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The King James Only Controversy

HomeChristianity and the BibleThe King James Only Controversy

What is it?

The KJVO controversy is about whether Christians should consider only the King James Version of the Bible to be reliable and trustworthy. While there are a variety of views within the KJVO movement, the basic idea is simple: no other Bible will do.

The King James Only movement is largely built on the claim that modern Bibles are doctrinally corrupt…that they have strayed from responsible and accurate translation of the Greek texts. There are a variety of other claims in the movement. Here are a few:

Which KJV?

There are a number of different versions of the King James Version. Most KJVO advocates do not use the version finished in 1611, but the Blayney version from 1769. Between the two are revisions from 1613, 1629, 1638, and 1762. After many years of discussing this issue, no KJVO person has suggested to me that one is better than the other. This is a serious problem for their point of view, as each differs from the others.

Errors in the KJV

Most KJVO advocates claim that the KJV is better than all other Bibles because it alone is without error. This is absurd, and demonstrably false. The errors in the KJV are too numerous to list here, but it only takes one error to prove them wrong. I’ve made note of a few that should be persuasive for anyone willing to consider the evidence. Unfortunately, I’ve never met a KJVO advocate that was willing to consider the evidence…they usually run away from it. If you’re a KJVO person who wants to discuss the evidence, please leave a comment!


Most adults realize that unicorns don’t really exist. KJVO advocates must overlook the nine times that the word “unicorn” appears in the KJV: in Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9, Job 39:10, Psalm 22:21, Psalm 29:6, Psalm 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7 (read on Biblegateway). The Hebrew word is RE-EM, and probably means an auroch or other, now extinct, wild bull.

Easter / Passover

In Acts 12:4, the KJV mistranslates Pascha as Easter, rather than Passover. I’ve written more about this in Easter in the KJV.

Jupiter/Zeus, Mercury/Hermes

In Acts 14:12, the KJV says that the people in Lystra called Paul “Mercury” and Barnabas “Jupiter”. This is in spite of the fact that the Greek uses the words “Zeus” and “Hermes”.

Don’t trust the demons

In Acts 16 we read about a young lady, possessed by a demon, who followed Paul and Silas. The demon – according to the KJV – said that they were servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. Unfortunately, this is simply wrong. The Greek (the original language of the New Testament) doesn’t say “the way of salvation.” It says “a way of salvation.” The Greek word is Hodos, which means “a way” (see the definition in context). The demon wasn’t agreeing that Paul and Silas taught the only way to be saved…it suggested that they taught one of many ways. The King James is simply inaccurate here.

Listen to the KJV translators

Most Bibles have a preface, in which the translation team explains their motives and methodology. The KJV is no different. The 1611 version of the KVJ had an extensive preface, removed from later versions. Read the full preface. In it, the translators themselves demolish the KJVO controversy:

The Greek texts from which the KJV were translated come from around the 11th century. Bible translators have access to those, of course, and far more that have been discovered in the past 400 years. Most modern Bibles are translated from manuscripts that are 700-1000 years older… far closer to the original documents, and less prone to that changes that naturally come from copying errors and insertions.

Questions and Objections

But it’s so beautiful

Some people, especially those who grew up reading Renaissance literature like the works of Shakespeare, appreciate the KJV because of its more ‘poetic’ nature. There’s nothing wrong with this. If you like the KJV, read it.

Unfortunately, when someone suggests that more modern Bibles might be more helpful to those less familiar with older English, a typical response is that they should simply become more educated. This isn’t helpful, of course. A similar argument could be made about any translation, including the King James: ‘What’s wrong with the Latin Vulgate? If you can’t understand Latin, that’s your problem. You should study more so you can understand God’s word clearly.’ No, that’s a dumb argument, especially for those who aren’t native English speakers.

Even those who are more well-read can struggle with the language of the KJV. Here’s James 3:1, for example:

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Because the common usage of words change over time, this verse may lead some to believe that it’s endorsing slavery (that some should indeed be masters), or that slave owners (like James?) will receive greater condemnation than others, or that Christians in general will receive greater condemnation than those who are not “brethren.”

The point of translation is to make sure people can understand God’s Word. If you like the KJV, great. Read it. If someone else struggles with it, a more current translation will serve them better.

But the NIV takes out stuff

The primary target of KJVO folks is the New International Version (NIV). Their claim is that the NIV translators have removed crucial words and phrases from the Bible, undermining God’s word and leading unwitting people astray. There is a very serious flaw in this argument: they invariably use the KJV as the standard. Any word or phrase that differs from the King James is then suspect.

Is this logical? Of course not. The KJV translators themselves would object to this method. They would never consider the KJV to be the standard by which all future Bibles should be judged. Instead, they would recommend exactly what the NIV translators have done: go back to the manuscripts, in their original languages, and try to improve on the Bibles that already exist.

Trickery: comparing the KJV and NIV

The KJVO folks like to compare verses side by side, to show how the NIV (or other Bible) differs from the “right Bible” – that is, the KJV. That seems reasonable, on the surface. It’s a serious problem, however. It presumes that the KJV is always right, and that other Bibles are corrupt because, well, they’re not the KJV. The proper approach is not to compare one translation or version with another, but to compare all of them with all available ancient manuscripts.

There are more scholarly ways to describe this controversy, involving more complex considerations like different manuscript families, formal vs dynamic equivalence, and so on. This article is meant as an overview…a summary of the controversy and why I believe the KJVO folks have no real argument. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask them.

What I am NOT saying

I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the King James Version of the Bible. In fact, I recommend it. One could read the KJV and learn all they need to know about being in a right relationship with God. I’m not criticizing the KJV here. I’m only criticizing the idea that the KJV is in any way superior to every other quality Bible. I agree with the KJV translators: it’s good, but not perfect. Those who claim that the KJV is better than any other Bible must not only claim it, but also demonstrate it. Simply put: they cannot.

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46 responses to “The King James Only Controversy”

  1. Eric Bostic says:

    If you look at some of the others like zondervans new niv afte r I think 1994 or o it was retransllated by a lesbian,and sold by sodomites, which would you trust.Many of the “new Bibles” twist GODs word, if you defend something that is against GODs word then you support it and thus are against GOD.Your exmples of errors are at best sketchy at best. L You evedently dont believe the Bible ie inspired word of GOD, if you did there would be no questions. The world is interjected in new bles to much.Your argument if foolish to me.,GOD bless you and take care

    • Tony says:

      Thanks for writing, Eric.

      >> zondervans new niv afte r I think 1994 or o it was retransllated by a lesbian,and sold by sodomites, which would you trust.

      Let’s see…the first person I wouldn’t trust is someone who makes claims, and accusations, without backing them up. “I think” is certainly not enough for me, and shouldn’t be enough for you.

      >> Many of the “new Bibles” twist GODs word…

      Come on, old drummer…give us PROOF, not conjecture. How is anyone supposed to believe you without seeing the evidence?

      >> if you defend something that is against GODs word then you support it and thus are against GOD.

      How silly. A person can be in error about something, and so defend it, while still wanting to please God. It happens all the time. It’s a huge mistake to suggest that someone who is “for God” will have perfect theology, a perfect set of ethics, or a perfect understanding of God Himself. That’s silly, Eric. Don’t be silly.

      >> You evedently dont believe the Bible ie inspired word of GOD, if you did there would be no questions.

      You aren’t paying attention, are you? I certainly do believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. I rely on it fully, and believe it to be completely trustworthy. I do not, however, pretend that it’s magical. KJVO advocates often suggest that the King James is more perfect than the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. When you finish looking up the unicorns I’ve listed in my article, come back and tell me how perfect the King James is. There’s a difference between being perfect and being trustworthy to accomplish its purpose. There is no perfect Bible, but almost every Bible is sufficient to lead its reader to God.

      >> Your argument if foolish to me.

      Neato. Why not do a little homework and set me straight? You’d be doing me a great service…not to mention the millions of people who will read the truth when you’re finished posting it. =)

      • June says:

        OOOOPPPS! You do not like “I Think,” so I am just going to say it plain here: You self-contradicted. You said that if there is one error then the whole thing is messed – it only takes one contradiction to negate the whole Book – with which I agree, then you went on to name a whole load of errors, misinterpretations, fallacies and contradictions; then you conclude that you think the Book is entirely trustworthy and you depend on it. You depend on a Book full of untruths, and half-truths, and misplaced truth, and changed truths? Why would you? [By the way, I will go back and answer in more detail on the post from which you sent me to come and read this KJVO dessertation.]

        • Tony says:


          You appear to have misread. I did not write that one contradiction negates the whole Book. Here’s what I wrote:

          “Most KJVO advocates claim that the KJV is better than all other Bibles because it alone is without error. This is absurd, and demonstrably false. The errors in the KJV are too numerous to list here, but it only takes one error to prove them wrong.”

          A translation error does not invalidate any Bible, including the King James. Any error invalidates the claim that no errors exist, which is the position that King James Only advocates usually take.

    • Thomas says:

      Don’t force people read KJV only!!
      Show me in your KJV where God or Jesus said “Read KJV only or go to hell.”

  2. Rob says:

    I’ve been a Christian since 1981. Over the last year I’ve been listening to the bible on my commute via a thumb drive plugged into the dashboard of my car. My round trip commute is 3 hours, though I only listen to the bible on my way into work.

    A funny thing has happened. HEARING the bible is different than reading it. It brings a different perspective. One of those differences is that I no longer describe it as I used to. That is, I used to call it the inspired word of God. I now say that it CONTAINS the inspired word of God. The obvious example is where Paul said, and I paraphrase, “this is not God talking here, it is me.”

    It also drives me NUTS that the KJV translates the word for “rooms” or “dwelling places” as “mansions”. I’m sure the translator’s heart was in the right place trying to embellish it, but still…

    Also, a KJVO friend shared, via facebook, a listing of all the stuff in the KJV that is left out of the NIV. My response was, “Did the NIV leave it out, or did the KJV add it.” Crickets…

    • Tony says:


      You’re not alone when you suggest that the Bible contains the inspired word of God. A lot of sincere, committed believers would say the same thing…and some are very well-educated on the subject. I’m not going to specifically disagree with the notion here, but I would like to point something out. The inclusion of personal opinions in the Bible doesn’t diminish the idea that it’s 100% inspired. There are tons of places where people express opinions, from Job to Job’s friends to Paul to Gamaliel and others. The idea that Scripture is inspired by God is very, very old. It’s echoed in 2 Timothy 3, where we read that all Scripture is inspired by God. The word translated “inspired” is THEOPNEUSTIS, literally “God-breathed.”

      That doesn’t mean that God Himself spoke each word, but that the Holy Spirit ‘breathed into’ (inspired) the writers so they wrote what He intended them to write. That includes personal opinions, references to books outside of the Bible, local customs, and even untrue statements spoken by humans. The idea of inerrancy is that God perfectly inspired those writers, and that they faithfully wrote what God intended. We do not consider copies of those original writings to be inspired…it’s clear that translation is a difficult and sometimes vexing process. Our faith isn’t in the written word, or in the men who wrote the words, but in God who superintended the writing in the first place.

  3. Rob says:

    You are really getting where I am coming from regarding throwing in the things about Job.

    One of the biggest issues I have is that if one looks at the history of the bible and its actual content, one finds that a very major issue is also one of the things that makes it so amazing. That is, it is not a book. It is a collection of history books, rule books, documented visions, letters to churches, letters to individuals, prophesies, testimonies, etc.

    And people have “visions” today about near death experiences, 23 minutes in hell, etc.

    But because so much baloney was being thrown out there as “official”, that they guys (council of Nicaea) decided to put a stop to it and collect all the stuff that everyone “knew” was the real deal to stop the nonsense.

    I think that was a good idea.

    However, I take such strong ownership of the comment I made above about it being a collection, that I almost would like to see it published as separate volumes. Of course, some of the letters would be one pagers, but it would allow people to see it for what it really is, and treat each volume could be afforded the respect it individually deserves.

    Sometimes one needs to ask “why do we say God inspired this particular writer? Who was he? What authority did he have that allows us to believe what he said more than Joseph Smith or Muhamad?

    That being said, the reason for this diatribe is that since moving to central KY from Seattle and playing in a touring southern gospel band (we visit a LOT of small southern baptist, separate baptist, baptist, and the other 4,000 different baptist divisions) that I see a lot of fire and brimstone nonsense and what can only be described as “bible worship”. It gives me the willies, frankly. Especially being a strong adherent (for six years now) of CI.

    So this stuff really matters to me. And I try to explain to these folks that, valuable though it is, the bible does not trump prayer and a personal relationship with Him.

    • Tony says:


      You’re right: it’s very important to remember that the Bible isn’t a single book. At the same time, it’s one unified story.

      I don’t buy very many of the stories around modern visions, miracles, and so on. It’s not that I don’t believe they actually happen (I do) but that many – or most – people are so eager for such things that they’re willing to lie, or to exaggerate, to get attention or feel special.

      >> the bible does not trump prayer and a personal relationship with Him

      I agree to a point…but after that point, I disagree. The Bible cannot substitute for the Holy Spirit, and the Bible is not the repository of all revelation. Believers can only understand spiritual things because the Holy Spirit reveals them to us…without Him, we wouldn’t understand much (The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.) 1 Corinthians 2:14). At the same time, it would be a mistake to pretend that both aren’t necessary. As the early church had the witness of Scripture, so do we…and its importance can’t be overstated.

      All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I want these things to be true of me, so I turn to Scripture for them.

  4. Rob says:

    Wow. Looks like I need to use Word to create these posts. Or at least proofread before posting. The one above is awful.

    Anyway, just one other thing about the churches around me: The sheer misery and terror I see in these congregations is noting like what I experienced in the churches I attended in Seattle since 1981. And judgmentalism. Of course, just saying that makes me a little guilty of it. But when so many of the sermons are about the people outside of the church and how they are so wrong and going to burn in hell, etc. kinda wears on a guy. I’d rather hear a message of hope, love, and how those listening to the message can have a closer relationship with their Creator.

    But I’ve also learned that in the rural bible belt, going to church is what people do for entertainment. It’s just what they do. It’s probably why they love preachers that don’t really say much, but risk an aneurysm with their preaching style, if you get my drift.

    But most of it is just cultural differences.

    • Tony says:


      I grew up in Seattle, and my family is still there. When I think of home, that’s what I think of.

      I have never understood the judgmentalism in the church. I see no place for it, and believe it’s nothing more than the result of bad teaching over generations. When we read the Bible, we see that we are no better than anyone else, and in no position to judge the unsaved. We’re to be vessels, carrying to them the love and grace we’ve been given. Too many have been wounded by Christians, too few have been truly loved. I wish this weren’t an issue. I believe that rejecting the lost, rather than loving them as God loves them, is the worst thing a believer can do.

  5. Rob says:

    You are spot on. My wife’s first husband died of Leukemia 30 years ago. She had three very young children and he died without life insurance. She is from a VERY strong Irish Catholic family, and her husband was from a VERY strong Polish Catholic family. The church did nothing for her but to say, basically, go and be well. Even her priest called to say he could not do the eulogy because he was stuck at the dentist.

    Meanwhile, her neighbor was AG. They were a HUGE help and actually showed God’s love. She has not been a catholic since.

    I don’t remember where it is, but I believe it was Paul that said don’t hang out with various types of sinners, but then clarifies that he means those within the church, because if he meant “outside the church”, he would basically be telling Christians to not mix with anyone outside their church.

    In my last band, during rehearsal I’d hang out in the rehearsal room while the rest of the band went out to smoke some dope. They knew my feelings on it, and my belief that we are all free to make our own choices.

    • Tony says:

      Thanks for your comment, Rob. Your wife’s situation highlights the fact that many – if not most – do not get involved with churches and parachurch organizations and cults because of their theological positions. Most get involved because someone showed that they were loved.

  6. Abby says:

    My take on it is this: every version of the Bible is a translation out of the original Greek and Hebrew.
    Words do not usually translate from one language to another perfectly.
    The arguments that occur between Christians about what Bible to read may cause many to turn away from Christianity entirely. (Because why become a Christian if they can’t even agree on what book to read?) some of the arguments for “KJV Only” are nit-picky sounding. (Only the KJV says, “____” Other versions {usually NIV} render it as, “_____”!)
    The Bible is the inspired Word of God. The Holy Spirit teaches out of whichever Bible is regularly read. [note “regularly”]
    I read The Bible: whatever version is close at hand. I own KJV, NKJV, ESV, AMP, NIV, NASB, and NLT. They all say the same thing, they just use different wording.
    God Bless.

  7. Anders Jonsson says:

    I’m not promoting KJVO but here are two reasons why I prefer the KJV:
    1. The words in italics in the King James Bible are words that do not occur in the original text but were added by the translators to help the reader.
    2. The use of thee’s and thou’s convey the singular-plural distinctions in the second person forms of pronouns. This distinction is quite lost in modern translations where thou, thee, thy are replaced by you, your. Not an issue for many languages, but it is for English, where it may not be obvious if the pronoun you applies to one person or many. A good example is Joh. 3.10,11 where Jesus switches from singular to plural.

    • Tony says:


      I’m happy to hear you’re not promoting The King James Only nonsense. As I stated in the article, I can recommend the KJV. That’s not to say that reading only the KJV is a wise way to study God’s Word. I grew up with the KJV, and have many verses memorized from that version that I won’t bother learning in another. I hold it in high regard, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a wise choice for everyone.

      First, the language is, without question, 400+ years old. To communicate God’s intentions clearly, clear understanding is important. Modern translations have largely overcome this hurdle, which benefits those who are younger, those who are not as well-read, and those who are simply unfamiliar with Christian culture and phrases.

      Second, there are unicorns. The KJV translators worked to improve on previous Bibles, and hoped that others would follow suit. We have, and I believe they would be pleased. I’m not sure they would be pleased to learn that a lot of people consider their work, which needed improvement in many areas, is still being used as a primary Bible 400 years later. I’m of the opinion that we should make improvements and move forward with them, rather than ignore the improvements in favor of a version we simply prefer.

      Third, the italicized words. They’re not inspired, they’re commentary. The translators worked hard to make sure God’s Word was understood, so they inserted additional words to try to bring clarity. That’s a good idea, but it doesn’t always work out well. We’ve gained 400 years of translation experience and thousands upon thousands of additional manuscripts used to correct previous translations, and it seems wise to use them. If we don’t, we will repeat their errors. An example from Matthew 28:19-20

      Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

      Note the phrases “teach all nations” and “teaching them.” These are treated as the same – teaching – but Jesus used two Greek words there, not one: matheteuo and didasko. Didasko means to teach. Matheteuo means to make a disciple. While they are related, they are not the same. Jesus’ command was not simply to teach, but to make disciples. Didasko can be done with any audience. They may be disciples, or they may be strangers wandering through the town square. Matheteuo is done with those who decided to follow Jesus, and is a distinct process that goes far beyond simply teaching. I lead discipleship groups at my church, and in one group I spent time with a man who pastored for decades. He used the KJV as his primary Bible, and never knew what Jesus actually said in the Great Commission. He was shocked to learn that his choice of Bibles had actually hindered his life-long ministry. He determined to go back to the 38 local churches whose pastors he had influence with, and to explain to them what he had learned.

      I’m not saying that nobody should read the KJV. I’m saying that nobody should use ONLY the KJV, and most people shouldn’t bother getting and reading one if they have access to newer, improved translations.

  8. Anders says:

    I enjoy the KJV because the text is beautiful and familiar, and unicorns and other odd mistakes are well known and don’t bother most readers. You make some good points, however, and I would agree that the KJV would be difficult for many. Just one caution: “newer versions” may not necessarily be “improved” versions. I’m Canadian, but have lived half my life in Sweden. The most recent official Swedish translation, Bibel 2000, is by far the worst.

    • Tony says:


      You make a good point: not all Bibles are awesome. Almost all are, however. I recently took a class from one of the pre-eminent New Testament scholars, who has done a lot of translation work (NIV, ESV, etc.) and it’s his contention that there are only a few that shouldn’t be used. I have no experience with Bibel 2000, so I’ll take your word for it.

      Yes, the KJV text is poetic and dramatic. That doesn’t make it familiar to anyone who hasn’t already spent time with it, as you and I have. Would you recommend it simply because it’s poetic, or would you recommend another on the basis that readers will more readily understand the gospel? Again: I’m not knocking the KJV. I’m suggesting that we take the translators’ suggestion that better Bibles are, simply, better. Better for you, better for me, and better for the lost.

      As for the KJV and its issues being well-known, that depends on who you talk to. There are people who have rejected Christianity altogether, ostensibly because of the KJV. If the Bible is supposed to teach us the truth, and then the Bible they read talks about unicorns and makes other obvious mistakes, people sometimes conclude that Christianity itself isn’t true. I would suggest that the issues are only well-known among two groups: die-hard KJV readers, and atheist skeptics.

      For that reason, I never recommend the KJV to anyone not already familiar with it. Have a great day!

  9. Larry E Billig says:

    Would it be fair to say that there is another source trying to throw a monkey wrench in the whole matter also, who’s name is Satan. Even though God breathed it is received by sinful man not perfect man. So interpretation of the word is going to be flawed. Trying to determine which version is less flawed would be a fool’s game, in the sense of trying to figure which interpretation is most accurate when we ourselves are reading and understanding with nonperfect sin influenced self. I know most believe God would not let his word be interpretted in a wrong manner but it seems though it is being there are so many different doctorines, bible versions, etc., because it’s mortal, imperfect man. Christ’s words alone are pure, which are words from God’s mouth himself, where as even the authors of the bible are receiving a spirtual message from God, the sinful part of the man is going throw the meaning off just to the point of where we all won’t believe in God and his word the same way. All being in perfect harmony!

    • Tony says:

      Your comment shows your wisdom, Larry. God is perfect, and speaks perfectly. We are imperfect, and we learn and know imperfectly. We’re also able to choose to do the wrong things, including messing up a Bible translation. There are some Bibles out there to be avoided. Most are just fine, as they don’t twist God’s words to say something that the interpreter wants them to say. Virtually every modern Bible is awesome. The King James is awesome, too… but the idea that it’s perfect is nonsense, as the KJV translators themselves wrote in their Intro.

      I do think we need to be careful, though. There’s tension in the process. The Bible tells us that all Scripture is ‘god-breathed.’ That is, that it is inspired by God Himself… that He worked in the writers to convey His message. Most Christian churches would say something like this: ‘the Bible is God’s message to humanity, containing no errors in the original manuscripts.’ We recognize that God was in the process, and we recognize that our efforts might obscure or illuminate His words.

      In the end, the best Bible to read is the one you’ll actually READ. I’m far less concerned about which Bible version someone prefers than I am about whether they bother to use God’s Word to trust Him more fully.

  10. Larry E Billig says:

    Hey Tony,
    Thanks for the reply. In my opinion but not sure exactly of the accuracy, even though God Breathed it wasn’t received by a perfect man to make the word of God perfect, if so why all the different doctrines, beliefs and contraversies of different Bibles, etc. Take for instance the Calvinist view verses the Armenian view, if God Breathed and the word received perfectly by man there wouldn’t be two views, would there! It seems as though if the word from God came directly through God and not man we would all be in agreement and in perfect harmony within the Christian faith. Possibly man boggling it receiving, writing and interpretting it. We must remember all the authors of our Bible were sinful men in themselves as the Bible states them as being. Thanks again for your time and enriching subject matter…

    • Tony says:


      I see what you’re saying. If imperfect men received God’s message, why would we assume that they wrote it down perfectly? Makes sense. If the message was written down imperfectly, it follows that those imperfect writings would lead to imperfect interpretations, leading to so many disagreements among believers.

      I don’t think that’s the best way to look at it, though. There’s no question that controversies among believers are a problem, but are they due to the Scriptures being imperfect? That’s not what we see in the Scriptures themselves. Instead, we see things like this: ‘Paul wrote with the wisdom that God gave him,’ and wrote in words ‘taught by the Holy Spirit,’ and prophecy comes from ‘men speaking from God.’ The writers of the Scriptures claim that God is the author, and the implication is that what they wrote down was not their opinions, or their interpretations, but what God handed down.

      Is that something we can prove exhaustively? Nope. Is that something consistently expressed throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament? You bet.

      God is described in the Bible as the source of truth. Jesus called Himself The Truth. The different writers of Scripture considered each other’s writings to be the reliable, trustworthy words of God. If any of it is true, then the only reliable measure of truth is what we find in the Scriptures. Without that, we can only claim personal insights into God’s nature and expectations… and that’s a problem. I can’t take your personal interpretations as absolute truth, and you shouldn’t take mine in that way either. If we have no actual objective and reliable source for truth, we have no way to communicate truth to one another.

      Yes, the writers of Scripture were imperfect. They never claimed otherwise, of course. They did claim to have seen God, touched Him, followed Him, listened to Him, and faithfully recorded what He taught. That works for me. When you and I have a disagreement about the nature of things, we can both go back to what apparently faithful men wrote about what God has said, and align our views with that.

      Your thoughts?

  11. Anders says:

    “The best translation is the one we actually read!” Bingo! Read till you can say, “Thy words were found and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” There is only one true interpretation to any given text, and the Spirit of Christ is our Interpreter. As Larry points out, there is an enemy who deceives the half-hearted, and there are many false teachers who delude those seeking wealth, health or a spiritual buzz. But anyone who opens his Bible to worship God in spirit and in truth will find that “His mouth speaks what is true. All the words of his mouth are just, none of them is crooked or perverse.” Prov. 8

  12. Larry E Billig says:

    Hello again Tony
    I think we all agree there are controversies concerning the Bible. There are only three points where the controversies can form God, authors or us. We have to eliminate God of couse and that brings it down to the authors and us. I don’t think God himself wants man to be confused on the contents of the Bible but WE are! So who would that leave but the authors. It seems as though the only way it couldn’t be the authors is for the readers to deliberately misunderstand the contents making it their fault. It’s sad to say but the biggest weapon other religions have over Christianity is the Bible, as I heard a Muslim debating a Christian and the Muslim stated something like, you can’t even get you’re own book of your God figured out because of all the various Bibles, various doctrines the Christians cannot agree upon, trinity or not a trinity, whether Jesus was actually God and not just Gods son being only human, etc. God didn’t intend on all these indifferences but we’re experiencing them and I don’t think it’s us, we’re trying to understand but we differ on what we’re all are reading because of the possibility of the passages being understood more than one way, which I can’t see how that would be us. I would like to believe it is us and not the authors but I just can’t see how it can be unless like I said we deliberately misunderstand. This doesn’t alter my belief though so please don’t get me wrong. Jesus is the only way..

    • Tony says:


      Yes, there are controversies concerning the Bible. We agree on those three points of controversy, but I’m not sure what you’ve written is very logical. Maybe I’ve misunderstood you. Let me lay it out so you can correct me:

      1. God either did or did not convey a message to us. We agree that He did.
      2. The writers of Scripture either did or did not accurately write down that message. I believe they did, but you’re not sure.
      3. The readers of Scripture (you and me) either understand the message as it was written, or we don’t. You seem to rule out the possibility that we are the primary reason for our disagreements. I blame us.

      You and I seem to come at this from different directions. You see our confusion, assume that God wouldn’t want us to be confused, and blame the writers for messing up the message. I assume that God wouldn’t want us confused, and assume that He superintended the process at some point. That point, logically, isn’t chasing around every confusion and trying to bring it back into line. Instead, logically, making sure it was written down reliably in the first place is a better choice. That makes the Scriptures into an authority, and not just some helpful musings. That’s the claim made by the writers themselves… not just about their own writings, but about the writings of others. Paul didn’t call his own letters Scripture. Peter did. Why did the early church listen to Peter? Because thousands and thousands heard Jesus Himself, recognized that Peter reliably taught what Jesus taught, and accepted what Peter wrote as essentially the teachings of Jesus Himself. This is the view taken by pretty much everybody in the early church. They were in a position to argue, and yet they agreed. The same goes for the rest of Scripture, including the Old Testament. Who in their right mind would accept the book of Exodus if Moses distorted the events he wrote about? There were a couple million people involved, so the Israelites had a built-in system of checks. Same for the New Testament.

      I like to simplify things wherever possible, so I’d like to offer this: I consider the original manuscripts of the Bible to – at minimum – reliably transmit God’s intentions toward humanity. I don’t believe that one can logically make a good case for doubting that the Bible is reliable while claiming to be a follower of Jesus. The early church fathers were fallible. Popes are fallible. You and I are fallible. God, as we understand Him, is not fallible. How do we get from an infallible God to a fallible church? It’s certainly not God’s fault, and those who were in a position to know what happened agreed with what was written. We have every reason to believe that the Bibles we have today are entirely reliable.

      That leaves you and me. Just this morning a college friend and I were discussing what goes on here at GodWords. He pointed out that there was a lot of disagreement, and that most of it was based on taking Bible verses out of context. Here’s what I wrote in response: “It’s easy to explain the gospel to the ignorant. It’s much more difficult to correct bad teaching with good teaching, since so many people want to defend what they think they know.”

      Don’t get me wrong: I’m not pretending that I have all of the answers. What I’m saying is that virtually every single disagreement here is based in one of two things: ignorance of what the Bible says, or confidence that what one already believes is what God said. On one hand, it seems like complete hubris for me to spend the last 20 years at GodWords teaching people what the Bible says. Who am I to presume to teach, when so many smart and committed people have studied for longer than I’ve been alive and yet still disagreed? On the other hand, my Bible and your Bible say the exact same things… it’s not the words of Scripture that we differ over, it’s our understanding of those words. I’ve been at this a long time, Larry… and there’s one thing that’s been abundantly clear: the people who change their minds about God are the ones who either GIVE UP on the Bible or STUDY the Bible. The ones who give up on it inevitably walk away from God. The ones who study it inevitably commit their lives to living as Jesus lived.

      I don’t have any more evidence and information than you have, my friend. We all have the same opportunity, the same evidence, and the same freedom. Your challenge to me seems to be to not trust the writers of Scripture. My challenge to you is simple: study it to see if you’re right. I will help you with that, if you let me.

      • Larry E Billig says:

        Been studing the Bible for years (64 years old), attended various churches of various denominations, step father was a Baptist minister. Listen to sermons, debates, studies by such people as McCarther, Sproul, Missler, Stanely, and James White at work everyday for hours but have never studied in depth the actual reason why of all the controversies. When I approach a topic of discussion with more than one point of view of say a doctrine for instance, I listen open mindedly to both points of view and go to the Bible and see which one is closest to what the Bible states because I want to take the Bible for what it says, not what I think it should say or what I want it to say as some do. A lot of people are not able to listen to another point of view because their minds have already been made up and when hearing a different point of view they will block it out thinking it’s wrong because it doesn’t agree with what they’ve been taught or what they have believed all their life. Why I mention all this is because I want it known that when I come to an understanding it isn’t something that comes to me instantaneously. I don’t relish the idea of the authors being maybe the guilty parties but if you dig in deep with an open mind, I cannot see how it can be any other way. If man is getting different meanings out of the same verse, that verse is written in a manner that makes that happen. If something is written and understood by all then that has been written clearly.

        • Tony says:

          Been studying the Bible for years (53 years old), attended various churches of various denominations, was a licensed minister, have been on staff at multiple churches in multiple denominations. Listen to sermons, debates, studies by the same sorts of people everyday for hours, and HAVE studied in depth the actual reasons why of all the controversies. It’s actually pretty fascinating to learn the history of what caused new churches to form, why denominations split and combine, and so on.

          I hope you didn’t take my disagreement as dislike, in any way. We simply see things differently at the moment, and I’m willing to listen to another point of view. In the end, as you point out, the Bible is the final arbiter. However: if the writers of Scripture aren’t fully trustworthy, on what basis can you claim to believe the Bible? I’m sincerely puzzled. Like I said, maybe I’ve missed something.

          In discussion with my son, it occurs that our 3 points of contention are too few. Here’s an updated list:

          Moses, James, Paul, etc.

          You and I agree that God likely communicated clearly.

          I believe that the writers of Scripture clearly communicated the historical events they describe, specifically including what Jesus taught. I’m forced to believe that by the evidence: there are no contemporaneous accounts by people calling themselves Christians that dispute the contents of the New Testament. It was only later that theological disputes arose, as with Arias and others.

          Scribes have caused some confusion by making mistakes, and by including marginal notes as part of the texts.

          Translators have caused some confusion by simple mistakes (see: unicorns and Easter in the KJV), or by bias (see: the New World Translation or the Passion Bible).

          We have caused a lot of confusion. How do I know this? Because I’ve been going to church my whole life. It’s AMAZING how a group of people can read the exact same words in exactly the same version of the Bible and come away with radically different viewpoints on it. I think you’d have to admit that ANY written or spoken communication can be misunderstood, including this comment.

          When I look at the list of possibilities, it appears you’re a bit stuck. If you believe that our confusion is because the writers of the Scriptures weren’t clear enough, how do you know which parts you CAN trust? Maybe you could explain that part to me. I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but that you’re in a bit of a pickle when it comes to calling yourself a Bible-believer or a Christian that doesn’t know whether what you read is right.

          What do you say?

  13. Larry E Billig says:

    I stated my age and God knowledge information because I thought you took me as a rookie. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, nobody does. You mention I’m in a bit of a pickle when it comes to calling myself a Bible-believer or a Christian that wouldn’t know if what I read is right. That’s why I’m here batting this back and forth with you trying to make sure I get it right because it’s easy enough to get it wrong, ask all the hundreds of millions of Amenians or the hundreds of millions of Calvinist that thought they had it right but one of these two groups read it wrong. I’m just trying to figure out how this could have happened because if you read again the last two lines of my previous post, this shouldn’t have happened, even though God allowed it.

    • Tony says:


      First, I hope you didn’t think I was criticizing you, of course. I also wasn’t playing the old ‘I’m old, so I know stuff’ game.

      Second, I didn’t say that you wouldn’t know if what you read is right. You claimed that the confusion about what we read is due to the writers. By your own words, that puts you in the difficult position of not knowing whether their words are trustworthy. Seeing that 99.99% of the information we have about what Jesus said and did comes from men you aren’t sure wrote clearly, that certainly means that you’re in a pickle. If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, and if you work to live by what He taught and to emulate His character, it seems you must be playing a bit of a guessing game.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m saying that the natural consequence of your view must make your own position far less secure. Is that how you feel, or are you confident that the views you’ve derived from those questionable sources are consistent with reality?

      By the way: it’s Arminians… after Jacobus Arminius. Armenia is Turkey’s eastern neighbor. I’m sometimes asked whether I’m an Arminian or a Calvinist. I grew up in the Wesleyan/Arminian tradition, and now attend a church that leans Reformed (Calvinist). I’m neither. I think it’s both stupid and irresponsible to identify oneself as a particular KIND of Christian, as if there ARE different kinds. There’s only one kind: people who read what Jesus said and did, study what His students wrote, accept His claims, and choose to live by them. Have you ever noticed that the disputes between different denominations are virtually always about secondary issues? Here are some examples:

      Faith is required for regeneration
      Regeneration is required for faith

      Infant baptism
      Believer’s baptism

      Limited atonement
      Unlimited atonement


      Women in pants
      Women in dresses

      No alcohol

      Local flood
      Global flood

      Hymns in worship
      Choruses in worship

      Old earth
      Young earth

      … and so on. Not one of those issues, over which so many divide, are an essential part of what Jesus taught. Virtually ALL of the disputes are based on someone’s interpretation of a secondary issue. Almost none go to the heart of the matter: whether Jesus is God, whether one is saved by faith or works, or whether there is a resurrection of the dead.

      You are, at least, dealing with a primary issue: is the Bible trustworthy? That’s a big deal. I believe that it is. That’s also the historic position of virtually every person calling themselves Christian since before the New Testament was written. It’s the first line of attach from skeptics, too… which shows that it’s a primary issue.

      My question to you is simple: as you understand it, which parts of the Bible are trustworthy?

  14. Larry E Billig says:

    I know I’m going against the grain here but I’m trying to find an explanation. Let me use an example: Say someone takes a photograph and its blurry, one person sees a deer another sees a moose. Is either person looking at photo in the wrong, no. Is it the photographer, maybe or it could be the lens could be dirty. We are the people trying to figure out what it is in the photo. The photographer is the author of a certain doctrine misunderstood. The dirty lens could be Satan. It’s just and idea because things aren’t adding up, the photo is blurry and there is a reason for it .

  15. Larry E Billig says:

    Excuse the spelling, I’m usually in hurry. I lean heavily towards the Calvinist beliefs to the point of falling over. I followed the Arminien (spelling right?) way most of my life until I woke up and seen the light. A lot of verses comes together now with the elect outlook where they didn’t before. That is a topic I like batting back and forth especially with Arminiens, just the word ELECT seems to stump them a great deal, also God’s Chosen is another. I was discussing the Bible’s controversies and how they originated with a fellow worker yesterday who is a Aminien Southern Baptist and he also thought Lucifer could be the culprit. One of the posters here in an earlier post thought it also. A lot of people question the enherency of the Bible. One has to wonder where God ends and the author begins or vica versa. Satan’s been slithering around in the heavens, the garden and all through the Bible interfering between God and man, it seems it happened somewhat here with the authors but not to the point of ruining the message of salvation. Just a theory because it seems the Christians should be in harmony as they were with Christ himself, except when interfered by Satan. Another big reason I believe Satan has a hand in on it is, what is going to happen to the cult Christians with their Bible readings? If you think about it, a member of the elect would read it in the mannor that it is suppose to be read and understood in. I honestly don’t think God mines me a bit questioning what going on with the Bible because he knows I want to know his word and by investigating it weaving in and out of truth one will do until finds truth. If I didn’t have any interest at all then I would be in trouble. I prayed for guidance, realizing I would have to take it to him because if I took it to man, that man might have been an Arminiun. Just kidding, even though many of truth is said in jest (-;

    • Tony says:


      You asked, so I’ll answer: Arminian. After Jacobus Arminius. =)

      Most people in the Arminian tradition don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, or hearing about, ‘the elect.’ One might suppose that because they believe that the atonement is unlimited, the Reformed view of the elect can’t be right… so they, perhaps, gloss over it. That’s an oversight, of course. The New Testament says a lot about the elect.

      What most Reformed people don’t know is that scholars differ greatly on whether the elect are individuals or groups. It’s a good question, as the texts seem to apply either way. Are the elect particular, specific people? Are the elect simply those who would eventually become saved? Is the elect simply the church? I attend a church currently that has some strong Reformed folks in it. I’m on staff there, and I teach quite a bit. They seem entirely unaware that there’s any question about whether people are saved against their will, or whether their will is changed so they want to choose to be saved. Reformed folks, perhaps, engage in the same oversight when they gloss over the many, many verses about choosing to be saved. In the end, I don’t think the ordo salutis is that big of a deal.

      Yes, a lot of people wonder whether the Bible is inerrant. Again, I’m not sure that’s an argument I would fight in. The question is important, but it’s not important in the way that most people argue it. The question is whether the truth that people need is clearly spelled out in it. I believe the Bible – as originally written – is inerrant. When discussing whether someone would come to faith, the question is irrelevant. They only need to believe that God exists, that He rewards those who seek Him, and that they want the reward. They can learn more of the details at any time, but wondering whether doulos means “slave” or “servant” is largely irrelevant to someone wondering whether God loves them. My goal isn’t convince them that the Bible is inerrant. My goal is to show them the evidence that God is trustworthy, and to BEG THEM, if necessary, to be reconciled to Him.

      >> not to the point of ruining the message of salvation

      That seems like an important point. I love a good debate about the tiny details, but I don’t engage in those debates with someone who hasn’t already committed their life to God. For example: if someone is a shoplifter, well… they shouldn’t steal stuff, right? Telling them to stop stealing is good and wise, but beside the point when it comes to helping them see that God is trustworthy. If we can give them enough information to trust God, then HE will make sure they stop shoplifting. Changing their behavior ahead of time is good, but won’t save their soul. If they are born again, their behavior will usually change automatically. Same goes for most theological debates: convincing a non-believer that the virgin birth is true won’t save them either… and it’s irrelevant to being born again. We can attack the less important stuff after they get adopted into God’s family.

      Sounds like we agree on most of the most important things, Larry. I’m happy to call you my brother. Have a great day!

  16. Larry says:

    Hey Brethren,
    How are ya?? Lets get right to the nitty gritty, Christ died for the sins of world, if he died as the Aminian believe Christ’s atonement didn’t work because there are people going to hell and the bible doesn’t state all that the Arminian will come back with to make it work. Sins of the world to me is the sins of the elect which would make the atonement legitimate. Christ told his diciples, I chose you, you didn’t chose me, sounds to me like it was Gods choice not man. Anything on man’s behalf concerning salvation to me would be a type or works, which we know don’t play a part. Born again, we didn’t play a part in our first birth and we don’t play a part here either. I’m sure you know the story of Esau and Jacob, how God hated Esau before he was born, not much of a chance of free will there either. I can go on and on with these. Most people don’t want to accept Calvanism because they think it makes God out a monster . As Sproul explains it so perfectly, we all deserve hell because of Adam and Eve, if some end up in hell they are the ones receiving justice, the ones that receive mercy are the elect. He doesn’t owe any body mercy, he grants it to his own. Some might think that still isn’t fair, we don’t want what is fair because all would go to hell for our sins. Sproul also used a governor of a state granting a pardon to someone sentenced to death as an example. I watched a video on line in a bible study and the teacher must have been a believer in free will, one of the students stated, if God grants man free will and if you don’t chose him, he sends you to hell.

    • Tony says:

      Hey Larry!

      I’ll make it short and sweet. The idea that the atonement is limited contradicts several clear passages in the Bible, so it cannot be correct. For example: John the Baptist said that Jesus would take away the sins of the world. There’s nothing in the text to suggest that John only meant ‘the elect,’ as in certain people that God chose for salvation to the exclusion of the rest. Instead, “the world” is the Greek word KOSMOS. For example: in Hebrews 2:9, we see that Jesus tasted death for everyone. For example: in 2 Corinthians 5, we see that Jesus died for all, therefore all died. For example: in 2 Peter 2 we read that Jesus bought even false teachers… people who introduce destructive heresies, denying Jesus Himself.

      The reason for the Reformed view of the limited atonement is that no one is able to thwart God… so, if God doesn’t want any to be lost, and some are indeed lost, then God doesn’t get His way. That means He’s not sovereign, they think. Well, that’s easy to debunk. Sovereign doesn’t mean deciding everything. Sovereign means total control. If God decides to let us decide, then we have a part in our own salvation… and some will choose what God does not want.

      Why do you think there are so many verses that talk about our part in salvation? In Acts 2, Peter preaches. When the crowd heard the gospel, they responded by asking what they should do. A Reformed response would be ‘Nothing. It’s all up to God, and anything you do would be a work. If you’re elect, God will save you. If you’re not, God will damn you.’ Instead, Peter gave the biblical answer: repent and be baptized in response to the gospel, and you will be saved.

      I see no way around this, Larry. Do you?

  17. Larry says:

    Hey Tony,
    The elect does play a part in their salvation, they have to hear the word, respond, worship, tithe, etc. People that look at the doctrine of election from the outside in instead of from inside, they will never believe it or understand it. Just because you are elect doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything at all, if one doesn’t do anything at all, they would not be one of the elect. Believe you me if someone is of the elect, they will love worship, respect, crave, etc., God. What it says before and after some verses tells the story in some instances. I know in the one instance John was talking to Jews about Christ dying just for sins of the Jews and John stated he died for the sins of the world, not meaning the people sense but the planet. If Christ died for the sins of the whole world in the people sense, we would all be in heaven. Another thing if God intended all to go to heaven the devil must be more powerful then because it’s not happening. What really tells the tale is when Paul is stating in Romans 9 verses: 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[d] 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[e] How does free will play at part here: Many are called but few are CHOSEN.

    14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f]

    16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Why do you think Paul is having to explain in verse 14? People were apparently having a hard time accepting God as being the one to determine. Verse 16 above says it in a nutshell, it isn’t the will or the free will of the person. All of this in Romans wouldn’t be needed in the Bible if it was a person’s will, but it’s God’s will as it states. Another thing God’s glory and mercy isn’t diplayed very well by giving man half the credit. When an elect/chosen person comes to the realization that God chose them, the extreme feeling of joy and gratitude of God’s mercy given to them will never be known if a person believes it was because they made a decision from their own free will.

    • Tony says:


      When you say that the elect play a part in their own salvation, you’re disagreeing with the U in TULIP. Unconditional Election means that God chose individuals for salvation before they were born, and they WILL be saved because God has willed their salvation. They will be saved regardless of their own intentions, their actions, and their desires. Your statement isn’t uncommon among the Reformed, but it’s not something that most Reformed would agree with. They would say that the elect are saved because God wills them to be saved, that they desired God because God caused them to desire Him, that they have faith because God gave them faith, and so on.

      I always find it interesting to note that John Calvin wouldn’t agree with most Reformed folks today. I don’t quote Calvin as though his words alone are truth, but I do find his words instructive:

      “We believe and are assured that God does not desire the death of sinners, because he calls all equally to repentance and promises that if they only repent he will be ready to receive them.”

      Get it? That’s not at all like the teachings of most Reformed folks, is it?

      As for the atonement, Jesus did in fact die for the sins of all people. That doesn’t mean that everybody will go to Heaven… you have it mixed up. Sin isn’t what keeps people out of Heaven, and it isn’t what sends people to Hell. The penalty for sin has been paid in full. If you doubt that what I say is true, good for you! I didn’t make it up. Go read 2 Corinthians 5 in full, and add 6:1 to it. For lazy people who won’t do it, here’s a synopsis: God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them. He has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation, as if we spoke on His behalf… and we are to BEG people, if necessary, to BE reconciled to God. Paul urged the Corinthians to not receive God’s grace in vain.

      What keeps people out of Heaven? Not sin. There are a number of verses in the New Testament that spell that out. It’s not being reconciled that keeps people from Heaven. God did His part, but will not do our part. We must choose to be reconciled to Him, or we will not be saved. Incidentally, 6:1 also destroys the whole Irresistible Grace thing (the I in TULIP). If God’s grace in providing for our salvation can be extended in vain, then it’s not irresistible. If it’s resistible, then the elect are NOT saved simply because God chose them.

      One of the principles of hermeneutics is that we use the more clear verses to interpret the less clear verses. When Peter wrote that false teachers would deny the Lord who bought them, we learned that the Lord bought false teachers… so the extent of the atonement doesn’t stop at the line between saved and unsaved. When Paul wrote that the Corinthians should not receive God’s grace in vain, we learned God’s grace is not irresistible. When Paul wrote that one died for all, therefore all died, we learned that the wages of sin – death, of course – had been paid in full.

      Jesus died for sinners. That’s everybody. All died when He died. God’s grace in dying for us can be received in vain, if one refuses to be reconciled to God.

      Make sense?

  18. Larry says:

    Hey Tony,
    I stand corrected, we don’t actually play a part in our salvation but we do play it out.

    “We believe and are assured that God does not desire the death of sinners, because he calls all equally to repentance and promises that if they only repent he will be ready to receive them”.
    His ways are not our ways. I don’t understand some things. He seems to do what he wants and at times he don’t give us a reason, he don’t owe us an explanation for anything he does. Esau didn’t have a chance to repent, he hated him before he was born. He has killed off whole cities of people including children( who probably woundn’t have repented anyways).

    What keeps people out of Heaven? Not sin. There are a number of verses in the New Testament that spell that out. It’s not being reconciled that keeps people from Heaven.

    This is true but approached two different ways, one from the elect who is already reconciled and free willed asking.

    I’m having a hard time trying to decypher whether you’re coming from a Arminian point of view or Calvinist, not knowing whether to agree or disagree.
    I believe in irresistable grace if a member of the elect. If God is going to elect someone he surely wouldn’t elect someone who would walk away from him.

    Tony you mentioned leaning towards the Calvinist belief but it seems at times you don’t agree. Let’s put it this way, do you believe in the doctrine of election?

    • Tony says:


      With respect, I don’t understand the words you’re using. ‘We don’t play a part in our salvation, but we play it out.’ Either God saves us entirely on His own, or He doesn’t, right? It’s one or the other. The witness of Scripture is clear: God calls everyone to repentance. God draws everyone to Himself. God does not want any to be lost. I could go on and on. If we play no part in our salvation beyond “playing it out,” then we’re mere puppets. That’s no better than philosophical materialism (neo-Darwinian evolution), which includes the claim that we’re only biomechanical, biochemical machines that respond to external stimuli solely on the basis of our DNA. In the case of the far end of Calvinism, we’re only doing what God has ordained that we do… not what we choose to do, as we have no free will, being entirely spiritually dead. Is that what you mean?

      If God doesn’t desire the death of sinners, then – according to some who misrepresent sovereignty – no sinners would die, as God always gets what He wants and nobody can thwart Him. Right? God must desire that sinners repent, and awaits that repentance. That’s what Calvin wrote, and I agree with it: He is ready to receive any who repent, and He has called everyone – equally – to do so.

      Let me recommend that you read the parts about God hating Esau in context. You may find that it says less than you thought. Keep in mind that “Israel” can mean Jacob or his many descendants, and that “Esau” can mean Esau or the Edomites as a whole.

      You use the phrase “free willed” to go with “reconciled.” Are you saying that the unsaved have no free will, but that the saved do?

      >> I’m having a hard time trying to decypher whether you’re coming from a Arminian point of view or Calvinist, not knowing whether to agree or disagree.

      Oh, Larry. With all due respect, you must have no idea how this looks. It sounds like you’re saying that if my view is Arminian, you’ll probably disagree with it… but if it’s Calvinist, you might not. I don’t call myself an Arminian, because I haven’t put on Arminius. I haven’t put on Calvin, either. I’ve put on Christ, and Christ alone. You should not be saying that you would agree or disagree with my view on the basis of some human dude that died a long time ago. You should be saying, like the Bereans, “does that match what we see in Scripture?”. I hate to break it to you, and I hate having to even say it, but if your agreement depends on anything more than that, you’re pretty far off-base. I say that as a brother, not an enemy. There’s one mediator between God and man, and it’s neither Calvin nor Arminius (nor Luther, nor Zwingli, nor Peter, nor Booth, etc).

      If you believe in irresistible grace, how then do you read 2 Corinthians 6:1? In chapter 5, Paul speaks of how we should treat those who are unsaved. He speaks of our message to them… that, if necessary, we beg them to be reconciled to God, to not let His grace be in vain, and that today is the day of salvation. If our audience needs to be saved, and if today is the day of salvation, and if we’re begging them to be reconciled to God, how is His grace irresistible? If His saving grace were indeed irresistible, we would not need to speak on His behalf, we would not need to beg, and they could never receive God grace in vain. Right?

      Do I believe in the doctrine of election? Well, that depends. If you mean, “Do you believe that what the Bible says about election is true?” then, of course, my answer is yes. If you mean, “Do you and I agree on what those verses mean, and think the same things about how people are saved,” then it doesn’t seem like we do. Right? You think that we have no part in our salvation. The Bible appeals to people, throughout both testaments, to turn their hearts toward God, to taste and see that He is good, to choose this day whom we will serve, to be reconciled to Him today, and so on. It seems to me that you disagree with a plain reading of those parts of the Bible, regardless of what Calvin or Arminius has said. I don’t say that to draw a dividing line between us, of course. If you belong to Him, you belong to me. I’m just answering because you asked, and because you seem like the kind of man who can take disagreement for what it’s worth.

      I don’t have all of the answers. I won’t pretend to know more than I do. I will, however, challenge anyone whose words seem to contradict the Scriptures they claim to follow, and hope that they will do the same for me.

  19. Larry says:

    What I mean by playing it out is, the person has to hear the gospel to respond to it.

    (Oh, Larry. With all due respect, you must have no idea how this looks. It sounds like you’re saying that if my view is Arminian, you’ll probably disagree with it… but if it’s Calvinist, you might not)

    I figured you would take it that way after I posted. What I mean is, I don’t know have all the answers or know all the verses that support either doctrine and there are times I don’t know what direction you are coming from to agree or disagree.

    • Tony says:


      Yes, anybody receiving the gospel must first hear it. We agree. I’ll ask again (and again, if you’ll let me): what do you do with 2 Corinthians 6:1?

      Like you, I don’t have all of the answers. As you point out, there are times we can use the same words but mean different things by them. Like I said, I meant no disrespect. None. I simply know too many people who identify more as Calvinists (or whatever) than they do as Christian… as if their ‘flavor’ of Christianity is more important than the fact that they have been born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of my very good friends run websites that spend nearly ALL of their time defending their man’s position, or attacking another man’s position, rather than explaining and defending God’s position. It distresses me to see ministries with “Reformed” in the name, as if that’s more important than “Christian,” or as if the Christian part is assumed and covered, while they need to address the finer points of theology to make their mission complete. These are apparently mature believers, with quality educations and plenty of ministry experience, and it seems they’ve gotten into the weeds, rather than staying on the path. Maybe, after we’re finished making disciples and helping new believers mature, we’ll have time to debate whether Calvin was righterer or wrongerer than Arminius about some detail.

      Does that make sense? My response to you was as much about the larger conversation as what you wrote to me. I appreciate your time, my friend.

  20. Larry says:

    2 Corinthians 6:1 I really don’t know the answer to this one, there is more than one meaning for the word vain in the verse.

    It probably isn’t right to argue the doctrine but I think it’s good to debate it because your reading and studing your Bible to try and prove your point.

    • Tony says:


      I like debating doctrine. I just don’t like the whole ‘Calvinist vs Arminian’ thing. All of us should simply be trying to understand Scripture. Along those lines, please: if there’s more than one meaning for ‘vain’ in 2 Corinthians 6:1, list them so we can discuss. Thanks!

  21. Clyde says:

    I like NIV bibles though. (New International Version)

  22. John w. Coons says:

    Please send me a list of GWT translators and their church affiliations. Thank you and God bless your work.
    John W. Coons

    • Tony says:


      The GWT is (for those who aren’t familiar) “God’s Word Translation” of the Bible. It was produced in 1995 and the translation team was composed of members of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The English grammar is simplified, written in an informal style, with shorter sentences than other versions.

      For those who aren’t familiar, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) is a more conservative part of the Lutheran church. Here’s some of what they affirm:

      • The Bible is inspired and inerrant.
      • Salvation is by grace through faith, and they reject universalism.
      • Women can vote but not be pastors.
      • The role of Pastor is divinely established, and pastors must be men who have received a “call” from God to serve.
      • Communion is closed, only available to baptized believers who believe that Jesus’ body and blood are literally present in the elements.
      • Marriage is between one man and woman, and homosexual behavior is sin.

      Does that help?

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