Wednesday, March 02, 2005

King James Onlyism

Out of all the controversies and debates that can arise in Christiandom, there is none that aggravates me more than KJV-onlyism. I will debate with Arminians, paedobaptists, Catholics, cults, or what have you, but I have no patience for KJV-onlyists. I would get more benefit from arguing with a brick wall. There is a slight chance that a brick wall could be reasonable. These people are so legalistic and smug and prideful. They have the special gnosis that lets them know that the KJV is the only completely inerrant translations of the Scriptures. Full of hateful pride, they will accuse all others of heresy, or at least being close to it. And they have absolutely nothing to prove their point. There is nothing in the Scripture that allows for only one inerrant translation, and even if there was, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that this one translation is the KJV. And of course the big problem for KJV-onlyists that they can never fully address is which KJV? There have been many different versions with different changes throughout the years. If given an original, first printing of the KJV, most KJV-onlyists wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of it. It's be all Greek to them, as they saying goes. They try to make some sort of Scriptural argument by bringing up a verse that says something about God presevering His word for all time. Case closed, they say. Point proven, they say. I agree fully that God's Word will be preserved for all generations. BUT HOW DOES THIS PROVE THAT THE ONLY PERFECT TRANSLATION IS THE KJV?!!! It doesn't! But to point out the obvious is to use reason, and KJV-onlyists will have nothing to do with reason. They argue in circles and have absolutely no proof for their claims. They start with the assumption that the KJV is the only perfect version. Then they show where another translation differs from the KJV. Thus proving, they say, that this new translation is aberrant. NO IT DOESN'T. It only proves that it says something different than the KJV. It doesn't prove which one is correct. By examining the oldest original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts is the best way to determine which is correct. Often times, the KJV fails pitifully compared to such translations as the NASB or the ESV. Again, this is a use of God-given reason and logic. Reason and logic are anathema to a KJV-onlyist, so again, I might as well go talk with my friend the brick wall. After all, they say, those old Greek and Hebrew manuscripts have been corrupted. Only the KJV is pure. How do we know this? Just because. Special gnosis. Because if this wasn't the case, I'd have to find something else to be legalistic about.

And then they say that we reasonable people don't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture as we claim, because we cannot claim any one translation as being inerrant. This is ridiculous. We believe that the words spoken of God and written by his apostles, prophets, etc. are inerrant. That which the translations translate are inerrant. The word of God is presevered inerrantly for us. perhaps not in any one translation, but by His Spirit guiding our reading through these manmade translations. I can read the KJV and the NASB and get the exact same truths from both. They are worded differently, but the same inerrant truth is in both. Perhaps I will admit that there is no one single compilation of Scriptural texts that is completely word-for-word exactly as that penned by the original authors. But I do believe that in all the disparate elements that exist, we have access to the inerrant word of God. Maybe we need to read more than one translation. Maybe we need to take advantage of the benefits of manuscript research. But in the end, the entire inerrant truth is there for us. But there is no proof that all this inerrancy is solely contained in the KJV. There is nothing in the Scripture to indicate this, and there is nothing in logic or reason to indicate this, and there is nothing in history to indicate this. The spirit behind KJV-onlyism is itself a heresy. it is a legalistic and devisive spirit. It is a form of gnosticism, one of the oldest of the Christian heresies.

Final note: I have no problem with people who use only the KJV, as such. It is the person who says that all others MUST also use only this translation that I am in sharp disagreement with. It is the person who idolizes a translation that I disagree with. It is a person who regards a certain translation of Scripture as being more important than Scripture itself that I regard as a heretic. There will be many people who will be surprised when they come before the throne of God and He doesn't speak ye olde English.

Praise the Lord for giving us His inerrant Word without that inerrant Word being confined to a single bulky translation that most of the world can't even read.

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