Question: Dave, you have been accused lately of undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God’s Word because you don’t insist upon using the King James Version exclusively. How do you respond to such indictments?
Response:I will publicly defend God’s truth and expose false doctrine regardless of who teaches it, without judging hearts and motives. Heresy that is taught publicly must be opposed publicly. But I will not publicly defend myself in response to personal attacks against me, no matter how vicious and false—and there have been some lately. In obedience to Christ I am obliged to pursue Matthew:18:15-17 privately with individuals who make false charges (though publicly) against me personally, and I have done so.
As for undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God’s Word, the falsity of such charges should be apparent to anyone who has read my writings or listened to my talks. Anyone with doubts may read the chapter on sola scriptura in my latest book, A Woman Rides the Beast, or listen to the tape of my debate with Karl Keating on that same subject, or the five-tape series of messages I preached on the sufficiency, inerrancy and authority of God’s Word. Nor is it true that I defend the modern versions and run down the King James Version. I have been living in the KJV for more than 50 years and it is the KJV which I use when I preach and teach. The record speaks for itself. In the past, on occasion, I have quoted a modern version in my books where it seemed to be more understandable to the average reader, particularly the non-Christian.
As for the KJV-only debate, I hesitate to step into that arena because whatever one says only seems to heighten the controversy. However, we have received so much mail on this topic, reflecting confusion from both sides, that I will try once again to bring some balance where I believe it is badly needed. Where doctrinal purity is not involved, we need to respect one another’s sincere differences of opinion. We must disagree courteously and in love and deal with the issues rather than attack persons or motives. There are godly and sincere people on both sides of this controversy.
Let both sides remember that all versions are translations. For the KJV to be perfect in every word, the translators must have had the same infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their translating as those who wrote the original Greek and Hebrew documents (2 Tm 3:16; 2 Pt 1:21) had in their writing. Claiming such inspiration for the KJV’s translators, some KJV-only advocates even denounce all other translations as New Age or of the devil. Yet the King James Bible translators themselves, far from claiming inspiration or perfection, confessed that they had consulted other “translators and commentators” to improve their work. They acknowledged that the KJV was not perfect but could be improved, and that there were places where they were uncertain of the exact meaning of some words. They even recommended consulting a variety of translations. Why should I be castigated for agreeing with the KJV translators? The following is from the introduction to the 1611 KJV, titled “The Translators to the Reader” (note that in seventeenth-century English the “u” and “v” were reversed):
Neither were we barred or hindered from going over it again, having once done it [the work of translation]...[nor] were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helps....Neither did we thinke much to consult the Translators or Commentators, Chaldee, Hebrewe, Syrian, Greeke, or Latin, no nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch; neither did we disdaine to reuise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anuill that which we had hammered...vsing as great helps as were needfull....
Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled...[that] it hath pleased God in his diuine prouidence, heere and there, to scatter wordes and sentences of that difficultie and doubtfulnesse, not in doctrinal points that concerne saluation (for in such it hath beene vouched that the Scriptures are plaine) but in matters of lesse moment, that fearfulnesse would better beseeme vs than confidence ...and to resolue upon modestie....There be many words in Scripture, which be neuer found there but once...there be many rare names of certaine birds, beastes and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves...so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (euen in the judgement of the iudicious) questionable, can be no lesse than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures; so diuersitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the text is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea, is necessary, as we are perswaded....They that are wise, had rather haue their judgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captiuated to one, when it may be the other.
So the KJV translators themselves disagree with those who claim inspiration and inerrancy for the KJV. They admit their own fallibility, the imperfection of their KJV translation, give alternate readings in the margin and recommend consulting a variety of translations! This is only logical. If, as some insist, the KJV is the perfect translation and all others are of the devil, then the Spanish, German, French, etc. Bibles are not the Bible either! The whole world must learn seventeenth-century English and read the 1611 KJV if they would have God’s Word. Nor could anyone refer back to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts behind the KJV; for to do so in order to be more certain of the exact meaning would be to suggest that the KJV was not perfect after all. The unreasonableness of that view is obvious.
In fact, the KJV translators take up many pages of their introduction arguing that the Bible needs to be in every language so that all may read it in their “mother tongue” and thus understand it better. That fact, they say, is the justification for their labors to put it into the daily language of their countrymen. These men even argued that “the very worst translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession...is the word of God.” How far they were from what some are claiming today! Of course, the KJV translators had not encountered the deliberately perverted translations of today’s cults.
They were confident that while the many translations in English or other languages differed on some words and phrases, no doctrine was affected. (Doctrine is affected, however, in today’ s perverted versions such as the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version, and a few others.) Thus, to tell the millions of people who were saved through reading the NAS or NIV, for example, and who are edified and growing in faith through daily study of such versions that they are using the devil’s false Bibles, is, in my opinion, extremism and only causes division and confusion. Rather, suggest consulting the KJV as well.
I was reared on the KJV and use it exclusively in all my study and speaking, only rarely consulting other translations for comparison. Why consult other translations at all? The KJV translators did so and recommended the practice! In following their advice we discover that, whereas in some places modern versions are deficient, in other places they excel. For example, the KJV at 2 Thessalonians:2:2 says not to be troubled by rumors that “the day of Christ is at hand.” If one believes in a pretrib Rapture which marks the beginning of the Day of Christ, then it is not disturbing but good news if that day is “at hand.” Nor need that be disturbing even if one believes in a mid- or post-trib Rapture. It would only be disturbing if the day of the Lord had already come, for that would mean one had been left behind at the Rapture—which is why it is obvious that Paul had taught a pretrib Rapture to these people. The KJV 1611 edition had many marginal notes elsewhere, but none here. One was added later: both the Greek and common sense required it. Today’s KJV margin suggests “is now present.” That changes the meaning entirely, makes sense, and admits that the 1611 edition wasn’t perfect. The NAS reads “that the day of the Lord has come,” and the NIV, “has already come.” So a required later revision (one of many) in the KJV shows that the 1611 edition was not “inspired”—and the revision agrees with the NAS, the NIV and the NKJV!
Furthermore, some modern versions excel in places, even when it comes to declaring the deity of Christ. For example, there are eight verses in the New Testament which clearly declare that Jesus is God: John:1:1, Acts:20:28; Romans:9:5; 2 Thessalonians:1:12; Titus:2:13; Hebrews:1:8; 2 Peter:1:1 and Revelation:1:8. The KJV is only clear in four of these (Jn:1:1; Acts:20:28; Rom:9:5 and Heb:1:8), whereas the NAS and NIV are clear in seven of the eight (the same four plus Ti 2:13; 2 Pt 1:1 and Rv 1:8) For example, in Titus:2:13 the KJV says “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” while both the NAS and NIV say “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” certainly a more definite declaration that Jesus is God. In 2 Peter:1:1 the KJV says “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” whereas again both the NAS and NIV say “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Actually that’s what the Textus Receptus says in the Greek—the KJV translators simply made a mistake, which was corrected in the NKJV as well.) At Revelation:1:8 the KJV says “the Lord,” whereas the NAS and NIV say “the Lord God,” clearly declaring that Jesus is God.
If the situation were the other way around (i.e., the KJV clearly declared Christ to be God in seven of the eight places and the modern versions in only four), some KJV-only advocates would surely accuse the modern versions of downplaying Christ’s deity. Instead, they ignore the weaknesses in the KJV while jumping on those in other versions. It is surely helpful to the church to have the deficiencies in modern versions pointed out, and those using them should beware of such improper renderings. At the same time, however, those championing the KJV should honestly acknowledge those places where the modern versions excel.
The fact is that the KJV, NKJV, NAS, and NIV (in spite of some failings in each) clearly teach that Jesus is God, one with the Father; and all four clearly present the gospel and all of the other cardinal doctrines of the Bible if one reads the entire text and doesn’t take an isolated verse here or there to prove a point. Therefore, to suggest that the NAS and NIV are “the devil’ s Bibles” and part of a New Age conspiracy to usher in a one- world religion by destroying God’s Word is simply not true and places an unwarranted condemnation upon those who use such versions. Tragically, this faulty perception is causing confusion and division in the church. We must repeat our earlier warning that Gail Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions, is literally filled with errors and cannot be relied upon as a defense of the KJV. She even lumps the NKJV in with modern versions, whereas it is based upon the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the 1611 King James Version.