I have covered quite a bit of territory in the first three parts of this article. Now I seek to wrap things up, and offer some further reading to those who are interested if they want to learn much more about this from some helpful, reputable and reliable sources.
-The KJV is a beautiful book in so many ways, and much beloved by millions. I grew up on it when I first became a Christian, and I memorised entire chapters from it. But I now also read and enjoy other translations such as the ESV, and see no problem whatsoever in using a number of translations and versions to help get a better grasp of God’s Word.
-Only the original autographs – which are now lost to us – are divinely inspired, not any human translation. Every version we have in English is a human product, not a divine product. Thus all will have strengths and weaknesses, and none can be claimed to be perfect or without error. However, the invaluable science of textual criticism exists to help us get as close as we can to those original, infallible autographs.
-Some of those who have penned books and articles seeking to make the KJVO case did/do know something about the original languages and the like. Sadly however that cannot be said of most of their enthusiastic followers today. I suspect that the great majority of these folks not only do not know anything about ancient Hebrew or Koine Greek, but they know basically nothing about translation theory, textual criticism, manuscript evidence and the like.
Overwhelmingly they just seem to regurgitate stuff they have found on highly suspect websites, including unhelpful conspiracy theory sites and rabid anti-Catholic sites. Or they simply rehash the discredited nonsense found in books like those of Riplinger.
Sadly these folks are usually quite clueless, and have very little nous or discernment. And the more extreme they get, the more cultic and heretical they become, and the more of an embarrassment and danger they become. Some of the more extreme adherents of this are often rather uninformed, or under-educated, or sadly just nutty zealots.
-As already mentioned, no one speaks 17th century English anymore. All Christians should seek to communicate biblical truths as clearly as possible, not just to other Christians, but to non-Christians as well. Assuring that most folks today will struggle greatly in trying to understand what you are saying by using Elizabethan English is hardly being a good witness, an effective teacher and evangelist, nor likely to get good results.
-More important than going on a cultic hobby horse about which Bible alone we can use, we should be concentrating on living out and fully obeying the Bible. Sure, good translations are quite important, and some are better than others. But too many folks will fight to the death over their beloved KJV while living just like unloving and ungracious unbelievers.
-Finally, let me lay my cards on the table here. I make no claims to being an authority on textual criticism, translation theory, and so on. I have tried to do some serious study on this over the years, as evidenced by my recommended reading list. I have had two years of NT Greek, but that is the extent of my knowledge of the biblical languages. So I write this mainly as a concerned layman.
I close with the words of James R. White. His very well-researched and documented critique of the KJVO movement finishes with these words:
King James Onlyism is a human tradition. It has no basis in history. It has no foundation in fact. It is internally inconsistent, utilizing circular reasoning at its core, and involves the use of more double standards than almost any system of thought I have ever encountered. And yet it is embraced by fellow believers, and as such must be addressed if I am to follow Christ’s command, “Love one another”.
That has been my motivation as well. I have seen way too many believers who are either woefully uninformed or outright deceived peddling some of these reckless and false positions. Even if many believers mean well and want to do what is right, when they promote that which is patently false, mischievous and even dangerous, they are doing great harm to the Christian faith.
For further reading
Books directly on the King James Only Debate:
Ankerberg, John and John Weldon, The Facts on the King James Only Debate. Harvest House, 1996.
Beacham, Roy and Kevin T. Bauder, eds., One Bible Only? Examining the Claims for the King James Bible. Kregel, 2001.
Carson, D.A., The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Baker, 1979.
Corner, Dan, A Critique of Gail Riplinger’s Scholarship and KJB Onlyism. Evangelical Outreach, 1999.
Price James, King James Onlyism: A New Sect. James D. Price Publisher, 2006.
Ward, Mark, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible. Lexham Press, 2018.
White, James, The King James Only Controversy, 2nd ed. Bethany House, 1995, 2009.
White, James, New Age Bible Versions Refuted: A Review and Rebuttal of Gail Riplinger’s “New Age Bible Versions”. Alpha and Omega Ministries, 1994.
Books on the canon, translations, textual criticism, English Bibles, etc.:
Aland, Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament. Eerdmans, 1995.
Beckwith, Roger, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church. Eerdmans, 1986.
Beekman, John and John Callow, Translating the Word of God. Zondervan, 1974.
Black, David Alan, New Testament Textual Criticism. Baker, 1994.
Brake, Donald, A Visual History of the English Bible. Baker, 2008.
Bruce, F. F., The Books and the Parchments. Pickering & Inglis, 1950, 1963.
Bruce, F. F., The Canon of Scripture. IVP, 1988.
Bruce, F. F., The English Bible: A History of Translations. OUP, 1961.
Brunn, Dave, One Bible, Many Versions. IVP, 2013.
Comfort, P. W., A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament. Kregel, 2015.
Comfort, P. W., The Complete Guide to Bible Versions. Tyndale House, 1991.
Comfort, P. W., Early Manuscripts and the Modern Translation of the New Testament. Tyndale, 1990.
Comfort, P. W., Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism. B&H, 2005.
Comfort, P. W., English Bible Versions. Tyndale, 2000.
Comfort, P. W., ed., The Origin of the Bible. Tyndale, 1992.
Dewey, David, Which Bible? IVP, 2004.
Earle, Ralph, How We Got Our Bible. Baker, 1971.
Fee, Gordon and Mark Strauss, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth. Zondervan, 2007.
Greenlee, J. Harold, Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, rev. ed. Baker, 1964, 2012.
Greenlee, J. Harold, Scribes, Scrolls, and Scriptures. Eerdmans, 1985, 1996.
Grudem, Wayne, et. al., Translating Truth. Crossway, 2005.
Harris, R. L., Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible. Zondervan, 1957.
Hill, C.E., Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Jobes, Karen and Moises Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint. Baker, 2000.
Kostenberger, Andreas and David Croteau, eds., Which Bible Translation Should I Use? B&H, 2012.
Kruger, Michael, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. Crossway, 2012.
Kruger, Michael, The Question of Canon. IVP, 2013.
Kubo, Sakae and Walter Specht, So Many Versions? Zondervan, 1983.
Lawton, David, Faith, Text and History: The Bible in English. Harvester, 1990.
Levi, Peter, The English Bible: From Wycliff to William Barnes. Constable, 1974.
Lewis, Jack, The English Bible from KJV to NIV, 2nd ed. Baker, 1991.
Lightfoot, Neil, How We Got the Bible, 3rd ed. Baker, 1963, 2003.
McDonald, Lee Martin, The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority. Hendrickson, 2007.
McGrath, Alister, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture. Doubleday, 2001.
Metzger, Bruce, The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions. Baker, 2001.
Metzger, Bruce, The Canon of the New Testament. OUP, 1987.
Metzger, Bruce, Lexical Aids For Students of the Greek New Testament. Theological Book Agency, 1969.
Metzger, Bruce, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible. OUP, 1981.
Metzger, Bruce, The Text of the New Testament. OUP, 1968.
Metzger, Bruce, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. United Bible Societies, 1971.
Nida, Eugene and Charles Taber, The Theory and Practice of Translation. Brill, 1964.
Patzia, Arthur, The Making of the New Testament. IVP, 1995.
Porter, Stanley, How We Got the New Testament. Baker, 2013.
Porter, Stanley and Andrew Pitts, Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism. Eerdmans, 2015.
Rhodes, Ron, The Complete Guide to Bible Translations. Harvest House, 2009.
Ryken, Leland, Bible Translation Differences. Crossway, 2004.
Ryken, Leland, The ESV and the English Bible Legacy. Crossway, 2011.
Ryken, Leland, The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation. Crossway, 2011.
Ryken, Leland, Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach. Crossway, 2009.
Ryken, Leland, The Word of God in English. Crossway, 2003.
Scorgie, Glen, Mark Strauss and Steven Voth, eds., The Challenge of Bible Translation. Zondervan, 2003.
Thomas, Robert, How to Choose a Bible Translation. Christian Focus Publications, 2005.
Wallace, Daniel, ed., Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament. Kregel, 2011.
Wegner, Paul, The Journey from Texts to Translations. Baker, 1999.
Wegner, Paul, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible. IVP, 2006.
Wilson, Derek, The People’s Bible: The Remarkable History of the King James Version. Lion, 2010.
Some useful articles
-John Ankerberg, et. al., “The King James Controversy Revisited” in seven programs: jashow.org/wiki/index.php/The_King_James_Controversy_Revisited
-Fred Butler, “Confessions of a King James Only Advocate: My Journey through King James Onlyism”: archive.is/X4J4l
-Butler has a number of solid articles on KJV Onlyism: hipandthigh.wordpress.com/?s=kjv&submit=Search
-James May, “The Great Inconsistency of King James Onlyism”: www.kjvonly.org/james/may_great_inconsistency.htm
-Rick Wade, “The Debate Over the King James Version”: www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/kjvdebat.html
-Daniel B. Wallace, 2004, “Changes to the KJV since 1611: An Illustration”: bible.org/article/changes-kjv-1611-illustration
-Daniel B. Wallace, “The Conspiracy Behind the New Bible Translations”: bible.org/article/conspiracy-behind-new-bible-translations
-Daniel B. Wallace, “The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?”: bible.org/article/majority-text-and-original-text-are-they-identical
-Daniel B. Wallace, “Why I Do Not Think the King James Bible Is the Best Translation Available Today”: bible.org/article/why-i-do-not-think-king-james-bible-best-translation-available-today
-Trevin Wax, “The King James Only Controversy”: www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/the-king-james-only-controversy/
-James R. White, “Is Your Modern Translation Corrupt? Answering the Allegations of KJV Only Advocates”: alwaysbeready.com/images/stories/alwaysbeready/dk115.pdf
In addition to these articles, there are well over 60 books to choose from here. My advice to those who really do not know much about these issues is to actually do some careful study on these rather complex and detailed matters. If you have not read Bruce, or Ryken, or Greenlee, or Metzger, or Comfort, or Wallace for example, who are world class scholars and authorities on these issues, you really are short-changing yourself.
Simply passing along all those unhelpful video and website falsehoods, misinformation and wild accusations is not only embarrassing, but actually dangerous, and it does great harm to the body of Christ and the cause of the Kingdom. Christians really need to grow up here and use their brains for the glory of God. Either that, or they should remain silent on those matters that they clearly know little or nothing about.
A necessary afterword
Given how intense this debate can get, often with more heat than light being generated, let me add to the general commenting rules already found on this site. If you identify as a gung-ho KJV Onlyist who thinks everyone else is deceived and of the devil, I will not run with your comments. Nor will I post a comment by some zealous soul who insists on offering an 8000-word point-by-point refutation.
If however you are more moderate and reasonable in your views, you can submit a comment. But if you are just rehashing the same old tired objections and criticisms found so readily elsewhere, I am not interested to be honest. It is not my intention to debate this matter ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
The main reason I wrote this piece was to offer a short and succinct summary of where I stand on the topic, so that when folks ask for my views, I can point them here, instead of having to constantly restate my views. It was not to turn this into an extended WWIII!
Finally, you should carefully read all four parts of this article before commenting, so that you know what I have actually and fully said. Thanks for respecting my wishes here.
Part 1 of this article is found here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/05/07/the-king-james-only-controversy-part-1/