3 Ways to Graciously Engage KJV-Only Believers

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Mike Harding's picture

Mark made this presentation at the national FBFI meeting in June at the First Baptist Church of Troy.  The message can be accessed at fbctroy.org.  The link is on the front of the home page.

Pastor Mike Harding

Ron Bean's picture

I cannot say enough good things about Mark Ward's book and his addressing of this subject. I'm waiting to see if some of those churches and schools that have taken a stand against KJV Onlyism but are still using the KJV publicly will start using English translations other than the KJV.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

In interactions with the KJVO advocates I've dealt with, this is difficult because the allegation is generally quickly made that Arius and his minions in Alexandria deliberately corrupted those manuscripts.  That tends to lead naturally to the question of why they believe that, and (again in my limited experience) it's all because there are differences in the texts, and often, the argument is made not at a Greek level, but rather at a level of English translation.

And so when you're interacting with them, you have to either (a) act as though they've possibly got a point or (b) point out that such differences don't prove what they're claiming--there are numerous other possibilities for why these manuscripts are different, and we don't have contemporary documents saying what the reality was.  (if we did, we'd have expected them to do what the Jews did around the time of Christ--re-issue Torah manuscripts according to the "correct" version)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Darrell Post's picture

Regarding #2: Don’t Talk about Textual Criticism

I am not sure on this one. I would tend to think it depends on the person and the direction the conversation is going. Often they have strong built-in assumptions, and if you can ask them some good questions, and thereby pull out a few of the key pieces in their house of cards, it will crumble. I like to ask (if the conversation seems to be headed a direction where this question is helpful) "Which Textus Receptus edition do you believe is the perfect one? The answer might be 'I didn't know there was more than one?' or 'I guess the one that the KJV is based on' and either of these responses can lead to the collapse of the house of cards. 

I agree that speaking about technical details within textual criticism often would fail to enlighten, but I wouldn't give up on the topic altogether. A good diagnostic question to ask is along these lines:

"We all agree that the original manuscripts of the New Testament have perished, and we all agree that all the hand-written copies are different from one another--no two are perfectly alike. These are facts. So given these facts, what is your approach to solving the question of the correct wording in the Greek New Testament? Or let me put it to you another way. Suppose all of the New Testament Greek manuscripts in the world were suddenly laid out on a gigantic ping-pong table in your garage. Does it seem reasonable to you to consider all of the evidence from all of these manuscripts, or would you be inclined to just pull one out of the pile (if you are fortunate enough to pull one of the few complete NT copies) and hold it up and say, 'here it is! This is the copy that perfectly represents what was written in the originals!'?"

In this example, I have engaged the person in dealing with the fundamental issues of textual criticism without getting technical--without talking about nomina sacra, copyist habits, harmonization errors, conflation, homoeoteleuton omissions, and so on.

The greatest hindrance in this whole issue involves the statement made by the author: "Instead, most people in the church have formed their textual critical views secondhand from authorities they trust." Whenever that is the case, and we all do that, we must be disciplined to keep our minds open to the possibility that the trustworthy source could be wrong--especially on an issue where volumes have been written in support of a contrary view. 

Furthermore, I would point out that years ago the debate was in many ways sealed off from the evidence. In other words, the debate raged on among people who had never once even seen a Greek manuscript, while the actual Greek NT manuscripts were not accessible to anyone unless you were willing to travel the world, visit libraries and comb through grainy microfilm. 

No longer. 

You can see many of these manuscripts on the internet from the comfort of your home. Here are the wiki links that will take you directly to images of more NT Greek manuscripts than you could study for the rest of your lifetime:




Ron Bean's picture

Let us remember that the man who was probably the chief perpetrator of the KJVO heresy was Peter Ruckman who admittedly didn't know any thing about Greek or Hebrew and denied the existence of the LXX. And again, most people who want to debate textual criticism do so using borrowed facts from their favorite sources.

BTW, when I'm feeling my oats I like to ask those who are concerned that the underlying text may be corrupt, if they would use the LXX if they were first century missionaries. I also like to ask if they'd agree with me that my 1599 Geneva is a better translation than the KJV.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Ron Bean's picture

The essential point is the question, "Is the translation easily understandable by the average reader? It's been my experience that many adamant TR people either refuse or are suspicious of any translation of the TR other than the KJV. I suspect that many of them would avoid using translations like Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops, Matthews, Great, Geneva, and Wycliffe that are based on the TR because the English used is difficult to understand.

Excuse me while I ride my besom out of here. SMILE


"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

JD Miller's picture

Even the King James translators understood that there was more than one way to translate a passage in English.  For example, there are Psalms that are repeated word for word in Hebrew, (I cannot remember which ones) but have different English words in the KJV.  

Bert Perry's picture

I believe a lot of the quotes of the NT are actually of the Septuagint, not any known Hebrew text.  So if you love the KJV, that means you've got to accept that God committed His Word to His people in multiple forms without it violating the message He wanted to send us.  Which is, IMO, fatal to any KJVO hypothesis I've seen, where they tend to make a big deal of passages like 2 Cor. 2:17, where some translations say "corrupt", and others say "peddle."  Looking up the Greek, and the denotation is peddle, but the KJV uses the connotation ("caveat emptor" and all) that a peddler was likely to corrupt his wares.  

Is either really wrong?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.