I am reviewing KJVO apologist Jack McElroy’s book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? This will be the second entry. For background and preliminary remarks, see my first post.
What I will try to do is provide a brief summary of each chapter or chapters depending on how much I can cover in one post before becoming boring and the reader drifts off and clicks over to Facebook or somewhere. I will then back up and address specific talking points I think are important, especially important with offering a rebuttal and response.
With that in mind, let’s get started.
McElroy begins his introduction by making the claim that before 130 years ago, the Christian Church understood that the real Bible (in bold italics) was a real, genuine book. Now the Bible is believed to be just an idea. That being, the real Bible exists in the originals, but, as McElroy points out, no one has ever seen those originals and so the Bible of today never really existed.
McElroy finds that view point ridiculous. It represents a dysfunctional God who allegedly “inspires words but fails to deliver them to you.” . The Bible versions recommended these days are really a mixture of men’s words and God’s words and it’s just left up to the modern textual critic to figure out which ones are which. Thus, the so-called original Bible exists only in the imagination of the modern academics.
The author also lays out the challenge that Jesus can only use just one Bible. He can’t use them all. To do so would make Jesus look really, really foolish. Hence, there is only one Bible He could use that would save His integrity. (Can you guess which one it will be?). He then outlines his presuppositions and finishes out the introduction by providing a brief overview of the upcoming chapters and his writing strategy.
His presuppositions are :
1. There has to be a book called the Bible — A physical book.
2. The book must contain ALL of God’s words and only God’s words. It can’t be a mixture of men’s words and God’s words.
3. Most importantly, the work of providing this authentic, physical Bible is the responsibility of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He then claims that he is qualified as an author to offer his book for today’s readers because he has done all the necessary study and research to show you why his preferred Bible version is the only one Jesus could genuinely use, and hence the one all Christians should use as well.
Take for example his personal charge on page 11 in which he says that the readers of his book will be getting a unique and informed slant on the issue, not someone else’s repackaged teachings.
Is he kidding me? As I move through my reviews, I’m going to demonstrate how he rehashes pretty much every argument ever made by KJVO apologists the last 40 years. Sure. He may have organized those arguments differently, added some updated illustrations, and slapped a new cover on his book, but the challenges he levels were offered years ago by such folks as Peter Ruckman, Sam Gipp, and even Gail Riplinger.
And additionally, those challenges have also been answered. For instance, the “where can I get a copy of God’s Word” and “where are those originals” arguments I originally answered nearly 10 years ago when I did my own overview of KJVO apologetics.
McElroy must think his critical readers are dullards or something.
But seeing that his focus in his introduction is the “where are the originals” challenge let me respond just for fun.
Like all KJV Onlyists, McElroy begins with the presupposition that the King James translation is the pure Word of God. That presupposition is clearly implied within the three presuppositions he outlines in his introduction: The Word of God must be a physical book that contains all of God’s words, no mixture of the words of men, and that is protected by Jesus.
KJVO apologists believe the KJV is that book. It alone is the standard to which all other Bible translations are to be compared. That means it should never be questioned as an English translation because it is the best that needs no correction and to do so alters and corrupts God’s Word. Hence the philosophical formula, The KJV alone = the Word of God alone.
Anyone paying attention will immediately identify a major contradictory flaw with his second presupposition that states the book must not be a mixture of God’s Words and men’s words. The KJV is an English translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages. If we are talking about language to language translation, there has been a mixture of men’s words that had to be “added” in the translation process. There is no possible way to get around that dilemma. Already the KJV fails McElroy’s own stated presuppositions.
That means, then, that he has to defend the idea that in the process of Jesus providing and protecting the physical book, Jesus inspired the translation process as well so that the KJV translators would translate accurately without error. That of course creates a major problem with basic Christian orthodoxy regarding the doctrines of inspiration and preservation of Scripture. It would in essence introduce a second level of divine breathing out by God beyond the original prophets and apostles to the very translating committees of the King James that in turn resulted in the Bible they produced. It also retells history so that an alternative story line is manufactured that traces the textual genealogy of the biblical texts down to the creation of the King James.
I would imagine that if pressed, McElroy would try and wiggle out from the intellectual conundrum his presuppositions created by redefining what he means by a “mixture of men’s words.” He would probably fall back by appealing to the “Jesus directed the translators to translate what He wanted” and “The KJV translators were the greatest, godliest scholars ever” argument.”
But anyone who seriously knows how our Bible came to us realizes how problematic his presuppositions are for him. He’s stuck having to acknowledge that when the translators translated from the original biblical languages into English, they had to make man-made decisions on how phrases and words were to be rendered into the receptor language. That by default means any translation, even the KJV, has a mixture of God’s words and man’s words.
In order to further strengthen his point about what modern evangelicals supposedly believe about the “original Bible,” McElroy cites from Randall Price’s book, Searching for the Original Bible. (Available on Google Books). He quotes from Price who stated that the autographs written by the original, inspired prophet or apostle is the original Bible. He then declares how inadequate that position is because the original animal skins Moses wrote on have since disintegrated and even Jeremiah’s “original” scroll was destroyed by Jehudi (Jeremiah 36:23). See how silly Price’s original autographs theory is?
Of course, that’s a typical strawman argument that comes stalking out from the rolling fields of KJV Onlyism. McElroy selectively quotes from Price in order to make him appear muddled with his views of Scripture. It really is a dastardly thing to do on McElroy’s part and is not becoming of one who names Christ as his savior. If a person will take the time to actually go and read what the guy really stated (I mean, the book is available online, for crying out loud!), you’ll see that Price defines his position rather clearly.
McElroy conveniently leaves off Price’s further remarks about his position. After citing article 10 from the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, Price writes that the concepts of inspiration and inerrancy applies only to the autographic text of Scripture and extends to copies and translations only insofar as they faithfully represent the original [Price, 35 emphasis mine].
You will note that Price believes we have the originals with us to this day. That is the position of the Bible-believing Church. (Heck, it’s the position of the Catholics as well, but we won’t go there). Price, like all sober-minded Christians, believes the originals are contained in the faithfully preserved copies of the biblical texts and faithfully translated editions of the modern Bible.
But like all KJVO apologists, that is not good enough because “sinful men” have their hands on the process way too much. And liberals critics were involved in the process as well! Can’t have that!
Again, folks who know how our Bibles came down to us over the centuries realize that McElroy’s historical theory is not as pure and clean as he let’s on. The Bible was a handwritten document for over a thousand years before the printing press was invented. Man mixed with the biblical texts a lot. Every time they hand copied a copy, with all the bad handwriting, misspelled words, spilled ink, water stains, etc., they were mixing with the text. That is just overwhelmingly evident for anyone considering the facts of textual transmission and criticism.
Now. Does God preserve His Word? Most certainly. But is it according to a KJVO daisy chain view that involves a mythical genealogical line of flawless Xeroxed manuscript copies that resulted in just one, never to be corrected English translation frozen in the 17th century? No. But we do have the “originals” in our hands, because the real way God preserved His Word effectively kept it safe, in the hands of His redeemed people, who faithfully passed it along so that we hold in our hands God’s written revelation.
McElroy, and the host of KJVO advocates will dispute my claim, but I’ll answer their disputations as I move along.