Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) just put up 91 articles about KJV-Onlyism. The articles are written by a man named Luke Wayne who looks to be a graduate of Midwest Baptist College and Seminary (not that anyone cares). Much like GotQuestions.org, CARM has some good information about other cults and religions. However, they are “blind as a bat flying backwards into a blizzard” (PSR quote) when it comes to the King James issue. This issue is better named the “Issue of Final Authority”. That is to say that CARM, not unlike your run-of-the-mill atheist, has NO FINAL AUTHORITY in writing on this earth.
We are looking at an introductory article called “What is King James Onlyism”. As usual, my comments are in bold.
“King James Onlyism” refers to any ideology that demands that all Christians (or at least all English-speaking Christians) must use the King James Version of the Bible exclusively. False. I think that people have freedom to use whatever Bible they want. People can use bad bibles if they want. But, what I preach that a person should do, is BELIEVE the King James Bible. I use multiple versions and translations, but I only BELIEVE one: the King James Bible. I use the perverted bibles: I use them to demonstrate the superiority of the KJB. King James Onlyists generally accuse all other Bible translations of being so deficient or even systematically perverted to render their use problematic, dangerous, or even sinful. I accuse that, because they are… “All unrighteousness is sin…” 1 John 5:17
There are various expressions of King James Onlyism that would state and defend these things in very different ways and to different extremes, but the common factor that makes them “King James Only” is the claim that the King James Bible is the only proper Bible available to Christians today.
What King James Onlyism is Not
To clarify what King James Onlyism is, it is helpful to also state what it is not:
- King James Onlyism is not a mere preference for the King James Bible. If someone personally prefers the KJV but it fine with other Christians using other Bible translations, he is not a King James Onlyist. Like I said, people can use whatever translation they want. But the fact is: those are perverted bibles.
- King James Onlyism is also not merely the formal use of the KJV in public worship. If a traditional church exclusively uses the KJV in their corporate worship services but allows their members to read other translations privately and does not condemn other churches that use other versions, they are not King James Onlyists. A church may choose to preach and teach publicly from the KJV for a number of reasons without insisting that the KJV is the only true Bible for Christians today. So, while all King James Onlyists will use only the King James Version in public worship, not all churches that use only the King James Version in public worship are necessarily King James Onlyists. We call those people hypocrites. They hold two mutually exclusive positions at the same time.
- King James Onlyism is also not merely the assertion that the KJV is the best translation. I know many people who think that the NASB is the best translation available today, but we do not call them NASB Onlyists. No one thinks the NASB is the Final Authority. I know plenty of others who think the ESV is the best translation on the market, but we don’t call them ESV Onlyists. No one thinks the ESV is the Final Authority.I likewise know a number of people who think the KJV is still the best translation we have, but they are not King James Onlyists. The reason is simple: while such people believe that their’s is the “best” translation, none of them insists that every Christian must use only that translation. They still regard other translations as the word of God. Here we get to an important matter, but the author doesn’t address it. Both the KJB and the modern versions cannot be the word of God. If one is right, then the other is wrong. There is no middle ground. They would never imply that it would be a sin or a dangerous error to use other Bible translations. Right, because they believe in nothing. KJV Bible Believers believe in something. They may well urge you from time to time to switch to their translation and tell you why they think theirs is the most accurate, but they would not break fellowship over the issue nor forbid preaching from other translations. They may wish that more Christians would switch to their preferred translation, but they do not morally demand that all Christians must switch to their translation. Anyone who meets this description regarding the KJV is not a King James Onlyist. Right, they believe in nothing.
Different Types of King James Onlyism
King James Onlyism is not a single, united movement. It comes in a variety of expressions. Not all King James Onlyists believe the same things or defend the King James Bible in the same way. It is easy to lump all King James Onlyists in with some particularly wacky street preacher Paul and Christ were wacky street preachers. Why would you talk like this? who defends the KJV by asserting that some secret, shadowy Jesuit Illuminati cleverly forged all the manuscripts and conspired to produce modern translations so as to pollute the church, but that is not a fair assessment. Did this happen though? Just because it sounds crazy, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Even though, the author uses a disparaging way of describing the situation, he is actually describing what happened. Please see the information about Codex Siniaticus by David Daniels from Chick Publications. Some King James Onlyists are far more reasonable than others, and various groups within the broad banner of King James Onlyism often hold quite different perspectives from one another. The lines between groups can seem blurred at times because various KJV Only groups will often borrow arguments from one another, even if the arguments are not always consistent with each other. Still, there are certain distinctions that need to be kept in mind when dealing with King James Onlyism. All this could be said about Nothing Onlyism…
The English or the Underlying Greek?
One of the key distinctions between different types of King James Only advocates is whether or not they believe that infallibility ultimately lies in the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from which the KJV was originally translated or whether the infallibility lies in the precise English of the KJV itself. Now, as usual, the author is confusing the position of KJV Only and TR only. They are different and we have demonstrated this on this blog over and over again. The New Testament of the KJV, for example, was translated from a series of 16th-century Greek printed texts which were, in turn, compiled based on a number of medieval manuscripts of various portions of the New Testament. This Greek New Testament collection has come to be known as the “Textus Receptus” or the “Received Text,” (often abbreviated as the “TR”). Modern Translations are most often translated from a more recently compiled critical There is an interesting word… Greek text of the New Testament, the Nestle-Aland/UBS text. There is no “Nestle-Aland/USB text. There are over 30 of them and they are not all the same. This text was compiled through the comparison of the thousands of manuscripts now known, with particular weight generally (though not always) given to readings found in the most ancient manuscripts. Notice how he writes in parentheses “though not always”. Text critics will break their own rules if it suits their purposes. They are some of the most crooked and inconsistent people you will ever meet. King James Onlyists will argue that the TR (Textus Receptus) is, in fact, a more accurate preservation of the original New Testament writings than is the modern critical text, and so they reject modern translations based on those texts. It is more accurate, however that is not the main issue. In theory, such KJV Onlyists would agree that a modern-English translation could be made based on the TR that would be just as reliable as the KJV, but they do not believe such has ever been done. Again, you are talking about TR only. The KJV, they contend, is still the only translation that is faithful to the right Greek text, so it is the only Bible Christians should use. Again, people can use other versions, but they should only BELIEVE the KJB.
Other KJV Onlyists go further than this. They believe that the English of the King James Version is absolutely perfect in and of itself, and no appeal need be made to Greek manuscripts. Amen. God preserved His word, and today that word is found in the English text of the KJV and nowhere else. That is how Ps 12:6,7 reads. Seven purifications cannot apply to the Greek… So that’s what I believe. Expanding on this is for another article. Translations of the Bible into new languages should be made from the KJV English, not the Greek and Hebrew texts. If a preacher appeals to the underlying Greek words to explain the meaning of a text, these sort of King James Onlyists often denounce him with derogatory terms such as “Bible corrector.” If the KJB is the Bible, and they go to the Greek text to correct it, then what are we supposed to call him? The claim is, thus, that the exact English words chosen by the KJV translators are inspired by God, and to appeal to the Greek to clarify a passage or to translate even a single word any other way is to try to tamper with the Bible itself. Amen. Such KJV Only advocates may often borrow arguments from the TR-Only camp when it suits them, Now, all of a sudden, you are aware of the differences between TR and KJB only? but at the end of the day, even the TR does not matter. When the TR is shown to disagree with the English of the KJV, it is the TR that is wrong and the infallible English that must be correct. These King James Onlyists will often build arguments based simply on the fact that the NASB, NIV, or ESV word this or that verse differently than the KJV and claim that, in so doing, they have “changed the Bible!” Often corrupt motives are assumed for any such differences. The corrupt motives have been proven over and over again.
History or Conspiracy?
Another important distinction between different King James Onlyist groups is whether or not they attempt to build their case on history or on alleged conspiracies. If you believe the Bible, history is about conspiracies. The author attempts to label our writings as “conspiracy” in an attempt to make it sound like the facts we present cannot be checked. The truth is, our facts are well documented. The devil has been trying to get rid of an change the words of God since Gen 3. Since the vast majority of people will side with the devil on this topic, the Biblical stance in favor of God’s words get labeled a conspiracy. Who cares? Some King James Onlyist will try to make their case in ways such as:
- “While the TR manuscripts are not as old, they actually preserve an older form of the text.” I agree, except that there is no proof that Vaticanus and Siniaticus are as old as people claim.
- “We find quotes in the early church fathers that affirm the TR and the KJV over against the modern translations.” Agreed, we find some.
- “If you look at these quotes from the reformers and the King James translators, we can see that they had manuscripts that have now been lost. So, while the earliest manuscripts around today disagree with the KJV, they had even better manuscripts back then that affirmed the KJV.” I’ve never thought this.
These arguments attempt to make their case based on available historical data (manuscripts, quotations from historical figures, etc.). I can look at the manuscripts they reference. I can look up the quotes they cite and read the surrounding context. I can check out the information and assess whether or not they are rightly handling the data. Most King James Onlyists will use at least some of this kind of argument. Many, however, will ultimately rely on a conspiratorial worldview that simply asserts dark and nefarious forces without any verifiable data to back them up. We have tons of data to back this up. He is lying. These arguments will look more like:
- “Those translations are based on corrupt Egyptian manuscripts whose scribes were heretics that rejected Christian teaching and tried to alter the text to suit their own false teachings!” How can you not look this up? Is Siniaticus, etc Egyptian? Yes. Was Origen a heretic? Without a doubt. The author is trying to make you think you can’t lookup and verify this information. You can and you should.
- “Let me show you this list of character flaws in all then members of the NASB translating committee. Obviously, those kind of people weren’t trying to produce a faithful Bible.” Can’t you verify this? That committee was full of heretics. Same with Westcott and Hort; they were heretics and that is a proven fact. If you don’t think that is important, then you have a problem with your heart.
- “Modern translators are secretly Jesuits in the employ of the Roman Catholic church trying to pollute protestant churches with their wicked teaching!” It CAN be proven that the Jesuits are “trying to pollute protestant churches with their wicked teaching.” Why act like this isn’t true? To prove that all translators are Jesuits is impossible. But, it is easily provable that what the modern translators produced is in line with the teachings of the Jesuits.
- We know that Satan obviously hates the Bible and wants to corrupt it. What better way than by modern translations? that obviously proves that modern translations are corrupt and the KJV is pure.” Is the author trying to say that the Devil isn’t trying to corrupt the Bible? Of course he is. But to connect that truth to the rest of this argument is admittedly a stretch. No active defender of the KJV uses this reasoning. Maybe a handful of Pastors who are not familiar with the issues would think like this, but very few.
This kind of argument generally paints a narrative without any hard data to back it up. Not really true. Most of this information is well documented. He can call it a conspiracy theory to try and ridicule these facts. But they can easily be proven. It depends on guilt-by-association arguments and character assassinations of everyone involved in any modern translation or non-TR manuscript while giving all the KJV translators, revisers, and printers a pass on anything that might call their own character into question. Please. I encourage everyone to compare the character and the credentials of the modern translators to the King James Translators. You will find that in almost every respect, the 17th century scholars are superior in both categories. If a modern translator went to a Catholic school, he is automatically a closet Jesuit conspirator. If their other writings and actions reflect this truth, then it is a fine assumption. Why is Mr. Luke so concerned with acting like Jesuit conspiracies aren’t a thing? Kind of interesting… The fact that Erasmus, the main compiler of the TR, was a Roman Catholic priest who dedicated the volume to the Pope is, however, not relevant. Conspiratorial connections can only go one way, you see. Erasmus dedicated the TR to the Pope to help change him (admittedly, this was a lost cause…) and because he was in hot water with the RCC. He wrote a book about the Pope getting rejected from heaven because he was so wicked. Do the modern translators write anti-Catholic literature like that? Mr. Luke only told one part of the story. On the other hand, Eugene Nida spent his whole life in bed with the Vatican. To act like the situations are the same is blatant dishonesty. Such arguments also depend on reading evil motives into even the slightest variation between a modern translation and the KJV rather than considering the possibility that there is a reasonable explanation for the difference rooted in the actual manuscripts involved or changes in the English language and how certain words are used. After looking at the major differences and studying those, it is very reasonable to look at the spirit behind the minor differences and see that it’s all the same spirit. The same demonic spirit that removes whole passages is the same that changes minor words on the basis of “manuscripts” and “changes in the English language.” These arguments are generally inconsistent and irrational, but they are nonetheless extremely popular. The reasons given for rejecting or changing the KJV are generally inconsistent and irrational. They are nonetheless extremely popular. It is only fair to note, however, that there are King James Onlyist leaders who condemn this kind of argument and try to emphasize a more historical case.
While the historical arguments are often weak and questionable in their data, they are at least rooted in real, specific manuscripts, citations, and events that can be examined and discussed reasonably. Since the historical arguments of Mr. Wayne are often weak and questionable in their data, we have rejected them. The conspiratorial arguments rely on personal attacks and unsubstantiated assertions which have little or no basis in reality and are not meant to be examined or debated. The claims of the Bible correctors, like Mr. Wayne have no basis in reality and we have rejected them. You are simply supposed to accept the narrative. Mr. Wayne wants you to simply accept his narrative… Most King James Onlyists you meet in the street will use some mixture of these two kinds of arguments, but the balance (or imbalance) between the two and what form they will take will be different from one group or individual to the next.
A Christian Response
We can have full confidence that the Bible is inspired by God and has been preserved through the ages. What is it? Where can I get a copy? He never answers. The Bible never promises, however, there will be one perfect translation in a given language to be slavishly adhered to by all generations. Ok. So there isn’t a perfect translation, according to you. Then what is the inspired and preserved Greek Bible? Or the inspired and preserved Hebrew text? The Bible does not command the use of any particular translation nor forbid the production of multiple translations in the same language. This is a common misconception. We are fine with translations into other languages. But they will be compared to the only final authority in the world: the King James Bible. King James Onlyism is not a biblical belief system. Nothing Onlyism is not a biblical belief system. What would Mr. Wayne know about the Bible? He’s never seen one a day in his life. King James Onlyism fits the facts that God has preserved his words. It is somewhere. It went through 7 purifications (Ps 12:6,7). Nothing is more Biblical that King James Onlyism. It is a tradition. Nothing Onlyism is a tradition. The King James Version is a fine translation and no one should be discouraged from reading, studying, memorizing, and preaching from it. This middle of the road attitude won’t work. If the KJB is wrong, then throw it out. If it is right, then throw out the modern versions. You cannot have it both ways! But the English language has changed over the last 400 years, Not as much as the Greek and Hebrew languages have changed in the last 2000 years! and we have far more manuscripts of the Bible today than the KJV translators ever could have dreamed! Yep. And 99% of them agree that the King James is right and the textual basis of the modern versions is wrong. Why did Mr. Luke forget to tell you that? The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of New Testament papyri dating back as early as the second century A.D. are powerful testimony to the preservation of God’s word, and there is nothing wrong with taking such things into consideration to ensure that our Bible translations are as faithful to the original as possible. We take them into consideration. And when they go against the King James Bible, we throw them out. A bunch of books written by apostate Jews and hidden in caves shouldn’t sway an honest man away from belief in God’s words.
It must also be acknowledged that translation from one language to another is not a mathematical enterprise. Who didn’t know that? Every KJV Onlyist that I’ve ever met knows that. It’s not like 1+1 which can only have the answer “2.” There can be more than one right way to render the same sentence into a new language. There can be more than one good translation of the same word or phrase. The claim that the KJV (or any other translation) is the one and only correct translation for all people of all times is simply an absurd claim with no biblical or logical foundation. As we have said, at the very least, it is MORE biblical and logical than to believe that no Bible, translation, manuscript, etc is perfect, inspired, and preserved. It is, ironically, the exaggerated commitment to a tradition over and above the original scriptures themselves. He doesn’t have the original scriptures. To claim that we are more loyal to the King James Bible than to “nothing” is a compliment. Thank you so much, Mr. Wayne. King James Onlyism divides churches and individuals whom the biblical gospel would have united and communing together as the body of Christ. It is, therefore, a teaching that must be refuted. If your desire is to teach Christians that NOTHING is inspired, preserved, or perfect, then it is YOU who are dividing people. You are dividing people from the Bible. If people get bent out of shape about it, it is their problem.
It is important to note, however, that while there are certainly cultic King James Onlyists, King James Onlyism itself is not inherently a cult nor a damnable heresy. One can believe in King James Onlyism and still believe the biblical gospel of salvation in Christ by grace alone through faith alone. So, when reasoning with King James Onlyists, we must always remember that we are often reasoning with confused brothers rather than enemies of the cross of Christ. Let us engage in this conversation accordingly.
It is important to note, however, that while there are certainly cultic Nothing Onlysists, Nothing Onlyism itself is not inherently a cult nor a damnable heresy. It is however, the main reason that churches fall away from teaching and preaching the Gospel. If there are parts of the Bible that are wrong, then how do we know that the Gospel is not one of those incorrect parts? How do we know that salvation by grace through faith is not one of those incorrect parts? One can believe in Nothing Onlyism and still believe the biblical gospel of salvation in Christ by grace alone through faith alone. So, when reasoning with Nothing Onlyists, we must always remember that we are often reasoning with confused brothers. When we are dealing with the scholars, remember that we are dealing with the enemies of the words of Christ, although they may be saved.. Let us engage in this conversation accordingly.
In conclusion, Mr. Wayne has nothing new to add to the debate. He believes in nothing. None of his arguments should sway an honest man away from the King James and towards his position that you cannot find the prefect and preserved words today in one book. If you are new to the debate, I recommend the information by Will Kinney, Peter Ruckman, Sam Gipp and Chick Publications. These resources will show you the truth of the matter. Just remember something that Mr. Wayne has apparently forgotten:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Mat 24:35