Why the Bible versions discussion is important

From a critic of Christians who believe that the King James Bible is the inspired standard and should be the only version believers should use in English today:

Is it possible that God uses this fixation for or against the KJV as a way to keep some interested in the Bible and by this improves their walk with God keeping them closer than they otherwise might be? Its one reason that this could be a good thing because on its surface it seem a little divisive, but perhaps not terribly.

My reply on that forum:

I understand perfectly the perspective to the subject as expressed there.

This is a forum for discussion of the topic. It seems like to modern-versionists, the subject is kind of a doctrinal doctrine, and to some, it seems to me, not even that. If you have this approach, it might appear that KJBO advocates take the subject much too seriously. Your spiritual mentors and pastors have said it’s not a big deal, pick the version that “speaks to you”, or something else non-committal. They have bought into the idea that “modern” translations are better because of the “archaic” language, or supposedly “new” discoveries, and the other intellectual and academic musings. I once saw a TV commercial from The National Council of Churches that said their Bible was the only one that incorporated “discoveries” from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I said I understand Mark’s approach to the subject because it is the idea I have had about how God might work through so many denominations and doctrinal differences. Paul exhorted us to strengthen the weaker vessels and lift them up, and to follow the household customs in the case of believers who abstain from meats. Adventists don’t make it dogma, but most of the Adventists I know are vegetarians. (A Krishna temple president once yelled at me about Christians violating Thou Shalt Not Kill, so I told him in the Millenium the lion shall lay down with the lamb. Instantly quiet.)

The simple difference is that KJBO defenders take the subject very seriously. It is more serious than a doctrinal discussion or dispute, because every doctrine MUST be Biblical. If you do not use the Bible as your standard for discussing doctrine, then the evangelical approach is totally different. THAT is the first and most basic doctrine.

That was the first thing I learned, my first night with the missionaries in downtown Los Angeles. How do I know I’m saved? How can I be sure? The WORD says so!

Like the brother who escaped the burning fireball coming fast toward him in the deadliest crash of aviation history in Tenerife in 1977, and stood up from his seat, and waving his Holy Bible in the air, began yelling out, “I’M STANDING ON THE WORD! I’M STANDING ON THE WORD! I’M STANDING ON THE WORD!” That was just before he blacked out, and came to again sitting on top of that plane next to a big hole in the roof that had opened up directly above his seat.

Like that man, our walk and talk must be grounded in the only firm foundation possible, the word of God. We cannot have ambiguity. The word of God is the ONLY way we have available in our search for the truth in all matters.

In other words, ALL doctrines MUST ensue from the word of God. In doctrine you can have differences, but if you don’t have a common reference to God’s word, then you are in ambiguous territory.

And we all know that the “versions” clash with each other. They contradict each other. One who has learned the standard salvation doctrines overlays them onto the different versions and consider them as differences that are not significant enough to even question the doctrine of “original language only”.

But there are two effects of doing this after accepting ambiguity in “insignificant” deviations in the translations and the forking of them. “I use ESB because it’s the most literal translation” over here, “I use the NIV [in ‘this forum’] because it’s the most popular in Christian churches today”, or “I use the NASB because it is in today’s language”. And there are academics who accept the KJB as a good translation but prefer the “dynamic” style of translation and use ridiculous counter-grammatical renderings from “the Greek” that sound ridiculous in English to justify it.

That’s the first effect. Some doctrinal differences devolve now into discussions about which translations have the best renderings of the “original meaning” in English. You hear that all the time in Christian radio. All the time they’re saying they’re quoting Greek or Hebrew to say they like the verse in this translation or that one better in their sermons.

So this is bigger than most “original-only” advocates think it is. We have radio sermons and pulpit sermons arguing about the Greek to support their doctrines. All the time. Even while they insist that no one translation can be considered “the best over all the rest”. And God forbid that God should inspire one translation only, in one modern language only, with the same inspiring power and light that he inspired an original autograph of original book, or even with the same inspiration with which he inspired the translations we find rendered as translations in the original book.

So the first effect is that Christians accept a lower standard for determining doctrine. There is an overlap between “find the version that speaks to you”, and “find the doctrine that speaks to you”. The doctrine of “original only” has already manifested in the Jehovah’s Witness “New World Translation”, which they produced only after telling congregants to use a black magic marker to remove portions of scripture from their KJB’s.

Why should they be blind to the fact that deviations of versions have the same effect, and following “By their fruits ye shall know them”, apply the same to the entire phenomenon?

All of this is why KJBO advocates “make a big deal” out of this subject. Besides, let me point out, there is no scripture that banishes the idea that God could inspire a new rendition of his word for the latter generations.

On the other hand, people who have emotional or intellectual investments in the academic reasoning for using other preferred versions have their own issues.


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