An amazing thing actually happened last night, October 31st, in Canton, NC. On Saturday, I was driving back from our Fall Festival and the local radio station reported this event as national news. A Baptist church full of Christians intentionally destroyed the Word of God. Copies of the Word of God were destroyed by cutting them to shreds. (The intent was to burn them but they got rained out). Christians destroying the Bible—how is that God-honoring or God-glorifying? Bibles which contained the gospel and the message of God’s redemption were destroyed. Bibles which told of God’s love for man and the story of salvation were destroyed. This event was billed as that which is pleasing to God—was it?
When has the destruction of His Word, or books that contain His Word, ever been pleasing to God?
The defense from Amazing Grace Baptist Church is that these Bibles only contain a perverted version of the Word of God because they are NOT the Word of God. In their opinion, only KJV Bibles are the Word of God. All other English Bibles translated into language that is less archaic are not acceptable. The old English must be preserved; anything less is not God-glorifying.
But why is this? Why did God choose to do something for English speaking people that He didn’t do for Hebrews, or Greeks, or those who speak Latin? Why did He do it only for English speaking people?
Why didn’t He do it for the Germans or the French?
Where is the prophetic promise to English speaking people that God would inspire an English translation that would be superior to all other translations?
God’s promises of the preservation of His Word are not unique only to a particular culture or language. Has not God preserved His Word in German? Has not God preserved His Word in Korean? The answer is YES—unequivocally YES!
But there is NO indication that God has chosen to stop permitting the translation of His Word.
Some ridiculously suggest: Only one of these renditions is the Word of God and it is the rendition that preserves the whosoever not whoever or the one that preserves the “th” in believeth instead of believes.
John 3:16 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.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Is there a difference between eternal and everlasting? Or do both communicate the same truth? If both are acceptable words indicating life without end, then are both the Word of God when describing the life we receive from God to those who believe upon the name of Christ Jesus?
Now this does NOT mean “any old (or new) Bible will do,” but that certainly doesn’t mean I must burn anything that doesn’t meet my standard.
If you prefer the KJV, praise the Lord—but is it really God’s will to see less than KJV Bibles burned?
Since Roger Williams founded the first Baptist Church in Province, Rhode Island, Baptists have consistently stood for religious freedom.
If another Christian, who is a priest unto themselves before God and man, chooses to read a book from Pastor Rick Warren or do their devotions with the New International Bible, what right do I have to condemn them—isn’t that the role of the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth?
Likewise, if I choose to bring to someone’s attention the failure to properly translate a verse in the TNIV, what right does someone else have to condemn me, in the execution of my pastoral responsibilities, before the flock that is called Berean Baptist Church?
If a precedent is set for burning books we don’t agree with, as an act that is pleasing to God, where does it end and who will ultimately make the final decision on what books are permitted in America and which ones are not permitted? Will we have a book czar?
I really don’t think anyone wants to go down that road, do we? I think the Book of Mormon is pure fiction having no value whatsoever—however, I am willing to fight for a Mormon’s right to have and read the Book of Mormon because I recognize that same right also preserves my right to have and to read the Bible (in any and all translations) as I am led by God the Spirit.
Baptists who burn Bibles and books, as a religious ceremony, are only one or two steps away from much more violent acts which surely could not be pleasing to our Lord who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”
You can be sure of one thing; no one thinks of burning books as an act of making peace.
There are some still alive today who can remember the first news reports of Germans burning Bibles in the months before the invasion of Poland and the start of World War II—what, my friends, is the difference?
Why was it wrong for Nazis to burn books before World War II, but today it is an act of worship, pleasing to the Lord, begun with prayer, associated with the body of Christ, done in a church and accompanied by hymns of worship and much rejoicing—how is that?
See for yourself how the pastor is promoting this church service on his website and is quite frustrated with other Baptists who chose not participate in such an event.
He even laments, why is it that Baptists will unite against the liquor industry but will not unite against the perversions of the Word of God—how is that?
Am I to compare a bottle of Jack Daniels to the NIV and have just as much a passion to destroy both? Is that how I am to think? I think not.
If I could only see the same definitive prohibitions against the ESV as I see against drunkenness, I would consider taking such a stand.
Ask me to show you where drunkenness is prohibited in the Bible, and that is easy to do.
If you prefer to show me a passage where the ESV translation committee did not do justice to the text, I will gladly listen to such an opinion and evaluate your position—but burn the entire book—is that really the correct solution?
If there was just one Bible verse that says God loves the KJV better than other translations—if there was just one Bible verse that indicates He prefers Elizabethan English to contemporary English--but the opposite is found to be true with the reality that the New Testament was written in common Greek. Jesus spoke to the common people in a way that the common person could understand what He said.
The preacher who uses the KJV will, throughout His sermon, seek to help the congregation understand what the Bible is saying to the people and he, the preacher, speaks in the language of his people. He doesn’t seek to preserve the Elizabethan English with the way he speaks. And when there is a word like “concupiscence” in the text he is preaching from, notice how he stops and explains the word often using words found in other translations—indirectly, what is the difference?
Passages from the Psalms, originally written in Hebrew, are quoted to justify God’s love for Elizabethan English—how is that? I believe God is well pleased anytime a group of translators assembles with the primary purpose of giving a people the very Word of God in their own language beginning with the Septuagint and moving forward today.
If you prefer the Elizabethan English, Praise the Lord, I will fight for your right to love, cherish and use the KJV Bible with the exact same energy I will devote to preserving another brother in Christ’s right to use his ESV for which he has the same right to love, cherish and use.
That is precisely the religious freedom this great country we call America was founded upon, and we must fight to keep those precious rights with our very blood if that becomes necessary.