Issues in This Issue
In this issue of Watchman there appears a debate between Tom M. Roberts and Vance E. Trefethen which was originally published in Guardian of Truth magazine in November 1994. The debate is reprinted with the permission of both authors, and we are gratified to have had a part in making it available in electronic format.
In a recent email to me, brother Roberts indicated that the debate came about in response to material brother Trefethen had published in a booklet entitled "Confusion or Consensus." In that booklet he affirmed "There is no pattern for men-only business meetings and a clear pattern for congregational (men and women) decision-making assemblies" (p. 12).
The materials were sent to me in electronic format, and have been reprinted here with no changes. Any mistakes are unintentional, and if found, will be corrected immediately.
I am aware of some disputes regarding this issue which are rather current. Other articles have been written on the subject, and may appear in future issues of the magazine. However, the debate stands on its own merit in this issue of Watchman.
The "Thee / Thou" Issue
In the last (October) issue of Watchman, I wrote an editorial entitled "Binding Archaisms", noting that some individuals advocate the King James Version to be the only English translation acceptable for use by English readers, and that some are binding the use of the pronouns, Thee, Thy and Thou in reference to Deity.
In a few days, I received second hand a long article written by Richard Fox in response to the editorial. The sender indicated that brother Fox had given permission for me to run the article in Watchman, which we have done this month. While the article was sent to me very quickly after the October issue was posted, a busy schedule on my part, and a desire to keep a standard publishing schedule (bi-monthly), delayed the posting of brother Fox's response and a rejoinder until the December issue of the magazine. In the interim, I became aware of a response to brother Fox's material, penned by Joe Price. Brother Price did a fine job in his rejoinder, spending more time and effort that I had intended to do myself. Rather than duplicating efforts by fashioning my own rejoinder, I commend brother Price's article to you.
As the reader examines the material by brother Fox, he may note indications that brother Fox believes my editorial was written as a direct examination of his views. For example, he denies that he binds the King James Version as the only one acceptable, including the American Standard Version to his list of acceptable translations.
I want to clearly state that the article was not a direct examination of brother Fox's views on the subject. In fact, I had no knowledge of whether brother Fox took the view that the King James Version is the only acceptable English translation. In researching the article, I ran across numerous web sites on the internet authored by "KJV only" advocates, and noted them in my article.
That is not to say that I did not have brother Fox's teaching in mind in crafting my editorial. In fact, the article came about directly in response to a request made by personal friends who have been adversely affected by brother Fox's teaching on the use of "Thee" and "Thou" in addressing God in prayer. They asked for an article dealing with the issue in general terms, and I was happy to oblige them. Perhaps this is the reason for brother Fox's statement:
I am not sure what he means by that sentence. He may be calling me uninformed and unlearned because of my article. He may be referring to Donnie Rader, who wrote on Legalism in his article on authority, and mentioned the "Thee/Thou" controversy as an application of brethren being guilty of binding where God has not. (I will leave it to the reader to determine if brother Rader is either uninformed or unlearned. By the way, brother Rader had no idea that I was writing my editorial. I had not spoken with him at all about brother Fox's teaching, and have no idea if he is even aware of who Richard Fox is. In his article he simply noted examples of legalism, as I had asked him to do). If brother Fox has reference to those individuals who asked me to write on the subject as being uninformed or unlearned, then his sentence is poorly structured. I am willing to attribute that to his admission that he is "Not A Writer."
Regardless, the reader will note that brother Fox is the one who personalized the issue. He called both brother Rader and myself modernists because of the position we have taken. That's fine. Though I'm not sure I have been called a worse name, I have certainly been called names which are just as bad by others in the time I have edited Watchman. Not too many have the distinction of being known by some as a member of the "Flat Earth Society" and a "Modernist" at the same time!
Further, I was informed that brother Fox was in the process of answering brother Price's material, but doubted that I would be willing to post the material in Watchman. While we have not received a copy of that material, we wanted to take this venue to clearly state what we are willing (and not willing) to do in this matter.
First, I do not believe the issue to be worthy of much space in the magazine. It is our policy that if an article in the magazine is responded to, the response and a rejoinder will be published in the magazine, completing the exchange. This policy has been followed consistently in the past, and we see no compelling reason to change.
Second, I have no desire to further the agenda of hobbyists. Though I believe brother Fox to be wrong in his assertions, I admit that he is prolific. Past experience has shown me that with such individuals, rejoinders spawn responses, ad nauseum. So few hold to such an extreme position, it hardly seems worthy of an extended discussion in this periodical.
However, it remains true that brother Fox's teaching is troubling brethren. As mentioned before, personal friends of mine have been adversely affected by brother Fox's teaching. As such, if brother Fox is interested, we are willing to devote space in the magazine to a more structured discussion of the issue. A written debate on the subject would serve to formally examine what the Bible teaches, be benefical to those brethren who are troubled by Richard Fox's teaching, and serve to give closure to the discussion in this venue.
In order for such a discussion to take place, brother Fox must fashion an affirmative to his position. It is important that he be specific. Without imposing an affirmative on him, (he can write his own), it must be that the proposition begins with "The scriptures teach..." and includes his specific contention that English speakers use "Thee" and "Thou" when addressing deity. We all agree that we must be reverent in addressing God. The issue is whether the use of such archaic pronouns are necessary for a prayer to pass muster as "reverent."
If brother Fox is willing to affirm such a proposition, we assure him that we are willing to open up the pages of Watchman for the discussion. The details of the debate could be worked out easily. We will keep our readers informed regarding progress in this matter.
Oh, the headaches that come from running a web site! Almost two months ago the forms on our web site stopped working. Because of this, any who submit their names to the mailing list, or congregational information for the "Church Listings" page, have been getting error messages.
The software our server had been using for such forms turned out to have serious security issues, and was scrapped. At first, I was unaware of it, and since I have become aware of it, have not had time to learn how to fix it. Hopefully, the next week or so will supply that time, and the forms will be up and running soon. Until then, if you wish to be added to the mailing list, or to have your congregation listed as an advertisement on our "Church Listings" page, please email me directly at email@example.com
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