Every year among Christians, one will eventually bring up the topic of using the KJV. Whether it be social media or blog posts, everyone is attracted to give their biased opinions on the subject. In the last 12 months, I have seen at least 4 large discussions on the use of the KJV.
Opinions of the KJV are often given spiritual qualities, which has caused many Christians I know to idolize this particular translation. The main culprit to this particular trend is Peter Ruckman, whose philosophy I was influenced by for the first 15 years of my life.
Whereas if anyone could give credence to ditching the use of the KJV based upon faulty teaching or upbringing, I think I would qualify as one of those which have authority to do so. However, in 2023, I have decided to continue using the KJV for personal study and primary instruction in the English language. Primarily for these reasons:
- My mother tongue is English and the KJV is written in English.
- I have signed my name to a document stating that I would use the KJV as my primary method of instruction in the English language. I have a desire to keep my word through integrity.
These two reasons are enough for me to continue using the KJV until I die, but others in the debate want to know more. For those, I have added a few more reasons below.
- Ministries that have properly used the KJV have developed budgets and procedures to ensure the sustainability of the church. (This includes non-Baptists.)
- From my perspective, Fundamentalists, who hold to the view of literal interpretation of Scripture, which have left the primary use of the KJV retain less youth who are committed to fundamental doctrines – virgin birth, blood atonement, visible return, a real hell, etc. This is not to say there are no retention issues in other camps. I would say the statistic is 25% retention in KJV-kept churches and 5% in non-KJV churches, but this is only a guess.
- The more I learn about language, the more I realize that the KJV translators understood how to master the English language. It is quite satisfying to my nerdy self when the linguistic details shine through from the original language to the complicated-by-design English language. The scholarship also shines forth from their message to the readers. I also find the words under the heading REASONS MOVING US TO SET DIVERSITY OF SENSES IN THE MARGIN, WHERE THERE IS GREAT PROBABILITY FOR EACH rather insightful [link]. Particularly the words, “…it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence…” [emphasis mine] and “They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.”
- Current-day English is more expressive, requiring more words to describe the underlying Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, yet newer translations employ the use of more words to obscure the text than to clarify it.
For example, the compass direction for east is expressed in Greek as “the portion in the sky where the sun appears in the morning.” This Greek idiom is known by modern intellectuals as the east compass location. However, some newer translations decide to impose a west rising star in Matthew 2 by transliterating the word east instead of translating it. This adds to the confusion of where the star was located in the Saviour’s birth by lending credence to a western rising star. There are several key details which show that a western rising star is not possible. First, Matthew knew the word west (Matthew 8:11, Matthew 24:27). I am certain he would have used the word west to indicate direction here if that happened to be the circumstance. Second, the text shows the magi describing their location in the east and looking east at the star. Lastly, if Matthew was trying to convey the scientific phenomena of a western rising star, why did he not at least try to explain it with more words? He certainly took liberties when the star moved to where the child was.
If a translation is willing to be excessive in areas which are not required or already easily clear, what other new changes does it bring?
- I have become lazy in my use of English. Learning a new language where actions convey direction or manipulation of an object has revealed how lazy I have become in my native language. It is easier for me to describe the reception of salvation by using the KJV John 3:16 verb rendition believeth than expressing it in its current-day English mapping (is believing, has believed, or believes). Nor do I want to promote the ambiguity salvation becomes when updating this particular verb to a current-day equivalent. (Although, I think the choice of has believed would do equal damage to the Calvinist and Arminianist positions.)
As I sit back and look at reasons 3-7, the arguments given can be categorized as opinionated and can be manipulated for use with any other translation. This observation has produced many questions within myself as to why I still use the KJV. For the last 6 years, I have been researching this specific topic for which I have no good answer.
The use of the KJV is just an opinion, which can be defeated by any other opinion. For this reason, promoting KJV use also employs argumentation about textual variations or some other hobby horse. Nevertheless, having other debates inside another debate is problematic. Not only does it fuel reasons for continual debating, but it adds more questions to the table while removing none. (Perhaps in the future, I will attempt to share my research on why I like the Textus Receptus method of Greek texts rather than the Academic method of Greek texts.)
My opinions above are definitely shallow and have no depth to sway anyone to use the KJV over another translation, but they only need to be sufficient to convince me to continue using it.