Dr. A. T. ROBERTSON, the famous Greek scholar, says that the CONCORDANT VERSION is
propaganda for Russellism. This is absolutely and unequivocally false. His statement is
being given widespread publicity. Many have been deceived and are being deluded by his
word because they have unlimited confidence in his honesty. I do not blame them. A man in
his position ought to be worthy of trust. We intend to present unimpeachable evidence that
his assertion is absolutely unfounded in fact. We show that the opposite is the truth. It
has been said that the leaders of Russellism fear no one so much as us, because no others
have been able to draw so many of their members away from their philosophy. They warn
against us continually, and have published much literature against us.
Dr. Robertson has the ear of the religious
world. He commands enormous publicity. But we are poor. We have no means of correcting
these malicious slanders. We will not resort to legal redress. We appeal to you. Will you
stand by and allow anyone to be mistreated in this way? God forgive the man who will idly
look on while his worst enemy is done an injury! Help us to right this wrong. Editors, let
us have your comment. Publish a statement which will clear your skirts if you have had a
hand in this serious offense. Pastors, let your congregations know the facts. Correct the
falsehood in your bulletin. Everyone, enemy or friend, let it be known that this
accusation against us is utterly false.
I do not ask you to accept or believe my teaching at this time. This is not a question
of doctrine or of scholarship, but of morals. Even if I am utterly astray in my
expositions, and Dr. Robertson absolutely correct, that would not justify his conduct. The
truth should not be supported by a lie. Let everyone who is in sympathy with Dr.
Robertson's teachings repudiate his action. Error travels much faster than truth. It will
be difficult to overtake this falsehood and correct it unless we get the cooperation of
all, even those who are not in sympathy with our teaching. Let us, once for all, record
our abhorrence of such methods in religious controversy. Will you help? Speak! Write!
Print! We have committed our cause to God, and pray Him to move His people to express
their disapproval of such acts, which are a blot upon the escutcheon of Christianity.
In our next issue we will publish a more
detailed account of this matter, together with statements made by former leaders of the
"Russellite" movement, which will serve as positive proof that we have no
connection with them.
TRUTH is not afraid of error. Mark the
difference between our methods and those who warn against us. If we are wrong, they should
easily be able to convince their followers of our mistakes, and so fortify them against it
that they will not be in any danger. Do they do this? Do they make known what we teach and
let their disciples decide which is right? By no means. They are so afraid of the power of
our supposed errors that they warn them not even to consider what we say. Allow no one to
exercise such dominion over your faith. The advice of one who is older and more
experienced has its place, but when religious leaders find it necessary to fence off their
flock to keep it from straying we infer that there are greener pastures than they offer
them, and that they themselves lack confidence in their own findings. If our presentations
were merely inferential, the result of our own mental exercise, and unsustained by clear
evidence in God's holy Word, then they might well be ignored or shunned. But we ask only
that the facts of the original be considered and presented to the people of God.
The reply to Dr. Ironside's article on "The Real Truth Regarding Hell" in The
Sunday School Times is a good illustration of the difference between our position and
that of leading evangelicals. Before publishing our reply we submitted it to them, hoping
that they would recognize the facts and make them known. I still hope to lay this upon
their consciences, for I do not question their earnest desire to be faithful to God's
revelation. The one fact which I presented to them, and which they may verify for
themselves is that the human SPIRIT is never associated with sheol or hades,
the imperceptible, or "unseen," which is the main "hell" of the
Bible. It is the SOUL which returns to the unseen. I hoped that they would either produce
a passage to show that I am in error, or that they would acknowledge its truth and share
it with those who place implicit faith in their teaching. I am thankful that no one
believes me, though constant contact with the ancient texts is surely the best
qualification for confidence. I ask only that men believe the evidence which I
furnish. I ask them to furnish me with the texts which place the spirits of
the dead in sheol or hades and I will spread this evidence before my
readers, if they all give the facts to their friends.
|Our Findings are Based
on God's Word Alone
The matter is really a very important one, not merely because of the truth involved,
but the principle which is at stake. How can we, as Protestants, accept the authority of
individual men and object to Rome, which is subject to the dictates of the church? We
point a Romanist to the Scriptures, and marvel that he does not prefer them. Yet how much
greater is the marvel when men, who proclaim their allegiance to God's Word alone, who
stand firm against the unbelief which is rampant in the church, make a statement which is
utterly without foundation in the Scriptures, and then expect their followers to accept it
without question. When pressed to give the facts, what is their answer? Evidence from
God's Word? No! It is that their teaching is in accord with the evangelical doctrines of
the day. Their appeal is to men and not to God. It is to popular error, not to His Word.
They refuse the facts and cling to fables. They seek to justify themselves by the excuse
that my teaching is not in accord with that which they esteem to be the best, whatever may
be the facts of inspiration.
The naive notion, which all seem to entertain
to some degree, that the great body, or large masses, of the church must be right, and the
handful of heretics must be wrong, is utterly false. Dissenters are usually driven to
disagree by the light they have received through learning, from the living Word of God.
Majorities are mostly wrong. Minorities are far more apt to be right. It is not at all
convincing to tell me that I disagree with "evangelical" teaching. I might
quibble and claim to be truly evangelical. I already know that I have been delivered from
much error that I, in common with these brethren, once held for truth, because I was
taught it by those who, I had good reason to believe, were more competent to decide such
matters than I was. Since then I have lived with the uncorrupted originals, and have a
right to point to them. I may well claim far more, but I waive all authority that may be
based on first-hand investigation over long periods and by efficient methods. I only ask
that my findings be checked. Accept them if they are correct. Expose them if they are in
Was Wyclif orthodox? Was not William Tyndale a
heretic? Am I not in the true succession of such martyrs when men evade and revile me
because of the truth which glorifies the faces of those who have looked upon His unveiled
revelation? God grant that, despite my enemies, I may live to complete the task which He
has assigned to me! It is better to live for such a cause than to die for it. And let us
not imagine that God's work is hindered only by His enemies. Our Lord's own disciples
renounced Him and fled. Tyndale went to a great and good man to seek an asylum while he
made his translation of the Scriptures, but he was denied any assistance. How many
Englishmen realize that there was no place in England where such a work could be done? He
had to go to Germany to produce England's classic treasure. Yet how utterly untrue would
be the thought that all who opposed him were God's enemies! I do not expect cruel
opposition from the world. Indeed, it admires the qualities which underlie persistent
endeavor, even if it shuns God's revelation. The enemies of fresh light, strange as it may
seem, are usually those great and good men who, being in ecclesiastical positions of trust
and honor, feel compelled to defend what they consider God's truth, without further
investigation because they have taught it to others as such, and it would be a great blow
to find it otherwise.
Again we appeal to all whose hearts yearn for
God's truth at any cost. What will you say in that day? Will an appeal to the teaching of
the church save your labor from the flames? Will conformity to the evangelical creeds keep
your efforts from being disallowed at the dais of Christ? Let us not deceive ourselves
with the idea that our ecclesiastical brand is the only genuine one. No human creed, or
organization, or divinely blessed movement can be the basis of faith. That has only one
safe foundation. We must believe God, as He speaks in His Word. I have written on
the subject of "hell" and the spirit. But we will waive all my words. In my
studies I discovered some illuminating facts. I found that the human spirit returns
to God at death, not to sheol or hades. I found that the soul
returns to the imperceptible sheol or hades, even as the body returns to the
soil. Never, so far as I am aware, is "hell" the place of "departed
spirits," as the Revisers insist in their introduction, and as evangelicals teach. As
I believe only God, give me a passage in His Word for this assertion, and I will accept
it. Till then, offer every occurrence as evidence that no such relation exists, that it is
error, a heresy which supports many other heresies.
UNSEARCHABLE RICHES, NOVEMBER, 1931
BEING THE FIFTH NUMBER OF VOLUME TWENTY-TWO
Reply to Dr. Robertson's Criticism of the
As we promised in our last issue, we present
herewith a detailed account of our correspondence with Dr. A. T. Robertson. The following
circular, which was widely distributed in and around Wagener, South Carolina, contains a
paragraph from THE EXPOSITOR, a religious publication of general circulation among
students of the Scriptures.
"Russellism, better known locally as
"Loudyism," is being widely proclaimed in this section. Its teachings are based
on the so-called CONCORDAT VERSION of the New Testament. Dr. A. T. Robertson, Professor of
New Testament Greek in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., and the
greatest New Testament Greek scholar in the world, had this to say recently of this
"`It is proper to say that this so-called
CONCORDAT VERSION of the New Testament is Russellite propaganda and is doing a great deal
of harm in various parts of the country among people who do not know enough to answer the
multitudinous mistranslations and heresies in it under the guise of literalism. The Greek
text is printed with an English word over it, the very word selected that teaches
Russellism and that trick which makes abominable English catches the gullible by seeming
to be very truth itself. All one can do is to warn the people of such subtle propaganda
under the guise of scholarship. Recently an agent for the CONCORDAT VERSION came to my
home to get my endorsement as a Greek scholar for this heretical, unscholarly performance.
I restrained my indignation to some extent but gave him an oral opinion that he will not
"To encourage by our presence such
unscriptural teaching is wrong. These words from Second John, verses 10, 11, may well be
considered in point: `If any one cometh unto you and bringeth not this teaching, receive
him not into your house and give him no greeting; for he that giveth him greeting
partaketh in his evil works.' It would be well also to keep in mind the words of Jesus:
`Take heed what ye hear.' `By their fruits ye shall know them.' `And Jesus said unto them,
`Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"
A similar statement also appears on the back of
the WEEKLY Bulletin of the Wagener Baptist Church.
We have often urged scholars to point out
definite errors of translation in the CONCORDANT VERSION, but, so far, they have limited
themselves to vague insinuations and derogatory generalizations. The best proof that we
can offer that their position is precarious is the fact that they have so little
confidence in their own position that they are forced to descend to outrageous slanders,
and to offer their own reputation as a basis for the acceptance of false statements of
fact. Only those who are afraid to meet a man openly will stab him in the back.
The Scriptures tell us that it is unwise to
compare ourselves among ourselves, so I refuse to be compared with great Greek scholars.
Professor Robertson's friends have good grounds for thinking highly of his scholarship. My
friends, who know of my prolonged and exhaustive investigations, and the apparatus that I
used, not only have confidence in my results, but are able to test everything by means of
my concordance. The difference between myself and the learned professor is not one of
scholarship, but of spirit. He asks his friends to rely on his learning. I ask my friends
not to lean on mine. He presents no evidence to support his assertions. That would be
beneath him. I supply all the facts on which my friends may form their own conclusions. He
desires faith in himself. I insist on faith in God.
|The Concordant Version
is Not Russellite Propaganda
I am writing this in Germany. In my Introduction (page 24) to the CONCORDANT VERSION, I
say that Dr. Robertson's Greek grammar is "the latest and most authoritative
work" on the subject. This came to the notice of a man who is generally conceded to
be the greatest Greek grammarian in the world, by scholars in Europe. He attacked me quite
violently for giving Dr. Robertson the place I do, and derided his scholarship in a way
which seemed to me to be quite intemperate. He thinks the leading American in this line is
a very poor Greek scholar indeed, having only copied out the opinions of a number of
German professors without really assimilating them himself. Whom shall we trust? The
German has a much higher place and greater authority than the American. But this is no
proof that he is correct. We do not need to decide this quarrel. The Lord will settle it
in that day. In the mean time let us not be dazzled by human authority or opinions, but
let us always ask for the evidence.
Rome teaches that the Scriptures are too
difficult for the layman to understand. It is far better that he should submit to the
teaching of the church. In the same way our scholars insist that the facts of the original
must first be interpreted by experts like themselves before the common people should have
access to them. "People do not know enough to answer the multitudinous
mistranslations" of the CONCORDANT VERSION, we are told, notwithstanding the fact
that all of the material for such knowledge is fully presented, so that each rendering may
be tested. It is a plea for popery. The learned scholars do not believe what God
has really said, so they wish to modify it to conform to their own conceptions of truth.
The danger of scholasticism is greater than that of the papacy. Humble students feel the
need of guidance in studying the Scriptures. They readily rely upon a reputation for sound
scholarship. Few are willing to exert themselves sufficiently to investigate. They imagine
that the CONCORDANT VERSION also asks for their credence! upon the basis of the
scholarship of its compilers.
I feel much sympathy for those Greek scholars
whose works contain assertions which are contradicted by the CONCORDANT VERSION. It is not
pleasant to teach and publish that the aorist is a definite tense, and then have
some nobody stand up and prove that it is indefinite. The first reaction is rather
violent. What does this mere amateur know about it anyway? What are his scholastic
attainments? How many degrees has he? When we find that he refuses to back up his
assertions with his record (if he has any), it makes many suspicious. He may be nothing
but a carpenter, like our Lord, or even a tent maker, like Paul. Such should never be
allowed to speak of sacred things! "By what authority doest Thou these things?"
We have departed so far from God that anyone who will stand aside while they point to Him
is scorned and ridiculed.
If there are mistranslations in the CONCORDANT
VERSION it is the privilege and duty of Dr. Robertson to point them out. I have no doubt
but that he can find many a passage which may be made to appear erroneous. I know
of many which are not perfect, for the English language has its limitations. Therefore, I
insist that, if Dr. Robertson should offer any criticism of the Version, it must be
constructive. Let him give a better rendering for those passages to which he objects.
I would like to insist that it must not be discordant. I would, first of all, however,
have an interpretation of his general criticism. His English is not exactly classical or
clear. I certainly have not printed one English word over the Greek text! What is this
word, that teaches Russellism? What sort of English is this: "that trick which makes
abominable English catches the gullible by seeming to be very truth itself." I never
knew that it was a trick to make abominable English. If poor English catches the gullible
many will be snared by this sentence!
The next sentence is one of those trick
statements which have a double meaning. How shall we understand it? He says "All one
can do is to warn the people of such subtle propaganda under the guise of
scholarship." He cannot mean that my "subtle propaganda" is "under the
guise of scholarship," for I not only have never claimed scholarship either for
myself or my associates, but I have distinctly repudiated it as the basis of my work. I
have strongly stressed the fact that, in place of authority and scholarship I present the
facts and the evidence. The only other meaning must be that "All one can do is to
warn the people under the guise of scholarship." And that is just what he is doing!
His friends claim that he is the greatest New Testament Greek scholar in the world. I have
never heard that he has repudiated this position. The German scholars do not accept it.
And now, by a trick of his own English, he calls it a "guise!" But he probably
did not intend to resort to trickery!
How any sober, intelligent saint can assert
that the CONCORDANT VERSION is Russellite propaganda stuns my imagination. To have him
insist that "It is proper" leaves me quite helpless. Am I to be driven to prove
that which is obvious to everyone who is not blinded by passion and prejudice? But I must
remember that it is not a personal question. Many, many, dear friends will believe him
without question. My word will never stand against his, even if a knowledge of my own
affairs must of necessity excel his. So I have sent him documentary evidence to show that
his statement is utterly misleading. Some of this will be presented here. I have sent him
the following letter:
September 2, 1931 Dr. A. T. Robertson,
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
My Dear Sir and Brother in Christ:
A quotation concerning the CONCORDANT VERSION
in the August number of THE EXPOSITOR has been called to my attention, in which you
charge, among other things, that it is propaganda for Russellism. At this distance, I am
not able to gather the evidence to refute your assertion, but I will have it sent to you
in the near future. I have never been connected with the Russellite movement. Many who
were once with them have been compelled to leave them because they had accepted the truths
we teach. The leaders in Russellism have written and spoken much against me. Hence you
will see how sad it seems to me to have a brother of your standing and influence circulate
that which is so far from the truth and which is calculated to deceive so many of those
who are honestly and earnestly seeking to know the mind and heart of God.
I am a slave of Christ. I beg of you, in His
precious name, to examine the evidence which will be presented to you, and, in the fear of
God, give your retraction all the publicity necessary to correct the false impression you
In doing this I charge you to avoid further
expressions of your opinion as to the CONCORDANT VERSION as unbecoming to the place in
which your unfounded assertions have placed you. When we come to deal with that matter I
beg of you to give more than mere insinuations backed by your reputation. You have
forfeited the right to credence in your unsupported word. Give us evidence that we
have made any mistranslations and we will thankfully correct them.
Yours by grace transcendent,
A. E. KNOCH
Per E. O. KNOCH
The following evidence was
sent to him also:
J. P. Rutherford, president of the
International Bible Students Association has written as follows: "When I found you
were advocating universal salvation...I took steps to see that our Society had nothing
whatsoever to do with the distribution of the Concordant Version." The Society had
ordered ten thousand copies printed of each part, which they engaged to sell to their
friends on the condition that a special edition be issued without the notes, which
contain our teaching. When some in their headquarters accepted the truth of universal
reconciliation they had to leave. Others of their leaders have left, one of whom testifies
A statement in the August number of The
Expositor claims my attention only because of its uniqueness in the realm of fancy.
The statement is made that "this so-called
Concordat(!) Version of the New Testament is Russellite propaganda...I fear this is the
voice of an ill-informed ecclesiastical scholastic. It is not the voice of fact; much less
For nearly twenty years I was identified with
the International Bible Students Association, much of that time at headquarters, and part
of the time on the editorial staff of The Watch Tower. So I am familiar not only
with the doctrinal tenets of the International Bible Students Association friends but also
with their publication policies. The Concordant Version is not "Russellite"
propaganda and to say it is is only to reveal an ignorance that is most unfortunate; for
neither group of believers would care to concede such a supposititious 'fact.' Sincerely
in the Lord,
F. H. ROBISON
If this reaches the eyes of the agent who
received the oral opinion which "he will not quote," we would be glad to show
that we are not afraid of Dr. Robertson's words by quoting them in full in this magazine.
If it is based on the same lack of accurate investigation which changes the
"Concordant" to a "Concordat" version, and places an English word over
the Greek text, it will help those who are really desirous of knowing the truth to see how
little reliance may be placed upon his opinion. I hope no other agent will seek the
endorsement of a "Greek scholar." The Version needs no such prop. It stands on
its own feet, and so firmly withal, that Greek scholars will do well not to butt against
it too violently lest their own pate should suffer more than the Version.
The closing paragraph follows in the footsteps
of the former. Second John 10, 11 speaks of the "teaching of Christ." "If
anyone is coming to you and is not bringing this teaching" is wrested from its
context. It is used as a club to cow those whose hearts are hungry for God's truth, lest
they should go where they can hear it. We would like to press the admonition "Take
heed what ye hear." If the one who has issued this circular had obeyed this
injunction, he would never have allowed a single copy to appear. He has been listening to
an evil report concerning a brother in Christ. Had he the spirit of grace or of
righteousness, he would have investigated the charges before helping to spread a
falsehood. An unbeliever has more respect for human laws than professed Christians have
for the judgment of God.
The next quotation is very apt indeed. "By
their fruits ye shall know them" ought to convince everyone that a tree which bears
the fruit of falsehood must be unwholesome, and that our detractors have done that which
necessarily destroys their reputation for veracity, and makes them impossible as guides to
faith in God. We cannot believe them when they err so tragically in matters so easily
verified. Matters of more moment may be handled by them in the same fashion. We are
thankful to God that He has exposed them by means of their own mouths. Do I then invite
all to believe me? No! I claim no more credence. Believe God and be sure you are listening
to Him and not to a man.
|Believe God and Not a Man!
The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. Who has played the hypocrite
in this matter? We have claimed nothing. They claim everything. It is impossible for us to
play the role. They are fully equipped. The Sadducees were rationalists. Are there any
publications anywhere which so strongly denounce human reasoning in the things of God as
our own? Again we echo, "Take heed and beware!" But the only way you can beware
is to be aware. Make yourself acquainted with the facts of God's revelation. Avoid those
whose moral lapses show that they have not even learned the elementary lesson of God's
We appeal to the true friends of those
involved. Write to these brethren and urge them to clear themselves of this grave offense
by a full confession and an earnest effort to undo the evil which they have wrought. Pray
that God will be gracious to them to open their eyes to the seriousness of stoning a slave
of Christ. Remember, my Lord is able to uphold me! And He will uphold me!
In reply to our letter, we received the
THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
September 7, 1931
My Dear Mr. Knoch:
I have your favor of September 2nd. I have no
desire to do you or the Concordant Version the least harm. I do not care for it myself,
but that is my privilege.
I shall be obliged to you if you will tell me
the connection between your version and Wilson's Emphatic Diaglott.
A. T. ROBERTSON
We then wrote again to Dr. Robertson, assuring
him that there is no connection of any kind between the CONCORDANT VERSION and the
Emphatic Diaglott, and giving proof for our statement, and urging that he retract his
statement in Yhe Expositor. We print below his reply:
My Dear Brother Knoch:
I have clearly confused the Emphatic Diaglott
and the Concordant Version, both of which have been used to some extent by the Russellites
to a certain extent. I shall be glad to make the correction in The Expositor.
A. T. ROBERTSON
Here the matter rests. Our readers will notice
that Brother Robertson shows a more gracious spirit in his last letter, and we pray that
he will investigate more carefully in the future, before condemning a work which he now
admits he has "clearly confused" with other.
A. E. K.