Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another word on 'The Christ'

The idea that the title 'The Christ' is necessarily evil is frankly bizarre. The elephant in the room that Gail Riplinger does not seem to have fully recognised is that the New Age movement has taken over wholesale Christian language, filling words that can really only be read in a Christian sense, with a meaning taken from Eastern Pantheism.

The fact that New Agers may use the term does not give them ownership of it, any more than the use of the word ‘teacher’ means that Sunday-school teachers are New Age agents. Yet on P. 318 of NABV, Riplinger heads a section in all seriousness: “T-H-E Christ: Antichrist.” The reasoning behind this hatred of the term is difficult to fathom. While the use of the term is rare in the AV, it does occur some 19 times, these are:
1. Matthew 16:16
2. Matthew 16:20
3. Mark 8:29
4. Mark 14:61
5. Luke 3:15
6. Luke 9:20
7. Luke 22:67
8. John 1:20
9. John 1:41
10. John 3:28
11. John 4:29
12. John 4:42
13. John 7:41
14. John 10:24
15. John 11:27
16. John 20:31
17. John 20:31
18. 1John 2:22
19. 1John 5:1
In not one of these cases is it used in a negative way or by a pretender to Messiah-ship. The Bible no-where says that “Antichrist will call himself the Christ,” or, as Riplinger, that “the Christ is antichrist.” In fact the AV says: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5.1). According to the AV, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2.22). So the AV, while it does not use the term “The Christ” often, demands that all Christians must affirm that “Jesus is the Christ.” Riplinger, in her eagerness to condemn the modern Bible versions, and her paranoia about the New Age movement, has inadvertently condemned the AV as well! It would be one thing if the new versions called Jesus ‘Hermes,’ but they do not (though Paul was mistaken for Hermes once). Instead they use a title that the AV itself uses for Jesus.[1] What is illegitimate is the use of a term that never appears in pre-Christian pagan literature to refer to pagan ideas.

Of course Riplinger tries to back up her point. First of all, though, every Christian must confess that the Word of God is the final authority. If the Bible uses a title of Jesus, then to use that title of Jesus cannot be wrong. Secondly, Bob Larson, her authority, does not say what she wants him to say:

“By using the definite article (the) when referring to Christ, mind sciences distinguish between Jesus the man and the divine idea of Christ-realization attainable by men.”[2]

Note what Larson is not saying: he is not saying that the term ‘the Christ’ is the exclusive property or trademark of the mind-science cults. He is in fact explaining how the mind-science cults abuse Christian vocabulary. They also use the word ‘Christ’ with no article. Does this make that word occultic?

Riplinger’s error is that she has missed that the heresy of the New Age does not lie in the use of the term “The Christ” at all; but in their denial (as condemned in 1 John 2.22) that “Jesus is the Christ.” What is heretical and New Age is to make a distinction between the historical man, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Christ, however that is done. Norman Geisler notes that it is not so simple as Riplinger makes out:

“We should be particularly wary when someone refers to Jesus Christ as ‘the Christ-spirit’ or ‘Christ-consciousness.’ Generally, when New Agers (and many liberal Christians) speak of Christ, they are not referring to the historical Jesus spoken of in the New Testament and the great Christian creeds. If they do speak of the historical Jesus, they usually refer to Him as only one of several Christ figures in human history.”[3]

“Christ” is not a name; it is a title, a Greek word corresponding to the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, meaning ‘the anointed one’. It is usually preceded in Greek by the definite article, which is usually rendered in English as ‘the’. The Greek article does not correspond exactly to the English in all situations, nor does its use. It is commonly given in Greek before proper nouns, something that is bad English. But it is good English to place a definite article before a title when that title is used to describe a man, for example, “the pastor” or “the captain.” Thus it is good English to say “the Christ”. There is no conspiracy here; a phrase that is used only positively in the AV has simply appeared elsewhere.

Yet Riplinger writes,

“The following verses will be ripe for picking from the serpent’s tree to force feed starving souls following ‘the Christ’. The KJV clearly presents the past tense visit of Jesus Christ. The new version [sic] have ‘the Christ’ to come.”

Of course this is simply not the case. One can give a verse out of context to support all kinds of unbiblical nonsense, but such a procedure can be followed as easily with the AV as with modern Bibles. Remember, the Mormons use the AV!

Those who have written genuine New Age ‘Bible’ versions, doctored to teach their own ideas, have not contented themselves with changes to a few verses, or to words, but have massively re-written whole sections without any sanction from any ancient manuscripts. The ancient Gnostics did not change a few words here and there. Marcion radically pruned the canon, removing the whole Old Testament and reducing the New Testament to “The Gospel (most of Luke) and the Apostle (much of Paul).”[4] The Gnostics created their own books, such as those found in the Nag Hammadi Library. Joseph Smith, who taught that God was once a man and that man could become God, added several books of his own creation to the Bible. The peculiarities of the New World Translation produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society[5] are not the result of the underlying Greek text used by the Society, but the result of forcing the Bible to conform to the pre-existing theology of the Society. The modernist paraphrase Good as New[6] engages in radical editing, and omits several New Testament books, adding the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.[7] In other words, like Marcion, its editor has taken upon himself to revise the canon. What he does not like he omits or changes.

It must also be noted that on P. 321 Riplinger puts words into the mouth of the Apostle John. She writes:

“’Who is a liar,’ says the apostle John, but he who claims to be Christ. ‘Jesus is the Christ,’ not Buddha, a church, ‘each of us’ nor the coming antichrist.”

But what John wrote was: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2.22). John did not say that the one who is “a liar” claims to be Christ, but that he “denieth that Jesus is the Christ.” Why does Riplinger twist the Bible like this? Of course he who claims to be Christ is a liar, and is denying that Jesus is the Christ, but they are not the same thing!

In conclusion, what needs to be proved is what Riplinger has not even attempted to prove, that by using the phrase ‘the Christ’ modern versions intend to deny that “Jesus is the Christ.” Since the NIV, the NASB and the ESV all contain 1 John 2.22, denouncing “he who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (ESV), they cannot reasonably be said to separate Jesus of Nazareth from the title that He alone can wear, that of “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Things missing from Hazardous Materials - Footnotes!

[1] This is the only permissible version of the Argumentum ad Hominem, demonstrating that even from the perspective of one’s opponent her argument is faulty. The real reason Riplinger attacks the use of the term ‘the Christ’ in the modern versions is of course that its wider use represents a change from the King James Bible. She seems incapable of discriminating between a change in the underlying Greek Text and a change that exists solely in the English translation. It is for this reason that her position is correctly denominated King James Only, as opposed to the more nuanced Textus Receptus and Majority Text positions.
[2] Bob Larson as quoted NABV P. 318
[3] The Infiltration of the New Age (Wheaton, Illinois, Tyndale, 1989) P. 142
[4] Harold O.J. Brown: Heresies (Peabody, Mass., Hendrickson, 2003) P. 63
[5] See As I am simply using the NWT as an example, comments attempting to defend the NWT will be regarded as off-topic and ignored.
[6] John Henson, (ed.), Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures (New Alresford, Hampshire, O Books [Imprint of John Hunt Publishing], 2004). I am glad to say that this perversion appears to have sunk without trace. I have only ever seen one copy of it, in a secondhand bookstore. In passing, let me say that it is frankly dishonest for the King James Only lobby to lump together such blatant perversions as this with formal translations such as the NKJV and the ESV. Henson has gone far beyond the NWT, let alone the NRSV or any Evangelical translation!
[7] accessed 03/10/09


C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

I have seen references to books by this author, Gail Riplinger by another author I don't read, or rarely read, James White. Didn't know she was still active, thought that all happened in the late 80s or early 90s.

With all the fuss about the ESV I think KJVism has been somewhat eclipsed.

Highland Host said...

She wrote NABV in 1993, but this year released a huge tome called 'Hazardous Materials', which sparked off my involvement in the controversy. I tend to write from a more historical angle than James White, who is a Greek scholar (I'm a mere student), and therefore tends to be more textual. I was brought up on history books.

Waitaminute! said...

KJV defenders are as strong as ever. I find it hard to believe that the two are christians by their tone and demeanor and their disregard of the command to prove all things and to provide all things honest in the sight of all men.
Mr. Host is a novice scholar as is James White, a product of diploma mills. Neither can stand before a baby true believer with even the basic facts of history.

Highland Host said...

My dear chum, I have an earned BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Liverpool, which is by no means a 'diploma mill', and two years of study at the London Theological Seminary (which does not give diplomas).

Now, you prove to me that Gail Riplinger used ALL the quotations I have cited honestly, that she was right to say Bishop Westcott was an occultist, and that she was correct to say he was a semi-Arian, and I'll listen. Otherwise, don't waste my time.