Separation series #12: KJV Issue
A third movement that is sinfully separating Christians is the modern King James Only movement. My first experience with
this radical movement was about 1984 when I was knocking on doors in Flagstaff, Arizona. The man who answered the door invited me into the house and immediately began to harangue me with reasons why the King James Version was the only true version of the Bible and that I should have nothing to do with other translations of the Bible. I had not even brought up the subject of translations.
My favorite translation
I grew up on the King James Version of the Bible. I have preached from it all my life. It’s beauty is unsurpassed. I’ve memorized many portions of it, but I do not believe that the King James Version is the only excellent translation. I do not believe that the KJV itself is inspired of God and that God chose Elizabethan vocabulary. I do not believe that those translating the Bible into other languages must use the KJV to get it right. No Fundamentalist prior to the 50’s believed that. I would have been dumbfounded to have ever heard a preacher make such a claim. To the contrary, as a boy, I often heard Fundamentalist preachers remark in their sermons that a particular verse is clearer in the Amplified. or in some other translation.
I am not a linguistic scholar.
For that reason I am not going to get involved in a discussion of the various manuscripts from which our English translations came. I’ve read the books and listened to hours of tapes on the matter- which frankly bored me! I am extremely saddened by the division of the KJV Only effort to divide Bible believing Christians. Let me give you one example.
Dr. John R. Rice
As a young pastor I was greatly influenced by Dr. Rice and his weekly paper, The Sword of the Lord which he founded and edited for many years. I heard him first at Bob Jones University when he spoke at the annual Bible conference. His life and his books were a tremendous blessing to me and helped me build a solid Biblical foundation for my life and ministry.
Let me quote what he had to say about the King James Version of the Bible in his 400 page book, The Bible, Our God-Breathed Book. This book was published by Sword of the Lord Publishers in 1969. In chapter 20 he writes about different translations. Note his position on the King James Version. On page 376 he writes, “Therefore the various translations contain together the eternal, unchangeable Word of God. But there are virtues and faults in each particular translation which we should note. A perfect translation of the Bible is humanly impossible. The words in one language do not have exactly the same color and meaning as words in another language, and human frailty and imperfection enter in. So let us say, there are no perfect translations. God does not inspire particular translations, although He may illuminate and give spiritual wisdom to the translator.”
On page 379 Rice speaks of the beauty, dignity, reverence and influence of the King James Version and then concludes “Of course the translation itself is not inspired, is not infallibly correct, but as the Holy Spirit someway led the Christian millions to a consensus of opinion on the Scriptures that should be accepted in our canon as our Bible, so surely the Holy Spirit and God’s providence have led millions to love and favor the King James Version. A preacher should refer when necessary to other versions as I do many times.”
On page 383 Rice writes, “Now there is available the new American Standard Bible New Testament, published by Moody Press. The American Standard Version of 1901, widely acclaimed for its word-for-word fidelity to the Greek, has been painstakingly revised by the Lockman Foundation in the light of the latest textual advances. Dr. Wilbur M. Smith says, “certainly the most accurate and most revealing translation of the New Testament that we now have.”
Recently I had the opportunity to read some of the recent issues of Sword of the Lord. I was extremely disappointed to see that this periodical has become a King James Version only paper. As I read it I was struck by this KJV Only emphasis throughout. Surely Dr Rice who has been in Heaven for many years, would be grieved to see this divisive emphasis in his paper. Here is a link to a letter from one of Dr. John R. Rice’s daughters, representing the Rice family, to the present editor of The Sword. It clearly reveals the departure of the current Editor from the position of Dr. Rice and historical Fundamentalism. http://www.biblicalevangelist.org/index.php?id=282&view=Guest+Editorial
It grieves me that the very gifts of Christ, the Bible and His Holy Spirit, gifts that should unite us as Christians, have been used by Satan to divide God’s family.
May God unite His people as we grasp the Scriptural truth of I Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been made to drink into one Spirit.” May God give us His wisdom and discernment to recognize those issues that should divide us from unbelievers and those issues that should unite us as fellow believers.
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