The View from Marrs: Did Dr. Don Wilkins Really Lose His Voice on a Taping of The John Ankerberg Show on the New Translations?

The View from Marrs: Did Dr. Don Wilkins Really Lose His Voice on a Taping of The John Ankerberg Show on the New Translations?

Many people have written us at The John Ankerberg Show asking if the claims of Texe Marrs concerning a 1995 television taping were true. Now it is necessary to set the record straight.

Unfortunately, a characteristic feature of much KJV Onlyism is that its zealous propo­nents are often unfair and biased in their use of facts. Yet they claim to be concerned about the truth.

Dr. Art Farstad, general editor of the New King James Version (NKJV), is hardly alone when he observed on the program, “I’ve been accused of a number of heinous crimes that I’ve never done.”

God takes truth very seriously because He is a God of truth. He warns in Scripture against false witnesses and those who would lie against the truth: “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies” (Proverbs 12:17). The Scripture also tells us that we are to avoid those who cause dissension: “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions…. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ,…” (Romans 16:17-18).

In Flashpoint, the monthly newsletter of Texe Marrs ministry for October 1995, p. 3, we find an article titled, “SHOCKER!—BIBLE SCHOLAR LOSES VOICE ON THE JOHN ANKERBERG TV SHOW.”

This article typifies the distortion that characterizes the arguments and approach of the KJVO camp toward those whom it considers its opponents. Texe Marrs wrote that Dr. Don Wilkins had lost his voice during the taping of the Ankerberg program on the issue of new Bible translations. He begins the article by saying, “You can call it pure justice, a sign from God, or whatever you want, but eyebrows were sure raised recently during the tapings for Christian TV’s The John Ankerberg Show.”

Then he begins a series of distortions. First, he alleges that John Ankerberg attempted to “stack the deck” by having “five new version scholars but only three King James advo­cates.” But there was no attempt to “stack the deck.” Six KJVO advocates were invited; only three chose to appear. Gail Riplinger, Peter Ruckman and D. A. Waite, all leaders in the KJVO camp, declined our invitation.

Second, Marrs calls Ankerberg “a bitter opponent of the King James Bible,” but this is also false. If it were true, why would John offer The King James Version as a premium on his TV shows? Why would he also offer quality study aids for the KJV?

Third, Marrs claims on one of the shows that Don Wilkins lost his voice, presumably as a punishment from God:

[It] happened when Ankerberg asked Dr. Don Wilkins, head of the New King James Version translation committee a key question. “Is it true,” asked Ankerberg, “as Gail Riplinger reported in her best-selling book, New Age Bible Versions, that a number of the scholars that worked on the new translation committees lost their voice as punishment by God?”
As the TV cameras captured the moment, Dr. Wilkins opened his mouth toanswer—and nothing came out! No sound! Wilkins kept trying to clear his throat, but he couldn’t respond. Ankerberg and the other new version scholars were visibly startled. Finally an embarrassed and frightened Wilkins was able to screech out in a cracking, almost inaudible manner, “I…I’ve…lost…my voice!”
A shocked John Ankerberg ordered the cameras to stop and back up, whereupon Dr. Joseph Chambers, a King James Only advocate, politely protested. “The cameras should record exactly what happened here,” Chambers insisted. But Ankerberg was hearing none of it. After a brief delay, the TV cameras began to roll again, after the amazing segment of Dr. Wilkin’s losing his voice had conveniently been excised!

This reporting is one long misrepresentation. First, Dr. Don Wilkins was on the translation committee of the New American Standard Bible, not the New King James Version, as Marrs stated.

Second, in previous shows Ankerberg had commented about Riplinger’s claim that new translations editors had lost their voices. He wanted an answer on this to quell the rumor and set the record straight since, obviously, none of the people present had lost their voices and neither did they know of this occurring to anyone else. But on the segment reported by Marrs, this was not Ankerberg’s question. Ankerberg’s question was to ask Wilkins about the credibility of Riplinger’s book. So Marrs has distorted the context as well.

Third, the event in question was not at all like Marrs reported it. I (John Weldon) person­ally reviewed this segment of the tape where Wilkins supposedly lost his voice. He didn’t lose his voice at all; he merely developed a “frog” in his throat, which took about five sec­onds to cough out. This happens to people all the time and is hardly a sign of God’s judg­ment, nor would it be unexpected with someone who had just flown in from Athens, Greece, and was tired. In response, Wilkins simply cleared his throat and said, a bit embar­rassed, but half in jest, “I’m losing my voice.” Everyone laughed and he took a drink of water and then proceeded to answer Ankerberg’s question concerning the unreliability of Riplinger’s book. He went on immediately to state that the Lockman Foundation had spent six weeks in investigation of Riplinger’s book and that “what I personally found is that virtually everything she says is wrong, or a misquotation or a deliberate deception of people….”

So Wilkins did not lose his voice, Ankerberg and the new version scholars were not “visibly startled,” or “shocked,” Wilkins was not “embarrassed and frightened,” etc.

If this really had been a punishment of God, as was the biblical case of Zechariah, Wilkins would not have been able to continue speaking at all. In the case of Zechariah, the angel pronounced a judgment that he would be unable to speak for a full nine months because he had not believed the angel’s words concerning the miraculous birth of John the Baptist: “And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, be­cause you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time” (Luke 1:20). Zechariah was indeed mute for an entire nine months (Luke 1:24, 57, 64). So, why did God allow Dr. Wilkins to continue speaking and mention that the Lockman Foundation had investigated Riplinger’s book and found it was completely false as to its claims? As James White, a participant in the debate, pointed out in, “The View from Marrs,”

Dr. Wilkins had one single problem; he immediately recovered and went on to demonstrate errors in KJV Only viewpoints. Dr. Wallace had flown in just an hour before the program began, yet he had no problems. I had no problems, Dr. Barker had no problems, and Dr. Farstad had no problems, either. Can’t we use the term “desperation” to describe the KJV Only attempt to read into this incident some divine judgment? Why didn’t God keep us all from discussing Riplinger’s errors? Why did Dr. Wilkins’ problem last for just a few seconds? And why did God allow us to repeatedly refute the KJV Only arguments through all eight programs?[1]

The John Ankerberg Show does its very best to produce quality Christian apologetics that attempt to defend the truth of the Christian faith and offer a biblical and reasoned evaluation of current issues. Unfortunately, the church of past and present has usually been less than excited about supporting apologetic ministries, cult evangelism, etc. Those like Dr. Ankerberg who suffer the personal and ministerial consequences of seeking to defend the truth should be commended rather than being unfairly criticized.

(Note: The cameras were not “turned off and backed up,” but continued to roll. Anyone wishing to view the actual raw footage for themselves can call our office to request a copy. You will be charged a small fee to cover our costs. 1-800-805-3030)

Notes

  1. James White, “The View from Marrs,” fax to John Weldon dated October 16, 1995. We would like to thank James White for the title of our article.

1 Comment

  1. Paul Perkins on July 6, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    You readily admit that Mr. Wilkins stated:” I’ve…lost…my voice.” Quoted article above.You clearly contradict this statement and I quote:”So Wilkins did not lose his voice.”
    Look at the question that was reported as being asked. It was in regards to people “losing their voice” How timely this was. Should I believe the man who made the statement or the man who contradicted the man who made the statement? A rule of logic: “When 2 statements contradict each other, they both can’t be true.”. I find it very incredible. Those are your facts and you too look at in a scewed manner. A lawyer would have a field day reviewing this testimony in a court of law.

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