Textus Receptus or King James Bible?
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3.
In case you haven't noticed, there is a huge difference in calling yourself a King James Bible believer and calling yourself a TR (Textus Receptus) man. A distinct line needs to be drawn between the two. They cannot walk as one. They do not have the same final authority. One believes in a book that he can hold in his hand, the other believes in a foreign language that he cannot speak, barely can read with lexicons surrounding him, and which is subject to his constant quest for a better rendering.
It is a mistake to think that the TR man holds the bible for his final authority. His literature and public pronouncements will state that he does, but when you study their lives and their literature, you soon discover that it is their doctrine that is their final authority. When a TR man is reading his King James Bible and he sees a word that is not as adamant about a certain doctrine as he would like, he flips open his lexicons and scrolls through variant readings until he finds one that he likes better.
Did he choose that better definition because he thought upon his readings of the thousands of Greek books and manuscripts available for a true student of Greek to read, and then reflected upon his own experience with that particular word? Of course not, who are you kidding? He ran to a lexicon or he ran to a commentary. He's going to choose which word he likes based upon his doctrine, or based upon his confidence in the orthodoxy of a recommended commentary.
When he reads a simple verse such as, No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon, Matthew 6:24, he cannot be sure what it said. This is what he wants you to think that he sees; ουδεις δυναται δυσι κυριοις δουλευειν η γαρ τον ενα μισησει και τον ετερον αγαπησει η ενος ανθεξεται και του ετερου καταφρονησει ου δυνασθε θεω δουλευειν και μαμμωνα.
In reality, he sees a bunch of Greek words which with the aid of his favorite lexicons he hopes to find deeper meaning. He is sure that he is capable of divining the truth. His rudder is firmly set to steer him to whatsoever truth that the particular branch of conservative Christianity he follows would find the most fundamentally safe. As he carefully scrolls through the variant definitions that he is offered in his smorgasbord of lexical offerings, he smugly constructs the true meaning of the passage. He discounts the King James word, he throws out definitions that are not quite as fundamentally sound as his clique would like; And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god, Isaiah 44:17.
Let's not be fooled into thinking that TR men are King James men. TR men say that they get their doctrine from their bibles, but in reality they get their bibles from their doctrine. They feel at complete and utter liberty to redefine any word that they choose, based on their previously held belief. They feel morally and doctrinally superior to advocates of the new versions because they limit their shenanigans to only the Textus Receptus.
Having a doctrinal discussion with a TR man is like playing chess with a man who feels that he can pick up any piece off of the board at any time and replace it with one more to his liking. Once he has made his plan of attack, if a bishop needs to be a knight to fulfill his plan, he merely walks over to another set and makes the swap. If you splutter and object he looks at you with disdain over your lack of education. How ignorant to think that you are limited to the pieces dictated hundreds of years ago!
If you have a doctrinal discussion with an advocate of the Alexandrian manuscripts it is more complicated still. It is like playing 3D chess with a man who feels that he can change levels and pieces at will. Again, it will be his doctrine that will guide his choice of manuscripts and word definitions. A liberal will choose one manuscript over another with a prejudice. A conservative will pick a different one but equally prejudiced.
As a student, I had the opportunity to study Dr. Bruce Metzger's Greek New Testament in which he carefully allowed his readers to see which manuscripts he had chosen to draw from as he hopped and skipped through the manuscripts. Yes, I could read Ancient Greek and I could understand it with the help of lexicons. It quickly became obvious that Dr. Metzger had a deep prejudice against the Textus Receptus. Merrily, he would choose Aleph or "D" or Vaticanus for his textual source and stick with it for a few verses in a row. When suddenly one of those manuscripts conformed to the King James Bible, he switched.
I remember once watching a cat playing with a marble next to a ledge. It lazily stretched itself out and then swatted the marble. I marveled that the marble never went over the ledge. The cat would roll onto its back and swat the marble again. Then it would dart over and give it another smack. It finally dawned on me, what appeared random was not random. That cat was in perfect control. It didn't want that marble to fall off of that ledge and it did not. I was reminded of that cat while I read behind Dr. Metzger. With the skill of a cat, he made what looked like a random and honest search for the best manuscripts to be in actuality a carefully contrived project to exclude the Textus Receptus.
Hurray for the TR man! He has narrowed down his bible to one manuscript. He can still alter his bible at will with a seemingly endless offering of lexicons and definitions. He can stand with feet on two divers shores. He can plant one foot on the "correct text", but with the other foot he stands on a limitless set of choices for how he (Oh no doubt a godly man!) will chose to translate any given word. He gets his doctrine from the bible, but he gets his bible from his doctrine. He is like a dog chasing its tail.
If someone who has studied the King James Bible for years and who has made the "ignorant" mistake of thinking that God could have sanctioned those words actually says something that he doesn't agree with, he never uses one ounce of his intellectual wit to refute what is said from within the bible. Instead, he refers to fundamentally sound sources. Of course he is the one who chooses which sources are reliable, and Shazam! the sources he chooses render the texts in question just as he prefers.
Holding his Colonel Klink monocle to his eye, he states with great intellectual authority how deceived and how foolish this King James man is. If he had to make his objection from a verse by verse discussion from within the text of the King James Bible, he wouldn't know how. That is not because he's stupid. He is not. It takes a lot of intelligence to juggle all the variant lexicons and commentaries. Such a man is, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, 2nd Timothy 3:7.
An "ever learning" man is not lacking in brains. He's lacking in a final authority. He cannot settle on any given final authority for fear that someone from within his clique will find a new and marvelous way to translate a given passage. That is what they call study. They are forever reading and studying behind others who also translate at will. For them to settle on any given passage is as difficult as trying to describe one glance of a brief second of a kaleidoscope's shifting image. It takes much intelligence and much learning to be a TR man. It also takes much intelligence and much learning to be a Jesuit.
The TR man loves to consign King James men to such unlikely titles as Ruckmanites. It is so easy for him to put everyone in little boxes. He listens to what others say only long enough to make a quick judgements of what box to put them in. He is so well educated in various theological schemes that part of his magic in the eyes of his unwitting fans is that he is, a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law, Romans 2:19,20. He is like a player on a game show who is excited to push the button first and blat out his judgment.
Because I believe that a King James Bible is perfect, am I a Ruckmanite? You may say "yes, he advocates that position, therefore that is what you are". Then with an similar judgment, I can call you a sodomite. I can assure you that the sodomites in my town would quickly agree with your position that the King James Bible has problems with its translation. You may object because there are many things that differentiate you from a sodomite. I sir, likewise object to being called a Ruckmanite. There are many things that distinguish me from his doctrine and life.
If anybody is paying attention, there is no power with God in such a life. Churches which have chosen this form of bible understanding are dry and withering. A missionary who I have recently met and quickly came to respect, has noticed that those churches in his orbit that took the TR position from a particular source, are now powerless with God.
TR men are not bible believers. Forty years ago, there may have been an excuse for that kind of ignorance. With the research that has come to light in the last forty years, there is no longer any excuse. For every objection that they can raise, there is a perfectly coherent explanation backed by documentation and that supports the King James only position.