LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven, Psalm 119:89.
I should suppose that the average preacher or professor who teaches that only the originals were inspired entertains a hope that up in heaven there will be a word for word, jot for jot, and tittle for tittle copy of each of the original manuscripts. In this he differs from his cross town cousin who does not believe that the original authors were inspired. In reality, or in any real practical sense, the debate is only hypothetical or philosophical. Neither one of them believes that there is any book on earth that is infallible.
In this comforting unity these two cross town rivals can sit side by side on barstools and quaff from the tankards of unbelief. Any person who approached either one of them at their perch on these barstools dedicated to unbelief and asked either of them which bible is best might hear a difference of opinion based on differing philosophies, but neither would ever assert that any bible on this earth was infallible.
One might say that there once was an infallible bible, but we are uncertain as to what parts of our current bibles match that bible, whereas the other would say that there never was an infallible bible, but that many translations out there are undoubtedly accurate guides to what the bible once said.
Regardless of which answer either particular man gave, he would be very comfortable letting the person leave with any number of translations including that old King James Bible as long as the person understood that the book in his hand was not the final authority of what God really said. In this respect, there is absolutely no difference in the policy or practice of either camp. Each may feel a pride of intellect in comparing himself to his fellow imbiber, but his differences are philosophical not practical.
What about the King James Bible believer? Does he really believe that the King James Bible is the word of God, or does he think that it is one step removed from being the word of God? A couple of years ago, I was asked to share a preaching platform with a big name fundamentalist. The inclusion of the other man greatly increased the draw.
The man (a good man) was no enemy to the King James Bible and the church was filled with men who lustily shouted amens at references to the King James Bible. When I preached, I gave them the history of the King James Bible as outlined in my book, Further Thoughts on the Word of God: Revised Edition. (You can either buy it on Kindle or if you ask me for a hard copy, I will get you one.)
When I came to the seventh purification of the King James Bible text that made the printed form compatible to the handwritten original copy given to the king, but with spelling, and punctuation updated; I made the statement that the Cambridge Edition of the King James Bible as printed by Cambridge between 1920 and 1985 is the exact copy of what God the Father has in heaven today, there was disgust among certain pillars of the assembly that eventually spread throughout.
The accusation was made that I placed the King James Bible on too high of a pedestal. I ask the question, is it the word of God or not? If it is, are any of the current editions with minor but real textual differences accurate? Or, is there one of them that can establish a real and verifiable claim to being the real deal? I have demonstrated in other posts that some of the changes do affect doctrine. If after all of the arguments that we have made over the years about God preserving his word, and how that the King James Bible does not contain the word of God, it is the word of God, do we really believe that it is jot for jot, tittle for tittle and word for word copy of what God has in heaven?
If it is not, then it does not meet God's definition of the word of God. If just about any of the current editions are right whether they are American editions which combine words like alway and always into uniform spellings and meanings, or the Oxford text which confounds Joshua 19:2 into something geographically wrong, then we concede that there is no perfect bible down to the jot for jot, word for word, or tittle for tittle level.
We do not believe the bible because we find physical proofs. Nevertheless, if we believe the bible by faith and we then search out the natural world through history and science, we find that we are not shutting off our intellects to believe the bible. The truth is out there but like a valuable mineral embedded in ore, it is not always apparent. It takes some digging and some discernment. I have spent 40 years digging for the truth behind the 300 year history of the printing and editing process that occurred between 1611 and the 20th century. I can demonstrate an unbroken chain of custody for the printed text meant to reflect the handwritten manuscript purchased by Barker and printed (poorly) in 1611.
In that process it has pleased the Lord to lead me to other fascinating truths surrounding the history of our English Bible. When I hold out my pre-1985 Cambridge Text King James Bible and declare that it is an exact duplicate of what God the Father has in heaven, I do so by faith, but I also do so because 40 years of research has emboldened me to take on all comers. If it is not the exact duplicate of a bible in heaven, then it does not conform to the bible's definition of itself. I guess those of you who think that way will have to wait until you get to heaven to find out what every word, every jot and every tittle should be. There is a barstool for you.