Within evangelicalism is a sizeable group of believers who assert that the King James Version (KJV) is the only version of the Bible that should be used by Bible-believing Christians. They argue this point for a number of reasons which we will explore in a series of posts over the next week or two. The first topic we will consider here is why KJV-ONLY advocates so ardently contend for one and only one Bible, the 1611 Authorized Version (KJV).
In essence, the issue is that this collection of believers affirm the KJV is an inspired translation, and not only that, but it is a translation that is more accurate than the original manuscripts. They believe that “the King’s English” is a more sophisticated language (and in some ways this is correct, but not in others) than either Hebrew or Greek (the two primary languages used in the Old Testament and New Testament respectively). Consequently, the English version of the KJV is a more precise, accurate, and inerrant text than what was originally written through Moses, the prophets of the Old Testament, King David, and other writers like Nehemiah and Ezra, who recorded the history of the return from Babylonian captivity.
That is to say, the 47 scholars who performed the translation and created the KJV were inspired just as the first writers were (e.g., the prophets and apostles) but had a better language to use, making for a better Bible. Moreover, the leaders in this “community” assert that although God’s Holy Spirit inspired the original authors when they penned the original books of the Bible, the languages used were inferior to Elizabethan English of 1611. Therefore, the manner of how the KJV translators of the KJV expressed God’s Word in the KJV surpasses the Hebrew and Greek autographs in integrity, accuracy, and clarity. In short, the only fully inspired and inerrant biblical text available to Christians is the King James Version. Because of this unique action of God, the KJV is the only Bible.
This matter is important to me because I have written the new book, Rebooting the Bible, which argues that the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) viz. the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible created ca.285 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt, is more accurate in conveying the original Hebrew autographs of the Old Testament than the so-called Masoretic Text (MT) that underlies all other Old Testament Bibles today, including the Latin Vulgate, Coptic, Arabic, and Syriac (Peshitta) texts, as well as all Protestant Bibles. To make this claim automatically puts me at odds with the KJV-ONLY community, since I claim that there are inaccuracies in the Masoretic Text that the KJV (in its Old Testament) has carried forward to this day. In other words, when the 47 scholars operating under the auspices of King James, published their new Bible in 1611, the Old Testament was NOT inerrant. What’s more: It had alterations – indeed corruptions – made by the rabbis within several decades after the 70 A.D. destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Titus and the Roman Legions. I won’t go into those corruptions here – that is a major aspect of the book. My point here is simply to point out why, first, there is a difference of opinion and secondly, why the KJV-ONLY crowd is already warning me that Satan has control of my thinking and I am soon to veer off into the abyss of personal destruction.
Readers should understand that the KJV-ONLY view is NOT standard in Evangelicalism. It is typical for what we might label fundamentalism. And it is part and parcel of the view that the world is 6,000 years old, and for others, that the world is flat. I have stated that the reason these last two perspectives are so staunchly supported is because they are the usual interpretation of KJV-ONLY proponents. Logically, if you take the view that the KJV is the only translation of the Bible to use because it is inspired and inerrant, then you must also believe in what it conveys. It is a fact that one can be a KJV-ONLY advocate and still not subscribe to the young earth or the flat earth… but almost all young earth and flat earth adherers are compelled to argue for the sanctity and uniqueness of the KJV. The two commitments (almost always) young earth and flat earth, go hand-in-hand.
Furthermore, as an added emphasis, the KJV-ONLY community asserts that because the original autographs are no longer extant (existing), that we must have an inspired, inerrant translation. That is the reason why God, in His providence, chose (according to them) to create a perfect translation. What’s more: The absence of the autographs cinches that the originals, he autographs of the prophets and apostles, are irrelevant. So, our focus on obtaining a sure word from God must come from the KJV. Needless to say, this view opens all kinds of logical issues which we won’t get into yet in this post.
So does Evangelicalism subscribe to this view?
In 1978, 200 most esteemed scholars and leaders of Evangelicalism came together and created what is known as the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. I’m including a PDF of the document created by Evangelical leadership that every Bible-believing Christian should read. Again, this reflects the vast majority of Evangelical leaders’ thinking and affirmations about the nature of Scripture. In short, “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was formulated by more than 200 evangelical leaders at a conference convened by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy and held in Chicago in October 1978. The statement was designed to defend the position of biblical inerrancy against a perceived trend toward liberal conceptions of Scripture.”
Ironically, it also defends the orthodox/Evangelical view against the hyper-fundamentalist stance of the KJV-ONLY supporters.
We see this is reviewing Article X of the Chicago statement which directly refutes the core axiom of KJV-ONLY adherents:
We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original. We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
To be crystal clear, this distinction matters. The KJV-ONLY view is fundamentally harmful to a legitimate presentation of biblical inspiration and the truth that the Bible is the Word of God. The KJV-ONLY view is readily disprovable for many reasons which we will identify. The traditional view is not readily disprovable.
Here is the PDF of the entire statement. CLICK HERE —–> ICBI_1
In the days ahead, I will provide a number of other posts challenging more premises and arguments of the KJV-ONLY position.