Graciously Engaging a KJV-Only Believer: The Story of God’s Grace in One Soul

"I had a theory: these were regenerated but misguided people I was dealing with, and the bold and frankly nasty claims they were making on their signs about our alleged apostasy were things they would not be able to say if they sat across a table from me." - Mark Ward

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Bert Perry's picture

And, I dare say, it's not just encouraging with regards to KJVO.  There are any number of areas where the echo chamber and a severely truncated zone of fellowship can be deadly to real faith.  I've got a few friends about in the same place as the guy Mark describes in his first encounter.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

More than twenty years ago, I received a communication from a relative living in a distant state revealing that she was a strong proponent of the KJV only position.  She even made reference to a lengthy book she had read on this subject.  Knowing the intelligence and education of this relative, I was initially surprised by this development, but I realized that she had been exposed to one viewpoint only.  I wrote a short letter, and enclosed it with James White's book on the subject.  I thanked her for her admirable defense of Biblical fidelity, and encouraged her to read something written from a different perspective.  That's all it took.  The White book exposed the errors in her thinking, and I never heard another word on the subject, but when I saw her some months later, she was using an excellent modern language Bible.

G. N. Barkman

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Greg,

I'm a little younger than you, but old enough to have grown up with the KJV, as many from my generation and yours have.  I'm still comfortable with it, and use it more than any modern translation.  For a number of years, I attended a fundamental Baptist church not all that far from yours that changed to KJVO while I was there (I suspect you are well-aware of the pastor and his ministry).  It was never quite convincing to me (even though the pastor avoided the KJV crazies like Riplinger and similar), but it still took a while before I could see enough of the error in the thinking on that topic to realize that my family and I needed to part ways with that church.  I still respect that pastor, but do not hold his views on KJVO.  White's book (among others) was very helpful in my thinking.

However, now that I'm at a church that uses the ESV, I find I still greatly prefer my KJV, especially in familiar passages, and use it as my pew Bible.  I'm not against using a modern translation when it makes sense (like in hard passages, or when teaching or talking with the young), but find that the KJV still has a majesty and flow that the newer translations often lack.  I'm happy that people are turning away from KJVO, but among those at least of my generation and older, the KJV will be hard to replace.  Younger believers will not have the same sentimental attachment or views on language, and it won't take that long before the KJV fades away all on its own, at least outside KJVO circles.  Somehow I find that sad, even though I know it's no different than other well-known but old translations falling out of use.  I guess I'm a dinosaur.

Dave Barnhart

Darrell Post's picture

Agreed that with some folks it doesn't take much. And one-on-one is likely the best way to teach on this topic. KJV-Only advocates vary widely, and so the approach to helping them also can vary. Sometimes it can be as easy as pointing out a simple problem in the house of cards, and your KJV-only friend will pull that card out and watch the whole house of cards collapse. 

I encountered such a problem recently as I was teaching through Revelation. Chapter 17, verse 16 says...

"And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast..." (KJV)

"And the ten horns which you saw on the beast..." (NKJV)

However, all modern versions will read and the beast, not on the beast. The difference in the Greek is kai (and) versus epi (on). The expected explanation for this difference is the textus receptus must read epi, while other Greek texts read kai. While this is true, the problem goes deeper. I checked Greek manuscript 2814--the Revelation manuscript Erasmus used in Basel for his printed Greek NT. It reads kai, not epi! So why did Erasmus' printer set the type for epi when the manuscript he was printing read kai? This is a great question. So I set to work checking every available NT manuscript that contained this verse. 

My survey of cataloged Greek New Testament manuscripts revealed 272 that may include Revelation 17:16. Of these 272, remarkably, only ten were found to not have images available on the internet. Another manuscript, 2344, could not be deciphered from the blurry image as 17:16 fell on a badly marred page. Then 22 damaged manuscripts known to include the Book of Revelation lacked the page that included 17:16.

I then collated all of these available manuscripts, finding very interesting results. There are only six manuscripts that read epi instead of kai in Revelation 17:16. All six of these hand-copied manuscripts are dated later than the first edition of Erasmus' printed edition. In fact, some of the six are known to have been hand-written copies of Erasmus' print edition. I then checked the Latin to see if perhaps epi had come from there, and again, found nothing. 

The conclusion I reached is simply that support for epi, on the beast, does not exist. Either Erasmus' printer made a mistake, or Erasmus instructed him to print epi without any evidence to support the change. For the KJV-Only position to be correct, ALL Greek manuscripts of Revelation prior to Erasmus have to be wrong at 17:16, and at the moment the type was being set for the first edition of the TR, the Holy Spirit must have superintended to prompt Erasmus to change the word kai to something not found in any manuscript anywhere. I suppose some KJV-Only advocates would go there and affirm that must have been what happened. But of course there were hundreds of changes and corrections throughout the many editions of the TR, and so it gets kind of dicey trying to determine which of these changes and corrections were guided by the Holy Spirit. Obviously it would have been a better situation for the KJV Only advocate had a later edition corrected this mistake so the KJV would have read and instead of upon.  

As it is, they are affirming an English translation of a Greek word that has absolutely no support among all available Greek New Testament manuscripts prior to Erasmus' printed edition. 

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Check out the RSV. Beautiful, faithful translation. More elegant than ESV, a good update from KJV, retains thee and thou. I only switched from it to ESV because it's hard to find in print. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

Dave, I appreciate your comments,  I preach from the NKJV because it is a faithful translation, and easy to follow for those who continue to use the KJV.  Most of our Bible Conference speakers use the KJV primarily, but none are KJVO.  When I quote from memory, it is always from the KJV, as that is what I grew up with.  However, I study from the NASB and the ESV primarily, and encourage our people to use these versions along with whatever else they may prefer.

G. N. Barkman

T Howard's picture

Darrell Post wrote:

I encountered such a problem recently as I was teaching through Revelation. Chapter 17, verse 16 says...

Your whole argument is moot because many KJVO adherents believe that the English corrects the underlying Greek and Hebrew. Therefore, it doesn't matter what various Greek manuscripts say or don't say.

Darrell Post's picture

T Howard, I opened my post titled, "many different approaches" by saying, "KJVO advocates vary widely." I provided but one example of an approach that can be taken with one particular kind of KJVO advocate. I am well aware that there KJVO folks who think the Greek and Hebrew are irrelevant. There are also many who think the KJV is perfect because it was translated from perfect editions of the original languages as opposed to the modern versions all translated from those corrupted manuscripts from Egypt. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Darrell Post wrote:

There are also many who think the KJV is perfect because it was translated from perfect editions of the original languages as opposed to the modern versions all translated from those corrupted manuscripts from Egypt. 

This is just a little simplistic, but it gets the gist.  I spent years in a church that changed to KJVO of this general type, so I have heard a lot of preaching and teaching on this issue.  The KJV wasn't treated as perfect, but the underlying texts behind the KJV were considered "jot and tittle" perfect, in spite of the fact that even that family of manuscripts had variations, even if not as large as between those and the critical texts.  As a matter of fact, my pastor at that time had no issues with any Bibles (especially other languages, but even English) that were translated from the good texts.

Questioning the variations in the TR, though, was considered not having enough faith that the right ones were always the ones picked by the true church.  Even while I was still in that church, I bought a modern copy of the actual 1611, old spellings and all, that included the engravings, marginal notes, and preface.  But of course, that was not the Bible actually used by everyone else, that being the much more common 1769 version.  At first, I didn't think the KJV issue was that significant, given the desire of that pastor and church to really want to do and follow what the Bible said.  However, the more my questions went unanswered (or circularly answered), I finally was convinced enough that KJVO was a significant theological issue that warranted separation.  I think that any intelligent, thinking person will have to wrestle with the inconsistencies of the KJVO position, as long as they are confronted with the facts and other views.  Unfortunately, many never care to research or hear all the facts.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

Darrell Post wrote:

 

I encountered such a problem recently as I was teaching through Revelation. Chapter 17, verse 16 says...

 

 

Your whole argument is moot because many KJVO adherents believe that the English corrects the underlying Greek and Hebrew. Therefore, it doesn't matter what various Greek manuscripts say or don't say.

One huge issue for the KJVO-2nd inspiration position that T. Howard describes here is that if we believe that Erasmus corrected the Greek text circa 1517 (or whatever edition of the TR one favors), and if we believe that the 1611/1769 KJV corrected the Greek text further, we must simultaneously believe that for one and a half millenia or more, the Church was without the True Word of God--which is the very thing KJVO activists of all stripes advocate for.  It is a blatant violation of KJVO theories of textual preservation.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Darrell Post's picture

"must simultaneously believe that for one and a half millenia or more, the Church was without the True Word of God--which is the very thing KJVO activists of all stripes advocate for."

That was the point of my illustration from Revelation 17:16. If the KJV rendering is correct, then no believer, no church had the right rendering of this verse for the first 1,500 years of church history.

Bert Perry's picture

TylerR wrote:

Check out the RSV. Beautiful, faithful translation. More elegant than ESV, a good update from KJV, retains thee and thou. I only switched from it to ESV because it's hard to find in print. 

Before I came to Christ, I participated in a "Bible bowl" at my Methodist church that was using the "Good News Bible" for memorization of 1 Samuel for questions.  I was so put off by its wooden phrasing--necessary to keep it at a 4th grade reading level I believe--that I went back to the RSV I'd been given as a 3rd grader.  Missed a few questions because they were looking for the specific phrasing of the GNB, but I never regretted my choice.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.