Cork Free Presbyterian Church, 10 Briarscourt (Annex) Shanakiel, Cork, Ireland Pastor: Colin Maxwell. Email: cfpc@esatclear.ie

CALVINISM AND THE AUTHORISED (KING JAMES) VERSION CONTROVERSY:

There are two separate issues here which are best kept apart. There are certain men with whom I am in agreement or at least have some sympathy with in their stand for the Authorised Version while radically disagreeing with them on their stand against Calvinism - or more often than not - their caricature of Calvinism. Likewise, there are men with whom I am basic agreement with on the Calvinism issue, but must disagree with their position on modern versions. By keeping various issues apart when we can, we can enjoy sweeter fellowship one with another.

But keeping them apart is not entirely trouble free and it is this which leads to this article being written. Let me set out my stall first of all.

MY POSITION ON THE AUTHORISED VERSION: I am an AV man. I believe it to be the most faithful English translation of the Bible available. As a translation, I do not believe it is perfect. There are places where it could be better translated and I feel free to go to the original languages if the need arises to do so. Some of its langauge has become archaic. While I do not think that the AV will ever be surpassed, I am not opposed (at least in theory) to the idea of a fresh translation or revision. Whether this is the time for such remains to be seen. I think keeping any revision to the marginal notes would best serve the purpose. Due mainly to my access to the Online Bible, I occasionally check out some other translations, but never with the same confidence which I have in the AV. I disagree most strongly with the Westcot and Hort texts which underlie most of the modern versions and the translating methods which many modern translations employ. I do not want to know what some translation committee thinks God said (dynamic equivalence) but what God actually said (formal equivalence) Thus far, my stand on the AV.

MY POSITION ON CALVINISM: I am a five point Calvinist because I sincerely believe this is what the Bible teaches. I believe passionately in the free offer of the gospel and man's responsibility. I believe the immediate cause of a man's damnation is his sin and rejection of the gospel. God passing the sinner by in His sovereign choice does not make man a sinner. I believe this is the Calvinism propagated by Calvin himself, the Reformers and Puritans, the Protestant Confessions and the great evangelists like Whitefield and Spurgeon etc., I repudiate and oppose hyper Calvinism and believe that those non Calvinists who cannot tell the radical and fundamental difference between Calvinism and hyper Calvinism are unfit to comment on the matter. Thus far my stand on Calvinism.

WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM, BROTHER MAXWELL? I have been looking at a few sites of a few AV men (with whom I have a general sympathy) who happen to loathe Calvinism. In fact, they loathe it so much that they say some very nasty things about Calvinists. Whether at this stage they are accurate in their knowledge is irrelevant overall to the matter. Two examples come to mind, both from an article written by Rev. D.A. Waite, who may be said to exemplify what I'm getting at here. This examination should not be construed as an attack upon Mr Waite. I am not interested in personalities here but in principles.

[1] Calvinists are heretics. Rev. D.A. Waite in his article entitled "Calvin's error of Limited Atonement" does not hesitate to say so. I quote: "Again, let us repeat, that the "LIMITED ATONEMENT' people would take this clear verse [Romans 5:6] to teach the very opposite of that for which it was intended by Paul and by God , the Author of Scripture. They claim that it teaches that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary had merit, benefit, and was really LIMITED only to the ELECT, or those who would one day accept and receive Christ as Savior, but that this death had nothing whatever to do with the "sins of the world" in general, whether saved or lost! This is heresy, and clearly contrary to the revealed Word of God!" If this is the case, then the Calvinist (not merely the Calvinism) is to be rejected. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; (Titus 3:10) The language is pretty clear and pretty definite. Pretty rough stuff, but there it is.

[2] Calvinists preach another gospel as condemned by Paul in Galatians 1:8 Again Rev. D.A. Waite does the honours here. Commenting on 2 Corinthians 5:21 Mr Waite says: "It is almost as though God is screaming out at all the false and unscriptural "LIMITED ATONEMENT" people who are parading around their "other gospel" (Galatians 1:8), and saying, "Here is something that I did through My Son's Work at the Cross of Calvary which had an effect on the WHOLE, ENTIRE WORLD of mankind, barring NONE!!" Another gospel? Not merely a disagreement over the details of the one true gospel which is the power of God unto salvation? The latter, basically, has been the position most Christians have taken over the centuries. Of course, at times the battle raged and uncharitable things were said (on both sides) but overall there has always been a recognition that the basic disagreement was over details. Thus Whitefield and Wesley worked together and even in the Fundamentalist camp there has been and still is a working together of those who are Calvinist and those who aren't. But "another gospel" which cannot claim to be this saving power of God and therefore must damn those who believe it? Again, pretty strong stuff.

WERE THE TRANSLATORS OF THE AV HERETICS OR DID THEY PREACH ANOTHER GOSPEL? Here we blend the two different matters together. With all the advantages of keeping them apart, the downside is that it allows some men to lose sight of what they are saying elsewhere. Most of the translators of the AV were Calvinist in their doctrine. They held to what would later become known as the Five points of Calvinism. A good friend of Mr Waite is David Cloud. (Mr Waite links to Cloud's site) Cloud is a another vocal objecter to Calvinism and yet he frankly and (to his credit) honestly acknowledges: "While I reject Calvinism, I certainly cannot accept that there is any connection between the Calvinist and the New Age weirdos! This is too much. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a staunch Calvinist. Did his preaching set the stage for the New Age? In fact, most of the King James Translators were Calvinists."

What does Mr Waite say about them though? What does he say about John Harmar, the Calvinist who translated Calvin's sermons on the Ten commandments and several of Beza's sermons into English? Or Lawrence Chaderton who became an outspoken anti-Arminian preacher. Or Thomas Holland whose Calvinism is described as "thorough" Or George Abbot the Calvinist who encouraged James to request the States General to dismiss Vorstius from his professorship at Leyden because of his Arminianism? Or Miles Smith, who was a member of the third translation company, one of the revisors of the whole, the final editor with Bishop Bilson, and the author of The Translators To The Readers, who was known as a severe Calvinist? Or John Reynolds and Samuel Ward who were also Calvinists? Perhaps there were more Calvinists among them, for we know little about many of these translators but of these, there can be no doubt.

Well...what saith Mr Waite? Bearing in mind that when dealing with Calvinism, he denounces believers in Limited Atonement as heretics and accursed propagators of another gospel, is it not strange that when the subject becomes the advantages of the AV that these same Calvinists have a different kind of spiritual standing? In the Dean Burgon Society in which Mr Waite is a leading light, he runs quite happily with the view of the late Dean that the [Calvinistic] translators of the AV knew the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon them. Dean Burgon wrote (as gleaned from the DBS site)

"Verily, those men understood their craft! 'There were giants in those days. As little would they submit to be bound by the new cords of the Philistines as by their green withes. Upon occasion, they could shake themselves free from either. And why? For the selfsame reason: viz. ‘Because the Spirit of their God was mightily upon them.’" [Burgon, Revision Revised, p. 196].

Evidently this cannot be. A heretic and a fit-to-be-damned propagator of another gospel can have the Spirit of the Christian God upon them in a mighty way? It just doesn't add up, does it?

Again, reference is made on the DBS site to made to the reliance of these men upon the translation work of Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor in Geneva. There is a school of thought that states that Calvin did not really believe in the doctrine of Limited Atonement and that this particular doctrine may be traced back, historically in Geneva, to Beza rather Calvin. If we run with this thinking, at least for the sake of argument, then were does this put Beza on the spiritual scale when Mr Waite wears his anti Calvinism hat? You are back to the heretic and preaching an accursed gospel. But when it comes to the pro AV issue, Beza comes up smelling of roses. The DBS site tells us:

"There are others to consider, such as Theodore Beza. Does anyone doubt the fact that Theodore Beza had a high regard for the Bible? The reason I bring this up is that the King James translators are said to have worked primarily form his 5th edition of the Received Text by Beza. If you do have any doubts about where Beza stood, I challenge you to read his book, The Christian Faith. He says this: "On the subject of the Word of God, the canonical books of the Old and New Testament…proceed from the mouth of God Himself. I use the King James Bible because it is built upon texts that were collated by people who had a high regard for the Word(s) of God."

So here we have a translation of the Bible with a very large Calvinistic impute into it, based primarily on the work of another very solid Calvinist. Beza is regarded (by Burgon and by implication the DBS society) as having a high regard for the words of God. A point with which I entirely agree...but I am left wondering how such could be true of a heretical preacher of another gospel as Mr Waite would brand him in another setting.

Mr Waite and those who think the same kind of thoughts really have to make a choice. They can't have it both ways and perhaps the time has come for them to either withdraw their rather serious allegations against Calvinists or to consistently apply the same allegations against those who so ably translated our beloved AV for us.

Just a thought in passing from a rather bemused Calvinistic lover of the AV.

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