I do not consider myself to be one of those rabid “King James Onlyist”. You know the type to which I refer; the ones who use any and all arguments in attempts to refute all other versions. Most of these people are fairly harmless I suppose, but some, unfortunately, are not so harmless. Some stances and positions taken can be very detrimental, even to the point of bringing a reproach upon the Bible itself. Declarations such as, “If the King James Bible was good enough for the apostles, it is good enough for me”, tend to make all other utterances from those pulpits dismissible and easily ignored. Just as the tendency to summarily dismiss all other versions as evil imitations can alienate fellow believers and foster isolationist congregations, which will ultimately allow for the introduction of prideful attitudes, broken fellowship, and possibly heretical doctrine.
Having said all that, I must admit that I do (my personal opinion) consider the King James version of the Bible to be mostly superior to all other translations. Superior in the sense that it is of a higher quality, rank or order. The language- the words themselves, work to lend a certain elevation to the content. The poetic nature, the cadence of the wording, the value in the economy of the words rendered, all blend together creating something that speaks of a grandeur not present in the form of our more modern (read simplified) language. Which brings me to another argument I hear quite often, one that I am beginning to consider just as detrimental to the validity of the Scriptures as the overzealous King Jame Only arguments can be. One that comes from the camps opposing the use of the King James version. The argument of which I speak is the one that declares,
“The King James version is too difficult to understand”.
This statement itself is a dangerous statement, especially when applied to an entire version of the Bible. What great work it does undermining the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of man. In my opinion it is just as undermining to the workings of the Spirit and the Word as is the absolute dismissal of all other versions by the King James Only crowd. Why do I think this? For one, it limits God and diminishes peoples possibility for advancement. I sometimes think we forget when discussing different Bible versions that we are speaking about the Bible- the breathed out WORDS of GOD himself. These are Words that call men out of darkness and into light; These are Words that in themselves bring understanding; The very Words themselves bring LIFE. And arguments from both sides are only working to diminish the power and efficacy of the eternal, inerrant, and inspired Word of the Living God.
Earlier I wrote that the statement, “the King James version is too difficult to understand”, was dangerous and limiting, and it is. Dangerous in that it brings to the person who declares it a sense of superiority- that they in fact know what other people need in order to understand the Word of God. Dangerous in another way towards the person who is made to believe it- that the Spirit of God cannot work in that person to bring understanding of the meaning of the Word of God. Either position is equally damaging to both the persons holding to them, and the working of God’s Spirit in bringing understanding, knowledge, wisdom.
The statement is limiting in that it hinders growth through the enrichment that language can bring. Whatever became of the phrase, “Word Power”? I do not know about you, but the oversimplification of thinking within in our society is alarming. There is a deliberate dumbing down of education, literature, and culture manifesting in many destructive ways across all platforms in our modern era. From the entitlement mentality fostered in our younger generations to the revisionist culture rewriting our history, we are letting go of fundamental liberties, freedoms, and strengths that have been the foundations of our society. And with the relinquishing of these we are losing the ability to think and reason for ourselves which accommodates, ultimately, a slave mentality. If you cannot reason for yourself, you cannot lead yourself- you therefore must be led.
Have we so quickly forgotten there was a time when the King James Bible was the reading primer in our homes and schools? Our American English is in a great part formed by the words in this book. Much of the colloquialisms of older generations, various ethnict and regional dialects, (especially those of the Appalachian mountains) were formed from words and phrases found within the King James Bible. Many of the phrases that pepper our daily language come from this language formed by our use of this version. Why? Because the King James Bible is part of the foundation of our country. For generations it was not too difficult to “LEARN” to read, why should it be now?
As I mentioned before, we are speaking of the Words of God. Should not the living Words of God lift us up beyond ourselves, should we not rise upwards towards them, rather than dumbing them down to meet us?
Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 8:5-9 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Within the text itself we are, through determined study, able to find the meaning based on the context of what it is that is being read. Perhaps therein lies the truth of the issue- determined study. It seems in this “just Google it” culture, we have an aversion towards truly working to advance personal knowledge and understanding. Perhaps the proliferation of different Bible versions with (over)simplified language is due to a public than can no longer take the time to discern what the Spirit is saying… You decide that for yourself.
So, is this a thinly veiled polemic against other versions? No, not really. I submit to you that you should read whatever version of the Scripture that the Spirit of God and your conscience leads you towards. Read the version that you WILL READ. And READ IT. Study it, hide the words in your heart, write them upon the tables of your heart, let them be as filling to your spirit as food is to your body. As much as I thoroughly love and enjoy the King James Bible, I often read many other versions, and enjoy doing so. Again, read the version that will speak to you, the one that will lead you to a closer walk with Jesus Christ. Just enough with the back and forward arguments that do nothing but cause both sinners and the weak minded to turn away from the Scriptures altogether- the only place they can come to find salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And stop, please just stop with the inaccurate statement that the King James Bible is too difficult to understand.