Why King James Only?
Some thoughts on why I only use the Olde Booke


After having been made aware of and learning ever more about this issue for the past several years, I have come to the conclusion that the King James Only viewpoint is one of the most misunderstood positions in Christianity, especially in Fundamentalist and conservative Evangelical circles. Time and time again, I've come across pamphlets, books, websites, and other venues which purport to have the goods on those poor, benighted KJV-Onlyists, showing how their stand for the Authorised Version is either:

a) intellectually devoid
b) purposeful obscurantism
c) dishonest skullduggery
d) heresy of the worst sort
e) all of the above

There are, however, several problems with nearly all of the challenges which I have seen to date (including some of the so-called "scholarly" refutations that are found in several books like From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man and The King James Only Controversy). Usually, the anti-KJVOnlyist will begin by proclaiming his desire to gently correct and return his erring KJVOnly brother to the fold of decency. Then, after this brief and perfunctory statement, this Corrupt Text man will bring out the hot knives and engage in every sort of underhanded rhetorical and polemical tactic known to man. Name-calling, charges of heresy (funny, and I thought you had to reject foundational Biblical doctrine to be a heretic!), the building up and knocking down of strawmen, you name it.

One of the common tactics is to try to paint all KJV-Onlyists as Ruckmanites. For those out of the loop, Ruckmanism is a viewpoint (primarily expoused by Peter Ruckman and his disciples) which holds that the King James Bible is the ONLY inspired Word of God. The original autographs and the original languages? The King James Version supercedes them. The King James can be used to correct the original languages. Many Ruckmanites believe that the King James translators themselves were divinely inspired, and will even contend that only the English translation of the textus receptus and Hebrew Masoretic, the King James Version of 1611, is the inspired Word of God - foreign-language Bibles and even later editions of the King James don't make the grade.

Of course, the fact that this is not the position taught and expoused by the vast majority of those who label themselves as "King James Only" (myself included) is conveniently swept under the rug. This is because the Critical Text people, relying uncritically on the partial information provided by Bruce Metzger and Co., have a much more difficult time arguing the actual merits of the competing textual sets, than they do setting fire to Ruckmanite scarecrows.

So, what does this all have to do with me and my preferential and sole use of the King James Version? I'll explain below through the use of a dialogical format to eludicate my own positions. I write this because I want to head off as much angry mail from Corrupt Text supporters about my "lack of education" as possible, who write to me proclaiming their shock and dismay that I would take such an "ignorant" position without "investigating the facts".

Q. - Do I believe that the King James Bible is the Word of God?: Of course I do!

Q. - Do I believe that the King James Bible is the ONLY Word of God?: No. I believe that any Bible translated in a God-fearing, diligent, and scholarly manner from the Textus Receptus and the Bomberg Masoretic Hebrew, in whatever language, even a superceding English translation, is or could be the Word of God.

Q. - Do I believe that the modern versions of the Bible (NIV, NASB, Good News Bible, pick your poison) are the Word of God?: Yes and No. I believe that they many CONTAIN some, even most, of the words of God. But, due to the corrupt nature of the textual sets used to translate them, they do not fully and faithfully transmit to English-speaking Christians the full and complete divine revelation of God's Word.

Q. - Do I cling to the King James out of obscurantism, the force of tradition, etc.?: No. I grew up reading the NIV, and still have that Bible on my shelf for use in comparative referencing. I use the King James Bible because I understand it to be a superior translation, based off of superior original language texts, and presenting the complete revelation to man as God intended to give.

Q. - Do I view all other Bible versions as untrustworthy?: Yes. They are so to varying degrees. This is because of several factors. They are all uniformly translated from corrupt textual sets which alter the words and doctrine of the Bible in many places. They are also of variable quality as far as the methods of translation are concerned. Some are more grammatical-literal in their method (such as the NASB, the "conservatives" version) while others are much looser in their willingness to paraphrase (such as the Living Bible, which makes me want to gag). Further, given the somewhat dubious nature of the translating committees of certain of these versions (such as a homosexual on the NIV committee), I view it as advisable to steer clear of them.

Q. - Do I view the Textus Receptus and the Bomberg Hebrew Masoretic as the best original language texts available to us today?: Yes. I believe that they most faithfully represent the original wording of the original autographs.

Q. - Do I view them as being preserved for us intact and uncorrupted from the original autographs?: Yes. I wholly support the doctrine of preservation of Scripture (Psalm 12:7, Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 5:18, Luke 16:17, John 10:35, I Peter 1:25). Let me clarify my answer from right above. When I say that the texts behind the King James "most faithfully represent the original wording of the original autographs", I mean that through the process of textual criticism correctly applied in a manner which does not rely upon the demonstratably incorrect assumptive methodology of the Westcott-Hort school, the correlation of the varying wordings found across all the different NT manuscripts (and much less so the OT manuscripts) which make up the Majority Text and the Bomberg, with the contingent information provided by external sources (other ancient versions, patristic quotations, etc.), combine to yield at every point the original wording, which we can then translate from. Hence, even though any two particular individual original language texts may have different wording, when all these dozens or hundreds or thousands (depending on how many contain a particular passage) are taken in aggregate, and the wordings for each particular passage are compared and minority outliers dismissed (with extenuating external evidence taken into account), we can arrive at the original reading which has been preserved for us, providentially by God, throughout the history of man's treatment with His Word.

Q. - Do I believe that the King James can be used to correct the original language texts?: No. While the King James is based off of the preserved textual sets which yield to us fully God's words, the fact that our conception of the English language can change over time disallows us from trying to correct the original languages with modern meanings of English words and phrases which we might be tempted to eisegete into them.

Q. - Do I believe that proper exegesis of the King James Bible involves merely reading the words on the page and deriving doctrine to believe and teach?: Yes and No. I believe that, being the fully preserved Word of God, the King James is all one would need to gain a grasp of Christian doctrine, faith, and practice. However, I realise that the English language has changed over the last four centuries, and that there are many words and phrases which are archaic and difficult to understand for us moderns. I also realise that no translation from one language to another will ever be completely perfect in RELAYING the information (even if it does perfectly CONTAIN said information) it provides (because of peculiarities of idiom and so forth) without the use of diligent study and prayerful seeking of guidance from God. Can you pop open your King James Version to any old page, read a passage, and give a perfect exegesis of said passage, no matter what difficult language or idiomatic phraseology it contains, without the aid of cross-referential and original language study? If you can, you're a better man than I.

Q. - Do I oppose the practice of preachers and laymen using elucidatory paraphrasing of difficult passages, or of "going back to the Greek", to delve the fuller meaning of a passage?: No, of course not. The Bible is a book unlike any other, and cannot be approached in a flippant or superficial manner. It is a deep book, with a deep message, and covers deep subjects. I fully approve of going back to the original languages to delve the meaning of difficult passages (and even some not so difficult). In fact, I do it myself. I also do not oppose a preacher putting some difficult language in the King James into more modern expression, provided he remains true to the meaning and does not eisegete his own views into his paraphrasing.

Q. - Do I find it a challenge to my belief in the superiority of the King James Bible when I am confronted with lists of so-called "mistranslations" and "changes" between early editions of the King James?: Not at all. I am often amused by the notion which many Corrupt Text people hold that merely sticking a list of "ye to he"-type corrections from original printing errors in front of me, or asking about "dragons" and "unicorns", is going to cause me to ditch my King James and start reading one of the Monopoly-money Bibles. Printing errors were a common occurrence in the early years of the printing press, especially on very long works like the Bible. A printing error in no wise negates the authenticity of the work being printed. The error is merely noted as an error because it conflicts with the original languages and the translators' intentions at that point. Likewise, the King James translators used conceptions and word-associations which befit their time and place. The appearence of unicorns, dragons, and ostriches in Palestine relays this, and the King James sceptics who try to use these to attack the King James only demonstrate their own ignorance about this subject.

Well, that about covers it. Are there any more questions? No? Good.