May 28, 2022

Skeptics and the Bible

The title page to the 1611 first edition of th...
The title page to the 1611 first edition of the Authorized Version Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biblical skepticism is not limited to those from without, it also comes from those that name the name of Christ.  One would expect that those from without, as they attempt to justify their choice to refuse the name of Christ, would attempt to find contradictions in the Bible and in the actions of believers.  What has happened recently is that this brand of skepticism has begun to infect those of the faith as well.

Anyone who has spent any time reading the writings of atheists or debating them know that one of the common tactics of these people is to take a specific verse or passage, usually taking it out of context, and then to twist said passage claiming to build something contrary to other parts of Scripture out of it—at which point the Atheist or Agnostic pronounces victory, mental supremacy, and then moves on to taunt the “ignorant” believer because he claims to know the Bible better than the believer.

What’s happened now is that the King James Only movement has broadened its attack, and elevated itself above all of Christendom, believing that it is the only appropriate way.

The Same Tactic

I think that’s part of the reason that this tactic—visibly on display here at No Doctrines Changed? bothers me.  Part of the reason is that I consider the author a friend, and we’ve had much dialog on this topic.  But most of it concerns this attempt to attack the Bible that has brought people to Christ as being alternatively “full of error”, “the tool of the Devil” and other phrases meant to be as insulting as the Atheist that seeks to discredit all believers.

I can see the Atheist now, relishing this new in fighting by telling someone that reads the ESV or the NIV that there’s a group of Christians out there that tell them that they are wrong.

How is this movement building the body of Christ?

The Problem of Context

I’ve literally spent hours doing this, but since most of it has been in private, let me take this public post I linked to earlier and show the problems with the logic that the KJVO people use as well as the Atheists and Agnostics that perfected this tactic.

Example #1

In her first example of Matthew 5:22, the author believes that the phrase “without a cause” that is not present in modern versions implies that Jesus was a sinner because He displayed anger at certain points in time.

First, I’m no Hebrew scholar, but the Greek words in Matt 5:22 and Mark 3:5 (though the author implies that all three passages reference Jesus being angry, only the last passage actually bears the quote referenced) are different.  Mark 3:5 speaks to indignation—which is anger for something bigger than themselves.  There’s a difference, which the author is choosing to ignore to make her point.  Therefore, it’s not necessary to have the arbitrary “without a cause”—in fact, I would argue that it makes the reading of the passage worse.

Second, the passage in Matthew 5 speaks to amplification.  In context of 5:21, Jesus said “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:”.  It is in this context—someone taking another person’s life—where Jesus says, basically, “If you’re angry enough with a brother to take his life, it is as if you did it.”

Anyone who has sat in church long enough knows that this whole passage is about Christ taking parts of the 10 commandments and saying “It’s not just what you do on the outside that matters, but on the inside as well.  No one, that I’ve heard of, states that if you’re angry with sin, etc., that you’re in danger of judgment or hell fire.

But this is where the phrase makes the reading of the passage worse.  Could you make an argument that it’s ok to be angry with a brother if you have a cause?  What cause would make it right to be angry to the point of killing a brother?  Can you think of one?  I’m not talking about justice here, I’m talking about when is it right to be angry enough to kill?

Lastly, if modern translations truly teach this idea that anger is always wrong, how do we reconcile the following?

Ephesians 4:26

NKJV – “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,

NIV – “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

ESV – “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

All of the modern translations speak of it being possible to be angry and not sin.  So, where is this teaching that Jesus was a sinner?  It’s non-existent.

Example #2

In this next example, we are to consider the end of the “Lord’s Prayer”, otherwise known as the model prayer.  Specifically, Matthew’s account of the prayer containing the doxology

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

The author goes to great lengths to say why this doxology is important.  What she neglects to tell you is that the parallel passage in Luke 11:1-4 does not have the phrase—in the KJV.

So, for all of her attempts to make it super important that this phrase is included, in her own KJV Bible, with the same prayer, the author left out this phrase.  To me, that casts more doubt on the phrases authenticity (granted that Matthew would have been an eyewitness, where Luke would have been a secondary), and makes it not seem that important—or at least not as important as the KJVO people would make it to be—if the original audience reading these works would have not questioned it being in one place but not another.

The argument of this example (including the end of Mark question that’s opened) is basically not about doctrine, but whether the end of these two things “feel right”.  However, this is a poor argument—especially considering the end of Jonah, which does not tell what happens next, but leaves Jonah on a hillside without his covering.

Now, I will grant that it seems very strange to end a Gospel tract about a risen Lord without Him rising.  However, it’s not like these passages are entirely removed in most modern versions, but are left in with an explanation that they do not exist in all the texts.  Also, it is suggested that the last page could have been lost, and that the current verses do not fit the style of the rest.

While KJVO proponents believe that this somehow makes a statement that these passages are false, I contend that they leave the decision up to the reader, instead of deciding for them.

Example #3

Isaiah or multiple prophets?  In the Mark passage, Isaiah is the prophet listed, and I agree, there are two prophets prophecies that are fused together in this verse.  If you look at the parallel passages you will see that Matthew and Luke state:


Mat 11:10 – This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

Luk 7:27 – This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

Seems kinda sloppy if you’re out to attack the Deity of Christ and you can’t even be consistent with parallel passages.  It’s also hard to say that someone is “purposely lying” when they include a footnote stating “some manuscripts say ‘in the prophets.’”

And this is another problem I have with the KJVO people.  They project upon others their judgment.  Whereas we are commanded not to judge (except for fruit), these people not just state “this is what we see” but go the next step to judge the motives of the translators.  This is where, I believe, they cross the line.

Example #4

Here we have another example of leaving out context to attempt to make a point.  Let’s look at 1 Timothy 3:14-16 in the NIV:

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.  Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

Ok, class, in the third line from the bottom we have the personal pronoun “He.”  To whom is this pronoun referring?  If you answered “Paul”, you’re wrong.

And just in case you wondered, the NIV provides this helpful footnote: “Some manuscripts God”.

Does anyone really question who the Bible is referring to here?  Is anyone but Christ in focus?

And yet, this is what constitutes an attack on the Deity of Christ.  Do I need to go into the countless verses in the NIV that state that Jesus was God?  Shall we go through the book of John, how many times Jesus states it?

Does anyone read only one verse here and there in the Bible and base their entire opinion of God off of one isolated verse?  Because that’s what these kinds of attacks imply.

Example #5

In this example, the author states that the only reference in the NT to Christ’s omnipresence is in John 3:13.  However, this is not true.

Matthew 28:19-20 states at the end “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV).  So, how is Jesus to be with His disciples, and in Heaven at the same time if He’s not omnipresent?  Isn’t that the point of John 3:13 in the KJV—that Jesus is on Earth and in Heaven at the same time?

Jesus’ human nature, which is in view in John 3:13 as He states that no human man has ascended to Heaven, is not omnipresent, but His divine nature is.

This is a good article on the topic, and why the verse is complex to translate (pdf), but what is instructive is what we read early on:

John 3:13 could constitute a strong argument in support of the doctrine of Christ’s omnipresence, but it depends on what is done with the text. If the Greek text which underlies the NASB is accepted, then John 3:13 does not contribute to the theological discussion. However, if the Greek text which underlies the ASV of this verse is the original text, then John 3:13 is a potent verse supporting the theological doctrine of the omnipresence of Christ.  [emphasis mine]

You see, the argument in example 5 is an argument from silence.  Basically, the author is saying that because the phrase is absent, the modern translations are erasing His deity.  But what is really the case is that without the phrase the modern translations are silent—not saying that He is omnipresent in this text, but not saying that He is not.

There’s no removal of doctrine, no contradiction.  Just silence.

Example #6

I’m not sure what doctrine here is in question, and here you see the problem with this tactic of verse study.  It devolves quickly into “here’s all the differences I can find.”

I mean, seriously, are we down to discussing whether “study” or “be diligent” or “Do your best” is a better reading?  Is the author really wanting to make the argument that it’s ok not to be diligent or do your best as long as you study?

Example #7

Here’s another example of being selective.  The author states that she realizes the context deflates most of her argument—and if you actually read it you see the point is not “trust in riches”, but there’s a two-fold repetition about how hard it is for those that have money (and by implication, trust in money) to make it into the kingdom of God.

And take the greater context, it’s the story of the Rich Young Ruler.  The Young man was told to give all he had to the poor—did he?  No, because he had much money.  The response: It’s hard for rich people to make it into Heaven.

And again, this is yet another case of selective quoting.  The parallel passage to Mark 10:24 is in Luke 18 and Matthew 19.  Let’s read, in the KJV, the appropriate verses, shall we?

Luke 18:24-25 – And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:23-24 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

What we see is that this “crucial” verse is not even present in the other accounts.  In fact, if you read these two passages you get the impression that what she argues is not the case is actually the case.  In fact, it makes the Mark passage look suspect—like why is this emphasis added when it’s not the emphasis of the parallel passages.

Again, what doctrine is in view here that’s wrong, and why is it not wrong when the KJV leaves out this concept, but when modern translations put this idea in foot notes, it’s an attack on God Himself?  Oh, right, I forgot to mention, these phrases aren’t gone, they’re listed in footnotes.  Really great way to attack someone when you leave alternate readings in the margins.

Do you remember a fundamental Bible doctrine on money?  Neither do I.  When it comes to sin, it’s clearly the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

What money was present in the Garden of Eden?

The argument for this falls down as well, as the author goes on to list “all different kinds of evil” that spring from money, but does not present a case to prove “all evil” comes from money.

And again, what doctrine are we talking about here?

Example #8

I guess the reason the author doesn’t spend time expounding on this one is because it’s not really a problem—because Jesus states that He’s quoting Scripture.

In this case, Deut 8:3.  I quote here from the ESV: “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

If the last part of the verse in Luke 4:4 and Matthew 4:4 is an attack to eliminate the authority of the Bible, why include it in the referenced passage?

As for Rev. 22:18-20, Deut 4:2 and Prov 30:5, I’d like to see where God confuses a book of the Bible, which would have stood alone, with “The Bible” or specifically, “The KJV” or “The Textus Receptus.”  Though I believe that God’s Word is preserved, the doctrine of preservation, I don’t believe that any English version is perfect, nor do I believe that this passage in Luke 4:4 goes against the doctrine of preservation.

At best, we have another argument from silence, at worst we just have another smear campaign.

Example #9

Here we have the first verse that I believe actually addresses a fundamental Bible doctrine.  Except we have, yet another, argument from silence.  In order to prove that modern versions downplay the blood of Christ, or teach a “bloodless Gospel”, it’ll take more than “through his blood” to be missing from Colossians 1:14.

So let’s look:  (ESV)

Eph 2:13 – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Hbr 9:14 – how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

1Pe 1:19 – but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1Pe 1:2 – according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Rev 1:5 – and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

Hbr 10:19 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,

1Jo 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Jhn 6:53 – So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

Hbr 12:24 – and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hbr 13:20 – Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,

Tell me.  Does the ESV teach a bloodless Gospel?

Example #10

I’m not going to get into the fact that the JW’s considered the KJV their Bible of choice, even when the NIV, NASB, etc. were around and what that means.  I’ll leave that there, for now.

Tell me, what’s the difference between “the only begotten Son” and “the only begotten God”?  Was the Son not God?

As for the NIV, this is one of the areas that I don’t like the NIV rendering.  I don’t like John 3:16 in NIV, and I don’t particularly care for this one either.  However, what’s the doctrinal problem here?  Tell me how you don’t get two Gods from the KJV.


So, I hope this was helpful.  I’ve taken great time to show you how these things work.  These verses are ripped from context.  If I had the time, I could provide illustrations of people doing the same thing to the KJV.

Instead of spending so much time and effort trying to divide the children of God, now should be the time of uniting those that agree on doctrine.

Consider the admonitions of the Word of God:

Rom 16:17 – Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Tts 3:9 – But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

The idea I get from these two passages of Scripture is this—division in the body of Christ is unfruitful if not for heresy.  I have yet to see someone persuasively state that a modern translation (and here I specifically mean NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV) has taught another gospel than the one that is taught in the KJV.

I also have seen many in the KJVO movement (though not the author of the article discussed here) state unequivocally that if one does not believe that KJV to be God’s Word alone, they are not saved—because they are “blinded to the truth.”

To me, this is a false Gospel.

Therefore, the KJVO movement, in its leadership, is preaching a lie.  It’s not to say that those that believe the KJV is the best translation are bad, wrong, or apostates.  I speak to the movement, not the individual.  I will not go as far as they, and call it a work of Satan; however, it does preach a different Gospel, it does divide the body of Christ and cause many to question their faith, or put their faith in a Book rather than the God of the Book.

I have no problem, as I have said before, with those that like and prefer and think the KJV of better scholarship.  The line is drawn when it becomes “the only” and you start to judge your brother based on whether you agree.

May it not be so.

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2 thoughts on “Skeptics and the Bible

  1. You know, Min, within my own eclectic circle of “real life” local friends, all claiming Christianity, I’ve seen personally how the modern Bible versions have laid waste to their lives, causing unnecessary confusion, doubt, and apostacy. One friend is a “Bible corrector”—“this version correctly translates thus and such, but mistranslates this, this and this…” Another friend believes that they can prove Biblically that there is no hell, that there is only heaven or the grave. Yet another, believes that since all modern Bibles come from the Catholics, that the Catholic church must be the “final authority” rather than God’s word, and so this friend is converting to Catholicism after a lifetime of non-denominational, Bible-influenced faith.

    When we as a family began seeing, over a period of two years, during our evening Bible reading that our four different Bible versions held contradictory readings, additions and deletions that didn’t appear to make sense, we decided to start digging for the truth. We first approached our pastor, who to his credit, had never encountered deep questioning on the subject of Bible versions. I had way too many questions, that required more than “pat” answers, and he didn’t have nearly enough time. I don’t fault him for that. I ended up finding out through these question and answer sessions that many pastors don’t believe that we can hold the pure, infallible, inerrant word of God in our hands today. That it only existed in the original autographs. That just didn’t wash with me. Especially in the context of 2 Tim.3:15-16. Surely a God who *spoke* the world into existence (Psalm 33:6), who patented a complex DNA code into each individual He created, who knows the number of hairs on everyone’s head can perfectly preserve His inspired words, providing a final and lasting authority that is assuredly without error, and that fulfills the qualifications of Hebrews 4:12, and that can never be broken according to John 10:35. What is a mere translation got to inhibit the power of Almighty God to preserve the words He inspired in the first place? That is God’s truth on what led our family on a quest that ended at the KJV, a final authority we can confidently stand upon, based on historical transmissions straight from Antioch, manuscripts that agree with each other 99%, bearing God’s stamp of approval.

    Matt. 7:16-17, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” The KJV Bible has stood the test of time for 400 years, and has born immense fruit for God’s kingdom. By contrast, look where America is today, with over 200 different English Bible translations in the past 100 years. I know you feel that this issue is divisive…the truth *is* divisive–Jesus himself is divisive (Matt. 10:34-35, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”).

    Too many Christians today are without a final authority. I, myself, looking back, was a “Bible agnostic” who would readily claim the “reliability” of the Bible—which now to me sounds like such an anemic, unscriptural denial of what God himself says about His words. Three times in the NT, He says “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35, etc) He elevates his word above his creation! He magnifies his words above his own name (Psalm 138:2).

    I could take on your examples here and go deeper, and I may do that on my website eventually, but the issue here is that these days, there is more ignorance and lack of understanding scripture, more liberals and humanists, more conceit and less spiritual power. Paul warned saved people, time and time again, about people who were used by Satan (2 Cor. 11) pretending to be sheep (Acts 20), while lying like a dog (Titus 1:12), deceiving Christians with politeness (Romans 16:18) and corrupting the word of God (2 Cor. 2:17). I’ve seen too many friends cast aside pure doctrine for the chaff that the wind has blown in their direction. Satan has a bolt for every nut. 90% of all teens raised in the church will turn their backs on God when they graduate high school. The ecumenical movement is drawing many seekers into the Catholic church, because people want an authority they can feel they can stand on and they are not getting it in church from pastors who constantly “correct” the Bible. Protestant preachers are becoming Catholics in droves, and training Catholics on how to reach non-Catholic Christians for the Lord. We live in dangerous times…people are trying to figure out which “version” of Christianity is to their “preference”, rather than just seeking what God says in his Holy Bible.

    The KJV is not a “magic bullet”. To the casual seeker with no awe of His word, it is just another dead history book with some good rules to live by. Unsaved men have a hatred for absolute truth, and they avoid holiness and sinlessness and have an anti-Christian bias against God’s authority. Some Bible scholars get hung up in their own wisdom and leave God out of the Bible preservation process. When we challenge portions of God’s word as “doctrinally suspect” we are challenging the author of the Bible! Yet the handful of corrupt manuscripts underlying the new versions
    are in many places changed and contradictory to the majority of manuscripts that underly the KJV. God rewards those that diligently seek Him, with humble hearts and thick skins who want the truth no matter the cost. Simple faith is all that is required…”The entrance of thy words giveth light and understanding to the simple…” Psalm 119:130.

    The KJV exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. The true scriptures should testify of Jesus Christ (John 5:39). There is no other book ever written which exalts Christ higher than the King James Bible. In numerous places the modern Bible versions attack the Deity of Christ, the Blood Atonement, the Resurrection, salvation by grace through faith, and the Second Coming.

    Isaiah 55:12 says that God’s word will not return void. Obviously, God’s words can be found in new Bible versions, and the Holy Spirit can protect us from any errors contained therein. But do you want a dull sword for the coming battle, or the sharpest one out there? I believe the KJV is the only Bible that can silence the enemy every time, and that it is the only one that contains God’s blessing and power in the believer’s life. I am SO glad to have discovered the truth of the KJV, because it has transformed MY life, MY children’s lives, and MY husband’s. The fruit of His word in our lives the past few months is undeniable. To God be the glory…I just want to share it with the world, and it breaks my heart to see so many Christians floundering without a Bible they can stand on.

  2. P.S. I reread my post and see that you must have a plug-in that links each verse to the ESV Bible. Wow. I wish I’d written each reference out in the KJV…for easy comparison as to the differences.

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