Erasmus, the Good Baptist?


The advocates of the exclusivity of the King James Version of the Bible paint for their hearers a picture of Erasmus, whose work, they argue, resulted in the Received Text, or Textus Receptus, from which came the KJV. They praise Erasmus to the skies, and understandably so. He was a scholar without peer in his day (16th century).

Strangely enough, Erasmus was considered a humanist, which by modern definitions eliminates all possibility of religious beliefs, the supernatural etc. The human is to be the measure of all things, the center of the universe.

But for this scholar, humanism was just a method to the end of defending Roman dogma:

“The thrust of Erasmus’ educational programme was the promotion of “docta pietas”, learned piety, or what he termed the “philosophy of Christ”. (Wikipedia)

He was consequently a leading figure in the secular Renaissance, and only secondarily in the Protestant Reformation. Also from Wikipedia: “Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament, which raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation”

His approach to Scripture was intellectual. Human. Keep that thought in mind.

And, he was a Catholic.

What? Oh yes. A Catholic priest.

He, says the same source, “was basic of the abuses within the Catholic Church and called for reform, but he nonetheless kept his distance from Luther” and the others… He was a Romanist and a Pope supporter all his days.

Yes, he remained a Catholic all his life, while the Reformation stormed around him. He was offered various honors by Papa, partly to keep him from his reforming ways and his dangerous literary work. The enticements worked.

Doctrinally, Erasmus rejected the idea of “faith alone” for salvation. He believed that man cooperates with God in that saving course of action. In other words, faith plus works.

That was Erasmus.

Fast forward. 2021. Imaginary scenario. The Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches, well known for their stance on the elevated place of the King James Bible, are all getting together for a Bible conference. Whom shall they choose to be the main speaker?

Got it! Let’s call in a Catholic priest, one honored by the Pope, respected worldwide for his humanistic views, one who approaches the texts of Scripture as the texts of all books, from a human perspective. One who rufuses salvation by faith and preaches a works salvation. But of course, one who believes in the Textus Receptus. That fact alone will help us blur out those other secondary issues.

ridiculous imagining? Yes. But it was such a man who was responsible for the Greek text that indirectly produced the King James Bible.

They honor Erasmus. But will they honor Catholic Scholarship today?

I average not to take away from Erasmus. What a light he was. But like all of us, he was seriously flawed. As were all the translators, then and now. And already the apostles.

Look what God has done by such flawed servants! But let us look at flaws when trying to say things that should not be said about any Bible translation.

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