King James Only?

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From the very beginning, the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy has been at the forefront of our teaching ministry. As vital as this doctrine is, it sometimes becomes necessary to clarify what it does (and does not) truly mean. For some well-meaning Christians, innerancy is defined as a being a particular translation, namely, the King James version.

One of the more divisive teachings in the Church today is the debate over Bible Translations. Some of a more liberal theological view would tell us that as all translations are influenced by the thoughts and prejudices of the translators, that no Bible is completely accurate. This view is generally articulated as a statement along the line of, ďThe Bible contains the Word of GodĒ. Needless to say, we reject this notion in light of Scriptures such as 2 Timothy 3:16, which tells us that "ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." The word "inspiration" literally means "God breathed." Although our modern versions may not carry the same weight as the originals, we firmly trust that a just God has seen to it that we accurately have His Word today.

At the opposite extreme, there is a school of thought that advances the theory that the King James translation of 1611 is the only reliable translation of Godís Word. This school is by no means uniform in belief; King James advocates vary from those that simply prefer the Jacobean language, to those that have textual criticisms of more modern translations to those that believe that the King James Bible was directly inspired utterance, and that those that do not use it are in eternal danger. While we in no way, shape, or form would discourage the choice of any literal translation over any other (and actually agree with some of the textual criticisms of the KJV), we cordially beg to differ with those that hold that the KJV is the only inspired Word of God, and it is to this group that the following thoughts are addressed:

Once again, let us make ourselves clear: We are not, in any way trying to demean the King James Bible. We believe that every Bible student's library should begin with the KJV. For nearly 500 years, this venerable translation has stood the test of time. It has a dignity about it that the newer translations simply do not posess. Plus, practically all Bible study tools (concordances, lexicons, etc.) are designed for use with the KJV.

The arguments used to support the King James Only position are often based on revisionist history and sensationalistic conspiracy theories. When properly understood, Bible versions such as the New American Standard, New International, Amplified and New Living translations can greatly enhance your personal Bible study. They do tend to be more readable than the KJV, and sometimes (but not always)offer more accurate translations of the original texts. For those wishing to study this topic further, see James White's excellent book The King James Only Controversy.

We will close with some wise words from Josh McDowell: "No one manuscript or translation is inspired, only the originals. However, for all intents and purposes, they are virtually inspired since, with today's great number of manuscripts available for scrutiny, the science of textual criticism can render us an accurate representation. Therefore, we can be assured that when we read the Bible we are reading the inspired Word of God." (1)


1-McDowell, Josh. A Ready Defense. Page 177,Here's Life Publishers Inc.San Bernidino,California,1990)


© 2006 DIP



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