Leaving King James Onlysim
King James onlyism is near and dear to my heart because I emerged from being a hard shell KJV onlyist in belief and practice. I chronicle my journey through KJV onlyism in a more in-depth article that can be read at my Fred's Bible Talk website. However, for the sake of introducing new readers to the topic of KJV onlyism, allow me to give a short re-telling of my testimony.
King James Onlyism could be simply defined as:
The belief that God's Word, the Holy Bible, has only been faithfully preserved in one English translation: the 1611 King James.
According to KJV advocates, the Hebrew and Greek texts used by the KJV translators represent the infallible, inerrant, and exactly preserved words originally penned by the writers of scripture. In other words, God so preserved the process of transmission for the biblical documents it was as if the King James translators were translating from a Xerox copy of Jeremiah's original prophecy or Paul's original letter to the Colossians.
Additionally, KJV advocates insist that the men commissioned by King James the 1st to produce the translation which would eventually bear his name, were not only the godliest in their spiritual walk with Christ, but also the greatest ancient language scholars the Christian church had ever known. That means God not only saw fit to govern the transmission of biblical manuscripts so that the translators would have the actual words the biblical writers wrote, He also directed the choosing of the translators so that only the most skilled would be translating.
Conversely, KJV advocates insist heretics intentionally corrupted the Hebrew and Greek texts used to translate all of our modern versions beginning with the Revised Version published in 1881. The corruption, though ever so slight, is manifested with the altering of key Christian doctrines like the Deity of Christ and salvation in faith alone. Furthermore, unlike the godly KJV translators, the men who translated many of the modern versions like the NASB or the NIV had either a hidden liberal agenda to produce a new age style translation, or were unwitting dupes in the overall scheme.
This is the view of the Bible I believed, taught, and defended for nearly ten years.
I was introduced to King James onlyism shortly after my conversion to Christ. I had a friend of mine who hosted occasional Bible studies at his apartment, and this friend enjoyed supplying good books for Christians to read. One of these books I received from him was a book entitled, To Be or Not To Be: Can You Trust the Modern Versions, written by an Oklahoma pastor named Gary Flynt. The book was basic KJV only rhetoric similar to what I outlined above. Being unstable and unlearned, I was convinced by the arguments presented in the book. I was particularly impressed with a section in the book dealing with problem passages in scripture. Rather than concluding textual discrepancies are a result of scribal copying errors, as the notes in the typical study Bible often conclude they are, pastor Flynt argued that by solely using the KJV, an easy solution can be found within the biblical text, rather than labeling all such discrepancies as copyist errors. To prove his point, he re-printed a couple of articles written by a medical doctor in New Zealand who frequently contributed Bible study articles to a local, New Zealand Baptist publication.
I was so moved by Pastor Flynt's book that I hunted down his phone number and called him to talk about KJV onlyism. He recommended to me several books by a variety of authors and I soon began amassing a substantial KJV library.
I quickly became something of a pest in my college church group constantly hassling my friends and other students about the translations they used. The pastors at my church lacked the sophistication to counter my arguments, so I was pretty much left unfettered and dismissed as a zealous young man who will eventually learn.
When I arrived at seminary, I was not as out spoken of my KJV onlyism simply because I was around people who could argue better than me and who would not lay down for my assertions. Rather than constantly getting into heated debates, I kept my KJV only convictions to myself. I just wanted to get through seminary, learn what I could, and then go out and pastor a church where I could preach my KJV onlyism to my heart's content.
I probably would have done just that, but thank my sweet Lord, He refused to leave me in this foggy state. There were a handful of factors which the Lord used to bring me to the truth and a complete departure of KJV onlyism. I recount more of them in my Confessions article. The one individual who did more to sober me regarding Bible translations came from an unlike source within the KJV only movement: Gail A. Riplinger and her book, New Age Bible Versions (NABV).
I am at a loss as how to describe her book. It does exist as a prime example of why editors are important. As I describe in my Confessions article:
The author, Gail Riplinger, gathered all the threads of knowledge pertaining to textual criticism her degree in interior design provided, and with a skillful use of ellipsises, masterfully wove together scholarly ineptitude, twisted exegesis, conspiracy theories, her personal revelations from God, illogical comparison charts, distorted fact, and a sinister red and black cover, to produce a hideous literary tapestry.
To summarize her book, Ms. Riplinger (pictured above. BTW, I wish to offer a shout out to Scott McClare, the Crusty Curmudgeon, for the picture. For a woman whose image is as elusive as Nessie, she is more attractive than I had imagined. I was thinking more along the lines of a frumpy, old style Pentecostal woman with monotone dresses and a tight bun in the hair), believes the devil is attempting to usher in the New Age of the anti-Christ and his primary method is the introduction of new age doctrine in place of Christian doctrine through the instruments of modern Bible versions like the NIV, NASB, and the ESV.
The profound, gross errors she promotes through out her book are almost infinite to the point there is no earthly way for a person who has taken the time to read her book to unravel the tangles she has created. There a number of reviews, but probably the best I have ever read is written by James May. I encourage everyone to print out a copy and take a weekend to read through it. Even though Riplinger is old news, Mr. May writes with spunk, intelligence, and clarity, and he brings the reader right to the point: Ms. Riplinger is a kook.
I personally believe she is a heretic on the magnitude of Benny Hinn or the late Robert Funk. She has done more to destroy the Body of Christ than any cultist could imagine doing. Of course, when I was a budding seminary student way back in 1993, I thought she deserved a theological Pulitzer Prize and her book should be required reading for every Christian college student in America.
Yet, despite my enthusiasm for Ms. Riplinger, it was her book that God primarily used to break me from KJV onlyism.
One of the areas of study in Ms. Riplinger's book that interested me was on the lives of B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort. These were to the two principle scholars who produced the Greek text from which the Revised Version of 1881 was produced, and in chapters 29 through 33 of NABV, Ms. Riplinger lays out her research showing how these two men were actively involved in Satanism and the occult. This accusation captivated me, because I figured if it were clearly documented that these men did what she claimed, then the modern versions my friends used were based upon the work of highly unorthodox men.
Armed with Ms. Riplinger's "copious and well-researched" footnotes, I journeyed to my seminary library and began my own research cross checking her citations from Westcott and Hort's books. I had not been there for more than 30 minutes when my heart began to deflate inside me.
As I read the original works of these two men, opened next to the citations printed in NABV, it became painfully obvious to me that Ms. Riplinger was seriously misrepresenting what they had written; in fact, I could even say I was being intentionally lied to. It is difficult to capture the feeling of the moment, but it was a revelation of sorts, like when you discover Santa Claus is not real by catching your father putting together a weeble wobble play set late one Christmas eve night.
In some instances, this woman was completely fabricating lies against them by twisting around whole paragraphs and selectively citing from comments taken whole pages from each other to produce an entirely bogus quotation.
Moreover, she was accusing them of wickedness neither one of them ever committed. For example, in an extended footnote in NABV (the 11th printing, 2000 edition, pg. 676-677, fn. 128), Ms. Riplinger claims B.F. Westcott was heavily involved with the occult and was an active member of Madame H.P. Blavatsky's Theosophical Society, an organization dedicated to spiritualism. She further claims he was a regularly contributor to the Theosophical Society Dictionary under the initials of W.W. Westcott.
One would think a book proclaiming to contain exhaustive research would note the difference between B.(rooke) F.(oss) Westcott and W. (illiam) W. (ynn) Westcott. Apparently, Google has not reached Ms. Riplinger all the way in the back woods of Virginia. A simple search will tell anyone that William Wynn Westcott was a London Coroner who was actively involved with secret spiritualist societies, especially one called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Apart from sharing an affinity for facial hair and a receding hair line, neither of these two men are alike in any philosophical way. Ms. Riplinger essentially libeled the character of B.F. Westcott.
I would like to testify that it was at this dawning moment of enlightenment with the lies of G.A. Riplinger that I renounced KJV onlyism and embraced the orthodox, historic Christian view of inspiration, preservation, and the transmission of the biblical documents, but to my shame, it was not. I took solace in the writings of other KJV onlyists who renounced Gail as not representing true KJV onlyism. Either that, or they were all ashamed to discover Gail was a woman. However, as I engrossed myself with their works, they too repeated many of the same lies against Westcott and Hort Ms. Riplinger published in NABV. It took another 7 years or so, but eventually, thanks be to God, he freed me from the muddled thinking of KJV advocates and their publications. And to think it all began with the Queen of all KJV advocates.
The Lord willing, I wish to publish some entries which deal with what I believe to be the 6 key presuppositional arguments used by KJV advocates to defend KJV onlyism. My prayer is that they will be beneficial not only to those ensnared in KJV onlyism, but also to those who may have to debate a KJV onlyist or two within the local church.
Just one last note. I linked to a review article on NABV by James May earlier. I would also recommend anyone printing out his articles on Westcott and Hort. Mr. May has done the Christian church an enormous favor by reading through nearly all of B.F. Westcott's printed works to expose the hideous lies preached against him by KJV onlyists. His research is pure gold and I for one hope to see it published in a book someday. Meanwhile, look over his on line articles at the KJV Only page.
Labels: Answering KJV Onlyism