To me, it’s becoming more and more obvious that one of the foundations of a biblically sound church is a biblically sound Bible version. And in a perfect world, I believe we would only have one authoritative Bible version in each language. In the English language, I believe this version should the King James Bible (and its source documents the Textus Receptus New Testament and Masoretic Old Testament).
There are many reasons I believe the King James Bible should be our go-to Bible version. For one, it has stood the test of time, having been used for over 400 years. Also, denominations and churches that switch from the King James Bible to another Bible per-version “that the youth like better and find easier to understand” almost invariably fall prey to various heresies. Today among evangelicals, the primary heresies seem to be Spiritual Formation (Contemplative Spirituality) and Postmodernism (Emerging/Emergent/Emergence teachings).
Note: I’m not speaking for King James only Free Will Baptists here – but I assume their position is very similar: my personal position on the King James Bible closely matches this article by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist David Cloud.
Background of the Free Will Baptist King James only debate
Concerning the dropping of the King James Bible (or the adding of other per-versions alongside it), this push among Free Will Baptists seems to be coming from “the power people” (denominational leaders and professors). But thank the Lord, many of the Free Will Baptist churches throughout the U.S. seem to be resisting this change, to the point of becoming more independent – officially or unofficially – from the national association.
I found background info here, showing that the Free Will Baptists have historically been King James only. (Warning – this comment is provided by one of today’s “progressive” FWB – I don’t recommend his blogs except for research.):
When we, as a denomination, discuss different bible translations, instead of agreeing to disagree, or valuing the diversity of scholarly opinion, we pass resolutions that require national speakers to only use the KJV; and not allow Randall House to reprint any translation but the KJV in their curriculum. [“Scholarly” is a biased term – it seems to me he is saying King James only people are not scholarly, while followers of other Bible per-versions are scholarly.]
A progressive FWB response to the above blog comment provides further insights:
It is true that national speakers have to use the KJV at the national. Although, that is the exception not the rule when it comes to how our broader, denomination wide FWB institutions have approached the KJV issue. Randall House now offers some NKJV and ESV curriculum. Chapel and conference speakers at FWBBC [renamed Welch College] can use differing translations, over the years I’ve heard the NIV, KJV, and every evangelical friendly translation in between used from the chapel pulpit. International missionaries are not required to use translations based on the textus receptus. And, I don’t think (but I could be wrong here) that Home Missions requires church planters to use the KJV. The theological commission has used time at the National for Dr. Pic to teach against the KJV only position. [I’ve provided links to two of Dr. Picirilli’s articles in the Endnotes below this blog.] So, if you look at the total picture, I think the national requirement for speakers is an anomaly – not the rule – when it comes to how our national boards and institutions have approached the bible translation issue. In fact, I think the KJV speaking rule at the national is a good gesture of peacemaking – while, we have moved toward the left in almost every other way on the national level. We certainly do not always denominationally lean right (FWB speaking) on this issue.
Now to a news flash over at Randall House Publications. I have reposted a press release below, which was published in early 2013; click here for the original source and scroll to page 49. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].
Randall House Publications, Inc. King James Version Statement
From the Randall House Board of Directors:
Several years ago Randall House added translation options for Sunday School curriculum to include King James Version (KJV), plus two reputable recent translations: New King James Version (NKJV) and English Standard Version (ESV). [Reputable – how so? How can the NKJV and the ESV be reputable, when they are not 100% based on the same source texts as the King James Bible? Namely, the Textus Receptus NT and the Masoretic OT. For articles critiquing the NJKV and ESV, see the Endnotes following this blog.] The English Standard Version was added to the Bible memory options for the 2013 National Association Youth Competitive Activities. Some have incorrectly concluded that Randall House will cease to publish King James curriculum and materials. Randall House, the publishing arm of the National Association of Free Will Baptists—the only publisher who teaches Free Will Baptist doctrine—will continue using the King James translation, as well as the NKJV and ESV. The Board of Directors (December 2012)[a pretty recent move] has approved the following statement to guide Randall House Publications and employees [who is on this Board of Directors?]:
In keeping with our long held tradition as Free Will Baptists, Randall House Publications continues to hold the widely used King James Version in high regard [but apparently not high enough to use the King James solely] as a translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages that comprise the Old and New Testaments. We believe God has supernaturally preserved Scripture to enable humanity to find redemption in Jesus Christ. [Historically, the term “preserved” has been used only for the King James Bible and similar translations based on the TR NT and Masoretic OT.] The Bible provides Christians with all that is needed for their faith and practice. For Randall House Publications to take a position that there is only one good English language translation would put Randall House outside of the doctrinal parameters of the Treatise of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. [So far I have found nothing in the Treatise – read here – to say using only the King James Bible does not line up with traditional Free Will Baptist doctrine. On the contrary, Free Will Baptists have used the King James solely for several centuries. Why the sudden supposed change in the denomination’s doctrinal stance?] To make an exclusive claim for the King James Version might call into question the Christian experience of the many believers who lived prior to the 17th century when the King James Version first became available, that of believers who do not speak English, or English-speaking believers who may not use the King James Version. [All three of these reasons are paper-thin arguments. The last reason especially irks me – are they saying all Bible per-versions are equally valid? They fail to say any per-versions should be avoided. They could have at least warned against the worst per-versions, such as Eugene Peterson’s The Message and the Emerging/Emergent The Voice.]
Note – in this or another blog, I hope to add a discussion of the history of the KJV/TR-only debate in the National Association of Free Will Baptists.
FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUALS THAT STILL HOLD TO THE KING JAMES BIBLE ONLY
(as of 02/04/15; I will be adding to and updating this list)
FOR FURTHER READING
Free Will Baptist articles FOR using the King James Bible only
Degraff Free Will Baptist Church links to articles (the articles cover many subjects; a number of the articles defend the King James Bible)
Southeastern Free Will Baptist College’s statement defending the King James Bible [NOTE 02/04/15 – this is now a BROKEN LINK; I don’t know whether the school has changed its position, or whether they have simply moved the link]
Free Will Baptist articles AGAINST using the King James Bible only
Robert E. Picirilli, KING JAMES ONLY? (Part I)
Robert E. Picirilli, KING JAMES ONLY? (Part II) [besides this and the above link, I’m looking for additional writings by Picirilli regarding this issue]
Wikipedia article on Randall House Publications
“[NAFWB] Leadership Conference Reaffirms the Inspiration, Inerrancy, and Preservation of Scriptures” (scroll down to p. 53 of this document to find the article)[Note this key comment: “These two days have reminded all of us that the Bible is the foundation of Free Will Baptist doctrine, no matter what translation one uses.” This conference’s title is deceptive in my opinion. As mentioned in my blog above, historically the term “preservation” is used only by adherents of the King James Bible only.]
Inspiration and Preservation of God’s Word: 17 Common Questions Answered by Six Free Will Baptist Scholars [ Note that most of the six scholars are against using the King James Bible only. Not to mention that the book is published by the Free Will Baptists’ now multi-version Randall House.]
Critiques of the NKJV
Wikipedia article on the NKJV
List of Google hits on the search string [“NKJV” “KJV”]
James R. Roby (Pastor, DeGraff FWB Church), The “New” KJV is NOT a KJV at All!
Dr. Michael E. Todd, A Deadly Translation” The “New” KJV
Note – I found many additional critiques of the NKJV; I hope to add links to these critiques here, as I have time.
Critiques of the ESV
Wikipedia article on the ESV
List of Google hits on the search string [“ESV” “KJV”]
Will Kinney, The English Standard Version (ESV)
Dr. Ken Matto, The ESV and its attack on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
David J. Stewart, The Damnable English Standard Version
Dr. Terry Watkins, The Truth About The English SUBStandard Version