What originally started with a preacher in the Seventh Day Adventist Cult’s not liking that the more modern translations eroded support for their doctrinal statements has blown into a growing trend in the fundamental portions of American Christianity.
This group believes that not only is the King James Version (KJV) the best translation, but they go one step further in elevating this Bible to the point of declaring it to be the only Bible to have the Inspired Word of God, and then calling out all modern translations as evil or from the Devil because of the differences between them.
I know many people that prefer the KJV. Growing up, it was the Bible that I read from, and it was the Bible that I memorized. When my church switched to reading from the New International Version (NIV), I stayed with the King James. My Christian School and college, Bob Jones University, both had it as their preaching Bible.
I know many people believe that the scholarship and the history of the KJV give it a predominant place, and that many hold its word choice and phrasing in high regard. Nothing I have said in these posts prior or this one should be read to say that I have something against the KJV or consider it inferior. It is a good translation.
For those people that believe that KJV is what they should read, but they also agree that other modern translations like the NASB, ESV and NIV are acceptable, then there is little burden of proof for them to muster. They can have any reason they want personally, and if they’re trying to convince another, they simply have to present a decent argument.
For example, simply pointing out the differences between English translations combined with arguing for the reading the King James could be persuasive enough.
The problem is that the proponents of KJVO do not realize how high the bar is for arguing that the King James is the only accurate, inspired Word of God in the English Language.
This is why the typical discussion ends up flailing, with arguments that are often circular and contradictory.
For example, if you spend any time researching this topic, it won’t be long before you find someone claiming that the NIV, NASB, or other versions have “removed” quantities of things that the KJV has. It’s really impressive when you see “hundreds of descriptions of Jesus as God have been removed!”, but it’s a trap.
You see, you cannot prove X to be true by saying that because Y is not X, then X has to be true, which is what they’re saying. You would have to compare the documents.
Which is why this whole debate goes all over the place. It starts with “the best English Bible” but quickly deteriorates into “the Textus Receptus (TR) is the best” and then wanders around there a bit.
You get arguments about how the readability scores for the KJV are like 6th grade whereas other translations are much higher. Not only is this laughable if they’re using computer software, anyone who’s actually read through the Bible in King James knows that it’s not that easy—it can all depend on the passage read, and what rules one uses for readability.
Each and every argument I’ve seen are either easily addressed or dismissed.
What Is The Burden?
The burden of proof to say that the KJV is the only English Bible are enormously high. How can you start with something that 90% the same as NIV, NASB, NKJV, ESV, does not have any doctrinal differences, and then say that they are not just inferior, but to say they are of the Devil?
That would take God mentioning the KJV in a unknown part of Romans (“And Lo, there was a King James of the Anglos that took My words and translated them into a barbaric English, and hitherto the LORD blessed that book and condemned all those that read the other translations to everlasting torment”), a major doctrinal error, or some other major problem.
That’s why I condemn the New World Translation of the Jehovah witnesses, for they commit the second error by erasing Jesus’ deity.
I would go so far as to say that some of the derivate works of the NIV are also in that area—like the NIVI or the TNIrV. They are dangerously close if not in that camp.
Slippery slope arguments about how, down the road these versions are going to keep erasing God don’t hold any weight. The versions today are what’s in scope.
So far, I’ve read nothing, and heard no arguments that would meet the high standard.
Lastly, if the modern translations are faithful to the Greek of a set of manuscripts, and the King James is faithful to a set of manuscripts, is it wrong to have both available in English? They were available in Greek, and yet we read no pronouncements about the evil copies of the Epistle of John floating around in the New Testament era.
Perhaps a little more humility is in order all around.