KJV Only or Not?
Matthew 10:16; “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” – Geneva Study Bible
Around 1999 I wrote an article for the Saints Alive newsletter when I worked for Ed Decker at the ministry. From the time Ed opened the doors of SA until that day he had published his newsletters in KJV only.
Ed asked me for an article, so I wrote it and sent it in to him. What I hadn’t paid attention to was that I quoted scripture from my NASB (New American Standard Bible). Ed prayed before he sent it to the printers and the Lord told him to send it as is.
Within a day of sending out the newsletters we began reaping what we had sown. We lost many of our supporters, but then gained others. Ed’s response in the following newsletter taught me how God works. He called me into his office as our phones began ringing and said he agreed with me in Bible translations and that God speaks in all languages. Now I can’t speak for Ed; only Ed can do that, but I do know his personal choice of bible translations is the NKJV.
As I sit here more than a decade later I am facing the same topic but in a different venue. So let me say this about the KJV only issue.
I have chosen to publish the website with KJV references because that is what the Mormon people use as their Bible. I like the KJV and refer to it often during my personal study times during each day. It’s a beautiful Bible and I enjoy it immensely. I also employ and rely upon Strong’s Concordance and English dictionaries. The Bible I personally use every day and carry with me to church every Sunday is the NASB.
I use study tools from Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Charles Stanley, Chip Thompson, J. Vernon McGee, Martin Luther, Adrian Rogers, Walter Martin, Moody and the list goes on!
I am totally convinced God Almighty speaks in many languages in addition to 1611 English. I am reminded of it each day as I study His words in my NASB and when I receive my web-tracking report on how many people have used the Alta Vista Babelfish program we’ve installed on our website. People from every nation have visited our website and used the translation tool.
As you can imagine and know for yourselves, there are also countless Bibles written which are blasphemous and not worthy of mention. I live by God’s word and obey Him when He said prove that which is good, honorable and worthy of praise. If it does not line up with what God says and coincides with His intent then I will be the first to run the other way. And while I am not a theologian, nor am I a language expert, I can’t for the life of me understand the divisiveness in the KJV issue that seems to plague us as Christians in the English speaking nations.
I am certain God speaks to the people from Sai Pan or Guam in the Mariana Islands through their Chamorro bibles and to the people in Hernhut,Germany in their German bibles.
I am comforted in knowing He has spoken to the Kenyans from their Ekegusii Bibles as they write in to thank us for having the courage to publish our website.
I’m reminded of God’s omniscience every time I look at the pictures my daughter Jacqui brought back with her from the two month mission trip she took to Ethiopia. They handed out Bibles in Amharic, served hundreds of people and led many to the Lord. We are also grateful for the opportunity Jacqui had in southwestern Ethiopia sharing the gospel with the Kara tribe on the Omo River.
I’m reminded of His omnipotence when I hear from my dear Portuguese pastor friend named Luiz.
I am humbled beyond words when I read my ancestor’s Welsh Bible knowing that not all of them were tricked by the likes of Joseph Smith and his teachings.
I’m reminded of how blessed I am by knowing John Johnson who is a Nepali national and got saved on a mountain top in Nepal while praying to a Hindu god. He now works for the American Bible Society and translates the Bible from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic into two different Hindi languages.
I know God’s overwhelming love for HIV infected Umi, Fisya and Yeshi, the children Kirk and I sponsor through World Vision in Ethiopia and live hundreds of kilometers from each other and speak different languages.
I am filled with awe each time my youngest daughter Axi returns from a mission trip to Bohol, Philippines. They share the gospel at the schools of deaf children in the poorest part of the Philippines and have seen many children accept Christ Jesus through the Bibles in their native tongue – Pilipino.
I am grateful to Him who supplies our every need in being able to sponsor little Mario in Los Cedros, Nicaragua. Our church adopted an entire town and has sent our own members who are doctors, teachers and engineers to help them build homes, a health center and schools. The Bible he reads is in Spanish.
I still can’t believe Jesus allowed me to live next door to the Kim family who moved here from Korea. Pastor Shin and his family now live in Minneapolis as he is a translator for IHOP (International House of Prayer). And yes, their Bible is in Korean and yes, they also know the One True God.
I stand in awe and have learned so much about Him through my friend Daniel who is a Messianic Jewish believer and director of Chosen People Ministries in London. His Bible is in Hebrew.
I pray daily for the missionaries who hosted a booth next to ours at Seattle Missionsfest. They distribute bibles throughout the poorest tribes of Africa to the tribal elders. The Bibles are picture bibles. They go out and teach the gospel to the tribal fathers and elders and they in turn teach the gospel to their tribesmen.
I am often reminded of God’s omnipresence when I think of my friends who live here in Seattle but are from Paraguay. Eleanor’s grandmother escaped the horrible regime of Stalin in Russia only to be put into prison by Hitler’s henchmen while escaping through Germany. The family finally made it to Paraguay and then immigrated here to the states. The grandmother taught all her children and grandchildren how to read and speak several languages so they could read the Bible wherever they were living. Russian, German, Spanish and English is spoken by all of the family members. Their personal favorite Bible is in German.
They used it while serving missions in China and personally delivered pages from the Chinese Bible to those in their home churches.
I am left speechless each time one of our church missionaries return from India to hear of how grateful the Christians are for the gift of their bibles we send to them each year.
I am honored to pray for and support some good friends of ours who packed up and moved to Haiti to preach the gospel and help rebuild that country from the utter destruction after the earthquake and floods. Their bibles are in Spanish and some are in French.
I always learned something new about God from my dear, dear friends Bob and Jean Boardman before we lost both of them a few years ago. Bob got his throat box and part of his right hand shot off during WW2. He then turned around to serve God with his new bride and to raise his family in the very place he got shot during the war just to minister to the Japanese people in Okinawa. Every one of the people he encountered during those thirty two years used their Japanese Bibles not printed in KJV English.
Now I am just one little person living in the outskirts of Seattle. I’m not famous, I’m not a language expert, and I’m not a heretic, of this I am sure. I also know that God has allowed me to meet all the people I’ve mentioned for a certain purpose. There are no less than 20 languages spoken through just the people I know. After my experience with Ed at Saints Alive and with all the people God has introduced me to, I know what that purpose is.
God is not a respecter of persons. He looks upon all of us the same and sees us as His children when we are washed with His Son’s precious, holy blood. He told us in His word that it wouldn’t return void in Isaiah 55:11 and His word is pure in Proverbs 30:5. He also told us His word would endure forever in Isaiah 40:8 and Jesus Himself said not one jot or tittle would pass away until all was fulfilled – Matthew 5:18.
I don’t know about you but I believe what He’s saying. I also know there are indeed some horrible bible translations and it’s your job as a Christian to stay away from those things not from God. However, to arbitrarily throw out all Bible translations but one in 1611 English just doesn’t seem rational.
This line of thinking is saying that God is not able to produce any other human being with the talent or desire to keep His word pure. If God can’t do that maybe God can’t ensure the gates of hell won’t prevail against His church as He promised in Matthew 16:18 or maybe God can’t provide good pastors for his flocks. Are God’s arms strong enough to hold a grieving mother through His words on a page? What about the man who was just furloughed from his job? What about my dear friend Jean Boardman who lost her husband and best friend Bob after 55 years of marriage?
I would also suggest to the reader to take a look at the attitude of some that is attached to the KJV only issue. Some, not all, of the proponents of this theory are almost rabid in their approach with this. If it’s truly the only way we can hear from God, then why the ferocious defensiveness? I’ve come to the realization that Jesus is a big God; He doesn’t need people with a bad attitude to spread His good news.
There are even websites and ministries out there with the KJV only theory that also condemns Strong’s Concordances, the Matthew Henry Commentary, Brown, Driver and Briggs, as well as many other very reputable dictionaries, commentaries and concordances. One went so far as to condemn these and “all Greek and Hebrew Study Tools and Interlinears”.
My question for the latter example is why should we even trust your books if every dictionary is condemned? What makes this particular insight the only way? As I’ve stated many times before – I did that for thirty years with an organization who thought they held the only truth. I hadn’t even heard of Palm Sunday until I got saved on that very day. I was always taught other people “knew better”. Really?
I hope you’d think about this – heavily. If we’re to condemn all Greek and Hebrew Study tools then how are we to gain a deeper understanding of Him? Why wouldn’t God provide reputable scholars? Why are they all to be condemned? The Catholic Church pulled this off for over a thousand years. They didn’t want the truth of God to be handled by the average, every day person so they burned the translators and publishers of His word.
We should be praising God every day for His gift of Tyndale, Wycliffe, Hus, Knox and Luther to name a few. I have to wonder if they’d be condemned under the same pen used by today’s critics…
The goal of this article isn’t to be divisive. It’s to encourage people to think things through. Know that there are indeed bad translations and bad people in this world who are intentionally out to trick God’s people. Then there are those who’ve been misinformed who go about misinforming others. Test the spirits as John warned us to do and follow Him – all the way to Jerusalem.
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18
Leading Mormons to the Real Jesus Christ