A Foundation for Deception
Michael L. Ford, Th.D.
1. The Dilemma
What we believe is based on what we know or believe we know to be true. People find to expand knowledge they must place some trust in those who instruct them. The problem is our conditioning predisposes us to trust certain people to be broadly knowledgeable in areas about which they speak. We trust teachers in school to be authorities on the subjects they teach. We trust lawyers to be very learned when they speak about the law. We trust Sunday School teachers and pastors to be giving us correct information about the Word of God. The list of areas where we normally suspend our own intellectual investigations, adopting others’ claims as our own truth could be greatly expanded from this small sample. You see, we do often accept things as true simply because they are presented in the right context to be accepted, whether they are true or not. In this paper, my concern is with the what, the why, and the how of ways we come to accept some of our beliefs about the Bible.
Among people who hold to the King James Bible as the infallible word of God are some who are very unkind in the comments they make about those of differing opinion. This paper will explain why I do not find it in my heart to be as condemning of those who utilize different versions. For this essay holds the confession of my own journey into being deluded by misleading teaching. In this way I hope some of the what, why, and how people come to wrong beliefs will be revealed. I trust it will be both plain enough to be understood and kind enough so that others who have come to error and remain will be awakened to the truth.
It was through accepting the words of those I esteemed that I was caught in one of the traps laid to snare the unwary. I fell into the error of accepting wrongful methods of Bible translation. The reason I was willing to believe what I was told is very simple. It was presented by people I had been taught to respect as the very best of modern missionary translators in the world today. I am referring to the Wycliffe Bible translators.
Their presentation, designed to excite us, claimed they had discovered a wonderful way of communicating what the Bible said to uneducated people in places like the rain forests of South America. The problem in Bible translation, they explained, was that after the translators had figured out a language, often inventing a written form for it, a new problem arose. How could they communicate to ignorant savages what the Bible was saying when it referred to things they knew nothing about?
The solution Wycliffe had come up with was to take things that native peoples were familiar with and use them to replace things they were unfamiliar with in the Bible. For instance, since a South American native would not know what a lion was or what his roar sounded like, the solution would be to change Scripture referring to the roar of a lion and make it the cough of a jackal or some noise like the sound of the lion. Just as long as it made a similar sound. This all sounded very plausible and resourceful when they told it. But one of the first questions in my mind was what about the character of the beasts? To the lion mankind commonly ascribes a certain nobility, but the jackal is thought of as being devious and wicked. Would the character of the beast or the feelings it invoked in the reader not be important to the translation?
Even at the beginning I had reservations, but my questions were suspended. The high esteem in which these missionary people were held made such questioning by somebody of no reputation like me seem just a bit uncouth and churlish. To me being part of the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service or some such group would be the absolute pinnacle to which my life could aspire. My church supported them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be part of a great missionary team taking the Gospel into remote areas? It may not be obvious, but this has been precisely the model for others to be deceived concerning the Scriptures as well. Because of who and what we esteem, we suspend our own judgement concerning important points about how the word of God is being translated.
Later, even as I continued to speak of the work of the Wycliffe people in a positive light, other nagging doubts would continue to assert themselves. What was going to happen as the native peoples achieved an education and learned about the world outside? Would they in time be willing to give up their, now old and familiar, error filled native version for a genuine and accurate copy of the word of God? I suspected they would not. And then, what errors of doctrine would we see developing out of the translators honest attempts to communicate? What assumptions that could not be foreseen would be made out of a seemingly small insertion? Would the native think the Bible to be endorsing the character ascribed to the jackal? These ideas periodically returned to trouble me as the years rolled by.
Another problem that I cared even less to face also confronted me. What about the Scripture admonition concerning not adding to or subtracting from the word? I knew very well that many hold that the Revelation passage (22:19) does not apply to the rest of the word of God, but that opinion creates a problem for them. What about similar warnings in other parts of God’s word? No, I am very careful in preaching or teaching that I do not even by my mouth utter anything I do not believe to be completely true to the Scripture. Personally, I would be fearful of taking part in any undertaking that in effect added to or subtracted from the word of God.
Whether these questions ultimately discouraged me from pursuing this avenue of Christian service I cannot say. But I never got beyond the point of finding out how to make application for missionary service. What do I now believe about the day I saw that presentation on this great new way to communicate the Gospel to savage men? What do I now think of the years of uneasiness over what I had seen? The answer is I feel God was preparing me for ultimately taking some firm stands concerning His word. I had believed that God’s word was inerrant and infallible even on the day I saw their slides and heard the Wycliffe missionary’s words. But my belief in inerrancy had not kept me from accepting as true that these people were doing a good thing. Yes, I had misgivings, but my uncertainty had not kept me from believing they were doing right. I had suspended my own intellect, perhaps even failed to listen to the warnings of the Spirit. Why? Because I had been taught these Bible translators were not only the very best, but also of surpassing dedication to the Lord.
After all these years, I still believe the people who have left the comfort of the civilized world for the life of sacrifice are wonderful and sincere people. Many have proven their dedication to our Lord with the sacrifice of their lives. What I no longer believe is that a person, simply because of their position or zeal for the Lord is immune from error. Why shouldn’t Satan attempt to delude by diluting the word from the very outset? Did he not do that in the Garden of Eden when he tempted Eve?
It was not until recent years that I learned the form of error that had deluded and caused so much discomfort for me had a name. It is called “Dynamic Equivalence.” Dynamic Equivalence has been around a long time. Dr. D. A. Waite argues that Dynamic Equivalence was present in the Garden of Eden, because Satan, in order to tempt Eve, made a loose paraphrase of what God actually said. In the end Satan both subtracted from and added to God’s word. That activity of subtracting and adding had caused me a great deal of discomfort when I had considered what the Wycliffe missionaries were doing.
2. The Desire for God’s Truth
The Bible that I had been reared with and still use for my own study was not based on Dynamic Equivalence. It had been based on principles of “Verbal Equivalence and Formal Equivalence.” The words of the Greek and Hebrew text had been rendered as closely as possible into English. I want as much accuracy in my Bible as possible so that I can correctly apply God’s word to my life. Don’t you? Should we want anything less for our brothers and sisters in Christ? Whether a new convert began their walk with the Lord Jesus, as an uncivilized native in loin cloth or less, or as a cultured pagan in a three piece suit, should they be denied the unvarnished word of God?
One of the prayers regularly uttered when the Lord began to work in my life consisted of two parts:
(1) That the Lord would give me a sincere desire to know His word and seek His face.
(2) That the Lord would protect me from the errors of false teaching.
Since the early days of my Christian development, I have observed that the Lord has wonderfully answered those prayers in good measure. For instance, I have bought books that appealed, not knowing they contained error filled teaching. These books have been lost, mislaid, or I have been distracted from them until such a time came that I could read them with understanding. I look at this history of protection as God moving to first fill me with the correct understanding of His word. It was His divine care for me at work..
One troubling aspect of this retrospective look did concern me for quite some time. That was the question of why the Lord had seemingly not protected me from being exposed to the error of Dynamic Equivalence philosophy when I was without genuine understanding of the issues? This concern came to a point of serious questioning of God when I learned that the modern history of the Dynamic Equivalence philosophy began with a man by the name of Eugene Nida, who was directly connected with the Wycliffe Bible Translators, the very place from which my early exposure to this error came. Why would God allow me to be affected by this in the light of my prayer?
Here I was, but for the grace of God profoundly enmeshed into the modern translations as are so many very fine people. I had been right up to the precipice of being not only utterly deceived, but perhaps also a participant in spreading error to those who had never before heard the name of Christ. Truly I could say in this matter; “There but for the grace of God go I!” Do you wonder this question was the subject of inquiry before the throne of God?
Gradually I came to realize that God has indeed preserved me from falling headlong into the trap in many ways. For instance, one of the men I truly love for his dedication and zeal for our Lord is Dr. Ironside. No one could argue that his landmark book called, “In the Heavenlies” is not or should not be the text against which all books on Ephesians are compared. Very few are capable of commenting on those Scripture without referring to him. Yet he had endorsed the Revised Standard Version.
Another man I have greatly appreciated in my life, and a man who has encouraged me in my Christian walk, is Dr. Criswell. I once wrote him about a statement he made in one of his books, and his reply was so gracious and encouraging I immediately became a fan. He wrote a wonderful book about why he preaches the Bible is literally true, but then he endorsed the New King James Version.
Next in position was Dr. John R. Rice. He had made so many statements on the truth of God’s word over the years. He had stood against the error and compromise of so many for so long that I could not help appreciating him. Several of the things he has written have been very beneficial to me. I will confess that when I met him we did not become fast friends, but I am more interested in performance than personality anyway. Dr. Rice wrote an important book still used in my seminary alma mater. It is called, “Our God-Breathed Book- The Bible.” Unfortunately, some of the statements made within the text were not in keeping with its title. I have said upon occasion that I believe Dr. Rice may not have actually wrote the book. I suspect some ghost writer was not checked closely.
And of course, there is one man with few detractors, who has befriended both kings and presidents. He has been called the greatest evangelist preacher who ever lived. I have had close acquaintance with his benevolences, and am confident his entire life is focused on proclaiming the Gospel. Yet he has endorsed the terrible New Century Version. I refer of course to Billy Graham.
In spite of the influences of notable men, I had never bought into a new Bible translation in the English language. After some time I came to realize that this was nothing more than my Lord’s preservation and His answer to my specific prayer. As a result I pray this same prayer for every new convert within my church and for everyone I get to present Christ to, who receives Him. I believe this type of prayer is consistent with the model prayer our Lord gave us.
I repent that I was ever willing to countenance any compromise of God’s word in other languages. Time has shown me the wisdom of introducing new words into a language, by transposing words from other tongues into English, as the King James Bible translators did. Our King James Bible translators understood some original words, such as names, and expressions need to be retained. This is much more to be preferred over compromising the word of God. The word of God is readable, but not easily understood by all men. It was not intended to be. We have claimed the Bible to be a spiritual book requiring spiritual discernment. We cannot expect the worldly to understand the Bible. Does not commands to search the Scripture carry within them the idea of study? Anyone who is unwilling to do that shall always fail in understanding no matter what you do to help them.
I have no doubt that Drs. Ironside, Criswell, and Rice held at the very center of their hearts a desire to deliver unto me the true word of God and help me to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But they could also have delivered to me their own error, were it not for God’s answer to my prayer. This fact is important to other observations.
The conclusion arrived at from my own experience is that people we respect can seriously effect why we come to believe as we do. Not only that, people effect what we believe. Take the seminary student who is striving for mastery of the original tongues of the Bible as an example. His professors teach him to read a bit of Greek fairly well. He can finally struggle through Hebrew with some effort. By this time in his education he has a Master’s degree in languages, but he is scarcely qualified to be a Bible translator, or to make more serious determinations about textual histories. We can easily see this when we compare how much knowledge he has in language with those who gave us our Authorized Version. To our example student’s credit, his concern is only to have the Bible dwell first in him richly and then to convey those holy words of life to others.
But suppose our example, while being taught the language, was also taught the KJV source texts are inferior to others. Should he not believe it? After all, they did teach him to read the words. Should he not accept what they told him about which words were best? One belief might with seemingly good reason follow the other, but it is really flawed logic at work. The preference of text presented by the professor can flow from his own training or prejudice and not from fact. The student stands a good chance of being deceived unless he is wise enough to determine a man is able to teach a tongue yet not be able to discern which text is best.
3. The Problem of Appeals
Quite some time has passed since I wrote to the World Prophetic Ministry to express my concern over their promotion of a New King James Version Christian Life Bible. My particular concern was that after so many years of very fine work in the field of prophecy, they would start on the road to compromise through the introduction of spurious translations.
The story of how, when the NKJV was first being promoted, I received a letter asking me to endorse it was relayed to World Prophetic Ministry at that time. I share it now with you as a clear example of how men are enticed by flatteries:
At the time I was pastor of a small church in a village in Germany. When the letter asking me to endorse the New King James Version came it proclaimed that they badly needed my support. My first thought was, “Why should anybody care to get an endorsement from someone who is a nobody?” I had seen these so-called translations come out with recommendations by big name folks. Why should anybody care what I thought?
Contained within the letter seeking my endorsement was about four pages of proof texts and their repeated assurances that this version was true to the King James. Only some hard parts and some confusing thee and thou words had been cleaned up, they said. Something about the whole deal just did not add up for me. I wrote them back saying I hoped what they were saying about the new Bible was true, but I could not endorse it based on the small amount of information that I had. Some months later I received an advertisement promoting the New King James. The major promotional point was how many thousands of pastors from around the world had endorsed it. Now I knew what they had been up to when they had originally written me.
Well, I wonder if those pastors who did endorse it had done so based on no more information than I had received? Then they should be ashamed of themselves! When I was finally able to obtain a copy of the NKJV, do you know what I found out? The people had lied about what they had done to the text! They had produced a book that, under the guise of being true to the original Authorized Version, had actually deviated from the word over two thousand times.
One of the things I mentioned to World Prophetic Ministry was if they adopted the New King James Version as the text from which they taught Bible Prophecy, they would either have to change their prophecy teaching, or spend time on the air publicly correcting the text. I would not want to use a bible like that when I had a Bible that was reliable. Why would I want to promote one?
To their credit, they replied most courteously to my letter saying my comments had caused them more concern than most. The gist of what they had to say was that Dr. Porter Barrington, who had produced the study guide in the Christian Life Bible, was an old friend. They were carrying and promoting a bad translation for the sake of a friendship. From what I have seen and know of that ministry and Dr. Breese, it is necessary to comment that I do not believe that they have stopped to think the implications of their position all the way through.
Over and over it seems to occur that one of the ways people are ensnared is their egos are appealed to. How many men said they were for the NKJV because they were beguiled by the flattery that their endorsement was indispensable? If the people who produced the New King James had ran such a scam on pastors across the world, do you suppose they had gotten the idea from previous bible producers who had ran similar scams on prominent churchmen? How many of them have also compromised their good reputations, built over many years, for a mess of pottage? And how foolish we are to simply accept that something, so important to the issues of eternity, is good just because someone we appreciate and admire says so.
The sorrow in the voice of Dr. Frank Logsdon when he said, “I am afraid I am in trouble with God…” lingers with me. Dr. Logsdon wrote an introduction to the original NASV. He spent the last part of his life publicly repenting over and over his association with that translation. He was like a Christian form of Macbeth. Dr. Logsdon seemed to feel he could never quite wash his hands clean. Again and again he spoke his sorrow. He continued even after the Lochman Foundation, which had produced the New American Standard Version repudiated him, saying that he had never been associated with the NASV. Even the rejection of the people who had produced the thing could not free him of his feelings of guilt. His pain and sorrow should serve as a warning to us less we should have to also echo his words, “I am afraid I am in trouble with God.”
How many have been beguiled by flatteries? How many have been gently mislead by the friendships and associations they have forged over many years? How many have been educated wrongly? How many were seduced into error by those we admire, trust, and respect, even as I was? How many who did not think the matter through are in trouble with God?
It seems very clear that at the core of the whole issue lies a fallacy of thinking that should be brought out in closing. To have such radical change in the word of God, the accepted Hebrew and Greek texts had to be rejected. In order for a new foundational text to be accepted on which to base new versions, we have to accept as truth that for a considerable period of time the true word of God was lost. This means that God could not keep His word inviolate. Since God’s word testifies He would preserve it, we have a problem. It is a problem that impacts our trust in Him in every other area including salvation. If God cannot preserve His word, how can He be trusted to preserve me?
My statement of faith in my Lord Jesus Christ and my assurance of salvation in and through Him is based on the confident knowledge that He always keeps His word.
Jonsquill Publishing Ministry
Bremen Georgia 30110
reproduction of this booklet for the education of local church
memberships is authorized.
 I actually prefer to identify the King James Bible as the “Authorized Version” not because its translation was authorized by King James, but because I believe it to be authorized by God.
 Always remember I am referring to the Bible translators and not to John Wycliffe from whom they took their name hundreds of years after his death.
 The Thompson Chain Reference Bible, fifth edition, lists four such references under number 427 in its chains. How many times does God have to say something before we believe it?
 All facts concerning Dynamic Equivalence in this essay are taken from the text, Defending The King James Bible, written by Rev. D. A. Waite, Th.D., Ph.D., published by The Bible For Today, 900 Park Ave. Collingswood, N. J. 08108.
 The words from Greek and Hebrew were rendered as closely as possible into English with the forms of the words (nouns, verbs, etc.) also followed when at all possible.
 Mr. Nida also has direct connections with the American Bible Society and the United Bible Society. The American Bible Society receives Southern Baptist funds.
 In the interest of being honest with the reader, I thought it important to say I did not care for Dr. Rice as a person. If you are going to make a negative comment about someone’s work, tell the reader all the truth and give him the liberty to judge whether you are biased or not.
 I applaud his desire to evangelize the world, yet I deride his compromise with Romanism and groups on the fringes of Christianity, as well as his political compromises, such as when he said there was no religious persecution in the Soviet Union.
 The prayer I refer to is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.
 Actually this type of change is taking place in languages every year.
 This statement is based on conversations with students majoring in language in the 1990’s.
 I use those translators as my example since no group of translators assembled since have come near to their qualifications. Many whose names appear on translation committees do so for the sake of after translation sales than for their expertise in making a translation.
 World Prophetic Ministry is the producers of The King Is Coming broadcasts hosted by Dr. Dave Breese who continued the work of Dr. Estep.
 This number is based on other people’s work, I had actually stopped counting when I came up with over 200 textual problems affecting doctrine.
 A colleague contacted the foundation and received first hand their denial of Dr. Logsdon’s association. G. A. Riplinger, in her book New Age Bible Versions, has a copy of Dr. Logsdon’s introduction to the first edition of the NASV.
 This is a frequent claim of cults.
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