Sola Scriptura or Papal Tradition? Catholic-Adventists and the SDARM Interpretation of the Bible
The Reformists of the SDARM generally BELIEVE and TEACH:
- SDA Messenger Ellen White, rather than the Bible, can (in practice if not in theory) be used to justify doctrine.
- That only the KJV version of the Bible can be used.
- That one should use the proof-text method of biblical interpretation, citing Isaiah 28, of ‘precept-upon-precept’.
The Reformists are WRONG because:
- As Protestant Christians, we should rely on the Bible and the Bible alone (known as sola sciptura) as the basis for all our doctrine – we shouldn’t just pay lip-service to the idea.
- In practice, SDARM Reformers give more weight to Ellen White than the Bible, treat her as infallible, and quote her without consideration to her 19th-Century Western Victorian context.
- Ellen White herself counselled that the Bible and the Bible alone should be our standard for doctrine. In practice, the Reformists justify their positions first from Ellen White and only secondly from the Bible.
- Mrs White also counselled that we should not be quoting her from our pulpits in our public labour. In practice, Reformist preaching is full of Ellen White quotes as much as if not more so than the Bible.
- Concerning versions of the Bible, there is nothing more holy about the KJV version compared with other versions of the Bible, the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek not English, the KJV is based on a less widespread number of manuscripts, the KJV itself has translation errors, the KJV was made to serve the interests of the Church of England clergy, and the KJV uses archaic language no longer understandable by the masses.
- Concerning methods of interpreting the Bible, the proof-method is not supported by scripture itself. The phrase ‘precept-upon-precept’ (Hebrew ‘sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav’) in Isaiah 28:1,13 actually means the opposite of what the Reformists teach – it is a gibberish statement akin to ‘blah, blah’ in English. God is actually condemning the ancient Israelite leaders for teaching the people such stammering.
- The mainstream SDA Church adheres to the Protestant ideal of sola scriptura to support its doctrines; like the Roman Catholic Church, the SDARM relies on extra-biblical sources (namely Ellen White and tradition) for its official positions.
- The mainstream SDA Church relies on ancient scriptural manuscripts in the original ancient languages of Hebrew and Koine Greek for its official positions; the SDARM relies on the Old-English 1604 King James Version of the Bible.
- The mainstream SDA Church is keen to understand scripture in context; the SDARM cherry-picks scriptural texts without regard to context.
- The mainstream SDA Church adopts a thought-inspiration view that understands God was with the penmen of the Bible; like Muslims, the SDARM adopts a verbal-inspiration view in seeing God in the pen.
- The mainstream SDA Church are ‘People of the Book’; the SDARM are ‘People of the Chart’.
Did readers get that? According to the SDARM:
- Only the KJV of the Bible supposedly has the entire Gospel in it.
- Other versions of the Bible are not God’s Word.
- There is supposedly some conspiracy, in that other versions of the Bible are allegedly a twisting of truth by Satan.
- The KJV supposedly was not written in the everyday common language of the people at the time, but in some alleged higher grade of English, which is why the KJV is somehow superior.
- The KJV contains superior English, which is why we should all supposedly use it.
- Although it may be stating the obvious, the Bible was not written in English – it was written in ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek. Jesus and the disciples on the other hand spoke Aramaic (somewhat a cross between modern Hebrew and Arabic) as their daily language.
- There is nothing holy about the English language, and there is certainly nothing holy about Old English of the KJV – unless you happen to worship the theatre and Shakespeare. English is a modern and mongrel language composed of ancient Greek, Latin, Old German, Old French, Celtic and a whole host of others.
- The authorised KJV of 1604 was not in fact the first English translation – Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale and other early Protestant Reformers began producing translations as early as the 15th Century. These earlier versions were later condemned by the official clerical authorities who endorsed the KJV.
- The KJV is based on the Byzantium Textus Receptus, which is based on a small number of manuscripts originating from the 4th Century; whereas, many modern translations are based on the Alexandrian Text, which is based on an earlier 2nd Century manuscript plus a much larger number of additional manuscripts.
- Today modern Bible translators also have at their disposal some 5,400 different manuscripts for the NT. The original translators of the KJV did not have such material to double-check and cross-reference.
- Modern translations are superior in the sense that modern translation committees rely on far older, and a far greater number of ancient manuscripts of the Bible.
- There are a number of passages in the KJV which in any event do not conform to the Greek Textus Receptus anyway, and are perhaps translation errors. For example, Acts 19:37 in the Textus Receptus literally says “robbers of temples” but the KVJ translators made this “robbers of churches” to downplay any reference to pre-Christian worship.
- The original translators of the KJV themselves observed there were different manuscripts. In fact, in the original KJV, the translators placed alternative manuscript readings in the margins.
- The KJV has terminology that is reminiscent of Roman Catholic (or more appropriately High Church of England) theology. For example, the title of books include ‘The Gospel According to Saint Luke’, adding the word ‘Saint’, instead of simply ‘The Gospel According to Luke’ as many modern translations have it.
- Presuming the KVJ was not written in everyday language of the people but superior language, how would such an elitist book be beneficial? Would it not be contrary to the Protestant efforts of Tyndale and others to bring the scriptures to the masses? Would this not be reminiscent of the Roman Catholic stance that the Bible only be in Latin, so the ordinary people could not really understand it? In this sense, the ‘superior English’ of the KVJ is not a benefit but a danger.
- The KJV has various naming errors, or unusual naming conventions for today’s audience, including the use of mythical creatures like "unicorn" for wild ox, "satyr" for "wild goat", "cockatrice" for common viper.
- The KJV translators had no consistent rule for differentiating between the use of definite and indefinite articles (i.e. whether to use a “the” or “a” in Dan 3:24 cf. 3:28).
- The KJV added passages that were only found in the Roman Catholic Bible, the Latin Vulgate, and not in the original Greek manuscripts. Examples include Acts 9:6 or 1 John 5:8.
- If someone wants ‘superior English’, it is arguable that it would then be far better to use the Latin Vulgate Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, as Latin forms the underlying building block for English grammar and syntax. In the most elite schools in the English-speaking world, it is Latin, not Old English, which is learnt by private-school students.
- The KJV makes some pretty bizarre translations, such as having the phrase “book of life” in Rev 22:19 when all known Greek manuscripts read “tree of life”. Or as another example, Luk 14:10 in the KJV gives the impression that men can be worshipped, in contravention of the 1st Commandment.
- The KJV uses words that are just likely to confuse a modern audience. This is especially problematic because English is a mongrel language that routinely evolves – faster than any language on earth. For example, how would a modern reader render “gay clothing” in Jam 2:3 – happy clothing or homosexual clothing?
- There is no proof that the translators of the KVJ were inspired, or any more inspired that modern translators. In fact, the original KVJ translators had their own preconceived theological-clerical agendas, as members of the Church of England clergy. By contrast, most modern translation committees are full of scholars from across denominations, to ensure that bias does not tempt the translators. Thus, modern translations have the kind of checks-and-balances that the KJV did not have.
- It is not entirely clear what KJV-Only adherents like the SDARM think about Christians who don’t speak English? Are they ok with them having a modern translation of say Swahili, or do they expect everyone to learn English?
- It is circular reasoning to cherry-pick a text to justify more cherry-picking.
- The passage is actually in Hebrew ‘sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav’, which many Bible versions note in their margins is probably meaningless sounds mimicking the prophet’s words. In other words, the prophet is effectively saying something meaningless akin to saying in gibberish English ‘Lah de dah, lah de dah; blah be blah, blah be blah.’
- As many Bibles also note in their margins, the actual reading of this passage in Hebrew is uncertain.
- Looking at the context of the chapter as a whole (something the SDARM deliberately avoid by their quote-mining method). We can see from verses 7-8 the Bible is describing false prophets and false priests, who are intoxicated from beer and wine, who have drug-induced visions and who vomit: ‘And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth’
- We then learn in verse 9 that the false priests and false prophets teach the people only milk, like a baby at the breast. Isaiah echoes these thoughts in Is 30:10: ‘They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.’
- Thus, it is these false prophets and priests who then speak gibberish-baby words in verses 10 ‘sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav’, really meaning something like ‘Lah de dah, lah de dah; blah be blah, blah be blah.’
- It is a result of these evil teachings of the false priests and false prophets that God effectively says fine, I’ll allow the people of Israel to listen to gibberish-baby words then, and so in verse 13 ‘sav lasav sav lasav / kav lakav kav lakav’ is repeated.
- We also read in the end of verse 13 that because the people also listen to the gibberish-baby words of the false priests and false prophets, God will allow them to be punished with impending doom (the destruction of Zion by Babylon): ‘so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured’
- There are allusions of this to the gibberish Glossolalia (Pentecostal tongue speaking) condemned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 14:22.
- Matt 8:5-7 v Luk 7:3-7 (Centurion himself or some Jewish Elders and friends);
- Matt 9:18 v Luk 8:41-42 (dead vs dying);
- Matt 20:30 v Luk 18:35-38 (2 vs 1 blind men);
- Matt 21:2-7 v Mar 11:2-7 (ass and colt vs just a colt);
- John 20:1 v Matt 28:1 (1 v 2 women at the tomb); and
- Luk 24:4 v Mar 16:5 (2 v 1 angel at the tomb).
- It is extremely reactionary and as such opposed in practice, if not in theory, to the possibility of new light.
- It insists on using a four-hundred year old Bible version, the KJV, which uses archaic Old English many of the common people cannot understand; thus, the common people must rely on the leaders, a situation similar to the priestly power of the Dark and Middle Ages.
- Its proof-text method is at worse gibberish, or at best immature and childish spiritual milk, which will not adequately prepare the people of God for the coming crises.