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Vol. 4, No. 4
Apr., 1995

The Good in the “King James Only” Doctrines

by Glenn Conjurske

The readers of Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks will hardly need to be told that I stand as solidly against the “King James Only” doctrines as I do for the King James Version. Those doctrines are novelties, never heard of in the church of God before the advent of the present shallow and ignorant generation. This does not bring the doctrines to us with a very good recommendation. But I do not condemn anything merely because it is new. Everything was new once, including the King James Version. I examine the doctrine itself, and find it to be such a fabric of ignorance and prejudice that it is a great wonder that it could gain any ground at all in the church of God. It is a doctrine which loves to cry up the facts! the facts! the facts!----while it remains in almost complete ignorance of the real facts, and pulls imaginary facts out of the air as often as it pleases. It is a system which is bolstered up by the gratuitous imputation of evil motives to all who differ from it. It thus exactly resembles a blind man standing on the street corner condemning all who believe in the existence of the moon or the stars----and condemning them not merely as mistaken, but as wicked heretics.

Nevertheless, there is positive good in this system. These doctrines have come into existence as a reaction against some things which are not good, and such reactions must necessarily have something of good in them. It is at bottom a reaction against the unspiritual intellectualism of the modern church, which values technical niceties more than it does spiritual verities. It is a reaction against the prevailing love of change, which is dictated not by the Spirit of God, but by the spirit of the age. It is a reaction against modern self-complacency, which despises the old paths, and modern irreverence, which overturns the old landmarks without a pang of regret. All of this is good.

But the “King James Only” doctrine is an over-reaction, the fruit of its own arrogance and self-complacent ignorance. Now it would be easy enough to treat this system of pride and prejudice with the contempt which it really deserves. It would be easy enough to treat with contempt----or at best with pity----the blind man on the street corner who vociferates in no very good spirit against those who believe in the moon. But there is nothing to be gained by this. And we ought first by all means to inquire what it is that has provoked such vociferations. When we learn that they have been provoked by self-proclaimed authorities who poke fun at the sun, and gravely affirm that the moon and the stars give better light, we shall be ready to sympathize with the blind man. When we draw near to him and feel as it were his heart throb----hear him proclaim, while the tears flow from his sightless eyes, “I have felt the warmth of the SUN, but I have never felt your moon or stars at all”----then we may be ready even to admire, though deploring his pride and ignorance and malevolent spirit as much as ever.

The evils which have elicited this reaction are real enough, and evil enough. The pride and ignorance is not all on one side. There is often as much of self-confidence and self-complacent pride----with as little reason for it----in what is called “modern scholarship” as there is in this reckless reaction against it. That scholarship is pervaded by the spirit of the age, and is unspiritual to the core. It has no capacity to understand or to appreciate spiritual things. It resembles the architect who sits down at his drawing-board to draw up a blueprint with which to correct the rainbow, or the song of the nightingale. And its spirit surpasses its incapacity. It often reminds me of a cocky unfledged birdling, strutting out on its branch, to see how far it can get from the nest. It merits the strong reaction which has been directed against it. Some years ago I was privileged to have Harlan Popov in my home, for a meal and a brief time of fellowship. He was a tough bird of the old school, who for thirteen years had endured sufferings almost unbearable in Communist prisons and concentration camps. He was engaged in mailing Bibles to people in Communist countries. Not being able to read the Eastern European languages, and not being much inclined to put much confidence in the programs of the modern church, I was determined to find out, if I could, what sort of Bibles he was sending. I asked him, therefore, “What kind of Bibles do you send? Old versions? New Versions? Translations, or paraphrases?” He understood my question perfectly, and answered by informing me that a girl who worked for him at his headquarters in this country had once brought some new English “Bible version” to him to ask his opinion of it. He told her, “That not Bible. That novel. I forbid you to use it on these premises.”

Now it is the shallow and unspiritual scholarship of the modern church which has produced this flood of new Bible versions. They offer us all of the finest, the latest, and the best. But we taste, and say, “The old is better.” They offer us the latest improvements and discoveries of the most modern scholarship, a Bible which reads like a newspaper (as if any spiritual man could desire such a thing), a Bible in the language of modern America (as if we wanted that), and a host of other “firsts” and “bests”----like a hearty dish of beef stew which contains the latest hybrid skinless potatoes, stringless string beans, odorless onions, albino carrots, seedless okra, and much more. Now we happen to be far enough out of step with the times to frankly doubt that any of these modern improvements will materially enhance the flavor of the stew. But we taste nevertheless----only to discover that they have left out the beef.

Were it any wonder that men who have their taste buds left them should react rather strongly against this modern stew? They might indeed content themselves with a milder reaction, were it not for the overweening pride and high pretensions of the new cook, coupled with his taunts about the old-fashioned stew our grandmothers used to cook. And is it any wonder that men who have some old-fashioned spirituality left to them should react against the overweening self-confidence and the shallow productions of modern scholarship? That reaction, I hold, is good, and it would be all good if it were conducted along the lines of reason, temperance, humility, love, and true scholarship. But alas, it has been so mixed with the very opposites of all of those things, that the real good which lies at its foundation has been not only obscured, but very nearly destroyed.

But it must be understood that though the “King James Only” system of doctrine is entirely new, much of the good which it incorporates is not new at all. The reaction against the shallow vagaries and the unspiritual ways of modern intellectualism, which reaction is at the heart of “King James Only” doctrines, is no new thing. Men of solid and sober judgement raised the same sort of protest in the last century. Most notable among them was John W. Burgon, whose protest was called forth by the appearance of the Revised Version of the English Bible, and the Greek Text of Westcott and Hort. His Revision Revised and Last Twelve Verses of Mark are classics of sound scholarship and sober (though vehement) protest----not that Burgon or anything he wrote was faultless. Many, indeed----finding it much easier to reproach and contemn than to answer him----very much faulted Burgon for the supposedly too violent spirit in which he wrote. But what of that? The protester and the defender are always at a disadvantage in such matters. The man who seduces his neighbor's wife may be sweet and soft-spoken----indeed, had better be. The modernist who upsets the ancient landmarks may be smooth and suave----indeed, must be. The unspiritual intellectual who empties the Bible of its spirituality may be calm and deliberate. None of them have anything to lose, nor any occasion to feel the indignation which must possess the heart of the defrauded husband, or the determined defender of the old paths. Though Burgon was always vehement, and sometimes overstated his case, yet for my part I can see but little in his spirit which is not justified by the simple query, “Is there not a cause?” But those who care nothing for the cause cannot appreciate the spirit.

But time moved on, and both the Revised Version and the controversy which it sparked, along with Burgon's protests, were largely forgotten. But evidently the flood of new English versions of the Bible which have appeared in our day (generally much inferior to the old Revised Version, by the way) has revived that spirit of protest. Burgon's books have been revived and reprinted. Burgon's protest has been taken up anew, and a few vocal spokesmen for it have flooded the church with it----but in the entire absence of Burgon's solid scholarship and sober judgement. They have read Burgon without half understanding him----though indeed he is not hard to understand----and have coupled his protest with the most invincible ignorance and the most arrogant prejudice. And they have crippled Burgon's protest, by saddling it with a host of the most baseless of fictions, such as that the King James Version of 1611 is inspired and without error, (though none of them use the 1611 version), that the same is true of the Textus Receptus (though none of them can tell us what the Textus Receptus is), that the Latin Vulgate is “the devil's Bible,” that Martin Luther was converted by reading “a Syrian Greek manuscript from Antioch,” that the Septuagint is never quoted in the Greek New Testament, that the Puritans translated the King James Version (and were poisoned by the Jesuits for it!), and a host of other fictions as true as these.

Yet there is truth mixed up with all of these fictions, and truth which the modern church most desperately needs. That truth is, modern scholarship is taking away from us something which is of God. That truth is, “THE OLD IS BETTER!” Many of the claims which these men make for the King James Version are true. It is true that the King James Version is “the Bible which God uses and Satan hates.” This is pre-eminently so of the King James Version. There are good and substantial reasons for this, though they are reasons which modern intellectualism can neither see nor appreciate----for there is blindness enough on that side of the question also. But though the King James Version is pre-eminently “the Bible which God uses and Satan hates,” it is NOT exclusively so, for God has very much used other versions also, including the despised and maligned Latin Vulgate.

I know a man----he used to know me, before he found out that I was not a “King James Only” man----who cut his spiritual teeth on the NIV. But somehow after a few years he got a King James Version in his hands, and began to read. He immediately FELT the difference----felt the power and spirituality of the old version----felt that here was a real Bible.

The old Methodist preacher and commentator Adam Clarke wrote concerning the King James Version, “Those who have compared most of the European translations with the original, have not scrupled to say that the English translation of the Bible, made under the direction of King James I., is the most accurate and faithful of the whole. Nor is this its only praise; the translators have seized the very spirit and soul of the original, and expressed this almost every where with pathos and energy.”* But it is precisely this spirit, soul, pathos, and energy which are everywhere missing in the modern versions, for the intellectual scholars who produced them have no feel for such things.

We do not blame those men who feel and proclaim such things, but sympathize with them altogether. Yet the very men who most earnestly desire that such truth should prevail in the church, have, like the blind man on the street corner, most effectually secured that that truth will not be heard, by their saddling it with so many demonstrable fictions, and by their contending for it in so bad a spirit. It is really a very great shame to the modern church that there should be any call for such a protest as that which lies at the heart of these “King James Only” doctrines. But it is as great a shame that that protest should come in the form that it has. Both sides prove how desperately the church stands in need of a real revival of real scholarship and real religion.

+ “The soft age to which we have come can hardly hope to produce the rugged righteousness of yesterday; nor to provide the needed leadership for tomorrow.”

----W. B. Riley, At Sunset (Sermons preached after the age of 80); Butler, Ind.: Higley Press, 1943, pg. 146. True enough. The leaders which the church needs will not be the product of “this soft age,” yet God can produce them----far away from the works and ways of this age, in the back side of the desert.----editor.

The Patience of Christ

by Glenn Conjurske

“Ye have heard of the patience of Job,” says the book of James, but how many have heard of the patience of Christ? The term is altogether unfamiliar to the modern church, though it is of great doctrinal (and practical) importance. The Bible speaks three times of the patience of Christ, though the English version completely obscures the clearest of those references. The apostle John styles himself our “companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1:9). And Christ says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world.” (Rev. 3:10). Lastly, Paul says, “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.” (II Thes. 3:5).

Yet in this last text we have a paraphrase in the King James Version, which instead of “the patience of Christ” reads, “the patient waiting for Christ.” This is in fact a double paraphrase, for even if it were legitimate to turn “patience” into “patient waiting,” we ought to read “the patient waiting of Christ,” rather than “for Christ.” It is his patience----“the patience of Christ”----which is spoken of, not ours. The verse speaks of “the love of God, and the patience of Christ.” As it is God's love which is spoken of, so it is Christ's patience.

Now as a matter of fact, the early English Bible did read “patience of Christ here.” This was the reading (with spelling variations, of course) of both Wycliffe versions, of all of Tyndale's, of Coverdale, of Matthew, of Taverner, and of the Great Bible of 1539. The Great Bible of 1540, however, altered this to “the pacyence waytynge for Chryst.” “Pacyence” is no doubt a misprint, and the Great Bible of 1541 reads, “the pacient waytynge for Christ.” This was followed in the Bishops' Bible and the King James Version. (The Geneva Bible had “the weating for of Christ.” “Weating” is “waiting.”)

But what is “the patience of Christ”? Patience, of course, implies waiting. It implies a state in which we are either deprived of what we do want, or afflicted with what we do not want. Now John (quoted above) associates patience, as well as tribulations, with the present state of the kingdom of Christ. And Christ singles out the keeping of the word of his patience as the thing which characterizes the faithful church. Some would refer this to the patience with which Christ met afflictions during his earthly life, and we would not exclude this, but it is in fact but a very small part of “the patience of Christ.” The whole present age is the time of his patience. It is the time of his waiting. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, UNTIL I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1). “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” (Heb. 10:12-13). The word which is here rendered “expecting” means to wait, or to await. Thus,

John 5:3----“waiting for the moving of the water.”

Acts 17:16----“while Paul waited for them at Athens.”

Jas. 5:7----“the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth.”

I Peter 3:20----“the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.”

The Lord Christ, then, in his present position at the right hand of God, is waiting. He has not yet received his kingdom. He has not yet received his rights. He has not yet received his vindication. He is, in fact, in the very same position as the souls under the altar, who cry with a loud voice saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10). It is justice for which they cry----and not abstract justice----not even the vindication of the cause of Christ----but vengeance for their own blood. It is their own vindication for which they sigh and cry. To some this may seem a very strange thing, and even a very unworthy thing. But it must be remembered that these are pure and righteous souls in heaven itself who make this cry. There is nothing evil or unworthy in it. And so far as the feelings which are expressed in it, those feelings belong to our nature. They belong to that sense of righteousness which the hand of God has implanted in every man who comes into the world. When a man is traduced, or slandered, or falsely accused, he feels a need to be vindicated. He feels a need for a vindication which is just as extensive as the slander. This was undoubtedly one of the primary elements of “the patience of Job,” whose “miserable comforters” sat around him accusing him of being a hypocrite and an ungodly man. He was compelled to enter upon a long course of self-justification, but it was all to no avail. The more he defended himself, the more they condemned him. There was in reality nothing he could do but wait, and at length God vindicated him.

But God has never vindicated Christ. He left the world under a cloud, crucified as a malefactor between two thieves. Nor did the indignities and falsehoods which were heaped upon him cease with his death. The report went abroad among the Jews that his disciples had stolen away his body. To this day Jews speak of him with a sneer as “the imposter.” And to this day his name is a curse word upon the tongue of every filthy-mouthed man the world around. Can anyone suppose that his pure and holy soul does not feel all of this? But he moves not a finger to assert his rights, but waits.

But again, God has done nothing to vindicate the character of his Son. The last time the world saw him, it was on the cross between two thieves. God did not save him from the cross, in answer to the taunts of his enemies, nor did God show him to them alive after his resurrection. This must often be a source of perplexity to those who are accustomed to meditate upon holy things. Have you ever wondered why the Lord did not avail himself of the opportunity to vindicate his claims, by showing himself alive to his enemies after his resurrection? Forty days he went in and out among men on the earth before his ascension, and never showed himself to any but his faithful disciples. This would be hard to explain, apart from the doctrine of “the patience of Christ.” Indeed, before I understood the matter, it really seemed to me that God had acted very strangely, in failing to avail himself of the perfect opportunity to vindicate his Son. The course which he took too much resembled the imposture of Joseph Smith, who refused to allow a sight of his golden plates to any but a few chosen witnesses, and all of those belonging to his own inside circle. The course which God took, so far from wiping away the reproach of his Son, in reality became the occasion of adding to that reproach. He put the whole world into a position where they could say to Christ's disciples, “If your Christ is raised from the dead, why does he not show himself to us? Let him now show himself to us, and we will believe.”

This, it will be understood, is of the same character as the taunts which were cast in his teeth while he hung upon the cross. And God responds the same way now as he did then. That is, he does nothing. Christ must wait for his vindication----but oh, it will be complete when it comes. The last time the world saw him, he was “numbered with the transgressors,” in shame and weakness, dying (or dead) upon the cross between two thieves. The next time it sees him, it will be in power and great glory, taking vengeance upon his enemies. Meanwhile, he has done nothing to vindicate himself----for when he does, it will be no half-way matter. He will not show himself alive to his enemies, and let them go their way. If he had showed himself to the world at the time of his resurrection, it would have been for their destruction, not for their salvation. Therefore he waits.

Particular attention should be paid to the fact that the primary thing for which he waits is the subjugation of his enemies. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1). But how is this to be brought about? “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” (Psalm 2:8-9). This eighth verse of the second Psalm was the text of many a missionary sermon in the days when most of the church was post-millennial, but the preachers did not trouble themselves to quote the ninth verse. There was no spiritual intelligence in this. This passage has nothing to do with the conversion of the heathen, but with their destruction. This is the vindication of the Lord's Christ, whom the world has cast out and slain. It will take place when the Lord sets his king upon his holy hill of Zion----for Psalm 2:6 is indisputably prophetic, though it speaks in the past tense. The whole scene which it presents is future, and is to be understood as follows:

“He that sitteth in the heavens SHALL laugh: the Lord SHALL have them in derision. Then SHALL he speak unto them in his wrath, [saying], Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” The word “saying” is thus inserted in both the Geneva and the Bishops' Bibles, as our own version also inserts it between the second and third verses. Amillennialists may contend that the Christ was set as king upon his holy hill of Zion at his first coming, but even so they must acknowledge that the verse was prophetic when it was written, for Christ had not then come the first time. But it is plain enough that the verse is yet prophetic, for it is certain that he has not yet broken the nations with a rod of iron. For this he waits.

When all of this takes place it will be the full and public vindication of Christ, and is of the same character as the vindication for which the souls under the altar shall cry in Revelation 6:10. But are we to suppose that for two thousand years Christ has been at the right hand of God crying for vengeance upon his enemies? I apprehend not. I suppose his prayer has rather been of a piece with that which he uttered from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The Lord says in Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.” But I venture to suppose that he has not yet asked. This indeed, is the essence of “the patience of Christ,” that he lays aside all of his own dearest rights, and labors to secure the salvation of those who trample upon them. When he does ask, his vindication will be complete and peremptory, as the second Psalm forcefully indicates. Meanwhile, his longsuffering waits, as “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” (I Pet. 3:20).

This is “the patience of Christ,” for while Christ waits, God does nothing to vindicate his Son, or to avenge his death, or to assert his rights on the earth. This is a point of immense importance, for the failure to understand it betrays men into systems of Bible interpretation which are fundamentally false, and further betrays them into acting directly contrary to their proper Christian character and position, in relationship to the world.

To glance first at the false interpretation of the Bible, witness the following from B. W. Newton (father of anti-Darbyite post-tribulationism) on the interpretation of the book of Revelation: “When the Lord Jesus returned to the Father, after having been rejected on the earth, `Jehovah said unto Him, Sit thou at my right hand, until I shall have set thy foes a footstool for thy feet.' This is a remarkable verse, quoted more frequently than any other in the New Testament, because so distinctively characteristic of the dispensation to which the New Testament belongs. It describes the Lord Jesus as seated for a season on the throne of Jehovah, waiting----and speaks of the power of that throne as acting on His behalf;----Jehovah's throne acting for Christ. There is no characteristic of the present period so essentially distinctive as this;----none which stands so decidedly in contrast with the period when Christ will assume the exercise of the authority of His own kingdom.”*

Thus “the patience of Christ” is emptied of its meaning, both for Christ and for us. The picture which Newton presents to us is not that of a man patiently waiting through long years for his inheritance, but of a man receiving that inheritance daily in small installments. For understand, what Newton here asserts is that the most distinctive characteristic of the present dispensation is Jehovah's throne acting in Christ's behalf----acting on the earth, that is, to bring about the subjugation of his enemies. This is the direct opposite of the truth. The great characteristic of the present dispensation is precisely the absence of any action on God's part to assert the claims of Christ on the earth. He that sitteth in the heavens moves not one finger, through all the time of the patience of Christ, either to assert the claims or vindicate the rights of Christ on the earth----no more now than he did when Christ hung upon the cross. To be sure, he bears testimony to the claims and rights of his Son----as he did when Christ was slain by his enemies, rending the rocks, the tombs, and the veil in the temple----but he moves not a finger to make good those claims----no more now than he did when Christ died. It is precisely this that gives the present dispensation its character, and it is precisely this which is the whole occasion for “the patience of Christ.”

Thus it will appear that I am in absolute agreement with Newton that the verse in question is “so distinctively characteristic of the dispensation to which the New Testament belongs,” but note well, this verse does not concern “Jehovah's throne acting for Christ,” but precisely the absence of that action. It concerns Christ's waiting for that action while it is delayed. But further, Newton fails entirely to understand the nature of the action of Jehovah's throne in behalf of the rights of Christ. He supposes it to be a gradual thing, working little by little through the centuries, to bring about eventually the subjugation of the enemies of Christ. The quotation given above stands immediately under the chapter heading, “THE REVELATION TREATS MAINLY OF THE PRESENT DISPENSATION.” Such a principle in such a place would lead us directly to the historical interpretation of the book of Revelation, which spiritualizes the whole of it. Newton explicitly disavows that (page 86)----for though he became a strong opponent of Darby, certainly Darby had already much influenced his prophetic views. Newton did not hold that the book of Revelation described the action of Jehovah's throne in behalf of Christ throughout the age, but only the culmination of that action, preceding the end of the age. But thus the change of dispensation, which must in reality occur before that time of action begins, is denied, and the whole of it put into the present dispensation.

Now mark the practical consequences for us of such interpretation. If the throne of God is actively engaged in making good the rights of Christ upon the earth, why should not we be? It is precisely the program of God that gives character to the program of his saints. In the present dispensation, it is the place of Christ that determines the place of the church. “As he is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17). If Christ is now asserting his rights in the earth, if the throne of God is now engaged for the subjugation of Christ's enemies, then this is the proper business of the church, as it was of Israel of old. But if Christ is patiently waiting for God to act in his behalf, this gives a completely different character to the church.

In plain English, “the patience of Christ” sets aside with one stroke the whole political agenda of the modern church. Or, to speak the simple truth of the matter, the political activity of the modern church sets aside with one stroke “the patience of Christ.” What are the purposes of the political involvement of modern Evangelicals? To assert the claims of righteousness, or the claims of the kingdom of God, or (quite commonly) to stand for our own rights. On both sides this is a complete abandonment of the patience of Christ. If God is not making good the rights of his kingdom on the earth, who has directed us to do so? But more----if God is not maintaining the rights of Christ in the world, who gave us license to maintain our own? On the contrary, has not the Lord explicitly enjoined us not to do so? He has. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” (Matt. 5:38-40). The political agenda of the modern church puts the disciple above its master, maintaining its own rights, while the master forbears to maintain his. The case is somewhat better with those who think to maintain the rights of Christ by the use of political force, but their course is just as unintelligent. They have mistaken the Christian position altogether. No doubt one of the primary reasons for this is that they have failed to understand the present position of their Lord. The essence of his position as well as ours is bound up in the words, “the patience of Christ.”

Casting Lots

by Glenn Conjurske

The casting of lots is regarded with distrust and disfavor by modern Fundamentalism. Under the heading “GOD DOES NOT GUIDE BY CASTING LOTS IN THIS DISPENSATION,” R. A. Torrey says, “In Acts l:24-26 we learn that the Apostles sought guidance in a choice of one to take the place of Judas, by the lot. This method of finding God's will was common in the Old Testament times, but it belongs entirely to the old dispensation. This is the last case on record. It was never used after Pentecost. We need to-day no such crude way of ascertaining the will of God, as we have the Word and the Spirit at our disposal.” This statement may be regarded as typical.

No doubt the casting of lots may easily be given a place which does not belong to it, and withal it is subject to much abuse, yet I believe it is an abuse of dispensationalism to use it thus to sweep away a doctrine of the Scriptures with one stroke. I certainly agree that the casting of lots is not to be used in general to determine the will of God in this dispensation, but neither was it in the former dispensation. It is true also that there is no instance in the Scriptures of casting lots after Pentecost, but it is also true that there is no instance of it before the giving of the law. We, it is said, have the word and the Spirit. Yes, but Enoch and Noah and Abraham had them not, and yet they cast no lots, so far as it is recorded in Scripture. This argument from the silence of Scripture of itself proves nothing. It is true that while Achan was exposed by the lot in the old dispensation, Ananias and Sapphira were exposed without it in the new, and yet no Fundamentalist alive would lay claim to the powers by which Peter exposed them.

That the practice of casting lots is sanctioned by Scripture can hardly be questioned. God himself prescribed the casting of lots in certain instances. For example, “The land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.” (Num. 26:55-56). This was the commandment of God, and Joshua divided the land according to this injunction. Joshua also found out Achan by the casting of lots, not once, but four times, and each time the Lord answered unerringly by the lot. Samuel cast lots (I Sam. 10:20-21) to establish Saul as the first King over Israel. And this is a very interesting case, for it is plain that Samuel did not cast lots in order to discover who should be king. He already knew that. The Lord had revealed it to him before, and he had already anointed Saul to be king. Why then did he cast lots? Evidently to make known the Lord's choice to the people. If Samuel had himself made known to the people that Saul was to be king, the people would have murmured against Samuel for every dissatisfaction which they felt with Saul----even though they had said to Samuel “make us a king.” By casting lots, Samuel put the matter out of his own hands, and established the fact that it was God, and not he, who had chosen Saul. Likewise, when Joshua divided the land to Israel by lot. No one could complain of their lot to Joshua, for it was the Lord's doing.

And this is the one use of lots which the Scriptures specifically indicate. “The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.” (Prov. 18:18). In the lot, both of the contending parties, or both of the aspirants to some good thing, submit the matter to God, and allow him to settle between them. Neither of them can then blame the other. This assumes, of course, that the disposing of the lot is actually in the hands of God, and that both of the contending parties so regard it. That it is altogether proper to so regard it is plain, for Scripture also says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.” (Prov. 16:33). This was obviously so in Jonah's case, though they were heathens who cast the lots.

This much being established, it remains to raise up some cautions concerning the casting of lots. Though there are cases where the casting of lots is proper, those cases are rare, and the temptation may be to use the lot where it has no business at all. This may be a strong temptation with some, for the casting of lots is an easy way to determine matters, and by it we may totally set aside the exercise of the reason, conscience, love, and humility which ought to govern us in disputes, and guide us in private matters. Were we to determine matters in general by the casting of lots, we might wholly dispense with Solomon's earnest exhortation, “Therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7). Were we ordinarily to determine the will of God by the casting of lots, this would largely set aside any need for the Bible, or any need to search and know it. What need were there for any of this, if we have always a direct appeal to God ready at hand?

But it is not so. In the course of our lives we are all of us faced with many and grave decisions, and yet the Scriptures do not advise us to cast lots, but to do right, to walk in love, to be wise, to be circumspect, to walk in humility, and many such like things. If we are willing to set aside all of this, and resort to the easy way of casting lots to ascertain the will of God, we have no reason to expect or believe that God will answer us by the lot, or endorse our laziness or presumption. It may remain true that “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord,” but if we have departed so far from the ways of the Lord as to adopt the casting of lots as an easy substitute for the means which God has ordained, he may so dispose the lot as to teach us our folly. Alas, the lesson may be a long and painful one.

An awfully solemn case of this appears in William Grimshaw, an English clergyman who was a close coadjutor of Wesley in the work of Methodism. As a young man he was bereft (by death) of two wives in succession. Being burning, as was natural, for a wife, and continually tempted by the women with whom he must have contact, he cast lots to determine whether he should marry again. The lot said, “No.” Therefore he must go on year after year fighting, and with little success, against that God-implanted and burning desire, which belonged to his nature, and which could not be rooted out. He went to bed late and rose early, travelled constantly, preached thirty times a week, prayed and vowed, and vowed and prayed, yet he could not root out this burning. Now the plain fact is, it was a very great mistake for Grimshaw to cast lots concerning such a matter. God had already spoken. God had already said, “To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and every woman have her own husband.” God had already said, “It is better to marry than to burn.” What business, then, has a man who is thus burning to ask of God whether he should marry? If God has prescribed that every man should have his own wife, what business has any particular man to ask of God whether he should have one?

An equal or greater folly is to cast lots to determine whom we should marry, as John Wesley once did----though many might as well cast lots, as to choose a partner the way they do. “Marriage is a lottery,” an old proverb says, and this is true enough when people marry without thoroughly knowing each other. But God never designed it that way. Yet many in our day are led astray by a false teaching to the effect that there is one “right one” whom God has designed (or created) to be their mate, and how to find that one and only “right one” is an enigma indeed. Fortunately, most men seem to have sense enough to figure out that the woman who ravishes his heart is the “right one,” but it would be no wonder if some were driven to cast lots to determine it. For the whole question, be it understood, resolves itself into What is the will of God for me in this matter? But God has already expressed his will, both in nature and in Scripture. What nature speaks on the subject is obvious to all. What Scripture says is, “she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord.” (I Cor. 7:39). It is the will of God, in other words, that you should marry whom you will----someone, that is, who ravishes your heart and fulfills your dreams, for no one wills to marry any other sort. Beyond that, it is the expressed will of God that you marry someone of the proper character: “only in the Lord.” Now with such plain instructions before us, what occasion could there be to cast lots?

And so it is in general. God has revealed his mind and his will, though in such a manner as that it is not an easy matter for us to learn it. We learn it only by diligent study, by walking with God, by perfecting holiness in the fear of God, by humbling ourselves, by sufferings and afflictions, and by many other deep and difficult spiritual exercises. But man is very prone to substitute some quick and easy way for all of this. Some are guided by inward impressions, which they take to be the voice of God. “God told me” to do this or that, they say----sometimes professing this of things which are directly contrary to the revealed will of God. The casting of lots, is subject to the same abuse, and may be used in the same way, and while it is sometimes legitimate, it ought to be used with the greatest of caution, only as a last resort, and never in some matters. We certainly ought never to cast lots to determine doctrinal truth. So much of the truth as God has chosen to reveal to us is revealed already, though it may be difficult of apprehension. To attempt to determine it by casting lots is to set aside the divine methods, and to tempt God.

So it is generally in matters of conduct. Though it may be legitimate in rare cases to cast lots to determine a specific step, it is certainly never legitimate to determine the principles of our conduct by casting lots. The early Methodists were much too free in the use of lots, evidently having learned the practice from the Moravians. Two famous instances of its use by John Wesley are thus related at length by George Whitefield, in his answer to Wesley's sermon on free grace:

“When you was at Bristol, I think you received a letter from a private hand, charging you with not preaching the gospel, because you did not preach up election. Upon this you drew a lot: the answer was `preach and print.' I have often questioned, as I do now, whether in so doing, you did not tempt the LORD. A due exercise of religious prudence, without a lot, would have directed you in that matter. Besides, I never heard that you enquired of GOD, whether or not election was a gospel doctrine? But I fear, taking it for granted, it was not, you only enquired, whether you should be silent, or preach and print against it? However this be, the lot came out `preach and print;' accordingly you preached and printed against election. At my desire, you suppressed the publishing the sermon whilst I was in England; but soon sent it into the world after my departure. O that you had kept it in! However, if that sermon was printed in answer to a lot, I am apt to think, one reason, why GOD should so suffer you to be deceived, was, that hereby a special obligation might be laid upon me, faithfully to declare the scripture doctrine of election, that thus the LORD might give me a fresh opportunity of seeing what was in my heart, and whether I would be true to his cause or not; as you could not but grant, he did once before, by giving you such another lot at Deal. The morning I sailed from Deal for Gibralter, you arrived from Georgia. Instead of giving me an opportunity to converse with you, though the ship was not far off the shore; you drew a lot, and immediately set forwards to London. You left a letter behind you, in which were words to this effect. `When I saw GOD, by the wind which was carrying you out, brought me in, I asked counsel of GOD. His answer you have enclosed.' This was a piece of paper, in which were written these words. `Let him return to London.'

“When I received this, I was somewhat surprized. Here was a good man telling me, he had cast a lot, and that GOD would have me return to London. On the other hand, I knew my call was to Georgia, and that I had taken leave of London, and could not justly go from the soldiers, who were committed to my charge. I betook myself with a friend to prayer. That passage in the first book of Kings, chap. 13. was powerfully impressed upon my soul, where we are told, `That the Prophet was slain by a lion, that was tempted to go back, (contrary to GOD's express order) upon another Prophet's telling him GOD would have him do so.' I wrote you word, that I could not return to London. We sailed immediately. Some months after, I received a letter from you at Georgia, wherein you wrote words to this effect. `Though GOD never before gave me a wrong lot, yet, perhaps, he suffered me to have such a lot at that time, to try what was in your heart.' I should never have published this private transaction to the world, did not the glory of GOD call me to it. It is plain you had a wrong lot given you here, and justly, because you tempted GOD in drawing one. And thus I believe it is in the present case. And if so, let not the children of GOD, who are mine and your intimate friends, and also advocates for universal redemption, think that doctrine true, because you preached it up in compliance with a lot given out from GOD.”

I believe Whitefield's remarks upon the matter of his sailing to Georgia to be just. It may be regarded as presumptuous in Wesley to cast a lot concerning the conduct of another man, and at any rate, there was no call for it. He could have conversed with Whitefield, and the matter could have been decided on the basis of wisdom. As for the lot to preach and print against Calvinism, for Whitefield to say, “I never heard that you enquired of GOD, whether or not election was a gospel doctrine,” was little better than libelous, and as unbecoming as it was uncalled for, for, right or wrong, Wesley's Arminian doctrines were certainly based upon his understanding of Scripture. But Whitefield was puffed up, and did not treat Wesley in this letter with the respect which he owed to him.

As to whether Wesley should preach and print his doctrine at that time, Whitefield's observation, “A due exercise of religious prudence, without a lot, would have directed you in that matter,” appears to be sober and sound----excepting only that there are other things besides prudence to be brought into the account. To suppose as some have done that Wesley determined his doctrine by the lot is foolishness, or bigotry. Nevertheless, the lot might be used by some in defense of the doctrine, and when Whitefield said, “let not the children of God, who are...advocates for universal redemption, think that doctrine true, because you preached it up in compliance with a lot given out from GOD,” this was sound and seasonable, and well spoken.

And this suggests another evil which may very naturally associate itself with the casting of lots. How did Whitefield know that Wesley had cast this lot? Evidently Wesley had told him so, or told others. And why would Wesley divulge such information? Evidently to defend his conduct in preaching and printing at that time against Calvinism. But here there lurks a very grave danger. How easy a thing, when we have cast a lot, to throw off upon God all the responsibility for our conduct, or the consequences of it, instead of taking that responsibility upon ourselves. Such matters ought to be determined by our wisdom, our zeal, our humility, our love of God and man----in short, by all of the combined facets of our Christian character----and the responsibility assumed by ourselves for our own decisions and our own conduct.

Some of the Mennonites have cast lots in order to choose their preachers, and I believe some of them still do. But how can this be justified, when God has so clearly marked out in the Scriptures the qualifications requisite for such men? If they were only choosing for a single post between two or more men equally qualified for it, as Peter did in choosing Matthias to the apostolate, the practice might appear to be harmless, but as a matter of fact, the lot has been used to thrust many unspiritual and even ungodly men into the ministry. Such a one was Martin Boehm, who grew up among the Mennonites in Pennsylvania. When a vacancy occurred in the pulpit, about the year 1757, the following took place: “The method of choosing a minister among the Mennonites was by lot. ... Accordingly, when, after due nominations had been made, and much earnest prayer, the lot was cast for a successor in the pulpit of this early congregation, we can easily understand that the hearts of the people were filled with gladness when they saw that the choice fell upon the promising beloved young Martin Boehm.”

But promising as the young man was, he was ungodly. Yet herein we may see a signal example of the grace of God, bringing good out of men's errors. “Under these circumstances he found himself presently under the greatest embarrassment and mortification. Again and again, according to the custom of this church, he arose to add an exhortation, after an older minister had preached, and found himself able only to stammer out a few incoherent sentences. He read diligently the Scriptures, that he might have something to say, but when the trial came his memory would not call up a single passage, and he was obliged to sit down in confusion. Some months passed in this way, with only failure to reward his efforts, and he began to be in despair. To be a preacher and have nothing to say he felt to be a deep reproach. Yet he did not doubt that he was genuinely called to the work of the ministry, because the church had laid its hands upon him after the divine order as understood by his people. He believed also fully in the efficacy of prayer, and he availed himself earnestly of this refuge of troubled souls. While he was thus engaged, he tells us, the thought presented itself to him as though one had audibly spoken, `You pray for grace to teach others the way of salvation, and you have not prayed for your own salvation.' This thought clung to him day by day until he felt himself to be a poor, lost sinner. His agony, he says, now became very great. One day, he continues, when he was plowing in the field, he knelt down at each end of the furrow to pray. The word lost, lost (verlohren), went with him every round. At length, midway in the field he could go no farther; he sank down by his plow, and cried, `Lord, save; I am lost!”' He received the divine answer of peace, and immediately began to preach the gospel in good earnest. The Mennonites, unwilling to have their dead religion thus stirred, eventually excommunicated him, and he, in association with Philip Otterbein, founded the Church of the United Brethren in Christ.

Yet it should be observed that the happy issue of this affair is no justification for making preachers by casting lots. Will any contend that we ought to make men ministers in order to convert them? The casting of lots has no place here.

Yet it is written, “The lot causeth contentions to cease,” and I am able to relate a most edifying instance of that very thing. At the first conference of the English Methodists after the death of Wesley, the Connexion was agitated by a very strong difference of opinion with regard to the ordinances of the church. Some were for what they called “the old plan” of adhering to the Church of England, and receiving the ordinances only from its ministers. Others were for receiving the ordinances in their own chapels from their own preachers. Both sides could plead a precedent from Wesley himself, and the feeling was very strong on both sides. “These differences of opinion in the Conference were strengthened by applications from the people; petitions and remonstrances were received from different parts of the kingdom; the debate grew warm; many feared these disputes would lead to a division in the Connexion; and, when no way of reconciliation presented itself, John Pawson proposed that `for the year' the question should be decided by lot. This was agreed to, and some time was spent in earnest prayer to God for His guidance and blessing. The lot was then drawn by Adam Clarke, who, standing on the table, read it aloud: `You shall not give the sacrament this year.' John Valton, who wrote an account of the proceeding, says, `His voice in reading it was like a voice from the clouds. A solemn awe rested on the assembly; and we could say, “The Lord is here, of a truth.” All were either satisfied, or submitted; and harmony and love returned.”'

Yet observe, there was no thought of settling the doctrine by this lot, nor of establishing any permanent ecclesiastical policy, but only of submitting their present and temporary conduct to the determination of the Lord. After the expiration of the year which was governed by the lot, they were able to work out their differences without any lot. The effect of the lot when it was cast was a very happy one. It restored peace and union, and perhaps saved the Methodists from being rent in twain.

But observe, all of this cannot be attributed to the lot alone. The spirit in which it was cast was no doubt essential to the happy effect which it produced. Alas, the lot does not always end contentions, for where a contentious spirit reigns, neither lot nor angel from heaven will stop the unhallowed striving. Men may appeal to the lot, expecting it to turn in their favor, but when it goes against them, they will deny its validity. Such a case we see in the records of the Presbyterian Church in America. No record is given us as to what the issue was which was decided by the lot, but only of the fact that the dissenters refused to acknowledge the lot as binding, or to submit to its determination. In the face of this state of things, “the Synod after much discourse and reasoning about that matter, at length came to a judgment in the following propositions.

“1.That the Synod look upon the obligation of a determination of a difference by a lot, to be sacred and binding upon the conscience, if the matter so determined be lawful and practicable, and consequently to act contrary thereunto must be a very great sin. . . . . . .

“4.That however, as in our minutes last Synod, we disapprove of the use of lots, without necessity, yet we are afraid, upon representation, that there hath been much sin committed by many if not all that people, in their profane disregard of said lot in time past, and therefore excite them to reflect upon their past practices in reference thereunto, in order to their repentance.”

The above took place in 1734. A similar incident occurred in 1750, which the Synod resolved as follows: “That whereas the congregation of Tehicken is sadly divided about the fairness and obligation of a lot made use of by them for the determining the place for their meeting-house, the Synod, after a full hearing the case, came unanimously into this judgment, viz. that though they do by all means discountenance the method of ending such matters of controversy by lottery, yet as to the lot under debate, the Synod is of the opinion, that it was fairly cast, and consequently binding upon the parties concerned, as also other former agreements said people have solemnly obliged themselves to; and the Synod doth judge, that they have acted very sinfully who have broken through these repeated solemn obligations, and that a solemn admonition be given unto them by Mr. Pemberton in the name of the Synod.”

To conclude: it is certainly never right to settle any matter of doctrinal tenets, principles of conduct, or church discipline by the lot. If a lot has been cast in such matters, it ought by all means to be disregarded, and the people return to prayer, self-judgement, and searching of the Scriptures to determine the matter----and if they are unable by those means to determine it, to leave it undetermined. Nevertheless, the lot may be of use in extreme cases, especially to cause contentions to cease. Yet if the contention is over spiritual principles, the lot has no place. It would have been wrong for Paul and Barnabas to cast lots in their dispute over John Mark, though the contention was so sharp between them that they must part asunder. The character of Mark, or his fitness for the work, was not a matter to be determined by casting lots. And though the lot may “cause contentions to cease,” it will hardly root out a contentious spirit, as the examples just given will indicate.


Note: to save space, and give the reader a bit more text for his dollar, I have determined to use a smaller heading for the Library Chats, and omit the precious poem by Charles Wesley, which I hope by now my readers know by heart, and feel in their hearts. ----editor.


Ï Chats from my Library Ï
by Glenn Conjurske

“A Geneva Bible”

It often happens that great events, whole histories and whole life stories, turn upon very insignificant and chance happenings. Lewis Lupton tells of seeing an old Bible in a shop window in Chichester----an old Bible with curious map and ornate title page----and of falling in love with it. Three years later he bought it. It turned out to be a Geneva Bible, and his possessing it turned his mind and activities into a new channel, which eventuated in his writing his curious History of the Geneva Bible, which has run to many volumes (and is a history of many things besides the Geneva Bible).

“A Geneva Bible” did the same sort of thing for myself, though in my case it was not an actual Geneva Bible, but only a spoken reference to one. About the time I graduated from Bible school, in 1968, I preached one Sunday in a little Bible church in a small town near Grand Rapids. I was at that time (as I still am) an outspoken opponent of paraphrases of the BibIe, and I spoke in the evening on “Inspiration and Translation,” insisting that if we believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible----if we believe that the very words are inspired of God----then we must believe in a verbal translation of the Bible, a translation of the very words, rather than a paraphrase of them. I am sure I took the opportunity to speak against the modern paraphrases of the Bible, which had begun even then to flood the church. The card-playing, movie-watching, paraphrase-toting younger generation in the church probably did not appreciate what I had to say, but when I finished preaching that sermon, an old and poorly dressed woman (who called the young people's playthings “devil-cards,” and who was despised by the younger set, as I had learned that afternoon) came to me to express her appreciation for my words. In the course of our brief conversation she said rather wistfully, “I have often wished I could get a Geneva Bible.” I am not sure that I even knew what a Geneva Bible was----probably did not----but the wistful way in which she expressed her wish kindled a little flame of desire in my own heart, which never went out until a Geneva Bible I got.

About five years after this conversation, when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, I got a “catalogue” of used books from The Lamp Press in London. In it was listed a Geneva Bible, for £12. I quickly (as usual) made out my order, and rushed it to the post office, and then waited none too patiently for six weeks or so, to see if I had gotten the treasure. When my package came at length, it did contain “a Geneva Bible.” I felt a little foolish to discover, however, that it had been printed just a couple of miles from my house (by the University of Wisconsin Press, in 1969), and I could have gone across town and bought one any day of the week, instead of ordering it from London. The edition was no disappointment, for it is a good photographic reproduction of the original edition of 1560. I was disappointed with the contents, however, and that in two respects. I had expected something radically different from the King James Version, and was disappointed to find the Geneva Bible generally identical to it, or nearly so. I was further disappointed to find the translation to be generally inferior to the King James Version, for since I had heard the old lady's remark five years before, I had entertained high hopes that I would find in the Geneva Bible something of great superiority over the King James Version. But when I began to peruse the version, the conviction soon forced itself upon me that the King James Version was superior. There are some today who hold the Geneva Bible to be superior to the King James, but I suppose this to be founded upon prejudice rather than anything else.

This Geneva Bible was the first among many old Bibles which I was eventually to obtain, so that today I have almost all of them, and am able to make them my constant study. In this chat I desire to give a mere listing of the Bibles which exist in English, so that the reader may see the links in the chain which eventually produced the excellent version which we possess. It is hoped that this list may be of use to the readers of Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks, in identifying the versions often referred to in these pages.

Anglo-Saxon. Various Bible books in manuscript, c. 1000-1150.

Wycliffe Bible, earlier and later versions, in manuscript, c.1380-1388.

William Tyndale's New Testament, 1525 or 6, “dylygently corrected” 1534, revised again in “GH” edition, dated 1535/1534, and again “dylyently corrected” in 1535.

Tyndale's Pentateuch, books published separately, 1530. Genesis revised in 1534.

Tyndale's Jonah (1531), not incorporated in later Bibles, but obviously used by Coverdale in his translation of Jonah.

The Psalter, translated from Feline's Latin by “Iohan Aleph,” 1530. First printed Psalter in English.

George Joye's unauthorized correction of Tyndale, 1534, which sparked a bitter feud between Joye and Tyndale. Joye also published translations (from the Latin) of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, issued in separate books, most of these being the first translation of that book printed in English.

Myles Coverdale's Bible, incorporating Tyndale's New Testament and Pentateuch, the rest of the Bible being translated by Coverdale from the Latin and German, 1535, “newly ouersene & corrected” in 1537.

Thomas Matthew's Bible, 1537, believed to be the work of John Rogers, incorporating Tyndale's N. T. and Pentateuch, and his translation of Joshua to II Chronicles, left unpublished when he died in 1536. The rest of the Old Testament is from Coverdale. There are slight revisions throughout.

Coverdale's Latin-English New Testaments, the first published in England (Southwark) during his absence, 1538. Coverdale was so dissatisfied with this that he published another in Paris, 1538.

Richard Taverner's Bible, revision of Matthew's, 1539. The revisions are slight.

Great Bible, revised from Matthew's by Coverdale, 1539, revised again 1540. This is the basis from which the Bishops' Bible was taken.

Richard Jugge's revision of Tyndale's N. T., 1552, incorporating some readings from the Great Bible. This edition formed the basis for the Geneva New Testament.

Geneva New Testament, 1557.

Geneva Bible, 1560, New Testament revised from that of 1557.

Bishops' Bible, 1568, revised in 1572. This is the version upon which the King James Version was based.

Lawrence Tompson's New Testament, revision of Geneva, 1576. This often displaced the original Geneva N. T. in later printings of the Geneva Bible.

Rheims New Testament, 1582. Roman Catholic, translated from the Vulgate, but making free use of the Greek, and of the Protestant versions.

Douai Old Testament, 1609-1610. Roman Catholic, also from the Vulgate. Though the King James Version made free use of the Rheims N. T., it apparently made no use of the Douai O. T., as the latter appeared too late for that. The preface to the King James Version states that they had seen no whole Bible from the papists as yet.

King James Version, 1611. Two editions printed in 1611, with many differences between them. It has been much disputed which is the first.

The King James Version was subjected to further revisions in 1616, 1629, and 1638, besides the fact that many of the printings introduced minor corrections. The version was further revised, especially with regard to the italics, and the spelling modernized, in 1762 by Thomas Paris, and in 1769 by Benjamin Blayney. The 1769 edition is that which is in use today.

Most of the above versions are available on microfilm.


Bob Jones on Sam Jones (and Some Other Things)

Sam Jones was probably the greatest evangelistic force on this continent when I was a boy. He was a courageous genius. ... That strange, peculiar, fascinating man used to preach people under conviction so they could not sleep at night. He did not preach grace as much as some men preach grace; but he preached people under such conviction they wanted grace; and when a man wants grace, he always finds it. It is better to preach men under conviction so they will want grace than to preach grace to folks who do not really want grace.

----“Evangelism Today: Where is it Headed?” Chapel message by Bob Jones (Sr.), Dec. 6, 1955, (pamphlet, without publisher or date).

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor

Frankly and Freely

English versions of the Bible frequently translate a single word of the original by a phrase of two or more words in the English. This is often necessary and unavoidable, and we have nothing to object to the practice----but we frankly believe it has been indulged in a little too freely, with the effect that in some cases the translators have rather added to the original, than faithfully representing it. Some such instances are:

Luke 7:42----“And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”

Rom. 8:32----“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

I Cor. 2:12----“that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

There is nothing in the original to represent the words “frankly” and “freely,” yet they are not printed in italics. They are evidently not regarded as added words, but rather as a part of the rendering of the original. Yet in reality they certainly are added words, and words for which there is no necessity at all. The fact is, none of the early English versions contained any of these words. In Luke 7:42 all of the early English versions----that is, Tyndale (all editions), Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, Coverdale's Latin-English Testament,* the Great Bible (all editions), Geneva New Testament, Geneva Bible, and Bishops' Bible----read simply, “he forgave them both.” The King James Version added the word “frankly.” Was there any necessity to do so? Evidently not, for they render the same Greek word “forgive,” “forgiven,” etc. in a dozen places in the New Testament, one of them in the verse immediately following, and in none of the others do we see anything of the word “frankly,” or any other word.

Yet glowing sermons have been preached on this word “frankly.” Witness the following from W. T. P. Wolston, a warm-hearted evangelist of the Exclusive Brethren school: “`And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.' That is the style of God's forgiveness, He frankly forgives. Are you sure all your sins are forgiven? you say. Quite sure; why, it is the only thing I am sure about. I am not sure of life, even for a day, but I am quite sure of this, for I have God's word for it, and frankly forgiven is His word. He does not raise the question of how much we owe, but if you take the ground of having nothing to pay, then He frankly forgives. I love that word `frankly,' it tells out the heart of God.”§

With glowing terms we are regaled with the manner in which God forgives. And if a man, fired by such glowing accounts, should aspire to a little deeper acquaintance with this wonderful word “frankly,” and should consult his Young's Analytical Concordance, he finds that the word is not there at all. This is nothing unusual with Young's, but it may perplex the beginner. He therefore turns to Strong's EXHAUSTIVE Concordance, hoping for better success. He finds the word in its place, and indexed to number 5435. He consults the number in the “Greek Dictionary” at the back of the book, and is told that the word is “Phrygia, a region of Asia Minor”! Perhaps Mr. Strong, unable to find any word in the Greek answering to “frankly,” drew a number from his hat! Seriously, this is no doubt a mistake, but perpetuated in every edition of Strong's which I have seen. What Strong meant to put there I will leave to others to divine, being content myself to state the fact that there is no word in the Greek answering to “frankly.”

And as it is with “frankly,” so it is with “freely.” The fact is, the word rendered “freely give” in Romans 8:32, and “freely given” in I Cor. 2:12, is the very same word which is rendered “frankly forgave” in Luke 7:42. That word, I should here point out, is v , (to give or forgive), which is of the same root as v , which is “grace.” This, I suppose, it was which moved the translators to add “freely” and “frankly.” But as with “frankly,” so with “freely,” their course is hardly to be defended. v is five times elsewhere rendered “gave” or “given,” where we see nothing of “freely.” One of those places is Phil. 2:9, where we read, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” “Wherefore”----because he was obedient unto death, as the preceding verses delineate. This giving, then, was no matter of free grace at all, but of just desert. Certainly, then, there is nothing in the word which requires the addition of “freely.” And turning again to the early English versions, we find that this “freely” does not appear in any of them in these places. The King James Version alone contains it, and it is really without sufficient warrant.

Yet once upon a time, in my own ignorance, I myself preached a sermon upon “God's Adverbs,” based in part upon this word in these texts. The adverbs in my sermon were “freely,” “richly,” “bountifully,” and “liberally.” I preached no bad doctrine, and the word “freely” legitimately appears in Romans 3:24 and Revelation 21:6 and 22:17.


Sam Hadley Finds Jim

by Harry Ironside

When Sam Hadley was in California, just shortly before he died, Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, that princely man of God, arranged a midnight meeting, using the largest theatre in the city of Oakland, in order to get the message of Hadley before the very people who needed it most. On that night a great procession, maybe one thousand people, from all the different churches, led by the Salvation Army band, wended their way through the main streets of the city. Beginning at 10:30, they marched for one-half hour, and then came to the Metropolitan Theatre. In a moment or two it was packed from floor to gallery.

I happened to be sitting in the first balcony, looking right down upon the stage. I noticed that every seat on the stage was filled with Christian workers, but when Sam Hadley stepped forward to deliver the stirring message of the evening, his seat was left vacant. Just as he began to speak, I saw a man who had come in at the rear of the stage, slip around from behind the back curtain, and stand at one of the wings with his hand up to his ear, listening to the address. Evidently he did not hear very well. In a moment or two he moved to another wing, and then on to another one. Finally he came forward to one side of the front part of the stage and stood there listening, but still he could not hear very well. Upon noticing him, Dr. Chapman immediately got up, greeted the poor fellow, brought him to the front, and put him in the very chair which Sam Hadley had occupied. There he listened entranced to the story of Hadley's redemption.

When the speaker had finished, Dr. Chapman arose to close the meeting, and Hadley took Chapman's chair next to this man. Turning to the man he shook hands with him, and they chatted together. When

Dr. Chapman was about ready to ask the people to rise and receive the benediction, Hadley suddenly sprang to his feet, and said, “Just a moment, my friends. Before we close, Dr. Chapman, may I say something? When

I was on my way from New York to Oakland a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at Detroit. I was traveling in a private car, put at my disposal by a generous Christian manufacturer. While my car was in the yards, I went down town and addressed a group at a mission. As I finished, an old couple came up, and said, `Mr. Hadley, won't you go home and take supper with us?'

“I replied, `You must excuse me; I am not at all well, and it is a great strain for me to go out and visit between meetings. I had better go back to the car and rest.'

“They were so disappointed. The mother faltered. `Oh, Mr. Hadley, we did want to see you so badly about something.'

“`Very well, give me a few moments to lie down and I will go with you.”'

He then told how they sat together in the old-fashioned parlor, on the horse-hair furniture, and talked. They told him their story: “Mr. Hadley, you know we have a son, Jim. Our son was brought up to go to Sunday school and church, and oh, we had such hopes of him. But he had to work out rather early in life and he got into association with worldly men, and went down and down and down. By and by he came under the power of strong drink. We shall never forget the first time he came home drunk. Sometimes he would never get home at all until the early hours of the morning. Our hearts were breaking over him. One time he did not come all night, but early in the morning, after we had waited through a sleepless night for him, he came in hurriedly, with a pale face, and said, `Folks, I cannot stay; I must get out. I did something when I was drunk last night, and if it is found out, it will go hard with me. I am not going to stay here and blot your name.' He kissed us both and left, and until recently we have never seen nor heard of him.

“Mr. Hadley, here is a letter that just came from a friend who lives in California, and he tells us, `I am quite certain that I saw your son, Jim, in San Francisco. I was coming down on a street car, and saw him waiting for a car. I was carried by a block. I hurried back, but he had boarded another car and was gone. I know it was Jim.'

“He is still living, Mr. Hadley, and we are praying that God will save him yet. You are going to California to have meetings out there. Daily we will be kneeling here praying that God will send our boy, Jim, to hear you, and perhaps when he learns how God saved one poor drunkard, he will know there is hope also for him. Will you join us in daily prayer?”

“I said I would, and we prayed together. They made me promise that every day at a given hour, Detroit time, I would lift my heart to God in fellowship with them, knowing that they were kneeling in that room, praying God that He would reach Jim, and give me the opportunity of bringing him to Christ. That was two weeks ago. I have kept my promise every day. My friends, this is my first meeting in California, and here is Jim. Tonight he was drinking in a saloon on Broadway as the great procession passed. He heard the singing, followed us to the theatre, and said, `I believe I will go in.' He hurried up here, but it was too late. Every place was filled, and the police officer said, `We cannot allow another person to go inside.' Jim thought, `This is just my luck. Even if I want to go and hear the gospel, I cannot. I will go back to the saloon.' He started back; then he returned determined to see if there was not some way to get in. He came in the back door, and finally sat in my own chair. Friends, Jim wants Christ, and I ask you all to pray for him.”

There that night we saw that poor fellow drop on his knees, and confess his sin and guilt, and accept Christ as his Saviour. The last sight we had of Jim was when J. Wilbur Chapman and he were on their way to the Western Union Telegraph office to send the joyful message: “God heard your prayers. My soul is saved.”

----“Charge That to My Account” and Other Gospel Messages, by H. A. Ironside; Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Association, (1931), pp. 6-9.


Richard Rodda & the Falling Rocks

One day, as I was working in the bottom of a pit, about ten yards deep, I laid aside my tool, and fell on my knees, and found uncommon enlargement in prayer. In less than two minutes the ground fell in. A very large stone fell before me, which rose higher than my head. Two others fell, one on my right side, and the other on my left; these, likewise, rose above my head. A fourth fell like a cover, and rested on the top of the others, about four inches above my head. Some scores of small ones fell behind on my legs and feet; while others fell on the cover that was over me. Here I was shut up as in a prison. When my father came to the brink of the pit, and found me buried, he fell a-weeping. But when he found I was alive, he told me the whole pit would fill to the top. I desired him to go out of the reach of danger. I was a little surprised at first; but it was soon gone. As the stones were large and hollow, I had sufficient room to breathe. When he perceived that no more stones fell, he got help, and by degrees removed some of the large stones; and, after cutting my shoes from my feet, I was got out without receiving the least injury. I cannot help admiring the providence of God in the following particulars:----

1.I was praying at the time this happened.

2.I was kneeling. Had I been standing, I should have been crushed to pieces; had I been sitting, my legs would have been broken with the large stone which fell before me.

3.They fell in an instant. Had I heard them coming, probably I should have risen from my knees; and then the stone which fell like a cover would have dashed out my brains.

4.Three large stones fell, one before me, and one on each side; and only small ones behind on my legs. Had a large one fallen there, my legs would have been broken into shivers.

5.The three large ones that fell were a few inches higher than my head, and were instantly covered with another large one. Had they been a few inches lower, the last would certainly have killed me in a moment. Surely this preservation was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in my eyes!

----The Lives of Early Methodist Preachers, edited by Thomas Jackson, vol. II, 1871, pp. 305-306.

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