TESTIMONIES OF KJV DEFENDERS - MARK BUCH
Updated July 28, 2004 (first published August 27, 1999) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
This is another installment in our series of testimonies of men and organizations that defend the King James Bible.
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), email@example.com (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:
Mark Buch (1910-1995) of Vancouver, British Columbia, defended the King James Bible for sixty years. He was born November 30, 1910. I had the pleasure of interviewing this gracious man of God on a number of occasions. He started the People’s Fellowship Tabernacle of Vancouver in 1939 and pastored it for 40 years. Buch 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 (though he continued his radio broadcasts until his death in 1995), and People’s Fellowship Tabernacle merged with the Bethel Baptist Church to become the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Vancouver. Its pastor is Gordon Conner, who continues to hold a standard for the King James Bible and biblical Fundamentalism in western Canada.
Pastor Buch first heard that the Received Text is the preserved Word of God from the Founder and Dean of the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, William Aberhart, whom we mentioned earlier in these studies.
Buch, a Scandinavian immigrant, came to Canada knowing nothing about English. “I learned English first from an Irish school teacher who was teaching school in New Norway. She taught me the A-B-C’s. Later on I learned English, the highest English, by reading the Authorized Version of the Bible. I didn’t read anything else. I would write so much every day from the Authorized Version, that’s why my English is colored by the Elizabethan English expressions. My speech became saturated with the Authorized Version’s incomparable English” (Mark Buch, In Defence of the Authorized Version, 1977).
Buch was saved in 1931. Between his first and second year at the Prophetic Bible Institute, Buch took a home study course in Greek produced by Vine in England. His goal was to know God’s Word in its original language. The consternation Buch experienced in learning that the Greek text he purchased was different from the Received Text has been experienced by countless men and women. Consider:
“Then one day I was looking at my Greek New Testament and I read on the flyleaf that this Greek New Testament had followed the preparations of Professor Eberhard Nestle. We call it Nestle’s Greek New Testament. I then found down in the middle paragraph: ‘The text is the resultant of a collation of three of the principle recensions of the Greek New Testament’ [two of these were Tischendorf and Westcott-Hort]. I looked this up in my dictionary. Collation means texts put side by side, one here, one there for comparison. Principle recensions means reviewing or examining an ancient text—a text so corrected. Corrected? Now we are correcting God? And then I turned over the page and it gave an explanation of the critical apparatus. What is the critical apparatus? I found there were notes all along in Nestle’s Testament. It then dawned on me—I’ve gone to all this trouble trying to read [the Greek] and I’m no further ahead than I was before! How am I to know which God wrote and which God didn’t write? My faith was shaken because faith comes by hearing ... of the Word of God. The Word of God is the basis of our faith. If you don’t have a true copy of the Word of God, forget about faith” (In Defence of the Authorized Version, pp. 30,31).
Many make light of the dilemma described by Pastor Buch, but the fact that Buch’s FAITH WAS SHAKEN by the modern critical approach to Bible texts is a very serious issue which cannot be ignored. It can be demonstrated that not only has the faith of individual men been shaken, but the faith of an entire generation has been shaken by the modern approach. Buch was not satisfied with the arguments of the textual critics. He wanted a perfect Bible! God soon brought him into contact with the information which would throw light on the area of his concern.
“In the Fall I went back to the Prophetic Bible Institute in Calgary [William Aberhart’s school]. I came to the second year of Apologetics. It opened the subject of Divine Inspiration and preservation in particular, of the original manuscripts. It was a very helpful and blessed time. During that time I also took Greek at Western Baptist Bible College in Calgary. My heart leaped for joy as my mind was saturated with new confidence. The moment the story began to dawn upon me as we were tracing our way following the pure stream of the divinely inspired Bible, back, back to the divinely inbreathed autographs, my whole life changed” (In Defence of the Authorized Version p. 31).
In a phone conversation with this author on March 1, 1995, Buch explained just how important the textual issue was to him: “WHEN ABERHART HELPED ME TO SEE THE BIBLE TEXTUAL ISSUE, IT WAS LIKE BEING SAVED AGAIN. I SAW THAT GOD HAS PRESERVED HIS WORD AND THAT THE AUTHORIZED VERSION WAS AN ACCURATE TRANSLATION OF THE DIVINELY-PRESERVED SCRIPTURES.”
Many men smile at such a “simplistic approach” to Bible versions, but this author believes it is a dangerous thing to make light of a position that gives men perfect confidence in their Bible.
With the appearance of the Revised Standard Version in 1952, Buch’s stance for the King James Bible became much more visible. He held public debates and rallies in opposition to the new Version. These were held across western Canada—Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Calgary, Medicine Hat. On November 28, 1952, soon after the publication of the RSV, Buch debated Dr. Vernon Fawcett, professor of Union College at the University of British Columbia. This debate was broadcast on the powerful and influential CJOR radio station and was conducted in CJOR’s radio theater. The public as well as the media and the scholarly world were intensely fascinated with the debate. Many news reporters covered the exchange, including a correspondent for the communist newspaper Pravda. The theater was packed. Buch said, “They practically had to carry me out over the heads of the people.” The young pastor was frightened at the prospects of facing a brilliant professor in such a public arena, and he prayed to God in an alley before he was scheduled to appear. Buch said the Lord encouraged his heart with Galatians 6:2. He knew that he was facing a burden he would have to bear alone, but though no man could help him, God could and would.
The response following the debate was overwhelming. Buch said he literally had to take the phone off the hook to get some rest. By December the Calgary Herald had given this King James Bible defender the moniker “the burning Buch” for “his public denunciation of the new Bible” (“Vancouver Minister Scores New Bible,” Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, Dec. 17, 1952). The Vancouver Province newspaper ran four articles by Buch in June 1953, which gave a reply to articles that had been printed in other papers in support of the RSV. One excerpt gives the heartbeat of Buch’s defense of the Old Bible:
“To grant the original manuscripts were the perfect, inspired Word of God two or three thousand years ago, is small comfort to man today, for it is common knowledge that they are lost. The big question to us then is not, ‘Did God inspire the original manuscripts?’ We know He did, but has God preserved that perfect revelation through time in copying and translation? Again and again the Word itself emphatically states He has. ‘The Word of the Lord endureth forever, and this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you’ (1 Peter 1:25)” (Mark Buch, “Christians Took Scrolls into Alps,” The Vancouver Province, Saturday, June 13, 1953).
The story of how Buch’s articles came to be published in the Vancouver Province is fascinating in itself. Because of his public outcry against the RSV, Buch’s position on the Bible version issue was well known. The Vancouver Sun newspaper had published a number of articles covering the new Revised Standard Version, but the Vancouver Province had more or less stayed out of the controversy. One day the editor of the Province, a Mr. Cunningham, invited Pastor Buch to his office to discuss the issue. We pick up here with Buch’s narrative of this encounter:
“We met in his spacious office overlooking Victory Square Park and downtown Vancouver. I found Mr. Cunningham to be a very gracious and knowledgeable person, courteous and soft spoken with a delightful English accent. I was seated opposite his large desk in a big leather chair. Mr. Cunningham acknowledged my contribution in the controversy. I gently reminded him of the immense publicity he and others had given the R.S.V. through advertising but not a word about the Authorized Version. I asked him why the hesitancy to give the Old Bible its deserts.
“He answered, ‘I can’t see it. The Bible to me is the Bible, whatever the version. What’s the difference?’
“I immediately took him up on that, handing him the Authorized Version and opened to Colossians 1:14.
“‘You are a man of words. You live by your knowledge of English. I also do in a way.’ Then putting my finger on verse 14 I asked that he read it. He did, out loud! Then I asked, ‘Which is the most important phrase in that verse?’
“After a very brief pause he answered, ‘Through his blood.’
“‘Why?’ I asked.
“‘Through his blood tells us how,’ was his answer.
“I stressed how important this was. I then handed him a copy of the R.S.V. I believe it was the first edition out. I still have it. Opening it to the same text I asked him to read it. He began again, reading out loud and then stopped after the first line and with furrowed brow looked up and said, ‘Why, the phrase “through his blood” is missing, but why?’
“I answered, ‘Either they refused to translate it out of prejudice to the old time faith of our fathers which requires the blood of God’s sacrificial lamb Jesus Christ to wash away our sins, or it wasn’t in the Greek manuscripts they used.’
“Looking up at me he asked, ‘What do you think?’
“I answered, ‘Knowing what we do of the R.S.V. translators committee, I’D SAY THEY SPURNED THE MAJORITY TEXT OR TEXTUS RECEPTUS AND USED RATHER THE POLLUTED WESTCOTT AND HORT LINE OF MANUSCRIPTS.’
“After a few moments silence he asked, ‘Could you prepare a series of articles on the historicity of the Authorized Version of the Bible?’ (Mark Buch, In Defence of the Authorized Version: One Pastor’s Battle, pp. 37,38)
Buch’s stand against the modern versions has had an influence in western Canada, particularly, in encouraging other men to stand for the KJV; these men in turn have influenced others.
Buch only grew stronger in his conviction that the King James Bible is the preserved Word of God in English. In 1977, he published an overview of the battle against the RSV. He used the occasion to give this testimony: “[Since the] R.S.V. appeared on the market, the battle of the Bible has raged with a flood of false Bibles from spurious manuscripts. ... After twenty-five years I am stronger and more confident in the veracity of the Authorized Version and the divinely inspired origin of its text” (In Defence of the Authorized Version, p. 14). On his radio broadcast for the third week of April 1995, Buch’s message was on the corruption of modern Bible versions.
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