Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Historical Argument

Examining the Claims of King James Onlyism [pt. 11]

For almost a year now, I have been attempting to address what I think are the major, apologetic arguments put forth by King James Only advocates. They claim the KJV 1611 translation of the English Bible is the only Bible Christians should use. All other English translations, particularly those translated in the 20th century, are considered based upon corrupted manuscripts and have the touch of heresy on their pages. Only the King James translation faithfully represents the inspired, preserved Word of God.

With this article, I come to the last major King James Only apologetic argument, what I call the Historical Argument.

King James Only advocates claim that if a person were to study the history of how the KJV was carried throughout the world after its publication, he will clearly see God's hand of blessing upon those people and nations who honor the KJV as God's final authority. For example, the exclusive use of the King James Bible was instrumental in the Puritan revival, the founding of America, the two Great Awakenings, and the great missionary endeavors during the 17 and 1800s.

King James advocate, William P. Grady, sums of the evidence this way:

Although this may appear as unfounded speculation to some, the undeniable blessings of God which accompanied the preaching of the A.D. 1611 Authorized Version constitute the central, irrefutable argument for the superiority of our King James Bible. Church history confirms that the greatst [sic] period of revivalism and missionary activity prevailed when the Authorized Version reigned supreme in the land ... The major premise of this chapter is that the King James Bible has already received the endorsement of God Himself through an unprecedented proliferation of over 900,000,000 copies translated into at least 300 foreign languages ... the Holy Spirit has personally answered the question of "Which Bible?" by honoring the Authorized Version with over three centuries of continuous usage. [Final Authority: A Christian's Guide to the King James Bible, 1993, p. 174 (emphasis in original)]

I personally believe this apologetic point is beyond unfounded speculation as Mr. Grady calls it and is exaggerated historical revisionism. This particular argument is frequently raised by KJV only apologists and oft repeated in their literature and on websites, so it is necessary to address some of the claims.

1) The Acceptance of the King James among the Christians of that day.

The claim made by KJV advocates is that true, God-loving, Bible-honoring Christians quickly accepted the King James as their favored translation. However, this is not true. In my last article surveying the work of the King James translators, I noted that the work was first and foremost a means by which King James I could prevent a major schism from happening in the Church of England. The Puritan movement was unhappy with the way the Anglican Church was being handled. In their minds, the Church was not godly enough and they demanded reform. King James I, on the other hand, was unhappy with the Puritans and he certainly did not care for their favorite English translation, the Geneva Bible. He saw the new translation that would bear his name as a way to not only please the Puritans, but also as a way to supplant the use of the Geneva.

This of course did not happen and the puritans and other Reformed dissenters from the Church of England continued use of the Geneva Bible. In fact, the King James Bible did not become regularly utilized by Christians for at least 30 to 40 years after its publication. The Geneva Bible remained the dominant translation of choice for many Christians including the Puritan Pilgrims who made their way from England and Holland to colonize America. Interestingly, it was King James' persecution of the Puritans that drove them to risk a 6 week ocean journey to come to the New World and they carried with them the Geneva Bible. Even today if you were to travel through New England and visit a colonial society where pre-Revolutionary War life is preserved and acted out by the participants, they quote from the Geneva Bible.

The King James Bible only became dominant as the Church of England solely printed it and banned all others from publication. During the 1800s, as the British Empire flourished after the Napoleonic Wars in 1812, the King James was carried around the world and into the various countries where the British had set up shop. Though we can consider this an act of providence, it is not God's stamp of approval upon one favored English translation that is never to be revised or updated and forever fixed in the language of the 17th century.

2) The King James Bible was the catalyst for the Great Awakenings and missionary endeavors.

Many KJV advocates make the claim that faithful preaching from the King James Bible was the spark God used to bring about many great revivals in Church history, including the two American Awakenings with the first one taking place in the 1740s under such men as George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards, and then the second happening in the early 1800s to the 1830s under such men as Charles Finney. Also, it is asserted by KJV apologists that God blessed the ministries of many of the renown missionaries like Adoniram Judson, John G. Patton, David Brainard, and John Elliot, because they exclusively used the King James as the text for their preaching and translation work.

Though there is a hint of romanticism with such a notion, there is a more obvious and biblical reason why the Great Awakenings, particularly the first one, were so impactful on American culture, as well as the ministries of these missionaries so successful: The strong, theological and doctrinal preaching that marked these men and women. To be even more specific, the preaching of God's sovereign grace in salvation as outlined in the theology of Calvinism.

The majority of KJV only advocates would be loathe to admit the primary role the doctrines of Calvinism had in the lives of these preachers and missionaries, but when we consider the preaching that took place during these times of revival, the translational text utilized is really a secondary consideration. It was the theological content these men preached that God blessed. Nearly ever major preacher from this period of time that we still esteem to this day, were solid, 5 point Calvinists who preached a high view of God's holiness and a biblical view of man's sin and need for a savior. Their preaching further encompassed the complete satisfaction of Christ to atone for sinners and the divine work of salvation in unconditional election. All of their preaching was from a careful exegesis of the text of scripture.

Their preaching stands in sharp contrast to the preaching heard today in many of the KJV only, fundamental Churches, where a pastor generally preaches some guilt trip laden sermon against the congregation and then ending it with a manipulative plea to get people to walk an aisle. Such a contrast raises a question. Which perspective has more lasting value in the lives of Christians? Solid, theological preaching and teaching that uses a translation other than the KJV? Or, shallow, preaching empty of any doctrinal content, but use exclusively the KJV?

3) Modern Versions are the cause of all sorts of heresies and corrupted teaching and the spiritual ills in today's Christian churches.

Quoting again from KJV apologist, William Grady, he has some rather choice, though woefully out-dated, examples of the terrible fruit of modern Bible versions,

By contrast, what kind of fruit has the modern Bible movement produced? Oral Roberts' 900-foot Jesus? "Christian" heavy metal rock bands? Tammy Bakker's air-conditioned dog house? Reader's Digest Condensed Bibles? John MacArthur's theology on the blood? [my personal favorite!- fred] Theistic evolution offered in "Christian" colleges? .."Honk-If-You-Love-Jesus" bumper stickers? "Christian" theme parks? "Roberta" Schuler's [sic] possibility thinking? Born-again athletes who rarely attend church? "Rev." Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition? "Christian" aerobics? James Dobson's condoning of interracial marriages? [another one of my favorites - fred] [ibid., pgs. 184-185]

Grady's list continues on with another 20 or so examples, but you get the point. All of these so-called spiritual ills and heresies are a result, according to Mr. Grady, of Christians abandoning the pure, preserved Word's of God as contained in the King James and using modern versions like the New International and the English Standard. But, this list is utterly ridiculous.

I have already addressed the influence of heretics on modern versions in a previous article in this series, so there really is no need to belabor this point. However, if we were going to be honest, we could make an equal, if not more damning list, against the type of fruit generated by King James onlyism,

By contrast, what sort of fruit has the King James only movement produced? Jack Hyles' bus "ministry?" Hill-billy snake handlers? The KKK? Mississippi lynch mobs? Frank Norris shooting a man in his office? Quick prayerism? "Lordless" salvation? The carnal Christian doctrine? Adulterous fundamental pastors? Preacher kids who act like angels on Sunday, but devils the rest of the week? Lists of legalistic "do's and dont's?" Peter Ruckman's "Alexandrian Cult" nonsense? Dr. Dino's tax evasion? "Dr." Gail Riplinger's copious "research?" BJU's old interracial dating policies? Thomas Strouse's geo-centric cosmology?

Now obviously, some of these examples are a bit over-the-top. Is a slavish devotion to an antiquated English translation to blame, for example, the KKK or non-lordship salvation? Of course not; but neither are modern versions to blame for all of the problems the church currently faces today. The real culprit is a squalid theology born out of vacuous teaching. If the Word of God is not held up with respect and it's message is mishandled in the pulpits on a regular basis, it doesn't matter what translation a person uses, the fruit will beget spiritual retardation.

If Christians genuinely wish to be faithful to what happened at key times during Church History where the Spirit of God was manifested in revival and spiritual renewal, then faithfully preach the Word of God in any translation.



Blogger Hiraeth said...

Further to your rebuttal of the historical argument, I would observe that in Wales, the Revivals from 1735 onwards took place in a church which did not use the KJV, but William Morgan's Welsh Bible of 1588, the Welsh translation which was authorised by Queen Elizabeth. How would a KJV only advocate deal with that?

4:49 AM, October 28, 2006  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

KJV Onlyism is an attack on God's soverignty.

I almost fell into KJV Onlyism but I took the time(probably hundreds of hours) to look into it. Since I do desire to honor God, so I would rever God's word(The Bible).

It's not the only issue we have to deal with. There are many issues, doctrines of demons, fables of men that attempt to weaken our faith in our King, Jesus Christ.

I think I'm not the only one with that problem of a lack of reverance due to ignorance.
That ignorance kept me from having faith in God's ability. Leading to many spiritual defeats in my life.

I understood a few scriptures before I came to this higher view of Jesus Christ, our King. A few of those scriptures are:

Matthew 23:10 Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Acts 4: 13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

You notice those scriptures indicate to us that Jesus is the only one who can give us spiritual understanding. There are many other scriptures to support that claim by showing the work of the indwelling spirit in the Christ follower.

The next area I would like to adress is the power of our King, Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now these 3 verses I posted tell us a lot of doctrine. The point I'm trying to emphasis to you is Jesus is not only our King, he is above all principalities and powers everywhere. Jesus has the power to forgive sins because he is king over all principalities and powers.

There are so many lies about Jesus it's sickening and gangrene to the spiritual health of believers. After studying the gospels it's apparent Jesus was never weak or without full control of the situations. A few examples are:

Matthew 26: 52"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"

John 18: 5"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.

"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.

7Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?"
And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

8"I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go." 9This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me."

Notice in those 2 sections of scripture alone we see a very different Jesus than many would have us thinking. Many would have us picturing Jesus as a helpless, weak, humanistic guy who was without control on every situation in his life.

Understanding Jesus isn't just the "friend" of believers...but the -

Revelation 17:14They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

Jesus is head over all principalities and powers. Nothing happens unless Jesus allows it to take place.

What a radical way to change our thinking, our faith in Jesus Christ, right?

Matthew 8 7Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

8The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

Do you see and understand why Jesus said that man had such "great faith"? The centurion had great faith because he saw Jesus Christ as a "King" in charge of principalities and powers!

If we see Jesus Christ as shown above do you think we would have any problems revering the word of our King? Do you think people would just slug their way into some pew while hafe awake to let some pastors message go in one ear and out the other if they knew the ability of Jesus Christ? Kev I think the reason so many fail to go to scripture to see if what some pastor says is what Jesus Christ says is their lack of understanding of Jesus Christ's ability. They don't trust Jesus Christ to teach them and open their minds to understand the scrirptures. They lack "great faith" because of their ignorant view of Jesus Christ as King over principalities and powers. They worry and fear the basics of life more than the King, Jesus Christ. They fear more losing a days meal than gaining one morsel of spiritual truth.

I'm blessed to have been given such faith and understanding of our King, father, high priest, and friend, Jesus Christ. It's the knowledge of scripture built up in us that makes us wise to salvltion. The reason I know Jesus Christ teaches me to understand scripture and grows me is because it's God's good pleasure. God can do the same for you and any disciple of Chrisit. Just ask your king, don't stop asking -

Luke 18: 1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

It's a lack of reverance for Jesus Christ as King over all principalties and powers that leads so many in error. That is why they would rather accept the words of men who study scripture. They don't have the reverence for Jesus to check scripture to see if they'er being mislead. Obviously if they sought to honor God they would check -

Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

If a person doesen't care enough to check scripture to see if they'er being mislead then they'er not going to find anything, it's not in their heart to search for it

2:55 PM, October 29, 2006  
Blogger Highland Host said...

I would like to add that I have read KJV-only claims that imply John Wesley was on their side. To a man who has studied John Wesley as I have that is laughable. Why? Because Wesley, in his 'Notes on the New Testament' actually took it upon himself to REVISE and CORRECT the KJV. Indeed, those 'Notes' (with Wesley's own corrected translation) form part of the Methodist doctrinal basis.

As you say, the KJV-only 'historical' (hysterical?) argument would be more convincing if it actually measured up to real history.

12:33 AM, October 30, 2006  
Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Great article. I really need to go back and read your whole series. Having "been there, done that" it can be wearisome to wade through all the arguments yet again, but I really like your series on this.

One suggestion. Could you use the new Blogger "label" feature? Make a label (think "category") for KJV Onlyism, or some other title, then it would be easy to find and link to all your articles on KJV Onlyism. I am going to take the time one of these days to find all your articles on it, or are they all on your sidebar under the "Examining the Six Arguments" list? I want to link to them from my KJV only resources blog.

Thanks for taking the time to address this difficult and explosive topic. I know you must get tons of flak from people, but I am sure your work has helped others.

God bless you richly in Christ Jesus,

Bob Hayton

The KJV Only Debate Resource Center

3:45 AM, October 30, 2006  
Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Good point, highland host!

3:45 AM, October 30, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Hey Fundy Reformed,
How exactly does that blogger label thing work? I would love to try it out. Go to my profile and shoot me an email.


5:11 AM, October 31, 2006  
Blogger hvacone said...

You make some very interesting points, but I would like you to concider this: "things that are different CANNOT be the same". I found a very scary truth when studying this subject, and I challenge you to do the same. Study the false doctrines of the J/W cult, Find the verses they use in the NWT version, Then (If you dare) Compare the same with the NIV and the KJV. Forget all of this commentary nonsense, just compare doctrine to doctrine, and let me know what bible you think is most accurate!

10:01 AM, January 12, 2008  

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