More on the KJV Issue

Well, my last post drew quite a response from some of my facebook friends.  I guess I should not be surprised.   Perhaps we should devote another podcast to this issue. 

A couple of things.  First, Pastor Bixby has posted a follow-up to the article I linked to yesterday – Say What Again!?! (Pt.2) Bauder, Smith & the Use of the Anecdote.

Second, I would HIGHLY recommend the following books to those who are serious in really studying out this issue or at least hearing what the other side has to say:  The King James Only Controversy by Dr. James White and the The King James Version Debate:  A Plea for Realism by Dr. D.A. Carson.   I am almost to the point where I want to say that I won’t even discuss this issue until these two books have been read.  By the way, I am willing to accept the same challege myself.  I will read resources that others suggest to me (feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment box).

Third, a friend made the comment that he would rather read a translation that that does not water-down the core doctrines of Scripture.  This is why he reads the KJV and not the the ESV.  Here’s the quote: 

“1 John 5:7-8, why remove the KJV’s reaffirmation of the Trinity, and study the watered-down ESV version? because it’s “easier to understand?” where will we stop with that logic? CF also Acts 1:3–why remove “infallable proofs” (KJV) for “many proofs”? Why weaken God’s Word? again, the ESV is based on the questionable “critical text?” by faith (because neither can be *proven* scientifically, i’ll go with the version that reinforces core doctrines”

Well, there is no doubt that there are differences between the texts behind the KJV and modern versions.  However, we should not jump to the conclusion that one translation seeks to water down the truths of another.  Here’s the issue – what’s the Bible actually say?  In other words, which one is wrong and which one is right?  Merely because one version may leave a word out (“the blood” in one verse or changes another word (such as in the above quotation) does not mean the translator’s intent was to water down anything.  Instead, it could merely mean a translator’s intent to be true to words that are actually in the text or to the actual meaning of a text. 

For example, let’s take John 3:16.  The KJV reads,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Suppose I came up with my own translation that reads,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten divine Son, that whosoever believeth in him by faith should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Based on this translation, could I not say the King James Version waters down the doctrines of the divinity of Christ and salvation by faith?  No, I cannot.  The truth is, the three words I added are not in any Biblical manuscript anywhere.  I added them.  Are we to accept my translation because it is more “doctrinally correct”?  Of course not.  We should be faithful to the Biblical text and accept the KJV rendering because it is more accurate.  But does that mean the KJV does not hold to the doctrines of the divnity of Christ and salvation by faith.  Of course not.  There are plenty of other places in the KJV in which these doctrines are affirmed.

But this is the reasoning behind many KJV Only advocates.  Because one translation “misses” a word (of course they are not missing anything or intentionally omitting words – they are simply being true to their text) does not meant that it denies or waters-down a doctrine that it clearly affirms in other places. 

To prove this point, let’s turn the tables around.  Let’s show some places where the ESV affirms certian doctrines in certian verses where the KJV does not. 

KJV Denies the Diety of Christ

I Peter 3:15

KJV – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

ESV – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

John 1:18

KJV – No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

ESV – No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

KJV Denies the Inspiriation of Scripture by the Holy Spirit

Acts 4:25

KJV – Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

ESV – who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?

KJV Denies Compromises and Refuses to Call Sin, Sin.

James 5:16

KJV – Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

ESV – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

KJV Embraces the False Pentacostal view of the Possability of the Perfection of Man

Eph 4:12

KJV – For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

ESV – to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

II Tim 3:17

KJV – That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

ESV – that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Does the KJV actually deny these key doctrines and embrace this particular heresey?  No, of course not.  But if you follow the logic of some KJV advocates, you would be forced to admit that the KJV is heretical or at least waters-down key doctrines. 

Another thought, what is wrong with clarity?  It seems as though many KJV only advocates are offended by people who want to understand Scripture for themselves.  This desire, to read and understand the Bible, was main reason why Protestants rejected the the Latin Vulgate.  William Tyndale, whose English translation is respected by all KJV Only advocates and also set the standard for some key KJV renderings, translated Scripture so that even the boy behind the plow could understand more Scripture than the preists in the church.  It was the Roman Catholic Church who opposed all new translations and told people to depend on the church alone to understand Scripture.  Scripture was meant to be read by all people.  If Scripture was not meant to be read and understood, then why wouldn’t we go to the logical conclusion and tell people they need to learn Greek an Hebrew if they want to know God’s word. 

As a Bible teacher, I have taught and preached from both the KJV and the ESV.  I will tell you, teaching with a modern translation saves an increadible about of time.  What I used to spend alot of time explaining in the KJV (like superfluity of naughtiness in James 1:21) is made clear in modern translations and then need no extra explanation.   By the way, I teach my systematic theology class with my ESV.  I have not had to water down any doctrine with the ESV that I believed while reading a KJV in this class. 

When I first got married, my wife would bring her NASB to our KJV church.  As the pastor took the time to explain certiain passages, Jill would be quick to elbow me and point out that her NASB did not need that explanation for it was already evident in the text itself.

 For more on this idea, check out this old blog series I posted two years ago:  Wittenburg Wednesday: OneMore Response .

Finally, one last thought.  I honestly have no real problems with the KJV.  It does not offend me if someone uses it.  If it is your prefered translation, then read it, enjoy it and praise the Lord for it.  I do not believe anyone will be doctrinally misled by reading the KJV.  I choose to read the ESV.  It is my prefered translation.  However, if someone asked me to preach in their church and use a KJV, I would do so without hesitation. 

If your church uses the KJV in all its teaching and preaching, then glorify God with that translation.  If the KJV is the translation you prefer to use, then use it for the glory of God.  If you read the KJV, you and I are not enemies! 

My only issue is with those who wish to say that the KJV is the only translation Christians ought to use.  I believe in individual soul liberty. ( By the way, I learned that term while at Pensacola Christian College)  I’ll read the ESV, you read the KJV and let’s glorify God together as we rejoice in availablity of His Holy Word!  To God alone be the glory.


8 thoughts on “More on the KJV Issue

  1. I remember hearing a sermon from a KJV about Easter. He based the entire sermon on the English word Easter in Acts 12:4, but failed to mention that one word was translated as Easter only in that one verse, where everywhere else in the NT it was translated as Passover. I found it to be very intellectually dishonest. The KJV is the only version that uses the English word Easter in that verse in Acts. I wonder why.

  2. Kevin, what’s up with the timing on this page? It says I posted at 5:45 AM on the 17th, when in fact it’s 11:45 PM on the 16th.

  3. I just bought an ESV a few weeks ago. It’s one I haven’t yet read, and I’m looking forward to reading it in the coming months. I have to say that my favorite is still my 1611 KJV–because I love Elizabethan English (Jill knows I’m not crazy . . . ). Much of the misunderstanding with the KJV comes from lack of knowledge of English. Even explanations of the English words are often shallow and imprecise.

  4. Tim, I believe God inspired the words of the original. This is a pretty standard view. I do not believe inspiration applies to any translation. This is important because of the thousands of BIble manuscripts we have today, not one of them are the same. They all differ from one another in different areas. If you are hoping for an exact word-for-word perfectly preserved English translation, it is merely not a possability. Translations by its very definition leaves out the possability of a perfect word-for-word translation. Whenever you go from one language to another, there are always little nuances lost in the translation because some words and phrases have no exact word for equal translation into another language. Sometimes there are mutliple ways to possibly and accurately translate a particular word or phrase – thus I accep the idea that God has preserved His Word in more than just one translation or one textual family. Again, Dr. White gets into this topic in his book. I would highly recommend it to you.

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