KJV-Only A Salvation Issue?

KJV-Only
A Salvation Issue?

I can recall when an inquirer asked me a penetrating question one time about a certain Biblical issue.  She asked quite directly, “Do you think this is a salvation issue?”  It would probably surprise the reader to know the issue she had in mind, but the question itself is an important one.  Is the issue we are dealing with a salvation issue?  Can the King James Version issue be a salvation issue?

If someone where to ask you this question, in regard to the issue of whether the King James Version of the Bible is vital for one’s salvation, how would you answer it?  If I were asked the question, I might feel impelled to answer, “It may be, or it may not be.  It all depends!”  Before you take this answer and run with it, I had better explain a little further.  I don’t mean, “If one fails to use the King James Version of the Bible, exclusively, it is a matter of salvation?’’ Not at all!  In fact, I mean the very opposite!

While apparently some KJ-Only proponents question the salvation of those who use other translations, it may be more accurate to reverse the table.  Can one become so devoted to the KJV as an exclusive translation and so closed, mean-spirited, and belligerent, that it does become a matter of their salvation?  However one answers this, I believe that one should give serious consideration to all of the elements in this matter.  If one zealously contends for the KJV only, does this reveal a gross ignorance of Biblical translation principles?  Does it reveal an ignorance of history?  Does it reveal a lack of love for the truth, as it came to us in the original Greek autographs?  Does it reveal a closed mind and heart, one unwilling to examine the evidence?  Does it show a loyalty to the English language text that is only 400-years-old, more than a devotion to the Greek text that reaches closer to the actual writings of the apostles?  Does it indicate more loyalty to a fundamentalist position than it does the truth of God itself?  These are questions worth pondering!

These kinds of questions show what I mean when I raise the matter of the KJV-Only position being a salvation matter.  I am convinced that there is much truth in the KJV of the Bible.  I am convinced that saving truth is revealed in this translation—and probably unnumbered multitudes have been saved through reading and listening to the King James Version.  For several hundreds of years, it was the dominant version in the English-speaking world, and it did inestimable good.  But how do we view this matter today—when more accurate translations are available, when more than 5,000 manuscripts are available, and not merely a half dozen?  How do we view this matter, when books and websites are available to show the truth on this matter—yet some refuse to consider whether they have been deceived?

Some years ago, I learned of a King James Only church in our area and I visited the site.  The name itself indicated that it was a “KJ” church!  I was amazed that a church would go to that extent to promote their opinion that the KJV is the only acceptable translation of the Bible!  Doesn’t it make one wonder what Paul or Peter or John—or Jesus Christ Himself—would think of this kind of loyalty to an archaic and inferior translation of the Bible?

Let’s consider how far some have gone in their unthinking loyalty to the KJV-Only position.  Notice the following statements from a King James Only church or fellowship of churches (of a Fundamentalist Baptist orientation).  My comments (in blue) will follow each portion:

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THE WORD OF GOD

a) We believe that the Holy Bible is a supernatural Book; that it is the very God-breathed Word; that it is the full, the final, and the complete revelation of God’s will to man; that it has God the Holy Spirit for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any admixture of error for its matter; that it was written by holy men of old as they were moved by the Holy Spirit; that it is verbally and plenary inspired and a perfect treasure of holy instruction; and that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and is, therefore, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions shall be tried.

 

We heartily agree with this statement that shows a high regard for the truthfulness of Holy Scripture and its inerrancy.  Indeed, all Scripture is inspired of God and authoritative for belief and practice (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  That word will last forever (1 Peter 1:23-25; Matt. 24:35) and we must revere it with all of our heart!

 

b) We believe the King James Version to be the preserved Word of God for the English speaking people, faithful and true to the original autographs (Textus Receptus & Masoretic); that other versions are inferior and flawed, with most being outright intentional perversions of God’s Word; that other English versions are totally unnecessary, as the King James is not only faithful, but an absolutely effective conveyance of God’s message to English speaking mankind.  We believe that the King James Bible does not just contain the Word of God but is the very Word of God for English speaking peoples.

 

This statement begs the question.  One who thoroughly studies the 5,000 Greek manuscripts (that reach back to the second century) and compares these with a handful of manuscripts that are very late, will see the folly of equating the Textus Receptus with the original autographs.  Some of the articles we are including in this website will show the truthfulness of this.  While it is regretfully true that many modern versions are “flawed,” as this statement says, it is also true that most of them do rest on a better Greek text.  Some of the modern translations do represent honest attempts by capable, Scripture-believing scholars to accurately translate the text for the spiritual benefit of the readers.

 

The claim that the KJV is “absolutely effective” in conveying God’s message to English readers is definitely false.  Even if one only looks at the English language used in the 400-year-old KJV, one can easily see that hundreds of words have either changed meanings or are no longer in use.  Archaic language, to which come tenaciously cling, does obscure the meaning of God’s message as originally given 2,000 years ago!

 

c) We believe that the King James Bible should be used in all English preaching services, in the Sunday School, in all English Christian literature and publications, in all memory work, and in all other places except in the case of showing errors of the other versions; that all the verses in the King James Bible belong in the Old and the New Testaments because they represent words that were in the original Texts; and that, though there might be other renderings from the original languages which could also be acceptable to us today, for an exhaustive study of any of the words or verses in the Bible, the student should return directly to the Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text and the Traditional Received Greek Text rather than to any other translation for help.  

 

If the KJV represents an inferior English text, resting on an inferior Greek text, it is a serious and tragic error to tell others that they must read the KJV only and only use the KJV in public assemblies—and not even use other translations to honestly compare readings.  This is a serious and deceptive error, one that prevents the people from more clearly understanding the very truth of God!  In an professed effort to be loyal to the Scriptures, this position is actually obscuring the Word of God and preventing others from better understanding that Word for their spiritual and eternal benefit!

 

We do believe that the King James Bible is without error and that no other rendering could “better” convey the word of God than it does now.  We believe that all officers and workers in our church and mission endeavors that we support must adhere to this position and only use the KJV in preaching, teaching, and study except in the case to prove errors to others found in the other English versions.

 

This statement is patently false.  It is a lie.  Hopefully, it is an unconscious lie, but, with all of the evidence available, it is a deception that need not exist.  There are several false teachers who do promote the KJV as the only translation that conveys the truth of God.  Some have gone so far as to say that it is better to rely upon the English King James Version than it is to consult the Greek text itself.  They contend that the Greek must be corrected by the KJV, instead of the KJV being corrected by the Greek!  When people of the pew, unlettered professing Christians, are exposed to irresponsible statements like that above, their own mind and conscience is formed by such deceit and they then perpetuate the error of their teachers!

 

d) We believe that the books known as the Apocrypha are not the inspired Word of God in any sense whatsoever.  (Ps. 119:89; II Tim. 3:16-17; Rev. 22:18-19; Jn. 17:17; Jn. 3;32-34; II Pet.1:20-21; I Pet.1:10-12; Zeph. 1:1; Ps. 19:7-11; Ex. 20:3-17; Ps. 1:2; Jn. 12:48)

 

We can definitely agree with this statement!

 

(*We will not hold to nor endorse close fellowship with churches that do not stand on the Textus Receptus of the New Testament and the Masoretic text of the Old Testament.  This means we will be separate from those churches that use any English version other than the KJV.  We expect all the missionaries that we support to also adhere to this standard)

 

This indicates the length to which some KJV-Only proponents will go to uphold their indefensible stand.  They separate themselves from those who may even use a more accurate translation of the Scriptures!  They separate themselves from people who are more knowledgeable about textual criticism and the history of translations.  In their professed loyalty to the Bible, they actually are revealing a disloyalty to the original writings of the apostles and prophets!  Furthermore, Scripture warns us of those who would separate themselves and create sects and parties, at least on those matters that are not Biblical (Jude 19; Gal. 5:20, Greek).

We urge our readers to look into this contemporary aberration and then reject it.  We urge you to become daily Bible-readers, who study their Bible diligently, and seek to understand the message that God has communicated to us—by the Holy Spirit—through the written pages of Scripture.  We are saved by the Word of God and sanctified by that same Word (2 Tim. 3:15; John 17:17).  Let it be our daily food!  (Matthew 4:4)

Richard Hollerman

 

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