To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them, Isaiah 8:20.
Over 40 years ago, I had recently been converted to the King James Bible position. At that time, in the Athens, Greece area there was no church so inclined. An army sergeant with whom I had become acquainted started his own little church in his apartment. His home church in Georgia had sanctioned him. I was living on Mount Parnis 4800 feet above sea level overlooking Athens. In order to get to a church service, I had to catch a 45 minute ride with the Air force shift change down to the village of Kiffisia.
From there, I would walk to the train station and take the train to the Plaka area in the middle of Athens. Then I had the choice of catching a bus or taking a taxi. My shift work in the Air force did not always allow me to get to services, but I always enjoyed being there when I could.
None of us were well versed in scripture. Sometimes we would just get together and listen to a Dr. Ruckman sermon, and sometimes our army sergeant would preach a message. The church was unusual in that the preacher was black, his deacon was black and all of the people who attended were white. Sometimes we would fellowship with a Greek Baptist Church in a suburb called Anagenemenos, or translated into English, Born Again.
Born Again sounds like an odd name for a suburb, but if you told a taxi driver that you wanted to go to Anagenemenos, he knew where it was. After the terrible Greek Civil War in the late 1940s, a dispirited veteran of that war got saved which was a rare occurrence in Greece at that time. In those days his home was in a tiny village which was later swallowed up as a suburb in ever expanding Athens. He wrote Anagenemenos in bold white letters on the roof of his house. Soon the suburb was known by the sign on his roof.
By the late 1970s, the church (also called Anagenemenos) began to be heavily influenced by the RSV text both in its Modern Greek Translation and in its English Bible. The influential men of that church were being heavily influenced by the kenosis heresy. They believed that Philippians 2:8 read incorrectly in a King James Bible when it said; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
They had been reading a dissertation that told them that Christ "emptied himself" not humbled himself. The paper was written in English and they gave us copies. The paper was well argued that Jesus Christ emptied himself of his deity while on this earth. Keep in mind, we Americans were all very new to this kind of reasoning. I remember all of us gathered at our church and wondering how to respond to this. In that paper the author took great care to reason around John 3:13 which plainly stated that Jesus was in two places at one time which according to his theory was impossible. And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. The author took pains to find other ways to render John 3:13. The RSV gave it to him.
All of the reasoning in the paper seemed impeccable. Again, we were novices at best. The pastor of the church was not ordained, but had been given license by his duly established church in Georgia to conduct services since we had no better church to attend. We all agreed on Sunday to study the issue out all week and then to regather for our regular Thursday Night meeting to see if what was written was indeed true.
A friend of mine who was stationed at another base took the time to spend a couple of days with me and the two of us sweat out this new doctrine. At one point we became frustrated with our ability to get a straight answer, and we put on a Peter Ruckman teaching tape to give us a change of pace. (For those of you who knew Peter Ruckman, imagine the irony of a black preacher giving white boys Peter Ruckman material to study.) At one point, Peter Ruckman made an emphatic point. He explained that the only reason to change how a King James Bible was translated at any given point is because the King James Bible does not say what that particular preacher or author was saying.
There was our answer! The doctrine that our friends in the Greek Church were trying to teach us wasn't true. The King James Bible did not say that. They had to go to an alternative translation to get it to say what they believed. In fact the paper shifted from translation to translation to make its point. We had our answer. Jesus Christ had not emptied himself. He had humbled himself and all of the rest of the reasoning in the paper was nonsense.
On Thursday afternoon, we got ready to take the regularly scheduled shift truck down the mountain only to be told that because it was a holiday, there was no shift truck. Undeterred, we walked the few miles to the Mount Parnis Casino so that we could take the cable car down the mountain. We got there only to find out that the cable car wasn't working that day. We were over 4000 feet above the city and we were standing on a cliff looking down. Undismayed we began to rappel down the side holding the large rusty cables that ran down the cliff side.
When we got to the bottom of the cliff, we stood in the Cable Car parking area only to find out that there was a taxi strike. We panicked and found a kindly Greek who through our fractured Greek and his fractured English realized that we needed a ride to the train station. An hour later, our hands raw and hurting from our descant down the cliff, and then wearied by the hike down the rest of the mountain, we had taken the train and the bus to Glyphatha where our friends were holding service. I'll never forget the dirty looks they gave us for being 15 minutes late.
Then, we showed them the trick behind the paper, and that there was no truth to what those men had tried to teach us. They all rejoiced. That was 40 years ago. Within a year, I was discharged and back in the United States. I had decided that Peter Ruckman was not my choice for a bible instructor. Today, I do not pass out his literature nor recommend his materials. Nevertheless, no one can ever take away the positive influence that he had upon my life. His comment to a class in Pensacola, Florida made many years earlier and packaged in his teaching tapes delivered me from a grave heresy that I did not have the means nor wit to refute.
I will never forget that lesson and I am unashamed to repeat it here. When a person corrects a King James Bible, they do so because the King James Bible does not say what that person is saying. That, my friends, is the reason that a Textus Receptus man is not a Bible Believer. He will not accept what the King James Bible says at every point, so he must look for alternative renderings to prove what he is trying to say. Any and every statement ever made in which the author of that statement feels it necessary to change the King James Bible is easily and rightly relegated to the dustbins of error.