Dr. Thomas Strouse, a member of the Dean Burgon Society and the dean at the Emmanuel-Newington Theological Seminary in Connecticut recently posted a reply to Dallas Theological Seminary Professor Daniel B. Wallace regarding an article Wallace wrote about why he does not believe the King James Bible is the best translation today. The purpose of today’s blog is to respond to a number of erroneous assertions on the part of Dr. Strouse.
There was a time when Dr. Thomas Strouse was my favorite KJV Only advocate. He seemed sober and relatively kind in disagreement. That all changed, however, when I came across an article posted online last fall with the typical snide rhetoric that is seen in virtually every advocacy of the KJV. It is a response to Dallas Seminary Professor Daniel Wallace’s article, “Why I Do Not Believe The King James Bible Is The Best Translation Today.” Strouse’s reply contains a number of rhetorical arguments that really do not answer what Wallace set forth in his tome. This, however, seems to be the way it is with KJV Only responses: they preach to the choir but the man in the pew weighing the argument remains unconverted.
The readers of this blog may think that I consider Dr. Strouse to be ‘intellectually challenged’ (for lack of a better word). Nothing could be further from the truth. Strouse has a B.S in Industrial Engineering, an M.Div. in Theology and Biblical Languages, and a Ph.D. in Theology from Bob Jones University. Indeed, these credentials make his arguments all the more reprehensible and irresponsible. A short critique of Dr. Strouse’s article found at http://www.emmanuel-newington.org/seminary/resources/Refutation_of_Wallace.pdf follows.
Strouse begins by using hyperbole more fitting for the cover of the National Enquirer than as a response written by a man of his education. He accuses Wallace of leveling his ‘best volley of shots’ at the KJV. His very next sentence accuses Wallace of attempting to destroy the credibility of the KJV and further alleges that Wallace’s challenges are ‘unbiblical, illogical, and outright deceptive.’ It is interesting that in the grand tradition of King James Onlyism, this is always the starting point: accusation. Nevertheless, fairness mandates that Dr. Strouse be given a hearing. Strouse responds to each of nine arguments that will be numbered and dealt with in this critique.
Under argument one, the following inflammatory terms are used: “ignorant” and “quickly dispatched of the Bible.”
Strouse argues that God has preserved His Word by giving the Jews the oracles of the Old Testament (Romans 3:2). Strouse claims this is a biblical argument. But it is his attempt to claim that the New Testament teaches the means of preservation that is truly amazing to behold. This is the fundamental flaw in KJV Only thinking: even if it is conceded that the passages they allege teach preservation really do so, they always follow with a non sequitor when they claim that preservation is in the KJV. Interestingly enough, Strouse realizes the futility of arguing that the Bible teaches preservation in the KJV. He instead embarks upon a more adventuresome task: he claims Jesus told the disciples to ‘observe or preserve’ the Scriptures. Strouse notes that the Greek word translated ‘observe’ (tereiv) can also be translated preserve. Strouse knows, of course, that the determining factor as to whether it means observe, preserve, or both is the context. And the context is clear that Jesus is telling the disciples to teach them to OBSERVE all He has commanded them. Is Strouse proposing a cultic methodology? “It says this but it really means this AND that.” Such is the methodology of cults. Furthermore, is there even one translation that renders Matthew 28:20 as ‘preserve?’ I checked twenty-one different English translations including Strouse’s alleged preserved Word of God (the KJV) and the translation on which Wallace worked (the NET) and not a single one of them renders it ‘preserve’ nor does a single one of them cite ‘preserve’ in the margin as a possible rendering. Nor did Jesus tell them to ‘observe or preserve the Scriptures’ as Strouse alleges. Jesus told them to teach the new disciples they would make ‘all that I have commanded you.’ Only by reading his presupposition into the text can Strouse argue this point. Strouse then further attempts to claim that the Bible teaches that God would preserve His Word through the institution of the church by – and there is no other charitable way to put it – making up the facts as he goes along. He alleges that six perfect copies were made of the book of Revelation shortly after the original was written. Strouse further alleges: 1) those who copied the Apocalypse did not add or detract any words because of the mandate against it; 2) the church was the chosen vehicle through whom preservation occurred; and 3) Jesus Himself started the ‘Received Bible’ movement in the first century.
What is quite interesting, however, is this: for all of the claims that Strouse wishes to make regarding the KJV and TR Bibles, he is left hung on the horns of a dilemma that his own argumentation has created. If, as Strouse alleges, six perfect copies were made, why are there no two copies that completely agree anywhere on the face of this earth including within Strouse’s own TR tradition? If, on the other hand, Strouse’s claim was never true to begin with, it would not only explain the existing evidence, but it would also lead the skeptical inquirer to question why Strouse ever attempted this argument in the first place. Strouse can claim anything by faith that he wishes. But his argumentation is sorely lacking objectivity on point one. He imports a different meaning for a Greek word solely to support his theological a priori, and he alleges that six perfect copies were made. If God is in the preservation business as Strouse alleges, was God suddenly unable to keep scribes from making slips of the pen after those six alleged copies (that Strouse has never seen by the way) were finished?
Strouse’s special pleading reaches a new level when he alleges that Paul is talking about ‘received Bibles’ in I Thessalonians 2:13. This is not only a historical anachronism; it is also a very poor reflection of reality since Paul is talking about them receiving the Word of God, and Paul cannot possibly mean the completed canon since he wrote a number of letters after I Thessalonians.
The fact is that despite his protestations otherwise, the Bible nowhere tells us how or where God preserved His Word. The fact that Strouse must find support for his theology by changing a Greek word and rendering it as no translation renders it as well as his claim that Paul is talking about the Received Text demonstrate the lack of straightforward support for the view he espouses. One final point: if the KJV is really the Word of God, why does it not render Matthew 28:20 as ‘preserve?’