Today I embark on a new adventure.
I plan to do a chapter by chapter review of the KJVO book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? The Bible Version Controversy Explained and Resolved, by one Jack McElroy.
Now I can already hear some long time readers saying, with eyes rolled to the ceiling, “Really? Why? Haven’t you beat this subject to death? Come’on. There’s all sorts of important discerning that needs to be going on out there. What about the gay fake Christians and their fawning allies trying to subvert the Church!?”
Yes. I understand that I have written a lot on this topic; but allow me to lay out my reasons.
First, my readership are for the most part, solid, right-thinking believers. They are not easily persuaded by bad teaching. However, there are a number of individuals who are pliable. They don’t attend solid churches nor do they particularly know where to find good material refuting such nonsense. I want to offer them a service.
Secondly, the KJVO issue is, sadly, not going away. It may be slowly waning in some respects as the older generation of KJVO apologists die off, but there is a newer generation that utilizes the internet and social media to keep their apologetics alive. Someone needs to provide them with a rebuttal.
And third, since I began blogging in 2005, I have received a steady stream of complaints, comments, and pronouncements of cursing against me from two radically opposite individuals: atheists and KJVO apologists. It is clear, at least in my mind, that this topic is still strong among a number of Christians. Those who have never been challenged need to be so. Those who watch their Sunday school classes and adult fellowship groups get split asunder by a small number of rabid KJV onlyists need to have a place where they can find responses to those challenges. That is what I hope to accomplish with these reviews.
I am not entirely sure how long the series will last. There are 21 chapters in the book, so potentially I could write up 21 posts. I hope to combine a few chapters into one post, but I will see.
So with that in mind, let me set forth on my journey.
How exactly did I come about finding this particular KJVO book to review? Excellent question!
It started back in December of 2013. I was interviewed on a podcast called Theology Matters hosted by Devin Pellew on the subject of KJV Onlyism. I made a post highlighting the interview and in the comment section, a fellow named David took me to task for that interview claiming I was misinformed and sloppy with my facts. He insisted I needed to read some newer, better material than what I had previously read when I was a practicing KJVO apologist.
He recommended two books. The first by a guy named Joey Faust who pastors a church in Venus, Texas, called Kingdom Baptist. I did a search and noticed that he seems to be a Steven Anderson
clown clone. (Though it appears he and Anderson are feuding Fundamentalists). He protests stuff in the Dallas-Forth Worth area and back in 2012 he got himself and a church member jailed for a day for disobeying police orders during a gay pride parade by crossing a barricade. He wrote a book entitled, The Word: God Will Keep It. The second book was the one under consideration, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? by Jack McElroy.
At the time, I didn’t know either men, nor had I heard of their books. David, my KJVO comment challenger, insisted they represented the latest and greatest research in KJVO apologetics. I expressed incredulity, because I personally do not believe anyone could bring anything new to the KJVO perspective. My detractor insisted otherwise. He contacted me via email and told me that if I were interested, he would purchase the books and send them to me as a gift. I said sure.
There was no follow up, so a year and half went by and I had all but forgotten about the books. Then, out of the blue a few weeks ago, my detractor contacted me again and offered to send them to me. And again I said certainly I’d receive them and told him I would even review them for my blog. I sent out my mailing address and got them the next week or so. And here we are.
I scanned through them, and my initial, honest evaluation is that McElroy’s book seemed to be — how can I put it — more “scholarly” than Faust’s. Just at first glance, for example, note the covers,
The cover of Faust’s book looks like it was created on his computer by Microsoft Paint. It has the classic KJVO clip art. Notice on one side the little snake coiled up on the modern Bible versions, fangs ready to pierce the hand of any unwitting fool who stupidly picks one up to read it. On the right side are bones piled up among the modern versions.
McElroy’s, on the other hand, looks a bit more professional. Like maybe he paid someone with skills to produce it. Now certainly we don’t want to fall victim to the idea that you “can’t judge a book by its cover,” but sometimes the covers do alert a reader to the quality of material found within it’s pages.
With that bit of background, let me move to the book itself.
According to his bio page , Jack McElroy was raised Roman Catholic. He became a Christian in 1978. He graduated with a B.S. in industrial management from Lowell Technological Institute and became a serial entrepreneur. He has been the president of McElroy Electronics Corporation for 35 years.
In addition to writing on KJV onlyism, he also wrote a book on losing one’s fear of dying and another on the soul winning techniques from Adoniram Judson. McElroy Publishing, which I take to be his personal publishing house, has a series of books on how to be the best Christian camp counselor ever.
Now. I am sure Mr. McElroy is a great guy and a fine, upstanding Christian man. However, given his background in electronics and industrial management, along with publishing how-to books on being camp counselors, does he have the theological chops as it were to lecture us about why my NASB is corrupted and Jesus would only use the King James?
Looking over his bibliography, he lists 11 pages of sources he used in his research [311-322]. His list is impressive, but does he cite from those sources accurately and in context? Does he treat the authors with whom he disagrees fairly with his assessments? I am also wondering why he lists two blog articles from Will Kinney, who is a hack when it comes the Bible version issue. Knowing that he is a KJV onlyists like the author, citing one of the more notorious internet trolls as a reliable source doesn’t shine favorably upon his ability to separate the chaff from the wheat regarding the Bible version issue. I guess we will see as we move along in our reviews.
Okay. So what’s the big deal about the forward? I mean honestly, who reviews the forward to any book? In this instance, the forward, at least I believe, sets the tone for the quality of research that possibly awaits us in the actual book, and so I feel a need to touch upon it.
The forward [v-vii] is written by William P. Grady, pastor of Macedonia Baptist church in Swartz Creek, MI. He published his own KJVO book back in 1993 called Final Authority that has a picture of a judge hammering down a gavel with certainty.
Grady’s biography page follows immediately after the forward. It lists 3 other books he wrote. One large one on American history from his unique (myopic may be a better word) perspective as a KJV onlyist.
His bio further boasts that his books have held consistent, 5 star ratings on Barnes and Noble’s website, but that is because each one has two or three anonymous reviews, all of them submitted by what appears to be gushing fans. Amazon, on the other hand, has many more “positive” reviewers, but there are a few 1-star that bring his overall rating to 4-stars or 3 1/2 stars. But that is neither here nor there I suppose.
Grady begins the forward by recounting his personal journey into KJVO apologetics and all of the horrible translations he has come across over the years like the Living Bible, the Ebonics Version, and the recent Gay Bible. But seriously? Does Grady really believe those are influential Bible versions among solid, Bible-believing Christians? Especially the Ebonics version or the Gay Bible?
He then expresses his appreciation for the publication of Mr. McElroy’s book as Satan’s assaults against Scripture has only intensified since his own book came out in 93. He claims that Mr. McElroy offers “fresh information” and “combined with the author’s lack of traditional ‘seminary credentials'” makes his book a must read.
I have to stop and offer comment upon Grady’s disparaging of “traditional seminary credentials.” Even when I was a KJVO apologist, I’ve never really gotten why the typical KJVO independent fundamentalist Baptists are so alarmist against Christians attending college or seminary. They allege soul damning compromise with “worldly-wisdom” when a Christian attends a seminary, but I never really saw that at all. My thought was if a guy was anchored in his convictions, no amount of worldly scholarship is going to change him, but will only serve to shore up his beliefs and provide him with ammo defending his position.
At any rate, I see a fit of hypocrisy on the part of practically every big name KJVO author who has “Dr.” before his name and proudly lists out all of his degrees earned. Grady does the exact same thing. It’s pathetically laughable. Turning McElroy’s book over to the back cover, you will see listed a group of men singing their praises of his work. The second one is Dr. William P. Grady, B.S., M.Ed., Th.M., Ph.D, D.D. Five degrees! I kid you not.
Grady then comments on the thesis McElroy presents in his book, “Which Bible would Jesus use?” and explains how as the author works through his evidence, each modern version is discredited as a Bible Jesus would use. Grady then provides a couple of convoluted examples that illustrate the thesis.
First, he points out Luke 2:33 which reads in the King James as, And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. He then warns how every modern Bible removes the proper name “Joseph” at Luke 2:33 and insert the blasphemous reading “his father” so that the passage reads, And his father and mother marveled at those things… See the problem? The implications, states Grady, is that the virgin birth and Christ’s deity are now in question because modern versions proclaim that Joseph was Jesus’ father, not God the father.
Of course, if you were to link over to bibles-online.net, something Grady or McElroy must have failed to do, a person can search many of the pre-KJV 1611 translations. Wycliffe’s NT, Tyndale’s NT, Matthew’s Bible, the 1535 Coverdale’s Bible, and the Great Bible of 1541, all read at Luke 2:33, his father and mother marveled… Uh oh. What exactly does that say in regards to Grady’s condemnation of modern versions? Did those men like William Tyndale and John Rogers intentionally lie when they translated their work as his father and mother… in the same way Grady insists modern Bible translators lied?
A second example is really odd. Grady points to Jeremiah 10:5 and writes,
“… any doubt concerning “which Bible Jesus would use” can be settled by the litmus test of Jeremiah 10:5. Whereas the KJV reads, They are upright as the palm tree…, the 2011 NIV substitutes, “like a scarecrow in a cucumber field…” (see similar readings in the RSV, NRSV, NASB, ESV, and HCSB).”
I am not entirely sure what Grady is getting at with that example. It’s as if he is entirely devoid of what Jeremiah 10 is about. That chapter is addressing the foolishness of idolatry. The prophet is mocking the concept of idols and the idol makers. The idol makers decorate their idols, but in reality, they aren’t really living gods, but or more like a scarecrow in a cucumber field that while it looks like a man, in reality is just a dummy on pole. The word Grady insists should be palm tree can certainly mean scarecrow because the context of Jeremiah 10 is on dressing up dead idols to appear like living gods when in point of fact they are nothing of the sort. Grady’s criticism is way out in left field.
If Grady’s sophomoric forward is any indication as to the nature of the rest of the book, I’m a bit concerned here at the outset. However, I am dedicated to muscling my way through it. Hopefully it will be a fruitful endeavor for both myself and the readers both now and in the future.