Dr. David Otis Fuller
During our years as missionaries in Nepal, I worked through many questions about Bible translations. I had been somewhat confused by things I was taught at Bible school. The King James Bible was used in most classes and in the church services, but there were many teachers who favoured the Westcott-Hort text and who corrected the KJV on every hand, and one of my teachers used the NASV in the classroom. Further, the text we studied in Greek class was the Nestles' (Westcott-Hort) text which underlies the new versions.
As I prayed and studied over this matter, I corresponded with many men on the subject. This included men on all sides of the issue: leaders in the United Bible Societies, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Living Bibles International, as well as men who were confident they had a perfect authority in the KJV. Two men in particular were a special blessing to me in those days--Dr. Bruce Lackey and Dr. David Otis Fuller. Both men are in Glory now. In fact they died the same year, 1988, but I treasure their memory and praise God that we still have some of their writings.
Recently I went back through the letters I received from Dr. Fuller, then pastor emeritus of the Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and director of the Which Bible Society, and I was again impressed by the down-to-earth wisdom and spirituality expressed therein. I want to share some excerpts with our readers.
In an accompanying article in this issue we give an overview of the life of this interesting man in his own words.
DR. FULLER'S ENEMIES
Dr. Fuller had many enemies, and there are many who continue to slander his name. I've heard all sorts of things charged against the man and against his writings. But all of these charges have something in common. They are levelled by those who are opposed to the Received Text of Holy Scripture. They seem to think that by slandering men who stand for the TR, they can undermine the position itself.
What such fail to understand is that the "King James Bible controversy" is not about men; it is about the very nature of the Bible. I praise the Lord that I have a Bible that is perfect, preserved, intact, pure. The same Bible which teaches the doctrine of inspiration, teaches the doctrine of preservation as well. Some believe there once was an inspired Bible in the world, but it no longer exists. They are bold to contend for inspiration of the "original manuscripts" which no longer exist, but have only disgust for those who stand for a preserved Bible we can hold in our hands today! An example of this is the following quote from J.R. Graves: "There may be errors in the transcription of the ancient manuscripts; there may be errors in translation, and errors many in interpretation, but that the original Scriptures are the words of the living God, He most explicitly declares them to be."
I don't understand this mentality. The Scripture itself promises me that in this twentieth century I can hold in my hands a copy of the inspired Word of God. The same Bible which teaches inspiration promises preservation. I have no doubt that the inspired/preserved Bible is the Received Text upon which God has put His singular stamp of approval and which was carried to the ends of the earth during the great missionary era. There is no other logical conclusion. If God has preserved His Word, He did not allow a corrupted text to be spread throughout the world during the last 400 years. I also have no doubt that the King James Bible is an accurate translation thereof, and as such is the preserved, inspired Word of God.
This is spelled out in the dedication of Dr. Fuller's book True or False?: "Dedicated to all lovers of The Book; who believe in the Verbal, Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures; and who, of necessity must believe in the Providential Preservation of the Scriptures through the centuries; and who hold that the Textus Receptus (Traditional Text) is nearest to the Original Manuscripts."
This, my friends, is the crux of the matter regarding Dr. Fuller's enemies.
SOME THINGS THAT IMPRESSED ME
There were many things which impressed me about Dr. Fuller. One was his gracious spirit. Though Dr. Fuller was a bold and uncompromising warrior for the preserved Bible, his life was not full of bitterness and carnal wrangling. He genuinely loved even his enemies. He strived for love and understanding, particularly among men who stood for the Bible. I asked him about certain of the key leaders who stand for the Received Text, and he never had anything disrespectful to say about any of these men. This is so important. We must be gracious and Christian in our attitude toward other men. Missionary Mel Rutter once exhorted me, "Son, be as firm as a rock in your position, but as sweet as the honey from the rock in your disposition." That's good counsel, and I believe it was exemplified by Dr. Fuller.
I was also impressed with Dr. Fuller's humility. His humility was evident to all who knew him. It was certainly evident in his correspondence with me. Who was I? Absolutely nobody. Just a young missionary who could do nothing for Dr. Fuller except bug him with lots of questions. Yet he took the time to answer each of my letters, and even wrote at times when I had not written him. And I have learned that he carried on this kind of correspondence with a great many other men. If you know anything about communicating with men who have titles and reputation, you know that this is amazing. Most men who have titles and position are too filled with their own self-importance and business to carry on detailed correspondence with the likes of a young missionary.
The greatest thing that impressed me about Dr. Fuller, though, was the fact that he believed in a perfect Bible. The man had an absolute authority. In spite of his education and position, Dr. Fuller humbly stood upon the old King James Bible.
My friends, the Bible version issue is not simple. It is complex, and it becomes increasingly more complex as one looks into it. There are questions which can be raised which the wisest of men cannot answer. But there is one thing about the issue that is simple to me: The only men in the English-speaking world who believe they have a perfect Bible today are those members of that despised, derided "King James Only" crowd. For that reason alone I would stand with such men. If I don't have a perfect Bible, I am of all men most miserable, because my faith, my life, my eternity is built upon that Book. I made that choice in the summer of 1973. I believe the Bible, and I have a perfect Bible to believe!
Dr. Fuller's attack upon the plague of "scholarolotry" was also a great service to God's people. He encouraged the hearts of many battle-weary pastors whose simple faith in the old Bible of our forefathers is mocked by the scholars. The Bible clearly says that God has not chosen many mighty, many noble, many wise men after the flesh, but rather the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. In light of this it doesn't surprise me that most "King James only" men are not scholars and are not brilliant thinkers. They are mere ordinary pastors, deacons, and Christian laymen. But they do have sense enough, my friends, to believe God has given them a Perfect Book.
Thus it does not surprise me that God chose a man such as Dr. Fuller to establish the Which Bible Society. Dr. Fuller was Princeton educated, but he did not worship at the fountain of scholarship, nor did he glory in man's intellect as most educated Christian leaders seem to do. Dr. Fuller did not claim to be a scholar. He was an intelligent, educated man, and never ceased to be a student, but he was also an outgoing soul winner, pastor, and Christian gentleman. He served as a Navy chaplain in World War II, then for 45 years he was a busy pastor who loved people and sought constantly to win souls to Christ. He helped establish the Baptist Bible College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, was on the board of Wheaton College, and was involved in training men for the ministry in his own church during his long pastorate. He helped establish the Children's Bible Hour in 1942, and was the chairman of this large ministry [it is on nearly 600 radio stations] for 33 years. He also cared deeply for world missions and was for 52 years on the board of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism.
He loved children. In one of his letters to me he said, "Tell your children for me that I hope the time comes when I can meet and talk with them. I have always had a special attraction to children and they surely look bright, intelligent and ready for a frolic any old time." We learned from one of Dr. Fuller's friends that he was attempting to lead a Sunday School child to Christ when he had the heart attack that killed him in February 1988. The man died as he lived.
When God searches for a man to stand for the Truth, it seems He usually passes by the scholars and selects a man such as this, a humble man with a heart first for Jesus Christ, and second for people, and a zeal for souls.
God has blessed the Which Bible Society, and continues to bless it to strengthen men in their faith in the perfect, preserved Word of God. Is that an evil thing? Dr. Fuller was not perfect. He didn't claim to be. There are several things about the man that I disagreed with. I thought his stand on separation was weak. I say this because of his long association with Wheaton College and the fact that he justified this association and did not understand why fundamental men criticized Wheaton. I also was not fully satisfied with his answers to some of my questions about details of the Bible version issue. He was only a man, but I do believe he was a great man of God and I am grateful to God for him.
I won't say any more. I'll let the man speak for himself. Dr. Fuller's words always had the ring of sincerity, and of truth, and of God. Some called him a deceiver; others said his stand for the KJV was because of senility; but Jesus said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." It can also be seen that the man was not dull. He had a cheerful outlook and a wonderful sense of humor to the end. He dedicated his life to building up men's faith in God and in His Word, to edifying rather than to questionings and doubts.
ON THE BIBLE VERSION ISSUE
"This whole Bible version issue is Satanic from start to finish. Give the devil his due; he has done a bang-up job of confusing and frustrating multitudes of Christians in these very last days." D.O. Fuller, March 9, 1987
"When I know of the fearful, frightful way men are emasculating and counterfeiting and bastardizing the Holy Word of a Holy God it makes me seethe inwardly and it is hard to keep from 'blowing up.' What must God think? In truth we face as no other generation has faced since those blasphemous words were uttered in Eden, 'Yea hath God said?', the most malicious and vicious attempted assassination of the Character, the Name of the Word of God ever done on planet earth since Eden." D.O. Fuller, March 9, 1987
"Dynamic equivalence was born out of the pit of hell. In these last days I am convinced beyond doubt that Satan is using the garb of an 'angel of light' as he has never used it before. He knows his time is short and he is dead set on raising as much unshirted hell as he can among blood-bought Christians." D.O. Fuller, March 9, 1987
"In one sense I am glad for this spate of 100 counterfeit Bibles. I never would have gotten so interested in the subject and in my study. I find my faith strengthened immeasurably. The devil has hanged himself before and he will do it again, yea, HE IS DOING IT RIGHT NOW." D.O. Fuller, March 9, 1987
"I have never felt in all my life as being so right on a subject as this one. There is so much concrete, hard evidence favouring the KJV that I keep wondering how in the world anyone who knows anything about this Bible version controversy could say there is another side. THERE IS NOT. ALL they have are the 'findings' of the scholars and they have been proved so often wrong, their credibility gap widens with the passing of every day." D.O. Fuller, July 21, 1986
"This is no longer merely a battle for the Bible; it has escalated into an all out WAR with no quarter asked or given as far as I AM concerned. I may have told you that already but I make no apology for repeating it although you can chalk it up to a growing senility!" D.O. Fuller, February 7, 1986
"I believe I can discern the swing of the pendulum, going toward the KJV by more and more Christians waking up from their sleep of indifference and realizing just how serious and important this issue is. It is a question of life and death, for it we do not have the very Word of God in the KJV and KEPT by this Almighty Sovereign God who ALWAYS KEEPS HIS WORD, then our salvation is worthless and we have one option. Let's eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die and go to hell." D.O. Fuller, February 7, 1986
"It is little short of idiotic and insane to try and improve on the KJV. God Himself, I believe, was in the choosing of those great scholars of 1611. NEVER in all world history has any such a group of learned and tremendous geniuses ever gathered together. Any ONE of them could put the modern scholars in the shade. The Chairman of the 1611 committee, Lancelot Andrews, was fluent in 20 languages and spent 5 hours a day in prayer." D.O. Fuller, February 7, 1986
"I am convinced that God was in the choosing and directing and guarding and guiding and keeping the 1611 translators in a special way He did not other similar groups. History confirms that no version of the Bible has EVER had such a reception and for so long, three hundred seventy-five years, as the KJV. THAT TELLS ME GOD EXPECTS US to do what He has done, honour it, love it, proclaim it, stand by it C.H.O.H.W. (a polite way of saying 'Come Hell Or High Water'). D.O. Fuller, June 17, 1987
"I am just about as much in the dark as you are concerning Bible translations in non-English languages. This I DO know. God can and does use most any version for His glory and the salvation of souls. But that does NOT mean He would sanction them. God used Balaam a false prophet to utter some tremendous and true prophecies as you well know, but Balaam was lost forever." D.O. Fuller, Dec. 14, 1985
"There is no reason under the canopy of heaven why they [the publishers of modern versions] should print them but because of MONEY$$$$$. And THAT makes me angry, yes FURIOUS (Jer. 6:10,11a). There are times that if you do NOT grow angry and furious--you sin." D.O. Fuller February 26, 1986
"I have always liked, and keep on liking, the words of my Hebrew professor at Princeton. He used to say in class, 'Gentlemen, the things I do not understand in the Bible (and he had clear reference to the KJV) I put down to my own ignorance.' Who am I? Who are YOU? Who is ANYBODY? to imply or insinuate the Holy Spirit has been guilty of error or grave mistake? THAT is next door to the unpardonable sin." D.O. Fuller, June 17, 1987
"NO ONE OR NOTHING can improve upon the KJV. The language of all of Shakespeare's plays is the same kind of language of the KJV. And no one has ever heard of a group of Shakespeare scholars ever trying to change the language. All they did was to study the beauty and meaning of it." D.O. Fuller, April 1, 1986
"Dr. J. Gresham Machen was my Greek professor. He gave favourable words for the Westcott & Hort Greek text, but I know without any question if 'Das' Machen had known the whole story about W&H he never would have sanctioned their text for a moment. In those days--and right down to our day--the Greek Textus Receptus is shoved in the background and held up for ridicule and bitter criticism by all of those who have swallowed hook, line, sinker and bait the 'line' W&H handed out. I knew nothing of this controversy then, and at Princeton in those days only one side was given, that of W&H and their four theories which they had plucked out of thin air and foisted on a gullible Christian public and all the scholars obediently followed suit; they were--transcriptional probability, intrinsic probability, neutral text, and Syrian recension. Not ONE of those had ONE SINGLE FACT to back it up, but ALL of the modern versions are founded on those four spurious, good for nothing theories. Give the devil his due; he has done a bang up job in deceiving so many." D.O. Fuller, October 15, 1986
"Those poor, trembling, weak-kneed fundamentalists who are so fearful of dividing their church or their school, if they would only stop and use the brains God gave them, that truth always has created division and heartache and controversy ever since Cain murdered his brother. Way back there 'the blood of the Lamb' was hated just as it is today and we must recognize that and be prepared for ANYTHING." D.O. Fuller, February 7, 1986
ON CHRISTIAN CHARITY AND THE POWER OF THE TONGUE
"Satan will do his worst, as he always tries to do, to bring about division and recriminations among born again, blood bought Christians. This we MUST ABOVE ALL ELSE keep from happening and we can and we will as we keep instant watch on what we say and how and when we say it. James was SO right. 'The tongue can no man tame,' and he meant your tongue and mine. How MANY times I have WISHED I had never said it, but say it I did and it brought misunderstanding and alienation between friends." D.O. Fuller, June 17, 1987
ON DAVID OTIS FULLER
"PRAYER CHANGES THINGS--AND PEOPLE. I have found that out so many times but I often wonder how God puts up with me with all my faults and failures. Surely He must have INFINITE patience to put up with all of us who make such blunders as we try to represent Him in this hell-raising world, and to be perfectly frank, 'We ain't seen nuthin' yet'." D.O. Fuller, Mar. 9, 1987
"I keep wondering why in the world did God ever save me and pass by multitudes in heathen darkness. Only sheer grace and 'to whom much is given much is required'." D.O. Fuller, March 7, 1986
"[Which Bible] has helped many people and I am ever anxious to let everyone know I must and will give GOD all the credit for it; this was NOT my 'cup of tea' at Princeton Seminary while a student there. Why the Lord ever chose me for this tremendous conflict I will never know but He has, and I, by His grace, refuse to give in or give over or give up to the enemy of the Holy Word of a Holy God found in the KJV, and many of them are unsuspecting born again Christians following sheep-like the 'findings' of the scholars and treating them as the ipse dixit of God Himself." D.O. Fuller, December 14, 1985
ON THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
"I wish I could send you more material and books but I have determined not to go into debt as I have always had a horror of it as my dear Mother passed that horror on to me." D.O. Fuller, March 9, 1987
"Keep looking UP! If you look DOWN, or AROUND, or INSIDE, or ACROSS THE WORLD--you are sunk!" D.O. Fuller, March 7, 1986
"If ever Christians found themselves in a mixed up, messed up, muddled up age it is now, 1986. We must ask the Blessed Holy Spirit daily for wisdom and courage and grace to face the wrath and diabolic deceit that Satan is using constantly among Christians in these very last days. The devil knows he has but a short time and he is out to raise as much unshirted hell as he can, zeroing in on those who determine to stand fast and not be swayed by the blandishments of a world gone stark raving mad with sin and fear." D.O. Fuller, April 14, 1986
"Satan is pulling out all the stops and putting on that most deceptive guise as 'an angel of light.' Many years ago I remember Henry Frost, a godly man and head of the then great China Inland Mission, was asked upon one occasion, 'Dr. Frost, where does so-and-so stand on this important issue?' To which he replied, 'I don't know, I haven't seen him since yesterday!' which spoke volumes then as it does right now." D.O. Fuller, April 14, 1986
"Any time you wish to check up on me on something you have heard about me that you wonder about, by all means tell me. I have nothing to hide and I will tell you the truth about it." D.O. Fuller, April 1, 1986
"We both need prayer as the battle gets hotter and that it surely is doing. But so help me the hotter it gets the better I like it. And that poses a theological problem; is that my old nature or my new old? A bit puzzling!" D.O. Fuller, July 21, 1986
"Keep looking up! It's MUCH, MUCH later than we think! And THAT is the understatement of ALL understatements for the year." D.O. Fuller, June 17, 1987
"The hour is SO late and the need is SO great, what we do we must do quickly." D.O. Fuller, February 26, 1986
"I am a fundamentalist and I care not who knows it, but when I know first hand (no second hand gossip) of the awful, fearful, filthy sins in fundamental circles I get sick all over--pride, avarice, greed, grudge bearing, gossip. You name it. If or when revival breaks out in fundamental circles and some if not many of them get really saved THEN we will see 'heaven come down and glory fill our souls'." --David Otis Fuller, February 1986
"I want to be fair, I want to be honest and yet I want to stand firm and unyielding when it comes to the great fundamentals of Scripture. It is so easy to fall into that deadly sin which I fear more than any other sin, the sin of unconscious, self-righteous hypocrisy. I am thinking of the words of Job when his friends were 'comforting him' and Job comes out with, 'No doubt but ye are the people and wisdom will die with you' Job 12:2. I am so fearful of falling into that trap of Satan and I am afraid I have done so without even knowing it." D.O. Fuller, April 14, 1986
"What I have always strived with might and main to do, is to go as far as I can without compromise and whenever my pride is hurt because of something said about me behind my back or to my face, I have made it a practice to stop and thank God for the experience when I stop and realize how God HATES THE SIN OF PRIDE, which sent our first parents reeling and staggering out of Eden." D.O. Fuller, June 17, 1987
ON THE GARBC
"I tremble for the GARB [General Association of Regular Baptist Churches]. For years I did my best [Dr. Fuller was with the GARBC for over 50 years] to have them come out flatfooted in favour of the KJV and make it their final absolute Authority, but they keep dancing around the issue and playing tag with most everybody. NO association or church or Bible school or individual can do that very long. If they do they will begin to slide down the tube as sure as two times two make four. If I had not known for certain and sure and absolutely when I entered the ministry that I had an infallible, inerrant Holy Word of a Holy God to proclaim without fear or favour to the whole world, I NEVER would have entered into that sacred office. I refuse to play the hypocrite." D.O. Fuller, Feb. 7, 1986
"I am inclined to believe it is much safer to follow the Textus Receptus put out by Erasmus than the Majority text. Somehow some way God used the genius and brilliant mind of Erasmus to produce the TR. Very few know that Desiderius Erasmus was brought up as a youth with the Brethren of the Common Life, a small group in the Catholic church who fell in love with the Bible but dared not speak out against the black sins of the papacy. Erasmus gained his love of the Bible from them and considered the TR his crowning achievement. From what I can gather I honestly believe Erasmus is in heaven." D.O. Fuller, Dec. 14, 1985
"I read two articles in the Moody Monthly for July past on the KJV and King James himself. When I finished, I was S I C K. It seemed as if the writers took delight in showing up how 'terrible' the KJV was and how awful King James was. Can not scholars and others get it through their heads that God can and does use anyone and anything for His glory? He used an ass and caused him to speak with a human voice, and methinks I would trust that animal sooner than I would many a scholar I know who lives to tear in pieces the KJV and yet gives hypocritical lip service to it before the public." D.O. Fuller, December 14, 1985