This is probably one of the most asked questions I get from visitors when the find out that our church still uses the King James Version (KJV). First, let me state clearly that we aren't KJV simply because we're old fashioned. While some may say we are in some ways, we are certainly not in many others. I love technology and think it's a special gift that should be used by the church, and I don't believe anyone should use a version of the Bible of all things simply out of nostalgia. Second, we do not use the KJV because we think it's in some way better than what God originally gave in the original languages. I have literal years of training in the original languages of the Old Testament Hebrew & New Testament Greek and refer to them often in my personal Bible study, so I'm clearly not opposed to the original languages. The only issue with these languages is that probably 100% of my audience on a given Sunday can't read/speak them much less understand them. No, our use of the KJV is not for any of those reasons, but for a few that I'd like to lay out in this first blog post on reasons why we use the KJV.
We use the KJV based on doctrinal reasons
This of course is where every church and every Christian should start. We as Christians are of course people of the Book, so what the Bible says about this topic is especially relevant. First, God's word is clear that God breathed-out (the Bible word is "inspired") the actual words of the Bible (II Tim. 3:16). This occurred by God choosing and preparing certain individuals to write the words that he chose for the Bible (II Pe. 1:21). Almost every Christian will accept the above facts, but I would suggest to you that those facts do very little if we stop there. You see, we currently do not have even one surviving original manuscript written by any of the 40 penmen of the Bible. If our only hope is that God prepared and gave his Word to the original authors and then did nothing further we could have serious issues. What if portions of the Bible were lost, changed, or otherwise hindered? That is indeed what some even today fear happened. Not in our church, but some...
Rewind to the late 1800's
Rationalism is the philosophy of the day with the rise of Darwinism and other such beliefs. Out of this mindset came two men, Brooke Foss Wescott & F. J. A. Hort. These men while brilliant scholars, began to think about these very questions and came to the conclusion that somehow we had lost what God originally gave to the original authors and they were going to rediscover it. Thus began their attempt to create the Wescott-Hort Greek Text. They found old manuscripts (which in most passages didn't even agree with each other) and pieced together a text that had never before existed. This created or "eclectic" (meaning to be picked or chosen) text is the textual basis of practically every Bible translation available today. You may ask, "did they do this because there wasn't a text before?" Certainly not; indeed there were thousands of manuscripts that all basically agreed with each other and had been used by Christians for centuries. But these were faulty, or so Wescott & Hort assumed, because they overlooked a clear bit of Bible doctrine.
The Doctrine of Preservation
The doctrine of preservation in simple terms is the biblical teaching that God, after giving his Word, would ensure that it would never be lost. In short, God would make sure that all generations could have access to and therefore faith in his Word. Below are just a few verses that clearly express this crucial doctrine.
Psalm 12:6-7 "The words of the LORD [are] pure words: [as] silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. (7) Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
Psalm 119:152 "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever."
Isaiah 40:8 "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [i.e. the smallest Hebrew letter that's about the size of our comma] or one tittle [i.e. the smallest Hebrew part of a letter that distinguishes it from another like the crossing of a "t" vs. an "l"] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
John 12:48 "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
Is Inspiration & Preservation Only for the Originals?
One may state, "perhaps these verses only apply to the originals." First, if that were the case then God lied in these and many more passages since the originals are no longer available. Beyond that though, the Bible gives an answer within the very familiar passage, II Timothy 3:15-17. Pay special attention to the first part of this passage.
II Timothy 3:15-17 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Think with me for a moment, what were the scriptures that young Timothy accessed and made him wise to salvation? Were they the originals that Moses and the prophets wrote or were they copies? No doubt copies, but we can even go one step further. God's word teaches that Timothy had a Jewish mother but a Greek father (Acts 16:1) and was not circumcised until he was forced to by Jews after travelling with Paul (Acts 16:3). This combined with the ancient world's customs, would argue that Timothy was raised Greek and most probably did not speak Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament Scriptures. If this is the case, it would mean that Paul is contending that not only copies but also translations carry the inspiration of the original if they are done accurately and carry the wording of the original. In my own words, I believe Paul was saying that "you can have assurance that all Scriptures (originals, copies, and translations) are inspired by God so long as they were the words given by God and will fulfill God's intended purpose." The question each of us must ask is, does the texts our Bibles are based upon given by God or by man? Bibles based upon the work of Wescott & Hort, I would argue, are based upon man not God and must thence be refused.
In summary this is a partial and (believe it or not) summarized version of why we as a church believe that God has inspired his Word, and will forever preserve it. This is accomplished through the Majority texts, that is, the Masoretic Hebrew and the over 4,000 continuously available, extant, & accurate Greek texts and innumerable translations into various languages from that text family. We furthermore choose to reject translations that at their roots neglect or deny the doctrine of preservation by seeking to create a text that has never before existed, of which are probably over 90% percent of modern English Bible translations. We will deal more in later blog posts as to why we specifically use the King James Version over other Majority/TR English versions.
Let me add, that while this is our belief, we do not hold to it in a mean-spirited or hurtful way. If you use another version, you are still welcome to PPBC, but please consider these thoughts and follow the Holy Spirit's leading in this as with all areas. This series of posts are just an answer to a question I receive regularly. I hope that this study has been helpful to you. If you have any further questions about this or anything Bible related, please let me know.