KJVonly and Being Doctrinally Sound

Is it possible for a church to be considered doctrinally sound and not use the AV or KJV Bible?

Some Baptist churches and preachers who are infatuated with one particular English translation would suggest that it is impossible for a church to be doctrinally sound if they don’t use the KJV or teach that the KJV is God’s Word for English speaking people.

The argument goes something like this: God has ordained that English speaking people use the KJV and since that English speaking church doesn’t use or strongly promote the KJV then they are not doctrinally sound.

Independent thinking people can quickly find the huge holes in this argument.

French speaking Baptists don’t use the AV/KJV Bible so they are NOT doctrinally sound—correct?

And the response is that’s ridiculous.

Of course, preachers, teachers and churches can be doctrinally sound without using the KJV—everyone knows that. Only an idiot could suggest that a French or Chinese speaking Christian must to use a KJV Bible or a derivative of it to be doctrinally sound.

Yet KJV-only Baptists who insist that one must use and read the KJV to be doctrinally sound have a higher and different standard that applies to English speaking Baptist Churches.

Where does this come from? What Bible text is presented to justify a doctrine or standard that teaches God has a Bible just for English speaking Christians?

These KJV-only Baptists believe that only one particular way of rendering the Greek to the English is God’s Word. For example “whosoever” in John 3:16 is the Word of God but a rendering of the same Greek word into “whoever” would not be the Word of God.

Most recently I ran across a KJV-only website that provided a chart of examples like this including “Saviour” spelled with 7 letters as acceptable but “Savior” spelled with only six letters is unacceptable—really? It is hard to imagine with everything we have to “earnestly contend for” that KJVO Baptists have time to contend for seven letters instead of six letter Saviors. Early fundamentalists would be appalled at what some are contending for today.

See for yourself the holes in this argument.

How could one take or quote 2 Timothy 3:16 in a Spanish, Chinese, French, or Korean Bible and then attempt to prove that 2 Timothy 3:16 justifies one particular translation. Yet, this is exactly what is happening.

The truth of God’s Word rises above one language and transcends languages.

Biblical truth is not limited to a particular people or language. Many Bible verses can be translated, in English, multiple ways:

• For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
• For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Ask a KJVO’er, if it not acceptable to drop the “th” in believeth and render it “believes,” then why don’t we still use the original 1611. Why aren’t we trying to preserve the most ancient form of Elizabethan English?

Both renderings accurately communicate the truth of John 3:16.

There isn’t one Bible verse that suggests that English speaking Christians must use one particular Bible.

If there was such a verse it would have to be classified as prophetic in nature. For example, if Revelation 22.19 is used to justify the AV/KVJ Bible then one would have to conclude that John was speaking prophetically in this verse.

Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

“The book of this prophecy” would not be the book of Revelation that John wrote in Greek but the KJV Bible created in 1611. Once again, it is ridiculous to suggest that John was writing prophetically toward one particular translation, rendered one particular way, for one particular group of believers who prefer an Elizabethan way of speaking. This book of this prophecy is the book of Revelation—not the New Testament and not the Bible. The Bible as we know it was not fully assembled into books and bound together until decades after John wrote verse 19.

Does God prefer “ye” instead of “you?” Does God prefer “shew” over “show?” What matters most is an accurate, word for word, as literal and faithful translation as possible. Paraphrases are unacceptable for serious study and translations which communicate a liberal bias must be rejected, but every Bible doesn’t fall into the must be rejected category.

John R. Rice, W.B. Riley, and R.A. Torrey, all true fundamentalists, did not ever suggest or preach that one particular translation was perfect.

The important doctrine of inerrancy applied to the original manuscripts and not one particular translation.

One must stick their theological head in the sand in order to deny the textual variants among the manuscripts. But these variants do NOT compromise the absolute essential doctrines to be sound. Doctrines like:

1. The virgin birth of Jesus.
2. The sinless life of Jesus.
3. The substitutionary atonement of Christ for the sins of the world.
4. The bodily resurrections.
5. The imminent and personal return of Jesus.
6. Salvation by grace and grace alone through repentance and faith in Jesus.
7. The Trinity.
8. The deity and eternality of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God.
9. The inerrancy of the Word of God.

Let a church or preacher compromise of these essentials and he may be described as not being doctrinally sound, but what Bible translation a person prefers or uses does not fall into the same category.

The Apostle’s doctrine is the doctrine that must be followed to be sound and a translation that wasn’t even in existence cannot be elevated to the same category.

Then there is doctrine that must be followed, in addition to the above, that makes someone a Baptist. Things like:

1. The absolute separation of Church and State.
2. Only two church ordinances: The Lord’s Supper and Baptism
3. Believer’s baptism by immersion only is necessary for church membership
4. Priesthood of the Believer
5. Soul Liberty
6. Local church autonomy.

These are beliefs that separate Baptists from Methodist, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, etc. But again only an extreme minority within Evangelical or Fundamental Christendom would insist that a church had to use one special Bible in order to be doctrinally sound.

In respect for the Baptist distinctives of soul liberty and local church autonomy, let a church use what Bible it believes is the most accurate rendition of the Hebrew and Greek, but don’t judge a church as heretical—or not doctrinally sound—because it doesn’t use the same Bible or sing from the same hymnal.

Instead prove from the Word of God how a church isn’t doctrinally sound—quote verses and give examples.

Far too many Baptists are listening blindly to their pastor’s message without analyzing what he is saying for themselves. Make your pastor prove to you that his interpretation for the verse is grammatically, historically, and contextually correct. Pattern your study of his messages after the church at Berea who studied to see for themselves what the Scripture said.

Here is a simple but defining thought:

If a KJVonly Baptist can use 2 Tim 3:16 to prove that the KJV is the right Bible what keep an ESVonly Baptist from quoting the same verse to prove that the ESV is the right Bible?

Now if either desires to discuss translation procedures, textual bias, preferred original language families, and dynamic equivalency versus literal word-for-word renderings that is a completely different argument that must be discussed without Scriptural support. But let each commit to proving their case without attempting to manipulate a Bible verses—let them prove their case in a way that their members can understand the strength of one Bible translation over the weakness of another.

If he (your pastor) is fair, he will not attempt to prove one translation is inerrant. That is an impossible case to prove, unless he subscribes to the theory of double inspiration like Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, FL. But most KJV-only Baptists reject double inspiration while contending for perfect preservation—which is essentially talking out of both sides of one’s mouth—because the multitude of copies of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts prove that God chose not to lead the copyists the same way He led the authors—His Word is inerrant and infallible in the original autographs—which typically lasted only about a decade after they were first penned. The copies of the manuscripts contain minor differences. Today, we have copies of those manuscripts in sufficient quantity to give us tremendous assurance to the truth of the Bible, in as much as, it is properly translated from the oldest, best and majority of the manuscripts in the most conservative, literal and orthodox manner as possible. The AV/KJV version serves as a great example of such a Bible provided archaic words are understood with their archaic definition.

1 comment:

  1. Praise God for you Pastor Sean! I received a Bible for Christmas, and it's in a translation Nate and I have found to be questionable (NLT). So I came to your blog here figuring you'd have posted something about translations, and sure enough, it's the most recent post. This is exactly what I needed to hear, you couldn't have been more concise, "Paraphrases are unacceptable for serious study and translations which communicate a liberal bias must be rejected..."

    Thanks again for having such a thorough blog and being a wonderful leader for us. :) God bless!

    -Shannon Harris