Streeter, Lloyd L. Seventy-five Problems with Central Baptist Seminary’s Book The Bible Version Debate. LaSalle, IL: First Baptist Church, 2001.
As evident from its title, Lloyd Streeter’s book was a response to a book published by Central Baptist Seminary. In an appendix, Streeter also offered his review of the book entitled From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man. In his foreword, Pastor Streeter described his book as “a handbook for answering King James Bible critics.” He asked: “What are the facts?” (p. 23). Streeter seemed to think that he presented a fair, kind, accurate, and balanced view that avoided the extremes. He stated that he does “not have any ax to grind” (p. 25). His intentions and motives may be good. He maintained that it is not helpful to “cast aspersions on others or treat one another with contempt” (p. 63). However, he failed to follow his own advice. For example, he asserted that one chapter in the book The Bible Version Debate “makes too much use of generalization and propaganda techniques to be considered an honest piece of work” (p. 39). In a second example, he described this same book as “somewhat unfair in its judgments, too general in its characterizations, unnecessarily harsh in its tone as well as deficient in its doctrine” (p. 25). In a third example, he wrote: “Advocates of the Critical Text and of the new translations are almost always intellectually dishonest” (p. 22). These are not the only such examples.
Of course, a brief review cannot deal adequately with all the claims and information in a 292 page book. The purpose of this review is to demonstrate that the author of this KJV-only book has failed to be accurate in some of his important claims. Streeter’s own assumptions, claims, and generalizations are more faulty than he may realize.
Streeter wrote: “The alternative to being ‘King James only’ is to be ‘Critical Text only,’ which for all practical purposes is to be ‘Vatican Manuscript only'” (p. 19). This statement depends on the fallacy of a false dilemma. Those are not the only two choices. For example, this reviewer has not recommended the Critical Text and is not either “Critical Text only” or “KJV only.”
Streeter maintained that “the King James Bible has never been revised. It is a ruse to say it has been revised” (p. 54). He claimed: “There were only 421 phonetic changes (changes in any sound of any word), according to Waite” (p. 55). He implied that the changes involved the correction of “printing and spelling errors between 1611 and 1769″ (p. 104). He asserted that “the KJV has remained exactly the same for nearly 250 years” (p. 55). Streeter was depending on and repeating faulty information. Waite’s count is inaccurate since there are around 2,000 changes that affect the sound of words between the 1611 KJV edition and the present Oxford KJV. All the spelling in KJV editions was not updated by 1769 since some spelling changes were introduced even after 1880. Furthermore, some of the renderings in the 1611 edition that later editors changed were the responsibility of the KJV translators who had kept them from the Bishops’ Bible.
While providing no evidence for his generalization, Streeter contended that “most KJV advocates believe that there were English Bibles before 1611 which were the Word of God” (p. 43). After reading over 100 KJV-only books, this reviewer has not found that most KJV-only authors consider the pre-1611 English Bibles to be the Word of God in the same sense or manner that is claimed for the KJV. In another generalization, Streeter asserted: “If one of the new versions is the Word of God, then the KJV is not” (p. 250). Streeter added: “‘They cannot both be the Word of God when they differ so greatly from one another. Things different are not the same” (p. 251). It is evident that Streeter has not read and carefully examined the pre-1611 English Bibles of which the KJV was a revision. The same-type differences can be found (in some cases greater differences) between the pre-1611 English Bibles and the KJV as can be found between the KJV and later English translations from the same underlying original language texts such as the NKJV and Modern KJV. Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew’s, and Luther’s German Bible did not have two whole verses (Mark 11:26, Luke 17:36) and a number of other phrases and clauses that are found in the KJV. The 1535 Coverdale’s and the Great Bible had three verses in one psalm that are not found in the KJV. Sometimes the KJV has more words than one or more of the pre-1611 English Bibles, and sometimes the KJV has fewer words. There are also many differences in the translators’ understanding of how to translate the same texts. In some places, one or more of the pre-1611 English Bibles have a better, clearer, and more accurate rendering than the KJV when compared to the preserved Scriptures in the original languages. According to a consistent application of Streeter’s reasoning, was the 1611 KJV a revision of a Bishops’ Bible and the other pre-1611 English Bibles that were not the Word of God since they differ greatly many times from the KJV? In effect, Streeter has minimized or ignored the actual differences found on the KJV-only view’s preserved line of translations as he maximized the differences found in new translations.
In this book, Streeter maintained that “the doctrine of verbal-plenary inspiration necessitates the doctrine of perfect preservation of the text” (p. 126). He wrote: “If God has perfectly preserved His Word, then God’s people had the perfect Word of God in every age” (p. 111). On the other hand, he seemed to contradict his own statements when he advocated “a winnowing or refining process extending from Tyndale through 1769″ (p. 104). Would a perfectly preserved text need to go through a claimed purifying process from 1526 until 1769? Does Streeter advocate a view of preservation that is consistent both before and after 1611 or 1769? Does he contradict his doctrine of perfect preservation of the [original language] text when he claims “the KJV is our final authority” (p. 256)? Does the doctrine of preservation teach that the final authority did not exist until 1611 or 1769? In effect, he made the KJV a greater authority than its underlying texts. Streeter wrote: “Any view which is not backed up with Scripture is just an opinion” (p. 257). What Scripture states a KJV-only command and teaches that the KJV is the final authority for English-speaking believers?
Streeter suggested that “there are only about two dozen” difficult (archaic) words in the KJV (p. 279). Is this a proven fact, an understatement, or an inaccurate claim? Why didn’t he provide his brief list of two dozen difficult words? Is he unaware of the books and other sources that list 600 to 800 archaic words in the KJV?
Streeter asserted that “it would be difficult to distinguish between the core beliefs of Luther and Erasmus” (p. 102). He defended Erasmus, who still held a number of Roman Catholic doctrinal views. The Church of England translators of the KJV held some of the same doctrinal views for which Streeter condemned Westcott and Hort.
In conclusion, the author of this book failed many times to provide valid evidence that supported his assumptions, assertions, and generalizations. This author is either uninformed or misinformed about several important matters, especially about the pre-1611 English Bibles. In a good number of cases, this author’s claimed problems were because of his own faulty, inconsistent KJV-only reasoning. This book does not present a balanced, accurate view of the Bible translation issue.