Before I launch into addressing the various elements of King James Onlyism, I thought I would begin by first providing an outline of what I believe are the 6 key arguments King James only (KJVO) advocates use to defend their belief that the King James Version, originally published in 1611, is the only Bible that contains the pure, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. These arguments may not be a complete list, but I know I would incorporate them in my apologetics defending KJV onlyism.
I. The Exclusivity Argument:
KJVO advocates begin with the presupposition: The Word of God Alone = The KJV Alone
If this presupposition is true, the reverse will be true as well: the KJV alone can only be God’s Word alone.
God has given us only one Bible, they claim, not a multitude of Bibles. Only the KJV represents God’s Word, thus, any other translation that will alter the reading of the KJV in either updating its language or producing translational revision is in essence changing the Word of God.
II. The Promise Argument:
KJVO advocates claim God has made clear promises to preserve His Word for ever. This promise of preservation is seen in such passages as Psalm 12:7 and Matthew 5:17,18.
This promise of preservation goes beyond just the general message of the Scriptures to the very words. God did not promise He will preserve His Word (singular), but His Words (plural). If not every word God breathed-out is preserved, then we cannot say with certainty that the Scriptures are pure and inerrant.
III. The Textual Argument:
KJVO advocates make the claim that the King James Bible is translated from the best original manuscripts.
The KJV translators used the 1525 Daniel Bomberg, 2nd edition of the Jacob Ben-Chayyim Masoretic text for the Old Testament and the Received Text, originally published by Roman Catholic scholar Desiderius Erasmus, for the New Testament.
These are considered the best original language texts for the following reasons:
1). They represent the majority of ancient, manuscript witnesses.
2). These ancient manuscripts were used consistently and without interruption by God’s believing people.
3). These ancient manuscripts were never lost to the “sea of time” or ever laid aside by God’s people. They were continually copied and re-copied and show signs of being worn out from use, thus indicating the confidence God’s people placed in them as being God’s holy Word.
Yet, on the other hand, the original language texts used to translate modern versions must be rejected for the following reasons:
1). The manuscripts utilized by modern translations are few and represent the minority of witnesses.
2). Those manuscripts have their origin in and around Alexandria, Egypt, an area known for false teaching.
3). The manuscripts utilized by modern translations are in pristine condition, indicating they were never used by God’s people.
4). Those manuscripts give the appearance they were altered or corrupted by heretical men who desired to undermine Christian doctrine.
IV. The Purity Argument:
God’s Word, based upon Psalm 12:6,7, has gone through a seven-fold purification process in the English language. Beginning with Wycliff’s Lollard translations, then Tyndale’s Bible, Coverdale’s Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishop’s Bible and then the King James Bible, or Authorized Version.
This providentially guided process certified the purity of God’s Word as He divinely guided the translators to burn off any dross by their continual translation. The King James represents the culmination of purity. (It should be noted that the “seven-fold” list is not standard and differs among KJVO advocates).
V. The Scholarship Argument:
The King James was translated by the greatest textual scholars in all of Church History. All of the men who helped to translate the King James Bible were the world’s experts in the fields of biblical languages and theology. God specifically directed these men by divine providence to use their expertise so as to provide His people with the best translation that represents His holy Word.
VI. The Historical Argument:
The King James Bible demonstrates God’s hand of blessing by how it has impacted world history.
1). The forerunner English translations (along with the original language texts used in translating the KJV) where all instrumental in the shaping of the Reformation led by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox.
2). It was the translation carried to the new world by the Pilgrims and Puritans
3). It was the translation utilized in the preaching of the two Great Awakenings in America. Both Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield used the KJV when they preached.
4). It was the translation carried around the world in the great missionary endeavors of the 18th and 19th centuries.
5). All of the wonderful Christian literature published in the 1600s by the Puritans and Baptists used the KJV.
Now as my series progresses, I hope to draw my posts around the claims put forth in these 6 arguments. They will help us frame the discussion in a more cohesive manner.
When I presented my KJV series in spoken format, I wedged an historical overview of the development of KJV onlyism in between my testimony and the introduction to these arguments. To save a little time, I would encourage readers to take a look at Doug Kutilek’s article, The Unlearned Men, that provides a good summary background to the origins of KJV onlyism being founded upon the writings of a 7th Day Adventist by the name of Benjamin Wilkinson.
Wilkinson did not like the new Revised Version because it changed some of his pet, Adventist verses and so he responded by writing one of the first ever books defending the idea the King James Bible was God’s final authority. He was also the first person to libel the character of Westcott and Hort as being liberal, Bible correcting heretics.
Now as an addendum, I should point out a handful of KJVO advocates who claim the Wilkinson connection is bunk. Fundamentalist, David Cloud, for example, wrote a lengthy article allegedly refuting the assertion that modern era KJVO apologetics have their origin with a 7th Day Adventist cultist. His refutation is a bit of a stretch, however, because the men he claims are pre-Wilkinson KJVO advocates are better understood as TR advocates or anti-revisionist advocates. Those men upheld the KJV, not because they believed it was the final, preserved Word of God, but because they opposed the publication of a newer translation that did not have as its text base, the Received Text.
As I have argued elsewhere, in order to refute the connection between Wilkinson and KJV onlyism, KJVO apologists need to identify and document pre-Wilkinson equivalents to such KJVO individuals like Sam Gipp, Peter Ruckman, and Gail Riplinger. Individuals who affirm three presuppositions as I noted,
1) They defend what I term inerrant translational exclusivity, or the concept God’s perfect, preserved revelation is found only in one, biblical translation, the KJV 1611.
2) The notion of two lines of Bibles: a preserved line of good Bibles that culminates in the publication of the KJV, as opposed to a corrupted line of bad Bibles that culminates in the modern “perversions.”
3) And who would refuse any meaningful revision of the KJV text, claiming the KJV reading is infallible and never in need of being corrected. For example, an 18th and 19th century scholar who insisted the word “easter” as it is rendered by the KJV at Acts 12:4, is the inspired reading and to revise the text to correctly read “passover” places an error onto the biblical text. See my paper on this subject here.