George Vance Smith

From Textus Receptus

Jump to: navigation, search
George Vance Smith was a Unitarian minister who denied the deity and atonement of Jesus Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and the divine inspiration of Scripture. He clearly believed that the Revised Version favored Unitarianism, contrary to the claims of modern scholars that "no doctrine is effected" by different versions.
George Vance Smith was a Unitarian minister who denied the deity and atonement of Jesus Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and the divine inspiration of Scripture. He clearly believed that the Revised Version favored Unitarianism, contrary to the claims of modern scholars that "no doctrine is effected" by different versions.

George Vance Smith (1816-1902) was a Unitarian scholar who participated in the revision committee for the New Testament of the 1881 Revised Version. He was a Unitarian minister of St. Saviour’s Gate Chapel, York, who denied the deity and atonement of Jesus Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, and the divine inspiration of Scripture.

Most modern version supporters claim that no doctrines are affected by the changes of modern versions, George Vance Smith was a Unitarian scholar who worked on the RV translation committee and wrote a book explaining that the new RV readings favor Unitarian doctrines. He called it: Texts and margins of the revised New Testament: affecting theological doctrine briefly reviewed. He shares some candid thoughts about the doctrinal impact or, potential doctrinal impact of changes in the RV, some of which reflect changes in the base-text and some of which are translational.

Smith stated in relation to the John 1:18 reading "only-begotten God" which the RV revisers only placed in the margin that "there is nothing at all unlikely in the supposition that this may be the true original reading of this verse" (p. 19). Yet he nevertheless regarded that reading as "a greater blow than the popular or orthodox theology of our day would have been able to bear" (p. 17).

This reading which Smith considered inimicable to orthodox theology is now printed as the primary reading in the Nestle and UBS editions, and as a result dominates in modern English translations.

Contents

Unorthodox Doctrines

His heretical views are made plain in his book The Bible and Popular Theology, which appeared in 1871. This was reissued in 1901 in an enlarged fifth edition entitled The Bible and Its Theology: A Review, Comparison, and Re-statement:

“... what is really meant by the term in question [the Holy Spirit], is no other than God himself ... but this fact will not justify us in saying that it is ‘God the Holy Spirit,’ as though it were a distinct personality...” (Smith, The Bible and Its Theology, p. 215).
“[Salvation] was in no way purchased of him [God] or of his justice. It was not because his ‘wrath’ was appeased, or satisfied by the sufferings of an innocent substitute, but because of his own essential fatherly goodness and ‘great love.’ ‘It is the gift of God,’ not a thing bought from him with a price, except in so far as this might be FIGURATIVELY said in reference to that death of the Messiah...” (Smith, The Bible and Its Theology, p. 246).
“... it is equally clear that it was not as their substitute that he died for men; not to redeem them from eternal misery; not ... because the clouds of God’s wrath had gathered thick over the human race, and required a victim, and could find that victim only in the innocent Jesus! ... The popular theory, in reality, is largely the product of dark and ignorant ages...” (Smith, The Bible and Its Theology, pp. 248, 253).
“It is, that the Bible manifestly offers itself to us, the people of these later times, largely as a Book of History. It never professes or claims to be more: never, in truth, makes any profession or claim at all on that point; but stands before us there, simply as a collection of writings preserving for us the remaining literature, the traditions, and the history of the Hebrews. ... It nowhere, in truth, claims inspiration, or says anything definite about it. The biblical inspiration, whatever it is or was, would seem, like the genius of Shakespeare, to be unconsciously possessed. The phrase, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ and its equivalents, are simply to be referred to the style of the prophet; or to be understood only as indicating his belief that what he was about to say was conformable to the Divine Will. ... It is scarcely allowable, in short, to think of inspiration as being or acting in THE DEAD WORDS OF ANY BOOK” (Smith, The Bible and Its Theology, pp. 269, 276, 277).
“Then again, are we not, all of us who seek to be so, spiritual Sons of God?” (Smith, The Bible and Its Theology, p. 298).
“Jesus of Nazareth is nowhere presented to us as God, but simply as the Christ... ‘There is one God, the Father,’ and ‘one Lord, Jesus Christ;’ but these are not in any sense one being or one nature” (Smith, The Bible and Its Theology, p. 299).

Division among the revisionists

Revision Committee for the English Revised Version of 1881

When an attempt was made to have Smith removed from the ERV translation committee, Westcott, Hort, Stanley, and Thirlwall stood by him and threatened that they would resign if Smith were removed. A.G. Hobbs in the foreword to the Centennial Edition of Burgon’s Revision Revised said:

“[Smith’s participation in the communion service] led to a public protest signed by ‘some thousands of the Clergy.’ The Upper House passed a Resolution that ‘no person who denies the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to be invited to join either company to which was committed the Revision of the Authorized Version of Holy Scripture: and that it is further the judgment of this House that any person now on either Company should cease to act therewith.’ This Resolution was also passed by the Lower House. And still they could not get this non-believer off the Committee. Here is a real shocker: Dean Stanley, Westcott, Hort, and Bishop Thirlwall all refused to serve if Smith were dismissed. Let us remember that the Bible teaches that those who uphold and bid a false teacher God speed are equally guilty. ‘For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds’ (2 John 9-11). No wonder that the Deity of Christ is played down in so many passages!” (A.G. Hobbs, Foreword, The Revision Revised Centennial Edition).

Changed Doctrines in the Revised Version

Smith testified that the textual changes in the English Revised Version and the Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament reflected his own theology. Some of the passages listed by Smith as being theologically superior in the modern texts and versions as opposed to the King James Bible were Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16; Tit. 2:13; and 1 Jn. 5:7, and that is because these passages in the critical text weakened the doctrine of Christ’s deity, which Smith rejected. This English Reviser admitted what modern version proponents today such as James White often try to deny, that the modern Greek texts and versions weaken the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ.

Some changes by Smith:

“The only instance in the N.T. in which the religious worship or adoration of Christ was apparently implied, has been altered by the Revision: ‘At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,’ [Philippians 2:10] is now to be read ‘in the name.’ Moreover, no alteration of text or of translation will be found anywhere to make up for this loss; as indeed IT IS WELL UNDERSTOOD THAT THE N.T. CONTAINS NEITHER PRECEPT NOR EXAMPLE WHICH REALLY SANCTIONS THE RELIGIOUS WORSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST” (Smith, Texts and Margins of the Revised New Testament Affecting Theological Doctrine Briefly Reviewed, p. 47).
“The old reading [“God” in 1 Tim. 3:16] is pronounced untenable by the Revisers, as it has long been known to be by all careful students of the New Testament. ... It is in truth another example of the facility with which ancient copiers could introduce the word God into their manuscripts,—a reading which was the natural result of THE GROWING TENDENCY IN EARLY CHRISTIAN TIMES ... TO LOOK UPON THE HUMBLE TEACHER AS THE INCARNATE WORD, AND THEREFORE AS ‘GOD MANIFESTED IN THE FLESH’” (G. Vance Smith, Texts and Margins, p. 39).

See Also

External Links

Personal tools