T H E E N D - T I M E S T I M E S April 10th, 1999
I hope you had a pleasant Easter period, spending time with
family and friends - but also, remembering the sacrifice Jesus
made for us.
In chapter 10 of the Book of Hebrews we see the contrast
between Jesus and the earlier Aaronic Priesthood.
The Priest would have to make atonement for their own sins
before they could mediate for the people. Then, the same
sacrifices would need to be made year after year - because
the underlying problem was never dealt with. The blood
of goats and bulls could never take away sin.
Yet, by His one sacrifice, Jesus has forever made atonement
for those who are being saved. We have a new High Priest of
a new order, a High Priest who can sit - His work being
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David M. Williams
T H E K I N G - J A M E S O N L Y C O N T R O V E R S Y
Recently, I have received quite some email from people
interested in the 'King-James Only' issue. This is something
that I certainly have an opinion on, but do not usually discuss
because I feel it to be a sad and divisive issue.
The 'King-James Only' doctrine is that essentially the
King-James (or, Authorized Version - AV) translation of the
Bible is "the Word of God today" - that is, the very Word of
God itself, moreso than the original Hebrew and Greek texts,
and to such a point that every other modern translation is not
reliable, but in fact, even a "new age deception".
Yet, all of you will be aware that no translation of the
Bible has any doctrinal disagreement with any other translation
(excepting of course clear mistranslations like the Jehovah's
Witnesses 'New World Translation'). Further, the King-James
translation is not accessible to many people today because of
its older forms of language. Not only this, it is not
accessible to any person who does not read English - but
furthermore, there are problems with the underlying manuscript
behind the King James Version -- the 'Textus Receptus'.
So - to refute these bizarre claims, one must really go to
lengths to explain textual criticism and why translations like
the New International Version are built on a more reliable
foundation. Although this is a factual matter, and not an
issue of faith or personal belief, I do find it disappointing
that a doctrine has arisen which claims to have supreme respect
for the Word of God but which instead denigrates many fine
translations, and which requires one to point out flaws in the
King James as a means of refuting it. I find this very sad.
With this brief introduction out of the way, please allow me
to now give some opinions on the King-James Only doctrine -
D.A. Carson has written a book, "The King James Version Debate:
A Plea for Realism" (Baker Book House, Michigan, 1979). I
particularly appreciate the subtitle of this book, for I feel
it well summarises the essential flaw in the King James Only
doctrine, namely that it is unrealistic.
As a disclaimer, I use and enjoy the King James Bible. Indeed,
for some time I provided a searchable King James Concordance
for use over the World-Wide-Web (which I hope to provide again).
However, I do recognise its shortcomings and as well as other
translations, I read the Bible in Greek - for this is the
language it was written in, and any translation will involve a
degree of subjective interpretation on the part of its
translators. For those who are curious, I learned Greek as part
of my Masters degree in Theology at a reputable and accredited
Bible College in Australia. Interestingly enough, when
dialoguing with King James Only people, I am often asked which
version I use - not that such a question in any way provides
any explanation to the questions I am asking, but rather the
King James' person immediately assumes I am a follower of a
particular translation and that they can debunk it. When
replying that I use a number of versions but prefer the New
Testament in Greek they often do not know how to then proceed.
Indeed, I am yet to meet a King James Only person who actually
and regularly reads Koine Greek. Oddly enough, in addition,
many King James Only people are quite unaware that what we
label the King James Version is actually a late nineteenth
century revision of the 1611 work.
Essentially, I cannot agree with the King James Only doctrine.
Its arguments are wrong
This, simply put, is the main problem. The King James Only
doctrine asserts that the King James version, or rather, the
Textus Receptus (the Greek text underlying this translation) is
the only, pure unadulterated Word of God today.
Such a claim seeks to label many fine translations of the Hebrew
and Greek scriptures as corruptions and perversions. This really
is quite untrue. Indeed, such claims make me doubt that King
James Only people actually understand any of their claims or the
entire field of textual criticism. A very easy to read book on
this topic is "Scribes, Scrolls and Scriptures" by J. Harold
Greenlee. It is an introductory text to textual criticism and
how we can be confident of the accuracy of today's Greek texts.
The book, in fact, does not even mention the King James' Only
doctrine, as it is simply not an issue to those who understand
the field of textual criticism. I would recommend a study of
this field to any who wish a greater understanding of the entire
nature of translation and the Greek texts in use.
Also, claims of heresy and so forth are completely exaggerated.
The King James Only person would seek to assert that only their
translation teaches fundamental truths of the Bible - and that
other translations diminish such teachings, or deny them! However,
this is not the case. Indeed, there is not one single Christian
doctrine that rests on a particular rendering of a single verse.
Certainly, should someone seek to build a doctrine solely on
such grounds, I would be more than dubious. For example, the lack
of I John 5:7 in the New International Version is often used as a
claim that it has Arian leanings, or is trying to diminish the
doctrine of the Trinity. Nothing could be further from the truth!
If the NIV had such an agenda, would not verses like John 1:1, 14;
Colossians 1:16 and many others be removed or corrupted, as is the
case with the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses? In
reality, the variations between Greek texts really deal simply
Its arguments are self-defeating
Preservation of the Word of God
The King James Only doctrine seeks to denigrate all other
translations of the Bible as a perversion. It is claimed that
those who would read another translation do not really have faith
in God, for they feel that such a person believes God has not been
able to preserve His Word. This claim seems odd, and does not
actually have any basis, for such a notion would not occur to many
a reader. However, the reverse is actually the case. It is solely
the King James Only person who is under the impression that God has
not been able to preserve His Word - for they believe it is has
been corrupted to such an extent that God's Word may only be found
in one single translation!
Interestingly enough, many a King James Only person has strived to
claim that other translations (particularly the New International
Version) are in error for they omit verses that are included in the
King James, such as I John 5:7.
However, this is not a claim that supports the King James Version,
and its continual use should really be abandoned by any reasonably
intelligent King James' Only person - for it is a meaningless claim.
It only has a basis if one pre-assumes that the King James Version
is correct, and the basis by which all other translations should be
Any person should be able to see that if a verse is missing from a
translation, then two possible things have occurred. Either it is
missing from the second translation, or it has been added to the
first. Both are possible - and although a reading may appear to
strengthen a doctrine, should we not strive to find precisely the
words used by the original authors - which may not have included
the extra verse!
Nevertheless, even if such a claim were true, the King James Only
people are inconsistent in their application of it. For one example,
the words and we are are missing from I John 3:1 in the King James
Version. Could one then claim that the translators sought to
diminish the concept that Christians are the children of God?
Its arguments are irrelevant
I was rather apalled to come across an argument against the New
International Version that sought to discredit it by a simple
association with Rupert Murdoch, a prominent media personality,
some of whose publications feature pornographic material. The
article claims that Zondervan publishers had been taken over by a
secular publisher, which in turn had been subsumed into Murdoch's
Sad though it may be, that a Christian publisher would be caught
in such a scenario, the argument is clearly foolish. Firstly, the
New International Version was translated some time before these
events took place. Secondly, the association with pornographic
material does not in any way have any bearing on the quality of
translation or the scholarship or spirituality of the translation
committee. Thirdly, to follow such logic, the King James Version
must be avoided like the plague - for, being in the public
domain, the King James Version has been reprinted time and time
again by many a secular publisher, whose array of works well
include gross immorality and purely evil material.
The character of its supporters
Without wishing to resort to ad hominem, I feel mention must be
made of some of the characteristics of over-zealous King James
Only people. I do not wish at all to claim that all adherents of
this doctrine are wicked people, merely that certain of its
prominent spokespeople are somewhat less than Christian in some
of their attitudes and conduct. This really, is to their undoing,
for it seems to me difficult to take someones' views seriously
when every line of their writing is littered with comments that
do not betray a Christian manner.
The Bible Believers mailing list
An internet email mailing list has been constructed, the Bible
Believers list. This list is strictly for King James Only people.
Those who disagree with this doctrine are abused, criticised and
harassed in a most disgraceful manner.
An overly outspoken King James Only person is Peter Ruckman. He
is most rude, unpleasant and critical in his dealings with those
he labels Alexandrians - those who rely on the greater value of
Alexandrian Greek manuscripts than the Textus Receptus, with
Ruckman's use akin to a derogatory term.
Indeed, certain King James Only pages mention that this is just
his particular style, and not something that should be emulated
by the average person - so my commendation to these pages for
recognising Ruckman's unChristian behaviour.
Interestingly, however, such pages will still support Ruckman's
views. However, Ruckman is actually non-Trinitarian and holds
to a number of unorthodox beliefs. Perhaps this shows that the
personality of the Holy Spirit, the deity of Christ and many
other Christian fundamentals are lesser doctrines to these
people than whether one should rely solely on a particular
translation or not, in this case the King James Version.
Often I am referred to a page by Brandon Staggs by King James
Only people. Firstly, this page appears to be well done, and
Brandon has actually made available some nice Bible searching
software and appears to have good values. However, I have
actually been in correspondence with this person. I offered to
reason with him and somewhere along the line I made the comment
"good scholarly debate". Brandon agreed to dialogue, but took
great exception to the comment "scholarly" for to him this was
a grossly taboo word. As things turn out, we somehow got out of
communication with each other, but this one comment of his quite
As things happen, the King James Only people are quite against
scholarship. They believe it to be merely humanistic wisdom. It
does not appear to occur to them that the reason a person may
believe opposite to them is because they have spent considerable
time studying and investigating the matter! I believe Brandon's
web page is where I first encountered the comment that "the
majority is always wrong" which I found to be most bizarre. In
this context, it was being used as a refutation of the fact that
the majority of people recognise the shortcomings of the King
James Version. However, were such a thing true, then Christian
evangelism and missionary endeavours would be a wicked thing,
for if the majority is always wrong then to evangelise the
world would work against Christianity.
The King James Only people are, however, inconsistent in this
area anyway. Although education and scholarship are devalued,
much is made of King James Only adherents who do possess PhD's
- so either the qualification does have worth or it does not.
Nevertheless, although a person with higher tertiary
qualifications is educated, they may not necessarily be
qualified to speak on certain fields. Riplinger, mentioned below,
has a Masters degree in Home Economics. However, she possesses
absolutely no theological qualifications.
Gail Riplinger has written a book New Age Bible Versions. A
mailing list I was on was spoiled by a certain King James Only
person, whose name I will not mention. He was abusive and posted
foolish barrages consistently. He constantly referred to Riplingers
book and offered to send copies to people. When I replied and said
if he posted me a copy I would read every word he wrote back and
said he was an invalid with no money. I still don't own a copy of
this book, for I am not prepared to spend my money on it, but I
have read portions of it, and I am disgusted.
Riplinger makes claim after claim, that involve quantum leaps of
logic and are inconsistent in application. Her entire work is a
myriad of conspiracy theory, and effectively relegates all modern
translations of the Bible to being a "New Age" plot. I am truly
saddened that many people have been deceived by this book (A pastor
recently relayed on Compuserve's Worship forum about a lady who,
after reading this book, destroyed all the non-King James Version
Bibles at her Church. When confronted by the Pastor she exclaimed
that "they" had got to him!) It is a sad blight on Christianity
that many people do not take the time to think, for Riplinger's
book is a farce and riddled with holes.
Riplinger claims that constant usage of the term "One" for God in
the New International Version means that the NIV is actually
referring to Satan, for God is not explicitly named. No evidence
is offered to substantiate such a claim, but nevertheless, it is
invalid for an abundance of examples of such usage may be found in
the King James Version! Consider the "high and lofty One" of Isaiah,
for one example.
Riplinger further tries to make use of a discrepency between the
Lord's Prayer in one of the Gospels with its equivalent in the King
James Version. She claims that the differences are due to the prayer
actually being to Satan in the NIV! Amazing, but this is what she
says - again, with not a shred of explanation or even logic. However,
Riplinger fails to comment that the Lord's Prayer, in a form
agreeable to her, occurs in the NIV, in a different gospel. If the
NIV were a new age conspiracy, then surely it would be consistent in
such demonisation, one would think.
For further reading, a good page with lots of information on this
topic is http://www.ebicom.net/~breid/kjvonly.htm
B I B L I C A L B A S I S F O R M I S S I O N S
This month and next month, I will be teaching at the 'Liberty
School for the Nations' on 'A Biblical Basis for Missions'.
As this is going to be held in Newcastle, Australia, the vast
majority of you will not be able to attend! However, I will be
updating the missions articles on my Web site with new notes
and I will advise when these are available, for those who have
an interest in this topic.
Finally - I am going to start making all my articles available
in Adobe PDF format, so that the layout and Greek fonts are
preserved. Unfortunately, Web pages don't always come out as
one might like! By now, I am sure most people are familiar with
PDF files, and a free PDF reader is available from
http://www.adobe.com (download the version with search capabilities
- it is a bit bigger, but more useful).
T H E E N D - T I M E S T I M E S April 10th, 1999