"If we don't have a perfect Bible, then we don't have a perfect God"
I think that is like saying, “If we don’t have a perfect creation, then we don’t have a perfect God”.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
That statement in the title… I said that to myself about 12 years ago.
You see, I was raised up in an environment where people believe that the word of God is perfect. And by the “word of God” we mean the Bible, both the Old and New Testatments.
“The law of the LORD is perfect…” — from the Psalms
And if you are familiar with the Bible, you might also know that there are lots of Bibles in the world. I mean, there are lots of different versions of the Bible — lots of translations. In English for example, there are these: KJV, RSV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NLT, ERV, BBE, CEV, TLB, etc.
And there are a few passages where they say different things. Compare for instance I John 5:7-8 in KJV and ESV:
1Jn 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
1Jn 5:8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
1Jn 5:7 For there are three that testify:
1Jn 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
See the difference?
Either the KJV translators added something to the Bible, or the ESV translators ommitted something from the Bible, right? (Or did they?) And adding or ommitting something from the Bible is prohibited in the Bible itself (in the last chapter of Revelation and in other passages). Tsk tsk!
Some people regarded this as a very serious matter. And I did consider this a very serious matter.
My father had a copy of the book which relates to this matter: “The Answer Book” by Samuel Gipp. I read it, and I was convinced — we have a perfect Bible, and it is in the King James Version of the Bible. Yehey!
(There is also this study book titled “English Bible: Manuscript Evidence” but I was not able to finish it)
Then a few years later, I started to ask, “Why do most Christians not care whether or not there are major differences in the readings of bible translations. Some verses are even missing in modern translations. Most Christians seems to be okay to use any Bible they want. The KJV-Only camp seems to have answers to almost any question you throw at them. Why is it hard for most Christians to change their minds on this issue?”
Is peer pressure the reason for this not-caring attitude? There are lots of people in the world who are afraid to change their minds because of peer pressure!
Perhaps… Perhaps not…
But if we do not have a perfect Bible, as what the Bible itself claims to be, then the God of the Bible must not be perfect either!
“I’m confused about this. Christianity is impossible! — The standard is too high… It must be impossible! — The source of its teachings is not perfect.”
Ooooo… “What if I try to become an enemy of Christianity, and use this issue of ‘the perfect Bible’ to convince them that Christianity is not true?”
“I will become the worst enemy of Christianity…“ (as if that was possible)
Haha, that was so funny —- I would rather be an enemy of Christianity than change my mind on this issue. Tsk tsk! It’s really hard to change ones mind, most especially if the change involves something very foundational to ones belief system.
But peer pressure might be one of the reasons why this kind of change was hard!
Perhaps?… Perhaps not… I think it’s not, because if someone only gave another answer as to why there are differences in the readings of different bible translations, the changing of the mind might have not been that hard. (are you sure?)
The major thing which made me reconsider my stand on this issue is when I and my father attended a “KJV Conference” in Davao in 2006 or 2007 (or 2008, 2009? I can’t remember the exact year). During the Q and A, the lecturer (and the one who financed the conference) said something like this (not exact words), in a somewhat concerned-and-loud kind of voice:
“You can ask any question… Just don’t humiliate me here because I spent a huge amount of money for this conference. I brought the choir here in Davao from Cebu, and … “
Hmmm… Is he hiding something? Perhaps the KJV-Only camp does not have an answer to all questions you throw at them… What could those questions be?
Many years later, I saw this debate by James White and Jack Moorman. In that debate Dr. James White said that the 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV Bible, also called the “Comma Johanneum”, is not found in any of the early Greek manuscripts of 1 John (in about 47:00 mins in the video). It was only added in the third edition of what is now known as the “Textus Receptus”, the Greek text compiled by Erasmus in the 16th century.
He said this:
The Comma Johanneum… is not in the first two editions of Erasmus.
… The early church never used that text as a proof text for the doctrine of the trinity. There are people who summarized the belief by words similar to that. But the doctrine of the trinity is in no way, shape or form, dependent upon that.
And my biggest concern is this: is that if we include the Comma Johanneum in the New Testament, we are saying that the Greek manuscript tradition can become completely corrupted for 1500 years and lose vitally important doctrinal material.
No one who believes in a Majority Text theory whould ever support the Comma Johanneum because the Majority Text does not contain it either.
It is a much later edition. It is found only in Latin manuscripts. And only in very late 14th century and beyond Greek manuscripts. And if we include it, what we’re saying is that text in the New Testament can be thoroughly corrupted.
And from what I learned in the past, this Textus Receptus is the text where the KJV Bible was translated from!
Too bad, right! Too bad… “I think I need to change my mind on some foundational things.”
But the good thing is this: seems like these what they call “textual variations” in the manuscripts has an advantage.
In about 42:00 minutes in the debate, Dr. James White said this:
Why couldn’t God avoided textual variation?
… a manuscript tradition that goes all over the world.
You know why that is so important?
You know what you hear my Muslim friends say?
“Oh you all put the deity of Christ in the New Testament”
“You all put the resurrection in the New Testament”
Folks, that is absolutely impossible!
There was never a time when anyone had control over all the manuscripts of the New Testament …
… for if we only had one manuscript then we would have to trust that whoever controlled that one manuscript never tampered with it.
That’s the problem the Muslims have. They have a revised text. They have to trust that Uthman got it exactly right.
We actually have the better situation. God provisionally has provided us with a solid foundation for believing in the inspiration and accuracy of the New Testament.
There you go…
In a perfect world, we would have a perfect Bible, I would say.
But we are not living in a perfect world. We might not have a perfect version of the Bible, but that does not mean that we don’t have God’s word. The Bible is still one of the most preserved writings in the world, if not the most. That still means God preserved his word, even in an imperfect world.
The next question would be, “How would we know whether a specific verse of the Bible has been corrupted or not?”