VPP: Truth or Lies?
by Philip Tang (1 Apr 2006)
An appeal to honesty and rationality in the bible versions debate
In 1957, Dr. E. J. Young, a professor at Westminster Theological
Seminary wrote a book “Thy Word is Truth” to defend the Biblical
Doctrine of Inspiration. In its preface he stated the main reason why he
wrote the book.
It is to call men's attention to what the
true doctrine of inspiration is and to the necessity of contending for
this doctrine in the light of modern hostility to true evangelical
Christianity....We who name His name should pray that
He will raise up men who will call this generation back to His infallible
and inerrant Word and to the Christ of whom that Word speaks.
Dr. Young touched on two important assumptions regarding the
inspiration of the Bible.
(i) That the authors of the Bible told the truth when they claimed to
have written under the influence of the Holy Spirit; otherwise they would
If, in a matter so fundamental as that of
the origin of their words, the writers of Scripture did not tell the
truth, how can we even say that they were good men? They were not good
men, but deceivers
(ii) That the Christian faith is grounded on historical facts.
History and faith cannot be divorced, the
one from the other. Remove its historical basis and faith vanishes. To
understand our faith properly we must study history.....Apart from history
there is no faith. The separation between the two which some seek to make
is impossible. The only faith that can legitimately bear the name
Christian is one that is rooted in historical events
The Far Eastern Bible College, once the citadel of Christian
Fundamentalism in Singapore, has lost its focus (on proclaiming the Gospel
of Christ) and is sending out confusing signals under the influence of its
academic dean, Dr. Jeffrey Khoo. In its zeal to defend the Word of God,
the Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) has adopted a new teaching
and resorted to questionable methods in promoting it. Historical facts
have been blatantly disregarded and contradictions abound in this newly
formed crusade to spread the gospel of VPP. This has resulted in the split
of some churches within the Bible-Presbyterian movement.
The FEBC academic dean misquoted the KJV translators to
In the preface to the KJV(1611), the KJV-translators wrote that
the 'meanest translation' of the Bible is the Word of God. Dr. Khoo
misquoted the KJV translators to deceive the reader
by saying that 'meanest' has to do with 'bad writing style',
and not, ' bad translation'
It is clear that
by the word “meanest” they do not mean “worst” (i.e.“evil in the highest
degree”).......Clearly they were not talking about sense but
By “meanest” they meant
poor in literary
The truth is that Jeffrey Khoo did not quote the KJV-translators
in full. He misquoted them by leaving out the phrase at the end of the
“Now to the latter we answer,......we
affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English
set forth by men of our profession ..........is the word of God: as the
King’s speech which he uttered in parliament, being translated into
French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it
be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace.”
When the missing phrase, left out by Jeffrey Khoo, was put back
into the sentence the meaning is altogether different. This is shown below
“Now to the latter we answer,......King’s
speech which he uttered in parliament, being translated into French,
Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not
interpreted by every translator with the like grace
nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so
expressly for sense,
Drawing from the arguments of Dr. E. J. Young, it is
deceitful for Dr. Khoo to leave out the phrase so as to mislead Christians
into his way of thinking. This action calls into question his intellectual
honesty and integrity. Can we trust Dr. Khoo? His theology? His exegesis
of the Word of God? How many people has he led astray? No, whole
churches have been misled into believing this new teaching.
VPP-KJVonlyism make statements that are contradictory.
It is claimed by the FEBC
that the preserved Word of God is to be found in the texts underlying the
“Reformation Bibles” and NOT in the “corrupted Alexandrian
manuscripts and critical Westcott-Hort texts”
What and where are the preserved words
of God today? They are the inspired OT Hebrew words and NT Greek words the
prophets, ....underlying the Reformation Bibles best represented by the
time-tested and time-honoured KJV, and NOT in the corrupted
Alexandrian manuscripts and critical Westcott-Hort texts underlying the
liberal, ..... modern English versions.
Yet, when it comes to the Chinese Union Version (和合本 ) it is
The Chinese Union Version (CUV) is the “Word of God” for the
Chinese people today since it is the best, most faithful, most reliable,
and most accurate version among the Chinese versions presently.
It is a known fact that the
Chinese Union Versionis based on the English Revised Version of Westcott-and-Hort. If
the Westcott-and-Hort texts underlying some English bibles was described
by FEBC as “corrupt”, how is it that the CUV, a version based on the W-H
texts is said to be “the best, most faithful, most reliable, and most
With so many
qualified academics in the FEBC, this contradiction can easily be spotted.
However, in order not to offend the Chinese congregations such
insincere and political statements are made.
and contradictory statements are made by politicians to score points and
get votes, but coming from the FEBC, a bible college, it simply is
rejected the reformed position that revelation and miraculous gifts have
ceased with the close of the apostolic age.
teaches that God used the KJV translators to restore the Original writings
of the Bible in 1611 from the available manuscripts. Dr. Khoo liken this
event to a “canonisation” of biblical texts.
same way that God worked in history to preserve and identify for us the 27
canonical books of the Greek New Testament, God has also preserved and
identified for us the 140,521 inspired words of the Greek New Testament in
the time of the 16th century Protestant Reformation.....God restored from
out of a pure stream of preserved Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, the purest
Hebrew and Greek Text of all--the Text that underlies our KJV--that
accurately reflects the original.
described the 1611-event a miracle; he used the Latin words providentia
extraordinaria (extraordinary providence). He calls it one
of the tenets (central doctrine) of VPP:
“providential” preservation of Scriptures is understood as God’s
special and not general providence. Special providence or
speaks of God’s miraculous intervention in the events of
history.....The divine preservation of the Canon (books) and Text (words)
of Scripture comes under God’s special providence.
Berkhof explained the meaning of providentia extraordinaria
and stated its purpose:
“The distinctive thing in the miraculous deed is that it
results from the exercise of the supernatural power of God. .....it is
not brought about by secondary causes that operate
according to the law of nature....the miracles in Scripture were not
performed arbitrarily, but with a definite purpose. They are not mere
wonders, exhibitions of power, destined to excite amazement, but have
revelational significance. It was by a miracle that God gave us
both His special verbal revelation in Scripture, and His supreme factual
revelation in Jesus
serious problems with the assertions of VPP-KJVonlyism; they are as
(i) The KJV-translators were in the process of translating
the bible into English and not restoring Hebrew and Greek texts.
(ii) The Greek text underlying the KJV did not exist in 1611.
F H A Scrivener
translated it about 200 years later using the KJV as the underlying text.
(iii) How did Jeffrey Khoo know that the perfectly preserved
Greek text has 140,521 words? Did the Holy Spirit reveal it to him?
(iv) By embracing miraculous
preservation (providentia extraordinaria) as one of VPP's central
doctrine effectively makes the 1611- event a miracle
(since the 1611-event viewed as preservation by FEBC has been
classified under God's special providence
). FEBC is.....
(a) ascribing to the KJV translators the same status as the biblical
authors ( 2Peter1:19-21). As Prof. Berkhof puts it “It was by a
miracle that God gave us both His special verbal revelation
(b) saying that the KJV has all the
characteristics and qualities of the autographs (Original writings)
(c) rejecting the biblical doctrine
that sign-gifts and revelation has ceased with the close of the apostolic
age. As the Bible says in
Jude1:3 “... it was needful for me to write unto you,
and exhort you that ye should earnestly
contend for the faith which was once delivered unto
Jude1:3 “...I found it necessary to write to you
exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once
for all delivered to the saints.(NKJV)
The Christian faith delivered to believers is a
non-repeatable event. Sign-gifts and biblical revelation has stopped. This
is one of the reasons why conservative reformed churches reject the
Charismatic movement, their confusing practices of tongues-speaking,
healing and subjective interpretation of the Bible.
(d) compromising on its stand against the Charismatic
movement. The FEBC has opened its door to the Charismatic movement.
We have seen how the FEBC, in particular its academic dean,
has not been truthful and is deceitful in its promotion of VPP-KJVonlyism,
let alone consider its biblical basis.
The contradictory statements made by the FEBC should call
into question what the real motives of the FEBC are in their zeal to push
By describing the 1611-event of the KJV translation as
“God restored from out of a pure stream of preserved Hebrew and Greek
manuscripts...” is at best speculative. This goes against the
principle that the Christian faith must be grounded in historical facts.
Our faith comes in when we believe the eye-witness accounts described in
the Bible. St. Luke, in Luke 1:1 to 4, took great care to record
accurately,and follow-up on eye-witnesses accounts.
Many of those who subscribe to VPP-KJVonlyism put their
faith in how FEBC interprets the bible to them. The FEBC will discourage
these people from finding out independently but will quote to them Hebrews
11:1 “Now faith is the ...” But then conveniently forget to tell them that
the author of the Hebrews gave at least ten examples of heroes of faith,
concluding with Hebrew 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed
about with so great a cloud of witnesses.....” Similarly, the
cloud of witnesses of conservative Biblical scholars conclude that
VPP-KJVonlyism is a new teaching which has no biblical basis.
A grave error of the FEBC is to make the preservation
of Scriptures a miraculous phenomenon. They then cunningly devised
fables, by claiming that God used the KJV-translators to restore the
autographs of the Bible; and that the perfectly restored New Testament has
140,521 words. By so doing they are advocating post-canonical
inspiration and progressive revelation
The heart of the VPP-KJVonly issue is the insistence by FEBC
that the texts underlying the KJV is identical to the autographa
(Originals). They also insist that Christians must have an
exact replica of the Originals in their hands.
This error is insidiously fed to some BP congregationswho have adopted it without knowing the implications. The FEBC then
makes VPP a precondition for God to be sovereign (otherwise
He is impotent), and also becoming a foundation of the Christian faith.
This makes VPP a heresy, to say the least.
The doctrine of inerrancy applies in the strict
sense only to the autographa(originals),
but in a derivative sense to copies and translations, that
is, to the extent that they reflect the original. What is being affirmed
by inerrancy of the autographa is that inspiration did not extend
to copyists and translators. There was not the same type of action of the
Holy Spirit as was involved in the original writing of the text.
Nonetheless, we must reaffirm that the copies and the translations are
also the Word of God, to the degree that they preserve the original
message and words. At all times we must be aware that God
providentially preserves His word from corruption. With the
development of textual science, variant readings between manuscripts are
(a) shown to be apparent, (b) due to the copying process, or (c) due to
intentional efforts to provide help to the reader's comprehension. The
number of passages in the Bible where the reading is in doubt is
relatively small; in many of the problem passages there really is no
question of the reading.
It remains for FEBC to argue from the Bible that
strict inerrancy of the bible applies to the apographs (copies) as well as
the autographa (originals) and not rely on, and propagate the myth that
the KJV translators restored from available manuscripts an exact replica
of the autographa.
'Thy Word is Truth.' p7, E.J. Young.
'Thy Word is Truth.' p90, E.J. Young.
'Thy Word is Truth.' p101, E.J. Young.
new teaching is VPP-KJVonlyism (VPP means 'verbal plenary
preservation' of scripture.). It is the teaching that God restored
and preserved the Original manuscripts of the Bible in the KJV bible
and/or texts underlying the KJV bible. If He did not do this, he does
not deserve to be called God.
'KJV, Questions & Answers',p12, Jeffrey Khoo
Jeffrey Khoo deliberately misquoting the KJV translators in his book
“KJV, Questions & Answers”,p12.
'The VPP of the Sacred Scriptures'; http://www.febc.edu.sg/Verbal%20Plenary%20Preservation.htm
'The VPP of the sacred scriptures'; http://www.febc.edu.sg/Verbal%20Plenary%20Preservation.htm
most famous Chinese translation of the Hebrew Bible is the Chinese
Union version(, 和合本). .... translators from all the major
denominations of the time came together and worked in co-operation
with each other in order to produce the finished work. This
translation was commissioned by the Shanghai Missionary Society in
1890 and completed in 1919 by a sixteen-member committee of foreign
missionaries, ....The Union translation took the Revised Version of
1885 in English as its source....The Union translation was a great
text,The Union translation was a great success since its publication
and has been the best selling Chinese Bible ever since. It has been
considered not only a popular book for believers and non-believers
alike, but also an outstanding scholarly work. ('A Brief Survey of
the History of Chinese Translations of the Hebrew Bible' by Chen Yiyi)
Canonisation and Preservation of Scripture”,by Jeffrey Khoo
VPP of the sacred scriptures'; http://www.febc.edu.sg/Verbal%20Plenary%20Preservation.htm
'Systematic Theology', p176,Louis Berkhof
'Systematic Theology', p176,p177,Louis Berkhof
The divine preservation of the Canon (books) and Text
(words) of Scripture comes under God’s special providence.
An elder from Calvary Pandan BP Church wrote
“I believe that God has preserved for us today an
exact replica (copies)
of the original inspired text. If you ask me where it is today, my
conviction is that it is the text that is providentially assembled by
the KJV translators, i.e. the text underlying the KJB.... To say that
it is lost would make God impotent
To say that it is somewhere out
there but don’t know where, TO ME it is liken to telling someone that
you are sick and there is only one cure and the cure is somewhere out
there but I don’t know where”.