by Glenn Conjurske
Next to carnality, I suppose the greatest enemy of true
spirituality is hyperspirituality. In one sense I suppose it is a greater
enemy, for it is certainly more subtle. I have observed for years what
seems to be a general pattern, that wherever a man rises out of the bogs
and swamps of lukewarmness and carnal principles, instead of planting
his feet upon solid earth, he seems to soar off into the fogs and mists
of hyperspirituality. It is not that men become too spiritual
if that were possible ----but rather that they proceed beyond the
realm of true spirituality into that which is false. Hyperspirituality
may appear to be too much of a good thing, but too much of a good thing
is a bad thing. As a number of old proverbs speak, Every extremity is
a fault, Extremity of right is wrong, Right overstrained turns to wrong,
and Too far east is west. Too far east is west indeed, and too far right
is wrong indeed ----and it often so happens that hyperspiritual
principles lead people directly into carnal practices.
But before proceeding any further, I must define what I mean by hyperspirituality.
Hyperspirituality is being more spiritual than God is. It is adopting
principles that are more spiritual than those laid down in the Scriptures.
This generally consists of displacing the natural with the spiritual,
as though God were not the author of both. It consists of equating the
natural with the carnal and the evil. It often consists of ascribing to
God a larger place than he ascribes to himself, and so of course a smaller
place to the gifts of God, the creatures of God, and the means which God
has ordained. It generally, in principle, replaces the gifts, creations,
and ordinances of God with God himself
----thus supposing to give
the greater glory to God, and never perceiving that to slight the gifts
and ordinances of God is in reality to slight the Creator and Giver of
This is pride and will-worship, which under color of glorifying God actually
impugns his wisdom and his ways. It slights everything natural, as well
as everything human, including human responsibility, human exertion, human
emotion, and human need. Natural and carnal become
virtual synonyms, and to refuse that which is merely natural, or merely
human, becomes the badge of spirituality. The God-implanted emotions and
needs of mankind are equated with sin that dwells in me, and
all are denied together. Touch not, taste not, handle not
entirely legitimate and necessary where sin is concerned ----are
applied to the very gifts of God. This is will worship and voluntary humility,
which under color of giving a larger place to God, actually gives him
a smaller place, for it despises the gifts and ordinances of God, exalts
itself above the wisdom which ordained and gave them, and calls that evil
which God calls good ----or, in a milder form, calls that needless
which God has created for our good. Under color of affirming the all-sufficiency
of God, it in reality proclaims the all-sufficiency of self, for, all
oblivious to its own weakness and need, it thinks to do without the very
things which God has made profitable or necessary to its own well-being.
It seems that hyperspirituality has plagued the church from its very inception.
Paul wrote against hyperspiritual notions in several of his epistles.
During the days of the church fathers, as they are called, hyperspirituality
gained the ascendency, and laid the foundation for a millennium of asceticism
and monasticism. It was primarily the hyperspirituality of the church
fathers which led them eventually to reject the Bible doctrine of premillennialism.
Though it had been firmly held by the early church, there was really no
way that premillennialism could survive in such an atmosphere. Everything
earthly was supposed to be unspiritual. All that belonged to human life
on the earth was despised, so that many of the early Christians thirsted
for martyrdom. Ignatius, martyred in A.D. 110, while enroute to Rome to
die, repeatedly admonished the Christians not to intercede for him to
save his life. But all of this was as unspiritual as it was unnatural.
We see no such wanton throwing away of life in the Scriptures, but just
the reverse. Paul may have been in a strait betwixt the two, desiring
to depart and to be with Christ, as well as to remain upon the earth to
serve him, but he did nothing to throw away his life. When they watched
the city in order to take him, he escaped in a basket over the wall. When
the Jews swore to kill him, he sent a messenger to the governor to secure
Neither did Paul despise the things of this life, while this life lasted.
To forbid their use he calls doctrines of devils, specifically,
forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which
GOD HATH CREATED TO BE RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING of them which believe
and know the truth. For EVERY CREATURE OF GOD IS GOOD, and NOTHING TO
BE REFUSED if it be received with thanksgiving. (I Tim. 4:3-4).
Meats and marriage are natural things, and therefore regarded as carnal,
unspiritual, or at best unnecessary, by the hyperspiritual. But in so
regarding them, they set themselves against the wisdom of him who created
them. They must, if they would but think so far as to be consistent with
themselves, suppose that God was unspiritual when he created a natural,
earthly paradise. They must suppose that Adam's condition was unspiritual,
when he freely ate of every tree in the garden, lived in the delights
of the charms of Eve, and walked with God in the cool of the day.
The hyperspiritual, of course, cannot abstain altogether from meats, but
what tightropes they have walked in the use of them! Augustine (church
father of the fourth and fifth centuries) writes thus of his struggles:
But now the necessity [of eating] is sweet unto me, against which
sweetness I fight, that I be not taken captive; and carry on a daily war
This hast Thou taught me, that I should set myself to take food
as medicine. But while I am passing from the discomfort of emptiness to
the content of replenishing, in the very passage the snare of concupiscence
besets me. For this very passage is pleasure, nor is there any other way
to pass thither, to which necessity obliges us. And health being the cause
of eating and drinking, there joineth itself as an attendant a dangerous
All of this struggle, of course, assumes that physical pleasure is sinful
the enjoyment of food concupiscence ----assumes that
those natural appetites, and the means of satisfying them, which God created
and pronounced very good, are in fact evil. Augustine imputes
that evil to God, for according to his notions, what God has made necessary
to our being is in fact a snare to our well-being. But one word of Paul
scatters all of this chaff to the winds, for Paul says that God giveth
us richly all things TO ENJOY. Richly. Not stintingly, or as a medicine.
All things. All things which he has created, that is. Every creature
of God is good, and nothing to be refused. And all of this TO ENJOY.
The appetites with which we are created, the capacities for enjoyment,
and the means by which those capacities are to be satisfied, are all very
good. (Gen. 1:31). To think anything otherwise of them is the quintessence
of hyperspirituality. All of God's creatures may be abused, but use and
abuse are two things, and the evil uses to which men put the gifts of
God do not make those gifts evil.
And as hyperspiritual notions have done with meats, so they have done
with marriage also, only to a far greater extent. Meats are necessary
to our being, marriage only to our well-being. Marriage, therefore, may
be dispensed with altogether, where meats are only slighted. It was very
early in the history of the church that virginity
at any rate ----began to be equated with spirituality. Tertullian
(who lived about the years 150-230) has a great deal to say on the subject,
and all of it hyperspiritual. He says, The will of God is our sanctification,
for He wishes His `image' ----us ----to become likewise His
`likeness;' that we may be `holy' just as Himself is `holy.' That good ----sanctification,
I mean ----I distribute into several species....The first species
is, virginity from one's birth: the second, virginity from one's second
birth, that is, from the [baptismal] font; which [second virginity] either
in the marriage state keeps [its subject] pure by mutual compact, or else
perseveres in widowhood from choice: a third grade remains, monogamy,
when, after the interception of a marriage once contracted, there is thereafter
a renunciation of physical connection.2 Sanctification, then, in
Tertullian's view, is abstinence. Of the mutual compact, by
which couples are kept pure in the bonds of marriage, Tertullian
says elsewhere, Accordingly, the apostle added [the recommendation
of] a temporary abstinence for the sake of adding an efficacy to prayers,
that we might know that what is profitable `for a time' should be always
practised by us, that it may be always profitable. Daily, every moment,
prayer is necessary to men; of course, continence [is so] too, since prayer
is necessary. Prayer proceeds from conscience. If the conscience blush,
Paul says we might separate for a time, and come together
again. (I Cor. 7:5). Tertullian says, what is good for a time must
be good always. We must abstain, or blush! This, and all he says on the
subject, is born of his own false notion that the physical contact of
man and wife is defiling. Yet God says, Marriage is honorable in
all, and the bed undefiled.
Those who quote Tertullian to establish the position of the early church
against remarriage after divorce will understand how worthless his testimony
is in such a matter, when they understand that he called a second marriage
after the death of a spouse fornication, and advocated celibacy
in marriage. He held all physical contact to be evil. In writing against
a second marriage, and putting it on the same footing with fornication,
he continues, `Then,' says [some one], `are you by this time destroying
----that is, single ----marriage too?' And not without
reason [if I am]; inasmuch as it, too, consists of that which is the essence
of fornication.4 And once more, `Good,' he says, `[it is]
for a man not to have contact with a woman.' It follows that it is evil
to have contact with her; for nothing is contrary to good except evil.5
But I trust the reader has had quite enough of this, especially since
we live in a day when there is not very much danger of this kind of hyperspirituality.
Yet marriage suffers still from the ravages of hyperspirituality, for
while almost all Evangelicals accept the physical part of marriage as
honorable and undefiled
----and will even
grant that it is necessary to avoid fornication ----there
are yet many of them who despise and contemn the emotional part of marriage,
and regard that as frivolous and unnecessary. Love they will of course
allow, but not romantic love. That they regard as something carnal, foolish,
frivolous, or at best, unnecessary.
Such hyperspirituality is of long standing in the church. George Whitefield,
in 1740, wrote a marriage proposal to a young lady, in which he said,
I think I can call the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to witness
that I desire to take you, my sister, to wife, not for lust, but uprightly;
. . . The passionate expressions which carnal courtiers use, I think,
ought to be avoided by those that would marry in the Lord.6 Whoever
wrote the Song of Songs evidently did not know this
that book has been so often spiritualized that perhaps Whitefield would
not have acknowledged that it pertained to marriage at all. On the same
day that he thus addressed the young lady, he wrote to her parents also,
saying, You need not be afraid of sending me a refusal; for, I bless
God, if I know anything of my own heart, I am free from that foolish passion
which the world calls love.7 But what is this, but to trample upon
the deepest need of a woman's nature? ----to tell her that it matters
not to him whether she accepts or rejects his proposals, for he has no
love for her? What a vast difference between this cold letter, and that
which Adoniram Judson handed to Emily (his third wife):
I hand you, dearest one, a charmed watch. It always comes back to
me, and brings its wearer with it. I gave it to Ann when a hemisphere
divided us, and it brought her safely and surely to my arms. I gave it
to Sarah during her husband's life-time (not then aware of the secret),
and the charm, though slow in its operation, was true at last.
Were it not for the sweet sympathies you have kindly extended to
me, and the blessed understanding that `love has taught us to guess at,'
I should not venture to pray you to accept my present with such a note.
Should you cease to `guess' and toss back the article, saying, `Your watch
has lost its charm; it comes back to you, but brings not its wearer with
----O first dash it to pieces, that it may be an emblem of what
will remain of the heart of
Your devoted, A. JUDSON.8
Ah, but Judson wrote so at the age of 57, when he possessed both wisdom
and spirituality. Whitefield wrote his cold missive at the age of 25.
We are not to suppose, however, that Whitefield had no love at all for
the girl, but that he had none of the romantic kind. But that foolish
passion which the world calls love is love. The Bible calls it love,
and to call it lust, as Whitefield does, is to cast a slur
upon its Creator. Romantic love is as pure as Paradise, which was its
first abode. It did not originate with the fall of man, but is, as Emily
Judson most beautifully calls it, the one flower, which seems to
have been spared us from the wreck of Eden.9 This love is an absolute
necessity to make a marriage what God created it to be
every normal human being needs it to be. Those who treat falling
in love with contempt ----or who marry without it ----have
reduced marriage to the level of the animals. Love is not a union of bodies ----nor
of spirits either ----but a bond of souls. It is neither physical
nor spiritual ----though it may include both ----but emotional.
That love may be ----and ought to be ----intense and powerful
ere ever there is any physical contact, or any choice or commitment to
marry. Such was Jacob's love for Rachel, before he contracted to marry
her. Jacob loved Rachel, and said, I will serve thee seven years
for Rachel thy younger daughter. (Gen. 29:18). For seven years his
soul was ravished with that love, before he was united to her. That love
is the indispensable foundation of a good marriage. The capacity for that
love ----and the need for it ----belongs to man's nature.
But there are Christians enough who seem determined to rid marriage of
marital love. They will not allow it to be an emotion, but reduce it (elevate
it, as they think) to the level of commitment. They suppose true love
to be nothing other than the kind which any man may feel for his brother
or his mother. That peculiar love which exists only between lovers, which
is founded upon the mutual attractions which belong by creation to masculine
and feminine natures, they treat with contempt, and call it by the debased
name of lust. I have read tracts and articles on how
to know if you are in love, only to find that there was not a single
word in the entire paper about romantic love. The whole was about spiritual
----about choice, and character, and commitment ----so
that the poor soul who takes such stuff seriously must conclude that he
is in love with his father and mother, brothers and sisters, and all his
friends! The obvious intent of such articles is to cast a slur upon romantic
love ----to set it aside ----to relegate it to the realm of
the carnal, the frivolous, or the unnecessary ----to persuade us
that it is not true love. These hyperspiritual teachers are willing enough
that we should eat cake, so long as there is no sugar in it, and no frosting
on it. But common sense tells us, if it has no sugar, it is NOT CAKE.
It is often among false religions that we find the greatest extremes of
hyperspirituality. Hinduism is rife with it, and insensitive to every
human need. Of marriage among the Hindus we are told, Marriage is
more generally contracted by the parents of the parties, ere they come
to maturity. ... Very little opportunity is given the parties to become
acquainted with each other previous to marriage; nor is this considered
necessary.10 Surely this is debasing marriage to the level of the
beasts. Of these Hindu marriages another says, Marriage is an important
affair, and great care is taken to select a proper match as to family,
rank, &c. Comfort and happiness are generally sacrificed for these,
and the boy and girl are often married without having seen each other
till the day when they are linked together. I need not say that the system
is productive of incalculable wretchedness.11 Incalculable
wretchedness of course, for what else can be expected when a marriage
is made without any reference to the one thing which is essential to make
a satisfying marriage? What are all their pains to secure a proper
match, when falling in love is no part of the process?
The Hindu marriages are an extreme case, but I know Evangelicals who are
every bit as hyperspiritual in principle. Emotional attachment
that is ----is allowed no place in the choice of a marriage partner.
The young people are scarcely allowed to know each other until after they
have made a virtual commitment to marry. They are taught that it is sinful
to establish an emotional relationship ----to fall in love, that
is ----until after they are committed to marry. Thus they are forced
to try ----and likely enough to try in vain ----to lay the
foundation on the roof, for make no doubt about it, there can be no other
foundation for a good marriage than romantic love. Character may keep
a good marriage, but cannot make one.
Such proceedings must assume that any two persons may fall in love (which
all the world knows to be false), or else they must assume that such love
is unnecessary. While true marital love is a romantic bond of souls, young
people are forced to choose a mate in the dark, with very little knowledge
of their partner's soul. They must choose on the basis of good looks,
or of character (the body, or the spirit, that is), but the one grand
essential, a knowledge of the soul
----the heart and personality ----is
denied them. Emotional attachment is rigidly excluded in the choice of
a mate. Those romantic charms and desires which belong to our natures,
and which by God's design naturally incite us to marriage, are totally
set aside, and replaced with some supposed spiritual sense ----with
some imagined awakenings, nudgings, or witnessing of the Holy Spirit to
our spirits that we ought to marry, or that we ought to marry some particular
person. This is one of the most extreme, and most detrimental, forms of
hyperspirituality which I have seen, and though it is touted as the means
of preventing bad marriages, it is precisely calculated to produce them.
Alas, in the midst of such unhappy marriages, folks reproach themselves
with carnality, because they can do no better job of loving each other.
Such should rather consider that the fact that they love each other at
all in such trying circumstances bespeaks a high degree of character.
I recently read the testimonies of a young couple who were married on
that plan. The poor girl was obliged to say that though God had given
them a deep love for each other, there were no fireworks. That is, in
plain English, though they had a deep love of the kind which friends may
have, or brothers and sisters, it was not romantic love. It was not the
kind of love which marriage is made of. Thus the God-given emotions of
this pleasant young couple are sacrificed upon the altar of hyperspirituality.
We do not speak to reproach them. They have, indeed, our most profound
sympathy, but we deplore the doctrine which places them in such a plight.
They are told to keep their emotions on the shelf until marriage, or until
engagement. But such notions must assume that we are capable of putting
those emotions on the shelf
----or taking them down ----at
will. But this is certainly not the case, and those who teach such things
must know very little of the workings of the human soul. I am well aware
that we have ten thousand Evangelicals today preaching the hyperspiritual
doctrine that Love is a choice, or Love is a decision,
but this is certainly false. It makes out love to be nothing other than
commitment, yet every man with common sense knows very well that he may
have commitment where he has no love, and he may likewise have strong
love where there is no commitment ----where it would even be wrong
to enter into any commitment, as when Samson loved Delilah. The hyperspiritual
will deny that this is love, but the Bible calls it love. It is romantic
love ----the subject of the Song of Solomon, and the type of the
love of Christ and the church.
But these hyperspiritual notions slight and despise those things which
belong to the soul of man, and seek to replace them with those things
which belong to the spirit. But the attempt is as vain as it is detrimental.
Love is an emotion, which belongs to the soul. Choice and decision belong
to the spirit. It is not possible to replace emotion with decision. We
cannot turn our hearts into heads, nor our souls into spirits. As we cannot
live on love
----cannot feed our bodies with the emotions
of our souls ----no more can we satisfy our souls with the operations
of our spirits. It is not possible to replace romance with character.
We all know that there are persons in whose character and godliness we
delight, yet towards whom we never could feel any romantic attraction.
The one belongs to the soul, the other to the spirit. We cannot make romantic
charm the basis of character, and no more can we make character the basis
of romantic attraction. God has never designed that we should. Those who
have tried it have failed, and yet they will blame themselves for the
failure, and impose the same impossible task upon others. We have no business
to require such impossibilities of ourselves. It is will-worship, and
it can no more please God than it can satisfy man. He created our bodies
and souls as well as our spirits, and he created the means with which
to satisfy our bodies and our souls, and created those means to
be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
It is ignorance and unbelief ----usually coupled with pride ----which
refuses them. This is hyperspirituality. Faith, and true spirituality,
give God his place as God, by receiving his gifts with thanksgiving, and
Hyperspirituality, then, has only shifted its ground. The early church
equated the physical part of marriage with carnality, and while there
are few who would endorse such views today, it is now the way of many
to treat the emotional part of marriage with distrust, or contempt. Both
views are hyperspiritual. Both attempt to raise us to a level of spirituality
never designed by our Creator, for they endeavor to raise us above the
nature with which we are created. Nature is the true law,
as a true proverb truly says. Nature is the true law because it is what
it is by God's creation, and those who have a more spiritual plan than
God's are deep in error.
As observed at the beginning of this article, it is often the way of the
hyperspiritual to despise the gifts and the creatures of God, and think
to rise above any need for them, and find their all in God himself. Just
here is the subtlety of hyperspirituality, and herein lies its great attraction
for spiritual minds. It would seem a very spiritual thing to rise above
all earthly delights, and find my all in all in God himself, but God never
designed this, and he who takes such a course impugns both the wisdom
and the goodness of God at almost every turn. God has created men with
natural (physical and emotional) needs, and he has created the natural
means with which to satisfy those needs. The man who despises or declines
the gifts of God in reality impugns the wisdom of God. The spurning of
romantic love for the love of God is, as the editor of Richard Rolle well
says, as much above the truth as mere sensuality is beneath it.12
It is not spiritual, but hyperspiritual. God certainly did not go astray
in creating Eve, nor did he thereby tempt Adam to go astray. It would
have been no mark of spirituality for Adam to decline to take Eve to wife.
Adam might have said, with a host of hyperspiritual souls, What
need have I of a woman? I walk with God. I drink at the fountain of living
----the Great Creator ----eternal Love itself ----and
what need have I of a mere creature for my happiness? So speak the
hyperspiritual, and God responds, It is not good that man should
be alone, for God created man to need a creature for his happiness.
Though Adam was alone with God, yet God said, It is not good that
he should be alone. God is indeed the fountain of living waters ----but
he has created us to need the waters as well as the fountain. He is indeed
the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and he has created us with a
nature which needs the gifts as well as the Giver. We cannot eat God,
nor breathe God, but must have food and air. No more can our romantic
needs be satisfied by God. Adam did not acquire that need for a creature
when he sinned. He was created with that need.
And by the way (pardon me: I cannot help it
----nor help the flow
of my tears while I contemplate it), here once again it is the beloved
book of Genesis which scatters the dark and chilling shades of error,
with the pure light of heaven. If the saints of God but knew Genesis,
how would a host of errors take their flight from the church of God. The
great John Fletcher, a spiritual man, with a few grains of hyperspirituality
besides, for the most of his life regarded marriage as inconsistent with
spirituality. He no doubt knew that Marriage is honorable in all,
and the bed undefiled, yet still supposed that there was some higher
level of spirituality, where marriage could not come. Well, if there is,
it lies beyond the grave, and ere he died the good man was so fortunate
as to discover, in the fifth chapter of the dear and precious book of
Genesis, that Enoch walked with God, . . . and begat sons and daughters.
His hyperspiritual notions took their flight, and he saw the gift of God
to be worthy of the Giver. He took a wife, and walked with God, no doubt
as well as ever he had done before.
But while some refuse the natural gifts of God, as though they were carnal,
they often descend to that which is carnal indeed. What a dark catalog
of sin has followed in the train of hyperspiritual doctrines concerning
marriage. The English Reformer George Joye well says, Oh good God,
how many souls have they drawn with their selves to hell by this one law
with forbidding man and woman to marry. What burnings, what concupiscenses
and unlawful lusts have this Synagogue of Satan caused and compelled to
reign and to be carried about in these persons' hearts day and night,
that would marry, and may, and dare not? Yea, what adultery, fornication,
with other uncleannesses, followeth upon this devilish doctrine and law
of forbidding matrimony? And yet they thought (if covetousness and ambitious
dominion were not the cause) to have instituted and set up a more pure
spiritual state and order than ever God made.13
And all of these hyperspiritual notions which seek to replace the gifts
with the Giver are only evil in their tendency. Those who refuse the gifts
of God can hardly maintain a pure walk with him. Some, unable to divert
the streams of nature from their natural course, live on and love on according
to the nature which God has given them, but do so with a defiled conscience,
supposing such a course to be evil or unspiritual. They fear that they
love where they ought not, or love too much, and are sometimes taught
that if they love wife, or friend, or child too much, God will justly
take away the object of their love. Thus the God who giveth to all
men liberally, and upbraideth not, who giveth us richly all
things to enjoy, is turned into a cold-hearted, stingy master. His
natural gifts, created to be received with thanksgiving, by
those who in fact need them, are regarded as something debasing or polluting.
But hyperspirituality does not stop there. Many there are who regard the
Lord's spiritual gifts in the same light. The Lord is my shepherd,
they say, and therefore I shall not want, but whoever looks
to a man as shepherd shall have spiritual poverty for it. Oh? and why
then did God give shepherds and teachers (so the Greek, Eph.
4) as gifts to his church? Are the gifts of God harmful? The plain fact
is, we may look to both the Lord and a man (or several men) as our shepherds,
and the Giver of those shepherds has certainly designed that we should.
The gifts of God are profitable, and in most cases necessary for our good,
and it is pride and self-sufficiency, not faith or spirituality, which
refuses them. It is the quintessence of hyperspirituality to think to
replace the gifts of God with God himself, and such a course is always
harmful. Shepherds aside, the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have
no need of thee, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
(I Cor. 12:21). The feet are no shepherds, but the least and lowest of
God's gifts, yet Paul says, those members of the body which seem
to be more feeble are necessary. (Verse 22).
One of the most mischievous manifestations of hyperspiritual notions relates
to the use of means. Some seek to replace natural means with spiritual.
Instead of working for their bread, they will pray for it. Others seek
to replace spiritual means with the direct working of God. They will not
seek the Lord, but wait for the Lord to convert them. Others will not
endeavor to convict men of their sins, but leave that to the Spirit of
God. They will not labor for revival, but wait for God to bestow it of
his sovereign pleasure. Much of the American church was bound hand and
foot with such notions two centuries ago.
It is in the realm of faith that hyperspirituality often goes to seed.
Men trust God, as they suppose, to do what God has given them the means
to do themselves. They expect God to do without means what they themselves
might do with the means which he has placed in their hands. But this is
no faith, but presumption. It is tempting God. When the devil tempted
Christ to abandon the natural means of support upon which he stood, and
cast himself upon the direct intervention and power of God, the Lord responded
with, It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Though the disciples lacked nothing when they were sent forth without
purse or scrip, yet the Lord deliberately sets aside any notion that it
might always be so, saying, But now, he that hath a purse, let him
take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword, let him sell
his garment and buy one. (Luke 22:36). Though we may be unable to
explain the change involved, yet it is plain enough that here we are cast
upon our own resources, and it shall be at our cost if we fail to use
them. Noah was not taught to trust God to save him without the use of
means, but to prepare an ark to the saving of himself and his house. When
we are destitute of any means of support, when we have no means of accomplishment,
we may then legitimately cast ourselves upon the immediate working of
God, but to refuse or abandon those means which he has put into our hands
is only to tempt him, and this is the essence of hyperspirituality.
Such was the Moravian doctrine of stillness, which was so
strongly opposed by the Wesleys. All of the means which God has ordained
were set aside, in favor of the direct working of God himself. Men would
not read the Bible, nor pray
----were taught that it was wrong to
do so, as though this would be robbing God of his glory. They must leave
the whole work of their conversion and sanctification to the direct working
of God himself. And these hyperspiritual notions in the realm of the spirit
are both more plausible and more detrimental than those which relate to
the body or the soul. A man who thinks to stop eating, and allow God to
have all the glory of sustaining his natural life, will very soon be driven
by hard necessity to abandon his folly, whereas those who think to give
all the glory to God by refusing to use spiritual means may well go down
to perdition still holding their lie in their right hand.
But it is seldom that men hold any false doctrine consistently, and those
who reject the use of means generally do so very partially and selectively.
They reject spiritual means, yet continue to use natural means. They think
it wrong to go to a pastor to obtain food for their souls, yet they will
go to the market for food for their bodies. They will labor for a harvest
of grain, but not for a harvest of souls. Others reject the use of only
certain specific means. A. B. Simpson and the Christian and Missionary
Alliance rejected the use of medicine, thinking to replace it with faith,
and expecting God to sustain their health supernaturally. Their missionaries
would not use quinine to fight malaria, but would trust God. They might
just as well have rejected food, and replaced it with faith. When enough
of them had died, their ingenuity found a means by which to sustain their
lives and their hyperspiritual doctrines both. They put the quinine on
the table with the salt shaker, and used it as a seasoning! The seasoning
evidently greatly increased their faith, for they ceased to die of malaria.
Again, it is while dwelling in the supposed realms of faith that many
slight and condemn all of those emotions which belong to our present state
of weakness, suffering, and disappointment. They expect men to feel as
angels do, though men have neither the strength nor the portion of angels.
By faith we ought to be always rejoicing, always singing, apparently never
feeling those sorrows and disappointments which belong to the life of
our vanity. Job and Elijah come in always for a large measure of the castigations
of these hyperspiritual tongues. Job and Elijah were sinners, no doubt,
yet it was the Lord who said, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even
unto death. (Matt. 26:38). Why was he not singing in Gethsemane?
But to proceed, another of the most mischievous forms of hyperspirituality
is that which makes all self-interest to be sinful. As true marital love
is called by the debased name of lust, so the one motive which
God himself holds out to man everywhere in the Bible is called by the
debased name of selfishness. If I pray for something because
I need it, this is held to be sinful praying
----much more if I
pray for it because I want it. If I repent to save my soul, such repentance
is held to be sinful and unavailing. I must do all that I do purely for
the glory of God, or it is all sin. Such views paralized American theology
from Jonathan Edwards to Charles G. Finney and beyond. But all of this
is directly against the Bible. From the beginning of Genesis to the end
of Revelation, the Bible holds out to us our own good as the proper motive
for our repentance, holiness, and service to God. From In the day
that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, to Blessed
are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree
of life, our own good is the motive for action which God himself
holds out to us. Observe and hear all these words which I command
thee, that it may go well with thee. (Deut. 12:28). Lay up
for yourselves treasures in heaven. (Matt. 6:20). So run,
that ye may obtain. (I Cor. 9:24). Look to yourselves, that
we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a
full reward. (II Jn. 8). Hold fast that which thou hast, that
no man take thy crown. (Rev. 2:7). Those who attempt to rise above
this must of necessity fail, for they are endeavoring to rise clean out
of the nature with which God created them. Adam was no sinner when God
held out to him his own good as the motive for not eating of the forbidden
tree, and there is nothing sinful in acting for our own good.
But does not the Lord command us to do all that we do for the glory of
God? Indeed he does
----and he expects us to so do in order that
we may secure our own good thereby. It is either that, or we must set
this one text against a thousand others, and against the whole tenor of
I am very well aware that we are called to a life of self-denial, not
----but to deny ourselves that which is good, for
Christ's sake, is a different thing than to regard that good as evil.
Paul says, He that marries does well: he that marries not does better,
yet to say therefore that He that marries does ill is certainly
false. We do well to deny ourselves for Christ's sake, but we do ill to
deny ourselves beyond our strength, to the damage of our own souls. This
is not spiritual, but hyperspiritual.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Waldensian or Roman Catholic?
by Glenn Conjurske
Codex Teplensis is a manuscript of about the year 1400, containing the
New Testament in German. More than a century ago there was some controversy
in Germany as to whether the translation owed its origin to the Waldenses
or the Roman Catholics. At the present day certain advocates of the Textus
Receptus or the King James Version have taken it upon themselves to contend
for its Waldensian origin, and to further contend that it was translated
from the Old Latin, not from Jerome's Vulgate. By this means they bolster
their theory that the true text of the New Testament was preserved by
the Waldenses, through the Old Latin version, and by this means they gain,
as they suppose, another witness for the genuineness of I John 5:7, which
Codex Teplensis contains.
But the advocates of these theories commonly offer nothing in support
of them but their own assertions. They do not trouble themselves to examine
any evidence whatsoever. And why should they? These doctrines are just
that: they are doctrines. They are not based upon any factual or historical
evidence. The advocates of these doctrines have no need to examine the
facts of history. Since they are sure that the doctrines are true, they
may assume that the facts of history must be in complete accordance with
the doctrines. They therefore recklessly assert that such and such things
are historical facts, when in fact they know nothing about the matter.
It is often their way to take refuge in the silence of history, and it
would be their wisdom to do so always, for where history is silent, at
any rate it cannot contradict their assertions. But so confident are they
in the truth of their doctrines, that they do not hesitate to speak even
when their assertions may be subjected to the light of historical fact.
And when the actual evidence is examined, it is found to overturn the
doctrines at every point.
Some will doubtless think the whole matter unedifying, and wonder why
we should trouble ourselves at all about a manuscript 600 years old. But
there are thousands of dear brethren in Christ who are swallowed up in
this system of prejudice
----a system which falsifies a good deal
of very important doctrine, besides the facts of history. I care for them,
and for the truth of God, and therefore I labor to expose this system
for what it is, and to dismantle it also. In this article I shall examine
a little of the actual evidence, as found in Codex Teplensis itself, concerning
its supposed Waldensian origin.
The first thing which arrests our attention is that the manuscript contains
the Epistle Czun Laodiern, to the Laodiceans. This is not
separated or set off from the canonical books, as the Apocrypha is in
the Protestant Bibles, but is inserted between Second Thessalonians and
First Timothy, as though it were one of Paul's epistles. This, I will
grant, does not absolutely prove the Teplensis to be a Roman Catholic
version, but it does prove some other things. If this version was made
by the Waldenses, then it is absolutely proved, beyond question or cavil,
that the Waldenses were not the preservers of the true text of Scripture.
They were the custodians of a corrupted New Testament, to which someone,
somewhere, had added this imposture called the Epistle to the Laodiceans.
Henceforth let all those who cite Codex Teplensis as proof of the Waldensian
preservation of I John 5:7, contend also for the Waldensian preservation
of the genuine Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans. They will have to give
up, of course, their notions that the Textus Receptus and the King James
Version contain the true text, for it is certain that they do not contain
the epistle to the Laodiceans.
But more. Prefixed (not appended) to the New Testament, immediately following
the title Di schrift des newen geczeugz (The Writing of the New
Testament), the Codex Teplensis contains a small amount of additional
matter, including quotations from Chrysostom and Augustine, and a list
of Scripture portions, or pericopes, to be read on the various days of
the church calendar, für das ganze Iahr, for the whole year.
Herman Haupt contends that the fact that there are only twenty-eight saints'
days in the register proves that the makers of the version were Waldensians
is, as certain historians would have us believe, Baptists!!
Among these saints' days are the usual festivals for Andrew, Thomas, Stephen,
Saint Paul, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, Michael, and numerous others. If
this is the work of Waldenses, then it is evident that the Waldenses were
at least half Romanists themselves. I do not pretend to say where the
truth lies, but will let the advocates for the Waldensian origin take
which horn of the dilemma they please. One horn they must take. Codex
Teplensis is either the work of Roman Catholics, or the Waldenses were
half Romanists themselves, and in either case the testimony of Teplensis
for the genuineness of I John 5:7 evaporates.
But more. In addition to these saints' days, the register contains also
a number of holy days, including Ostern, that is, Easter, alle Heiligen
(all Saints), Xc. abent, and Xc. tag, (Christmas eve and Christmas day),
and to top all, Liechtmesse, that is, Candlemas! What Waldenses are these!
But more. Under Christmas day we find d. erst. messe, di 2
messe, and di 3 messe
----the first mass, the second mass, and the
third mass. The plain fact is, either this is a Romanist version, or the
Waldenses were at least half Romanists themselves. Take which side you
will, and Teplensis vanishes as a witness for the preservation of the
true text by the true church.
Again, not tacked on at the end by some later hand, but prefixed to the
New Testament at the beginning of the manuscript, occupying the first
place in the manuscript following its title, there is a brief extract
from Hugo de Victor's II buch von den heilikeiten
his second book on the sacraments, that is ----on confessing the
sick. Hugo was a medieval monk, who lived c. 1097-1141. Now if, as the
Baptist historians tell us, the Waldenses never formed part of the Church
of Rome, but were separate from it from the beginning of its existence ----if,
that is, when Codex Teplensis was written, the Waldenses had been separate
from the Church of Rome for about a thousand years, during all of which
time they abhorred Rome's sacraments and refused her corrupt Bible ----WHY
are the Waldenses found quoting Hugo de Victor at all? And why on confessing
the sick? The Baptists of more recent times, under the name of the American
Bible Union, once produced their own version of the Bible, but it contained
no quotation on confessing the sick, from any Roman Catholic book on the
sacraments! If Baptists today were to produce a Bible version, would the
first item in it be a quotation from a Catholic monk on confessing the
sick? Again I insist, either the Codex Teplensis is the production of
the Church of Rome, or the Waldenses were half Romanists themselves.
Once more: annexed to the end of the New Testament the manuscript contains
a short treatise on, among other things, the seven sacraments. And once
more I say, What Waldenses are these!
But a recent publication, in an article on Codex Teplensis and the
Waldenses, attempts to evade the force of all of this by saying,
Again, the Codex contained the seven sacraments, but the Waldenses
included religious material in their literature for the same purpose that
the original 1611 KJV included the Apocryphal Books
analysis. But again, this is assuming the facts, based solely upon
the requirements of the doctrine. The actual facts are, we do not know
WHY the producers of the King James Version included the Apocrypha, or
WHY the Waldenses included the matter on the sacraments. Yet
it is plain that the reason assigned by Dr. Strouse cannot be the true
one. Neither confessing the sick, nor Christmas, nor Candlemas, nor All
Saints Day, nor the Feast of Mary Magdalene have anything to do with Scriptural
The plain fact is, these statements, along with a thousand others which
these folks commonly make about the facts of history, are based upon absolutely
nothing of a historical nature. They are based solely upon doctrinal prejudice.
Earlier in the same article Dr. Strouse says, The aforementioned
passage [I Tim. 3:15] strongly suggests that local NT church movement
[sic] would be the depository and guardian, as well as the proclaimer,
of the NT Scriptures. This is the doctrine, and the historical method
is given us in the next sentence: Consequently, Baptists have believed
that the NT Scriptures would be passed on through the believers of NT
churches. Yes, WOULD BE! Not ARE, or HAVE
BEEN, but WOULD BE
----for what these men give
to us as facts of history are not derived from any historical sources
whatsoever, but consist solely of such facts as their doctrine
This is the historical method commonly used by the advocates of these
doctrines. One of the leaders of them recently told me, There are
no facts lying around out there. There is only our perception of the facts.
Our perception may be either of faith, or it may be rationalistic.
This may be clever, but it is just as false as rationalism. Rationalism
denies the existence of revelation, except where it is perceived to be
consistent with fact. What these folks call faith denies the existence
of facts, except where they are perceived to be consistent with revelation.
But maugre all denials, both facts and revelation do exist, and there
can be no contradiction between them. The design of such talk is of course
to label as rationalistic all who do not believe these particular doctrines.
When I asked this man whether he might not be mistaken concerning the
doctrines, he claimed the infallible teaching of the Holy Ghost! Thus
does this system divorce faith from everything concrete and objective,
and place it at last in the whims, the bigotry, or the honest mistakes
of every interpreter. But such faith is only conceit or superstition,
and as far removed as possible from the Bible doctrine of faith. And if
we remove the foundation from the individual mind, to place it in the
true churches, we gain nothing. True churches
have been mistaken times without number. Most of the true churches
were post-millennial a century and a half ago, then disregarding the facts
in order to maintain their notion that the world was growing better, as
they now disregard them to maintain their notions concerning the text
of Scripture, and founding both errors on what they call faith.
We all no doubt have our own doctrinal predilections, but to allow our
doctrines to dictate what we are to regard as facts is as dangerous as
it is fraudulent, for it deprives us of one of the most effectual checks
against false doctrine. Yet so these men do, and do it avowedly and apparently
unashamedly, and dignify the illicit process with the name of faith. Assuming
the truth of the doctrine, then such and such facts would be
true also, and they inquire no further, but affirm as facts things of
which they know nothing. Indeed, this system obliges them to affirm as
facts things which it would seem they must certainly know to be false.
The New Testament Scriptures would be passed on through the believers
of New Testament churches. Yes, but the King James Version was given
to us by various ecclesiastics of the Church of England. To which New
Testament churches did those sprinkled ecclesiastics belong? To what New
Testament churches did the King's printers belong, who for generations
passed on to us the King James Version, and revised it as
they pleased in the bargain?
Such are the principles involved in this system. But I proceed to examine
the translation contained in Codex Teplensis. It seldom happens that a
translator of the Scriptures is so objective, so impartial, and so faithful,
as to leave no trace of his own theology or prejudices upon the version
which he produces. In this regard men who have no strong doctrinal prejudices
are likely to produce a better version of the Scriptures than others could
do. I believe this is one reason for the excellency of the King James
Version. For the most part the translators had no doctrinal hobby horses
to ride. Their whole study was to faithfully represent the original. Where
the original was general, they had no compelling bias to make the translation
----aside from the old ecclesiastical terms,
which the king required them to use. Where the original was explicit,
they could allow the translation to be so also.
But all translators do not possess such impartiality. Allow me to illustrate.
There is a manuscript version of the Gospels in English, of about the
same date as the German Codex Teplensis. This is known as the Pepysian
Gospel Harmony. In most places it is a good, literal translation, but
in other places it displays the translator's propensity to paraphrase,
to abridge, and to expand, and some of those places very plainly indicate
the Roman Catholic origin of the version. One example may suffice: And
êo ansuered Jesus hym and seide: `J seie êe forsoêe
êat êou art Petre on wham j schal founde my chirche. And êou
schalt haue power in heuene and in erêe & in helle.' This
is all Roman Catholic, and too plain to be mistaken.
Now when I began to study Codex Teplensis, I did so with the hope that
I might find some such proof of its origin. I soon despaired of it, however,
for Teplensis is generally a very literal translation from the Latin Vulgate,
with none of the tendencies to paraphrase and expand which are evident
in the Pepysian manuscript. I was therefore as astonished as I was elated
to discover a mark so irresistible and so pervasive that it left (so I
thought!) no possible doubt about the real origin of the version.
I hardly need say that all Bible versions know how to distinguish between
a man and a maid. A man is one thing, and a virgin quite another, and
these two are kept as distinct in a translation of the Bible as they are
in the original. This is true of Codex Teplensis, as it is of all other
Bible versions. A man is the German man. A maid is the German maid. As
spelling was rather capricious in the days of handwritten manuscripts,
the word is variously spelled in Teplensis, and we find it as mait, maid,
meid, meide, and even maigt, but in every place (but one) where the word
virgin appears in the New Testament, we find maid in Codex
Teplensis. There is but one exception to this. Philip's four daughters
who were virgins are called iunffrawen
----where Luther, 1522, has,
as usual, jungfrawen ----a different word, but meaning strictly,
So far, then, all is well, and these two things, so distinct in their
natures, are distinct in the translation also. But all does not remain
well for long, for as soon as we come to the familiar Son of man,
by which the Lord so constantly designates himself, we read not sun des
menschen, or (with Luther) des menschen son, but sun der maid
of the VIRGIN! And so we find it almost everywhere in Codex Teplensis:
----sun der maid.
----Sun der meide.
----Sun der meid.
----Sun der maid.
----Sun der meid.
Yet to prove that they knew how to translate son of man, we
----Sun dez menschen.
----Sun dez menschen.
----Sun dez menschen.
To make a long story short, in 79 places which I have examined, where
son of man occurs in the New Testament, the Tepl manuscript
reads son of man only seven times, all the rest having son
of the virgin. This, if I knew nothing else about the matter, I
should think rather plainly marked the translation as the work of Romanists,
for it is certainly the Romanists who are always thrusting in the
virgin where she does not belong. If the Waldenses produced this
version, it appears that the Waldenses must have been very much Romanized
----or more likely, as was the case with Lutherans and
Episcopalians after them, never quite unRomanized after they came out
from the Church of Rome. For if this Teplensis is in any sense Waldensian,
it certainly adds a great deal to the existing evidence of the Roman Catholic
origin of the Waldenses.
And it so happens that Herman Haupt, in contending for the Waldensian
origin of Codex Teplensis, actually uses the presence of sun der maid
in the translation as one of his main arguments in favor of its Waldensian
character. This might seem incredible, if we knew nothing else about the
matter. But Haupt points out that other medieval versions which are known
to be Waldensian contain the very same corruption. This I was unaware
of, but I have verified it. The old Romance, or Provençal, Waldensian
version invariably reads Filh de la vergena (Son of the virgin)
instead of Son of man
----except only in Heb. 2:6, where
(of course) it has filh de l'ome, son of man. I cannot pretend,
with my present knowledge, to say for certain whether the Teplensis is
Waldensian or Roman Catholic, but I can say without the least fear of
contradiction that if the translation is indeed the work of the Waldenses,
then the Waldenses were not the preservers of the true text of Scripture,
but the corrupters of it. This sun der maid is no accident, but a deliberate
corruption. The makers of Codex Teplensis either translated from corrupt
manuscripts, or they deliberately corrupted the translation. I really
suppose it must be the latter, for I am not aware of any manuscripts,
Greek or Latin, which read Son of the virgin. In either case
the makers of this version were certainly not the preservers of the true
text of Scripture. They were either the preservers of a corrupt
text, or they corrupted the text themselves. Again, you may take which
horn of the dilemma you please. Either the Waldenses had nothing to do
with Codex Teplensis, or the Waldenses were the corrupters of the text
of Scripture. In either case the supposed witness of Codex Teplensis for
the preservation of the true text by the true church absolutely vanishes,
and its testimony in favor of I John 5:7 is absolutely nullified.
And with this I might have done, yet to prevent any possible misconception
on the part of the ignorant, I must notice one further statement in the
article by Thomas Strouse. He says, In subsequent centuries, Codex
Teplensis was gradually modified by Romanists for the purpose of harmonizing
it with the Vulgate and Romish dogma. This statement as it stands
is certainly false. Codex Teplensis is a fourteenth-century manuscript,
which has never been modified at all, but exists today just as it did
in the fourteenth century, and just as it was written by the scribes who
wrote it. The Codex has not been altered at all.
But the Codex must be distinguished from the version which it contains.
When the German Bible was first printed, (the Mentel Bible, in 1466),
the version printed was the same as that which is contained in Codex Teplensis.
This version was reprinted numerous times in Germany before the beginning
of the Protestant Reformation. It is granted that the printers of at least
most of those editions were Romanists, and it is also a certainty that
in the printed editions the text was gradually revised, but this process
of revision of course left Codex Teplensis itself absolutely untouched
much as the subsequent revisions of the King James Version left the copies
which were printed in 1611 untouched. The version was modified, but the
previously existing copies of it were not. Now Codex Teplensis is a manuscript
copy, and in spite of the subsequent revisions of the version in the printed
copies, the text and accompanying matter of the Codex Teplensis itself
remain just what they were when the manuscript was written, and all of
the remarks which I have written above are based upon the contents of
the manuscript, as it is, was, and always has been.
But apply Dr. Strouse's statement to the subsequent printings of the version
contained in it, rather than to Codex Teplensis itself, and still it is
wrong. Harmonizing it with the Vulgate and Romish dogma, he
says, as though it were possible to do both. This is mere prejudice. Let
it be understood that the Latin Vulgate
----though imperfect, as
is every human translation ----is yet a Bible, and Romish dogma
is not supported by conforming to the Vulgate, but by departing from it.
It was the Latin Vulgate which Wycliffe translated into English, and it
was Wycliffe's translation of the Vulgate which was banned by the Romanists.
It was by means of the Latin Vulgate that Wycliffe exposed the corruptions
Haupt addresses the character of the subsequent revision of the Teplensis
version in the following language: One is compelled by the radical
manner of that revision to the supposition that, to the reviser, it had
to do with something more than the preparation of a readable Bible text.
The brutal ejection from the German Bible version of hundreds of true
pearls of the medieval German word treasury, which in good part could
be replaced only by inappropriate or Latin-borrowed expressions, seems
to us to prove rather plainly that the Catholic revision thereby aimed
at the same time to divest the Waldenses' German Bible work of its popular
character, and so to eliminate the last trace of its non-catholic origin.
But even supposing that we grant all of this, this is yet a long way from
conforming the version to Romish dogma. I call upon those who assert this
to give us some plain examples by which to prove it. The fact is, there
is almost nothing in the Vulgate which, fairly interpreted, can be construed
to lend any support to Romish dogma. We suppose the Latin sacramentum
(for the Greek v , secret) might do so indeed, but what are
the facts concerning sacramentum? Observe:
1.In some of the places where the Vulgate has it, so has the Old Latin.
Such is the case in Eph. 3:9, Rev. 1:20, and probably others. And since
the theory is that the Waldenses used the pure Old Latin rather than the
corrupt Vulgate, surely that theory has nothing to stand on here.
2.In a number of places where sacramentum appears in the Vulgate, there
is no change between the Codex Teplensis and the subsequent printed editions
of the version. Teplensis itself reads heilikeit, that is, sacrament.
This is the case in Eph. 1:9, 3:3, 3:9,5:32, and I Tim. 3:16.
3.Finally, in Rev. 17:7 Codex Teplensis reads taugen (secret,
that is), which is altered in the printed editions to sacrament. How is
this to be explained? This is no doubt the result of using differing texts
of the Vulgate, the Teplensis being based upon the Latin mysterium, and
the printed editions upon sacramentum. This variation actually exists
in the Vulgate mss. at Rev. 17:7. And it is a certain fact that the very
same alteration occurs in Rev. 1:20 in the Wycliffe Bible, the early version
reading mysterie, and the revision, sacrament.
Will anyone accuse the Wycliffites of revising their Bible to conform
it to Romish dogma?
I give one more example: the false rendering Son of the virgin,
which is so pervasive in the manuscript, was gradually corrected in the
printed editions, being conformed to the reading of the Vulgate
of man. Whether this served to conform the version to Romish dogma,
and eliminate the traces of Waldensianism, I leave my readers to judge.
Now in the light of the plain facts presented in this article, we would
expect those who have contended for the Waldensian origin of the Teplensis
to quickly bolt from their position, and contend rather for its Roman
Catholic origin. But such a flight will scarcely help them, while the
old Provençal Waldensian version corrupts Filh de l'ome into Filh
de la vergena no less than eighty-two times. What will they do with this
To conclude, those who hold the doctrines of the preservation of the true
text of Scripture (or the succession of the true churches of God) among
the Waldenses would do better to abandon Codex Teplensis. It does not
help their cause in the least, but damages it immeasurably. They would
do much better to prove Teplensis to be a Roman Catholic work
that would not be easy. In either case, whether Catholic or Waldensian,
Teplensis vanishes as a witness for the true text ----vanishes as
a witness for the preservation of the true church ----and vanishes
in particular as a witness for I John 5:7. It contains I John 5:7, no
doubt, but this proves only that the verse was in the Latin Vulgate, which
we knew already. As for those who wish to cite Codex Teplensis as a witness
for the true text in I John 5:7, let them also contend for son of
the virgin and the Epistle to the Laodiceans.
Beyond all of this, it is an indubitable fact that the version contained
in Codex Teplensis closely follows the Latin Vulgate, and differs in a
myriad of places from the Textus Receptus and the King James Version,
but the proof of that I must reserve for another article.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
My readers may suppose a bushel to be neither very interesting nor very
important, but let them read on, and I shall do my best to give them a
basket full of wisdom, concerning matters which are neither uninteresting
----for I do not intend to speak merely of baskets,
but of principles. The old English Bibles, all of them, informed us in
Matthew 5:15, Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a
bushel. Most of the modern translations have abandoned this. They
are far from agreed among themselves as to what the thing should be, but
they are all determined it shall not be a bushel. The reason that it should
not be a bushel is of course self-evident. That reason is ---- ------that
bushel is the rendering of the King James Version. It is not
love of accuracy which dictates most of these alterations, but love of
change. The scholars must maintain their reputations by snubbing
the renderings of the King James Version.
But we suppose that if bushel were clearly wrong, then the
modern scholars ought at least to be able to determine what we ought to
put in its place. But this they cannot do. In the three widely-used modern
translations we read as follows:
New American Standard Version
----under the peck-measure.
New King James Version
----under a basket.
New International Version
----under a bowl!!
The only one of these renderings which has any sense or sanity in it is
under a basket, of which I shall have more to say further
along. In a bowl we see the usual caprice and temerity of
the NIV, and in the peck-measure the usual pedantry of the
NASV, and that is about all that can be said for them. I suppose few will
contend for the rendering bowl. The peck-measure
will no doubt find more supporters, and those who wish to do so may plead
the sanction of Arndt and Gingrich's lexicon for it.
But it is time to back up and survey the field. Those who know anything
of the matters involved may always recognize a Jehovah's Witness by his
strange and pedantic terminology. He does not speak, with the rest of
the world, of the world, but of the present system of
things. He does not speak with the rest of us of the faithful
and wise servant, but of the faithful and discreet slave.
This, of course, is a reflection of his New World Translation, with which
he has dyed his mind.
Now we should be very sorry to see this kind of pedantry prevail in the
true church of God. We should be very sorry to see the old time-honored
terms, which for centuries have possessed the warm heart-associations
of the people of God, replaced with the cold, intellectual terminology
of the modern Bible versions
----because, forsooth, the new and
strange terminology is more accurate. We should be sorry indeed to hear
Christians talking of hiding their light under the peck-measure! And what
could we think if we should hear such talk from the same Christians who
will not use the King James Version because its language is strange and
Let us understand the issue here. It is true enough that some small portion
of the terminology of the old version is unfamiliar to the ungodly, who
have no knowledge of the Scriptures or of Christianity. But peck-measure
is language which is unfamiliar to everybody, godly and ungodly alike.
This is no doubt its chief excellency in the eyes of those who spurn the
old version. If it is new and different
----if it discards and displaces
the old English version ----it just suits them. The fact that the
new terminology is actually less familiar than the old does not concern
them, for who among them has ever engaged in thinking enough to be aware
of the fact?
But fact it is. Bushel is familiar to all. Peck-measure
has never been heard of
----never been used by an Englishman ----never
been seen in an English dictionary. The new language not only disregards
the sacred associations of Christianity, but discards the English language
also. In English troubles may come by the bushel, but no one ever heard
of them coming by the peck-measure. We might indeed be thankful if they
did, but no man with an English head, heart, or tongue will ever express
himself so. Unless ---- ------
Unless he should happen to be one who has been carried away by these new
Bible versions. For the makers of these new versions seem as determined
to remove themselves from their mother tongue as they are to depart from
the old landmarks of Christianity. A bushel
----this is common terminology,
which every man is at home with, but who ever heard of a peck-measure?
We have heard of picking a peck of pickled peppers, but who ever heard
of picking a peck-measure of them? This is strange language, and the effect
of the strangeness of the language is to divert the mind from the contents
of the passage.
Ah, but it will be said that peck-measure is more accurate!
Well, suppose it is. No pretended gain in accuracy can begin to offset
the loss entailed in the introduction of a term, the strangeness of which
must divert the mind from the contents of the passage. But how is peck-measure
more accurate? From a purely pedantic point of view, which regards nothing
but small technicalities, peck-measure may be more nearly
accurate than bushel, but there is something more involved
in accuracy than the size of the container. Indeed, a little thought on
the subject might persuade these new translators that the size of the
container is entirely immaterial. It is no issue at all. Who can suppose
that when the Lord spoke these words, it was the size of the container
that conerned him? Who can suppose that he chose the particular word he
used because the size of the container had anything to do with the matter?
The only thing at issue was the opaqueness of the container, and as for
the term employed, the Lord (or the evangelists, who rendered his words
into Greek) chose simply to speak of an opaque container, of sufficiently
large size, the name of which was a common and familiar term. It is only
----which is able to think only in terms of small technicalities ----which
would dream of making the size of the container the point at issue, or
judge the accuracy of the translation on that basis.
Americans speak of those who are engaged in the pursuit of the dollar.
Though I know nothing about the matter, I suppose that in Britain they
may speak of pursuing the pound. To translate the British expression into
American poses no difficulty to any man who has sense in his head. He
takes the common British expression, and renders it into the common American.
But pedants have a problem. There are no exact equivalents between English
and American measures, any more than there are between ancient Jewish
and modern English. The poor pedant is quite beside himself, unable to
produce an accurate translation. But he somehow determines that a British
pound is more nearly equivalent to two American dollars than it is to
one, and therefore translates the pursuit of the pound into
the pursuit of the two-dollar bill
----and this, we
presume, must be dignified with the name of accuracy.
Yes, and this is just the sort of accuracy which we find in the New American
Standard Version. It is the accuracy of pedantry, the accuracy of a shallow
generation which judges everything by the bubbles which float on the surface,
while it perceives nothing of the current which flows beneath them. They
perceive nothing of the nature of things, being occupied only with insignificant
externals and incidentals.
Accuracy, I contend, in the case before us, has nothing to do with the
exact size of the vessel, any more than it has with the exact shape of
it. There are other matters of greater importance, and the accuracy which
ignores those other matters
----or perceives nothing of their existence ----and
reduces all to a matter of size, is no accuracy at all.
But we are not so sure that the modern notions of accuracy are so accurate
after all, even as to size. A bushel is not the same size in America as
a bushel in England, and therefore neither is a peck, which is a quarter
of a bushel. Nor am I so sure that our modern translators know as much
as they think they do about the size of the Greek v . Nor am I sure that
whatever term the Lord used
----and he did not speak Greek ----was
equivalent in size to the Greek v , into which the Gospels translate his
term. And even where measure is the point at issue ----which it
certainly is not in Matt. 5:15 ----the word bushel is
often used loosely for any large unspecified quanitity. It has been so
used for more than 600 years.
But waive all of that. We grant that the Greek word employed does not
designate a container which is a bushel in size. Bushel, then,
is not strictly accurate. And neither is any other English translation
of any other Jewish weight or measure. It is not possible to translate
any of them accurately as to size. It is our wisdom, then, to first regard
their other features, and fairly represent those in the translation. This
is exactly what the translators of the old English Bibles did. They must
have an opaque and fairly large vessel, the name of which was a common
household word. And not without reason, they all settled upon the word
Early Wycliffe Bible
----vnder a busshel.
Later Wycliffe Bible
----vnder a busschel.
Fourteenth-century version, ed. by C. A. Paues
Wm. Tyndale, 1525
----vnder a busshell ----and
so all of his revisions.
George Joye, 1534
----vnder a busshel.
Myles Coverdale, 1535
----vnder a buszhell.
----vnder a busshell.
----vnder a busshell.
Great Bible, 1539
----vnder a busshell.
Geneva Bible, 1560
----vnder a bushel.
Bishops' Bible, 1568
----vnder a busshell.
Roman Catholic Rheims N. T., 1582
----vnder a bushel.
King James Version, 1611
----vnder a bushell. This version
gives us a note in the margin, saying, The word in the originall,
signifieth a measure containing about a pint lesse then a pecke.
We have no objection to being so informed, though for any ordinary purpose
the size matters little.
Revised Version, 1881
----under the bushel, without
note or comment.
J. N. Darby's New Translation
----under the bushel,
with a marginal note: I have left `bushel' as well known; it was
a measure under a half-a-bushel. This was wisdom, to leave it alone
because it was well known.
Revised Standard Version, 1952
----under a bushel.
And shall we now, after 600 years, replace this with peck-measure,
which nobody ever heard of
----or with bowl?! The latter
is absurd. The first thing, and likely the only thing, suggested to people's
minds by the simple word bowl is a soup or cereal bowl, and
there will be no hiding a lamp under that. The only bowls I know of which
might be near large enough are punch bowls, and most of those are crystal
clear ----fine containers under which to hide a light. Ought not
men to learn to think before they undertake to translate the Bible?
But what of basket, the rendering of the New King James Version?
This, indeed, has solid sense in it. In itself it is as acceptable as
bushel. It is just such an alteration as we could readily
approve, if there were any reason to make any change at all. If Wycliffe
and Tyndale had used basket (or bucket) in the
place, this would now be as familiar to all of us as bushel
----and as unexceptionable. But really, it is 600 years too late
to introduce it. There is nothing to gain by it ----certainly no
gain in accuracy ----and certainly something to lose. To hide one's
light under a bushel is not only language familiar to all Christians,
but is also a proverbial expression, woven into the fabric of the English
language itself. Why should we remove an expression from the Bible, which
we cannot remove from the language, and when there is nothing to be gained
by the removal?
Certain minds will no doubt find some gain in basket over
bushel. It is new and different. It sets aside the old version,
and that is a great gain in itself
----to certain minds. But beyond
that, I dare say they will be hard pressed to demonstrate any gain at
all. If they think they have some petty gain in accuracy, it is certainly
insufficient to offset the loss incurred by dislocating the common and
familiar language. It is change for the sake of change. And the worst
of it is, this change is introduced in a Bible which shelters itself under
the venerated name of King James Version. This is hardly right.
The New version has departed too far from the spirit of the
old one, whose name it bears. It has everywhere introduced absolutely
needless alterations, which are dictated only by fastidiousness, by pedantry,
and by love of change. This is the pride of modern Evangelicalism, which
supposes itself to be passing wise, while its first axiom is that all
our forefathers were in the dark ----or the dim twilight at the
best. This is the pride of modern scholarship, which supposes itself competent
to translate the Bible, when it had by all means better return to its
grammar books ----or better still, abandon its grammar books, and
I have touched upon but one small facet of the subject. The reader may
multiply this by a thousand, and understand a little of what I have against
the modern Bible versions. I have no sympathy with the notions which ascribe
perfection to the old version. Neither do I have any sympathy with the
notions which ascribe the new versions to conspiracies, Jesuits, or adherents
of new-age theology. But the new versions have had the misfortune to be
the product of modern scholarship, which is shallow, unspiritual, and
incompetent. Only let the church of God acquire a little of wisdom and
spirituality, and I believe the new versions would fade away, as the old
Revised Version did.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
The Quaker's Dream and the Methodist's Sermon
[Here the reader may behold the hand of God, and also the necessary place
of the earnest, determined, winner of souls.
Mr. [John] Collins, when a local preacher, often preached in Quaker neighbourhoods
in his native state, New-Jersey, before he emigrated to the West. He was
to preach in a certain place one evening. The night before, a Friend,
who was opposed to him and his sentiments, had a peculiar dream. In his
dream he beheld the scenes of the last judgment, and imagined himself
weighed in the balance, and, to his horror, found wanting. While expecting,
in terror, his sentence, the Judge said, Weigh him again, when suddenly
The next day, one of his neighbours invited him to attend Mr. Collins's
preaching, and judge for himself of the man he was opposing; but he declined
most positively. His friend then urged him to accompany him in a short
walk, for the purpose of some special conversation; he consented, and
was led unsuspectingly toward the place of worship. When he found himself
near, he attempted to return, but was urged to enter, and he complied
with the request. He agreed to hear for once what the preacher had to
say. He sat down, with his broad brim on, and not in the best frame of
mind to hear; for he was full of prejudice as they were proceeding with
the opening service before the sermon. When this was through the preacher
arose, and, with the utmost solemnity, gave out for his text, Thou art
weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
The Quaker was astonished, and the recollection of his terrible dream
made the discourse much more impressive. As the preacher proceeded with
his sermon, describing the Scriptural standard of experimental religion,
the Quaker was convinced that he was indeed wanting in everything
that constituted genuine piety. He was convinced of sin, of righteousness,
and of judgment; of the necessity of securing a wedding garment
that would qualify him to mingle with those John saw with their redemption-robes
before the throne. He sought and found the Lord, and united himself with
the church he had opposed.
----The Heroes of Methodism, by J. B. Wakeley, pp. 384-385.
OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without
alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise,
and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own views are to be taken from his own writings.