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The following is the transcript of an email exchange from a person writing to express his concerns about an alleged Roman Catholic influence on the modern Bible versions. I’m not sure if his argument holds any credibility because he declined to discuss it, but it does raise some valid concerns. I wish he had continued the discussion so I could discern if his concerns are legitimate or simply a matter of IFB influence (the IFB are HUGE skeptics of modern versions and maintain this idea that the Roman Catholic influence has tainted them).
KJV discussion with Lee
Lee’s original message:
I just hit upon your site. I relate quite strongly to much of your story although I was raised Catholic and not IFB. I dumped the Catholic Church in my 20’s and went agnostic for many years; it seemed to be the only intellectually honest position to have. Eventually I made a decision to commit to Protestant Christianity because the basics of Christianity (albiet Catholic junk)were in me. I had arrived at a point in my life where, out of desperation, I needed spiritual help. So, I made the decision and off to a Bible store I went. What I found set the course of my study for some years.
My intent in getting a Bible was to study the Word of God; to learn all I could and trust that I was reading “THE Word of God. Well…WOW….look at all the versions!!! Which one is “the” Bible? Since that time, years ago, I have learned quite a lot about how different versions came to be and the differences thereof. The bottom line I want to offer as comment is that one main influence on translations and textual sources for the New Testament is the Roman Catholic Church. Being raised and schooled in Catholic doctrine and practice it’s pretty easy for me to see the bias that pleases Rome. I am not a “KJV only” fanatic. At the “street level” any Bible that brings a person to Jesus has great value and worth. At the “spiritual level” I do not trust the Bibles other than the KJV because I do not trust the likes of Westcott and Hort and the Catholic Church which has been an influence in all English translations beginning with the 1881 revised Version. One does not have to read Greek to see the results of 1881 and later versions and contrast them to the changing morality and desires of society and the goals of the Catholic Church. Bible version competition is complex, and has led to confusion and intellectual battles. All new versions either praise the KJV or slam the KJV. They don’t slam each other.(That’s a hmmmm). It’s obviously a war against the KJV vs the line of versions growing out of Westcott and Hort’s use of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. I have learned you have to “trust” once again after the trauma of being betrayed as a trusting young person, and let your ego give in to the spiritual.
WOW…I guess I got on a roll.
Thanks for your interest in my site and for your message. It just so happens that I’m currently in the middle of debates with two other people about the same topic. This is certainly an important issue and shouldn’t be ignored.
I’m curious to know from you, though, where did you get the ideas that “one main influence on translations and textual sources for the New Testament is the Roman Catholic Church” and “the likes of Westcott and Hort and the Catholic Church…has been an influence in all English translations beginning with the 1881 revised Version”? I’ve never heard those things before.
Also, I’m not sure I can agree with your statement “All new versions either praise the KJV or slam the KJV. They don’t slam each other.” That seems to be an extreme claim to knowledge. Where did you get that information?
I’m certainly open to obtaining new knowledge and reevaluating my position as needed, but I need something more substantial than opinion and hearsay.
Just so you know, this isn’t an issue of “ego” for me and I resent the implications. This is about fighting for truth and fighting against abusive beliefs and religious practices.
Finally, you’ve warned me about not allowing my experiences to influence me, but are you sure you aren’t doing the same thing? It seems by what you wrote that you are strangely aversive to anything that even hints of Catholicism because of your experiences. Just a thought.
Thanks again and I look forward to any other information that you can provide to verify your claims.
Lee Wrote Back:
I can’t say this another way than to be direct. It sounds to me that you would benefit from some study of Westcott and Hort and their introduction of different Greek Textual sources than those of the KJV that they were to revise. It’s an interesting study and would be quite enlightening regarding the issue of Catholic influence in textual sources for New Testament translation. Because you say you have not heard of those things before I will leave what I said to be all I will say except to offer these comments……….. I would suggest you read “An Understandable History of the Bible”, by Sam Gipp, or other books on the subject of the history of the Bible. Do you know who Origen was and what allegorical translation means?.., or the differences in the Greek textual sources used by Bible translators after 1881 (with the exception of NKJV). Do you know what the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are?..Are you intimately familiar with the Roman Catholic Church doctrines and that it has declared the doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura as anathema? Have you looked into who the members of translation committees’ are for various translations (where you will find Catholic representation participating in a Protestant Bible translation). Have you reviewed each and every change made by translators led by Westcott and Hort from the KJV to the RV of 1881? I think these things would provide something more substantial than what you may call opinion and heresay.
If I offended you, as you said you “resent the implications thereof”, I apologize. I intended no insult.I sense that you took my email as hostile to you…..I can’t help that and it was certainly not my intent. I was motivated by what I sensed as some similarity in our backgrounds which was trust being damaged from early religious influences. Yours from Baptist folks and mine from Catholic. I guess that didn’t come across well. Guess you didn’t like what I said. Sounds to me like I really hit some buttons in you.
I make no bones about how I regard the Roman Catholic Church but that does not mean I do not see and love the good things done by Catholic persons. Most Catholics don’t really know much about Roman Catholic Doctrines, Canon Law, or the Bible, any more than most Protestant Christians know about the Bible. The bible says “Spiritual things are to be discerned spiritually”. Unfortunately, as humans we try to intellectualize and quantify such things and this so often leads to “heated debates”. Such activity usually blocks the gift of the Holy Spirit from working well in us.
I wasn’t offended nor did I take your message as hostile. My writing style is very straightforward and I don’t sugar coat things. That often comes across to people as angry or defensive, but it’s just the way I communicate in writing. Trust me you aren’t the first person to write to me to try to get me to
see things differently. My buttons have been pushed many times and I’ve grown accustomed to attacks and assumptions. It no longer bothers me. I’m only interested in the truth. As I’ve said before I don’t know everything so if someone can shed new light on a particular topic that’s great! I’m more than willing to assimilate new information.
I don’t mind people writing and trying to engaging me in open dialogue or discussions. In fact I thoroughly enjoy it and I wish people would do that more often. I never claim to know it all and since I don’t have a Catholic background I am truly interested in your perspective.
Having said that… In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve done quite extensive research on this topic. You’ll find a list of some of my references at the end of my article KJV Only Deception. While I appreciate your concern for my knowledge and for pointing to more resources, you didn’t answer my question. Where did you get the ideas that “one main influence on translations and textual sources for the New Testament is the Roman Catholic Church” and
Unfortunately my concerns seem to be at least somewhat validated. After your original message I did some more research and it appears that the only people worried about a Catholic influence are the KJV only advocates. They appear to be using that as some sort of platform to advance their agenda. If they can get people to believe that all versions of the bible other than the KJV are influenced by the Catholic Church and as such somehow tainted, then of course that would be cause for concern and caution and would play right into their KJV only dogma.
My suspicions are probably accurate if you are getting your information about Bible translations from the likes of Sam Gipp and his ilk. He’s a notorious fundamentalist and his research is influenced by his extremely conservative and fundamental beliefs. I would strongly caution you about buying into anything that he says. I would hate for you to get caught up in the fundamentalist camps especially after coming out of Catholicism.
Many translation committees for bibles other than the KJV had a wide variety of different denominations and perspectives present and they did that on purpose to ensure a wide range of textual criticism. I see that as a good thing since the goal was to make sure that the translations are an accurate reflection of the original autographs. It’s critical to have such a wide range of perspectives since there is so much information and influence in the translation debate. Comparison and contrast of differences, contradictions and dissimilarities is critical in order to find out what the original manuscripts contained. This type of comparison and contrast can only be done in an atmosphere of cooperation from all perspectives – yes, including Catholicism (despite your misgivings). To me this makes the translations such as the NIV and NLT much more reliable and trustworthy since no one perspective is more influential than others.
Finally, I didn’t find anything in the Bible that states “Spiritual things are to be discerned spiritually”. Where is that in the Bible?
I think you’re referencing I Corinthians 2:13-14??? I’m not sure, but if so this passage is a contrast between believer and unbeliever. It’s not an admonition to refrain from using intellect and reason. In fact intellect and reason and logic can play a very important role in spirituality. God gave us minds to reason with and think things through so we aren’t lead astray. We are to use discernment to see if what we are being taught is truth – see 1 John 4:1, and the Bereans in Acts 17. I’d also encourage you to read D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies and my personal favorite Love Your God with all Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J. P. Moreland.
Thanks again and I’m looking forward to more dialogue if you’re so inclined.
So unfortunately due to Lee’s abrupt end to the conversation I guess we’ll never know what his thoughts really are, but I think this can serve as a good example of the dangers of following the likes of Sam Gipp and his ilk. Lee doesn’t even realize that he went from being captive by Catholicism’s legalistic salvation to the IFB’s legalistic righteousness. How unfortunate. I certainly hope that Lee might see this and re-engage in the discussion or maybe someone else could pick up where Lee left off.