along by the wind; fruitless trees in autumn, twice dead after being uprooted – Jude 1:12

The proven track record of being incapable of performing miracles did not stop Bethel Church from crying out to the weather, like Jesus in places like Mark 4:35-41. The Internet has abounded with examples of misled charismatics feeling they control the weather. While we all should rightly understand that God both controls the weather and does answer prayers, it is different than individuals claiming authority over the wind and tempests under the assumption that they are little gods.

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Obviously, the decrees and declarations have not worked. Several homes of Bethel staffers have been destroyed, as well as the homes of dozens of members.

Certainly, God can bring beauty out of the ashes. Some at Bethel are predicting and hoping for a great move of God, the likes of which have never been seen. Such revival would indeed be a wonderful thing.

What we have not seen are articles expressing doubt concerning the validity of Bethel teachings concerning the miraculous and how believers are supposed to operate in the ‘supernatural’ as a normal part of their Christian walk. How will this effect the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM)?

One might think that the failure of all the decreeing & declaring that the wind and fire cease would cause a bit of reflection on the part of those attending BSSM, as well as those trying to get up enough money to attend and become miracle workers. Perhaps some will be driven to really study their Bibles and come to realize they have been hoodwinked into drinking the poisonous Kool-Aid served up regularly by Bill Johnson and the other leaders at Bethel. One can only hope and pray. Time will tell.

In the meantime, continue to pray for the situation in California, all those affected by the fires, all of the first responders and firefighters. Pray also that God would remove a great cancer from the professing church, as the true children of God who have been deceived by all that is Bethel (including the Pied Piper that is Jesus Culture) are awakened by the Holy Spirit and flee from the flames of heresy.

The Gift of Tongues – Is it Real?

This is an excellent and well written article explaining one side of the debate. There is much more that can, and has been said in favor of this argument. My library will attest to that and so will  a good search engine. There is a personal note at the end of the article.

Why There is No Such Thing as the Gift of Tongues

by Eric Davis The Cripplegate

From time to time pastors are asked about a phenomenon common to Christianity in the past one hundred years called “the gift of tongues.” The phrase generally refers to a spectrum of experiences, ranging from a supposed private, non-earthly prayer language spoken between the believer and God enabled by the Holy Spirit, to an angelic, non-earthly prayer language by the believer in prayer and worship, to an ecstatic non-earthly utterance enabled by the Spirit spontaneously in the believer in private and/or public worship.

Understandably, the phenomenon has created much excitement and inquiry since its rise in the early 1900’s. Professing Christians who experience it often testify to things such as the encouraging feeling it brings, comfort in the Christian life, and joy. Notwithstanding these, and many other experiences, God’s people must evaluate all things claimed to be of God by proper interpretation of Scripture. When done so, it becomes apparent that this phenomenon cannot be justified from the word of God. Having said that, Scripture does teach that there existed a miraculous gift of languages during the foundational, apostolic era of the New Testament church. As clear from Scripture, this was the miraculous ability to speak an unlearned language that is known by others on earth for the purpose of exalting Christ and building up others, while pronouncing judgment on Israel. This was a critical gift for laying the foundation of the church, and, as such, has ceased. However, phenomena as previously mentioned and beyond the biblical gift of languages cannot be justified from Scripture. Briefly, here are eleven reasons why there is no gift of tongues.

1. The meaning of the word “tongues.”

“Tongues” is an unfortunate rendering of the Greek word γλῶσσα. The word refers either to the tongue organ or spoken human languages understood by other people groups on Earth. Thus, references both in Acts and 1 Corinthians 12-14 refer, not to a private prayer phenomena, but a gift of languages, involving human earthly languages.

2. The definition of New Testament spiritual gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, the gift of “tongues,” or “languages,” is referred to as a spiritual gift. There, the apostle Paul teaches that a spiritual gift is an enabling of the Holy Spirit given to regenerate individuals to exalt the lordship of Christ, serve the common good of others, to be used in love for others’ edification, and exercised in an orderly manner. Therefore, the idea of an individualized, private communing contradicts the meaning of New Testament spiritual gifts and renders a gift of tongues as unsubstantiated from Scripture.

3. The transitional nature of redemptive history in the first century.

Tragically, Israel had spurned Yahweh for centuries, culminating in the rejection of her Messiah. Consequently, God judged Israel in faithfulness to his word and covenant warnings. In part, this judgment involved setting Israel aside for the sake of the church. God would no longer center his redemptive plan on the ethnic nation of Israel, but a spiritual nation; the church. Acts records this glorious transition, as the Spirit empowered believers to make disciples from and among all nations. The idea of an individualized private prayer language contradicts the redemptive historical purpose of the gift of languages in the transitional time of Acts.

In a very vivid way, the God of the nations showed with the gift of languages that one need not immerse themselves in Israeli ethnicity to enter his favor. Believers need not speak Hebrew and become a Jewish proselyte. Instead, God miraculously enabled people to speak the languages of the nations in order to speak the good news of Christ to the nations. Thus, the transitional nature of salvation history in the first century forbids the idea that this gift was a private prayer language. In no way is it a private phenomenon, but a corporate marvel for the nations and in judgment of Israel (cf. 1 Cor. 14:21).

4. Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 6:7.

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus teaches Christians how to pray:

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words” (Matt 6:7).

The word translated “meaningless repetition,” is from the Greek verb, battalogeo. Similar to the TDNT (1:597), A.T. Robertson comments that the word carries the idea of “stammerers who repeat the words,” “babbling or chattering,” “empty repetition.” John Nolland says it’s the idea of the repetition of either intelligible or unintelligible sounds in order to multiply effectiveness (Osborne, Matthew, 226). Many commentators agree that the prefix, “batta,” is onomatopoetic. In other words, the prefix sounds similar to the thing it describes; prayers sounding something like, “batta, batta, batta.” Being onomatopoetic does not mean that the word exhaustively covers everything which it describes, but the general idea.

Christ forbids praying this way for two reasons. First, because it is characteristic of Gentiles (Matt 6:7). Praying in a way that piles up language, or non-language, unintelligible, or babbling sounds is prayer characteristic of those who do not know God. Second, our heavenly Father already knows what we need before we think to pray about it, thus we need not pray or worship in a non-earthly linguistic, unintelligible way (Matt 6:8). Therefore, Christian prayer must consist of simple, earthly languages to our God.

5. The context of 1 Corinthians 14.

clip_image003Proponents of the gift of tongues often refer to 1 Corinthians 14 to support their position. In that chapter, the apostle Paul corrects the chaotic frenzy which characterized Corinthian church gatherings. The purpose of the chapter was not to give details on the practice of non-language utterances and trances (whether private or public practice), but just the opposite: intelligibility and orderliness must characterize Christian worship gatherings.

Paul is correcting error with respect to what a spiritual gift is and how things ought to operate in the corporate gathering. In the Corinthian congregation there appears to have been a frenzy surrounding this spiritual gift.

The Corinthians seemed to be erring by: 1) using the spiritual gift of languages in a disorderly, unedifying fashion, with no translation happening and 2) were engaging in the popular Greek pagan practice of non-language ecstatic frenzied utterances which were meaningless noises. Though it may have delivered a spiritual high, a feeling of elevated spirituality, and a feeling of superiority in the culture and above others, Paul rebukes them because it was disorderly and absent of edification. He will argue for intelligibility and order in the worship service, since that is the prerequisite to edification, which is the goal of gathering (1 Cor 14:12, 40). Thus, 1 Corinthians 14 does not validate the practice of a tongues phenomenon.

6. The similarities between Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.

It is often proposed that Acts 2 speaks of a gift involving earthly languages, but 1 Corinthians 14 speaks of a different kind of phenomenon, thus, justifying a personal gift of tongues. But this understanding of the two passages will not do. Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 both use the same Greek word, γλῶσσα, which means “languages.” First Corinthians 14:10-11 and 21 all refer to earthly foreign languages. Further, in both Acts and 1 Corinthians 14, the gift of languages is said to have served as judgment upon Israel, demonstrating that God was now working through an ethnically mixed church. Consequently, Scripture does not teach that there exists a heavenly prayer language/utterance enabled by the Spirit on the grounds that Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 teach different phenomenon.

7. The meaning of “tongues of angels” in 1 Corinthians 13:1.

Some proponents of the gift of tongues teach that 1 Corinthians 13:1 suggests that there exists a heavenly or angelic language enabled by the Holy Spirit. However, the passage is a use of hyperbolic extremes.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1-2).

To remove mountains, know all mysteries, have all knowledge, and possess all faith are not possible. We are not omniscient nor omnipotent. More to the point of the passage, the purpose is to teach that even the greatest manifestation of a spiritual gift is worthless without love. Even more, the passagep teaches that gifts are to be used in love towards others, while expressing the eternal nature of love and temporal nature of spiritual gifts. So, “tongues of angels,” better rendered, “languages of angels,” is hyperbole to serve the point.

Further, it should be noted that throughout history, when angels spoke, they did so in intelligible earthly languages without the need of an interpretive gift (e.g. Gen. 19:2, Jos. 5:14, Isa. 6:3, Luke 2:30-33, Rev. 21:9). Of all the times angels spoke, not once did they do so in ecstatic utterances. Therefore, there is no such thing as a gift of tongues which is a heavenly/angelic language.

8. God’s provision of 66 books containing intelligible words by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The existence of the Bible is an utterly extraordinary thing. By God’s doing, we have the pure, eternal words of the Creator and Redeemer. The Bible is pure and special revelation from God. Without intending to insult anyone’s intelligence, the Bible is a book of words. The words are human words; words of earthly language. The Bible is not a book of unintelligible words which require a special endowment to comprehend. What does that say about God? And what does that say about God’s desire for our fellowship with him? It involves simple, intelligible words featured in earthly languages.

Furthermore, the Bible is the work of the Holy Spirit. He carried men in profound acts of providence to perform a great work. The result is 66 books of logical, orderly earthly language. Since the Bible is the pure word of God, it’s safe to conclude that there exists no higher form of communication with God than that which is based upon his word. There exists no spiritually superior form of interaction or communication that that which is observed in the word of God. And, in all of the prayers, praises, letters, psalms, and books of the Bible, we observe common earthly language. There is nothing more profound or spiritual than the language of the Psalms or Jesus’ intelligible prayers in John 17 or the Garden of Gethsemane, for example.

If someone desires to pray and speak lofty, spiritual words to God, we have the Psalms, for example, which contain profound expressions of worship. On top of that, every single word in the 150 Psalms was inspired in an intelligible language by the Holy Spirit (normal intelligibility, with noun-verb-object, structure). Furthermore, when we observe the prayers of Scripture (e.g. 1 Kings 8, John 17), in every instance, whether Christ or others, individuals are praying in normal, human intelligibility.

The existence and content of the Bible teach us that the most profound expressions of worship to God are to be done in God-given, human languages with normal intelligibility.

9. The biblical scenes of Heaven.

At times, advocates of the tongues phenomenon suggest that the practice is a higher, more spiritual, or superior experience. Believers who do not seek or experience it are missing out or settling for less.

clip_image005One way to evaluate the claim is to observe the biblical scenes of heaven. What type of communication do we observe in heaven? What type of worship? Fellowship? Praise? Certainly, a God as great as ours would showcase the highest forms of communication, worship, and praise in his holy word. And, as heaven is the place of glorified, perfected individuals, we could expect the most superior, spiritual phenomena. What do we observe?

Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we are given several glimpses of Heaven. There are things like singing, speaking to the Lord, worship, adoration, and lament. In each scene, they are speaking intelligible language and not ecstatic chances are private prayer language (e.g. Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:5, 9-10, 12-14; 6:6, 10; 15:3-4; 16:7; 18:2-4; 19:1-6). Not once are individuals experiencing a phenomenon similar to that of tongues.

10. Pagan religious practice.

As Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, non-linguistic utterances are characteristic of pagan religious practice. In fact, even today, tongues-type phenomena is quite common in false religion.

For example, the type of repetitive prayer phenomenon prohibited by Jesus is common in Buddhist prayer wheels, the Roman Catholic practice of prayer candles, Ave Maria’s and Pater Nosters, and prayers of the Rosary. Tongues phenomena was common in ancient Greek culture (partly what the apostle Paul corrects in 1 Corinthians 12-14). At various points in Phaedrus, for example, Socrates praises the idea of ecstatic mania. A form of non-language, ecstatic prayer was reported to have been practiced through out-of-their-mind, ecstatic oraclers at Delphi and Dodona. (http://sparks.eserver.org/books/plato-phaedrus.pdf, 7). Many more examples could be cited of ancient and contemporary pagan practice.

11. The predominant position of the church.

Up until the early 1900s, the church did not adhere to the contemporary position of tongues. A large number of sound Christian scholars held to a language interpretation, dating back several centuries: John Chrysostom (4th century), Augustine (4th), Theodoret of Cyrus (5th), Martin Luther (16th), John Calvin (16th), John Owen (17th), Thomas Watson (17th), Matthew Henry (17-18th), John Gill (18th), Jonathan Edwards (18th), David Brainerd (18th), R.C. Sproul, Ian Hamilton, and Iain Murray (contemporary).

Some of these points are sufficient on their own to demonstrate that the contemporary tongues phenomenon cannot be substantiated from Scripture. Taken together, we conclude that the “gift of tongues” was the foundational-era gift of languages. This was the miraculous ability to speak an unlearned earthly language for the purpose of exalting Christ and building up others. It served as a loud statement at the birth and foundational time of the church to declare that God’s plan of redemption is no longer restricted to one nation, but all nations, while proclaiming God’s judgment on Israel. This gift ceased with the apostolic era in the first century as the NT church foundation was established.

The question is frequently asked, “Then what is this tongues phenomena which many Christians claim to experience?” I do not know. What we do know, however, is that one cannot justify the experience from Scripture, and, therefore, the practice must not be sought, practiced, or propagated by Christians.

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Eric Davis is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. He has been married for 16 years and has 3 children.

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DAN’S NOTE: Years ago, as a young prodigal who had just returned home, I was in the charismatic camp. Like many young and enthusiastic believers I wanted everything God had for me. I read everything I could get my hands on about the baptism of the Holy Spirit as well as the gifts of the Spirit. I shared my desire with a Pastor from a Pentecostal church. I spoke in tongues the day I was baptized in water as a repentant believer and received what I thought was a valid second blessing (Holy Spirit baptism) during the same service. Over the years, as I grew in faith and continued daily Bible reading and study, I saw that much of what I had been taught and believed was in error. Equally important was the growing feeling that the charismatic ‘experience’ was more about ‘me’ getting from God than anything else.

That’s the short story and I share it so that anyone reading this article won’t think I’m just a hard headed anti-Pentecostal.

Robert Gagnon: Concerns With the upcoming Revoice Conference and “Spiritual Friendship Folk”

This article is courtesy of Pulpit & Pen

Concerns with the upcoming Revoice Conference and Spiritual Friendship Folk

By Dr.Robert Gagnon

While I am glad for the fact that persons at the upcoming Revoice Conference (July 26-28, St. Louis, in a PCA venue) and those who align with the “Spiritual Friendship” program want to refrain from engaging in same-sex intercourse and thereby uphold this part of the orthodox witness, I have seven consequential concerns about their views.

1. Inadequate engagement with the need for “renewal of the mind” as regards homosexual desires. Is there any asking of: “What is the false narrative that gives these impulses particular strength? Why am I viewing a person of the same sex as a sexual complement or counterpart to my own sex? Why am I aroused by the distinctive sexual features of my own sex, by what I already have? Am I thinking of myself as only half of my own sex? What kind of strategies for renewing my mind can I use to counter this false narrative beyond ‘washed and waiting’?” Instead, the benefits of a generalized “gay” perspective (minus the sex) are celebrated or lifted up. Even if one’s attractions may not change with such an evaluation, they can be disempowered by exposing the lie that lies behind attempts to gratify same-sex desire or (for “transgenders,” so-called) to deny one’s biological sex altogether. There is more to be addressed here than refraining from homosexual sex.

2. The adoption of terminology for self-identity that cannot be sanctified and inevitably brings in the whole “LGBTQ” baggage (“sexual minority,” “gay,” “transgender”). This terminology is normally associated with self-affirmation rather than sin and switches the obligation of the church from a call for repentance and restoration to a call for inclusion and diversity that celebrates what should be mortified. The fact that evangelical proponents of the “sexual minority” language are unwilling to use it of those with a pedophilic or polyamorist orientation should tell us all something.

3. A greater focus on a victim mentality than on the need for disengagement with the LGBTQ agenda (hence their refusal to sign the Nashville Statement). It is more important for them to say that the church has treated persons with same-sex attractions in an ungodly way throughout its history (painting with a broad brush) than to say that those who promote homosexual practice and transgenderism in the church are committing heresy. Indeed, they usually reject the heresy charge and any arguments made from Scripture that homosexual practice is a particularly severe violation of God’s standards for sexual ethics. Many cast entering into homosexual unions not as egregious sin but rather as something less than the maximal “flourishing” that God has for us. Self-critique generally doesn’t go further than a non-moral disability model. This in turn often leads to favoring church membership (without church discipline) even for self-professed Christians actively engaged in homosexual relationships.

4. Support for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” laws that lead to the persecution of Christians and the erosion of the church’s own standards (since indoctrination in the sphere of the state affects the views that people carry into the church); even general support by some of, or at least strong sympathy for, “gay marriage.”

5. An apparent aversion to any thought of developmental influences on any homosexual attraction and discouragement of any who seek help for reducing the intensity and direction of same-sex sexual attractions. Indeed, the idea of some Christians who shift on the Kinsey Scale in the direction of less homosexuality is viewed as a virtual betrayal of the benefits of being “gay” and a threat to those who have not experienced any orientation change. They not only assert that such change is not possible for them but also appear to want to close the door for all others. Granted, a change in the experience of same-sex attractions is not requisite for being a strong Christian; God can declare “my grace is sufficient for you” without removing said attractions. Yet doesn’t God also at times remove or significantly ameliorate the deprivation or difficulty (see numerous Gospel miracles)?

6. A formulation of spiritual friendship that looks an awful lot like marriage minus the sex: viz., a promise of lifelong commitment to one person of the same sex viewed as one’s “significant other.” 

7. A greater affinity to “gay Christians” who are in, or looking to be in, a committed homosexual union (the Justin Lee “Gay Christian Network” type) than with Christians involved in Restored Hope Network who operate with ex-gay transformation ministries (Stephen Black of RHN had his registration money for the Revoice Conference returned and his attendance revoked) or even with Christians such as Rosaria Butterfield who are not big fans of reparative therapy. Does this show that their “gay” identity means more to them than their Christian identity? That they really do feel a deeper partnership (koinonia) with those violating Scripture’s teaching on homosexual practice?

A good distillation of quotations from key figures in the Revoice Conference can be found here.

Many Christians of younger generations are now turning to this “LGBTQ-lite” movement as a way of running for cover against charges that they hate “gays” and “transgenders,” as though this were the only show in town. A bit more critical reflection is in order. It is just possible that the Spiritual Friendship people can learn something from those who have gone before them and who have had a longer track-record of being faithful to the cause of the gospel. 

I do not say that they are “heretics.” They are brothers and sisters in the Lord. However, I do believe that they have significant room for correction. I also think that a number of their views will be used by other Evangelicals, now and in the future, as a transitional stage for a much greater embrace of “LGBTQ” ideology and agendas. Those leaders in the group experiencing same-sex attractions may even be putting themselves at higher risk, through multiple accommodations in theology and behavior, of taking the route of others (like Julie Rodgers) into full departure from orthodoxy and orthopraxy. I trust that they would argue that the exact reverse is the case; my concern remains. Let us pray that they will be firm in the faith, not deceived by ungodly notions emanating from a desire to legitimize same-sex attractions and gender identity confusion and benefiting from the insight of others beyond their close-knit circle.

Why I Do Not Think the King James Bible Is the Best Translation Available Today

By Dan Wallace

(This is an important article and perhaps the best single article concerning the KJV controversy. So this is for all of my KJV only friends that have open minds. May God open those there are still closed to the notion that the KJV might not be the best one out there)

First, I want to affirm with all evangelical Christians that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant, inspired, and our final authority for faith and life. However, nowhere in the Bible am I told that only one translation of it is the correct one. Nowhere am I told that the King James Bible is the best or only ‘holy’ Bible. There is no verse that tells me how God will preserve his word, so I can have no scriptural warrant for arguing that the King James has exclusive rights to the throne. The arguments must proceed on other bases.

Second, the Greek text which stands behind the King James Bible is demonstrably inferior in certain places. The man who edited the text was a Roman Catholic priest and humanist named Erasmus.1 He was under pressure to get it to the press as soon as possible since (a) no edition of the Greek New Testament had yet been published, and (b) he had heard that Cardinal Ximenes and his associates were just about to publish an edition of the Greek New Testament and he was in a race to beat them. Consequently, his edition has been called the most poorly edited volume in all of literature! It is filled with hundreds of typographical errors which even Erasmus would acknowledge. Two places deserve special mention. In the last six verses of Revelation, Erasmus had no Greek manuscript (=MS) (he only used half a dozen, very late MSS for the whole New Testament any way). He was therefore forced to ‘back-translate’ the Latin into Greek and by so doing he created seventeen variants which have never been found in any other Greek MS of Revelation! He merely guessed at what the Greek might have been. Secondly, for 1 John 5:7-8, Erasmus followed the majority of MSS in reading “there are three witnesses in heaven, the Spirit and the water and the blood.” However, there was an uproar in some Roman Catholic circles because his text did not read “there are three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.” Erasmus said that he did not put that in the text because he found no Greek MSS which had that reading. This implicit challenge—viz., that if he found such a reading in any Greek MS, he would put it in his text—did not go unnoticed. In 1520, a scribe at Oxford named Roy made such a Greek MS (codex 61, now in Dublin). Erasmus’ third edition had the second reading because such a Greek MS was ‘made to order’ to fill the challenge! To date, only a handful of Greek MSS have been discovered which have the Trinitarian formula in 1 John 5:7-8, though none of them is demonstrably earlier than the sixteenth century.

That is a very important point. It illustrates something quite significant with regard to the textual tradition which stands behind the King James. Probably most textual critics today fully embrace the doctrine of the Trinity (and, of course, all evangelical textual critics do). And most would like to see the Trinity explicitly taught in 1 John 5:7-8. But most reject this reading as an invention of some overly zealous scribe. The problem is that the King James Bible is filled with readings which have been created by overly zealous scribes! Very few of the distinctive King James readings are demonstrably ancient. And most textual critics just happen to embrace the reasonable proposition that the most ancient MSS tend to be more reliable since they stand closer to the date of the autographs. I myself would love to see many of the King James readings retained. The story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) has always been a favorite of mine about the grace of our savior, Jesus Christ. That Jesus is called God in 1 Timothy 3:16 affirms my view of him. Cf. also John 3:13; 1 John 5:7-8, etc. But when the textual evidence shows me both that scribes had a strong tendency to add, rather than subtract, and that most of these additions are found in the more recent MSS, rather than the more ancient, I find it difficult to accept intellectually the very passages which I have always embraced emotionally. In other words, those scholars who seem to be excising many of your favorite passages from the New Testament are not doing so out of spite, but because such passages are not found in the better and more ancient MSS. It must be emphatically stressed, however, that this does not mean that the doctrines contained in those verses have been jeopardized. My belief in the deity of Christ, for example, does not live or die with 1 Timothy 3:16. In fact, it has been repeatedly affirmed that no doctrine of Scripture has been affected by these textual differences. If that is true, then the ‘King James only’ advocates might be crying wolf where none exists, rather than occupying themselves with the more important aspects of advancing the gospel.2

Third, the King James Bible has undergone three revisions since its inception in 1611, incorporating more than 100,000 changes. Which King James Bible is inspired, therefore?

Fourth, 300 words found in the KJV no longer bear the same meaning—e.g., “Suffer little children…to come unto me” (Matt 19:14). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Tim 2:15). Should we really embrace a Bible as the best translation when it uses language that not only is not clearly understood any more, but in fact has been at times perverted and twisted?3

Fifth, the KJV includes one very definite error in translation, which even KJV advocates would admit. In Matthew 23:24 the KJV has ‘strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.’ But the Greek has ‘strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.’ In the least, this illustrates not only that no translation is infallible but also that scribal corruptions can and do take place-even in a volume which has been worked over by so many different hands (for the KJV was the product of a very large committee of over 50 scholars).4

Sixth, when the KJV was first published, it was heavily resisted for being too easy to understand! Some people revere it today because it is difficult to understand. I fear that part of their response is due to pride: they feel as though they are able to discern something that other, less spiritual folks cannot. Often 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 is quoted with reference to the KJV (to the effect that ‘you would understand it if you were spiritual’). Such a use of that text, however, is a gross distortion of the Scriptures. The words in the New Testament, the grammar, the style, etc.—in short, the language—comprised the common language of the first century. We do God a great disservice when we make the gospel more difficult to understand than he intended it. The reason unspiritual people do not understand the scriptures is because they have a volitional problem, not an intellectual problem (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14 where ‘receive,’ ‘welcome’ shows clearly that the thing which blocks understanding is the sinful will of man).

Seventh, those who advocate that the KJV has exclusive rights to being called the Holy Bible are always, curiously, English-speaking people (normally isolated Americans). Yet, Martin Luther’s fine translation of the Bible into German predated the KJV by almost 100 years. Are we so arrogant to say that God has spoken only in English? And where there are substantial discrepancies between Luther’s Bible and the KJV (such as in 1 John 5:7-8), are we going to say that God has inspired both? Is he the author of lies? Our faith does not rest in a singular tradition, nor is it provincial. Vibrant, biblical Christianity must never unite itself with provincialism. Otherwise, missionary endeavor, among other things, would die.

Eighth, again, let me repeat an earlier point: Most evangelicals—who embrace all the cardinal doctrines of the faith—prefer a different translation and textual basis than that found in the KJV. In fact, even the editors of the New Scofield Reference Bible (which is based on the KJV) prefer a different text/translation!

Finally, though it is true that the modern translations ‘omit’ certain words and verses (or conversely, the KJV adds to the Word of God, depending on how you look at it), the issue is not black-or-white. In fact, the most recent edition of a Greek New Testament which is based on the majority of MSS, rather than the most ancient ones (and thus stands firmly behind the King James tradition), when compared to the standard Greek New Testament used in most modern translations, excises over six hundred and fifty words or phrases! Thus, it is not proper to suggest that only modern translations omit; the Greek text behind the KJV omits, too! The question, then, is not whether modern translations have deleted portions of the Word of God, but rather whether either the KJV or modern translations have altered the Word of God. I contend that the KJV has far more drastically altered the scriptures than have modern translations. Nevertheless, I repeat: most textual critics for the past two hundred and fifty years would say that no doctrine is affected by these changes. One can get saved reading the KJV and one can get saved reading the NIV, NASB, etc.

I trust that this brief survey of reasons I have for thinking that the King James Bible is not the best available translation will not be discarded quickly. All of us have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills and then to set up fortresses in those ‘mountains.’ We often cling to things out of emotion, rather than out of true piety. And as such we do a great disservice to a dying world that is desperately in need of a clear, strong voice proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Soli Deo gloria!

Addendum

One further point is necessary. With the recent publication of several different books vilifying modern translations, asserting that they were borne out of conspiratorial motives, a word should be mentioned about this concocted theory. First, many of these books are written by people who have little or no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, and are, further, a great distortion of the facts. I have read books on textual criticism for more than a quarter of a century, but never have I seen such illogic, out-of-context quotations, and downright deceptions about the situation as in these recent books. Second, although it is often asserted that heretics produced some of the New Testament MSS we now have in our possession, there is only one group of MSS known to be produced by heretics: certain Byzantine MSS of the book of Revelation. This is significant because the Byzantine text stands behind the KJV! These MSS formed part of a mystery cult textbook used by various early cults. But KJV advocates constantly make the charge that the earliest MSS (the Alexandrian MSS) were produced by heretics. The sole basis they have for this charge is that certain readings in these MSS are disagreeable to them! Third, when one examines the variations between the Greek text behind the KJV (the Textus Receptus) and the Greek text behind modern translations, it is discovered that the vast majority of variations are so trivial as to not even be translatable (the most common is the moveable nu, which is akin to the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’!). Fourth, when one compares the number of variations that are found in the various MSS with the actual variations between the Textus Receptus and the best Greek witnesses, it is found that these two are remarkably similar. There are over 400,000 textual variants among NT MSS. But the differences between the Textus Receptus and texts based on the best Greek witnesses number about 5000—and most of these are untranslatable differences! In other words, over 98% of the time, the Textus Receptus and the standard critical editions agree. Those who vilify the modern translations and the Greek texts behind them have evidently never really investigated the data. Their appeals are based largely on emotion, not evidence. As such, they do an injustice to historic Christianity as well as to the men who stood behind the King James Bible. These scholars, who admitted that their work was provisional and not final (as can be seen by their preface and by their more than 8000 marginal notes indicating alternate renderings), would wholeheartedly welcome the great finds in MSS that have occurred in the past one hundred and fifty years.


1 Now a humanist in the sixteenth century is not the same as a humanist today. Erasmus was generally tolerant of other viewpoints, and was particularly interested in the humanities. Although he was a friend of Melanchthon, Luther’s right-hand man, Luther did not care for him.

2 It is significant that Erasmus himself was quite progressive in his thinking, and would hardly be in favor of how the KJV Only advocates have embraced him as their champion. For example, every one of his editions of the Greek NT was a diglot—Latin on one side and Greek on the other. The Latin was his own translation, and was meant to improve upon Jerome’s Latin Vulgate—a translation which the Catholic church had declared to be inspired. For this reason, Cambridge University immediately banned Erasmus’ New Testament, and others followed suit. Elsewhere, Erasmus questioned whether the pericope adulterae (the story of the woman caught in adultery [John 7:53-8:11]), the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20), etc., were authentic.

3 “Suffer” in Matt 19:14 means “permit”; “study” in 2 Tim 2:15 means “be eager, be diligent.” See the Oxford English Dictionary (the largest unabridged dictionary of the English language) for help here: it traces the uses of words through their history, pinpointing the year in which a new meaning came into vogue.

4 There are other mistakes in the KJV which persist to this day, even though this translation has gone through several editions. For example, the KJV in Heb 4:8 reads: “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.” This sounds as though Jesus could not provide the eternal rest that we all long for! However, the Greek word for Jesus is the same as the word for Joshua. And in the context of Heb 4, Joshua is obviously meant. There is no textual problem here; it is rather simply a mistake on the part of the translators, perpetuated for the last 400 years in all editions of the KJV.

Source

https://bible.org/article/why-i-do-not-think-king-james-bible-best-translation-available-today

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Daniel B. Wallace has taught Greek and New Testament courses on a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater.

His Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1996) has become a standard textbook in colleges and seminaries. He is the senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible. Dr. Wallace is also the Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.