An often-debated issue in Fundamentalist circles these days is the matter of Bible translations and textual differences. This has forced all of us to become some kind of “textual critics,” in order to define and defend the positions we take. This article is intended to clarify the position of the Aletheia Project regarding the text of the Scriptures. There is not room here to offer proof of all of our conclusions, but we certainly want to make them clear. The following is a list of seven assertions about the Bible, in an attempt to avoid the “pendulum swings” of extremism without compromising our beliefs:
WE BELIEVE that the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments were “God-breathed,” or given by the inspiration of God, resulting in a product that was inerrant and infallible in the original autographs.
WE BELIEVE that God has fulfilled His promise to preserve His Word for every generation of human history, through copies and translations of those original writings.
WE BELIEVE that inspiration applied only to the autographs, but that their words have been accurately retained through God’s preservation.
WE BELIEVE that God has preserved His Word in the Masoretic Hebrew Text of the Old Testament and the Textus Receptus Greek Text of the New Testament.
WE BELIEVE that the King James Version of the Bible is the best English translation available, not only because it is an excellent translation, but because it is a translation of the best Hebrew and Greek texts.
WE BELIEVE that consistency in position demands that we use only the above-mentioned Hebrew and Greek texts and the TR translations in our work.
WE BELIEVE, however, that there are Fundamentalists who love God and His Word who take a different position on the text, and that the textual issue should not be a test of personal fellowship among brethren.
These seven statements essentially explain the position of the Aletheia Project. For the sake of further clarity, some of them will be expanded here. Regarding the preservation of Scripture, some institutions that are considered Fundamentalist have disavowed that God has even promised to preserve His Word. The Project’s thinking is that this view is negated by Ps. 33:11; 100:5; 111:7-8; 117:2; 119:89-90, 144, 152, 160; Isa. 40:8; 59:21; Mt. 5:18; 24:35; Lk. 21:33; Jn. 10:35; Acts 7:38; and I Pet. 1:25. Since it is our desire to see the Bible as the only authority for faith and practice, we do not see how all of these passages can be “explained away” by those who reject the fact that God has promised to preserve His Word.
Regarding the choice of the Textus Receptus for the Greek New Testament, the Aletheia Project rejects the Westcott-Hort theory of textual transmission, although we appreciate those editors’ honestly acknowledging their own uncertainty by the frequent usage of terms like “conjecture,” “probabilities,” “presumptions,” “ambiguity,” “suppositions,” etc, in their explanatory notes. We have chosen to accept, rather, that which has been available to the largest number of believers for the greatest period of time in church history, which is the stream of texts represented by the Textus Receptus. More specifically, we use the text published by the Trinitarian Bible Society, which follows Beza’s 1598 edition and Scrivener’s edition of 1894.
Regarding the usage of the King James Version, we believe that it was very well-translated, but that the English language has undergone some changes in the past 401 years, as is partially reflected in the fact that the KJV in widespread use today is not, in fact, the 1611 version. Since English is a living language, the modern-day connotations of words such as “conversation,” “charity,” and (sadly) “gay,” is much different from their 1611 meanings. Therefore, it is wisest to consult the original languages, where the Divine intent is unchanged. This will not refute the KJV, but will keep us from changing the meanings of Old English words to conform to 2012 usages.
Regarding our attitude toward those Fundamentalists who disagree with us, we believe that we should reflect the principles of II Tim. 2:24; Rom 14:1-6; Eph. 4:3; and James 3:17. We recognize that, as servants of the Lord we “must not strive, but be gentle,” we must not “despise or judge,” we must “endeavor” to keep unity, and that heavenly wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable.” For example, as Fundamentalists we do not castigate the late C. I. Scofield or doubt either his salvation or sincerity on the basis of his Gap theory beliefs of creation. We simply know that he and others of his era did not have the information to combat what they thought were conclusions forced by science and scholarship. Perhaps the debate on the textual issue will produce some “Whitcomb and Morris” of the Greek text, bringing to light information that will persuade Fundamentalists that the long-standing, widely-accepted text was actually the best one after all. It is our hope that, the mainstream of Fundamentalism will return to the long-held usage of the TR. In the meantime, we are willing to fellowship with those Fundamentalists who have not yet come to these same conclusions.