Now if you are rolling your eyes thinking this is going to drone on about this manuscript and that manuscript and the reliability of one over the other, well, stop rolling your eyes; I will not be talking about that at all. Those are arguments for the scholars. I am not a scholar; therefore, I will not be entering their argument.
Many believe that those that support the King James as the only 100-percent reliable English translation of the Bible are ignorant or that is the only teaching they have received on the subject. That is not the way it was with me. I can only think of one of my college professors that used the KJV in class. None of the teachers discouraged the use of the KJV, but at best, they only referred to it in passing, and throughout the different classes a wide variety of translations were used.
My defense of the King James is not an intellectual argument, but one of faith and observation.
I can give countless examples of how the King James gives a deeper meaning to what God is trying to say, but because of space, I will only give you one.
1 Corinthians 13 is commonly known as “the love chapter.” If you read it in the King James, you will not find the word “love” there. It uses the word “charity” instead. Of the 14 modern English translations I checked, only the World English Bible used the word charity. All the others, replace the word charity with the word love throughout the chapter. Many will say, “Love gives us a truer meaning, or deeper meaning, to what God is trying to say.” Does it?
One thing about the Bible, if there is something you do not understand or is confusing, just keep reading, the Bible will always explain itself.
“For God so loved the world that He gave …” (John 3:16). The natural action of love is to give. When God uses the word “charity” instead of “love” in the love chapter, He is showing us how deep our love needs to go. When we love, we will give ourselves to the object of that love. The greatest love manifests itself with a heart of charity – a giving of ourselves totally to God, His will for our life and a desire on our part to follow Him. Christ did say, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He also said, there was no greater love than a man giving his life for his friends (John 15:13).
In the love chapter, God is giving us the deepest, practical, definition, and example of what love is and it is charity out of a pure heart. It is a shame the newer translations leave out the word charity. So many Christians are missing out on a deeper relationship with God because their study brings them to emotion – love – instead of the emotion in action – charity. And as I said, this is only one of countless examples.
Another argument for the newer translations is that they are easier to read and understand. On the surface, this argument may seem valid, but there may be a deeper spiritual problem the church does not want to face. The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 2 explains how the Holy Spirit is given to believers to open up and guide them through the Scriptures. Consider these verses, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit, which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Is the problem in the wording of the King James or in the hearts of those trying to understand it? If you read through the Bible 100 times, you should get something out of it every time. No one will ever know or understand it all, but if a person gets nothing from it. The problem is not in the differences between 21st century and 17th century English.
I believe many Christians today are living lives that only reach the surface of their relationship with God because the Bible they read only sees the surface of who He is. To have a deep connection, you must have deep conversations with someone. How can they know the deep down heart of God if the words they have from Him only reveal His general information?
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit preacherjohnson.com.