Which Word?

TimeWatch Editorial
January 11, 2017

The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia provides a detailed biography of Dr. Benjamin George Wilkinson. He was born in the year 1872 and passed away in 1968. The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Revised Edition, 1976, page 1609 says that he was a Dean, an administrator, an evangelist, and author. Here is how the website describes him.


“Wilkinson was born in Canada and began to study for the ministry at Battle Creek College in 1891. The following year he worked in evangelism in Wisconsin. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1897 and that same year became dean of theology at Battle Creek College. The following year he became president of the Canadian Conference and in 1899 he was asked to serve as dean of theology at Union College. He served for four years as president of the Latin Conference, which later became the Southern European Division. During this time he started the work in Rome, Paris, and in Spain. Returning to the United States, he held evangelistic meetings in large cities of the Columbia Union, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, West Virginia. He also served as dean of theology at Washington Missionary College for five years. In 1908 he received his doctoral degree from George Washington University and the following year became president of Columbia Union Conference, where he served for 10 years. In 1920 he accepted the presidency of the Kansas Conference. He then served for a short time as temporary mission superintendent in Haiti. After a time as president of the East Pennsylvania Conference he gave 24 consecutive years of service to Washington Missionary College, serving as president from 1936 to 1946. He is the author of Truth Triumphant and Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. He retired from active work after 56 years of service.” The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Revised Edition, 1976, page 1609.

It is important that we clearly define who Dr. Benjamin George Wilkinson is, because the subject he has dealt with continues to be an important matter which has had and still has an impact on our study and our understanding of the Word. The book we are referring to is Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. The reaction to the book was so intense that he ultimately wrote another book entitled “Answers to Objections A Reply To the "Review" Of My Book Our Authorized Bible Vindicated” Here is how the preface of Answers to Objections begins.

Back in 1930 B. G, Wilkinson published ‘Our Authorized Bible Vindicated’. Some of his college colleagues took exception to his book and criticized it publicly, Since Wilkinson, who was a professor in one of our colleges, was having his scholarship questioned, it was mandatory that he reply. This book is his reply to their "review" and criticism. It literally "downs" them on every argument. Since feelings and rivalry were running high, the General Conference of those days requested Wilkinson to not publish this work. He agreed. Since the individuals concerned are no longer on the scene, and since the issue of modern versions is now a very important topic, we feel that this work should be available to students.” Dr. Benjamin George Wilkinson, Answers To Objections A Reply To The "Review" Of My Book Our Authorized Bible Vindicated” Page 1

So why was this information urgently relevant in the time of Dr. Wilkinson?


"Shortly after the death of Ellen G. White (1915), the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church began to publish articles in the Signs of the Times and Ministry magazines promoting the American Revised Version of the Bible, "Dr. Wilkinson felt the need to write in defense of the Authorized version," the Editors stated.”This project was highly opposed by the leadership of the church. An "unofficial" letter, dated November 18, 1928, from the then President of the General Conference, W. A. Spicer, was sent to Dr. Wilkinson asking him not to enter into this controversy. However, the magazine articles and the book The world's Best Book were published after this letter was written to Dr. Wilkinson. Because these articles and book were published after his letter to Dr. Wilkinson, General Conference President Spicer was quoted as saying to Elder Robbins, "Then let Elder Wilkinson write his side of the question." The book was eventually published by the author [Wilkinson] in England under the appropriate title, Our Authorized Bible, Vindicated." The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Revised Edition, 1976, page 1609. (Quoted from the Ancient SDA website)
The passing of Sister White provided an opportunity to redress the foundational truths that had been embraced since the beginning of the faith.


"Shortly after the death of Ellen G. White" in 1915, then, and only then, "the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church began to publish articles in the Signs of the Times and Ministry magazines promoting the American Revised Version of the Bible. Not only that, but the leadership was "promoting the American Revised Version as on an equal par with the Authorized King James version!" (ibid., p. 1609). Obviously, the leadership had to wait until the messenger of the Lord had passed from the scene. When Dr. Benjamin Wilkinson took up the banner of truth and wrote "in defense of the Authorized version," the project "was highly opposed by the leadership of the church." (ibid., p. 1609). The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Revised Edition, 1976, page 1609. (Quoted from the Ancient SDA website)

But as relevant as the issue was in the time of Wilkinson, it became ever more crucial as time progressed.


“Many in our denomination are "pushing" the use of the New International Version and repressing the use of the King James Version from the pulpits. Since our doctrines, particularly the Investigative Judgment and 2300-Day Prophecy cannot be taught from the NIV, our people should be made aware of the dangers of this Romanized Bible being foisted upon them. It is time our members studied for themselves the history of the English Bible, and its many modern versions. If we are to adopt the NIV as a standard for use in the pulpit and in our schools, then we might as well give up being Seventh-day Adventists and join the ecumenical movement back to Rome. This is not an idle statement; Just a real, honest bit of study will soon reveal how the enemy has crept within our ranks.” Dr. Benjamin George Wilkinson, Answers To Objections A Reply To The "Review" Of My Book Our Authorized Bible Vindicated” Page 1

We shall continue our examination of the subject in our next editorial.

Cameron A. Bowen

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