TESTIMONIES OF KJV DEFENDERS - WILLIAM ABERHART
Updated July 28, 2004 (first published August 26, 1999) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
Those who want to take a neutral position on the issue of Bible texts and versions often claim that the current defense of the King James Bible and its underlying Greek Received Text is an unnecessarily divisive, near-cultic position that has no historical precedent among fundamentalists and other strong Bible believers. This is historic revisionism of the worst sort. The fact is that only recently have professing fundamentalists begun using and defending the modern versions. Though some fundamentalist leaders might have had their “fingers crossed” when they spoke of the King James Bible as the preserved Word of God in English, multitudes of others believed it was exactly that and believed it without equivocation. And thousands of strong Bible believers during the past two centuries have defended the Greek Received Text as the preserved Word of God and have condemned modern textual criticism as heresy. This is not a new and obscure position that was devised only a few decades ago by a Seventh-day Adventist or by Peter Ruckman, as some would have us believe!
In the book FROM THE MIND OF GOD TO THE MIND OF MAN: A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO HOW WE GOT OUR BIBLE (1999, Ambassador-Emerald Press, Greenville, South Carolina), we find a recent example of the aforementioned revision of history. This book is edited by James B. Williams. Contributors and other men associated with the book include John Ashbrook of the Ohio Bible Fellowship; Keith Gephart of International Baptist College; William Smallman of Baptist Mid-Missions; Ernest Pickering of Baptist World Mission; Larry Oats of Maranatha Baptist Bible College; James Price of Temple Baptist Seminary; Douglas McLachlan of Central Baptist Theological Seminary; Sam Horn of Northland Baptist Bible College; and David Beale of Bob Jones University. This book was promoted at the World Congress of Fundamentalists at Bob Jones University in 1999. An autographed copy was presented to Bob Jones III at an evening session, and he made a passionate speech about it. Within a matter of hours, their stock of the book was sold out and more copies were delivered the next day.
In the Introduction to this book, Dr. J.B. Williams called the defense of the KJV a “cancerous sore” that has resulted in “a deplorable condition in Fundamentalism.” He described the defense of the KJV a “mass of misinformation.” Dr. Williams then traced the history of what he calls “King James Onlyism” back to Seventh-day Adventist Benjamin Wilkinson and to Dr. Peter Ruckman, editor of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin. He then listed “others who have joined in this parade of misinformers, including D.A. Waite, E.L. Bynum, Jack Chick, and Walter Beebe” (page 7). He said: “The list increases with time as more unqualified proponents of the KJV Only view join in the confusion.”
Those are not mild words, my friends. These men say they are concerned about the “mean-spiritedness” and divisiveness of those who defend the KJV, but FROM THE MIND OF GOD TO THE MIND OF MAN sounds very mean-spirited and divisive to me.
Furthermore, having studied this topic diligently for 25 years, having spent many thousands of dollars to purchase related books, having developed one of the most extensive bibliographies on the subject, having gone to great expense to travel to serious research facilities such as the British Library, having corresponded with hundreds of men on all sides of this subject, and having written an extensive history of the defense of the Received Text and the King James Bible, I am convinced that Dr. Williams presents a slanderous caricature of the truth. Dr. Williams ignores the fact that many King James Bible defenders have scholarly credentials at least equal to that of the contributors to From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man.
It is an unequivocal fact of history that the defense of the Received Text and the KJV did not originate with a Seventh-day Adventist, but with godly men in Britain in the 1800s who defended the Greek text underlying the KJV against the new theories of textual criticism, which they considered to be unbelieving and heretical. I have documented this extensively in my 500-page hardcover book For Love of the Bible: The History of the Defense of the KJV and the Received Text from 1800 to Present [available from Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. http://www.wayoflife.org (web site), firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail), 866-295-4143 (toll free), 519-652-2619 (phone)].
This series of articles is an attempt to help set the record straight. The following is an example of the men and organizations that have defended the Received Text and the King James Bible during the past 150 years:
William Aberhart (1878-1943) stood for the Received Text and the King James Bible in western Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. I had the rare opportunity to research Aberhart’s life and teachings from a man who studied under him and who knew him. That man was the late Pastor Mark Buch (1910-1995) of Vancouver, British Columbia. I met Pastor Bush several times and was granted a recorded interview in which he discussed his knowledge of Aberhart. He also gave me some personal items pertaining to Aberhart, such as photos and news clippings, and copies of Aberhart’s writings from his library. Buch founded the People’s Fellowship Tabernacle of Vancouver in 1939 and pastored it for 40 years. He knew and preached with many of the well-known Fundamentalist leaders of this century, including J. Frank Norris, G. Beauchamp Vick, and Bob Jones, Sr. In 1990, Buch retired from the pastorate, and People’s Fellowship Tabernacle was merged with the Bethel Baptist Church to become Tabernacle Baptist Church of Vancouver. Its pastor, our friend Gordon Conner, continues to hold a standard for the King James Bible and biblical Fundamentalism in western Canada.
William Aberhart was a high school principal, pastor, Bible school dean, radio Bible teacher, and a greatly beloved political leader. For 20 years (1915-1935), Aberhart was the principal of one of the most prestigious high schools in Canada, the Crescent Heights High School in Calgary, Alberta. He was Premier of Alberta from 1935-43, his Social Credit party having been swept into power on a tremendous landslide victory. During those years, he also served as Attorney-General and as Minister of Education. Though greatly beloved by the common man, Aberhart was hated and slandered by the media of that day. The press loved to call him “Bible Bill,” though he was not known by such a name to those who knew him.
For many years, Aberhart expounded upon the Bible in weekly lectures attended by hundreds on Sunday afternoons in Calgary. His specialty was Bible prophecy. He was an old-fashioned, Fundamentalist, Scofield dispensationalist. He was also a Baptist. Though reared in a Presbyterian home, he left Presbyterianism as a young man. In November 1925, he began his pioneer radio broadcasts which were beamed across Alberta and which enjoyed a tremendously large and dedicated following. He preached the Gospel in plain and simple language, and he always had the humble farming community of that day in mind, having himself been raised on a farm. As to Christ’s love for man, Aberhart announced, “This truth of the gospel is a wonderful thing. It is, without doubt, the greatest news that has ever been proclaimed. When Christ died, once for all, and made atonement for all our sins, past, present, and future, He did a complete work and made our salvation an assured fact” (Lecture delivered June 28, 1942).
Aberhart also founded the Radio Sunday School. Bible lessons were broadcast over the radio and coordinated with printed materials. Follow up was accomplished by volunteers who gave their leisure time to reach boys and girls for the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time of his death, six thousand young people were enrolled. During his years as Minister of Education in Alberta, Aberhart was responsible for legislation making it compulsory for the Bible to be read daily in every classroom in the province.
In the late 1920s, Aberhart separated from the Regular Baptists over issues such as Bible inspiration and prophecy. He was a dispensationalist and rejected the Amillennialism prevalent among the Regular Baptists. In 1924, Aberhart established the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute. The first student enrolled in this Bible Institute was Ernest Charles Manning, who eventually became the premier of Alberta, holding that position from 1943 until 1968. Aberhart also founded the Bible Institute Baptist Church, which was dedicated by the Fundamental Baptist leader William B. Riley. The Bible Institute Baptist Church, which seated 1,250 counting the seats in the gallery, was a prominent church in Calgary in those days. On Sunday mornings, the main floor was commonly filled, and on many special occasions, the church was packed. Many well-known Fundamentalist leaders from the States, such as W.B. Riley and Harry Rimmer, preached there.
Aberhart trained his people and his students to have confidence in the divine preservation of the Bible. ABERHART SAW THE BIBLE TEXT ISSUE AS ONE INVOLVING THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD. On his stationery in dark orange ink were the words “We believe in an inspired Bible.” Aberhart was not satisfied, though, to believe that an inspired Bible had come from the hands of the Scripture writers only to be corrupted in its transmission through the centuries. He argued that not only was it God’s responsibility to give a perfect Bible, but it was His responsibility to keep a perfect Bible. He believed the King James Bible is the preserved Word of God. A summary of Aberhart’s teaching is given by Pastor Mark Buch who was educated by Aberhart in the 1930s.
“Mr. Aberhart was one of the greatest Bible teachers in Canada. He was the first person I came in contact with who knew the true story of the divine inspiration and preservation of God’s Holy Word. He explained how it came down from the first apostolic faultless autograph, its safe keeping through the Byzantine church, the majority reformation copy by Erasmus of Rotterdam, William Tyndale’s translation, the Authorized committee of mental and spiritual giants, and the resultant glorious treasure—the Authorized Version” (Mark Buch, In Defence of the Authorized Version, People’s Fellowship Tabernacle, Vancouver, British Columbia, p. 25).
One of Aberhart’s lectures on the subject of Bible versions, The Latest of Modern Movements: Or What about the Revised Version of the Bible?, was printed and distributed by the thousands. In this message Aberhart expressed his views on the multiplication of versions in English. The following excerpts illustrate Aberhart’s affecting manner of speaking and the position on Bible versions that he taught to great numbers of people in the first half of this century. Aberhart’s message is as relevant today as the day it was first preached.
WHAT ABOUT THE REVISED VERSION OF THE BIBLE
BY WILLIAM ABERHART, c. 1925
A storm at sea is not so dangerous as a fog. Ships are built to wrestle with storms, but not to withstand a fog. I was reading not long ago of an invention recently perfected to help a vessel in a fog. The apparatus consists of a horizontal outlook pipe, eight feet in length and eight inches in diameter. At the mouth of the tube is a wide flange; the rear end is covered with a thick disk of glass. About two feet from the rear end a pipe enters the tube from below, at an obtuse angle with the forward section. This connection is fastened to a sort of turntable which permits the outlook tube to be pointed in any desired direction, up or down, from one side to the other. The pipe below connects with a powerful blower down in the vessel. When the dispeller is in use the blower sends a forceful stream of air into the pipe, into the tube, and the current hurtles into the fog, boring a hole through it as it were. The fog rolls back in every direction. A great cone of clear atmosphere, with its apex at the mouth of the tube, results. The eye of the pilot is at the glass at the rear end of the tube and he gazes into the bowels of the fog. The inventor hopes to make the fog-dispeller useful at a thousand feet.
But there is another kind of fog, that I have in mind, a religious one. I should like to use a powerful dispeller upon it, if I could, so that earnest people may not be cast upon the rocks of unbelief and doubt.
The Attack of the Critics
During the last half of the 18th century, and the greater part of the 19th, the Philosophic, Evolutionary or Higher Critical School of Thought struck its deadliest blow and made its most determined effort against God’s Written Word, the Bible.
It was a real storm and it struck the old van of the Church broadsides. Her colleges were almost ruined. For a time there was a wavering among the people. Many wondered if she would be able to weather the storm. It was a brazen attempt to establish a priest craft—not ecclesiastical but philosophic. ...
During the last 50 years, as the rank and file of God’s people have been gradually losing confidence in these vaporings that were regularly declared from certain platforms, pulpits and church papers, there has arisen a steadily-increasing interest in the study of Holy Writ. Finding no certain help in philosophy and skepticism of the Higher Critical type, they have thought to return to the faith of their fathers.
Some of our greatest intellects are studying--not about the Bible, but the contents of it, and its power and force is being felt, as the Word itself declared. ...
The Modern Craze
Contemporaneous with this splendid movement back to the scriptures there has arisen the latest modern religious movement, which is settling down upon the human race like a dense fog. I refer to the popular, apparently insatiable craze to undertake the seemingly insignificant task of correcting the Bible by revision.
They tell us about ‘the intrinsic and transcriptional probability of mistakes’; or ‘the conflation of whole verses and chapters’; and ‘neutral texts’; and behind it all the primitive archetype,’ that must be conjectured. And finally the bold and bad assertion ‘that we are obliged to come to the supreme court of the individual mind to correct the Word.’ (Please note the drift.)
One can almost picture the magicians of old saying a few incoherent, unintelligible phrases and then presto! change! the thing is gone.
Constantly we hear from mere tyros and the unlearned in the Greek and Hebrew, that, ‘such and such’ a word is in the original and should be translated ‘so and so.’ The strange, inexplicable point of it all is that many of these do not know even the Greek or Hebrew alphabets, and certainly do not know that the original manuscripts are not in existence, and have not been seen by anyone in modern times.
Think of it! All this in the face of God’s Definite Warnings:
(1) Deut. 4:2—’Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.’
(2) Prov. 30:6—’Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.’
(3) Rev. 22:18,19—‘If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’
Solemn warnings indeed are these, placed as great sentinels, one at the beginning, another in the middle and the last at the close of the Word, to protect man and keep him from presumptuously rushing in where angels fear to tread: And yet how little they give heed!
What is the Result?
Simply this, side by side, are to be found scores of Bible translations and revisions, each claiming greater perfection than any other of its kind.
We have Darby’s Version, Russell’s Diaglot, Prof. Moulton’s Bible, English Revised Version, American Revised Version, 20th Century in Modern Speech, Moffatt’s Translation, Goodspeed’s New Testament, Kent’s Shorter Bible. I would not attempt to give an exhaustive list. ...
One would almost imagine that we had reached the place where we considered that the only requisite to write a correct Bible was a number of the old manuscripts and a knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew. The presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit seems of no account. How quickly Satan can get people to bow down to scholarship or the heroic in mankind. Let us be warned. Conditions are fast becoming as they were in France just previous to horrible Infidelity and Revolutionary period. The French Protestants had three different versions—those of Osterwald, Martin and Segond. In their churches and homes sometimes one was read, sometimes another. A story is told that a visiting clergyman entered a church in Paris, and found the minister reading from one version, while in the pew was another version, at the bottom of a page of which was pencilled, ‘not two words in five alike.’ Imagine the influence of such a condition!
Are we blind to the force of a statement such as this: ‘You have many different Bibles and no two are alike’? Can you estimate the effect upon the rising generation to have nothing settled? Will our children not soon begin to think that Holy Scripture is a nose of wax to be twisted hither and thither? No wonder the Roman Catholics smile as they say, ‘Where does the infallibility of your Bible come in?’ What a fog! Would to God I could use a dispeller that would roll back this fog in every direction, for I believe God has spoken.
Psalm 11:3—’If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’
The Problem that Confronts us in this
If we grant Modernism the authority to revise and correct our Bibles, we must be prepared to grant three concessions and all that appertains thereto.
(1) That the translators of the Authorized version were not guided by the Holy Spirit, since they made so many (?) blunders. And further that they knew very little Hebrew and Greek; in fact were mere tyros when compared with the many giants of today.
And again, for the last 300 years, through the numerous mistakes, terrible mistranslations and gross blunders, our forefathers who in many cases willingly gave their lives for the truth, were led astray into doctrines that had no foundation in fact.
(2) That, considering the number of modern attempts that have been made, each claiming to be the best rendering, the correct form of translation must be very difficult to ascertain and hard to recognize when it is secured. And thus, the greater portion of humanity are entirely incapable of certain knowledge regarding the most vital truths of life. We must therefore be prepared to abandon the doctrine of the individual’s responsibility and accept the priestcraft of the Greek and Hebrew scholars.
Bear in mind that all the Protestant churches in their creeds accepted the infallibility of the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
(3) That, after all is said and done, we can never have an infallible guide upon which to base our faith. Who knows but that the next ten years will see further translations and revisions by greater ‘intellectual giants’ than those of today, and we shall find that we have been groping in the dark. Thus, not having an infallible guide, we are cast adrift on the seas of life in a vessel that has no rudder. On what coast, think you, we can hope to land in such a case?
Are you prepared, dear reader, to grant all this? Will you set out to sea under such conditions?
I can still believe the Lord Jesus Christ, when he said: ‘For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled’ (Matt. 5:18). ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’ (Matt. 24:35).
If these words mean anything, they inform us that the Lord Jesus intended to see to it that the Bible, His Word, would be preserved for us in a perfect, infallible state. I think it is high time we arouse ourselves and follow the example of Jude: ‘Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares who were, before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Jude 3,4).
No one questions the need of Bible revision. It is an obvious fact, that, as centuries pass by, the spoken language will become different from the printed page. We are constantly changing the import of various words that we use.
For example, take the word ‘let.’ In 1611, when the Authorized Bible was published, this word meant ‘hindered,’ the very opposite of its meaning today. ... But when the revisers take the ground that more reliable manuscripts and better translations have been discovered, I claim this is too uncertain and vague to carry conviction and it makes one become a living interrogation point. ...
It is hardly necessary to state that the Original Manuscripts that came from the hands of the inspired writers are not in existence and have not been for nearly nineteen centuries. ... God did not need the originals in order to give us His pure and holy Word. He has kept it, as Jesus said. Not one jot nor one tittle has passed from it. ...
No, Modernists, serious-minded people who recognize the latest Modern Drift will need to be shown more convincingly before they will hand over the Bible of our forefathers. ...
The New Testament, English Revised, was published in May, 1881 ... The whole Bible, English Revision, was published in May, 1885. ... The American committee were not altogether satisfied, and in 1900 published the New Testament, American Revision. The following year the whole Bible, American Revision, was published. It is evident ... that many of the Higher Critical School and some with Unitarian ideals would be found in these committees....
This is the finding and product of the latest Modern movement. It still goes on. HERE AND THERE AND EVERYWHERE MEN ARE RISING UP ABOVE THE SCRIPTURES TO CORRECT THEM. THE TABLES ARE BEING TURNED TODAY. INSTEAD OF THE BIBLE CORRECTING MEN AND MEN’S OPINIONS, SOME ARE CORRECTING THE BIBLE. ...
Personally, I am willing to accept Christ’s declaration at its face value. ‘Verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled’ (Matt. 5:18).
Why then should we be attracted by the error and nonsense which everywhere plead for a hearing because they are new? To suppose that theology can be new is to imagine that the Lord Himself is of yesterday. To propose that we need a new Bible is to declare that God has not spoken. A doctrine that declares itself new must of necessity be false. Falsehood has no beard, but Truth is hoary with age immeasurable. Pity should be our feeling toward those young preachers who cry, ‘See my new theology! See my latest Revision!’ in just the same spirit as little Mary says, ‘See my pretty new frock!’
The time has not yet come when all things have been fulfilled. The heavens and the earth have not yet passed away. Therefore not one jot nor one tittle has passed. The Authorized version is reliable. I believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice (William Aberhart, The Latest of Modern Movements, c. 1925).
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