WHO ARE THE MIDDLE ROADERS?
There are plenty of Evangelicals (and Pentecostals in particular) who are genuine born again people, who believe a lot of good things well, but have need to know things more perfectly. This reminds me of Apollos, “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:26).
The “middle of the road” Evangelicals/Pentecostals are the kinds who don’t compromise the Gospel on one side (e.g. reduce Church worship to entertainment or doubt the literalness of Bible narratives), but don’t go far enough with their views to align with “perfection” on the other.
These are the well meaning Evangelicals/Pentecostals who shouldn’t be disparaged for being “lukewarm”. Why? Because there is a great chance these people can hear the Spirit of God, and do as Smith Wigglesworth did, and “come out” of their current condition. He said, “Unless Pentecost wakes up to shake herself free from all worldly things and comes into a place of the divine-likeness with God, we will hear the voice of God, ‘Come out’ and He will have something far better than this. I ask every one of you, will you hear the voice of God and come out? You ask, ‘What do you mean?’ Every one of you knows without exception, there is no word for Pentecost, only being on fire. If you are not on fire, you are not in the place of regeneration. It is only the fire of God that burns up the entanglements of the world.”
One of the views of these “middling” Evangelicals/Pentecostals is that people shouldn’t get caught up in side issues. Now I agree there is a problem where some people go way off the track on unimportant issues, and get into dangerous extremes of doctrine.
The middling types console themselves that they are not “off the track”, “in the weeds”, because they are in the middle, but being in the middle can still be a dangerous place, because it can lead to compromise and the eventual slide out of orthodoxy and truth.
Being sensible is good, but those with a middling attitude are in danger of being fence sitters. There are black and white doctrinal positions where believers must take a polar position.
There is a big opportunity for all of us to assess and discern where we are at. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20).
BIBLE VERSION/TRANSLATION ISSUE
Recently, an Australian Pentecostal ministry effectively said that people shouldn’t get hung up on side issues (they would say using the King James Bible alone is one of these issues), yet at the same time put out a teaching on their website that made it very clear that modern versions/translations are good, and the King James Bible is not so good. In fact, the particular Pentecostal theologian who wrote the article spent over half the time talking down the King James Bible.
I’d like to respond to that, not with a point by point refutation of their many alleged criticisms of the King James Bible, but on an appeal to the work of the Spirit.
The background to this issue is really about the rise of Infidelity. Infidelity is the spiritual condition of being not only unfaithful to God, but of rejecting God. Infidelity was popularised and promoted in the Enlightenment which led to the French Revolution. However, the creeping work of Infidelity was afterward seen slowly coming in through science, education and the churches of the English-speaking world. It is now marching though Evangelical Christianity.
Old time Pentecostals were among those most against Infidelity, but sadly, Infidelity has been creeping into Pentecostalism too.
Politically speaking there is a view called modern conservatism. This is the same attitude as is seen with the middling Pentecostals. It is often likened to being “less progressive” and “having your foot on the brakes while heading towards the political left (or, worldliness)”.
The problem then is in time middling Pentecostalism while arrive to the same position that the fake modern entertainment so-called Pentecostals now inhabit. But possibly, the middling Pentecostal could actually go the other way, and come to stand for all the right doctrines, including the use of the King James Bible.
SOME REASONS IN FAVOUR OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
When I was very young, the King James Bible was the main Bible used in Australian Pentecostalism. However, cracks had begun to appear. Pastors would turn to a paraphrase, or talk about what the Greek “really” means, and by time of the late 1980s, the KJB was largely replaced in Australian Pentecostalism.
Older people still had their KJBs, and some American preachers still used it, and some even used it when Rodney Howard-Browne rolled through in the mid-1990s.
The old time Pentecostals, including the fathers of Richmond Temple in Melbourne, all used the King James Bible, so why sell this birthright for a mess of pottage? Why abandon good meat for dainties?
When middling Pentecostals complain that tongues and gifts are vanishing out of Pentecostal churches, and bemoan the rise of smoke machine Sunday clubs, shouldn’t they have the same desire for the old Bible?
There is a danger in the seductive message about getting in on the “new thing” that “God” is apparently doing, where people abandon what was good in the old ways.
Tradition, doctrine and holiness are not bad, in fact, they are works of the Holy Ghost. Pentecostals have too often attacked “tradition” as being “religious”, when there is clearly and evidently good traditions and true religion.
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” (James 1:26).
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
CLAIM THE LAODICEAN PROMISES!
Jesus pointed to three areas that were problems with the Laodiceans. We can also take a spiritual interpretation of the same passage as applying to the Church today, and on these three areas, the middling Evangelicals/Pentecostals must take heed.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
The first problem is that the middling Evangelicals/Pentecostals can claim spiritual richness, like “we have a superabundance of scholarship, we have many modern versions and translations”. Yet, Jesus says we ought to obtain the real richness, which is His pure word.
His pure word is available today, it is the King James Bible!
The second problem is that middling Evangelicals/Pentecostals have issues with upholding holiness standards. The Evangelicals often disparage themselves as “sinners saved by grace”, and the Pentecostals often talk about not judging people and how God is apparently wavering his standards. That type of view is a reaction against uncharitable legalists and old fashioned rigidity. They say that people got caught up in holiness standards in the past (about fashion and cultural behaviour) that they got their eyes off Jesus. But now the opposite is the problem, they have their eyes on all these perceived slights of alleged “Pharisees” and “condemners” that they are not looking so intently at Jesus at all. Preaching sermons against “being religious” and making a religion out of “I’m in a relationship” is probably a worse condition than the alleged problems of Charles L. Greenwood “women ought to wear hats” culture, and has become anti-legalism legalism. Free grace is not licence.
The old Holiness of Wesley, Finney, Wigglesworth and Greenwood is still here today, it is an integral part of Faith Pentecostalism!
The third problem is that middling Evangelicals/Pentecostals are being blinded by what they think is good hermeneutics and exegesis. They are in danger of not understanding doctrine properly because when they look to the Scripture, there is a filter on that says, “know the Greek”, “bow to Jewish culture” and “follow Gordon Fee’s methods”. But the haze of error and the fog of the devil can roll in.
When Jesus said to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, He meant we can hear clearly without all these interventions and contrivances when we interpretate Scripture. And we can perceive clearly today!
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
SOME MORE IN FAVOUR OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
Middle type Pentecostals are not bad Christians, they are not false brethren or heretics. They certainly have good doctrines, they use the Scripture in their teaching and they believe it to be the inspired, infallible Word of God.
But on the Bible version/translation issue, too many are ignorant or misled.
When they say that textual variants in the old manuscripts don’t matter, it is strange, because there are a lot of important Pentecostal doctrines in the end of Mark, and for a long time many Pentecostals knew modernism was attacking them by minimising those verses.
The charge that King James Bible words have changed meaning since 1611 is wrong, in that the old meanings of words still exist and are still known. We are able to educate people on the meaning of doctrinal words, why is it suddenly bad that people have to be aided in knowing some King James Bible words? Also, we actually believe that the Holy Ghost is helping people to understand the Bible, since when should we act like He is not at work, and are therefore obliged to lay aside our King James Bibles?
Since the Holy Ghost has been at work through history and present since the day of Pentecost, we should believe that by the Church practice and by divine providence, proper copies of the Scripture have passed down to us, and that the translation was able to be made right in 1611, and that God has prepared the English language to be capable to spread His exact words and meanings to a global audience for the latter days. God is good, awesome and able to bring about perfection, right?
I have to shake my head if some Pentecostal theologian says that “the KJB has been revised three times” and that “there is not just one version of it”. As a Pentecostal, and having done a lot of study on this, I can confirm that the KJB has in fact gone through many different editions. Yet in all that, no one could honestly say that the 1611’s underlying text and translation has been changed in the KJB. Yes, there’s been errors of the press and corrections of them and yes spelling and grammar has been standardised, but no the King James Bible today is not a different “version”.
I note the irony that the middling Pentecostals and in full agreement with the McArthurite anti-Pentecostalists on the Bible version/translation issue.
Evangelicals and Pentecostals will be doing well if they turn towards the King James Bible, and stop this strange drive of producing unedifying materials against the KJB (blogs, videos, etc.)