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Westcott & Hort: their heresies and occult activities

In 1881, two British textual critics named Brooke Westcott and Anthony Hort published their Critical Greek New Testament. It was a unification of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus into one Critical Greek text.[1] This new Greek text was a complete departure from the Received Text Bibles that had been used since the early days of the church. The text that was published in 1881 was a new combination of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus that no one had ever used before. It was this Greek text that would replace the Received Text as the textual basis for almost all Bible translations published thereafter.

The men who published this new Greek Critical text literally changed the Bible that the majority of Christians used. For centuries, Christians used Bibles that were based in the traditional text, the Received Text. With the publication of the Critical Text, all this was about to change. From 1881 on, most new translations would follow this brand-new text that had never before existed, this new hybrid of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

Was it wise for modern Christianity to trust these two men to change the traditional Bible? The answer is a definitive no. This becomes even more clear when we study just who these men were. Today, we have many books and letters that were written by Westcott and Hort. These documents give us a very good idea as to the beliefs and character of these men.

Westcott and Hort were men who did not believe in many orthodox doctrines, especially in regards to the authority and preservation of the Scriptures. Hort said in a letter: The positive doctrines even of the Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than untrue. There are, I fear, still more serious differences between us on the subject of authority, and especially the authority of the Bible;[2] Hort differed greatly with orthodox Christianity in regards to the authority of the Bible in the life of the Christian.

Westcott and Hort not only did not believe in orthodox views in regards to the authority of the Bible, they also despised the traditional Bible that had been used since the early days of the church. Hort said regarding the traditional Bible (Received Text): I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek Testament, and dragged on with the villainous Textus Receptus.[3] The villainous textus Receptus? This is the person whom modern Christians trust to have reconstructed the Greek text of their Bibles? Hort continued: Think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning entirely on late manuscripts.; it is a blessing there are such early ones.[4] Calling the traditional and historic Bibles "vile" shows the low view these two men had for Scripture.

In addition to the authority of the Scriptures, Westcott and Hort denied many other orthodox Christian doctrines. In regards to the literal creation, Westcott wrote: No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of Genesis, for example, give a literal history -- I could never understand how anyone reading them with open eyes could think they did.[5] Westcott and Hort were evolutionists who denied the Genesis account of creation.

Hort was not someone who believed in the biblical doctrines of salvation. He even called the substitutionary atonement of Christ "immoral." Hort writes: I entirely agree...with what you there say on the atonement, having for many years believed that 'the absolute union of the Christian (or rather, of man) with Christ Himself' is the spiritual truth of which the popular doctrine of substitution is an immoral and material counterfeit.[6]

Westcott also did not believe in biblical salvation, but he did teach the false doctrine of universal salvation. He wrote in his commentary of Hebrews 2:8-9, "The fruit of His work is universal."[7] Is it true that all people will be saved? No, only those that trust in Christ will be saved. Westcott also taught other heretical views regarding salvation. He wrote in his commentary of John 15:8, "a Christian never 'is' but always 'is becoming' a Christian."[8] The teaching that a Christian can never be sure of his salvation is heresy and false doctrine (1 John 5:12-13).

Westcott denied the reality of Heaven. He wrote in his commentary of John 1:18, "The 'bosom of the Father' (like heaven) is a state and not a place."[9] The Bible teaches that heaven is most definitely a place. Jesus said that He would prepare a "place" for us, not a "state" (John 14:2). Westcott's view of the doctrine of heaven was very heretical.

Many other examples could be given regarding the many heresies of Westcott and Hort. Entire books have been written that analyze their writings which clearly reveal their heretical views. The examples given here should be sufficient to show that Christians are foolish to trust these men (or anyone for that matter) to change the Bible that most Christians had used since the early days of the church.

The Occult Activities of Westcott and Hort

In addition to their many doctrinal heresies, strong evidence exists from the writings of both Westcott and Hort that they were involved in occult activities during the time they prepared their Greek New Testament. These serious accusations are made with very strong evidence from the letters of both men. The evidence that is about to be presented shows the satanic influence on the two men that changed the text of almost all modern translations.

Hort wrote in a letter: Westcott...and I have started a society for the investigation of ghosts and all supernatural appearances and effects, being all disposed to believe that such things really exist...Westcott is drawing up a schedule of questions...our own temporary name is the Ghostly Guild.[10] Dr. Sorenson notes that this occult activity club was organized by Westcott and Hort at Cambridge University the same year in which they began their work on their Greek text. They continued to participate in this club for a period of ten years.[11]

Today the "Ghostly Guild" is listed in The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology as an occult organization in which its members related personal experiences with ghosts.[12] The club investigated supernatural activities centered around "beings of the unseen world" manifesting themselves in "extraordinary ways." The "Ghostly Circular" drawn up by Mr. Westcott himself says the following: The interest and importance of a serious and earnest inquiry into the nature of the phenomena which are vaguely called 'supernatural' will scarcely be questioned. Many persons believe that all such apparently mysterious occurrences are due either to purely natural causes, or to delusions of the mind or senses, or to willful deception. But there are many others who believe it possible that the beings of the unseen world may manifest themselves to us in extraordinary ways.[13] The reference to these "beings of the unseen world" that "manifest themselves to us in extraordinary ways" are possibly a reference to seances. Westcott then goes on to request that anyone having testimony of supernatural occurrences submit a written form to the guild for further investigation.

Westcott's son also wrote of his father's devotion to these occult activities: He (Westcott) devoted himself with ardor during his last year at Cambridge, to two new societies. One of these was the "Ghostly Guild," which numbered amongst its members A. Barry, E. W. Benson, H. Bradshaw, the Hon. A. Gordon, F.J. A. Hort, H. Laurd, and C.B. Scott, was established for the investigation of all supernatural appearances and effects. Westcott took a leading part in their proceedings, and their inquiry circular was originally drawn up by him.[14] His son later quotes his father as having "faith in Spiritualism."[15]

Hort, who was also involved in this occultic club, wrote of the alarm that would be raised by Christians who would later buy their Greek text if they found out about their occult activities. Hort wrote: Also—but this may be cowardice—I have a sort of craving that our text should be cast upon the world before we deal with matters likely to brand us with suspicion. I mean, a text, issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy, will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach, and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms.[16] Yes Mr. Hort, your occult activities that took place at the same time you worked on your Greek text do indeed raise alarms.

In Westcott's Life and letters, another occult club is mentioned that was organized by Westcott called "Hermes." This club met weekly.[17] Dr. Sorenson quotes a secular book tracing occult societies. The book (The Founders of Psychical Research, pages 90-91) cites a letter between members of Westcott's club and refers to a homosexual relationship between members. The source quotes a letter from a club member as saying that homosexuality was not rare among the men in the club. While there is no evidence that Westcott and Hort themselves participated in homosexual activities, they were members and founders of a club in which it frequently did.[18] One thing seems to be clear, while these two men were preparing their Greek text, they were being influenced by demonic spirits by means of their occult activities.

Today, supporters of the Critical Text position lift up Westcott and Hort as fine Christian gentlemen who gave the world a better Bible. The truth is that these men were heretics who dabbled in occult activities. They despised the traditional and historical Bible, rejected many orthodox Christian doctrines, and produced a corrupt Greek text that the devil has used to deceive billions. The Bible warns of these deceptions in 1 Timothy 4:1, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" I conclude this article with this bold, but yet very true statement, the modern Critical Text Bibles are full of corruptions that came from the influence of the devil himself. The battle for the integrity and purity of the Word of God is most assuredly a spiritual battle.

[1] David H. Sorenson, Touch not the Unclean Thing, 105. [2] Arthur Fenton Hort y Fenton John Anthony Hort, Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, vol. 1, (London; New York: Macmillan and Co., Ltd.; Macmillan & Co., 1896), 400. [3] Ibid, 211. [4] Ibid. [5] D. A. Waite, The Theological Heresies of Westcott and Hort, (Collingswood, NJ, The Bible for Today, Inc., 1979), 4. [6] Ibid, 5. [7] Ibid, 22. [8] Ibid, 23. [9] Ibid, 19. [10] Arthur Fenton Hort y Fenton John Anthony Hort, Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, vol. 1, 211. [11] David H. Sorenson, Touch not the Unclean Thing, 172. [12] Ibid. 177. [13] Arthur Westcott, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, (London: MacMillan & Co., 1903), vol. 1, 117-118. [14] Ibid. 117. [15] Ibid. 119. [16] Arthur Fenton Hort y Fenton John Anthony Hort, Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, vol. 1, 445. [17] Arthur Westcott, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, 147. [18] David H. Sorenson, Touch not the Unclean Thing, 175.

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