Moorman v. White Debate

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Moorman v. White Debate

Postby bibleprotector » 26 May 2014, 23:21

In 2011 there was a debate between anti-King James Bible Only writer Dr James White, and Dr Jack Moorman, author of several pro-King James Bible works.

My overview of the entire topic is as follows:

The “King James Only Movement”, (if such a title is really apt, since those who are said to hold this view actually are persons belonging to all manner of groups and movements), seems in recent years to have undergone a kind of transformation from the Textus Receptus Onlyist kind of position, which predominated in the 1980s, to a more concerted “English-premier” view today.

Admittedly, there are a great variety of views being held today under the title of “KJBO”, but it is very clear that with the recent controversies concerning Hyles-Anderson College, and concerning the TRO views of D. A. Waite and D. Cloud, etc., that there is broadly and more strongly a “KJBO” view which excels beyond, supersedes and sometimes even rejects parts of Textus Receptus Onlyism.

The scholarly “debate” has often focused, particular in Reformed circles, on Textus Receptus, Majority Text and Critical Text views. The “English Text” view is often neglected or coldly condemned. However, English Textism, if examined, is not just made up of views of “Ruckmanism”, “Riplingerism” or “Double-Inspirationists”, but also of what we might call (variously) broad, moderate, or purist “King James Onlyism”.

An examination of Jack Moorman’s book “Final Authority”, seems to place him ideologically along side Edward Hills and Donald Waite, rather than in the more progressive English-purist King James Onlyism. Therefore, Moorman is not wholly to be taken as a representative of “King James Only”, nor should his argumentations be taken as the best that King James Only has to offer against those on the opposite side of the debate, such as Dr James White.

No clearer example can be seen illustrating the difference between an English-onlyist and a Textus Receptus-onlyist, than when discussing a verse like Revelation 16:5. The TRO attempts to approach the issue from a natural scientific point of view. They ask, “What is the evidence that this reading existed in the past?” The English-onlyist would ask a different question, “Why is this reading present and correct?” The TRO is looking to back up the correctness of a reading to legitimise it, whereas the KJBO accepts (or assumes) the correctness of a reading, and engages in study to see why these things be so. The problem is that evidence is drawn from data which exists in the present. That means that the view onto the past is subject to interpretation. The way to eliminate subjectivity is by asserting the providence of received tradition over and above interpretative statements (no matter how “scientific”, “logical” or “factual”) concerning the early centuries.

The fundamental basis of the TRO approach is primarily focused on the Greek New Testament, that is, surviving copies in the Greek language; whereas the emphasis of the KJBO approach is on the manifest and extant English New Testament, where there is no degree of variableness or shadow of turning. The issue is not to look for human or natural reasons why the KJB translators got it right in 1611, but to assert that they were able to get it right because of the provision of correct material allowing for sound judgment.

When someone like Dr White asks questions or debates concerning a TRO (or a Byzantine-weighted) approach, he can (I think) find holes to expose them, because of their inconsistencies with the avowed wording of the King James Bible (where the English does not seem to match the extant Greek). But where the differences between the modern critical position are compared with an English-first view, it becomes much more difficult for the pro-Critical Text debater (since whole underlying premises differ), and so it usually becomes a case of smearing and rhetoric (sadly, on both sides) rather than any meaningful exchange/challenge of ideas. The whole exercise could then be reduced to Sir Thomas Moreisms.

But when and where English-Onlyism is fairly and honestly examined and appraised, where diligent and careful thought and inquiries are pursued — I think that it would be on this ground where the case is made or broken. I find that the ultimate appeal of arguments on both sides, besides appeals to “God’s will”, are very sharply divided upon that, on one side, men should actually be able to comprehend and tangibly perceive God’s truth, versus the other side, where men are subject to error and must be content with mere sufficiency.


I watched a small part of the “debate” (it seemed more like a dialogue to me). From my recollection, a question came up from the audience about the Dead Sea Scrolls. The issue raised seemed to be asking whether or not the KJB needed to be revised in light of the DSS. Moorman basically dismissed the question. White, on the other hand, claimed that the NT had Septuagint quotes.

From my recollection, there was another question at some stage then about updating the KJB, and that since the KJB had been “revised”, why not accept maybe the NKJV or something.

Moorman went on to try and say that the KJB while an accurate translation, was open to elucidation. He admitted that explanation had to be made of the unusual or difficult words, but by his comparison to the Greek, he seemed to indicate that he thought that somehow the full truth was there in Greek.

He said, imagine I have two discs, one the inspired original, one the KJB translation. He said that if he put the KJB disc over the original one, that the light of the original one would shine through. This would seem to imply that the very fullness of “light” was not there in the KJB, but required somehow the originals for the full sense, etc.

From my recollection, Moorman then went on to explain, in answer to a comment made by the moderator, that the KJB was to be treated as a standard.

White asked which Greek the KJB should be measured to, since the KJB differed to the particular Stephanus Edition he held in his hand. White also asked in the alterations to the King James Bible, which “standard” should be taken, the Oxford, Cambridge or 1769 Edition? (I note that White did not say “1769 Cambridge” now, which is a technically incorrect statement the Dean Burgon Society make.)

Moorman was clearly unable to answer these areas properly. He talked about the KJB being a standard, and 400 years and the like, to which White responded that similar argumentation had been offered for the Vulgate against Erasmus’ revision.

My view is that there are answers to White’s allegations, and that Moorman did a fairly poor job. Some degree of failure on Moorman’s part, I think, rests in his TRO position rather than a more English-centric, providential and received traditional view.

Moorman's opening statement talks about the Word of God being preserved in Hebrew and Greek.

But the reality is there is NO perfect copy of the Scripture in Hebrew and Greek today. Moorman's approach is fundamentally flawed.
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