Morton/Steele Debate

A Written Debate Concerning The Preservation Of Scripture

Compiled by
Timothy S. Morton

Letters, Emails, and More Letters

From time to time we get letters and emails from "well-meaning" brethren taking issue with us over some of our material. Probably the most controversial article on our website, or the one that has generated the most response, is an unlikely one. It is not our material about the King James Bible, nor is it about our position on Dispensationalism, it is our article about Honorary Doctorates. I usually get two types of letters. Those from people with earned doctorates who praise the article, and those from preachers with honorary "doctorates" who hate it. I have been called "antichrist" and worse by these brethren [or some who idolize them] because of that simple article. It hits those who love position and praise right where they are most vulnerable, their bloated, self-serving ego. One would think doctrinal issues would prevail over the desire to bring praise to the carnal man, but not here. When you challenge the perception some of the brethren would like others to have of them, you are stirring up a hornets nest.

However, we do get a lot of letters from people concerning doctrine and our position on the King James Bible. Some simply want to ask a question and others want to "show [me] where [I'm] wrong." These letters are pretty much evenly divided between the King James Bible and other subjects. Some of those who want to correct me [and I have been corrected a few times] fancy themselves as "armchair scholars" or "knowledgeable" persons well equipped to "lead [me] to the truth."

The Self-Proclaimed "Experts"

Some of you may have read our correspondence with Rick Norris that took place in 1996. That was before we had Internet access here in the hills so we corresponded the old-fashioned way, by letter. Norris started out saying he just wanted to get some information about my views in research for a book he was writing, but it didn't take long for him to show his true colors and unbelief. After four cycles of letters between us, Norris could not produce the Bible he professed to believe. He essentially admitted he did not believe a pure Bible existed or could ever exist.  He eventually did get his book finished, I understand, to the rave reviews of some of his ilk, but Norris was one of the most inconsistent fellows I have dealt with. Also, he misrepresented my position from the very start. Although they often make the pretense of being objective and "logical," they are often stereotypical in their treatment and condescending in their rhetoric.

Another one of these "armchair scholars" is a fellow named Darron Steele. He considers himself "an expert on textual and transmission issues of Scripture" and is, of course, another avid critic of the King James Bible. Steele first contacted me by email sometime in 2002 to ask me some questions about my position. I am always willing to answer any inquisitive soul as I have the time. But, again, this correspondence quickly led to challenges of my position, and I in turn challenged his. One annoying habit of Steele was he would often challenge a position he assumed I held without first finding out what my position actually was. This is the classic "straw-man" argument: make up a position for your opponent and then proceed to tear it down. It is a common tactic of the "Autograph Only" crowd. They want to describe our position for us.

My correspondence with Steele went on from time to time as I had a few minutes to reply. Steele has twice sent me draft copies of a book he was working on [actually, I think it is finished now], but it is just more of the same Alexandrian Text/"Autograph Only" hype with a slightly different twist. Nevertheless, he insists the Alexandrian Text is the text used by the apostles, and the one closest to their precious original autographs. But as you will see in this short debate, Steele also has a problem with consistency. He refuses to apply his positions equally to all relevant subjects.

A Written Debate Proposed

A month or two ago [8-04] after Steele wrote me "pushing to win" as he put it, I told him I did not have any more time for this correspondence. It was going no where. However, I was somewhat curious to see the progression of thought for his position. Thus I said I would make an outline of my position for the superiority of the King James Bible if he would make an outline of his position. Each of us would then comment on the others position and then have a final rebuttal of the comments, and that would end it. He could concisely give his position, and I could mine. This way others could see our two positions and determine for themselves which they deem as more valid.

I sent Steele a draft copy of this page and the debate and he sent me some introductory remarks he wished to include. Since I wrote these remarks it is only fair that I include his as well. They can be found here. I do not wish to misrepresent anyone. I will make a comment or two, though, about a couple things he said in his remarks.  He is free to do the same if he publishes this material. That is one of the advantages of being the publisher.

Steele said I, "allege that [he] did not believe cardinal doctrines of proper Christian faith." Yes I did allege that at times, and he gave me good reason to. In his book he made a comparison using Mormonism and called the Mormons a Christian denomination. When I took issue with that [I believe the Mormons are a cult] in an email, Steele replied saying the Mormons have the true gospel. Having studied Mormonism somewhat I knew their gospel was based on various kinds of works plus their brand of faith in Christ. So I had doubts about Steele's understanding of the true gospel. I asked him if his gospel was the Mormon gospel and he said I was getting off the subject of the Bible. First, I never bound myself to any one subject, and second, I wanted to see if Steele was believing the true gospel and thus a true Christian. He got somewhat offended that I would question his salvation, but he then explained his position better and I was satisfied.

Another thing Steele
said is, "Brother Morton does not always answer questions kindly when he suspects that the asker does not believe like he does regarding the KJV." True, sometimes I'm not very cordial. If someone is going to attack or even question my Bible, I want them to prove their charge. I get tired of getting letters from people who claim to know what is NOT the pure word of God, but they can never produce what they believe to be the pure word of God. It is almost always attack, destroy, criticize and tear down for them when it comes to the King James Bible. They are eager to try to destroy my confidence in my Bible, but they never have anything PROVEN better to replace it with. Many of them are consumed by bitterness and negativity. Steele was not as bad at this as most, but he still cannot produce the Bible he professes to believe. I don't expect people to believe exactly as I do concerning the King James Bible or anything else.  I am not that naive. But if they are going to question and attack my Bible, don't expect me to "rollover" any more than if they would question and attack my wife!

Darron Steele seems to me to be honest in his beliefs and approach. He believes his position is the closest to the truth, and I respect that, even though I think he is mistaken. I harbor no malice or resentment towards him personally, but I think his position is based more on limited human logic and reason than on the Scriptures and Scriptural principles. But, of course, he thinks similar of my position. You, dear reader, can determine for yourself.

Our outlines are in a slightly different format so I made a three column table to keep all the corresponding comments together so it would be easier to follow. You can go to both pages by following these links.

Morton/Steele Debate - a Morton/Steele Debate - b