A Review of Virginia Donavan's essay on Bible Study Fellowship1
by Hadley Robinson
Miss Donovan does a thorough job in her essay
revealing the many serious doctrinal errors adhered to by BSF, taking great care to footnote the evidence. In sum, godly Christians should not be a part of
this group as they will be taught many strange and false doctrines unknown to the historical orthodox Christian faith.
She also tackles some issues not directly concerning BSF. In
particular, I am not in complete agreement with her sweeping accusations against modern translations of the Bible and the NIV, in particular.2
She is correct that it has bias and,
as a result, has errors but some of them are also shared by the KJV and others. I agree that the KJV is still the best English translation with respect to its accuracy to the Greek and Hebrew
of the day. But, regrettably, most Americans struggle with understanding Elizabethan English. It is a dilemma and just another reason why all pastors should be trained in the Biblical
languages so they can see for themselves and share with their flocks the liberties taken by translation committees and their obvious bias to some of the darker aspects of the Reformation, including those who gave us the KJV.
Like all of the so-called
para-church organizations, BSF is not accountable to a Biblical church governed by biblically qualified bishops/elders. Organizations that are doing the Church's work on earth are not helping
the Church. In fact, like BSF, they are a hindrance and, as is the case here, teach doctrine and so have some (but not all) characteristics of the Church but not her accountability.
A more accurate term for these
would be the "pseudo-church" – false churches. It does not necessarily mean that they teach false doctrines but that they assume some roles of Christ's Church but selectively deny or
avoid the other roles of the Church given in Scripture. Sadly, most true Christians never give any of this a thought, especially the harm done to Christ's Bride. It is like having room service make the bed,
pick up after, and bath one's eight-year-old. Yes, it's helpful but, in the long run, is not in the best interests of the child's future as an adult. Why do so many work outside
the framework of a local church? Is it because they cannot be bothered with the accountability that it requires? Or, are they teaching some heresy? If money is changing
hands, one can be fairly certain that the motives of these organizations are not pure. Why not be like Paul and many others -- have a job on the side and support yourself? Then no
one can say that you are making a living off the Gospel. The only exceptions are those specifically teaching and pastoring in the local church and who are under its supervision.
The Church is often
crippled because of "help" from others. If a church is not carefully teaching the Bible and sound doctrine, sending out evangelists, helping the poor, giving aid to widows, why not? It could
be that something is dreadfully wrong. It could be that we have succumbed to proxy Christianity.
Yes, sound doctrine can be divisive but what of it? Jesus and Paul were both put to death because their doctrines divided many, among other things. The epistles of Galatians and Jude,
for example, are primarily doctrinal and directly attack any notion that sound doctrine is not central to sound faith.