(This is a guest post from my good friend and brother in Christ, Keith Baker. Enjoy!)
I remember back in my college days before I became a believer, I was involved in a morning Bible Study with a guy across the hall. A few weeks into it he asked me if I wanted a Bible so that I could start reading on my own. The first words out of my mouth were “I don’t understand the KJV.” In my mind it was the only version that existed and that would be my excuse to not have to read. The next day my friend showed up with a paper back version of the NIV….Wow! I could actually understand the words. That next year (Senior Year) God spoke to my heart and I was saved. Soon after my conversion my Discipleship Leader gave me the NIV Bible that I still read to this day.
I thank God for my Discipleship Leader because he recognized the short amount of time that we had left together so he stressed the important things and stayed away from the non essentials. Because of that, little did I know, there were some serious issues waiting for me once I entered the “real world”. Heck! I thought all Christian’s believed the same way.
Fast track to 1994: I met “The” girl. She is the daughter of an Independent Baptist Preacher. They are an awesome family but needless to say, I found out how wrong I was in thinking that we all see through the same theological lenses. I remember that my first gift to her was an NIV. I bought it so that when we studied together we would be reading the same thing. Innocent right? It was shortly after then that I found out that the KJV was more than just a Bible to them but was THE “Inspired Version”.
On April 8,1995 I married the woman of my dreams. Five years and two wonderful boys later my wife and I began to experience marital issues. We fought a lot, to the point that she started going to her Dad’s church. I remember one occasion where I showed up unannounced. He was preaching a message and like a light switch he began ranting about the Inspired KJV and the deception of other versions. I’m not saying that the inserted message was just for me…but it was very “coincidental.” For several months in our marriage this was a huge issue. I remember one night my wife coming home from church telling me that I would not be having Bible time with my kids using an NIV or any other version but the KJV. She would bring me goofy literature on how the KJV was the Only True version and how everything else was of “The Devil”. It was me vs. the family. It got so bad that we seriously talked about divorce. Before you think badly of either one of us keep in mind; the divorce talk was only a bi product of our failed relationship together in Jesus Christ. Because of God’s grace we have been married almost 17 years and now have three wonderful kids and are far beyond this issue.
During that time, I found my self digging and researching for information on how the KJV originated. It was very interesting. For those that are not aware:
The Old Testament was written mostly in the Hebrew Language and the New Testament in Greek. The first attempt to translate from one language to another was about 200 years BC where the Old Testament was translated to Greek (The Septuagint). From that point until the late 1300’s, scripture was only translated to Latin, Coptic (Egypt) and Syriac (Syria), and portions to Anglo-Saxon (Old English). It was not until 1382 that the first English version was completed and known as the Wycliffe Bible. This naming was in honor of John Wycliffe, a priest that wanted all common folks to be able to read the Bible in the English language. Not long after that, the English government banned, then burned, and by 1408 made it illegal for citizens to translate or read from an English version without the permission from a bishop. The invention of the printing press in 1455 only intensified the pressure to print the Bible, the first being the Gutenberg Bible (Latin). As we say in America, “It was on like Donkey Kong” after that. Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German in 1522 and William Tyndale known as the “Father of the English Version”, translated the NT into English in1525 but had to print it in Germany because England would not allow it. Tyndale was later strangled and burned at the stake for this act of heresy. Again, around 1540 England’s Queen Mary had John Rogers and Thomas Creamer burned at the stake along with around 300 men, women and children for placing the English Bible version in many churches. In 1611, the KJV translation was created by six teams of scholars by using the Bishop’s Bible and Tyndale’s Bible, as well as available Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
As the rational and realistic person whom God created me to be, several thoughts come to my mind for those who are apart of the “KJV Only” crowd:
1. The KJV (English Version) had to be translated from Greek and Hebrew. So, why is it hard to believe that the Bible can’t be translated from middle English to modern day English?
2. Men, women and children were murdered over the English translation because many of the Church leaders and Rulers did not want its people to understand scripture. Truth will set you free (John 8:32).
3. The “cry” of heresy that arose from the crowds of yesterday are likened to today. The difference being, their fight was over Power whereas today’s fight is due to a weird form of Idol Worship or stubborn ignorance…or both?
4. What side would the KJV Only crowd have been on during the days when the Men of God were trying to liberate their people due to this barrier. Would they have been burned at the stake or would they have been the persecutors?
5. My favorite question’s for those who subscribe to Onlyism: By what power is a person saved? Is it only by the KJV that man might be saved? Is “The Word” in the Gospel of John referring to the “Word” version or “The Word” Jesus? How do any of us come to the knowledge of Truth…is it through the reading of the KJV or the enabling from the Father (John 6:6)?
This subject is very near and dear to me because it could have, in part, destroyed my close personal relationships. But God, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith, stepped in and saved what looked to be hopeless. Today, my in-laws no longer hold this position. My wife and I are in love and are trying our best to raise three kids in a way that is pleasing to God. It is ironic though, how Satan uses even our own “Sword” as a weapon against us. How can this be?
I love the story of how the KJV was conceived, but more than that, I love the “Word” that the Father through His Spirit engraved upon my heart.
In closing, I would like to thank my friend Bryan Daniels for allowing me to contribute to this conversation. Thanks brother!
Keep Pressing on! Phil. 3:14