What about a unitarian? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
So before I wrote this one, I wanted to speak to someone who knew more about this than I do since my searches hadn’t found anything. I spoke to Dr. Warren on campus here who runs our center for New Testament manuscripts. His thoughts were mine. The new translation committee did have a Unitarian, but God uses flawed instruments. I was also told the KJV scholars weren’t all the salt of the Earth either. So as always, the source material can be found here.
“When the company of New Testament revisers (for the Revised Version) were ready to begin their work, a communion service was held in Westminster Abbey. A Unitarian member of the committee partook along with the others. There was serious criticism of this … The upper house of the Convocation of Canterbury passed a resolution that NO person who denied the deity of Christ should take part in the work” [S2P156].
“Westcott expressed his loyalty to apostasy when he threatened to quit if the Convocation were successful in ejecting Smith [the Unitarian] from the Committee. ‘I never felt more clear as to my duty. If the Company accepts the dictation of the Convocation, my work must end. I see no escape from the conclusion'” [S1P165].
Westcott and Hort found an ally for their plan to abolish the Traditional Majority Text, when Dr. Vance Smith, a Christ denying, Unitarian preacher, was seated on the committee.
The language of the last paragraph is problematic as one gets the impression of Westcott and Hort as wicked schemers making a devilish plan to destroy the KJV. Hardly. There is no sense here that Westcott endorsed the beliefs of Smith, but he could have endorsed the credentials and ability.
As to the Unitarian, Dr. Hort said: “It is, I think, difficult to measure the weight of the acceptance won before the hand for the Revision by the single fact of our welcoming a Unitarian” [S1P165].
What were some of Dr. Smith’s beliefs? Dr. Smith called the belief in Christ’s 2nd coming ‘erroneous’. He said:
“This idea of the Second Coming ought now to be passed by as a merely TEMPORARY incident of early Christian belief. Like many another ERROR, it has answered its TRANSITORY PURPOSE in the providential plan, and may well, at length, be left to rest in peace” [S1P165].
Which is all really poisoning the well. It’s interesting that Johnson didn’t spend any time telling us anything about the members of the KJV team. What problems did they have?
Dr. Vance Smith was NOT the only problem within the translation committee. The following quote summarizes the members in general:
“The reputations of the committee members were so tainted that Queen Elizabeth and her chaplain … refused to give it official sanction … Half the Church of England declined involvement, as did the American branch …” [S3P435]. Also: “Others … left after seeing the SINISTER character of the ‘New’ Greek text” [S3P435].
There are so many ellipses and I question a primary source using the idea of sinister and putting it in caps. I remain skeptical of the context of the quote until Johnson can go to primary sources and give it.
When comparing the scholars of his day to those of the King James committee: Bishop Ellicott, the CHAIRMAN of the Revised Version Committee, said:
“We have certainly NOT YET ACQUIRED sufficient critical judgment for any Body of Revisors to undertake such a work as this” [S3P435].
(Please note: “Advocates of modern versions assume that they are the product of scholarship far superior to that of the translators of the King James Version of 1611, but this assumption is not supported by the facts” [S2P13]).
Which is shown by looking at just one translation and not considering all we have learned about text since then and the Greek and Hebrew language.
It was said that Bishop Ellicott was the committee chairman. Actually, the FIRST chairman was Bishop Wilberforce. One meeting, was enough for him. He wrote to a friend: “What can be done in this most miserable business?” [S2P291] “Unable to bear the situation, he absented himself and never took part in the proceedings … One factor had disturbed him considerably – the presence of Dr. G. Vance Smith, the Unitarian …” [S2P291].
I understand some people having concerns, but I don’t. God used Judas to fulfill His plan. Ultimately, aside from Jesus, God has to use flawed instruments in this way. That’s all that there is.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)