Top 5 Reasons People Have Rejected the KJV (By Their Own Admission) and Why Their Reasons Are Invalid.
Contemporary Christianity is exhausted with English bible translations and everyone appears to have their favorite. Often people select a text based on readability or tradition but don’t have historical or biblical proofs for why the bible they read is God’s Word. If the accuracy of our bible impacts our doctrine and our doctrine informs the way we live, then translation is of utmost importance.
In the following blog post we ask Alan Shelby to present us with five reasons contemporary Christian culture has rejected the Authorized Version, and then give us a response by challenging those presuppositions.
Culture's Reason #1 In 1930, a Seventh Day Adventist author argued against a new Greek text in favor of the King James Version, which spurred other authors to write similar books. Because these arguments were started by an Adventist, they cannot be sound.
In 1930 Benjamin Wilkinson wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. In it he enumerated the errors of the new Greek text that the Revised Version of 1881 and American Standard Version of 1901 were translated from.
Wilkinson was a Seventh Day Adventist. This was one of the cult groups that sprung up in the 1840’s in America, but compared to Jehovah’s Witnesses, "Christian Science,” or Mormons, they were so allied to the Bible that many evangelicals today do not consider them any longer to be an anti-Christian cult, but a somewhat heterodox Christian group.
Then, in 1970, David Otis Fuller, a WWII Navy chaplain and graduate of Princeton Seminary, published Which Bible?, in which he reprinted much of Wilkinson. In 1967 Edward F. Hills wrote the book Believing Bible Study, and in 1973 The King James Version Defended. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale, and went on to Westminster and Columbia Seminaries, and earned a second doctorate in textual criticism at Harvard. He approaches the evidence from a position he calls the “Logic of Faith.”
The chronology of writings are perceived by many as drawing a line from Adventist beliefs to the Byzantine text type to the published Textus Receptus and finally to the King James translation. Therefore, the pro-King James writings that followed Wilkinson’s are described by some as being unreliable and dangerous.
Our Response #1 Regardless of perceived associations, a faith-based view recognizes God’s preserving hand in history and understands that the Authorized Version is either scripture (God’s Words in English) or we have never had God’s words and never will.
The complete Bible first came into English with John Wycliffe in 1385, but this translation was in manuscript format in Middle English. After the printing press was invented in 1440 there followed seven printed English translations, each improving on the prior. The last of these was the Authorized Version of 1611.
After that, the process stopped. A believing, or faith-based view, sees God’s hand in history and understands that the KJV (Authorized Version) is either scripture (God’s Words in English) or that we have never had God’s words and never will.
After 270 years, scholars who viewed the manuscript evidence skeptically instead of in faith (“lower criticism”), concluded the Holy Spirit had no control over the preservation process. Therefore (just like cult groups claim), the truth was lost for 1800 years and only recently discovered (in one case, a manuscript was found in a trashcan on Mt. Sinai intended to be forgotten).
Instead of trusting in a text preserved over time through the priesthood of believers, the scholars (many of whom were not Christians) created a committee and published a man-made text, a new translation in 1881. The American participants were bound by copyright not to touch it for 20 years. Therefore, in 1901 we came out with an American revision.
Because, at that time, America was 25-50 years behind Europe in philosophy (relativism), the arts, and theology (high and lower criticism), it took two to three decades before the idea that there were now competing authorities in English trickled down to the grassroots of American Christianity. Hence 1930 and Wilkinson’s book! These arguments had already spread in Europe, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that they spread to America. It is untrue to say the pro-KJV movement started with Wilkinson in 1930 when European Bible scholar Dean Burgon, among others, was drawing the same conclusions in 1881!
Culture's Reason #2 Arguments against Westcott and Hort’s Greek text are used to argue the preservation of a specific translation (the KJV), but these arguments are fallacious because it is not the translation that is preserved, but the texts in their original language.
The Old Testament is preserved in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the New Testament, as accepted by the earliest believers, was written in Greek. Since the original “autographs" are gone, the only thing remaining are copies.
The Devil used various heretics to attempt to corrupt the text of the New Testament early on in Church history. However, these heretics’ work survives in no more than 5% of the available copies, some of these being very old (read: less used because less reliable). Scholars call this the “Western” text, and identify it as being preserved from Alexandria, Egypt. Note what the Bible has to say about Egypt, and Alexandria specifically, as well as that Alexandria was known for being a headquarters for the philosophy of man.
The vast majority of manuscripts (~95%) preserve an identifiable Greek Text. Scholars call it the “Eastern,” Byzantine, majority, or “received” text, and identify it as being preserved from Antioch in Syria. Note that Antioch was the headquarters for the early church, and that it is where the disciples were first called Christians according to Acts 11:26!
It was this Eastern text which the earliest publishers of the collated manuscripts (in the 1500s) concluded was the text commonly received by the saints of the early church. That is why it is the one that was published. From it came all the Protestant Reformation translations.
In the 1830’s a scholar discovered a Western text about to be burned in a monastery on Mount Sinai. Later this manuscript was seen to be very similar to another in the Vatican Library. So in the late 1800’s two British scholars, Westcott and Hort, depended chiefly on these two older manuscripts—instead of the preserved majority text!—to develop a new science of lower (textual) criticism (i.e. view the text skeptically), and then publish a new Greek text, which resulted in a New English Translation.
At the bottom line, Bruce Metzger and other critical scholars admit two major lines of bibles originating in Antioch and Alexandria.
Our Response #2 The fatal flaw in this reasoning is that the critical text culture grants their translation what they deny to the KJV.
They ask, ”But why should I extend preservation to a translation?" I reply, then why do you extend it to a text-type? Your text-type is not the original autograph, either! God himself extended it from Hebrew to Greek in the first place (in the case of Old Testament citations within the New Testament). Therefore, we ought to extend preservation to the translation of the preserved, received text.
Culture's Reason #3 A racist pastor in the south influenced many other pastors in the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement with pro-KJV arguments, which reveals something about the integrity and character of those that use it.
Unfortunately, many who have held to a correct view of scripture have had skeletons in their closet as well as suits. Bob Jones, a Methodist Evangelist and Revivalist, started a school whose motto was that they were “The World’s Most Unusual University.” Perhaps. Along with sound theology they also taught racist ideas.
This is a shame, but of course this was a position held by many whites in the south, and not a few in the north, for over a hundred years after adoption of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution. One of the vociferous proponents of the King James Bible, Pete Ruckman, was a graduate of this school. Since his influence lives on through his books, anyone holding a “King James Only” position is often associated with the historical flaws of parts of the IFB movement.
Our Response #3 Since this is an ad hominem argument it hardly needs reply. Racists exist in the liberal, scholarly, and critical-text ranks as well.
Culture's Reason #4 The doctrine of preservation does not apply to any one translation, and the Devil is not strategically involved in perpetuating an alternative line of manuscripts, and therefore Bible.
The popular critical approach denies that preservation extended beyond the original texts. In fact, it is common to deny inspiration completely assuming that error must have existed within the original autograph (C.H. Dodd for example). For those with these theological inclinations, it is also very common to reduce the influence of Satan or deny his personage all together. If there is an enemy of God, many Christians do not consider or accept that it would be within his prowess or strategy to attack the text throughout the process of its translations and therefore its dissemination. This assumption results in a perspective that can only hope for a bible(s) that approximates God's heart and intention, not his very words, and prompts a critical approach to culminating an eclectic body.
Our Response #4 This is neither true to history (see scholars’ descriptions of the evidence in the earliest ages of the Church), nor to scripture. From the very beginning Satan has attacked the truth and reliability of the words of God (see Genesis 3).
The enemy as outlined in scripture consists of the world, the flesh and the devil. The problem now is many Christians have willingly accepted the philosophy of the world. The world accepts authorities (especially competing ones, because this puts the Devil on the same level as God) but will not uphold the idea of one final, absolute authority with special revelation, through which God defines reality for us. They deny God's definition of scripture (which the Bible does not equate with the original manuscripts, or even any given translation—but that is another topic for another time).
Hence, perspective is always moveable in the postmodern mindset (Proverbs 5:6, cf. v 7). Their perspective then shapes their perceptions of both the evidence and the truth, even when it comes to the very words of God.
Culture's Reason #5 It is possible to embrace the critical text and modern versions and still be faithful to the word, hold a high view of scripture, and have sound doctrine. To change your position away from “King James Only” is a sign of relevance and growth.
Many church leaders today see no conflict between accepting the conclusions of textual critics (many of whom aren't saved) and translation theories that do not prioritize a literal translation of the words, and yet they profess to believe the Bible, and love it, and teach correctly, etc.
Therefore, no one should be afraid to leave the idea of the King James as a truth-authority, and feel like they have left the truth. So one reason to leave the KJV is because you can get away with it, and they deny it implies any theological weakening. On the contrary, you are truly enlightened once you finally throw off the shackles of that wide-margin King James. why, you've practically grown a third eye.
Our Response #5 How is that working for you?
In 2016 Christianity Today published a survey of American Evangelicals and the results reflect the neglect of historical doctrine. A correlation may be drawn between the culture’s wholesale retreat from a faith perspective of scripture and their indifference to core biblical doctrines:
- 74% of us believe we must contribute to our own salvation
- 71% of us believe Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God
- 56% of us believe the Holy Spirit is an energy force, not a personal being
- 48% of us say God accepts the worship of all religions
- 42% believe worshiping alone or with your family can replace God’s church
In the closest actual experiment our church community (LFF) can observe, this is simply a novel tactic to deflect attention from the textbook way to run a good church into the ground. If lifelong pastoral disingenuousness about biblical authority and being masters of deceit for decades both in preaching and published material is to be attributed to "growing," then who can say what we might grow into next?