We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Sunday, July 26, 2009

King James Version Only?

I have studied the whole issue of the “King James Only” controversy for several years now, as well as studying the issue of biblical translational philosophy (formal vs. dynamic). I have a whole shelf of books on the subjects in my personal library.

Now, I am not going to entertain debates or arguments of any sort in relation to the merits of which Bible version is better, etc. I want only to make a few points about the “KJV Only” issue because of the cultish nature of some KJV only believers.

1. The KJV is NOT the inspired Word of God. It is man’s translation, and quite a fallible one at that, with many errors. And if you want to argue for KJV only, then which version are you claiming?

2. Most other English versions are quite acceptable for teaching the Christian faith. People do indeed come to Christ through their usage. (Yes, there are abominable so-called “translations,” such as the New World Translation, the Joseph Smith Translation, the Clear Word Bible, The Message, et al)

3. Christians who use other versions are not of the devil and are not new age conspiracists.

4. Since the KJV itself is not inspired, it is redundant to call any other version a “Non Inspired Version” (as I have heard the NIV referred to).

5. There is no conspiracy to bring in “new age” versions of the Bible. (Unless you want to say the conspiracy is one of Satan, who wants to distort the Word of God.) This includes other conspiracies which supposedly involve the Catholic Church, the Illuminati and other organizations that probably don’t exist either.

6. Having a Christian assembly based on everyone accepting only the KJV as the Word of God is cultish. Period.

7. 1611 English makes the KJV an excellent tool for false teachers, and all sorts of cults and aberrational teachings are based on misunderstanding 400 year-old English!

With the abysmally poor reading skills of the average person on the street, it is very difficult to reach people using Elizabethan English. As problematic as the NIV is, I have found it to be a much better version for reaching non-believers, although my Bible of preference for passing out tends to be the NKJV or ESV. However, I do not neglect to explain that the NIV is often interpretive more than translative (if that’s a word!) We can use any English translation if we understand its limitations, and not be propagating “new age” versions.

So for all you KJV Onlyers, lighten up! There are a lot more serious issues to be addressed, such as cultic and other false teachings. It isn’t usually the particular English version which leads to false teachings, it is the misuse of the Bible in general.

5 comments:

Marie said...

I totally agree. Have nothing more to add. :) An old friend of mine out in Oregon thinks I'm not saved because I use the NIV.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

To Corey,
I will not post your lengthy questionaire because I stated that I will NOT entertain debate on this subject because I don't find it edifying or profitable. My post was to make a point that the KVJ Only stance is cultic and uselessly divisive.

Ron Livesay said...

Marie;
It is sad that anyone would say you are not saved because you use the NIV. The gospel message is there.

That having been said, just be aware that the NIV is a "dynamic equivalent" translation rather than a literal one. I was using the NIV until certain passages just did not ring true - Micah 5:2 is a key one.

I wrote a blog post on this topic: http://buffalonoise.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-i-quit-using-niv.html

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The NIV makes a good commentary, though! Otherwise I will often cite it when desiring a more modern translation for ease of the reading public who are familiar with the NIV.

When using modern Bibles with the eclectic underlying manuscripts, I have two favorites now: The ESV is the one I use for formal translation, while I really like the HSCB as a dynamic version - it is more formal than the NIV, and I have found my HSCB Apologetics Study Bible to be a wealth of information.

My other primary Bible besides the KJV is the NKJV (MacArthur Study Bible version) bcause the Greek underlying texts are closer to the KJV's than the rest of the new Bibles.

As long as we know the limitations of the particular Bible we use - be it textual or translational philosophy - it can be benficial to use many versions.

Ron Livesay said...

Glenn:

I agree with you about the use of the NIV and others as commentaries. The use of many versions and other tools is tremendously valuable as we study and dig for the literal truth of the passage.

As you make very clear, one thing we need to avoid is the practice of selecting one English version as inspired and therefore rejecting all the others, such as the "KJV-Only" crowd does.

Thanks for your great articles.