There has not been a theological discussion in my life that has caused more division, confusion, and frustration than that of the Bible Version Debate. Addressing this issue will likely not gain me many friends. In fact, I fully expect to lose friendships (and gain new enemies) by following the Lord’s leading into this subject matter.1 Then why broach this subject at all?
I propose three reasons. First, to provide an explanation to the members of our church who have journeyed with us as we have transitioned away from the exclusive use of the King James Version.2 Second, to provide an explanation to our expanding network of ministry friends who continually ask me about this subject. Third, to challenge those who hold a moderate “KJV-Only” position to consider maintaining fellowship with those who may differ on this secondary issue.
I’d like to add a disclamer before we begin: I love the King James Version of the Bible. I know this may seem unlikely to those who will challenge this article, but nonetheless it’s true. I will say more on this matter later in the post.
And now, I have a few questions I would like for us to consider.
1. What is your textual position, really?
This is a very important question to ask, because there are multiple positions that someone may take in the King James Version conversation. I will briefly attempt to summarize these positions, though I’m aware that my few paragraphs will not be sufficient for many readers.
The Ruckmanite Position
Peter Ruckman was a late twentieth century pastor who ministered in Florida for many years. From all accounts, he was charismatic in personality, brilliant in debate, fascinated by conspiracies, and a big fan of the King James Version of the Bible. He taught that the King James Bible was the only Bible from which a Christian should study. All other English versions of the Bible were “perversions” of Scripture, part of Satan’s masterplan to lead the world away from truth. He was not the first who championed this doctrine, but he certainly was the loudest.
He not only taught that other English versions of the Bible were less than trustworthy but that the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from which the King James Version was translated are also corrupt. That’s right: Ruckman believed (as do his followers) that the original texts in the original languages from which the KJV was translated are corrupt. However, the King James Version of the Bible is perfectly inspired. This belief is called double inspiration.
Ruckman’s position, as I understand it, proposes that God had originally inspired the writers of the New Testament during the first century, but we’ve lost those original manuscripts to time, and the current copies that date to the 3rd–5th centuries have been polluted and are untrustworthy. However, God revisited man during the reign of King James of England in order to inspire the politically authorized Anglican translators. When the translation of the corrupt Textus Receptus had been completed, God had miraculously produced a permanently superior English translation. Indeed, the KJV is so superior to any other translation that it can now be used to retroactively correct the Greek text from which it was translated.
The Bible never gives indication that any kind of secondary act of divine inspiration would ever take place, and the KJV translators specifically deny that their work is perfect. Ruckman’s double-inspiration doctrine, though held dearly by many, is absent from the pages of Scripture. Yet shockingly, Ruckman has many followers even to this day. Writers like Gail Riplinger and YouTube preachers like Steven Anderson are among those who continue to propagate forms of Ruckmanism and other varieties of extreme KJV-Onlyism all over the world.
The Textus Receptus Position
This is a moderate view that is often mistaken as KJV-Onlyism even among its own adherents. This position states that there was a commonly “received text” that has been passed down throughout history from which most translations of the Bible had been produced until the early twentieth century. It was during the late 1800s that the discovery of several older manuscripts (Siniaticus and Vaticanus among others) gave rise to a new New Testament text that differed from the traditional received text.3 These older manuscripts number into the 300s while the received manuscripts number into the 5,000s. This gave rise to the term “majority text” in contrast to the relatively fewer manuscripts that were recently discovered.
This position postulates that the newly found manuscripts are untrustworthy at best, and any translations utilizing these manuscripts are suspect. Therefore, only translations that have come from the Textus Receptus are trustworthy for the modern Christian. This position would allow for the acceptance of the Matthew’s Bible, Geneva Bible, Tyndale Bible, and the Coverdale Bible. Each of these preceded the widely accepted and universally loved King James Version of the Bible that was first translated in 1611 and subsequently updated seven times over the next two centuries. What we have today is the 1769 edition of the King James Version.
Therefore, those who would hold to the “TR Position” would theoretically allow for newer English versions of the Bible to be translated, studied, and memorized—as long as they were appropriately translated from the “Received Text.” Thus we have, standing alongside of the Matthew’s Bible, Geneva Bible, Tyndale Bible, and the King James Bible, a group of new translations produced from the same manuscripts with the same translation philosophy. Today’s Textus Receptus adherents have access to The New King James Bible, Modern English Version, and 21st Century King James.
The Practical Ruckmanite Position
However, there has now risen a third position in the translation debate among those who would consider themselves “TR” adherents. I call this position “Practical Ruckmanism,” because their stated beliefs do not match their actual practice. It is stated by these individuals that any version coming from the TR might plausibly be considered, as long as it was translated with the same literal translation philosophy as the seven editions of the King James Version. At long last in 1982 we saw the introduction of the New King James Version, an English Bible which was translated from the same text as was the KJV and with the same philosophy as the KJV. However, it was quickly rejected.4 Over the next thirty years there would be several other English versions translated from the TR; each seeing various levels of success, but none of them living up to the historic popularity of the OG-KJV.
The most recent attempt to provide a translation from the TR came in the form of the Modern English Version in 2014. This translation had a reputable translation committee, used a philosophy of formal equivalency (literal translation),5 and came from the Textus Receptus. Perhaps this translation would be accepted among those who claim a TR position. Yet it, too, was quickly dismissed and rejected. Why?
These individuals say that, in theory, a new English translation is possible; but in practice, they will never receive one. They don’t declare, as did Ruckman, that the King James Version is the only trustworthy Bible the planet will ever know. But in practice, they will always find a reason why the seventh edition of the eighth English translation of the Bible is the last one they will (and everyone else must) ever use.
Here’s the problem—this third position is simply flawed, inconsistent, and irrational. It is a strong preference that doesn’t tie itself to a strong argument. If you are KJV0Only, own it. Be KJV-Only. But please don’t tell us, “The text is the issue,” if you are unwilling to consider a new translation from a reliable text.
II. If the Text is Really the Issue…
I was taught that the essence of the translation debate had nothing to do with the actual translation and everything to do with the source of the translation. The text is the issue! We must examine the textual sources of our English translations! If the text is corrupt, then the translation is corrupt! The KJV is the best translation for English-speaking people, but there is certainly room for translations from the TR in other languages.
Really? If all this is really the case, I have a few questions…
If the text is really the issue, why quickly dismiss new translations from the TR?
- 1982 – The New King James Version
- 1985 – Green’s Literal Translation
- 1994 – 21st Century King James Version
- 2001 – King James Version Easy Read
- 2014 – Modern English Version
- 2016 – King James Version 2016 Edition
Take your pick. In the last 40 years, there have been multiple incredible choices given to those who hold a TR position. Any of the above translations would be perfectly acceptable. It could be that an individual simply prefers the KJV to these modern English translations. Someone may see the NKJV as too choopy, or the MEV as less majestic, and would really prefer to use the same translation they’ve known throughout life. I truly understand, and I even empathize with this individual. They certainly have a right to their preferred translation. Can we then admit that this is a preferential matter and not a doctrinal one?
I have another question…
If the text is really the issue, why separate from brethren who use a new translation from the TR?
You see, this is where their argument breaks down. They say, “The text is the issue,” but then they actively separate from those who choose to use the New King James Version, the Modern English Version, or the KJV 2016. There appear to be a few conclusions that can be made from this position. First, the text is not really the issue. These individuals are actually practical Ruckmanites who have utilized a historic and scientific argument to give artificial credence to their preestablished bias. Second, since the text is not really the issue, second-degree separation must be. This position is trapped in the whirlwinds of denominational politics and the fear of man. This position presses good men to separate from other good men because if they don’t, it will cost them politically—they will lose support for their churches and parachurch organizations. This is the denominational pragmatism I have written about.
I’ve come to the realization that the vast majority of those who say that the text is really the issue don’t actually believe that the text is really the issue. They may not have the disposition of Steven Anderson, but they certainly hold to the same theological position.
If that’s your position, then I encourage you to own it courageously. Take the theological mantle of KJV-Onlyism and stop caring what others may think. But please don’t say that you have a TR position when your practice shows otherwise.
I have one last question…
III. If Not Now, When?
Since the early days of my Christian faith, I have been privileged to learn from the beautiful KJV translation.6 Throughout grade school and AWANA, I memorized vast portions of this translation. Life-changing sermons in my youth came from this translation. I exclusively used this version throughout my undergraduate program and both graduate programs. I, too, love the KJV! This was the translation from which I spent my early mornings in devotional time with the Master for over thirty years of my life. This is the translation from which I preached every sermon for nearly fifteen years. I’m comfortable with it. Like the Roman soldier with his ever-present sword, I’ve become adept at using this weapon in advancing Christ’s kingdom.
However, I’ve come to realize that my comfortability is not the ultimate goal. My calling is to make disciples for Jesus Christ. I minister in a day and place where my culture is biblically illiterate. King James English, though familiar to me, is like a foreign language to those I’m trying to reach. Therefore, if an updated Bible can help me accomplish my assignment, I’ll take it. Now, if I were a Ruckmanite, I wouldn’t even consider a new translation—EVER! The very idea is antithetical to KJV-Onlyism. But since I’m not a Ruckmanite, these last few years have been a journey of discovery as I’ve been able to study from other wonderfully trustworthy translations and lead new disciples into a deeper knowledge of Christ in an English translation meant for twenty-first century audience.
My questions are simple. Have we unwittingly idolized the KJV, making it mystical in a way that the translators never intended?6 They preface to the KJV shows clearly that they saw themselves as one link in the chain of many translation committees. They readily accepted the fact that there would be further English translations to come.
When, then, shall they come? If not now, when? If not the modern TR translations, why? If each of these are so egregious, what will it take to provide the English-speaking world with a translation into contemporary English that is acceptable? Have we ignored the fact that language is not static, but moves and changes over time? Lastly, have we effectively established an insurmountable wall which no translation committee could ever hope climb? And, why have we done this? Furthermore, to whom have we done this?
I feel these questions must be answered in our generation. Why? This will be the topic for my follow-up article. A Bible for the Common Man.7
Okay. So, I’m ready to hear from you. I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter, unless you are a Ruckmanite. I don’t mean to be unkind, but there really is no reason for us to talk about this subject. We are far too apart in doctrine for us to have a profitable conversation. I’m hopeful that we can pray for one another and love one another without trying to convince one another in a discussion that will never end. This invitation to dialogue is intended for those who respect the original manuscripts and believe a new translation is possible. I will delete all comments from those holding a Ruckmanite position. For all others… let’s dialogue.
(A great debt of gratitude should be showed to one of my long-time partners in ministry, Fred Murray. This dear brother has spent a great deal of time in research for this article. Thank you for allowing me to reword many of your original thoughts.)
- A brief note to the Christians in our church and those who follow our ministry from afar and may wonder why this article is even necessary. Heather and I come from a denominational tradition that highly values the King James Version of the Bible and encourages each English-speaking Christian to exclusively use this translation and only this translation. It is a VERY important issue to many good people. ↩︎
- I now preach from the New King James Version. ↩︎
- How much these older texts actually differ from the TR is point of discussion that has been debated quite extensively. See KJVParallelBible.org to see the differences for yourself in English. ↩︎
- The trustworthiness of the NKJV had been greatly undermined when it was reported that the translation committee of the New King James Version “referenced” newly discovered, older manuscripts for its translation. However, these reports did not properly explain that the translators of the NKJV did not take these other manuscripts into account when translating the words of scripture, but only used this information to create footnotes indicating a variant reading in older manuscripts. The NKJV text and wording wasn’t altered in the slightest. (The KJV translators also put textual variants in their margins.) ↩︎
- A formal equivalence, or word-for-word, translation gives priority to what the original language says and how it says it. It aims to be a literal translation. A dynamic equivalence, or thought-for-thought, translation gives priority to what the text means. It aims to make the text as readable for a modern audience as possible. ↩︎
- Please take time to read the preface of the King James Version to see what the translators of 400 years ago said about their own translation. ↩︎
- Mark Ward does a wonderful job demonstrating an authentic love for the KJV while calling us to consider modern translations from the same manuscripts in his book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible. BUY IT HERE. ↩︎
Rich KaszakOctober 31, 2019 at 5:05 pm
A very reasoned discussion in an area that lacks genuine conversation. Too many will dismiss it for no reason other than it doesn’t match up with their presuppositions. And that’s too bad. The IFB movement could use some thoughtful dialogue.
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:44 pm
Agreed. We can help. That’s why I love this kind of dialogue. Thanks for commenting.
Pete CookNovember 2, 2019 at 12:24 am
It seems that much of the argument leaves out GOD. It is his word, and he has a stake in it also. One translation, the New World has been corrupted, but poorly, while the others have worked to stay true to the original writings. But one problem with translation is staying true to the idea or meaning of the original when in the destination language the idea of a word or phrase may not have a word or words that carry that idea. For example – missionaries that translated “white as snow” to “white as the meat of a coconut” for people who had no concept of snow. A good translation is one that holds true to the original, but can be understood by those who read it. And GOD is able to work in hearts, even through a translation that is not your favourite.
Micah BucyNovember 2, 2019 at 5:59 am
I would argue you should translate that “white as snow” then show them a picture of snow. It’s not too hard these days. Are we going to translate a Leviathan as a crocodile because I have no idea what a Leviathan looks like?
JenniOctober 31, 2019 at 5:08 pm
I consider the text the issue as well. I’ve recently bought a KJVER and am very excited about it. I wish there was an even more modernized translation than this from the correct text. I’ve heard the nkjv actually didn’t come from the received text I’d be curious to learn more about that
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:43 pm
I’d encourage you to NOT take my word for it. Nor the words of those who would turn you away from the NKJV. instead, read the preface of the KJV and read what the translators of the NKJV and the MEV said about their translations and philosophy.
Darren McClintockNovember 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm
I have heard that as well about the NKJV but it is not true. The committee did consult the non-TR texts in their translation process. They also included notes casting doubt on the authenticity of some of the passages such as the last twelve verses of Mark. This is one of the reasons many those with TR positions do not accept the NKJV.
Nathan WollNovember 3, 2019 at 11:45 pm
But they were right.
That’s what I don’t understand about the whole debate. It is universally accepted by all biblical scholars that the last few verses of the book of Mark were added by a later scribe. Yet people refuse correct biblical translations in favor of what they want the Bible to say. This is the essence of the entire KJV position. I. E. “I want a Bible that shared my view of Truth” rather than “I want a Bible that is as close as possible to the original text”.
Daniel LigonNovember 4, 2019 at 1:51 pm
I’m sorry, but it’s just not true that “all biblical scholars universally accept” the short ending of Mark. The majority do, but there’s a thoughtful, legitimate debate. See the book “Perspectives on the Ending of Mark.”
Nathan WollNovember 4, 2019 at 8:32 pm
Fair enough, I should have said the majority.
Tyler BoringNovember 4, 2019 at 8:46 pm
I will second the KJVER as well. I have been evaluating KJV updates for a few years now and have found it to be the best currently. Obviously, the best option would be for Cambridge to do it themselves, but since it’s been over 200 years since their last update, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. My preference for a KJV update rather than an all-out new translation is probably more out of tradition or convenience than anything else. KJV only congregations will not be eager to accept a new translation, regardless of its authenticity or effectiveness mainly because of how the words flow and the phraseology used. Updates will always be easier—not that easier is always better. As far as updates go, the KJVER is the best I have seen, even making significant improvements to the translation as a whole. Read the pre-text to gain an insight on the what and why.
Matt OhmanOctober 31, 2019 at 5:16 pm
I have another question; how can we be dogmatic on the KJV because the source is the TR, when the TR was not even finalized until 1633, 22 years after the 1611 KJV?
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:37 pm
yes. and what about the fact that to actually finalize the TR Textual Critics had to cypher through the 5,000 manuscripts and determine which were the correct words from the variant readings. The fact that the 5000 manuscripts that make up the TR have variant readings among themselves is one that is not widely known among KJVO circles. More on this in future posts
Matt OhmanOctober 31, 2019 at 6:08 pm
Very true. I will be teaching on this issue in our church around the beginning of next year. I am praying that we can begin to move away from our KJV only stance after some biblical teaching.
LeoNovember 10, 2019 at 1:19 pm
The Greek editions used to translate the KJV were complete before the translation. There were other editions that were published after the KIV.
CaseyOctober 31, 2019 at 5:19 pm
My understanding of things change drastically after learning that the Texas receptus was not established until 1633, in the King James was written in 1611. And all the classes that I took at my former School on the history of the English Bible, that was never once brought to our attention. this is what started my journey into looking into other translations, and the fact that so many people did not understand the words in the King James Version that I so dearly loved.
Thank you for not being deterred from hitting the hard subjects. This has been one of the most divisive topics inside of Independent Baptist circles.
A rule of thumb for just about anything that I do these days is that if it only matters to one denomination, it probably isn’t important.
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:40 pm
Casey. I agree wholeheartedly. Yet, did you know that this is also an issue in several AOG and Congregationalist circles. This fact doesn’t give credence to the argument, in my opinion, as much as it points to the commonality of christians to hold tightly to tradition.
CaseyOctober 31, 2019 at 9:53 pm
Sorry for my horrible text to speech.
LeoNovember 4, 2019 at 1:28 pm
The TR is also in versions. There are several of them. The KJV was translated through use of several of the TR versions including Erasmus, Beza, Stephanus and the first Elzevir. The 1633 version mentioned is the second edition published by the Elzevir family. This was done in conjunction with other Greek texts. Many people think the KJV translators were collating 5,700+ manuscripts to make the best translation, but that is the work done to the the TR.
MattOctober 31, 2019 at 5:30 pm
Great Article! Very well said and thought provoking! I would consider myself a TR guy or Majority Text guy and I too love the KJV, though I have for a while felt that we needed a newer and easier to read translation for our generation. Yesterday it hit me once again when I was having issues understanding Hebrews 7 reading the KJV. I struggled with understanding the vocabulary and thought process until I read it in a newer version! Then I was able to understand the process. If I have trouble reading it and understanding how is Gen Z going too!
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:41 pm
YES! And what about the plowboy in the field? is he not worthy of a bible in his own language? More on this in future posts.
Brian GottschallOctober 31, 2019 at 9:24 pm
I had a pastor mention to me one time that he had been challenged to read the 1611 KJV because he would have trouble understanding it. He stated that some parts were difficult but, yes, he could understand it.
I didn’t get into an argument with him over that fact that he had many years of experience with the KJV as well as both a bachelors and masters degree in Biblical studies of some kind, but what hope would someone with a middle-school education in most of today’s American educational system have of understanding it?
Most high-school students that I’ve known struggle understanding “Macbeth” or “Hamlet” or “Romeo and Juliet.” If they struggle understanding mysteries or light, romantic comedies written in the English style of the KJV, how difficult will it be for them to dig out and comprehend the great doctrines and mysteries of God’s Kingdom?
MattNovember 1, 2019 at 9:12 pm
I am not an expert but I have been subconsciously battling this very argument. I like the KJV but I have a hard time understanding the wording at times, which makes me go look up the meaning, but by the time I am done researching it, I’m missing what the text is trying to convey as a whole. I am torn between the NASB and the NKJV. I actually have learned more and grew “in my opinion” reading the NLT. So I guess I’m still in that battle. Also the church I go to I love and the brothers and sisters there but, they are KJV only and I battle with this as well. But thank you for the wonderful insight and information, BBN also did something like this and it encouraged me as well.
Bob SluysOctober 31, 2019 at 5:50 pm
Ultimately, the bible- God’s word – can be summed up with “Love me and love one another” . . . so, in my eyes, versions and translations and such are immaterial, especially when they lead to discord which leads to all sorts of other nasty stuff . . . like being defriended (or is it unfriended?) on Facebook! The thought! Look – for me, the KJV is hard to understand, but then, I don’t understand rap and hiphop either, so maybe that’s just on me. Finally, the real question is does it ultimately matter? Me thinks not-eth.
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 5:59 pm
Good thoughts Bob. I think language matters. I think the the delivery of language matters. Not that God is opposed to any particular language or delivery. It matters because language is meant to communicate, and communicate clearly. This would be true for your understanding of the KJV as well as RAP/HipHop. The primary question is, are we communicating clearly? this is never more important than when discussing the gospel of Jesus Christ. it behooves us to have a translation of the Bible in the language of the people.
ChadOctober 31, 2019 at 6:06 pm
Josh, great article with a great spirit. Thank you for being willing to take the “blows” you’re going to receive for this article. You have said it well. Know there is a small army of us who feel the exact same way you do.
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 6:10 pm
Thanks Chad. Glad to have you as a friend.
SteveOctober 31, 2019 at 6:11 pm
Thoughtful article Josh. Thank you for sharing and articulating some material I have thought about in recent years as well.
One component for pastors in established churches is that their people have learned a certain way and in many cases their church constitutions are written indicating a preferred translation. Just another possible cause for the lack of healthy discussion.
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Yes. The issue of Bible Translations making their way into MANY church constitutions is a big problem. In many cases there will need to be a voting out of the old constitutions. We, and a few friends of mine, have already had to walk this road. Not easy – but worth it to be free of man made tradition.
JessicaOctober 31, 2019 at 6:19 pm
What about teaching the people who don’t “understand” the language of the KJV what the words mean? It’s a simple as looking up the word on the iPhone that everyone has in their pocket. It’s called Bible study…. With the technology available today we have less of an excuse than ever for updating the language of the kjv. Just my thoughts in this discussion
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 6:33 pm
Hey Jessica. This is a very good question and one that comes up often. It is also the same question the was posed in the Catholic Church for many years in relation to the Latin Vulgate. Men like Wycliff and Erasmus wanted a bible that even the plowboy in the field could read. The religious hierarchy of the day proposed they attempted to raise the level of education among the masses instead of devaluing the Holy Scriptures into the vulgar tongue of the uneducated. In short, I believe these religious leaders were wrong and that men like Wycliff and Erasmus were right. A bible in the language of the common man is essential to the propagation of the gospel. For more on this I would encourage you to read Mark Ward’s wonderful book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.
JessicaNovember 1, 2019 at 1:54 am
Josh. Thanks for your reply. I thought maybe you would think I’m being argumentative (I’m not trying to be) and delete my comment. Thanks for not deleting. The only thing is that your Catholic Church/Vulgate comparison is talking about two completely different languages: Latin and English. It’s hardly a comparison to your article that’s dealing with English and English. The KJV is still in English. I’m familiar with Latin… it’s REALLY different than English, so obviously Wycliff and Erasmus had a point. You really can’t make the same point about KJV English and 21c English. It’s not the same thing Wycliff and Erasmus were dealing with.
Darren McClintockNovember 1, 2019 at 12:48 pm
I’m glad Jessica brought up the point about Latin/English. The quote about the plowboy in the field were not about colloquial or slang language, but about the native language of the country as opposed to the Latin in the Catholic church. I am interested to see the documentation on the Catholic church supposedly wanting to increase the education of the people to read the Bible. The history of that organization suggests otherwise. They kept the Bible on the list of forbidden books for centuries and the time period when they dominated Europe saw the most widespread ignorance and illiteracy of the common man than any other period.
Mark WardNovember 1, 2019 at 8:39 pm
Darren, what you say is absolutely true: Latin and English are completely different languages; Elizabethan English and contemporary English are different phases of the same language: “Modern English.”
But if you think of Elizabethan and contemporary English as two circles in a Venn diagram, the two are slowly pulling apart. There is still massive overlap, but at every point where they differ misunderstandings can develop.
And two particular kinds of misunderstandings: “dead words” and “false friends.” Dead words are words we know we don’t know, like *besom*, *chambering*, and *emerod*. These are words we know we don’t know. When we come across them in the KJV, we know we need to look them up. But the special focus of my work on the KJV has been “false friends,” words (and other feature of language, such as syntax and punctuation) we don’t know we don’t know.
So the answer to Jessica’s excellent and fair question is 1) yes, KJV readers should use their phones to look up words and do good Bible study! 2) But at some point it seems odd to insist that people look up *besom* when *broom* is available, a word people don’t have to look up. 3) And how can people use their dictionaries when they don’t realize they’re misunderstanding “God commendeth his love,” or “How long halt ye between two opinions?”—or even “Remove not the ancient landmark.” None of those meant to the KJV translators what they mean to us today. We think we understand, but we don’t—not because we’re dummies, not because the KJV translators did anything wrong, but solely because language changes. One day the KJV will be a Vulgate, completely unreadable by average people. But it won’t become that suddenly; it will be a process—a process we’re 400+ years into.
Darren McClintockNovember 2, 2019 at 7:44 pm
If the biggest drift in 400+ years results in “Do not move an ancient boundary” instead of “Remove not the ancient landmark”, it will very likely be another 400+ years before the KJV becomes unreadable if it does at all. The other examples, “God commendeth his love”, to “God shows his love”, or from “how long halt ye between two opinions” to “how long will you waver”, “how long will you falter”, or “how much longer will you waver, hobbling” are equally weak in proving the KJV is becoming like a completely different language. As for syntax, the KJV exhibits mostly the syntax of the Greek and Hebrew text behind it than it does Elizabethan English. Attempts to alter that significantly involve making interpretation decisions instead of simply letting the text speak for itself. I won’t even bother with punctuation, (seriously?).
If there are legitimate revisions of specific words like “besom” that we can change to be more clear, great. That one word in one verse in the whole Bible can be cleared up without a whole new translation. For me, it is not a matter of believing the English is re-inspired or superstitiously revering ancient words. It is that I have simply not seen a big enough improvement, (or big enough need) to abandon such a time-tested and excellent work for the flavor of the month.
Mark WardNovember 4, 2019 at 7:18 pm
Darren, your replies are on point, they truly are. You’re perfectly right that tossing out the KJV over four examples of language change would be foolish. I say the same thing in the introduction to my book, the one Josh mentions in his last footnote. Somehow, without falling prey to Paul’s warning about “quarrels over words,” we need to establish how many passages are difficult to understand today because of changes in English over the last 400+ years—and how many need to be difficult before it’s clearly time for an update. I’ve attempted to do something like this in my book, though a full accounting would be far more tedious and overwhelming than any but the nerdiest few (who are in solitary confinement with plenty of time on their hands!) might want to endure. This is precisely why Christians ought to give one another grace on a disputable matter like the present value of the KJV. If someone like Josh says, “I prefer the TR, but it is my judgment that contemporary English has moved far enough away from Elizabethan English that I’ve moved to use the NKJV or MEV,” that ought not be a point of separation. I *have* seen, over and over, especially but not only in evangelism, the need for an update to the excellent work of the KJV translators. Not because they erred, not because we’re all dummies, but because language changes over time.
Briefly: you are skeptical that punctuation matters for interpretation. But I misread a key phrase in Isaiah for years because I was accustomed to contemporary punctuation and didn’t realize that Elizabethan punctuation was different. To know the full story, you’ll have to pick up the book or the documentary. (And you didn’t accurately interpret the Elizabethan word “commendeth,” in my judgment—this is also in my book!)
Tim StantonOctober 31, 2019 at 6:41 pm
Very insightful discussion and article. I too grew up in a church that was Practical Ruckman while saying it was a textual discussion. My only thought coming from that school of thought is, Why is the TR the only good manuscript? To use a phrase we all grew up hearing our moms say, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?” Seems to me that we adhere tightly to the TR because it was the text received by the majority (everyone jumping from the bridge). People are getting saved and discipled using even the “wrong” text translations. I don’t think we should throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to the other translations either. Thoughts?
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 6:54 pm
Not in this post. There are compelling arguments for the TR, or perhaps the reasonable Majority Text positions. But I’m not planning on entering that conversation in this piece. This was written specifically to a TR community of believers asking if the “TR but also KJVO” position was inconsistent and irrational.
Tim StantonOctober 31, 2019 at 7:00 pm
You did a great job in presenting all of the arguments and positions. I know that I grew up in a KJVO church and all other positions were wrong so this helped in that discussion. My prayer for the Church is that we don’t get so wrapped up in a translation that we fail to reach those “outside the camp”. I love that you reach a demographic using the Word that they will be able to understand and relate to. Praying for you, my brother, with the impact of this article to many churches worldwide.
Jeremy AndersonNovember 1, 2019 at 5:37 pm
Thanks for a great article. I too was about to ask if you would consider a version that was not from the TR. I look forward to future posts.
EricOctober 31, 2019 at 6:53 pm
I enjoyed this article and thank you for hitting a controversial subject. The only thing I would disagree with, though small, is that Steven Anderson is not a Ruckmanite. He holds that the KJV is errantly preserved, but hits hard against Ruckman and his followers. In addition to that, I am not a Ruckmanite, or a Andersonite. Also, being a TR guy, what are your thoughts on I John 5:7 and Acts 8:38?
Ben HyrneOctober 31, 2019 at 6:55 pm
I have not been KJV-only for many years but I recently took a pastorate where the church had in practice shifted from this stance long ago but had not officially made the change. As such, many in our church do not use KJV even though our bylaws remain stout KJV-only. I felt this inconsistency would be detrimental in the the longterm so we are now in the midst of deliberations and a vote comes in Jan.
Thus, allow me to extend my gratitude to you for writing such a thorough overview of this issue. You have skillfully outlined many of thoughts and conversations I’ve had over the past few months; and you have articulated them in a way that I both envy and admire. As such, I will be using many of your talking points as we move forward.
You have helped a very inexperienced Pastor cement his thoughts and given him tools that may assist him later.
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Hey Ben. That means a great deal that we could help you out in this way. Press forward for Christ.
Jamin WitteOctober 31, 2019 at 10:54 pm
Well done! Thank you for articulating a reasoned view of the textual debate. Those of us who have grown up with the KJV and have made that our position based on the text but are reticent to change cannot in intellectual honesty refute the argument you made for newer translations from the majority text. Thank you for this article.
KelseyOctober 31, 2019 at 6:57 pm
First, thank you for bravely addressing a controversial issue with grace and wisdom! I agree with your belief that it is time for a more modern translation of the Bible. I grew up in a KJVO church and I believe that the KJV could be idolized — some people worshipping the KJV itself rather than the God of the Bible. I love the KJV because of the tradition and because, like yourself, I am comfortable with it. However, over the years as I have tried to study God’s Word more deeply I have found myself struggling to understand the antiquated language of the KJV. It wasn’t until I started using a modern version to aid my study that I finally felt like I was able to grasp every word of Scripture. It definitely opened up a new perspective for me. I often wonder what those in Gen Z will think when they try to understand the language of the KJV. I am also curious of your thoughts on the ESV as a reliable translation. Thank you!
Josh TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 7:03 pm
Hey Kelsey! Thanks for your reply. The ESV is an incredible choice for those who have no issue with the older manuscripts I discussed in the early part of this article. A good number of my friends use this version as their preferred translation.
Dan RuizOctober 31, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Joshua, I thought this was one of your best post! One question. Does not the “Practical Ruckmanite Position” teach that the KJV is the preferred version because it is the version historically used by the church? The same argument is made for the TR (accurate or not) that the TR is the text used traditionally for the greatest period of time. Therefore, it is the preferred text. I don’t see that being addressed in the post. So if I was a “ Practical Ruckmanite” I’d simply say, “there is no historical precedent in the church of using any of the above listed versions that’s why we strongly support KJV.” Just a thought
Joshua TeisOctober 31, 2019 at 8:05 pm
It’s a good thought but I’d say a weak argument. It’s the same argument that was made for the Latin Vulgate during the days of the reformation.
ShannonOctober 31, 2019 at 7:47 pm
We put far to much emphasis on a certain translation and not enough on the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit living within us! God’s Spirit is within us! His Word lives in us! How can we not understand that He is bigger than what we think He is? He will move and speak without our preferred translation!
RebekahOctober 31, 2019 at 8:19 pm
What version would you recommend having children memorize out of? I have only ever memorized the KJV as it has been the standard at every church I have attended. I want them to memorize out of a version that is in modern vernacular and preferably one that will likely be a mainstream version amongst our churches at some point. Any thoughts?
Robb RedlinOctober 31, 2019 at 8:20 pm
Another problem with the Ruckmanite position is Psalm 12:7. If His Word is to endure to every generation and we didn’t have the true Word of God until 1611 then God lied to us and we know He can’t lie. To be fair I only use the KJV because I grew up with it and I trust it, but this doesn’t negate my bothers and sisters in Christ who prefer a different translation.
BenOctober 31, 2019 at 8:28 pm
Ugh…did you have to be so reasonable?! This is going to make those who wrote the blog series about you not very happy…
Josiah FinneranOctober 31, 2019 at 8:34 pm
I love the thought in your article Josh. I have often argued that you can show someone the plan of salvation and do pretty decent discipleship with just about any of the main version options. I may not prefer to use some of them, but I definitely think God can use many of the imperfect translations man has work on. I agree wholeheartedly that it’s a textual issue. I personally would love to see a version made off the Majority Text.
David TalleyOctober 31, 2019 at 8:47 pm
“This position is trapped in the whirlwinds of denominational politics and the fear of man.”
Those words sum it up.
Leon StevensOctober 31, 2019 at 9:26 pm
Thank you so much for this article. Since I started my ministry seven years ago I have been conflicted about which version I should be using. Since I have no formal Bible training I’ve had to rely on friends, and I consider you one of my best, and outside sources to make a decision. I am still mulling it about. You have really explained it for me and I thank you for that.
Jerry SewellOctober 31, 2019 at 10:47 pm
My daughter sent me the link to your article. Although from a KJVO background, I’ve long found it curious that the Koine in which the NT was originally penned was the commonly spoken language of the marketplace. It makes perfect sense because everyone understood what they reading and/or hearing. Not so with the very dated English of the KJV, 1611 or 1769. Like you, I love the KJV, but as a (now retired) pastor, I have for years been recommending the NKJV. There are a handful of verses, particularly in Psalms and Proverbs, with which I disagree, but conversely, there are renderings in the NKJV which I find to be much clearer. Excellent article.
Rick BrooksNovember 1, 2019 at 4:23 pm
In my college courses on bibliology and in my personal studies, I found quite a lot of evidence that Koine was NOT really a spoken language used on the streets, but that is was a literary language for writing instead of speaking. Did I miss something?
Mark WardNovember 1, 2019 at 8:46 pm
Rick and Jerry are both right. Koine Greek was a spoken language, spoken on the streets. But just as we all *write* our English a little more formally than we *speak* it, especially when we’re writing for public consumption, the Koine Greek of the New Testament is one register higher than the spoken language likely was. And Luke, Acts, and Hebrews are one step higher. But all of the Greek of the NT was recognizably current to its first readers, and none sounded noticeably 400 years old. There was no equivalent of “Thou shalt…” It was “you will…” So I end up concluding what Jerry does: God chose a contemporary vernacular, and so should we.
Allen CoxOctober 31, 2019 at 10:53 pm
Those are excellent questions with excellent answers IMHO. I too use the KJV exclusively and for all the reasons you mentioned plus a few of my own. However, as a pastor and disciple-maker I find it very frustrating to spend so much time with new Christians re-translating the ENGLISH for them before we can get around to discussing what the verses are actually saying and how to apply that to our lives in a meaningful way. So while I understand the KJV very well and prefer it, I question my ability to effectively make disciples like Jesus told me to while using the KJV exclusively.
Adrian TaboneOctober 31, 2019 at 10:55 pm
I want to give an honest opinion on this topic as I have experienced and seen the dangers of being on either side of the fence, so to speak. For me personally I want a translation/ paraphrase that will help me get maximum impact from the Word of God. I have my goto bibles for that. NLT, ESV, even at times looked through the Message Bible. Now i realise its not on the priority for everyone, but for me I personally have grown so much the longer I spend in the Word. I have grown to love Jesus more and more each day. I get the joy of praying for so many too which I love.
However, I admire, love and appreciate alot of people out their that love the KJV and those who use the NKJV (WHich is what I preach each Sunday from) and I have come to the place now where, I’ll respect where ever my brother or sister lands on this issue. If invited to their churches I would preach without hesitation from the Bible they use.
Anyways that’s is my opinion which is no better than anyone elses.
Love ya Josh!!!
AlexOctober 31, 2019 at 11:13 pm
Your assessment of Ruckman’s position is completely incorrect. To put him in the same sentence with Steven Anderson, who believes Ruckman is in Hell right now, is shameful.
Also, you are the one who stopped talking to me over this issue. I left SHBC, but you won’t even respond to me when I say hello.
Shelby HarbourNovember 1, 2019 at 12:28 am
Josh, our “paths” have been very similar. I too grew up on KJVO church. I have pastored a church in NC for 37 years, that when I came had many KJVO folks, but some using “The Living Bible” paraphrase. For years I used the KJV exclusively, as you did. I came to many of the same conclusions you shared. I now use the NKJV publicly, but study from others. Thank you for you courage, your understandable writing, and your heart. We need more folks like you standing for God’s truth!!
JustinNovember 1, 2019 at 12:36 am
Romans 9:17 states that there were ORIGINALLY Egyptian scriptures (“unto Pharaoh”). Do you have the original Egyptian MSS? Of course not, because preservation happens THROUGH translation. So when Moses wrote the original autograph, it contained a translation, which would also classify as a double inspiration.
Also, Steven Anderson hates Ruckman, Ruckman never said the ORIGINAL autographs were corrupt, Ruckman said the English can help determine which Greek texts are correct(not correct the ORIGINALS). Establishing your position on a foundation of slander is lacking in wisdom to say the least.
Jerry SewellNovember 1, 2019 at 1:52 am
Not wishing to be unkind, but you’re reading something into Rom. 9:17 that simply isn’t there. Paul was saying that the scriptures address the issue of Pharoah and why God put him on the throne for that specific time and purpose, not that there was an Egyptian scripture.
Mark JoyNovember 1, 2019 at 2:10 am
I love your blogs! The spirit that you write in, the balance with which you present. I appreciate you Josh – thanks again!
Not popular but much needed.
Stephen MeisterNovember 1, 2019 at 3:24 am
For many years now I have considered the KJV to be the Nehustan (2 Kings 18:4) of our day.
My roots are in the IFB and I praise God every day for leading me to the SBC.
I preach from several translations and lost most of my friends that were and are KJVO.
Ted SellNovember 1, 2019 at 4:27 am
I’m a majority-text guy who loves the KJV because I love the art of Elizabethan English. I’m majority text because of my dad’s logic on the matter; the majority text was used for 100s of years during which time the minority text was unknown. To me, it seems that to trust the minority text that was hidden from God’s people for those 100s of years is to say God was unable to get His Word to His people. In truth, I am not fully aware of all of the versions you listed but I recall my dad saying he did not like the NKJV – 1982 because the translation was poor and that ambiguities in translation leads, or could lead, to some unorthodox conclusions about the virgin birth of the Christ and his Diety. (I hope I’m remembering his words accurately.) My dad did work on the 21st Century Version and though he did not like in inartfulness of the translation, he had no problems with the accuracy (again, in memory serves). I don’t know if my two-cents’ worth of thoughts on the subject can help, but I thought I’d throw it out there to see what you thought of it. One thing I want to point out is that I am probably not alone in not knowing much about the other majority-text versions.
Mark WardNovember 1, 2019 at 9:07 pm
Ted, this was my perspective, too—I just assumed that the negative comments I heard about the NKJV had some basis (even though one of my first Bibles as a kid was an NKJV). But then I dug into the actual criticisms of the NKJV by the best KJV-defending critic I could find, and I simply found the criticisms unpersuasive.
But that work was time-intensive and required a level of Greek and Hebrew knowledge that God didn’t give me the opportunity to acquire when I was a teenager first faced with claims that the NKJV was faulty. How could I, then, have made a righteous and fair judgment of the NKJV?
I could maybe have zoomed out for a minute: every Bible translation based on the Masoretic Text and TR—Geneva, Tyndale, Matthew, Bishop’s, KJV, NKJV, MEV—is a collection of 100,000 little and maybe 200 (?) “big” translation choices. Should *rabbi* be translated “teacher” in John 3, considering that John 1:38 tell us “rabbi” means “teacher,” or should it be transliterated as “Rabbi”? Each translation has advantages. That’s just one of the 100,000 little choices Bible translators must make.
What is the likelihood that one group of translators got far, far more of these choices right than anyone else, past or future? Charles Surrett of Ambassador actually concluded that the NKJV was better than the KJV in 44% of the places he checked in the book of Romans (see his book, Certainty of the Words, Appendix B). I respected Brother Surrett for his honesty. And I wanted to say, “So how about we update the KJV in those 44% of the places?”
And let’s remember what the KJV translators themselves said, that we shouldn’t expect their work or any other Bible translators’ work to be perfect:
“[There is] no cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For whatever was perfect under the sun, where Apostles or apostolic men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?”
I’d urge you to read the KJV preface. I feel certain that the KJV translators would gladly welcome the NKJV if, somehow, we could take them out of cryostasis. =)
ChrisNovember 1, 2019 at 7:04 am
Yep, still not convinced. I guess I really Love the King James Bible and will not change! Amazing all the shallow arguments for getting rid of replacing God’s word with an inferior copy.
For those who are on the fence,
“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” KJV
Matt WellsNovember 1, 2019 at 11:01 pm
JoelNovember 1, 2019 at 7:20 am
Thanks for the good questions, I think this is a beneficial and necessary way to approach the issue. I would encourage you to also point out the distinction between the TR and the Majority Text. Almost everyone I’ve talked to who points to the textual issue as their argument for being KJVO is under the assumption that the TR draws upon the support of all 5,000+ Majority manuscripts, when in fact Erasmus and those who took up his work of revision and correction on the greek text were only working from 7 partial mss. Understandably it would take hundreds of years before the world even knew of all the Majority/Byzantine texts let alone could analyze and compile them. Hodges & Farstad were the first to publish a Byzantine Greek NT in 1981, and it was because of their work that the NKJV could include textual footnotes showing where it’s TR readings differ from both the Critical Text and from the Majority Text (one of the reason I really appreciate the NKJV – it’s translators use footnotes to be open and honest about their decisions, just as the KJV translators had been about theirs). It’s not entirely correct to say that the KJV (or NKJV/ MEV) is a Majority Text translation.
In fact the 1769 KJV version was used to “back-translate” the final edition of the TR, as there were about 165 places in the KJV that Scrivner could not find any greek textual support for – so he “updated” the greek text to agree with the English! (which I believe is the TR that the Trinitarian Bible Society still publishes today) In 2000 Robinson & Peirpont produced another very good Majority Greek text, but it wasn’t until recently that a full fledged English translation was based on the Majority Text NT. The World English Bible is the only one I’m aware of, and even though it began as an update to the ASV it turned out to be a reliable source for readings that are Majority Text. Needless to say, by God’s grace we have an embarrassment of wealth in Biblical resources available to us today!
Brian NorrisNovember 1, 2019 at 3:14 pm
When working in the city a missionary church planter will often engage different belief systems prevalent in the streets. One of these is the Hebrew Israelite movement. They only accept the King James Version because of a false historic narrative they created. This practice seems to be strategic; allowing them to use language that’s less accessible to obscure the actual contextual meaning. Is it possible that some groups among us fight for the KJV’s exclusive use to facilitate similar freedoms taken with the text?
Darren McClintockNovember 1, 2019 at 3:51 pm
Interesting article! I appreciate the focus on the TR and formal equivalency. For the record there are doctrinal issues that are involved in at least some of the newer translations from the TR. In the NKJV, for example, there are the notes which cast doubt on the authenticity of some parts of Scripture. The notes may be considered “honest” by some but they leave out too much of the vital information to form a proper conclusion and so misrepresent the case. Undermining confidence in what God says is a doctrinal issue.
Furthermore, I know the educational background, (up to a point) that you came from and they did not teach that “nothing” else mattered in the issue of the Bible debate other than the textual issue. They also talked in depth of the precision and scholarship that went into the English of the KJV. This precision and scholarship too often brushed aside today for a supposed readability and should not be dismissed lightly. “Thees” and “Thous” are a simple case in point. They were not put in for aesthetics, they have a function in identifying singular or plural as well as subject and object. They draw the reader closer to the underlying Greek and Hebrew words and grammar. Much of what is done today, even in responsible, formal equivalent translations, cannot match or supersede the KJV in this respect as well as others, and so inadvertently, draw the reader farther away from the original languages. The need for precision is proportional to the importance of the undertaking. Scientists and engineers in the space program are obsessively precise because the least error could mean billions of dollars in destruction or the ultimate price of a human life. In the Bible, we are dealing with the eternal life of a human soul. More important than even the physical life of a person. Therefore, our precision should be at the highest we can attain through God’s help. NASA scientists can read from scientific journals and textbooks that are far more readable to the common man, but they would be insane to do so. While another English translation from the TR does not involve the doctrinal error of those from the critical text, we should not be quick, even at this date to be looking for a replacement to the KJV. Readable does not necessarily mean better.
Shaun MinnixNovember 1, 2019 at 4:26 pm
I agree 100% and use many different transactions in my study. I particularly like the MEV and the more I study the original Greek and Hebrew, the less I like -and sometimes trust – the KJV. But I use it exclusively in my preaching for a couple reasons.
1) I’m familiar with it and comfortable with it.
2) Mainly, no one is offended by my using it while using other translations would offend many in my congregation.
In my preaching I am very determined to give the original meaning of the text using the original languages and put into the context it was written.
Darren McClintockNovember 2, 2019 at 1:48 am
I’m curious, which text are you using for your Greek?
Shaun MinnixNovember 2, 2019 at 1:56 pm
Greek Text of Stephens 1550, use The Englishman’s Greek New Testament
Darren McClintockNovember 2, 2019 at 6:43 pm
I confess I cannot understand any reason for mistrust unless it is the notes from the critical text scholars associated with the text you are using. I have translated extensively from the Greek, (Stephanus and Scrivener), and always found the KJV to be entirely accurate.
Sam WhiteNovember 1, 2019 at 5:06 pm
I grew up in a KJV only environment. Almost 30 years ago, I changed churches and my pastor gave me an NKJV. When I found words that were different, I would research it. More often than not the word used in the NKJV was the same as what was defined in the Strong’s Concordance. I read the Bible all the way through. It was a life changing experience to be able to better understand God’s word. Since then I have used the ESV and NASB. There are enough mysteries to unravel in the Bible without making it more difficult to double interpret archaic language. Do we worship a translation or do we worship the God of the original autographs?
Erik SandersNovember 1, 2019 at 5:42 pm
Josh, thank you for your thoughtful and metered article. English speaking Christians have not always used the KJV, so a natural question is what might be next. You addressed the issue with tact and openness. I appreciate your hard work, thank you.
Lindsey AyalaNovember 1, 2019 at 7:37 pm
Really awesome article. 👏 I do think the “received text” is a little misrepresented though. My understanding was the Erasmus compiled a complete Greek text, which he called the Textus Receptus, from the available Greek manuscripts. There were many of them, not as old, usually only in bits and pieces, and they had different- SLIGHT- variations between them. He was even considered pretty radical in his time for this specific compilation or edition of the Greek texts. My question is why should we think that Erasmus’ edition of the Greek texts is the final word and not the older and more complete texts found in the 1800s? The only reason I have heard is that some believe that these older, mostly complete texts are unreliable because they may have been tainted by the false doctrines prevalent in the places they were discovered (ie North Africa and the Vatican). But this is really only speculation and in my opinion about as much speculation as needed to believe that somehow Erasmus compiled the perfect Greek text from a bunch of newer fragments of the original texts. To be clear I’m not saying that I don’t think the TR is valid. I’m saying that both texts have pros and cons but believing that you have the Word of God is a matter of faith. God said that without faith it impossible to please him, so why would he not make having his Word a matter of faith? God said that he would preserve his word, but he didn’t tell us exactly how. We must believe that it’s there for us, and we must also rely on the Holy Spirit to understand what is there for us. This is what is truly important. There’s a lot of variables that go into choosing what English bible translation to use and using our logos to choose the right one is totally valid. But I think what is more life changing is when consistently approach whatever translation we choose with utter dependence on God to reveal his truth to us and change us from the inside out.
I think this is so hard for people who are used to being KJV only because it sounds so wishy-washy. We like to feel like we have a measurable standard across the board, so that we can always judge when someone is right or wrong in their choices. Not only does it feel like we don’t have anything to measure others up to but we also don’t have any way of proving that we ourselves are for sure right. That’s a matter of self righteousness and not faith. it’s hard to let go of, but I know first hand that once you do your Christianity becomes much more of a relationship with God than a set of boxes to check. In essence that what I feel like this is about, it’s one more Christian box that we have to be ok with unchecking.
MurielNovember 1, 2019 at 8:13 pm
I took Spanish in college and the Bible version that is used for Scripture memory is not EXACT to the KJV because it is translated into Spanish grammar form and made so the Spanish speaking people can read it and understand it. If we were to translate the old English KJV into Spanish with English grammar set up, it wouldn’t make sense to the Spanish speaking people and in fact be like a puzzle that needs piecing together.
Anyways, I suppose it would make sense to read a Bible that is translated into a more modern English than the old English.
Jeff TibbettsNovember 1, 2019 at 10:10 pm
If you refuse to allow comments on a matter, such as the belief that the King James Version is infallible in English, then you kind’uv forfeit the right to contribute an opinion yourself.
What kind of open and honest discussion in a public forum forbids opposition? The prejudiced kind which is neither open nor honest.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Matt WellsNovember 1, 2019 at 11:07 pm
Before I address this piece, I’d like to know where the author sits on fundamental tenants of the faith. Does a church with this many people reach out by door to door confrontational soul winning? Does a church led by this man compel the lost to come in, like running buses and using outreach avenues like that to bring people to the Gospel message? What are the author’s thoughts on Calvinist doctrine? Before I address the muddying of the water on Bible translations, I’d like to have these other questions answered.
Josh TeisNovember 1, 2019 at 11:53 pm
ATTENTION: those who have read this far in the comments. This comment is INCREDIBLY important to see and take note.
He would like to know where I stand on the “Fundamentals of the Faith” and then outlines them as door-to-door soul winning, bus ministry, and opposition to Calvinism.
This. Do we not see that THIS is the problem. Somewhere this dear soul has been taught that the fundamentals of the faith are these things. As pastors are we failing our congregations? As bible colleges are we failing our students? As missionary agencies are we failing our missionaries?
Matt, these are the fundamentals of the faith:
The Inerrancy of Scripture.
The Virgin Birth of Christ.
The Substitutionary Atonement of Christ.
The Bodily Resurrection of Christ.
The Reality of the Miracles of Christ.
I stand boldly in support of all five. And I fellowship and support those who agree with these five. I separate and declare as heretical those who reject these five.
Brethren, we’ve wandered so far from our roots. We must return to the true olds paths of our faith.
Shaun MinnixNovember 2, 2019 at 2:11 pm
I agree with Josh here. Matt’s fundamentals are not fundamentals of the Christian faith, or even fundamentals of the Baptist faith. They are fundamentals of the IFB movement which has caused much division and hurt to the cause of Christ, in my opinion.
BenNovember 2, 2019 at 2:17 pm
As one who views you suspiciously out of the corner of his eye I agree with you on this. Absolutely. I won’t even qualify it.
BenNovember 2, 2019 at 2:18 pm
My comment is directed to Josh Teis’ comment above, not to Shaun Minnix.
DanielNovember 19, 2019 at 11:14 am
Josh, claiming just five as being fundamentals obscures what Fundamentalism is about. There is more to it than just that. Do you have a copy of The Fundamentals, edited by R.A. Torrey, the series of 90 essays from 1910-1915, originally published in 12 volumes, and very rarely republished after that, that we get the name “fundamentalist” from? It is an intriguing study to see them, even just to read the titles since there are way more than just five that are talked about, even some articles about soul-winning, using Sunday school as an evangelistic tool, foreign missions, which would give credence to Matt’s initial questions in his comment.
Reducing Fundamentalism to 5 is not good nor truly honoring to fundamentalist heritage. I think a better definition of Fundamentalism is that which was contrived in 1976 in the World Congress of Fundamentalists, held in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here’s their conclusion: A Fundamentalist is a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ who–
1. Maintains an immovable allegiance to the inerrant, infallible, and verbally inspired Bible.
2. Believes that whatever the Bible says is so.
3. Judges all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible.
4. Affirms the foundational truths of the historic Christian Faith: The doctrine of the Trinity; the incarnation, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection and glorious ascension, and Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; the new birth through regeneration by the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of the saints to life eternal; the resurrection of the ungodly to final judgment and eternal death; the fellowship of the saints, who are the body of Christ.
5. Practices fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach it to every creature.
6. Exposes and separates from all ecclesiastical denial of that Faith, compromise with error, and apostasy from the Truth.
7. Earnestly contends for the Faith once delivered.
Then they summarized their own definition this way, “Fundamentalism is militant orthodoxy set on fire with soulwinning zeal.”
I don’t think you quite understand what true fundamentalism is just yet if you only relegate it to those five. I would even say of the “foundational truths” that there are more than just those specified in Scotland that ought to be included, and it is startling that they wouldn’t be considered fundamentals of the faith, such as repentance of sins necessary for salvation, baptism by immersion only for born-again believers, a regenerate church membership, the Lord’s Supper an ordinance and not a sacrament, soul liberty, the autonomy of the local church, etc.
DanielNovember 19, 2019 at 11:57 am
A fundamentalist pastor from California named Guy Archer Weniger had this to say about relegating the fundamentals to only five: “The five fundamentals have only to do with the Presbyterian aspect of the struggle with modernism. … The bulk of Fundamentalism, especially the Baptists of every stripe who composed the majority by far, never accepted the five fundamentals alone. The World’s Christian Fundamentals Association, founded in 1919, had at least a dozen main doctrines highlighted. The same was true of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, which originated in 1920. A true Fundamentalist would under no circumstances restrict his doctrinal position to five fundamentals. Even Dr. Carl F.H. Henry, a New Evangelical theologian, listed at least several dozen doctrines essential to the Faith. The only advantage of reducing the Faith down to five is to make possible a wider inclusion of religionists, who might be way off in heresy on other specific doctrines. It is much easier to have large numbers of adherents with the lowest common denominator in doctrine.” I believe Mark Ward could probably have told you that quote since he is listed as making a guide to Weniger’s papers in the Fundamentalism File at BJU.
Bob RaleyNovember 2, 2019 at 12:41 am
You point then raises a question, I have mainly use Strong’s exhaustive concordance for the past 32 years. I find the key verse comparison chart very helpful and I have a library of biblical illustratiors, and commentaries. From reading Spurgeon’s sermons you can see he was reaching out to the Fishermen of his day, as he offten used many sailing terminology that the folks wiould understand and relate to, so are you looking for terms that people of todate can relate to and can be reached, I, as you, was raised on KJV. But I have found reading the NAV easier for me to understand, when I find a conflict in different translations. I go Strongs to get the best feel for the word. I believe the KJV is most reliable, but then I have not taken the time to check to see if there is a more reliable translation. But I do like to compare the different translations. But then I have always felt that the Holy Spirit will reveal new truths to the believer as they study and grow.
Since you are my shepherd, I trust you to lead me, and teach me. I know your fountain is KJV, so I don’t really understand the why of it, but I really want to know what you feel we are missing out on, by not moving to a different translation?
Nancy BradleyNovember 2, 2019 at 2:43 am
My scholarly credentials are scant. I cannot begin to top the erudite arguments for and against particular stances. I only know for certain that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because my Pastor, preaching from the KJV convicted me at seven years old. Now I am 82 and realize that the Holy Spirit can speak to a sinner through a dedicated preacher; as long as the invitation is given to accept Jesus and is accepted by the person receiving Him. I still prefer Psalms and Proverbs in the KJV. I much prefer Kings and Chronicles in a more modern mode. I wish more women had answered because most children, including me, heard the Bible first from their mothers. On a personal note, I appreciate when you explain and give background on opaque passages. Keep up the good work.
Micah BucyNovember 2, 2019 at 6:13 am
I’m currently stationed overseas with the Air Force where there is no KJV-only or TR-only churches. I hold a TR-only position for myself, but definitely wouldn’t break fellowship with someone who doesn’t, especially when it’s your only source of community with other believers. The “Bible by Tecarta” app has been great to easily switch between the KJV and MEV, and I find my own Bible study has greatly benefited from comparing these two versions and getting a fresh perspective. I never realized how many outdated words in the KJV I would just skim over until I was able to read them in a more modernized version. This post was very timely, Josh!
Jason SmithNovember 2, 2019 at 11:35 pm
Growing up in my early childhood with you you know we have the same background low key. But in my journey through life I actually love the NKJV. Any other translation of the Bible from KJV or whatever the true source is…I have no problem with either. My reason is because we are all not the same. Some learn faster than others and some are a natural at the task at hand. So I believe it goes the same for understanding God’s word. I believe he knew what he was doing and this is why we have different “translations” , if you will, of his word. I mean how would a person who is ESL look or even think of you if you tried translating the KJV into Spanish per say. The KJV already talks funny lol so imagine Spanish. Lol
James LivermoreNovember 3, 2019 at 2:24 am
I understand your reasoning, and tend to fall into a TR category. The KJ is a translation like any other, and had issues when it was first translated. 200 years of updates finally worked out the bugs (1769). There will come a day when English will have degraded to a point where it is no longer even “English” and will require a new translation… I don’t think that time has come. I’d like to challenge you to check on something: “slight” differences between critical text and TR? I think you should look into that a bit more. There are literally thousands of differences, and they mostly center on Christ. Westcott/Hort were absolute heretics. Didn’t believe in the virgin birth, blood atonement, deity of Christ etc, and the changes they made subtly reflect that. The only way I’d Be willing to consider a new version is 1. if it didn’t come from the Westcott/Hort Text, and 2. If it could demonstrate that it is a superior translation to the KJ. Readability is learnable, and teaching is part of our job as preachers. It’s important to maintain a high level of accuracy in our source material. Thanks for a good read!
Joshua TeisNovember 3, 2019 at 1:17 pm
James – love it man. Thanks for the challenge. Your comment was reasonable and helped move the conversation forward. Thank you my friend.
James LivermoreNovember 5, 2019 at 2:35 am
Glad to contribute, bro Josh. 👍🏼
Steve SchwenkeNovember 3, 2019 at 3:04 am
While I understand this is a brief article, which by definition cannot be comprehensive, there is a lot of misinformation in it. There are tremendous distortions and misrepresentations of the “Ruckman” and TR positions. For someone who has been in the ministry as long as Josh Teis, and for someone who went to PCC, to be so misinformed in absolutely unthinkable, especially when one considers that Dr. Ruckman’s home was right there in Pensacola! It is quite obvious the Josh has not really studied this out for himself, but merely relied on others to tell him what Dr. Ruckman taught.
Mark JoyNovember 4, 2019 at 6:37 am
How has Ruckman been misrepresented here? Excerpt taken from one of his own articles in Bible Believers Bulletin March 1996 “God preserved His Word through other channels until His final & finished work: the authorised version of 1611.” When asked about what inerrant infallible version of the Bible was there before this time, he stated there was none or at least he didn’t care if there was.
Mark WardNovember 4, 2019 at 6:23 pm
I agree with Mark Joy—though Ruckman’s views are a bit of a rabbit warren, as I should know, because I read through a great deal of his work to produce a research report for the BJU library (available here: https://libguides.bju.edu/ld.php?content_id=919114). If Josh has misrepresented Ruckman’s views, I’m certain he’s open to correcting his words.
Here’s what I had in my report on Ruckman regarding double inspiration:
“We … believe that the AV was ‘GIVEN BY INSPIRATION’ (not ‘inspired’) and preserved to the present day without ‘PROVEN ERROR’ although there are variations in editions. This group [i.e., Dr. Ruckman’s] holds to the scriptural definition of the word ‘scripture’ as found in the scriptures. Since the word NEVER refers to verbal, plenary, inspired ‘original autographs’ we ignore the anti-Biblical fundamentalists who take this ANTI-BIBLICAL view of the meaning of the word” (p. 2).
Peter Ruckman, “Strictly Personal,” Bible Believers’ Bulletin, Sept. 1985, pp. 2-3.
This is the key point I think Josh is making: Ruckman claimed not merely that the KJV is a perfect translation but that the KJV was itself inspired. “Inspired” has always been a technical term used to describe the way God gave us the Bible in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; the term has been drawn, of course, from 2 Tim 3:16. To apply the word “inspired” to any translation is to claim something the Bible does not—and something the KJV translators specifically deny:
“No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For whatever was perfect under the sun, where Apostles or apostolic men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?”
LarryNovember 4, 2019 at 1:22 am
Thank you for the article. I’m glad to see some in the movement are starting to move away from an inconsistent position. I started moving away from the KJV only position after hearing a couple of debates that included James White then reading his book. I think the nail in the coffin for me was considering taking the position held by KJV only advocates before 1611. If all of the words from a translation were perfect, then no one before 1611 ever had the word of God since none of the manuscripts or prior versions agree. KJV only advocates who say they do not believe in dual inspiration still seem to believe that God perfectly guided them when choosing between variants. I’m still learning about this and am reading about the majority text argument and the eclectic text. Thank you for your bold position. We need to be more faithful to the truth than to traditions.
DavidNovember 4, 2019 at 5:15 am
I am not a theologian or know very much about certain arguments about different versions of the Bible, but I do stand on the TR view based off how I was educated and what I believe, but I do not argue that other TR versions, such as the MEV, are “corrupt” and “unusable.” KJV is my strongest preference with how I grew up and of its quality. I did come across something the other day that I did not know, and I thought it worked well with this article. Noah Webster, the Father of the English Dictionary, came up with a plan in the early half of the 19th century to “fix” the English of the King James Version of the Bible. Noah had some strong beliefs that convinced himself to form a new English translation of the dictionary and the Bible, including his very strong view on separating “American” English from “England” English, due to the simple conclusion that many English words used in England were simply not used in America or had a totally different meaning (as English still has strong differences and meanings in America versus Canada, England, Australia etc.); his belief that “American” English was “superior” to “England” English in usage, spelling, and grammar; and his stand that America had a patriotic priority to build a county on an accepted and unified English language. We may not be in the same boat as Noah Webster was back then, but I believe the concept remains. Noah believed that every person in America should know and understand not only what each other was speaking and writing but also how to live and grow a Christian life that was guided by God’s Word in their common language. In 1833, Noah Webster concluded his “Common Version” (not to be confused with the Common Bible of 1973, however) that was based off the King James Version but had replaced English words that Webster concluded were not used, had different meanings, or were spelled and/or were grammatically incorrect. I had never heard of this translation, and I don’t know if it has flaws or doctrinal issues or why it did or didn’t prosper, but I think Noah’s thinking was not wrong. In his preface for the “Common Version” Bible he wrote: “Some words have fallen into disuse; and the signification of others, in current popular use, is not the same now as it was when they were introduced into the version. The effect of these changes is, that some words are not understood by common readers, who have no access to commentaries, and who will always compose a great proportion of readers; while other words, being now used in a sense different from that which they had when the translation was made, present a wrong signification or false ideas. Whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had been introduced, and different from that of the original languages, they do not present to the reader the Word of God.” Now, Noah Webster was not a perfect man and did not have perfect theology views, but I think he was ahead of the game in his thinking. The original writers of the Bible, such as Moses, Paul, Daniel, Timothy, were moved by the Holy Spirit to write what God wanted them to write in the language that they wrote. Versions of the Bible written in different languages, such as English, that were and are being translated using the most accurate usages of what transcripts we have that were originally written, in my eyes, makes the most sense and clarity. I am not against the concept of examining, clarifying, reevaluating, and establishing English language changes to further the people’s understanding of how God’s Word wants them to live and ultimately how God wants people to know of His redemption, forgiveness, and salvation.
DavidNovember 4, 2019 at 5:31 am
I found Noah Webster’s version originally titled “The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, in the Common Version. With Amendments of the Language.” It was actually republished by Baker Book House in 1987.
DavidNovember 4, 2019 at 5:50 am
Correction to my post: “I do not believe that other TR versions , such as the MEV, are “corrupt” and “unusable.” (correction from “I do not argue that…”)
Neville HowardNovember 6, 2019 at 9:47 pm
Grey Area Tests
Will it Glorify God?
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Will it edify myself or others?
1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
Will it control me?
1 Corinthians 6:12
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Will it cause others to sin?
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [any thing] whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Will it help me fulfil my purpose?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Richard Powers SrNovember 18, 2019 at 6:12 pm
I will add what i hope will be another issue that I have just ever so often. I have been Pastor to only one congregation but in this same church family for 45 years. When I am asked (and I’m asked often) regarding my personal view regarding English translations I always say, “I am only King James but I am not King James only.” I do believe that the KJV is the best English translation available. I love it because it’s foundation is proper, it’s method of transliteration is proper, it’s method of translating by teams of sincere men is superior and it has stood the test of time. It has been as so eloquently has been stated, the sword that has been by my side in the battle with the devil for my four and half decades of shepherding a wonderful congregation of brothers and sisters. I do not divide fellowship with men who choose to use as their own primary weapon of choice another translation. I have however been ostracized because of my friendship of all who are a friend of Jesus indeed. I do however have an occasional dilemma. When we have a first time guest preacher at GBC I let them know that our pulpit standard is the Authorized Text. I do this for many reasons but the primary is that many English text are indeed corrupt and not dependable and since I don’t know what primary text a guest speaker may use I simply request that in our house we use a common text that is proven, reliable and is carried by most of the folks who come to worship. I would say that I do not scorn our members or their kids for using a more modern English translation as a personal choice and often recommend that if they’d like to be able to read along with me and still find help with difficult words that they carry a parallel translation. I have no problem with that and if they ask (most do) I can point them to the more reliable texts. Now…back to my reason for posting. I’ve had some brothers who respond to my request to use the same Bible text in the pulpit as do I when they are our guest in the pulpit treat me like I’m just an older preacher without proper “schooling” and maybe a little ignorant of the textual criticism debate. This is usually a younger brother and it’s always disappointing to me. I think we would all greatly benefit from a little understanding and forbearance (old English word:) one generation to another.
Gail J SummersNovember 26, 2019 at 1:05 am
I followed the discussions as best I could. A lot of them were over my head and VERY wordy. I am no scholar, only a sinner saved by grace and have been reading/studying the KJV for many years. I grew up with the KJV and will continue to believe it is THE preserved Word of God.
KJV does not have a copyright and the others do. Dollars are at the heart of the versions and a certain percentage of the text MUST BE CHANGED to come out with a new copyright. How much of God’s Word can be changed, watered down, words omitted, etc. and it STILL BE GOD’S INFALLIBLE WORD?
I sometimes use the other versions as a “reference book” should I have trouble understanding something (such as who is father or grandfather to someone), but all in all, there can be only ONE … true Word of God and I will continue to believe He has kept His Word through the KJV.
When HIS people all use different versions, there is confusion. Just try to say John 3:16 (at the same time) from all those versions. God is not the author of confusion. Man (and greed or possibly a desire to loosen the convicting of God’s Word by softening the tone) has decided God’s Word is…not His Word and man thinks he can come up with something better. Don’t call it Hell, call it Hades. Don’t call God Jehovah, just call Him Lord, don’t call the sin sodomy, but a perversion, call Lucifer the “morning star” (Isaiah 14:12)…oh, wait!! Isn’t that what Jesus’ name is in Revelation (Revelation 22:16)? (confusion?)
Take repentance out of the equation of salvation (Matt 9:13) and just “believe”. Well, Satan believes in Jesus Christ — but he won’t repent. And let’s talk on the importance of leaving in the “thee” and “thou” in the verses. It’s like the Southern “Ya’ll” and “All ya’ll” — there IS…a big difference.
King James Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
New King James Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Jesus is saying “I say unto thee (Nicodemus), Ye (everyone) must be born again.” NKJV says “Do not marvel that I said to you (Nichodemus), You (Nicodemus) must be born again.”
Just because we have gotten too lazy to correctly read the KJV properly does not mean it needs to be altered. An example I use when discussing Contemporary Christian Music (another controversial topic) is: You can find edible food in a trash can, but do you want to go digging there to find it? There may be good parts to the versions, but do you want to weed through the bad parts to find it? I’d rather rely on a Holy Bible (BTW…the word HOLY has been taken out of a lot of the translations) that I can depend on.
So…who killed Goliath in YOUR (b)Bible? 2 Samuel 21:19
ChadNovember 27, 2019 at 1:48 pm
All of my resources (i.e. Strongs concordance, topic references, Bible dictionaries) were built around the KJV. When I’m studying, I prefer to use those over a google search.
Joseph ElwellFebruary 1, 2020 at 2:56 am
I know that you were not that influenced by Jack Schaap. And I know his son now follows you and attends your meetings. You are making the same mistake that he made. You are casting doubt on the Word of God. And without repentance you may fall into the same sin. You mess with God’s Word and God will mess with your mind.
Just get a Bible and believe it and use it to bring people to Jesus. Then teach them. I believe the KJB is God’s Perfect, Preserved, Words of God! I have no proof of that I just have FAITH that God has preserved His Words for the world in English because English is the international language of our day.
Josh TeisFebruary 17, 2020 at 7:22 pm
Joseph. Thank you for commenting. I don’t have time to reply to each comment, but I did find yours particularly interesting. You seem to associate loyalty to the the English Version of the Bible called King James to moral fidelity. This is fascinating. What do you do with all of the men who were loyal to the King James Version but were disloyal to their wives? What do you do with men like Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, and Adrian Rogers who do not hold a KJVO position but are beyond exemplary in their personal morality?
Chad MathenyFebruary 19, 2020 at 3:09 pm
Joseph has real issues. Strange doctrines regarding recorded sermons, splitting churches, and even suing churches in court. A book could be written. Joseph’s criticism isn’t worth the time taken to read it. Being a Ruckmanite only scratches the surface with Joseph. Blessings to you Josh.