Reviewed by Rick Norris
Sightler, James H. A TESTIMONY FOUNDED FOR EVER: THE KING JAMES BIBLE DEFENDED IN FAITH AND HISTORY. Greenville: Sightler Publications, 1999.
The author of this book is a medical doctor. He is the son of a well-known fundamental Baptist pastor. This book is highly recommended by several advocates of a KJV-only view. D. A. Waite claimed that it reflects "sound research and careful writing." Does this book measure up to the high praise that it has received? Does this book actually provide consistent evidence that defends the KJV in faith and history?
After reading this book, it becomes clear that it does not measure up to the advertizing for it in the October 23, 2000, issue of THE SWORD OF THE LORD. While the book has some documented information, much of it is not proved to be irrefutably connected to the Bible translation issue. Does a supposed defense of the KJV in faith and history depend upon attacking and attempting to smear other translations by implying unproven negative accusations? This book's use of fallacies conflicts with the claim that it reflects sound research. Sightler uses the fallacy of false cause and post hoc fallacy when he implies connections where no proper connection is actually proved. Much of Sightler's supposed sound research is actually speculation. At times, Sightler himself admitted this. How many times are the implied negative connections based on statements that include words that show that the connection is not actually proven? Often the book has words such as the following examples: "cannot be certainly known" (p. 44), "might have been" (p. 124), "it seems likely" (pp. 165, 205), "probably" (p. 212), "it is plausible to speculate" (p. 131). "my speculation" (p. 260), "it is reasonable to assume" (p. 196), "it is at least possible" (p. 263), "there is no evidence" (p. 249), "I feel" (p. 205), "we do not know precisely" (p. 211), and "it cannot be certainly known, but I believe" (p. 259). In one such sample statement,
"Thus far there is no evidence that Westcott or Hort knew her [Helena Petrovna Blatsky] personally, but they probably were aware of her activities" (p. 109). Since Sightler often acknowledged that he did not actually prove many of his implied connections, why does he make them to start with?
Sightler commends Gail Riplinger's inaccurate book NEW AGE BIBLE VERSIONS (pp. xiv, xv, 96, 1996). He claimed that if Riplinger "had not written her book, the discoveries reported in Chapters 6, 7, 10, and 11 of this book would probably not have been made" (p. xiv). Did he in effect acknowledge that some of his speculations depend on Riplinger's inaccurate claims that have already been refuted?
Sightler defends the use of the ad hominem fallacy, claiming that "the nature of the battle sometimes requires such arguments" (p. 30). Although Gail Riplinger has used this ad hominem fallacy in her writings, she admitted: "This ad hominem is not scholarly and is usually only employed as a last resort by opponents who cannot win a debate on a rational and factual level" (BLIND GUIDES, p. 2). A book that seems to smear Bible translations made by believers by implying inconsistent and unproven links to pagan philosophies does not reflect sound reasoning.
In effect, this book advocates or tolerates a double standard when it implies different standards of doctrinal soundness for some such as Westcott and Hort han it uses for Erasmus and for the Church of England translators of the KJV. Sightler connected Hort with "baptismal regeneration" (p. 23)and "works salvation" (p. 24) while ignoring the fact that the KJV translators also accepted their church's doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Sightler attacked Westcott for his emphasis on the doctrine of Incarnation (p. 223) while ignoring the fact that KJV translator Lancelot Andrewes emphasized the same doctrine. Sightler claimed that Westcott "was devoted to the philosophy of Origen" (p. 15) while ignoring Erasmus's devotion to Origen's philosophy. [Peter Ruckman acknowledged that the hero of Erasmus was Origen (KING JAMES ONLYISM, p. 10).] Sightler does not show that the theological views of Erasmus and of the KJV translators were more sound than the views of all other text editors and translators throughout history. A careful examination would show that the theological views of the 1560 Geneva Bible translators, of the Bible-believing Baptist translators in 1842, and of the NKJV translators were more sound than the Church of England translators of the KJV.
Another typical KJV-only argument used by Sightler is the "two textual streams" argument (p. 12). He listed the Peshitta as the received text (p. 12)while ignoring the many actual differences between the Peshitta and the KJV. Sightler accepts Luther's German Bible as being the received text (p. 12). Again, the fact that Luther's German Bible did not include Mark 11:26, Luke 17:36, 1 John 5:7, and many other clauses and phrases in the KJV is ignored. Sightler accurately noted that "Tyndale's work was the bedrock of the KJV of 1611" (p. 12). Did he indicate a poorer or less accurate rendering in the KJV when he referred to the KJV's changing Tyndale's "in" at Matthew 3:11 and Mark 10:39 to "with?" Except for this one example, he ignores the fact that there are many of the same-type differences between Tyndale's and the KJV as there are between later translations and the KJV. The KJV translators added some words, omitted some words, and made many changes in the earlier [pre1611] good English Bibles of which it is a revision. Sightler accused John Nelson Darby of error for translating pais as "servant" at Acts 4:27 (p. 139), but he ignored the fact that the KJV translators also translated the same Greek word as "servant" when referring to Christ at Matthew 12:18. He implied that Darby followed the Critical Text at Luke 2:22 ["their purifying"] (p. 150) while ignoring the fact that several English translations of the Received text have "their purification" at this same verse. Edward F. Hills pointed out that "their purification" is the rendering of "Erasmus, Stephanus, [and the] majority of the Greek manuscripts" (KJV DEFENDED, p. 221). The two textual streams argument fails to validate a KJV-only view.
Sightler observed that God's Word "does not lose its authority by being translated into any language if those who do the work are saved, reverent believers, and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost, as the translators of the KJV certainly did" (p. 11). Applying this statement consistently shows that other translations including the Geneva Bible, Wesley's Bible, Webster's Bible, the 1842 Bible by Baptists, the NKJV, the MKJV, the KJ2000, and others can be validly called the Word of God in the same sense that the KJV is.
In conclusion, it is obvious that a book that depends on fallacies, speculations, inconsistencies, and double standards does not defend the Bible in faith and history. This book does not prove a KJV-only view to be true. A consistent and Scriptural view of Bible translation would be valid both before and after 1611 and would apply the same identical standards to all text editors and translators. Sadly, this book does not measure up to its sub-title. A true defense of God's Word would not be based on inconsistencies, fallacies, or double standards.