(Note: this post has been further updated)
I have a great friend and brother in the Lord who belongs to a group believers who are very, very, KJV only oriented. As a result, we have had various friendly conversations on this issue and yes, I have learned a lot from him as we have over a couple of years discussed these things, off and on. It has been genuinely good for me to work through this, coming to see, by the mercy and grace of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, and discern the true threat behind all of this innocent appearing issue.
Just recently, after not hearing from him on this subject for a good while, he sent me a text message with a request that I listen to a “you tube” video called, “Whats the Big Deal about the KJV?”. You can find it here. When I listened to it I heard many things that didn’t register as true. Therefore, I was curious if anyone had presented a case to challenge this video and its claims. There is. You can find all five parts beginning here. Both opposing presentations are insightful and very different, yet I genuinely believe that “KJV Onlyism” is genuinely standing on extremely weak ground. There is a very real deception related to King James Onlyism. Just to be clear, the King James Bible is not the bottom line, it is not The Standard by which all other Bibles are to be judged or evaluated.
What I have enjoyed in this process with my friend has been the challenge to my own understanding and the need to research a little more of what I have learned regarding Bible translation work, etc. Now, in all honesty, I had done some research in this regard when the Lord was initially leading me to make a translation change for teaching and preaching out of. I came to realize in this day and age, how very important it was for me to have some understanding regarding Bible Translation Work as well as some understanding of the very important issues that we see arising with too many of today’s production and market oriented translations.
There are still good translations out there, but there are also some that are not very good or in some cases seemingly not even close to being very good translations. All translations are not equal, I deeply sorry to say. It isn’t simply about preference and appeal. Yet, in truth, a very real problem seems that almost all of the translations are heavily marketed with a very real and specific customer appeal approach, looking good to the eye but not always of very real quality or substance inside, let alone in the actual physical bindings, paper, text size and quality, etc. Also, not all translators have the same core values when it comes to translating God Word. Things seem to have become more and more lax in this regard in some translation work. So, while it is sad to say this I will say it anyway, too often it seems that their desire for more of the marketing dollars is the real motivation behind what we see in the Book Stores.
As a result, we have Bibles for every occasion and the truth is that we have way more specialty Bibles than we need or anyone is actually using faithfully. We have military Bibles, one for each branch, men’s bibles, women’s bibles, youth, children, singles, student bibles, marriage bibles, pastors bibles, study bibles, reference bibles, hunting bibles, evangelism bibles, small bibles, medium size, large and extra-large size bibles, and on and on it goes. Now, when you add all of the different translations that these kinds of bibles come in, it becomes an issue of very real and often overwhelming. We truly do not need anymore English translations, at all, period! But as long dollars are involved, we will most likely keep seeing a steady stream of them coming out with more and attractive packaging. Lord have mercy!
It seems to me that it is no wonder that there has become in some conservative circles, a very real reaction to what is taking place in the Christianized Marketing field as it relates to Bibles and Bible translation. On an added note, just one of my personal concerns, among many, is that people buy bibles presumptuously all too often, not for the scriptures themselves, but for the notes, packaging, presentation, etc. I also admit, that I have at times, succumb to this temptation as well. Lord forgive me. The actual scriptures seem to get lost in this whole marketing strategy and external appeal package. In the process, I believe we have watered down the value of the actual scriptural text and the need to spend, prayerful, quality time in the Word of God itself and not primarily the notes, articles, pictures, presentations and packaging.
Now, what has this to do with my friend and I’s ongoing discussions of KJV Onlyism and “the other” translations? Because of my research on Bible Translations etc. I found myself increasingly burdened that I make sure that I use a good conservative translation that genuinely honors the Word of God as Holy, Righteous and True, without any need to make it overly simplistic, modern, gender neutral, or needlessly dumbed down to my level of education and understanding. As a result of this increasing burden, I found myself especially vulnerable in a sympathetic way, to the issues my friend would raise about Bible translations and the KJV. This vulnerability led me into a deeper and even more urgent prayerful process of seeking the Lord as to which translation He would have me to use. I needed His discernment of His will for me.
Once before this had become a very big issue for me, back in the very early years of my ministry. The Lord faithfully and very specifically led me to the translation I was to use for about 25 years, the NIV. In and around 2001 however, it seemed that this whole process slowly began anew as I was growing restless and very unhappy with my translation. I began to suspect, hopefully, that the Lord might be leading me to a change. In approximately 2004-5, this issue of changing Bibles came to head and I knew I needed to actually go ahead and change translations.
Which one would become a question that would take a few years to actually settle. A little while later, I had thought that this new question of which translation was finally settled and it was to be the ESV. However, through my interactions with my friend the questions and concerns about having the right Bible and Translation came rushing up in me once again. I genuinely began to wonder if there was some truth to what my friend was saying after all. However, as I would study the things out that he would point out or the authors of the material he would send my way would point out, I would find them not quite as they were being presented to me. Yes, sometimes I would think they might be right only then after prayer and further consideration discover, nope, there was simply more to the story.
So, after a brief period of ups and downs regarding which Bible I was to use, I ended up back at square one, “Please Lord Jesus, what are you saying to me about this issue, again?”. While I hadn’t used the KJV for more than 30 plus yrs by then, I was willing to go back to it, if and only if this was what the Lord Jesus was clearly saying, or to any other translation actually, that He would have me to use. I just needed to hear His Will regarding this. I needed Him to cut through all of the stuff and make His will clearly known to me once again. He had clearly led me before and now, I needed Him to genuinely settle this issue for me. As I continued to read, pray, listen and wrestled with this issue, in and before the Lord Jesus Christ, one day the light finally came on and the Lord Jesus made His choice for me very clear and certain. I was to continue with and stick to using the ESV. Finally, His Peace began to arrive deep within me!
What a spiritual battle! Yes, a very real and deceptive spiritual battle. I came to see how in my ignorance I allowed myself and those around me to become exposed to the all too real seducing spirits associated with this bondage and its falsehood. I fully believe that there is a very real and deep deception related to King James Onlyism. It is a bondage that all too many are wrapped up in and thus are not able to see or hear the truth of what it is they are caught up in. Lord have mercy, for real!. There are good, even great people wrapped up in the seduction, lies and deceptions of this movement. Lord Jesus have mercy upon them all opening their hearts, minds and lives to the truth and protect others from being seduced and drawn into it.
After all of these years of reading, praying and seeking the Lord Jesus regarding this issue of which Bible, which translation, He settled it. He finally settled this question, not simply with knowledge in and of itself. It was finally and simply through His Holy Spirit illumination of the truth of the deception and lies and distortions of King James Onlyism which was increasingly becoming for me a deep distraction and disruption of the Lord speaking to me in and through His Living and Alive Holy Word. He thus confirmed and revealed His will clearly and steadfastly once again. I am so very grateful. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ!
In all honesty, I wonder how few or many, even wrestle with the question of which Bible and or Bible translation the Lord Jesus would have them use? I think, in truth, not very many. We assume that it is our free choice and therefore we make those choices based upon preference, personal appeal, price, convenience and not His revealed will. I genuinely believe that in this day and age, with all of the unequal Bible choices out there and the very real Spiritual Warfare that is taking place regarding the Word of God, albeit King James Onlyism and its bondage and deceptions, or the radical dumbing down and stripping away of the Holy Scriptures by others under the guise of making the Bible more readable or simply reducing the whole issue of the scriptures to a marketed preference, price, and or commodity, or preference, and convenience. This question then becomes all the more important for us all.
If it takes you earnestly seeking the Lord for a few years, as I have had too or only days, weeks or months, to genuinely know His revealed will for you in this regard, it is worth the process. He knows more than anyone else about what and why He would have you use His chosen Word for you and how to keep you from the lies, deceptions and distortions that are all too rampant out there surrounding this issue of the Scriptures. The trappings are not what is important, not in the end. It is His Holy and Inspired Word. Now that is what is vitally important for us all. Don’t you think that you should at least ask Him and wait upon Him for His answer, instead of assuming you already know, or some publisher, marketing strategist, or whomever telling you that you need what they are selling? It is important. Truly!
Please Note: A good resource for finding and choosing a good translation is available here.