Me, a hater of the King James Bible? Who in the world told you that?!

There are Christians who are King James people because they prefer the wonderful language and cadence of the KJV, or who believe (with little evidence, but no matter for now) that it best represents the original Greek text. Overall, with these brothers and sisters, I have no serious quarrel.

But when someone condemns my Bible as a tool of Satan, or suggests that I think the same about their Bible, then I must speak up.

Here we are talking about those who pose the leading question: “Why do people hate the KJV Bible?” This is a “straw man,” attributing a position to someone that they themselves have not expressed. So rather than demonstrate that people hate the King James, they simply claim that it is so. The underlying assumption seems to be: unless you are KING JAMES 4EVER!, then the only possible explanation is that you must be KING JAMES NEVER! And that by extension, if you hate the KJV, then you must hate the Bible.

I googled this question about “hating the KJV”, and this is the random selection that came to the top:

“The reason people hate the KJV” is a thread that the editor eventually shut down; the original post suggests that if people “hate” the KJV, it’s because they reject the Bible, period.[1]

A response to an article “Why People Hate the King James Bible” suggests that people hate the KJV because it is “dogmatic” against sin, and liberals just love sin, so that’s why they aren’t devoted exclusively to the KJV.[2]

The site NowtheEndBegins.com has a strong position on many issues. They state that people “hate” the KJV, but “their opposition isn’t to the concept that the King James Bible is the perfect word of God. Their opposition is actually to the concept that there is a perfect Bible anywhere on earth! They don’t just hate the King James Bible but they hate the thought that there is a perfect Bible anywhere, no matter which version it might be.” This, the article goes on to claim, is because they would rather be evolutionists.[3]

Faithful Baptist College speaks of the “many seminary professors who hate the King James.”[4] (Gary: I have been a seminary professor for 30 years, and hung around with professors for many years on top of that; I cannot recall a single professor saying they “hated” the KJV as such. Of course, for some, that just proves that on top of being “haters” these people were also “cowards” for not owning up to their true feelings!)

Samuel Gipp takes things up a notch, to answer the question “Do Christians who use other Bibles [than the KJV] hate God?” – “God desires worship and love from His creatures. There are many preachers who, as Bible college students were misled concerning the King James Bible. They may very well love Jesus Christ but through ignorance or deceit use the wrong bible. They certainly do not ‘hate God’. [But he goes on to say that they are on the road to apostasy!] It has been found however that someone who loves the Lord and uses the wrong bible must one day face the Bible issue and make a choice between right and wrong. If they chose ‘right’ their faith is strengthened and they will cease to use other bibles and usually cease to attempt to ‘correct’ the Bible while reading or preaching… [But] It can happen that a Christian simply refuses to be in subjection to what he considers a mere book. He rejects the authority of Scripture in his life.”[5]

“Seven Reasons Why I Know that the King James Bible Is the Only Word Of God in the English Language,” by Pastor Herbert Noe – “You can determine the character of a person by who hates him. In the same way, you can define the character of the King James Bible. Westcott and Hort hated this Bible and the Greek text behind it and their work is reverenced by all Bible correctors today. Bible correctors are the enemies of God’s Word, whether they think they are or not. Not only are they enemies, but they are followers of the champion and first corrector [that is, the Devil]. Genesis 3:1 is where he first appeared saying, ‘Yea, hath God said?’”[6]

“Why I Believe the King James Bible is God’s Word,” says David J. Stewart, is because “feminists, liberals and homosexuals hate the King James Bible, because it condemns sin and is masculine and AUTHORITATIVE!!!” Among other issues.[7]

I use a wide variety of Bible versions: most of my study is with the Hebrew or the Greek text; in English I use maybe 5-6 versions regularly, but 20 others occasionally; most of my ministry is in Spanish, and I most often use the Reina Valera 1960, the RV Contemporánea, and the Nueva Versión Internacional, but refer to others regularly. Besides which I consult with the French versions, the occasional reference to other languages ancient and modern.

By no means do I hate the KJV, which I use quite frequently, as I also do the NKJV. I can say this as a Christian disciple, and also one of the “many seminary professors” who, according to the quotation above, supposedly “hate” the King James.

My goodness, my conversion and early Christian life ran entirely on the fuel of the King James Bible:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV) – this was the verse they taught us kids just before I became a Christian.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 KJV) – what a comfort that was to me as a young believer.

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?…Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:1, 3 KJV) – weren’t these the verses that were a lifeline to me when I was almost swallowed up in the murk of legalism?

“But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth” (Jer 1:7-9 KJV) – weren’t these the verses the Lord used when he called me to ministry, assuring me that my shyness would not cripple my future ministry?

Me, hate the King James Version? Well that comes out of left field!

20171005_092712

One of my first Bibles, a KJV. Retired after years of service, it now holds an honored place on my shelf. The KJV I use most today is digital.

But let’s make sure we place the emphasis where it belongs – it was not the KJV that saved me, but it was God’s Word, which happened to be in its 1611 English form. If I had been born in France, it would have been, what, the Louis Segond version; in Romania, the Cornilescu.

From what I have read, there are some – not all, probably not most – King James Only people who are on a crusade against non-KJV Bibles. We should ever be cautious about psychologizing them, but here are some parallels I can see:

Some people are iPhone people, some are Android. And a tiny minority of each group has become so radicalized that it is impossible for them to admit that the other phone is anything but, well, according to one article “******** ******.” I cleaned it up a bit. Although there are plenty of curses, nevertheless, I have yet to hear anyone claim that the user of a certain phone literally is on his way to hell.

O! that we could say this about Bible versions!

Again: there are Cat People and there are Dog People. For my part, I like dogs and cats, and have kept both for many years. But certain people interpret such broad-mindedness as somehow sinister: “Unless you are not hardcore Cat-holic (or Dog-matist, I guess), then the only possible explanation is that you have a deep hatred of cats. Or dogs. Even if you don’t admit it. Even if you don’t even realize it.”

I assure you that I love the KJV, and also love and use other versions. But for some, it is this very lack of exclusive devotion to one version or another that offends, a betrayal that I do not yet “know that the King James Bible is the only Word of God in the English language”, as above. Stewart, from the article above, even uses the absence of diehard NIV “fanatics” (his word, not mine) as one proof that the KJV alone must be true! Well, I can think of several books from throughout history that inspired fanaticism, but one would hope that “Degree of Fanaticism It Inspires” would not be a sound criterion for establishing their validity.

Thus, for these very few individuals, the word “hate” is redefined to mean, “anything that falls short of absolute and unquestioning exclusivity.” With that sort of rewriting of the English language, anything less than 100% devotion is construed as “an attack against the KJV”. Thus the statement above that “many seminary professors hate the King James” means nothing more shocking than “many seminary professors do not teach that the King James is the only authentic Bible, renouncing all others.” But we have no such permission to follow Humpty Dumpty’s boast in Alice Through the Looking Glass: “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

And according to the above quotes, if some not are not absolutists in their commitment to the KJV as The Only True Bible, well, then we can only assume that they are apostate-or-near-apostate-evolutionist-sin-loving-Bible-rejecting-Devil-following-liberal-feminist-enemies of God. Oh, and “gay”. Naturally.

When they accuse people of being KJV-haters, I wonder if they aren’t “projecting” on others something that is bothering them within their own mind: that because they demonize early Bible manuscripts and repeat those gossipy horror stories about such Bible scholars as Johann Albrecht Bengel, B. F. Westcott, Bruce Metzger, or J. A. Hort, this tricks them into assuming that we must in turn be privately demonizing the KJV and its exclusive followers.

I may, of course, be wrong about “projection.”

(By the way: recently someone wrote into this blog and congratulated me for taking a firm stand against the “KJV addicts.” I did not allow the comment to be posted, first because it wasn’t at all accurate, but also since our rule here is “No abusive language toward the author, other posters, or other parties.”)

Selecting a Bible version is not like taking a spouse, where one and only one deserves our exclusive devotion, and where any flirtation with another is infidelity. Instead, let’s encourage Christians to sample the full selection of the available versions, which are the various human attempts to render the infallible Word, not perfectly, but as perfectly as they possibly could.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

NOTES:

[1] https://www.baptistboard.com/threads/the-reason-people-hate-the-kjv.52044/

[2] http://www.onlinebaptist.com/home/topic/21229-why-people-hate-the-king-james-bible/

[3] http://www.nowtheendbegins.com/pages/KJV/why-there-is-no-king-james-bible-controversy.htm

[4] Biblecollegevideos.com

[5] http://samgipp.com/answerbook/?page=27.htm

[6] http://www.momof9splace.com/7reasons.html

[7] http://www.jesusisprecious.org/bible/kjb/why_gods_word.htm, emphasis in the original. He does not explain in this post how he defines a “masculine” Bible. “Not gay”, apparently, at the very least.

“Me, a hater of the King James Bible? Who in the world told you that?!” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Me, a hater of the King James Bible? Who in the world told you that?! […]

  2. […] Me, a hater of the King James Bible? Who in the world told you that?! […]

  3. Interesting article. FWIW I’d like to add a reason many preach ‘KJV-only’ comes from an idea that God preserves his Word: If God doesn’t allow his Word to fall, then God would have guided the first (mass) translation into English. Subsequent translations are subtly stating “the KJV (i.e. Gods Word) can be improved”. They also believe that adopting other translations is suggesting that until 1984 (NIV), God’s Word was only available in Greek/Hebrew.

    Not really my view, but trying to understand another’s point of view.

    • Sam, hi! And thanks for writing in.

      With respect to the first part, I have tried to understand this recently-invented form of Divine Preservation, which is today shorthand for the doctrine “God-inspired-afresh-the-French-printers-who-put-out-the-Textus-receptus-in-the-16th-century-and-the-KJV-in-the-17th-and-that-no-Greek-edition-or-English-version-will-never-again-be-necessary-or-blessed-by-God.” There are references to Psalm 19 or other passages, but they have to be put through a process of interpretation that no Bible-believer would accept with any other doctrine or any other text. Frankly, people who try to find doctrines such as, what, praying to the saints, or reincarnation, or Bible Codes,, or astrology would have an easier time of it than those trying to prove this particular idea.

      I don’t think I have heard this one, that if you use the NIV, then that means that the Bible only became available then.

      Many blessings! Gary

  4. I have often wondered why there is so much animist against and for the KJV. I am like you and have translated many of the Books to be at hand for study and research. But, I realized early that to keep from offending those in the congregation, I would read my text from the KJV and my explanations would be from my study of my translations with clarity coming from other translations. Having done this from the time of my ministerial surrender, it also allowed me to hone my skill of preaching without notes.
    Thank you Gary for a well thought out article.
    I have enjoyed your Blog for the last 2 years.
    Your Brother in Christ
    Lloyd Box

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Lloyd, and for following us! I would do what you do in the pulpit; for most people it would be enough, and a loving step to take. Unfortunately, for a very few, any attempt to “clarify” the KJV text is regarded as a rejection of God’s Word.

      Blessings today! Gary


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