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One Major Problem I Have With KJV Onlyism

Some people prefer the King James Version.  I understand that.  I have respect for the King James Version.  It was the Bible that John Wesley preached from.  It was the Bible that Francis Asbury preached from.  It was the Bible that Adam Clarke preached from.  It was the Bible that Richard Watson, Leonard Ravenhill, Samuel Chadwick, E.M Bounds, and A.W. Tozer all preached from.  The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon preached from the KJV.  No doubt God has used the KJV in powerful ways!

Yet thankfully we have better translations today.  I prefer the ESV.  Some prefer the NKJV.  I believe the NKJV is much more superior to the KJV.  The marginal notes alone help the NKJV as the marginal notes show the differences in the various Greek texts used.  Most English translations including the ESV or the NASB don’t do this and I wish they would follow the NKJV and put variant readings in the marginal notes.

Yet despite my love for the ESV, I am not an ESV only guy.  I know some disciples love the NIV.  I have respect for the NIV but I prefer a more literal translation and the ESV fits that bill for me.  Someone wrote that the ESV is the offspring of the marriage between the NIV and the NASB.  The ESV is not a perfect translation by any means and I have been faithfully reading and studying from the ESV since 2007 and I can honestly say that I have found disagreements with the ESV text and the Greek text.  They are not major problems but they are there.

However, one major issue I take an exception with the KJV-only movement is that they make a Bible translation an issue of both fellowship and sometimes even salvation.  Not all KJV-only people are guilty of this but I have met many who make the KJV an issue of the gospel of Christ.  If one is not preaching from “God’s preserved text” then they are not preaching the Word of God.  Since a person can only be saved by hearing the Word of God (i.e., the King James Version = the Word of God) then one can not be saved without the preaching of the KJV (Romans 10:17 KJV of course).  I have met a few that would admit that a person can be saved by reading from an NIV or an ESV but most stand their ground.  When I pressed further with the point that salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV of course), they would agree.  But then I would say, “So if a person reads from the NIV and believes the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He died for their sins, that He rose again, and that He is alive at God’s right hand and they confess their sins and repent, are they lost or saved?”  Most would admit that they are saved.  Yet if they can be saved from reading the NIV or the NASB or the NKJV or the ESV then what is the problem here?  Isn’t salvation the main issue of the gospel of Christ?

When we add to the work of Christ by saying that a person can only be saved if they hear the gospel from the KJV or they must use the KJV to be faithful to Jesus, we are adding to the gospel.  This is nothing more than the errors that Paul dealt with in the book of Galatians.  Jesus is the gospel.  Not a translation.  Jesus is our salvation.  Not a translation.  Jesus is our righteousness, our hope, our redeemer, our Passover Lamb, our sacrifice.  Not a translation.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/23/2012 at 1:31 PM

8 Responses

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  1. “Jesus is the gospel. Not a translation.” Yep!

    Another problem I have with KJV only proponents is that if you speak Spanish, Croatian, French, etc, any language that is not British, then you cannot understand the gospel; hence, you cannot become a Christian.


    01/23/2012 at 2:20 PM

  2. If the KJV was good enough for Jesus and the apostles then it should be good enough for us!!!

    Sorry a momentary lapse of reason.

    For me the best bible translation is one that is going to be read. If someone is most comfortable reading the KJV, then fair enough. But personally I find it uncomfortable when modern day people quote scripture in Elizabethan language, as if the thees and thous make it more “spiritual”.
    It gives the impression that God is not interested in the here and now, but is somehow preserved in the past.

    I prefer the ESV and NIV but love the format of a TNIV that I’ve found which presents the order of books in a much more relevant way. For example, the OT is restored to the original Hebrew order of books (Law, Prophets, Writings) and the letters of Paul are printed chronologically instead of by order of length. If they would publish other versions in this same format I’d be a much happier man. It gives a much more logical flow.

    Onesimus (Tim)

    01/23/2012 at 7:07 PM

  3. I can appreciate the difficulty in exalting a 17th century english translation above all others as if the Word only came to ‘full potential’ and potency in the Authorized Version.
    I myself have used the KJV as my primary source for bible study since I accepted Christ as savior in Nov ’81 and then as true Lord of my life, becoming a disciple of Jesus, in ’89.
    It wasn’t really an intellectual or dogmatic position until after ’96 when I returned from a short term mission in South Korea. It was there that I encountered a group of Christians who were ardently attempting to translate a Korean language version of the english KJV.
    I visited them one day and, being an american missionary and korean linguist, this group asked me to clarify for them english words so they could better choose their korean equivelents. I was a bit taken aback and incredulous as to why they would do ‘this’ rather than just go back to the Hebrew and Greek texts themselves?
    When I returned to the US, I left the question alone for a few years until in ’98 I was introduced to the controversy ‘behind’ it all. The Heb and Grk texts that stand behind the AV, Young’s literal and others before the 1880’s are not the same as the ones that modern english translations are now. For me, it’s not primarily a KJV/all others question. It’s a ‘TR’ vs Wescott+Hort (and later Nestle/Aland) issue.
    So my primary source is KJV (with other english translations helping and unpacking at times) and Strong’s concordance with Thayer’s Greek and Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicons, and also a smattering of Commentaries by faithful preachers/teachers of God’s Word.
    I am not KJV only, but I cannot in good concience accept the english translations done from post-Wescott/Hort ‘original’ texts as superior or better. That’s me. I don’t push that on any one else, but am willing to respectfully and intelligently discuss the issues with any who honestly ask me.

    My 2cents

    michael in chandler

    01/24/2012 at 10:15 AM

    • I have no problem with your position brother. I have met disciples who love the KJV, preach from the KJV, pray from the KJV, and study from the KJV and yet are not KJV only. They prefer the KJV and maybe even think the KJV is the best English translation but they do not make the KJV an issue of fellowship or the gospel. Many of my favorite preachers from the past such as David Wilkerson or Leonard Ravenhill both used the KJV almost completely.

  4. I am KJVJSB — KJV Just Sounds Better. I can’t bear the ugly English in the NIV in particular. So I swap between the NKJV and the KJV. But it is easier to read old devotionals and concordances. etc, if you have the KJV around. Plus the thou and you distinction does add piquancy to passages such as John 3 or where Jesus says He’s been praying for you to protection from Satan, when He’s talking to Peter.


    01/24/2012 at 6:50 PM

    • I do enjoy the KJV’s ability using the “you” and “ye” (plural) when translating to show whom the person is speaking to and this is helpful in the words of Jesus. While I do think that the KJV has been passed in terms of the NKJV in translation, nothing compares to the KJV English that was used.

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