Monday, August 4, 2008


Part 1

Today, August 3, 2008, I went to church carrying my Bible.

Zowie, that's a hot item, huh?

It really is because that Bible was an ESV (English Standard Version). I did it without thinking, because we missed Bible study and were going just to the preaching service, I decided to leave behind the large, heavy Key Word Study Bible (KJV) which I usually carry to our Small Groups class. This event marked the first time in the 32 years I've been going to church that I did not carry a King James Version.

That should say something.......and I've been trying to figure out just what it says. It's not a landmark because I've been using other translations for years--mostly ASV and NKJV--for study and comparison; and have unhesitatingly referred to Greek and Hebrew texts and commentaries like Keil and Delitzsch and Robertson's Word Studies. Maybe what it says is that old habits die slowly.

When God saved me, He used the witness of some fellows who were members of an Independent Baptist church of the most extreme sort, and one decidedly King James ONLY. Though we lasted in that atmosphere only a few years because of our discomfort (and worse) concerning various practices and teachings, the King James stuck with me. It probably took 20 years for me to get over the KJO brainwashing I had been subjected to. I remember my wife taking up with an ASV (American Standard Version) at some point and making a serious effort to dissuade her from using it. (She still uses it.)

Furthermore, I always liked the KJV, and still like it. For my own reading it's fine; I love the Jacobean language and am comfortable with it (probably related to my love of Elizabethan literature). All the scripture I have memorized is from the KJV. I never make any effort to memorize ESV or NASB. At the same time, I am aware of the various weak spots in the translation and correct them in teaching or preaching without the slightest twinge of guilt--an act which is directly contrary to my KJO indoctrination.

For the past few years, since I have been preaching in prisons, I frequently intersperse readings from the ESV where the archaic language of the KJV is just too much to cope with, especially for a group of men whose average education is on the 3rd grade level. One can take the time to translate the occasional archaism when reading from the KJV, but some entire passages are replete with words which cause my listeners to go "Huh?"

The KJO world is still out there; it's small but it's loud and it's impenetrable to reason and logic. And, it's sad to see people so wrapped up in a totally baseless "philosophy" which is, in fact, idolatrous. Though it might sound to some as if I'm making this up for the purpose of mockery, I assure you this is true and not unique, though maybe not a majority view in the KJO world: I have heard it taught (condensed version here): Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1); the Bible (KJV or course) is the Word of God; therefore, the Bible = Jesus. We are carrying Him around with us. We worship the Bible (Jesus).

So, it's hard to get along very far with KJO folks if you're not one of them. I started working as a volunteer with a prison ministry which is KJO. It's a great ministry with fine, Godly men serving therein. I had no problem because I always used my KJV (which is just how I am; I didn't do it just for their benefit; I always preach from the KJV) I was compromising to some degree in that I knew better than to "correct" the KJV in any way, whereas I might have so done in another setting. I finally got convicted about my duplicity and have forsaken the work. It's interesting though, looking back. My "calvinist" preaching never bothered anyone; but if I had "corrected" the KJV or quoted my ESV, I'd have been jerked out of the pulpit in a heartbeat.

(to be continued)

1 comment:

ESL at Woodrow said...

Very well put regarding the use of the ESV and how unreasonable many KJO folks can be.