Ward’s Best Reply, Not So Good

A few days ago I wrote a blog post encouraging the readership here to take time to hear your opponents for several good and necessary reasons. In that post I linked to a video where Mark Ward attempted to respond to his “Best Opponent.” I also indicated in that post that I would write a response to Ward’s video but in my perusing of Facebook I came across Christopher Yetzer’s, aka Ward’s Best Opponent, treatment of Ward’s video.

Yetzer, a missionary to Italy and father of three, does a splendid job breaking down Ward’s video and dealing with the major points of contention. All in all I found his response penetrating and thorough to the point that, yet again, Ward’s video response to his best opponent is rendered largely ineffectual. I spoke with Yetzer and asked if I could copy his response to my blog. He agreed.

So in leu of my response, I give you Christopher Yetzer’s treatment of Mark Wards video response to his best opponent. It is submitted in its entirety and without edits or amendments. One note, ERI stands for Edification Requires Intelligibility, a favorite slogan of Ward’s.


This is my response to Mark Ward’s recent video (https://youtu.be/h4x5Di_9xJI) which I believe included several misrepresentations that I would like to clarify here.

For those who don’t like to read: I will introduce each remark made by Bro. Ward with a timestamp in bold (00:00). That will be followed by a summary of my response (Response:) a space and then a full explanation. Feel free to skip as desired.

I have some serious doubts and questions concerning various statements made in the video which were not specifically about me: like where does the Bible say “KJV onlyism is doctrinally wrong”. I also wonder why some of my arguments in the initial post were not addressed in the video, but I will try to stick on topic and make this as brief as necessary.

(05:00) “The value of any principle or slogan, like ERI, is its brevity and pithiness, the downside is that it doesn’t get to make all the necessary qualifications.

Response: My argument was not based on the use of a pithy slogan, but based on the use of a slogan supposedly drawn from 1 Corinthians 14.

Sure anyone can make a slogan like Nike’s “Just do it” without having to specify that “Just do it” does not intend “Go enslave Uyghurs to make our shoes.” If you want to make a catchy slogan, then you are welcome to express what you mean by that slogan. That is not where I disagree. Where I disagree (and the reason that I made the statement “At least it cannot be said honestly and without showing an exception clause”) is that the slogan is used as if it is an accurate representation of a principle from 1 Corinthians 14 without showing in 1 Corinthians 14 exceptions for foreign words and non-English transliterations. In this short section of this specific video, Bro. Ward tries to brush off ERI as just a slogan and not a biblical principle; however this is different than what he has constantly affirmed. In his book he says, “Paul…trained their minds to think like him by repeatedly providing the ‘why’ behind his instructions. Here’s the why: edification. Building up. Instructing. Encouraging. Over and over in this chapter (by my count, seven times), Paul makes basically the same argument: use intelligible speech rather than unintelligible, because only the former does any good for people… Paul cares too much about edification to let this happen without complaint.” In the comments of Bro. Ward’s video on false friend #1 he replied to me, “Chris, I absolutely stand on 1 Cor 14.” In his interview with Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla, Bro. Ward tries to awkwardly force his interpretation on Dr. Kuruvilla, who seems to only want to politely avoid the question. My original argument has nothing to do with the use of a vague general slogan, but only a slogan that the creator has constantly affirmed is based on a Scripture. I repeat again, please show the exception clause in 1 Corinthians 14 for foreign objects and non-English transliterations if it is truly your belief that your slogan is founded on that passage. So while Bro. Ward says, “I’m only asking us to eliminate unnecessary linguistic barriers.” if it is a biblical principle then it is not HIS principle to modify as he chooses. Thankfully at one point he does come out and admit, “MY edification requires intelligibility concept” (07:00).

(05:45) “I would key the level of intelligibility to the level present in the original for its original hearers.

Response: I don’t think Bro. Ward knows the level of legibility of the original hearers, “We don’t know how intelligible the word was for them.”(16:46)

I admit that I don’t know either. Robert Alter (who no doubt knows Hebrew better than both of us) says, “the Bible itself does not generally exhibit the clarity to which its modern translators aspire: the Hebrew writers reveled in the proliferation of meanings, the cultivation of ambiguities, the playing of one sense of a term against another, and this richness is erased in the deceptive antiseptic clarity of the modern versions…Another consequence of the impulse for clarification is to represent legal, medical, architectural, and other terms from specific realms of experience in purportedly precise modern technical language when the Hebrew by and large hews to general terms…The degree of temporal distance from inversion at which we stand may actually be an advantage for Bible translation because the switching of expected word order can give the translation a slightly antique coloration and create some resistance to the unfortunate impression conveyed by modern translations that the Bible was written the day before yesterday.”[The Art of Bible Translation] There are many places in the text that are unclear to us even when attempting to translate. Modern versions go against another principle mentioned here by Bro. Ward: Read it like they did. I have given specific examples of this in other places.

(10:03) “Then interpretation performed by the King James preacher would have to be a spiritual gift.

Response: I am not the one demanding that 1 Corinthians 14 be applied to Bible translating. Yes, I made the point that if we are going to extract a principle and apply it to a concept outside of the local context then we may continue to do so throughout the whole chapter. But that is not my belief and this seems rather an uncharitable mocking in my opinion.

(10:30) “What about private Bible reading times, when no interpreter is present?

Response: The context of 1 Corinthians 14 is about the public worship service, so this doesn’t really apply (even considering the errant stretch to Bible translating). However to humor the question, I would argue that there are some very good free commentaries, dictionaries and KJV Bibles made with footnotes for some of the more obscure words.

Bro. Ward himself acknowledges that ‘Sheol’ could/should be translated, but it is no bother to him because at home he can refer to several different Bible translations (16:00). Similarly, it is no problem for me since I permit and encourage the use of commentaries, dictionaries and KJV Bibles with footnotes. I formatted 3 historic reformation commentaries and uploaded them to a website for free distribution. I believe in studying and encourage people to do so. Since the beginning of Bro. Ward’s false friends video series, I have commented on his lack of recommending commentaries. I don’t feel like those lamentations have been heard. It seems as if Bro. Ward would prefer you use a dozen translations of the Bible before you use one commentary.

(10:40) “Is intelligibility a subjective standard”?

Response: Yes.

In his false friends video series, Bro. Ward tried to create an objective standard. He said that one step in the process of determining a false friend was to look at modern dictionaries. However we found out that when modern dictionaries disagreed with Bro. Ward, he chose to abandon his objective standard and return to the subjective. Video for false friend #3 in the comments Bro. Ward acknowledged “I occasionally do disagree with the referee!

Here is a list of the first 21 words in the false friends video series. I would note that ‘archaic’ does not mean ‘obsolete’, and many of the definitions were so close and in some way agreed with the sense. I tried to be fair. ‘*’ were ones we disagree on the definition, ‘?’ again are ones that the definitions are so similar that applying one of the definitions to the context would produce a proper result. ‘Yes’ means current, ‘No’ means no entry. AHD refers to the American Heritage Dictionary since it was recommended by Bro. Ward, OED stands for the Oxford English Dictionary. Many of these were found in other current dictionaries, but I stayed with the one he recommended.

Halt – AHD Archaic; OED Archaic
Apt – AHD ?; OED Archaic or Obsolete
Variance – AHD Yes; OED Yes
Emulations – AHD ?; OED Obsolete
Seditions – AHD Archaic; OED Obsolete
Heresies – AHD Yes*; OED Yes*
Cattle – AHD No; OED Yes
Meat – AHD Yes; OED Archaic
Commend- AHD Yes*; OED Yes*
Miserable – AHD Yes*; OED Yes*
Convenient – AHD ?; OED…
Wait on – AHD Yes; OED ?
Remove/Landmark – AHD Yes; OED* Yes
Careful – AHD Yes; OED Archaic
Spoil – AHD Archaic; OED Obsolete or Archaic
Equal – AHD No?; OED Obsolete
Incontinent – AHD Yes; OED Yes
Honest – AHD Yes; OED Obsolete
Judgment – AHD No; OED Obsolete
Enlargement – AHD No; OED Yes
Excess – AHD Yes*; OED ?*

Has Bro. Ward acknowledged that any one of these is not a false friend. Not that I have seen or heard. He just disagrees with the referee.

(11:39) Commendeth – a child in church said “If ‘commendeth’ means ‘shows’ then why doesn’t it just say ‘shows’?

Response: It doesn’t just mean ‘shows’.

I am so glad that Bro. Ward used this example. The real problem here is that ‘commendeth’ as used in Romans 5:8 doesn’t just mean ‘shows’. This is the fault of the preacher who told the poor child an error, not the fault of the child for questioning. Even anti-KJVO advocate James M Leonard said, “I am inclined to agree with you that commendeth does not mean demostrate/show.” I won’t include here all the details of my study on that word, but you can search and find it or go to Bro. Ward’s false friend video #9 and see my comment.

(12:18) “Christopher, for his part, uses dictionaries other than the OED for reasons I simply do not know…(12:30) To my knowledge no KJVO has ever said anything about linguistic corpuses or my use of them.

Response: This is blatantly false and I have proof. In brief, I use contemporary sources because I believe they are more accurate to what was understood at the time.

50 False Friends in the KJV #1—Series Introduction sets out the rules to finding a false friend, “Our process for discovering false friends has four steps and a possible bonus step. We’ll follow this process every time we deal with a false friend.” (2:24) I followed those rules using linguistic tools recommended in the video, and found that many of the initial false friends were in fact not false friends according to the rules (see list above). I have often complained that the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) sometimes parses words too finely into smaller definitions which were not considered different senses in 1611. I commented on the video for false friend #12, “Slow your video down and look at 9. a. & b. in the OED.” On the video for false friend #21 I stated, “Remember again the KJV translators did not have the OED and the separations of definitions like that, they didn’t have your responsible lexicon, they had dozens of Bible editions and languages.” Bro. Ward responded, “You are indeed now trying to question the role of OED as arbiter in this dispute.” To which I responded, “The OED is looking back and giving an interpretation on the words meanings just like you and I are trying to do. Sometimes they are wrong. Then they are dividing them into many distinct senses which didn’t even exist. So when one broader sense may fit the KJV, they may have it broken down to a sense that they say is now obsolete. I think “wait on” is this type of situation.” On false friend #23 I mentioned, “Secondarily I will say that you don’t need to have an OED to understand the Bible, you can use commentaries too.” On false friend #34 I noticed that Bro. Ward started to actually take my advice and use some contemporary sources, “First let me say congratulations on using some contemporary witnesses like the Bishop’s and Tyndale Bibles!” I also noted again the complications of the OED, “I honestly am struggling to separate the definitions in OED.” To which he replied, “This one is subtle, I acknowledge it. I had to puzzle hard over the OED myself.” On false friend #36 again I complemented that he was attempting to add some contemporary resources, “I like that you are adding some contemporary sources and other Bibles.” On false friend #39 where Bro. Ward calls for people to go stir up strife in churches, I said, “Normally I simply think that you are wrong on your premise, and that you don’t actually understand the work done by the KJV translators, nor do you use proper sources which should be contemporary ones,” On false friend #44 I said, “This is the perfect example of what I have been trying to say about the limitations of using the OED….If you were to go back and time and tell Englishmen that these are two completely different definitions in the dictionary I think they would look at you like you are crazy. The difference in nuance is so slight that it seems most scholars didn’t even give it any extra attention. They didn’t try to separate or clarify the word as meaning something different than the word means. They just explained the poetry behind it.” On false friend #46 I said, “I do believe that you study, but I do question at times the resources you choose to study from. I’m not sure why you just don’t use older dictionaries. https://leme.library.utoronto.ca/search/quick makes it very easy to look up older dictionaries and the meanings of words. I think you would find it interesting. I realize those older dictionaries wouldn’t tell you if a definition is archaic or not, but then again the OED is sometimes wrong on that and at points can lead astray by parsing a definition finer than what it was and then calling that one portion archaic.” Not sure how else to understand the situation here.

(12:40) “I also wish to say that no one, even Christopher, has responded to my historical theological arguments regarding 1 Corinthians 14.

Response: See point 1 of my previous post about why I disagree with ERI. I have responded to this.

(13:08) “Even if 1 Corinthians 14 has nothing to do with Bible translation, no legitimate application to it, do I have to have a Bible principle to tell me that the whole point of a translation is to bring meaning from one language to another…

Response: I am glad to see the doubt there as to the application of 1 Corinthians 14. I believe this is the first time I have seen a turn from the normal dogmatization.

(14:01) “any effort to say that language change is sin, gets people mired in impossibilities.”

Response: I have never said that and I do not believe that. It would be quite uncharitable if this were applied to my beliefs.

(14:10) “One of my questions I can’t seem to get answer an answer to from anyone in the King James only world is this: if there were a Wycliffe-only movement what would you say to them?… If you aren’t willing or able to make any scriptural arguments against Wycliffe-onlyism, do you have any wisdom arguments?

Response: This basic question has been answered in many places in different ways. It is my position that a belief in the KJV is more historic than Scriptural.

I am not going to force the Scriptures to say something it doesn’t say, as I feel Bro. Ward has tried to do with 1 Corinthians 14. I do not need to do that. I don’t have Scripture which tells me that Esther is a canonical book. I don’t have Scripture that says 2 Maccabees and the First Epistle of Clement are not inspired. I have history and God’s voice inside the books which demonstrate his blessing. I would like to turn the question around and ask, “Can you show me where in the Bible it says that Jude is Scripture or where in the Bible it says that no translation can be perfect and only the Hebrew and Greek can be perfect or that God’s word would only be preserved in those two languages and cannot be translated?” I see that God’s hand has been upon the KJV and that his voice speaks to me through it. I became a Baptist initially through the influence of the KJV, I accepted Christ after reading words from the KJV and I have seen the KJV’s effectiveness in leading others to Christ. “I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men.” – Benjamin Franklin. Sure Benjamin Franklin wasn’t referencing the Bible or translations of it, but if you think that God is active in this (world in every area except His words, I would question why.

(20:38) “I would like to ask Christopher Yetzer…to do something that no one else in any King James Only world has ever been willing to do to my knowledge…But not once in the four years since my book came out or the two years since I started my Fifty False Friends in the KJV YouTube series has any King James Onlyist of any stripe publicly or privately acknowledged an individual, specific false friend.“(21:48)

Response: As far as the final challenge, this is unfortunate. If you look back at my comments, I have acknowledged false friends. I have always disagreed that their quantity or the confusion caused by a rare one is greater than what we lose by changing the standard or moving to a modern critical text edition.

On Bro. Ward’s false friend video #3, 4, 5, and 6 in response to the same question I commented, “I have sent you at least one false friend before. I don’t disagree that to common language some phrases or words may be unclear in the KJV or all other Bibles. My point has always been that I am willing to sacrifice a few false friends for what I gain, and if you use commentaries, study tools, the Defined KJV, you really don’t even have to make that sacrifice.” There are more words lost in the critical text than there are false friends in the KJV (By this I do not mean multiple examples of the same false friend, but in the number of specific words that could be written on a page). Bro. Ward has a somewhat odd fixation on trying to get KJVO proponents to provide some sort of comfort for his work. I often hear my KJVO friends acknowledge difficult words in the KJV, but instead of calling for a shift away from the standard, they edify one another by teaching and explaining the meanings of these words (hence such tools as the Defined Bible etc.).

I would like to flip the question around though. Has Bro. Ward ever acknowledged that he was wrong on one of his false friends? Has he ever had to do a retraction video or remove a false friend when he got it wrong, or is it not possible for him to get one wrong? In the video on false friend #10 I mentioned to Bro. Ward the annotation from the work of a KJV translator which I believe demonstrates clearly that Bro. Ward understood this wrongly, and yet he is unshaken. I demonstrated with contemporary sources that he is wrong on number 9, and yet he has not acknowledged it. I don’t need his confirmation of my work though, so I suspect he never will acknowledge an error in his work.


Well said. We are now into our 10th month of writing everyday or nearly everyday on this blog. And the more interact with those like Ward the less they look like champions of their position. Ward’s arguments grow weaker and weaker under examination and his responses do little to buttress his position. It is beginning to look like Ward’s arguments are merely carrying the old stale putrefied water of tired dead arguments from 100 years ago.

If that side has not champions or if the best their champions can do is cry foul when they see homonyms in the Scripture, then the people who trust these men and their arguments are wide open for all kinds of very bad ideas.

If is this all they can muster, then arguments like those presented by Ward have left their adherents defenseless. It is important then for our part to fend off the evil and doubt that will most surely fill the void left by arguments like Ward’s and to meet people where they are in order to offer robust exegetical, theological, philosophical, historical, and practical arguments in the place of “oldest, hardest, and shortest” and “False Friends.”

Christ dealt with the religious leaders differently than he did with the common people. I think we should do the same. Where Ward and others are involved, then treat them as competent equals who are pedaling weak and untrue arguments. Where the common folk, the people in the pew are involved, be to them a gracious and patient teacher. They are going to need it because “edification requires intelligibility” does not survive in the ecclesiastical sphere among Christians let alone in the secular sphere among those who hate Christianity.

Put simply, our Critical Text opponents are going to need a more potent argument than “The Bible is sufficiently reliable” when talking to a Muslim or a New Atheist.

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