If your recent social media has been anything like mine, then yours has been alive with debates, tweets, and retweets related to Bible Translations. On the one hand are those who are promoting and defending their usage of versions different than the King James. On the other are those rallying the KJV-only crowd. In between the two are any number of varying thoughts and ideas. It has been very interesting to me to follow those on all sides.
For the record, I am a member of an Independent Baptist Church and minister primarily in churches that identify as such. I was raised with a “Ruckman” view (and have read most everything he has written on the subject), minored in Biblical Languages (which very much stretched my thinking in relation to translation), and have also read from many of those who take a different position than mine. I am a fundamentalist in the historical sense, and strongly believe in the Virgin Birth, the Diety of Christ, and the Inspiration of the Word of God. I believe that creation occurred in six literal 24 hour days. I believe that every miracle in the Bible actually happened. I believe that without shedding of blood there is no remission for sins. I believe in a literal heaven and hell and in a literal, bodily resurrection. I believe it all! With that said, here are my thoughts on the Bible Translation discussions:
- There are some very good reasons to use the Authorized Version.
The King James Version was masterfully and beautifully translated both for accuracy and for “flow.” This is surely one of the reasons it has enjoyed such longevity. Many of us, for instance, have listened to former President Ronald Reagan making this case as a reason to reject some of the modern version paraphrases. I tend to agree with his assessment in this regard. The King James also remains very familiar to many, many people. John Rice stated that “there is a certain authority in the familiar language” and added that one “should feel very reverently toward the translation that is familiar to the multitudes and loved by them” (Our God Breathed Book —the Bible, p. 380). Different idioms and so forth are still quoted exactly as translated by the Authorized Version. There would be other reasons as well, some of which, to be fair, can also be accomplished while using modern versions. Uniformity is one of those. Some contend that using the KJV allows everyone to be on the same page and I agree that it certainly does. I believe there are some very good reasons to use the Authorized Version.
- There are also some very wrong reasons to use the Authorized Version.
Hear me out on this one. Many believe and teach that God re-inspired His Word in 1611. Some call this double inspiration. There are many who decline to use those exact words, but still believe in the concept. Because I believe that God’s Word has been providentially preserved throughout the ages (i.e. even before 1611), I reject this particular view. I believe that God has preserved His Word through the plethora of manuscripts, copies, and even various translations which have been made in multiple languages. Combined, they offer overwhelming evidence that the words God Inspired are available for us today. As a result, when skeptics and unbelievers question God’s Word, abundant evidence is available to answer those questions. The King James translators themselves acknowledged that they diligently compared varied manuscripts in their endeavors to produce an accurate and acceptable translation (as written in the Preface they included with their work). They did a masterful job! When we teach our people that we should use the Authorized Version because it was “inspired-again” we are introducing them to extra-Biblical teaching. Independent Baptists have historically rejected such teachings. And should!
There are other “wrong” reasons as well. For instance, some teach that we should use it because it has been around longer than others. This one actually doesn’t make sense if one is also going to make a case that the older manuscripts are not necessarily the best or most reliable. As many of you know, this is often taught when discussing which manuscripts are the most reliable. Others will teach that the KJV was good enough for “momma” or “preacher so and so” and therefore “is good enough for me.” I understand the sentiments behind these kind of statements but personally believe they are just, well, emotions! Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that there are more than a few good reasons to use the Authorized Version. I just also believe that there are some “wrong” reasons to use it as well.
- There are some very Godly believers who use other versions or who, under certain conditions, are not necessarily opposed to those who do so.
This statement can be divisive to many in our Independent Baptist world. For some, one has to agree that the KJV was re-inspired or they will separate from, ridicule, and question your doctrine and character. Others believe that unless you were saved from the KJV, you are likely not truly converted (I really thought this one was just an exaggeration until I heard it myself). Some believe that if one uses any other version, they are on a slippery slope of compromise and are destroying the kingdom of God. I personally disagree with this thinking. For one, I know of some KJV-Only brothers who have compromised in a variety of areas and have done great damage to the cause of Christ as a result. Being KJV-Only didn’t keep them from compromise. I also have known some very Godly men who have used other translations and who remained a staunch defender of the faith their entire lives. I simply believe there are some very Godly believers who use other versions or who are not necessarily opposed to others doing so in certain situations and if the translation is conservative and carefully done. John Rice was one of those. In the early days of his ministry, apparently Jack Hyles was too. Charles Spurgeon can be added to that list along with the likes of such men as Adrian Rogers. In fact, there are many men, young and old, even in the Independent Baptist World, who identify with this position as well. Some in the BBF do. Some in the Bob Jones circles do. Most in the GARBC would as well. I have preached and fellowshipped with graduates from Heartland, Pensacola, Hyles, West Coast, Maranatha, Tennessee Temple, and so forth who also would identify with this position, some in its entirety and others with just the last part. These often call themselves TR. Some consider themselves Majority Text. Others simply take this position as a matter of conscience because their bookshelves are filled with commentaries and books written by men who have this position and who use conservatively translated modern versions. In fact, almost every KJV preacher I know also reads and profits from men who use other versions. Surely we have all been helped by doing so!
While there may be any number of disagreements between men who agree with point 3 above, none of the ones I know are ok with “just anything.” The ones I know, and have been able to talk with personally, still demand accuracy in translation, still believe that the KJV is accurately and wonderfully translated, and often use only the KJV. Many believe that the KJV could be revised (as it has been in the past) and that it would be helpful if it were. They still believe that the Bible is the Inspired, Inerrant Word of God. They just believe that this is true every time the Word of God is accurately translated. Please read that again! All of them believe that doctrine matters and all of them are, in fact, fundamentalists in their doctrinal views. I am speaking, of course, about those I know or with whom I have interacted along the way.
4. We should give greater leeway to good brothers who are serving on the mission field.
To me, this one is huge! I personally am appalled at how our IFB world can treat those whom we should be honoring for their labors and sacrifice. We often house them in questionable or difficult accommodations. We often barely cover their expenses or don’t cover them at all. We can demand much of them without any understanding of what they are facing in their ministry, especially once they are serving far from home. Holding missionaries to our American position, replete with our financial and educational strengths, is not fair to those who are serving in areas of the world where these advantages are not enjoyed. While we will read from authors who aren’t KJV-only and while we claim to “praise God for those who are saved” within those circles, we will then ostracize, hinder, and consequently damage the work of the gospel if one of our own missionaries does not take our specific view. Brothers, I believe we can do better than that. I also believe that we should. Dropping a brothers support when he is on the field winning souls and seeking to provide an accurate and acceptable translation to those he is discipling, especially while he and his family are hundreds of miles away sacrificing for the cause of Christ, is unacceptable and wrong. We will spend hundreds of dollars on books that aren’t KJV-only, take our seniors and our families to non-KJV Creation Museums and Ark Encounters (often at great expense and with great advertisement), and then drop the support of one of our own whom we now believe isn’t where we are on this issue. Shame on us!
At the very least, practice I Corinthians 13. Charity (Love) “thinks no evil.” Assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt. Allow a brother to come home on furlough and discuss his position. If you feel you can no longer support him, his family, and his ministry, then withdraw your support at a time when he can either re-consider your “demands” or seek support elsewhere. Surely if we can purchase books and thereby support authors who often are far removed from our positions, we could support a brother who is in our group but who has a slightly different position than ours, especially until a time comes when removing our support is done in the least damaging way possible. For some, it appears that they would rather no one takes the gospel to the “regions beyond” than that someone would do it with a different position than they have. I urge you, my friends, to seriously consider this matter!
5. We should refrain from making foolish statements and cutesy comments.
For instance, referring to those who take a differing view as “trans-textual” is not only unkind, it is potentially wicked. “Fools make a mock at sin,” Solomon told us! And he did so under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Someone who believes the Bible and is doing gospel work is vastly different from someone who is a practicing example of Romans 1. We will not help our movement nor the cause of Christ if we handle those who differ from our positions and viewpoints the way our modern politicians handle their opponents. Referring to every person who is pro-KJV as “Ruckman” is not wise either. On both sides we should show grace and kindness as we explain, defend, and live our positions.
6. We should remember that Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church.
Baptists do believe in the autonomy of the local church. At least we claim to do so. If a church decides to use a different version or decides to use the same one they have always used, they have the right to do so. I am not responsible for them. I don’t answer to God for them. I can discuss their position and even maintain a different one entirely. I cannot, however, insist that every local church has to mirror my church or my college. It is interesting to me that some of those who claim to be the “biggest” proponents of Baptist doctrine and practice, also demand their graduates who are pastoring local churches to follow their positions exactly. Maybe we believe something we aren’t really practicing. While it is always acceptable and right to explain and defend my position, it is never helpful to attack, harass, belittle, and demean those with whom I disagree. If we believe they are wrong, let’s be clear as to why we believe they are, and let’s do it Biblically and not emotionally.
So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? Be kind and gracious and let’s talk!
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,
28 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Recent Discussions about The Bible”
Thankful for you!
I appreciate that you approach this with a high degree of nuance, and refuse to raise the intensity of the banter by bad faith argumentation. A lot of social media kerfuffles lack both nuance and good faith arguments. And I wonder, how much of the feuding is simply brand extension by those craving attention? I long for the spirit displayed in this article to characterize more disagreements in the church.
If communicators want to genuinely persuade, and not just rehearse talking points for the fanbase, then they have to understand the other side of the argument well enough to describe framework of the other’s position, in a way the opponent can affirm. We ask “Do you mean to say….” as many times as necessary to hopefully hear from the one whose position we reject say “Yes, that is exactly what I mean!” Intentional marriages and friendships already utilize this, so why is it often left out of leader-to-leader or church-to-church squabbles?
Of course it takes listening and understanding – and surely this kind of attentiveness is included in our Lord’s command to love neighbors, is it not? – David
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Hey David. Thanks for reading and commenting. I enjoyed reading your thoughts too. Blessings, Dave
Good words, brother. Thank you.
Blessings! Thanks for reading
Thank you for your very levelheaded and balanced view toward this very unfortunate controversy among fundamentalists. I’m not sure where I came across these statistics, but I feel they summarize the unfortunate nature of this unnecessary division among we brethren.
There is 85% total agreement between the Alexandrian and the Byzantine texts. Of the 15% disagreement – 95% of it reflects inconsequential issues that do not affect the meaning or doctrine contained there in. In summary that means less than 3/4 of one percent of the entire New Testament Text has any significant controversy between the two texts. That translates into approximately seven words for every 1000.
Thanks for reading and for your comments. Blessings, Dave
I was a kid in a GARB church (in Grand Rapids, MI) when they went to the NIV, and hadn’t even heard of the text issue until I went to college. After hearing all the arguments, from both sides, (and being overwhelmed with all the facts, figures, and scholarship) my own choice rested on the issue of preservation.
Even when I knew nothing of these issues, the “brackets” in my modern Bibles bothered me. I prefer to work and preach from the belief that God’s Word remains intact. In my opinion, any work that is launched on that premise is on the right track.
Also, being in the church when the translation changed, that did feel like the first step in a decade of changes, none of which turned out well for that particular church.
Both sides lose me at a point. The “scholars” lose me when they assume those that still use the KJV are ignorant and uneducated. The KJV-only crowd loses me when they claim the 1611, which they do not actually use, or double-inspiration. It makes good people look foolish, on both sides. It reminds me of warring extremes outside of the church. For example, those that declare “trust the science” vs. flat-earth types.
Differences do not need to make divisions. A difference in preferences may prevent partnership in certain areas, but God forbid they prevent friendship.
“I bless God, the partition wall of bigotry and sect-religion was soon broken down in my heart; for, as soon as the love of God was shed abroad in my soul, I loved all, of whatsoever denomination, who loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity of heart.” – George Whitefield
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Hey my friend. I really appreciate you reading my post. I appreciate your comments more though. Thanks for adding the quote by Whitefield. I love that quote. Every blessing, Dave
Good one. Some (few I hope) pastors drop their support for missionaries when they are on furlough. Also very poor.
I am KJV, but do not resent anyone who uses another good Bible. Some are not good, The Passion, the Mirror, the gay Bibles, for example, I have not checked, but they sure sound poor.
I heard a Baptist Pastor recently who said he preached from another version, for (I think) about 20 years. He said he often referred to the Greek during a sermon. Then his members would often come and say “That what it says in my Bible (KJV). So, he switched to the KJV. He has members who use other Bibles, and he does not put them down about it. He also maintains that the KJV is the most precise, literal, and accurate Bible. I can understand how the other good versions can be helpful, but I fear with so many English Bibles (over 100 the last I heard), it can be confusing in a church with many different ones in the pews.
I also heard recently that several surveys have been taken (I have not checked this out for sure), and they found that many people who buy an NIV (for example), do so because their Pastor, church, or friends use it, however, when they read the Bible in their home, they read the KJV in over 50% of cases vs all other versions combined.
Hey Bro Don. Appreciate your comments. Always good to hear from you. Thanks for reading my post. Your friend, Dave
Thanks Bro. Young. I’ve been on the “KJV only spectrum” as a preacher for 27 years, and continue to be.
We have developed a paradigm in which grace is shown to authors, preachers of old, even sound contemporary preachers who aren’t strong KJV.
There’s a HUGE problem, however, when someone in “our ranks” softens or changes. We keep reading our commentaries, listening to David Jeremiah etc. while we eviscerate those with whom we once fellowshipped with and admired. (This has been observation and admittingly, my struggle)
This doesn’t add up. Sadly this is symptomatic of the “IFB movement”. In a word, “inconsistencty”.
Inconsistency that arises from teaching tradition as doctrine. Sound Bible teaching is constant, stable, it can be followed to its logical conclusion without falling apart.
Let’s be Baptist! The Bible is the sole authority! The local church is autonomous! The believer has soul liberty!
Make the distinction between precept, principal & preference. Fight a good fight! Finish your course with joy!
I’m thankful for the bold men who are “saving” the IFB movement from traditionalism, ignorance & irrelevancy following God’s Word and will into the future, without fear or favor, taking or leaving tradition as they go.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciated your thoughts. -Dave
Appreciate your input and perspective, as usual!
Thank you for reading!
I almost never comment on a post like this, but AMEN and AMEN! This sums up a reasonable and biblically defensible position regarding the text. It is well articulated and I can sense you have a heart to not offend or create controversy through your words. Thank you for standing on a difficult ground that will likely make you a target for those with whom you wish to maintain fellowship.
Thanks for reading my article and especially for your kind words. I am grateful. Blessings, Dave
Very well worded. I think far more in the IFB are truly KJV Double inspirationists even if they say they aren’t because they would never consider a Textus Receptus based translation over their KJV. The ones that bother me are the 1611 KJV only people …. Since literally no one uses that translation. It has been updated several times before. It really gives those who hold to the TR a bad name through guilt by association. In full disclosure.. I love my MEV 🙂
Hey Ryan. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your words. There are so many nuances to work through so my thoughts are elementary at best. Perhaps we will someday see another revision/update to our current KJV. Time will tell! Every blessing. Dave
Thank you for saying these things. You risk something by saying these words, but I know you do so to stand up for good brothers and sisters in Christ who are taking the Gospel to a lost world.
With information as accessible as it is, it’s becoming harder and harder for logical fallacies and false historical claims to stick around. We’re seeing a massive number of people (not just young people) step away from the double inspiration fallacy because, under scrutiny, it crumbles. Thankfully, the closed-off and divisive section of KJV-onlyism is dying off because it’s being exposed for its nonsense. I’m not saying being KJV only is nonsense; we only use the KJV at my church. I’m talking about the KJV only positions that thwart the forward movement of the Gospel by perpetuating false bibliological and historical claims and that divide brothers and sisters who should be in unity.
Thank you for incurring some risk as a voice to and for those who might feel too intimidated to speak up.
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Hey Corey. Thanks for reading and for commenting. I appreciate you. -Dave
So would think it is Ok for a pastor to continue to support a man using another English version with his church people’s missions giving even though those people are strongly KJV only? Isn’t that something a pastor would have to consider?
Hey Brother Tony. Thank you for reading my article and asking my opinion. You are always very kind and I respect you so much for that. You know I am not a pastor, but I will offer my opinion. Yours is a fair question for sure. And honestly I don’t know the answer across the board. I personally believe that a sincere and godly brother who is an Independent Baptist fundamentalist who is sacrificing with his wife and kids to win souls and plant churces and who is genuinely trying to help his converts to know God and His Word should be given every bit of grace that we can possibly give to him. Especially if we are willing to give grace to those who run Creation Museums and Ark Encounters and who write the books we use in our own personal libraries and so forth. I believe we do the gospel a disservice when we ostracize and pull funds from a man who isn’t a rebel, but is rather a sincere preacher, and who is in the middle of serving his term, simply because we discover that he is applying his position in a different way than we apply it. If I were a pastor, I would email him and discuss it. If I decided that his application and practice is offensive to my position, I would continue to support him at least until he returns for furlough. I am, of course, not referring to a man who is immoral or who is lazy or who no longer believes the fundamental doctrines of Gods Word. And even in those situations, I would attempt to take care of his family and to at least get them home and settled. I hope that makes sense. I personally am grieved that a friend of mine has recently lost a lot of support (while on the field with a pregnant wife) simply for trying to find an easier translation for his uneducated converts. His own mission board is ok with him using pigeon English translations but dropped him for considering a newer KJV. My guess is that he will return home and will either give up or will have to start another deputation. And our movement will have to give account for closing a gospel ministry that is having a major impact in an unreached part of the world. I know you may disagree with me and I will understand. To me, Brother Tony, this is a gospel issue and I will personally give a lot of grace to an IFB brother who is winning souls.
Forgive my long answer. It is late and I likely didn’t make as much sense as I would have hoped.
Every blessing my friend.
It means so much that you would say a few of those things. I came into a church that nowhere has stated that they are KJV only, but they use it, and people love it. We support missionaries (still-intentionally) for the reasons you mentioned who disagree with the pastors (who have never been KJVO or TR only). Because those missionaries love Jesus and are seeking to win the lost and are not heretics. It’s just not worth dropping them.
Flipside – every single one of our missionaries who later changed from their previously held KJVO only positions, of varying degrees, have been dropped by multiple churches. That point of yours needs to be heard. When one’s only “marketable skill” is preaching the word and you drop someone’s support outright, you are communicating hate – especially when there’s a large family involved. Absolutely inexcusable! I’ve also heard many reports of these missionaries who receive no communication- and no checks in the mail! It’s not Christian.
For sake of argument – What if the position change was much more extreme? Do you want that family to die?? At least provide severance or something for sake of the kids. Good grief! Then again, if your support was $25 a month anyway . . .
Your comments in that regard are very much needed.
Your graciousness and tone has always been a rebuke and encouragement to me.
– Billy Peters
Hello Bro Peters, man! Thanks for your kind words. And thank you for reading the article and commenting. I wrestled quite some time about whether or not to write it but believed it was needed so decided to do so. I am hopeful that it will at least help us to discuss the issues and think through them a bit more. Every blessing to you my friend. -Dave
Hello, Bro. Young,
The issue is that this young man does not believe that the Scriptures, in any translation, are inerrant or infallible. (He told me that specifically when I emailed him regarding this issue; he stated that every translation has errors). That is an absolute problem; that is undermining the authority of the Scriptures and placing doubt upon God’s promise to preserve His Word to every generation. You desire for Christians to be gracious; however, you just called numerous Pastors who are seeking to magnify the Authority of God’s Word “shameful.” Our church has loved this family and will continue to do so, but we will not support someone who places doubt upon the inerrancy of God’s Word. BTW, I do not know the Pastors whom you are seeking to denigrate, but most Pastors that I know go above & beyond to take wonderful care of their missionaries as our church family has done for the past seven years for this family. We have given thousands of dollars in support & gifts to them, so great caution should be taken when making such broad accusations.
Hello Pastor. Thanks for reading my thoughts on this issue. Thank you also for sharing your sentiments. My heart is to point out that our movement is inconsistent in this matter. We do support Ark Encounters and Creation Ministries and buy and read books that aren’t KJV or KJV- only. And we do so believing that these are good brothers who love God and His Word and that their ministry is worth our money and time and attention because they are communicating truth and impacting our generation in a powerful and positive way. We support legal ministries who partner with non-KJV ministries all the time and who even preach with non-KJV preachers and we do so because we believe their ministries make a difference in the world where we live. I personally think that if we can do that, surely we can support a brother who is a sacrificing, soul winning, Independent Baptist missionary in a very needy part of the world. Souls are being saved and added to the local church through his ministry. He isn’t a rebel. He believes in inspiration and inerrancy and simply applies it in the same way John Rice did and Jack Hyles did (before he embraced Ruckman’s view) and Bob Jones did and so forth. Many in our movement apply it like Peter Ruckman and many others apply it like any number of other leaders. As an evangelist, I can tell you by experience that IFB brothers apply their views in any number of different ways. Yet, they love Gods Word, believe His Word, and sincerely want to honor Him. And each one of them believe their particular view is the only right one! I for one, can give the same grace that my movement regularly gives to these other ministries and authors, many of who are millionaires because of the money we have given to them. I would rather support a brother who is winning souls and planting churches but who takes a slightly different position than I do, than cut his support and see the ministry damaged and potentially even ended. To me, this is not only an issue of doctrinal application (how do we apply our views of Bibliology in different contexts and situations and so forth), but also is an issue of the gospel and world evangelism. I believe we can do both in these situations and I believe we should! We already are doing so in the books we read and in relation to the ministries I mentioned above. I know you may still disagree with me, but I hope that you will at least consider my point and heart. I love the Bible and I love souls! I know you do as well. And at the very least, I would continue to support a brother who is still on the field for both the sake of his family and for the sake of the gospel.
Again, thank you for dialoguing with me. I appreciate that very much.
Your sincere friend and brother, Dave
Hey my brother. Is that a “wow” of agreement or disagreement? :). If you believe I am wrong in my evaluation, I would be very willing to discuss it. I would like to hear your thoughts regarding the points I raised. I am IFB and I believe very strongly in the autonomy of the local church. So I respect your right to make whatever decision you made or will yet make. I also believe that it is at least reasonable to consider mine as well. At any rate, I pray God will bless and use your ministry and trust you would pray the same for mine. Every blessing, Dave