A E Knoch vs A T Robertson

by A.E. Knoch


A E Knoch vs A T Robertson



to all who hate falsehood and deception in religious controversy, and
especially the Southern Baptists, who have unwittingly become a party
to a malicious slander directed against the Concordant Version

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.

Let the Facts be Known!

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.

Reply to Dr. Ironside

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 error.

        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.



Reply to Dr. Robertson's Criticism of the Concordant Version

        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 version:

        "`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 quote.'

        "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 have made.

        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,

        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 as follows:

Dear Friends:

        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 of truth.

        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,

        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 righteousness.

        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 following:

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.
Sincerely yours,

        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.
Sincerely yours,

        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.

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