There are a handful of Christians that, truly, believe the King James Version (KJV) is the only authorized version of the Bible. Slightly confused, we took it upon ourselves to just ask a pastor. Our good friend, Pastor Dave, had quite a bit to say on the issue. Here is our interview with Pastor Dave concerning the KJV only movement**
Kristin of Christians in Motion: Hey Pastor Dave, I was wondering if I could pick your brain about something. King James Onlyism. Where does this idea come from? Christians that believe the KJV is the only authorized translation of the Bible, why do they believe that? I’m legitimately confused
Pastor Dave: You and me both. Their reasoning is that it is called the “authorized” version, which they think implies God’s authorization, I suppose. They argue that it has withstood the test of time, and they argue that it was not written by the biblical liberals of today, so we know the translator were sincere in their faith. All of those reasons are demonstrably false.
In addition, the texts used by the KJV translator were inferior to those used in contemporary translations. I can go into more detail if you would like about why their assertions about KJV authority is wrong, if you would like…
Kristin: Fire away! Because I don’t understand. I have several translations of the Bible (NIV, NLT, KJV, ESV, NASB) and I don’t see much difference between them. To be fair, I am no theologian or Biblical scholar but the differences seem to be minor.
PD: First, the authorization for KJV came from King James. The KJV only crowd have this naive view that the translation was written by people sincere in their faith. However, nothing could be more politcally motivated and liberal in its intention than King James and his translator. King James was the only one making the final break from Catholicism, and the only way to establish himself, as opposed to the pope, as the head this new church was to authorize an English translation of the Bible. There could be no more cynical and self-serving reason to order a translation than that.
Second, they had inferior Greek texts from which to work. The oldest texts were copies dating back only to 1000 A.D. We now have access to texts dating to 120 A.D., MUCH closer to the original manuscripts. There are glaring differences between the inferior texts that KJV used to translate the Bible.
Third, they did not have the Greek scholarship and the archeological understand that we have today. This significantly hampered their translation.
Fourth, just because something stands the test of time, does not mean it is great. Under that reasoning, we would still be using the Latin Vulgate, which is significantly older and still used by more people than the KJV. That argument also means we should consider going back to the Roman Catholic church. they have withstood the test of time, haven’t they?
Fifth, we can know about the qualities and character of those who make contemporary translations, contrary to the argument of the KJV only crowd. We can actually know their names and interview them. There are liberal translators and conservative translators. We can’t really know the character of the scholars working on the KJV.
Lastly, there are significant differences between some translations, but that is more time consuming. I am a HUGE fan of the NLT, which I think takes into considerations many of my concerns.
Kristin: This helps to clarify. I was so confused by the KJV only movement.
PD: I rank them up there with the flat earth people.
**This interview is published with permission from Pastor Dave Jones. Intro is written by Kristin Geckle of Christians in Motion.