Multiple Version Onlyism and the Deadly Sin of Sloth

The premise of this post is that Christianity has been and is being abandoned in part because the God of Christianity is not understood as being satisfying to the soul of man because Holy Scripture is not satisfying. If the special revelation of God does not fill the soul of man to satisfaction, correspondingly, the God the revelation reveals will seem deficient and unsatisfying. Being unsatisfied or unmoved before the glory of God in His Word is not a static condition and is not without serious ramifications. Indeed, such fecklessness has serious consequences being the very definition of the deadly sin of sloth. Sloth as a deadly sin (or sometimes a deadly condition) is a sad, restless, and ungrateful boredom in the face of spiritual good. It is spiritual joylessness, carelessness, jadedness, hopelessness. As one of the seven deadly sins, sloth is a sin around which other sins cluster. From this we gather that the lack of satisfaction with Holy Scripture is not merely a matter of personal preference or emotional attachment but a profound spiritual void with gravely detrimental implications.

Against the void of sloth, Scripture explains that the believer is to meditate on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous things, and things worthy of sanctified praise, (Phil. 4:8). According to verse 9 these virtues bring the peace of God. We are also to meditate day and night in the law of the Lord, (Psalm 1:2) which infers that all the virtues of Phil 4:8 belong to Scripture. Scripture is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and worthy of sanctified praise. And from this meditation, upon God and his Word the believer finds spiritual fulfillment and genuine satisfaction as designed by God. We should expect no less from Scripture as the word of God. A personal fulfillment the world does not know is found in the meditating upon the God of Holy Scripture. In this meditation knowledge of God is gathered which according to Jer. 9:23-24 is man’s greatest privilege. Furthermore, knowledge of God lies at the heart of covenant promise – God is only known by means of covenant relationship, Jer. 31:34. Forgiveness of sin is a means to an end. The end (terminus) is that all men shall know God. The forgiveness of sins is a stepping-stone to the knowledge of God and the Teacher of the knowledge of God is the Holy Spirit. In both the Old and New Testaments, the knowledge of God is at the epicenter of all the Promises of God both prophesied and fulfilled in the Messianic period.

Practically, this kind of doxological, soteriological meditation produces a certain kind of man. We learn “that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Doxological meditation of this nature produces a true, honest, just, pure, lovely, reputable, virtuous, praiseworthy man. Ecclesiastically or corporately this meditation produces the same virtues in the Church. And these virtues for the believer and church are intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling satisfying the souls of the faithful. Not only do they fulfill and gladden the believer’s life, but these God-given virtues put an end to doubt and uncertainty. Psalm 90:14 says, “O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

An example of the satisfaction of certainty is taken up by Nathaniel Ingelo in his defense of Holy Scripture against the papists. He writes,

“From all which we argue, Christ was in the bosom of the Father, and knew all; he came from thence and told all, his Scholars at his command preached, and, for the benefit of future times, wrote all. We acknowledge they did, received their books, and are satisfied. Only the Papists and some other heretics, that they might have honor and profit to make supply, say they did not.” Nathaniel Ingelo, The Perfection, Authority, and Credibility of the Holy Scriptures. Discoursed in a sermon before the University of Cambridge at the Commencement, July 4, 1658 (London: Printed by E.T. for Luke Fawn at the sign of the Parrot in Pauls Church-yard, 1659), 24.

Note that there is objective satisfaction in the mercy of God revealed in His Word and subjective satisfaction described by Ingelo in what God has done through Christ, His message, the apostolic message, and the written Word. Against his objective and subjective satisfaction is the contemporary cultural and ecclesiastical phenomenon of multiple version onlyism. Though spoken of primarily within an ecclesiastical context, Multiple Version Onlyism’s [MVO] philosophical underpinnings are consistent with cultural schizophrenia that argues forcefully, emotionally, and dogmatically that two different things can be the same. Once the rejection of the Law of Non-Contradiction is accepted as normative, no rational grounds exist for discussion, e.g., men can bear children. MVO is merely an ecclesiastical expression of the broader cultural milieu.

The canonization of MVO is a prima facie example of dissatisfaction with current bible versions. Rather than dispelling doubt and uncertainty, multiple version onlyism fosters ambivalence and draws into question what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous and worthy of sanctified praise. It is highly problematic to obey God’s command to “think on these things” when “these things” are compromised by MVO. But uncertainty is only one element of the unsatisfied soul. The god depicted by multiple version onlyism is only capable of providing an unsatisfying bible as evidenced by the modern church’s attitude toward the reconstruction of the text. The god depicted by multiple version onlyism breeds a feckless, care-less ecclesiastical environment of such hopelessness that the close attention to detail of pre-critical exegetical and theological formulation is cast aside and considered the musings of the unenlightened. Sound doctrine is too complicated to study and worry through and so it has been abandoned. Ecclesiastically and personally, it is too much to raise the fork to the mouth to feed oneself, i.e., the King James Version is too hard to read. Not only is there no appreciation for Holy Scripture but there is no appreciation for the codifiers of historic orthodox Christian theology.

The debate can be seen in the contrast and implications of the words “satisfied” and “sufficient.” God, His Word, and obedience to His Word satisfies objectively and subjectively. This satisfaction is derived from meditating upon things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous things, and things worthy of sanctified praise which through the Scripture and Spirit is the means of knowing God. Sufficiency, however, is a human designation of with an uncertain scope. In relative terms, sufficiency is enough, but used within the context of Truth, the Truth from which all other truths have their grounding, the notion of “sufficiency” is not applicable. The error of the MVO replacement for “true” is not “sufficiently true” but a pusillanimous and slothful disposition of ambivalence and apathy from which Christian orthodoxy is evaluated. If something is not true, but sufficiently true, it may also be untrue to the relative degree of sufficiency. If it is not honest, but sufficiently honest, it may also be dishonest to the relative degree of sufficiency. If it is not pure, but sufficiently pure, it may also be impure to the relative degree of sufficiency and so on. Even the most slothful know that sufficiently true is not the True the Bible speaks of. And if it is not true in the Biblical sense, trying to determine who the arbitrators of this alterative “true” is gets lost in the muddle of multiple voices leaving only a sense of “who really cares anyway.” From this we conclude that the MVO church is thinking or meditating upon nothing of spiritual significance, nor does it want to be bothered. The modern Church is content in its sad, restless, and ungrateful boredom in the face of spiritual good. The Church has always been an imperfect institution, but now, with MVO, the catalyst for mastitisizing this imperfection is hiding in plain sight.

For the God of Christianity to be satisfying, His Word, as the written revelation of Himself, must be satisfying. In a sin-cursed world, if satisfaction cannot be found in God and His Word, there is no where else to look. Hope for the Church is found in a renewed love for God by not hoping for a better Bible but being satisfied with the Bible God has providentially preserved for His Church while trusting the promises of the God contained therein.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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