Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Allowing the Intent of the Translators to Be Heard Today

This is actually an essay I wrote several years ago and had on my website. From some conversations at Greg's blog, I thought I would post that essay here in its entirety. I don't really want to get into debates about the newer translations, but I hope this makes some people think who may come from the King James-only camp.

Imagine, if you will, two translators of the Bible into English. The first one had his body exumed and burned over 40 years after his death. The other was imprisoned, put on trial for heresy, and was strangled to death - followed by a burning of his body. Although this may sound like the type of persecution we imagine that translators faced after 1611, these were actually the first two men to publish English Bibles - John Wycliffe and William Tyndale. Their persecution then was due to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church believed that the people should have to listen to their Mass in Latin and that the Latin Vulgate was the only authoritative version of the scriptures. It was a Pope who had John Wycliffe's body exhumed and burned.

Even today, in America especially, the same passion that the Catholics held for the Latin Vulgate is rampant among those who believe the King James Version of the Bible is the one true translation of the word of God - bar none. This essay is not meant to be technical in nature for there are possibly thousands of documents and websites dedicated to either proving that the KJV is the inspired Word of God or that it has been antiquated. Instead the author will rely on the actual preface to the 1611 Authorized Version, which is a note from the translators to the reader, for the majority of the essay. (This may be viewed alongside the present article by clicking here.) The purpose of this essay is to simply demonstrate that the original intent of the translators of the 1611 Authorized Version was to simply make God's Word available to the English-speaking world. The translators would be appalled today at how their work had come to the point of idolatry.

Looking at the 1611 Preface, the translators began by stating "revising that which hath been laboured by others, deserves certainly much respect and esteem, but yet finds but cold entertainment in the world. It is welcomed with suspicion instead of love, and with emulation instead of thanks: and if there be any hole left for cavil to enter, (and cavil, if it do not find a hole, will make one) it is sure to be misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned." It is clear that the translators knew right off that their revision of previous works (as demonstrated below) would be looked upon dimly. The second heading of the preface is in regards to King James' "constancy", or steadfastness, in regards to making a revision of the previous English Bibles. "His Majesty that now reigns...knew full well, according to the singular wisdom given to him by God, and the rare learning and experience that he hath attained to; namely that whosoever attempts anything for the public (especially if it pertain to Religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same sets himself upon a stage to be gloated upon by every evil eye, yea, he casts himself headlong upon pikes, to be gored by every sharp tongue." Not only were the translators aware of possible condemnation for their endeavor, but King James was also fully aware of this fact.

In the next section, the translators offer their praise for the Scriptures in general. Quotations from church fathers such as Augustine, Jerome, Cyril, and Tertullian are offered to the reader which extol the Bible. The translators liken the Scriptures to a "whole paradise of trees of life, which bring forth fruit every month, and the fruit thereof is for meat, and the leaves for medicine."

The following section is offers the reasons for which translation is necessary. They begin with the question "how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand?" They close the section by stating "Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which is deep) (#Joh 4:11) without a bucket or something to draw with..."

Next we come to a brief survey of some of the earliest translations of Scripture - beginning with the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament). They begin by stating that "While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his Name great in Israel, and in none other place...then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrew, one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient." In other words, since the Jews were God's only people their Bible in a single language was sufficient. The 17th-Century Roman Catholics believed that Scripture should only be in Latin (they used the Latin Vulgate). The 1611 Authorized Version translators countered this by demonstrating that when Christ came the barrier of Jew and Gentile was broken and there was a need for Scripture in the Greek language. We read that "this is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching.... It is certain, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but it needed in many places correction." They also provide the example that many of the early fathers used the Septuagint for their commentaries. Following the brief survey of the Septuagint, the translators speak of the early translations into Latin. They state that most of the Old Testament translations were "muddy" because they were made from the Greek and not the Hebrew. The translators are indebted to Jerome for undertaking the translation of the Old Testament "out of the very fountain", or from the Hebrew.

Next, we come to the translators' section regarding "The Translation of the Scriptures into the Vulgar tongues." In this section the translators go briefly through many previous translations into various other "vulgar tongues" - or the common languages of a particular nation. Following this is a brief section on the general "unwillingness" of the Roman Church to allow the Scriptures to be translated into Vulgar Tongues. The Roman Church could claim that they did allow this, but there had to be a request for a license to do this. The translators are basically stating that the Roman Church did not want the Scriptures to be translated because "So much are they afraid of the light of the Scripture, ("Lucifugae Scripturarum", as Tertulian speaks) that they will not trust the people with unwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the people’s understanding in any sort, that they are not ashamed to confess, that we forced them to translate it into English against their wills. This seems to argue a bad cause, or a bad conscience, or both."

We now come to a section dedicated to what others (both friends and foes) had to say about this translation. The first question raised was whether the Church has been deceived this whole time. Their response to this question is a quote from Jerome - "Do we condemn the ancient? In no case: but after the endeavours of them that were before us, we take the best pains we can in the house of God." Then we come to some almost cynical questions - "Was their Translation good before? Why do they now mend it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people?"

In the following section the translators offer "satisfaction to our brethren". The very first sentence sees the translators stating that they "are so far off from condemning any of their labours that travailed before us in this kind...that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God, for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserve to be had of us and of posterity in everlasting remembrance." This should be an example of all believers - to acknowledge that previous translations, insomuch as the translator did not set out with an ungodly agenda, should be respected for how God used it to "build" and "furnish...his Church." An analogy is drawn that we may have a wonderful composer but his work would not be so revered if it were not for his instructor or predecessor. They next ask what could be better "than to deliver God’s book to God’s people in a tongue which they understand?" They express the Godly hope that no-one would dislike them for trying to improve upon something that was already good. We go on to read "that whatsoever is sound already...the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished." Throughout this preface we have seen that the translators never once thought that God was using them to do anything but improve upon earlier works. A key phrase from this section is that they hoped to not be disliked but thanked for trying to improve upon the previous translations.

I believe that the next section of the preface begins with a statement that should make all Christians who believe that the King James Version is the only true word of God reconsider their belief. It is perhaps the most concise statement answering the objections current translators receive from King James Version advocates. "Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) contains the word of God, nay, is the word of God." The translators would "affirm and avow" that even the "meanest translation" not only "contains the word of God" but "IS the word of God." (To avow means to "declare assuredly, openly, bluntly, and without shame" and "meanest" is "of poor shabby inferior quality or status or worthy of little regard." - Webster) Here the translators are unashamedly stating that even the worst translations in English are the word of God. Their intent is a far cry from what we hear today.

In the same section we have the allusion to the Romanists burning translations. They also reference the Seputagint once again. They state that even though it "dissents from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it, for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it." The translators again prove their point that poor translations are used by God. This is done by their stating that even though the Septuagint is a flawed translation the Apostles actually used it. A final paragraph of this section is an attempt by the translators to give a reason for their "altering and amending our Translations so oft." They state that one should go back over his work and "amend it where he saw cause."

We next come to a section about their purpose and the manner in which they translated. If one still wonders what their intent was they make it perfectly clear here. "Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one...but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark." Their "endeavour" was to improve upon previous translations. Many humble men were chosen to perform this task. They quote Jerome and Augustine for their next point. They are stating that they used the Hebrew Old Testament and Green New Testament for their present work. They claim that they were not rushed to complete it, as the Seventy reportedly completed the Septuagint in 72 days; nor were they kept from reviewing and revising their work.

The next section offers their reasons for marginal notes. These notes may be due to a word being seldom used or because of "many rare names of certain birds, beasts and precious stones." They state that wise people should rather offer different readings instead of tying the reader to one. Next they state why they did not stick with particular phrasing. They were apparently accused of deliberately changing wordings, but they felt that they should try to keep some uniformity. They ask "is the kingdom of God to become words or syllables? why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously?" They conclude stating that "desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar."

I will leave you with their complete conclusion. My simple prayer is twofold. If you believe that modern translations are Godly I would pray that you take care in your dealings with those who do not. Your love for one another is what demonstrates your faith. If you believe that anything other than the King James Version is not God's word, then I pray that you would truly take to heart what the intent of the translators was when revising the previous Bibles into what we have as the 1611 KJV. Keep in mind that their intent not only allowed for revisions of their 1611 text that you currently read but it also allowed for newer translations to improve upon their work. If you cannot believe this now, then you are truly not with the spirit of those who translated your Bible.

"Many other things we might give thee warning of (gentle Reader) if we had not exceeded the measure of a Preface already. It remains, that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think. He removes the scales from our eyes, the vail from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea correcting our affections, that we may love it to the end. Ye are brought to fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them with the Philistines, neither prefer broken pits before them with the wicked Jews. (#Ge 26:15 Jer 2:13) Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours; O receive not so great things in vain, O despise not so great salvation! Be not like swine to tread under foot so precious things, neither yet like dogs to tear and abuse holy things. Say not to our Saviour with the Gergesites, "Depart out of our coast" (#Mt 8:34); neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a mess of pottage (#Heb 12:16). If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light; if food, if clothing be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves. Remember the advice of Nazianzene, "It is a grievous thing" (or dangerous) "to neglect a great fair, and to seek to make markets afterwards:" also the encouragement of S. Chrysostom, "It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober" (and watchful) "should at any time be neglected:" (S. Chrysost. in epist. ad Rom. cap. 14. oral. 26.) Lastly, the admonition and menacing of S. Augustine, "They that despise God’s will inviting them, shall feel God’s will taking vengeance of them." (S. August. ad artic. sibi falso object. Artic. 16.) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; (#heb 10:31) but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaks to us, to hearken; when he sets his word before us, to read it; when he stretches out his hand and calls, to answer, "here am I, here we are to do thy will, O God." The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Holy Ghost, be all praise and thanksgiving. Amen."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Retrospect: Update From Honduras Mission Trip

First of all, I would like to thank you so much for your prayers and/or financial support!! The trip to Honduras was a huge blessing not only to me personally, but also to everyone who went and those to whom we ministered. We saw God do some wonderful things through us there and I know it has changed me in many respects. I do believe that this will be the first of many more trips that I (and my family later!) will be going on in the years to come where God may lead us. Jen and I still feel a burden for missions in our lives and it is really amazing being able to attend a church with an emphasis on missions. Below, I would love to share some of the things that we did which had an impact on me.

Since Honduras is nearly a third-world country in many respects, we saw a lot of poverty. This kind of poverty is something that we really do not "see" in The States. If any of you are familiar with Blackmon Road in Rock Hill, that kind of poverty was a common sight in Honduras – even in the large city where we were ministering.

One of the things that we did while we were there was to paint the inside and out of a daughter church plant as well as build a shed for them to store some equipment – all in a day's work! This, along with some cleanup there, will help this church minister in their community. Through this work God brought us to do, it opened the door with an older lady next door (who previously only peeked through her windows) about her relationship with Jesus!

We also visited a couple of community schools that basically had open-air classrooms. We were able to have Bible studies, puppets, crafts, and games with the children there. It was refreshing to be able to be so open about the Gospel in these classrooms. One of the schools was more of an inner-city location and we were able to feed breakfast to the children - usually the only meal many of the kids will have for the day. This is one of the ministries that the local church's pastor has at the school.

The last two afternoons we were there, we spent time with kids of all ages at an orphanage. On the first day, a couple of our guys and myself were able to sit down with several of the guys who were 14-17. They had all lived at the orphanage nearly their entire lives (the ones there the least amount of time got there when they were 3). They expressed that they needed prayers for their country as well as for them living there among other general prayer requests. But perhaps the most striking thing to me was the realization that they all had siblings who lived at other orphanages in the area. It is sad that these kids are not even able to live with the people they should be closest to! The next day at the orphanage, one of our girls and her mom were able speak through one of the translators with 4 of the older girls and were able to see them led to faith in Jesus! We pray that as these girls grow in their relationship with Christ that they will be a great example for the other kids there!

The orphanage will always be on my mind and heart. There were maybe 125-150 total kids there, but due to some damage from an earthquake in the past year there are 4 damaged houses that would be able to hold 9 more kids each. This means that there are 36 kids who could be in an orphanage but are not and they are likely on the streets. Dan Moran Ministries, the ministry we went there with, is planning on collecting funds to repair these homes in the very near future. Sadly, Honduras has a closed-border policy for adoptions – meaning that they can only be adopted by others in the country, but we found for $20 per month we can sponsor one of the kids and provide their way to stay at the orphanage.

Again, thank you for your support for me on this journey! God is amazing and I was blessed to witness some great things happening in Honduras through the partner churches there. Continue praying for me, my family, church, and the Honduran people. These words from the Apostle Paul to the Roman church were constantly on our minds and in our hearts while we were there: For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

May God continue to bless you!
Chris Whisonant

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Honduras Updates Days 4 and 5

On Tuesday, we started the day at a school in the area near Santa Fe Baptist Church. We did puppets, crafts, Bible stories, and games with the kids there. After lunch, we came back and did a door-to-door campaign with our translators through the neighborhood there at Santa Fe. It was great to see the youth coming out of their shells some to go up to the doors of people they don't know and invite them to the church that night. After this, we had some services at the church for kids and adults. With some spare time beforehand, Jody did some magic tricks with red foam balls and the kids thought that was great. Then we did some other songs with puppets and a different Bible story with the Kids. At the same time, Evans was preaching for the adult session. Jody has some pictures and more information here.

On Wednesday, we had another great day. We started the day at Japon school. Just 10 years ago, this school was in shambles and had very few students enrolled. The pastor at the church on that street felt a call from God to start a feeding ministry each morning for all who were enrolled in the school. Now, 10 years later, the school is nearly full (probably 150-200 students) and they are still providing breakfast for the kids - for most of them, this is their only meal of the day! And the school also has a brand new computer lab (with new computers donated by the Honduran President and, I believe, the mayor) because of their tremendous progress. Also, they have won some other awards for being such a great school in the county. Here, we also did puppets, crafts, Bible stories, and some futbol/games with the students. In the afternoon, we went to the SOS orphanage. Many of the kids here (up to 17 years old) have lived there for their entire lives! We ministered to the kids there for a little while, and will be going back there this afternoon. Jody also has a Day 5 blog post here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Honduras Days 2 and 3

Thank you for your continued prayers for us here! It's been a great trip so far. Jody posted an update on what we did on Sunday (Day 2), so I won't spend much time on that. But I will reiterate the awesome times of worship that we had. I didn't recognize any of the melodies from the Sunday morning worship, but there were several from the Sunday night service at the mother church that were familiar. I know enough Spanish to recognize the phrases that we were singing. It was very powerful to konw that there are Christians all over the world worshiping the same God! Also, our youth that are here did a great job at stepping right in and working with the kids and youth here.

Today, we spent the day working on building a shed for one of the 10 church plants as well as painting their building inside and out. They are in a new 2-room facility and it was a blessing to help them do some of these much-needed things as well as do some cleanup outside in the area where their kids will be playing and learning scripture. It's been a long, hot day! And again, it was great to see all the youth step in and get dirty and covered in paint alongside the adults.

We're now getting ready to hit the ground running tomorrow with more ministry to children in the area. Continue praying for our team!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Honduran Soccer anyone? (Day 1 of Mission Trip)

We had a great day to start off yesterday here in San Pedro Sula! We're getting acclimated to the time difference and meeting lots of new friends. Last night, we went to Jerusalem Baptist Church to work with their youth group. Before the worship and preaching, we were asked for 5 US and 5 Honduran male volunteers. Turns out it was so that we could play a pickup game of Soccer. And I was a volunteer for this! :) Umm, yeah let's just say we didn't fare too well haha. But our girls team did!

Then we had a time of worship (in Spanish) and we had two youth (Lauren and Joseph) give their testimonies with the translator. Great job guys! After this, Jody preached from Titus 2 and had a wonderful analogy to start with. Trapeze artists can do some amazing things, but they would be severely hindered if they didn't have a net. Christ is our net to fall back on and he wants us to live for him! (There's more to the message, but I don't have much time).

Also, Jody updated the KFBC Students blog with an update from yesterday too.

So continue praying for our team as we are ministering here. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How can you support me on a mission trip to Honduras?

The book of Acts is full of accounts of the Apostles and others in the Church who were called to minister in specific locations. We know that these ministries were God’s purpose. While at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13), Paul and Barnabas tied their calling back to Isaiah’s prophecy that God has “made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” And God showed his purpose to Paul and Barnabas through the salvation and changes in the lives of the people they were reaching. Just as God called Paul and Barnabas, God has called us all to be missionaries either locally or in foreign lands.

After Jen and I felt a call from God that we needed to be more active in mission work, I sensed God’s leading me to participate with a foreign missions team. Please pray with me as I prepare to journey to San Pedro Sula, Honduras on June 19-26, 2010. The people of Honduras truly have a need for God and Dan Moran Ministries has been ministering in Honduras and other Central American countries for 20 years. Our church, Kennesaw First Baptist, is partnering with them and will be sending a team to continue missions activity in this area.

The ministry activities I will be involved with include evangelism, VBS, construction projects, and working in day care centers, orphanages, and local schools. The week will be very busy and we are expecting God to continue doing amazing things in Honduras. I feel that many things in my life have prepared me for this opportunity to serve God in Honduras – from the years of Spanish I took in high school to being involved in construction as well as past VBS experience along with leading in worship.

As I mentioned earlier, I need your prayers for the trip preparation, for opening the hearts of the Hondurans, and for our team as we work to raise funds. I’m reminded by Paul to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Along with this letter, you will also find a support team response form. I do rejoice and am grateful for this ministry opportunity before me. I would love to pray for you and hope that you will commit to pray for this work in Honduras. I will also keep you updated as the trip approaches and will share with you the blessings of this trip. If you are so led, I would also greatly appreciate any financial support you could add to your prayers.

Thank you for your friendship, your love, and your support.

If you feel led, feel free to copy and paste the response form below into a message and send to me and I'll add you to our Support Team Mailing List. My email address is chris.whisonant at

Support Team Response Form
San Pedro Sula, Honduras – June 19-26, 2010
“When you have done it unto the least of these…you have done it unto me.” Jesus

Name and Contact Information (address, email, and/or phone number)

_____Prayer Support
_____Funding Support

Your missionary investment is tax deductible. If you feel led to support me in this manner, please contact me and I will let you know how to donate.

I would like the privilege to pray for you as you join with us in ministry. In the space provided below, please write any needs or requests that you would like me to place on my prayer list.