In December 2010 Evangelist Paul Crow sent me an article with a request for its publication at IDOTG. I like the idea of allowing for good men with an opinion on the translations debate to have an on line venue to share their views. What follows is Evangelist Crow’s offering on the KJV debate for your consideration.Those who would take the name Fundamentalist are bantering back and forth today on the issue of the English Bible. The issue is perhaps best seen as a spectrum with those on the one end insisting that every version other than the King James Version is wicked and ungodly. Indeed, they assert, God inspired the translators of 1611 in the same way that he inspired the original writers of the Old and New Testaments so that whenever a question of the original text arises, the King James Bible is the final arbitrator. On the other end of the spectrum are those who would rather the King James Version fade into the pages of history. They maintain that its archaic language, its blatant mistranslations, its inferior text, its cultic following, and other flaws, while rendering it tolerable when nothing else was available to English-speaking people, make it a very poor choice in the light of modern scholarship. In between these two extremes are all kinds of different variants, some closer to one side and others closer to the other.
Because this debate is one among men who claim to believe the Bible—as opposed to battles between liberals and evangelicals or Muslims and Baptists—a careful explanation of this matter is helpful. Any contemporary reading on the issue will reveal two important observations: first, that there is a definite line of demarcation in the spectrum, and second, that both sides tend to misunderstand and/or misrepresent the beliefs of the other.
This article is an attempt to delineate a position in favor of the Traditional Text of the New Testament (with the Masoretic Hebrew Text of the Old Testament assumed) and therefore for the King James Version of the Bible as the Bible of choice for English readers. Some of the points of this article will be different from points that others who use the same Bible try to make. In fact, the author could mention men who claim to take a stand for the King James whose arguments are completely illogical, unscriptural, and thus, untenable. But the current flood of literature most readily available now on the Internet finds the opposing side labeling all those who stand for the King James with the broad brush of the radicals. It is possible to stand for the King James Bible, to reject so-called “double inspiration,” to be intellectually honest, and logically consistent all at the same time. The existence of radicals who sometimes arrive at the same conclusions as sane men should not cause opponents to lump both groups together as if they were one. Such lumping together is a common error, occurring both in political debates today and theological ones. Because some man wants to make spurious claims about the King James Bible, all who use exclusively the King James are assumed to be automatically in agreement with every spurious claim. This practice of painting the entire group in the light of a few vocal lunatics is hardly a sterling example of scholarship, though it is practiced by seminary professors today.1
If Grady and Ruckman as a minority have misrepresented the KJV crowd, what do the majority of those KJV men believe? This article attempts to answer this very important question.
First of all, in contrast to the Grady’s of this world, most KJV men choose this English version for textual rather than translational reasons. The issue is not whether the translators of days gone by were any better or worse than they are today. The issue is not whether the KJV is on a sixth grade reading level while the NIV is on a tenth grade reading level. The issue is not that the KJV has undergone seven revisions corresponding to Psalm 12:6. The issue is not whether James I was good, bad or ugly. The issue is the text on which the translation is based. All modern versions, to one degree or another, forsake the text from which the King James was translated. KJV men simply affirm that no structure (in this case, a translation of the Bible into English) can be built upon a faulty foundation. Regardless of the translational scruples of the men who gave us the ESV, NASB, NIV or any other version, the reality is that they all come from a corrupt foundation. Many opponents of the KJV position fail to recognize this salient truth.
Second, the Bible clearly promises its own preservation. In the 1980’s, many children in Fundamental Baptist churches were led to memorize Psalm 100. In this Psalm that so many, including this author, committed to memory as a child lies a precious promise of Bible preservation. Three eternal truths conclude the hymn of praise: “The LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” Years later, when our Lord walked as a man among men, He revealed in His high priestly prayer, “Thy word is truth.” A synthesis of these two passages makes the final promise of Psalm 100 extend to Scriptural preservation (and that to every generation). While God’s truth is found in more places than just His Word (Romans 1:20), any generic statement about God’s truth must necessarily include His Scriptures. Another great promise of preservation surfaces in the writings of the Prince of Prophets (Isaiah 59:21). Other promises could be included from the Scripture, but will be omitted for the sake of brevity.
A few years back, an academic from a Fundamental Baptist seminary claimed that God nowhere promised to preserve His Word.2 Why there was not a greater barrage of outcry from Fundamentalist academics remains a mystery, because the claim of this professor flew in the face of statements in the Word of God.
Third, the Bible gives indications as to how God would preserve His Word. This point is one that enemies of the King James position seem to either miss completely or else deny outright. Paul told his son in the faith, “Hold fast the form of sound words.” Somehow in the minds of those who prefer the critical text, this injunction to protect the very form of the words has been interpreted to mean merely clinging to the general concepts of right doctrine. They would maintain that while the doctrines of the New Testament have been perpetuated, the form of the words elucidating those doctrines has been lost.
Again to the same young ministerial protégé, the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote of the “church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” As the ancient edifices of Greece and Rome rested upon mighty pillars, so God has ordained that His truth rest on the local church. Once again, in the minds of critical text men, the idea of the truth including the Bible seems foreign to their thinking. Jesus Himself taught His followers to equate God’s truth and God’s Word. If the local church is to hold up the truth and the truth includes the Bible, then the local church will somehow hold up the Bible in a very crucial way. God gave the task of preserving His Word to Biblical local churches in the same way that He gave the task of writing His Word to holy men. Holy (but not perfect) men actually did the human work of penning the words, but God was writing through them so that what they wrote was God’s Word, not their own. Similarly, the local churches of history have done the human work of copying and preserving the manuscripts, but God has been the one who has been at work the whole time preserving His Word through men. The question only remains: Which text has been available to the most number of local churches for the longest time? The answer can only lead to the family of texts underlying the King James Version.
Fourth, KJV men recognize that there are questions from history whose answers they cannot give. Critical text men love to make much of Erasmus and the many different texts he used, the textual criticism he employed, the different editions of the Textus Receptus that exist and other facts from history. Without a doubt, any man who takes any position on any subject would love to have all the answers to all the questions that pertain to that subject, but such a luxury is hardly ever possible. The critical text men look to history as their ultimate authority. They reason that since they cannot see evidence of something in history that it therefore did not occur. The inability of King James men to answer some of the often repeated queries from history satisfies many a CT man causing him to feel as if he has won the debate and skillfully silenced the opposition.
History is a marvelous study in any time period of human existence. The trouble with it, though, is that most of it comes to its readers by means of fallible human sources, a great many of whom had no qualms about altering or omitting information to fit their needs. The author is a student of the Second World War as a personal hobby. The myths perpetuated about that conflict are ongoing and no one seems too interested in setting the record straight. (Without going into details, the reader is referred to the Allied raid of Dieppe.) There is textual criticism of Chopin, Handel, Shakespeare, the Church fathers, and a host of other facts from history because there is some degree of uncertainty about all of those men and events. Furthermore, if the reader were to sit down with another member of his family and discuss the details of last week, there would be times when disagreements would arise regarding the mundane or even important events. If mankind struggles to recall with perfect clarity the events of last week, can men be reasonably expected to get the details right for events hundreds of years ago? Is it not somewhat presumptuous to assume that modern man is in complete possession of all the facts of bygone centuries when he quibbles about the events of last week? Yet many men in the critical text camp take their most authoritative arguments on such an important subject as the Word of God from history, never stopping to wonder if their understanding of it might be less than perfect. So when a King James man reacts in silence to a question from history, that silence does not mean that his argument completely falls apart. The truth is that for every question from history that the KJV man cannot answer, there is a Scriptural matter that the critical text man cannot answer. One is forced, then, to choose his set of problems. Either he chooses to let the Bible speak plainly for itself and wrestle with an imperfect understanding of history, or he chooses to assume a perfect knowledge of history and execute exegetical gymnastics when dealing with plain passages of Scripture. Those in the KJV camp choose to admit their lack of facts from uninspired history while standing in faith upon the Word of God.
Fifth and finally, King James men insist that the underlying text of Scripture is a big deal. Statisticians from the critical text side would remind those KJV men that 93% of the two texts are identical. According to them, there really is no significant difference in the remaining seven percent because many of these differences are merely in spelling. No major doctrine of the Bible, they assert, is affected by the omissions of the other text. On the surface, this argument sounds really good and seems to push both sides in the direction of “Can’t we all just get along.” The problem lies when the revealed character of Satan is juxtaposed with the numbers. Satan from the very beginning was good about knowing exactly what God said and then questioning it. He proved his own Scripture memory ability to no less than God the Son in his temptation from the pinnacle of the Temple. He quoted a verse almost perfectly, leaving out only one phrase. The Scriptures reveal his attack on God’s Word from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis to the end of the Revelation. Furthermore, there are doctrinally significant passages that can easily tip one way or another based upon what text of the Bible is considered authoritative. Some may say that the subject of 1 Timothy 3:16 is known, but the Traditional Text removes all doubt in saying that it was not some unnamed masculine person that was manifested in the flesh, but God Himself. During the First Century, the doctrinal attacks in Christology did not focus on the deity of Christ, but rather on His humanity. In later years, however, the tactic would change and men would readily admit to His humanity while rejecting His deity. Seeing through the corridors of time, God knew this attack would occur and so inspired Paul to write that it was God in the flesh of a baby in Bethlehem, God immersed in the waters of Jordan, God healing the sick, God raising the dead, God bleeding on Golgotha, God rising from the dead. To weaken this eloquent statement of Christology is to pick a fight with many KJV men.
Likewise the door to a major Catholic and Protestant heresy swings on the omission of Acts 8:37, where both the meaning and mode of Christian baptism could not be clearer.
Other examples could be cited, but there are omissions in the seven percent that are doctrinally significant indeed. For all who believe in God’s divine inspiration of His Word, every repetition of every doctrine is of utmost importance. If God wanted to repeat something five times, who can reduce the number to four repetitions without risking His wrath (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19)?
While there are some that would not agree with every point of emphasis in this article, many KJV men would heartily echo its claims. The hope of the author is that those are now on the fence in this important issue would see that fanaticism or lunacy is not a prerequisite for taking a King James position. Many, if not most, who hold to the King James do so for the reasons listed in this article. Those who hold to the KJV for other reasons, Kevin Bauder on one hand and Bill Grady on the other, will separate of their own accord. Let it be known, however, that men who take their stand on the Traditional Text of Scripture and the King James Version stemming from that text will not be intimidated by such pressure. Torrents of words in blogs, books, theological journals, or other media will not dissuade them. Any are welcome to agree or disagree, but let none criticize King James men without a proper understanding of where they stand and why they have taken their stand where they have.
Evangelist Paul Crow
Paul Crow Evangelistic Ministries
1) See Kevin Bauder’s article Now, About Those Differences, Part 23, citing William Grady as the spokesperson for those who take a King James position.
2) “The doctrine of the preservation of Scripture was first included in a church creed in 1647. As we have argued above it is not a doctrine that is explicitly taught in Scripture, nor is it the belief that God has perfectly and miraculously preserved every word of the original autographs in one manuscript or text-type. It is a belief that God has providentially preserved His Word in and through all the extant manuscripts, versions and other copies of Scripture. … not only does no verse in Scripture explain how God will preserve His Word, but there is no statement in Scripture from which one can establish the doctrine of preservation of the text of Scripture. … it is also obvious from the evidence of history that God has not miraculously and perfectly preserved His Word in any one manuscript or group of manuscripts, or in all the manuscripts.” (W. Edward Glenny, The Bible Version Debate: The Perspective of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, 1997, pp. 93, 95, 99.)
Site Publisher’s Note:
There are good reasons for embracing the Majority Text, which I do. My personal preference for preaching/teaching and study is the KJV, believing it to be the most reliable version of God’s Word today. I do, however, allow for other believers soul liberty and autonomy of the local church to choose as they feel lead. I recommend reading Dr. Fred Moritz’s position on the preservation of Scripture in his book, Contending for the Faith, pp. 78-ff. You might also consider, The Revision, Revised by Dean Burgon.