FBFI and the KJV

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TylerR's picture

Editor

How foolish that this even needs to be addressed in this fashion. Verily, I am grateful I don't have to tap-dance like this at my church. There is no institutional history of KJVO in my congregation.

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?

John E.'s picture

David Shumate is presently working on a clarifying statement on reasons for using the KJV that would be outside the realm of orthodoxy and biblical principle regarding how to interact with those that differ.

If my understanding is correct, I think that the forthcoming statement will not be well-received by the KJV-only crowd. If that's correct, good for the FBFI. 

Tyler, I too am thankful that my church doesn't have a history of KJV-onlyism (on any level). However, my church and its associations are not perfect, have blind spots, and carry past baggage. Shepherding to better, more mature, or even correct positions requires charity and humility and, often, time.

Sometimes charity means that things don't move as quickly as outsiders wish. Considering that the FBFI is dealing with the convoluted spiderweb of bad teaching about translation issues that continues to plague segments of fundamentalism, I think we outsiders should be encouraged by their charity even if that charity comes at the expense of speed and directness. More souls are involved than the pastors and teachers who dogmatically spread the bad and even false teaching of KJV-onlyism. Many faithful and well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ would be hurt and potentially pushed further into the arms of bad and false teaching if the FBFI were to come out swinging too hard. 

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

From the article:  "David Shumate is presently working on a clarifying statement on reasons for using the KJV that would be outside the realm of orthodoxy and biblical principle." 

Does the FBFI not see this as another PR disaster waiting to happen with those who have historically been the core constituency of the fellowship?  Having Mark Ward (a Gospel Coalition contributor) to speak at the annual meeting and then writing such a "clarifying statement" are both needlessly divisive actions on the part of the FBFI.

John E.'s picture

You wrote:

Does the FBFI not see this as another PR disaster waiting to happen with those who have historically been the core constituency of the fellowship?  Having Mark Ward (a Gospel Coalition contributor) to speak at the annual meeting and then writing such a "clarifying statement" are both needlessly divisive actions on the part of the FBFI.

We don't know what that clarifying statement is going to say. As you alluded to, many of the past core constituency of the FBFI are sympathetic to the KJV-only position, at the least. The FBFI is in a tricky position, and I believe that "our side" taking shots at them as they work through this is counterproductive. At the least, we should wait until this forthcoming statement comes out before we take aim at the FBFI. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

Ward's book is a model of charity and clarity. I did a 90 minute video interview with him that posted on SI earlier this year. I also know change takes time. My comments were simply an expression of my own gratitude that KJVO is one problem I've left far behind me in my own ministry context. As an outsider to the FBFI, I understand they have to straddle the fence for their varied constituency, but I'm frustrated the tap-dancing still needs to happen. We should be past this by now. 

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?

Jay's picture

Yes, Tyler, we should be long past this.  But the decisions were made not to rock the boat and to preserve “unity”, which allowed the cancerous teaching to quietly spread and take further root.

The FBFI needs to amputate that teaching out.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

John E.'s picture

Unless you've read the forthcoming statement, how can you have such epistemic confidence about what "decisions were made?"

John E.'s picture

If you had told me yesterday that I would've started Monday by defending the FBFI, I may not have gotten out of bed Smile

M. Osborne's picture

@Jay: They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.

It would have been nice to have this in the rearview mirror twenty-years ago; let's be glad for what might be done now. Better late than never.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Ron Bean's picture

Mark Ward's balanced and clear presentation at the FBFI meeting was excellent as is his book. While I'm looking forward to the FBFI's clarification of its position, I'm somewhat sorry that Mark's presentation has put them on the defensive. As I see it one of the things that must be addressed in an edict or whatever from the FBFI hierarchy is a definition of what they consider KJVO.  

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

TylerR's picture

Editor

They knew what they were doing when they invited Ward to speak on the topic. I am grateful they invited him anyway. I'm sure they knew this was coming.

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?

TylerR's picture

Editor

The FBFI wrote:

We do not make the use of a particular translation a test of fellowship and we do not think it should be. The more important question is not what translation you use, but why you use it. It is increasingly clear that we need to talk more about this, not less.  David Shumate is presently working on a clarifying statement on reasons for using the KJV that would be outside the realm of orthodoxy and biblical principle regarding how to interact with those that differ.

I think I'll pray for David, and perhaps find and send him a surplus ballistic vest before his article posts. He'll need it.

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?

Jim's picture

As with all of our speakers in all of our General Sessions and Workshops, Mark was speaking “to” the FBFI not “for” it.

The above statement is disingenuous. 

I also find it hard to believe that 17½ years into the 21st century they haven't positionalized themselves on this subject!

The FBFI only speaks officially in official statements and position statements.  

John E.'s picture

But, they're speaking now, Jim. Even if they should've done it seventeen and a half years ago or forty years ago, we should be thankful that they're speaking now. At the least, we should withhold our criticism until they release the official statement. Let's pray for them, and let's hear them out.

Ron Bean's picture

 

The FBFI only speaks officially in official statements and position statements.  

Every time (and there have been a few) I hear this it sounds like we need to wait until the leadership speaks ex cathedra. 

 

 

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

Jim's picture

We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament canon which, being inerrant in the original manuscripts

From: DBTS 

And:

  • There are thousands of extant manuscripts
  • There are minor differences (some more minor like the Johannine Comma where there is little manuscript evidence; the Pericope Adulterae; and the last 12 verses of Mark)
  • The KJV is, as fine as it is, a translation.
  • Translations have their limitations; but joy joy, we as English speaking peoples may read the Scriptures in the "vulgar" ("common")) just as William Tyndale had hoped: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.” 
  • As fine as the KJV is ...
  • There are many fine modern English translations such as the ESV, NKJV, NASB
  • Even the KJV translators recognized that their own translation had limitations (the preface to the KJV)

Frankly I think that most KJV only advocates are just not educated enough to explain that!

I grant that Kent Brandenburg and DA Waite are highly intelligent and trained men. And to them, the KJV position is a separation issue. To me it is not!

Darrell Post's picture

Thinking about this statement by Hyles Anderson, "We believe God has also preserved every single word through the ages." Similar language is used by other KJVO advocates. But the statement begs two questions.

1. What has been preserved? Every single word of Hebrew/Aramaic from the Old Testament and every single Greek word of the New Testament? This is easily demonstrated to be a false claim--a belief in counter-factual history. A simple example is the problem in the Luke 3 genealogy and the name Cainan who was said to be the son of Arphaxad. Cainan was skipped in the Hebrew texts of Genesis, meaning the correct reading of Genesis was the Greek translation Luke was using. To say otherwise is to affirm that Luke has an error. But I have no problem with the conjecture that the original Genesis manuscript had Cainan listed, and that this reading survived by Luke's day in the Greek translation, but not the Hebrew. So every single Hebrew word has not been preserved as the Hyles statement seems to claim.  

2. What does 'through the ages' mean? Throughout the ages of copying the Scriptures, thousands of manuscripts were hand-copied. Of those that remain extant today, there are no two that are exactly the same. The inescapable conclusion is clear. There has not been one exactly identical series of texts throughout the ages available for everyone to use. Even if one buys into the idea that there was at least ONE perfect copy for each book, that one wasn't available for everyone to use at the same time, so most people of God were using flawed copies, while one monk somewhere had the fortune to be using the one perfect copy--because all hand written copies are different.

Nowhere in the Scriptures does God tell us how the Scriptures would be preserved, if one argues that such a promise is found in the Text.

Nowhere in the Scriptures does God indicate that people of every age of history would have equal access to perfectly preserved manuscripts, much less access to manuscripts at all--flawed or otherwise.

Mike Harding's picture

I have appreciated Mark's input into the FBFI.  He has written excellent articles in "Frontline" magazine and has spoken directly to the board at our winter board meetings.  He is a godly, bright, intelligent, well-educated man.  His book is outstanding.  I invited Mark to speak at our church for the annual meeting with the approval of our officers.  His topic during his workshop centered on issues of concern to the next generation of spiritual leaders in our churches.  One of those issues is the translation debate over the KJV. 

I also asked Dr. Kevin Bauder to address the the KJV issue at our annual meeting by listing the strengths of the KJV and cautions regarding new translations---strengths and weaknesses essentially.  Unfortunately, Kevin had to cancel last minute due to a severe illness with his dear wife.  Both sessions would have had a healthy interaction regarding this issue. 

At the meeting I told all the speakers they were free to use in our pulpit the KJV, NKJV, and NASB (which happens to be the official translation of our church for over 30 years).  We had a great meeting; it was well attended; I think progress was made on a number of important issues.

As far as separation is concerned, KJVO advocates have many nuances.  Some are heretical; others are annoying; some you can work with.  We do not denigrate the KJV.  That would be a mistake.  At the same time I insist that whether one uses the KJV or another accurate and reliable translation, this in-and-of itself should not be a separation issue per se.  One exception is when the "O" becomes heretical or clearly divisive.  This has to be determined more on an individual basis.  I would say the same if someone was pushing NKJVO or NASBO or ESVO.

Thus far, most of the separation has come from the KJVO side of the debate who denigrate other good translations (NKJV, NASB, Holman, ESV) and make them a point of separation. Some KJVO churches have had horrible theology on soteriology or bibliology, but they get a pass because they're KJVO.  My personal assessment is that the "onlyism" has been a curse on fundamentalism.  Notice, I didn't say that the KJV has been a curse.  That good and excellent translation overall has been a blessing.  It is highly cherished and has a rich history.  Dr. Bauder, who is not KJVO, uses the KJV as his preaching Bible most of the time.  He loves the KJV and has written fine articles defending it.  

I have many friends in the ministry who are practically KJVO. It's the only Bible they use in preaching and teaching.  As long as they are not heretical or divisive in their view, I have ecclesiastical fellowship with them. They are good men.  However, I have little patience with the divisive preachers who promote KJVO as a point of fellowship or orthodoxy.

 

Pastor Mike Harding

Ron Bean's picture

Here's a situation I've faced more than once. I've grown comfortable preaching from the ESV but I've encountered churches that have told me that I must use the KJV when I preach in their church. 

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

Larry Nelson's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

I also asked Dr. Kevin Bauder to address the the KJV issue at our annual meeting by listing the strengths of the KJV and cautions regarding new translations---strengths and weaknesses essentially. 

Why not the strengths and weaknesses of *all* of the translations to be discussed, including the KJV?  Or is it your contention that the KJV has no weaknesses (relative to newer translations)?  

TylerR's picture

Editor

I suggest we adopt Tyndale's 1534 as our standard. It's better than the KJV at many points, anyway!

The fact is there is no real reason to retain the KJV except (1) sentiment, or (2) some sort of fear of alienating people, or (3) personal preference. However, even #3 is a big stretch for me. It's 407 years old. It's English is a bit outdated, as you can see from reading Ward's book. We should stop tap-dancing around this issue and just call it a good but antiquated translation that isn't the best thing to use in public worship anymore.

Here are Ward's remarks at the FBFI conference which prompted this latest mini-kerfluffle.

I suggest y'all read Ward's book, which manages to discuss the issue without devolving into the minutia of textual criticism, which most Christians aren't equipped to discuss accurately anyway. To further Bro. Harding''s point about different types of KJVO, I still think James White's brief taxonomy in his book The King James Only Controversy is the best.  

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?

Jim's picture

I could probably use most any version:

  • When I was with Campus Crusade for Christ as a campus evangelist at the University of Buffalo, I used the NASB NT 
  • My 1st church:
    • Used the NKJV in Sunday School and
    • The KJV from the pulpit
  • My 2nd church
    • I used the KJV for the 1st year
    • And the NKJV subsequent years
  • My 3rd church: Used the NKJV for everything

Now:

  • In Bible study with my sister - we use the NIV Study Bible
  • Bible study with my wife - we use the ESV
TylerR's picture

Editor

When I became a Christian = was taught KJVO and only used KJV

First church I taught at = KJVO

Second church I taught at = KJVO, but I always felt hampered by the KJVs lack of clarity in too many places, through no fault of it's own - it's just outdated English!

First pastorate = a KJV preferred church. I preached from the KJV because everyone used it. I moved away from any flavor of KJV-preferred quite rapidly once I took Greek at Seminary. A man from my old KJVO church visited, saw our gift Bibles were NKJV and asked, "what kind of KJV guy are you now?" I replied, "I'm a KJV nothing guy."

This pastorate = people use everything, and there is no institutional history of KJVO. I taught from the RSV for about two years, and recently switched to the ESV. I'm sticking with it for good.

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?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I've read Mark's book, and I've read several on the textual criticism side of the argument, and as I'm sure you know, these are two different things completely.  While still preferring to use my KJV, I'm definitely sympathetic to Mark's arguments about readability in today's culture, though I think the argument in his book goes slightly overboard.  But his argument applies no matter which Greek/Hebrew texts you prefer.

The textual arguments, whether you agree with them or not, aren't dealing with readability at all.  Reading those who are "TR-only," while I disagree with their "perfect preservation in a single text" argument, you can't really put their arguments into what Mark's book is arguing against.  Even if one would agree that Mark's argument is persuasive enough about not using the KJV, so that the textual argument is not needed for that purpose, that doesn't change the character of the textual argument.  Most of the TR-only guys I have read would not be against a modern English version from the "right" texts, but don't believe it will happen (which is probably not wrong as most do not buy the "corrupted text" arguments against the critical texts).

As to whether the KJV should ever be used in public worship -- I'm kind of split.  Our church uses the ESV, though the pastor sometimes reads from NKJV for Christmas/Easter texts.  Personally, I think the KJV itself is understandable enough for those events, and I know those verses by heart in that version.  If Linus had no trouble understanding those verses at Christmas, we really won't either, and I still think the majesty of that language is suitable for such events.  Day to day in the life of the church, a more understandable version makes sense.  And as much as I prefer the KJV myself for familiar passages, I use "easier" versions when reading things like the prophets.

Dave Barnhart

Mike Harding's picture

Larry,

Mark's session and book covered the weaknesses of the KJV.  Bauder's session was going to cover weaknesses in other translations.  That's called balance, and Bauder would have done an excellent job on the topic  He is a fine scholar, not a theological hack.  Also, I have used the NASB as our official church translation for 30 years.  That alone tells you where my understanding lies.  

Pastor Mike Harding

John E.'s picture

"I'm sticking with [the ESV] for good."

Does that make you ESV-only, Tyler? Smile

Taking my cue from a past Elder of mine, I alternate translations for my Bible reading. I usually read the ESV every other time. It's the translation I like the best and the one I find most "comfortable" when reading. Yesterday, I began rereading the NLT. It didn't take long before I developed a level of cynicism about and smugness towards the translation that's "inferior" to the ESV. By God's grace, I repented and reminded myself that I'm reading God's Word.

I'm curious if in a generation or two there will be a strong ESV-only movement among reformed and reformed-light churches. I pray not, but as Calvin wrote, man's heart "is a perpetual factory of idols." 

John E.'s picture

Dave, you wrote: 

Most of the TR-only guys I have read would not be against a modern English version from the "right" texts, but don't believe it will happen.

About two years ago, my dad gave me a copy of the Modern English Version that someone had given him. The translation is from the TR and is, according to the back of the box, "The most modern translation produced in the King James tradition in over thirty years."

While reading the MEV, I often wondered how the KJV-preferred crowd has responded to it. Your (Dave) comment made me think of it again. Have you, or anyone else reading this thread, heard anything good or bad about the MEV? I didn't do a lot of research, but I remember being slightly concerned with how charismatic the translation team tilted.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

John E. wrote:

While reading the MEV, I often wondered how the KJV-preferred crowd has responded to it. Your (Dave) comment made me think of it again. Have you, or anyone else reading this thread, heard anything good or bad about the MEV? I didn't do a lot of research, but I remember being slightly concerned with how charismatic the translation team tilted.

I haven't read much about it.  Might be interesting to check out.  Given what you wrote about it, I suspect those I know of who are TR-only would be suspicious of the charismaticism of the translation team, but more importantly, they would want to know that the text is truly the same.  Although I don't know this first hand, I've heard that there are approximately 8 changes in the texts used for the NKJV, and to the TR-only group, that's enough to invalidate it, since by definition, 8 changes = not perfect.  Not sure if the MEV used the same exact texts as the NKJV.

Personally, I'm "Byzantine-preferred" or maybe "Byzantine priority," but I'm not in the camp of those who think the critical texts are intentionally corrupted, so for modern versions, I've used ESV, NKJV, NIV, and even NLT for various different purposes.  I haven't yet heard enough about MEV to actually attempt to get a copy.

Dave Barnhart

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