The pendulum is swinging
"You're damned if you don't read the King James Bible,"
a nice Christian man snarled in my face. Hmmm...what nasty people I think to
myself. Yes, the preservation cult is alive and well and within its ranks are
some obnoxious, mean folk who might mean well -– but have learnt from their
peers, that it is acceptable to approach people in a manner which is in my view
neither Christ-like nor civil. Certainly not a great evangelical tool...would
you buy a used faith from this man?
I have read accounts of believers in Communist Nations, who
have access only to 'small torn out sections of the Bible'...they cherish
this portion of the Word, they read it and meditate on it and worship the God
who wrote it -– albeit with a very limited view of the whole counsel of
Scripture. Perhaps 'loving the truth' is more desirable than the notion that
a human can possess all truth. God seems to delight in those who love truth...
2 Thessalonians 2:13
I was raised the son of a travelling preacher -– a new
denomination and religious culture every week. My Christian experience has
something of a backdrop of discussions on this type of topic... arguments about
Scriptural authenticity, truth and correct interpretations. You could get killed
for revealing to the wrong people which version you read...not dissimilar to the
response one receives when questioning some people as to why they feel guilty if
they miss making their weekly tithe...certain issues are sacred cows.
My father raised us on the King James version of the
Scriptures... I still use it today -– I like it probably because I'm used to
it and enjoy searching out depth which is not always obvious. I also utilise as
many other versions of Scripture as I can, clarifying the issues raised by my
lack of understanding of Victorian English... Often I will need to go back to
Hebrew or Greek to get further clarity -– versions vary.
There are plenty of books slamming the KJV, and then of
course the counter argument writings, those who regard it as 'The Final
Authority'. I read books such as "New Age Bible Versions" by GA Riplinger
and learn a great deal from what is presented. This book claims: that the King
James version of the Scriptures is infallible...100% accurate. I struggle with
this -– from my limited experience of transliterating just one book of the
Bible (Genesis) from Hebrew to English, which took a whole year -– I found lots
and lots of 'interpretable opportunities', where the writers of the King
James version had to decide on a meaning, when in fact the passage could have
developed in several directions. Context - cultural, grammatical and personal
all come into play!...and so a version is born. Interestingly, none of
the reformers had copies of this 'Authorised version' -– it hadn't been
released yet! They managed to create suitable impact for the Kingdom of God
without the 'Final authority'...although they utilised the same texts the
King James version was developed from.
I won't even venture into the integrity or motivations of
King James himself. Humans are limited! Bible scholars are limited.... Bible
teachers are limited....versions will therefore have limitations attached by way
of their association to their authors. Before someone begins preparing a fire
and stake scenario -– I might add that I believe totally that the Scriptures
are the inspired and infallible Word of God - without error! These manuscripts
were painstakingly cared for and preserved, respected and revered by those who
fearfully handled them... I believe they carry the 'Seal Of God'. It's the
versions and translations which have human finger prints, and I choose to 'question
them all' as opposed to sanctioning only my preference. My belief is founded
not in knowledge or theological prowess -– I possess too little of both of
these to be taken too seriously, although I take God's Word very seriously and
draw as much as I can from the most reliable theological sources I can find.
Until I was exposed to Jewish culture and tradition I missed a lot of depth. For
people, with limited access to knowledge due to restricted resources or skill
-– use what you have and allow the Spirit of Truth to guide you. I keep in mind
that we can become as pedantic as we like -– as pure as the most ardent puritan
-– and we'll still fall short of the glory of God and be in need of His grace...
but as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
To say 'It doesn't matter which version you read' is
untrue. We are talking about God's revelation of Himself to us... it is a most
important issue!! However, the purpose of His revealed Word to us is
infinitely more important: that we would grow in our relationship with Him and
bring Him pleasure. If we love the truth, and are prepared to listen to the
promptings of God's Spirit as we open His Word, we will grow. If we are not
being challenged, not hearing from God and not witnessing growth -– we need to
seek another diet! For some, this will mean getting more fellowship, for others
disciplining slack lives, for others allowing themselves to be exposed to
differing points of view, for others -– putting away a version of the Bible
which is not revealing spiritual life... I have read the Living Bible on a
number of occasions and have ended up on my hands and knees worshipping God! The
message so simple and easy to respond to... yet, it is only a paraphrase of
You may note that I haven't named the version I feel
people should read. I can't.
In my view the KJV has inaccuracies -– but is the
translation I am comfortable with. The more serious issues of watering down God's
Word (as discussed in Barry's January 2002 article "Renewed Testament")
making it say something completely out of context (with the original
manuscripts) is another issue which will require further discussion. I know
numerous Bible Teachers who use the NIV and are happy with it's level of
To live in 'Simple faith' is a gift -– if it becomes too
complicated or overly coloured by the thinking of our peers -– it's no longer
simple! Lets fill ourselves with the Word of God, and trust that the Author will
lead us into truth because we love it so...