"Bible Believers" Without A Bible?
A Written Dispute Between A True King James Bible Believer
And a Professing "Bible Believer" Who Can't Produce His "Bible"
Timothy S. Morton
|In 1993, I wrote and published a book defending the KJB entitled Which Translation Should You Trust.
In 1996 Rick Norris of Fayetteville, NC took issue with many of the
claims found in my book and wrote me the letter below. We corresponded
a total of four times and each time I challenged Mr. Norris to clearly
state what his FINAL AUTHORITY was and where it could be found since he
denied it is the KJB. The reader will see in reading this
correspondence that he refused to answer—he has no tangible
final authority. Mr. Norris' response is typical for the "only the
originals are inspired" and "no translation can be inspired" ("Autographs Only")
crowd. They wish to steal the true Bible away from a believers heart
and mind and replace it with nothing but their "opinion," making
themselves their own final authority!
March 12, 1996
Dear Bro. Morton,
have read and examined your booklet WHICH TRANSlATION SHOULD YOU TRUST?
I am sure that your motives were good and that you think your
information is correct. I have also been studying the Bible translation
issue. I have read most of the KJV-only books presently available,
including books by Hills, Fuller, Ruckman, Gipp, Waite, Burgon, Ray,
Burton, Evans, Grady, McClure, Paine, Cummons, Carter, Riplinger, etc.
would recommend that you examine for yourself the earlier English
Bibles which the KJV was based on. Reprints of several of them are
still available. Major university libraries may have copies of all of
them on microfilm. I have obtained reprints of Tyndale's 1526 and 1534
New Testaments, Tyndale's Old Testament (the portion he translated
before being killed), Matthew's Bible New Testament, a photocopy of
1535's Coverdale's Bible, 1557 Whittingaham's New Testament, an edition
of a whoIe Geneva Bible, and a New Testament Octapla which contains
Tyndale's N.T., Great Bible New Testament, Geneva Bible N.T., Bishops'
Bible N.T., KJV etc. also have a reprint of the four gospels from
Wycliffe's Bible and have examined a reprint of an entire Wycliffe's
Bible. I have also examined other editions of these Bibles at major
libraries and some of them on microfilm.
are eight pages of information based on my study of these older Bibles
for your consideration. I have also made a comparison of over 150
verses in these early English Bibles, the KJV. John Wesley's 1755 New
Testament, a 1842 revision of KJV by Baptists, 1862 American Bible
Union New Testament, and several present-day translations. These facts
would contradict several of the claims in your booklet. Please check
the evidence for yourself.
- Yours in Christ,
- Rick Norris
following two paragraphs are excerpts from a copyrighted partial
manuscript Mr. Norris referred to in the above letter. The issues they
bring up, along with the issues in the letter, are dealt with in my
...If God desired to inspire translations, why didn't He just inspire this first complete English Bible and be done with it?
If the KJV-only theory is correct, why would God leave those who spoke
English without an inerrant translation for seventy-six years (1535 to
a variation of this argument from a line of good Bibles, William Byers
claimed that the KJV is the seventh translation in the English language
from the pure text and is thus "purified seven times" (The History of
the KJB, pp.9, 23, 97-98). Byers wrote that the Geneva Bible was the
"sixth translation" (p.9), but later he wrote that "Geneva is five"
(p.97). Byers' claim is false since the KJV is not the seventh English
translation from the Received Text: Tyndale's New Testament, Joyce's
New Testament, Coverdale's Bible, Matthew's Bible, the Great Bible,
Taverner's Bible, Coverdale's Latin-English New Testament, Bishop
Becke's Bible (1551), Whittingham's New Testament (1557), Geneva Bible,
Bishops' Bible, and KJV. In addition, there were more than one edition
of many of these Bibles with many changes and revisions in them.
Furthermore, each Bible was not always an improvement over the one
before it. Many times the next Bible in the line made changes for the
worse by adding words from the Latin Vulgate. For example,
the Bishops' Bible was a poorer translation than the Geneva Bible. Is
Byers suggesting that people have to have seven translations into their
language before they can have a reliable and accurate one? Does he
think that it takes God seven attempts before the Holy Spirit can guide
translators to produce an inerrant translation? Is he suggesting that
the KJV improves on the Hebrew and Greek? Although
beginning his list with Wycliffe's Bible, Timothy Morton made a similar
inaccurate claim to that of Byers when he wrote: "Each of these Bibles
was (and still is) a valuable translation, but the King James of 1611
is the purest--the seventh and final purification" (Which Translation
Should You Trust, p.9).
This is my first reply to Mr. Norris' above letter.
Dear Brother Norris:
I have read and examined your letter and partial manuscript and have found them to contain the same critical, humanistic mentality
as scores of other works I have read. As we repeatedly mentioned in our
book, we have found that those who follow this line of reasoning have
no final authority other than their opinion. When one in confronted
with dozens of conflicting "authorities," what is left to make a choice
between them except one's opinion? You may insist that our position on
the KJB is based on opinion and in a sense this is true, but our
allegiance to the AV is built upon what God SAYS in it and what He has DONE with it, not critical, one-dimensional, worldly reasoning.
your letter you recommend that I examine the earlier English Bibles
which the AV was based on. Doesn't the title page of the AV say, "Newly translated out of the original tongues with the former translations diligently compared and revised"? Did not the resolution King James set forth say "That a translation be made of the whole Bible as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek"? Did not the first of the fifteen general rules he advanced say "...the Bishops Bible (is) to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit"?
Clearly the KJB is based upon the Hebrew and Greek texts. The
translators were to change the texts of the earlier versions to suit
the Hebrew and Greek texts they had, not vice versa.
three quotes above from the period show the need for the KJ translation
being undertaken. You quote Coverdale as saying he saw no problem with
"many translations" and didn't think they would make "division in the
faith." Maybe they wouldn't in 1535 but by 1600 they did. By 1600
several Bibles and Testaments were floating around and their was
division. The Puritans insisted on the Geneva Bible while the Anglicans
held to the Bishops Bible. John Reynolds and many others saw a problem
and so did King James, thus came about the KJB, and it is still alive and well!
you say I need to go to a large university to even have access to some
of the pre-KJV English Bibles shows how the AV filled the void those
versions left and subsequently replaced them all. I can buy a KJB at Wal-Mart,
but a copy of the Great Bible or the complete Bishops Bible who knows
where they can be found. Recently some reprints of Tyndale's NT and the
Geneva Bible have been published, but they are in almost no demand and
those that do buy them don't use them as Bibles. How do you explain
this? The AV is only 51 years younger than the Geneva (probably the
most popular before the AV) yet by 1650 the Geneva was rapidly passing
into obscurity. Why did the AV supersede all of these versions? Did God
have anything to do with it?
On page 79 you mention Wycliff's use of the words "penance" and "sacrament," but what's so surprising about that? Wycliff was born and raised a Roman Catholic.
Furthermore, Wycliff didn't know Hebrew or likely Greek so he used the
only text he had to work with (the Latin Vulgate). Even though the
Vulgate by today's standards is a less than desirable text, it was all
Wycliff had and the text God provided him to use. God honored and used
his translation in spite of its errors and mistranslations, thus it was
the word of God in English at the time. The English speaking Christians
who had access to it understood it to be such.
the word of God have errors in it, though? Don't the terms word of God
and errors exclude each other? No, I didn't contradict myself, I just understand your mentality,
I used to think the same way myself. You have worked yourself into a
logic-tight line of reasoning and leaving no room for God or faith to
work. More on this in a minute.
understand what you are saying in you manuscript. You believe if you
can show any inconsistencies, errors, or mistranslations in any English
Bible in the good "tree" (or "stream," etc.) link from the AV to the
original autographs, you can discredit the links, the AV, and those who
believe it. You say as much in the last two paragraphs on page 86. But
this is just more humanistic, worldly, linear thinking. I
noticed that not once in the eight pages you sent me did you appeal to
ANY verse in ANY Bible as a basis for ANY of your arguments. Why is that? Could it be because you don't have an inerrant, infallible Bible? You
arguments are based solely on your understanding of logic and reason
and not on biblical principles God has revealed in His word (AV).
You leave no room for God, His word, or faith to work. (Don't think I
say this to suggest that I am immune to such tendencies, I had to deal
with them when I was struggling with the Bible issue and am still
struggling with them often in other areas today. This is just an
observation, which is quite easy to see.)
an example of your faulty reasoning look at the last sentence of the
second paragraph on page 81. You say. "If God desired to inspire
translations, why didn't he just inspire this first complete English
Bible and be done with it?" I will admit from a worldly, "scholarly,"
logical perspective this looks like a plausible statement, but from the perspective of the Scriptures it is pure nonsense. Look at Isaiah 55:8-9 where God plainly states that He doesn't THINK like we think nor are His WAYS our ways.
The truth is no one can predict what God is going to do in any
situation unless He reveals otherwise! Think about that a couple days.
If God wanted to give translations by inspiration, is the way you just
stated the ONLY way He should or could do it? Is there no room for any
other way? Can God only work within your pre-defined, logical
parameters? I have made many such statements in the past and am still
very prone to do so, but I am convinced they are blasphemous and
Satanic and struggle to have "the mind of Christ."
in Matt. 16 where the Lord rebuked Peter? Peter didn't think it was
"logical" and reasonable for "the Christ" to suffer and die. To him
(and likely the others) such talk was contrary to everything the
Messiah stood for, but what did Christ reply to Peter? "Get
thee behind me, Satan: thou art an OFFENSE unto me: for thou savourest
not the things that be of God, but those that be of MEN"
(Tyndale calls it "worldly things"). Peter is told his "rationale" is
humanistic, Satanic, and just plain WRONG. There have been many times
in which I deserved just as stern a rebuke by saying things like "If
God" this or "God would surely" that or "What reason could God possibly
have to..." and having not one promise from Scripture that He would or
wouldn't do any of them. You said, "If God desired...why didn't
He..." Can't you see it brother? We can't read
God's mind or understand His methods unless He reveals them. The Bible
is filled with God doing things in "illogical," unconventional ways. He
simply will not fit in man's logic-tight reasonings, yours or mine.
God COULD go through seven English translations before He settled on a
final, lasting one for the coming universal language, and there is not
one verse in either Testament that says He can't. His reasons for His
methods are entirely His own, and we are on precarious ground when we
1382 God's word in English was found in Wycliff's Bible. It was the
word God wanted them to have at the time in spite of its later
discovered weaknesses. The same can be said about the other English
Bibles until the AV came along and replaced them. It has stood since
1611 as God's pure word in English at God's good pleasure. All other
versions, older or newer, are inferior.
claim that their must be an unbroken chain of inerrancy from the AV to
the autographs is not only humanistic thinking but also unsupportable
from Scripture. If not, why don't you produce the Scripture? God has promised to preserve His word, but He has NOT revealed all the methods He may use to do it.
He never promised ANY specific language a Bible anyway. That the
English speaking people have one is purely by GRACE. God could have
kept all the autographs and hid them somewhere IF HE WANTED, but
history tells us He didn't choose to do that. He let the autographs
disappear (illogical by human thinking) and used His people to preserve
His word in the manner He wanted them to have it. This is the reasoning
of faith that Edward Hills speaks of. Furthermore, No Bible God uses in any language has to be plenarily or verbally identical to the autographs for it to be His inerrant word. He preserves it the way He sees fit. (Reread pages 17-22 of our book for our position on this and CHECK THE VERSES!)
the KJB being the seventh English translation (pg. 83 of you
manuscript), we can't speak for brother Byers, but we can speak for
ourself. We began the paragraph you quote us from with, "Concerning the
word being purified 'seven times,' it is INTERESTING TO OBSERVE that
the KJV is the seventh MAJOR English translation." How convenient it was for you to omit major in the context you are speaking about.
This leads you readers to believe we didn't know there were other
translations. Why would we say "major" if we didn't know there were
other minor translations not mentioned? You selective, biased quoting
does not deliver the facts, but it does, I suppose, fuel your rhetoric.
arrived at seven by counting only complete Bibles (Matt. 4:4), only
Protestant Bibles (I know Wycliff's was from the Vulgate, but can you
produce any Catholic priest that will endorse his translation? They dug
up Wycliff's bones and burned them because of it), and only notable
common Bibles. The same listing that we used (omitting 'Tyndale's NT)
can be found in A Pictorial History Of Our English Bible published by
Bob Jones University Press, pages 6-7 (Bob Jones is not "KJ-only" by
anyone's definition I know) We well know there were other minor Bibles
(such as Taverner's, etc. and likely others that since have been lost)
that were published before the AV, but they add little or nothing to
the Bible issue. Chamberlin has the AV listed as number seventeen!
go on to ask is Byers (an imply us also since we made a "similar
inaccurate claim") suggesting that it takes seven attempts for God to
arrive at an inerrant translation. Come on, now. Do you really think he
or we believe that? Can you produce any saved, sensible person who
believes God is limited in that way? Your readers, especially those who
take the time to check the works you are quoting from, will easily see
that this is nothing but more rhetoric.
Finally, on this subject, you seem to forget that it was God who said He would purify His words "seven times."
We Bible believers didn't just pull that idea out of the air. The full
explanation and ramifications of Psalm 12 are known only to God, but,
as we said, it is interesting to observe in light of God's method of
producing the KJB.
Luke 2:33 we have known since 1611 that "his father" in place of
"Joseph" is an error. It is an error whether it is in Tyndale's NT or
the NIV, but who knew that in 1526? Again, "Tyndale and the others
could only use the materials God provided them in the making of their
translations. And they were faithful and God blessed their labors.
Preserving His word is God's business and that he gave Tyndale texts
that said "his father" is solely His concern. The same can be said for
all you other "contradictions or inconsistencies." Tyndale and the
other translators are innocent in this regard, but all of the modern
translators are not. They had the truth before them in the AV and
a nutshell, the "hard-nosed," "all-or-nothing" mentality you follow
simply doesn't fit God's methods. It will not give God any room to work
except within its narrow, humanistic parameters. It is Pharisaical. It
destroys men's faith in the Scriptures as found in the AV and other
Bibles. It leaves believers without a final absolute authority in any
language to be their guide. It is UNBELIEF. I know for I have been
there. Our little book is an account through the Scriptures of our
journey from unbelief to belief. How grand it is to HAVE an inerrant,
infallible copy of God's pure word!
I will have to say you have not shown me anything that will cause me to
reconsider my position. The only pre-KJ translation we have is
Tyndale's 1526 NT and we just got it as a novelty. Even though it was
likely considered the inerrant word of God in 1526 (and God used it as
such), in 1996 it is found inferior to the AV and thus a dead
translation. It is dead because along with the Geneva and others, it is
no longer published (except as a novelty translation) and no longer
used. After it served its purpose God abandoned it, much like He
abandoned the idolized original autographs.
Here, in 1996, We are not much concerned about where the word of God was in 1300s, 1400s, 1500, anyway, or any period before, but we are very much concerned as to where it can be found TODAY!
Each generation in the past had its own responsibility to God's word as
He had given it for that generation, but since 1611, as history has
shown, God has settled on the KJB. If we are to have the "mind of
Christ," we need to receive what He has clearly given and reject what
He has abandoned.
make a big fuss about finding some remnants of the Vulgate in the early
translations, but what's the problem? Is God not able to give any
generation the Bible He wants them to have? Again, it's His business.
Your insinuation, however, that the differences between these early
versions and the modern versions is much the same compared with the AV
is ridiculous. Here in 1996 we can look back and see how the English
Bible was in a sort of a purifying mode until 1611, but since then it
has steadily degenerated into corruption. All the modern versions are
the proof. That is why we Bible believers believe a Bible that is 385
years old! We would much rather have a Coverdale or Geneva Bible than
ANY new version with all their omissions, mistranslations, weakened
translations, attacks on Christ, etc. if the AV was unavailable. For
one example Tyndale got Acts 4:27 right where the NKJV didn't.
and I have two different approaches, philosophies, mentalities, and
Bibles. We each need to be certain of the source of each.
will close now. we are sure you can take issue with many other
statements found in our book, but if you wish to reply to this letter,
please answer the three questions on page 9 of our book. They are
reasonable questions and worthy of answers.
Yours in Christ
the benefit of our readers, we have included below a section of page
nine of our book which asks the three questions mentioned in the last
paragraph of our above letter.
the reader has any doubt that what we have stated above is the position
of many of the leading fundamentalists, he should get some of their
books and check for himself. Or better yet, write one a letter and ask
him three simple questions:
1. Do you believe the King James Version of 1611 is the pure, inerrant word of God and absolute final authority for believers?
2. If no, does your FINAL AUTHORITY exist on earth today in pure, inerrant, tangible form in any language?
3. If yes, what and where is it? And if no, why not?
simple as these questions are, many of the leading "fundamentalists" in
America refuse to answer them. They refuse because they cannot answer
them and still appear as "defenders of the faith." The author has read
the replies of some of them who responded to questions similar to
these, and they dance around them without clearly answering one. All of
their scholarly talk, appeals to Greek authorities and historic
positions, and references to nonexistent "originals" is just a
smokescreen to veil their unbelief. They simply do not believe an
infallible Bible exists. Ironically, all of these questions can be
answered by a Bible believer with no more than a grade school education
(or even less) in one word. To the first he will answer "Yes," this
also answers the others...
Go To Correspondence #2