I’ll tell you what. Want people to look cross-eyed at you, assume you’re some in-bred, backwoods hick or thoughtless, sweaty, mom’s spaghetti Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, proudly, consistently, publicly use the good ol’ King Jimmy Bible.
“Thou usest the King James? Doth thou not want folks understanding the Bible? Might as well use Jerome’s Vulgate! What, you think the Bible was reinspired in English in 1611, don’t you?”
Now, other than getting a kick out of flummoxing those who deserve a good flummox or two, why in the world do I insist on using in private, in teaching, and in preaching the King James Bible?
I want my answer here to be relatively brief. If you’re looking for a more thorough theological handling of the question, check out this article I wrote over on The Vidette.
The King James is my Bible because…
1. Theology. God did not just inspire his Word back in the day and then leave it up to our folly to mess up, corrupt, and hopelessly seek to recreate. The Bible ain’t no fixer upper. He gave it because we need it. We need it. We need it just like they needed it when it was first given. It is a necessity. And God does not withhold that which is necessary for life and godliness from his people. He gave it. He goes out of His way to keep it, just like it’s always been, pure, undefiled, perfect, trustworthy, infallible, all the way down and all the way through the ages. Not a jot or tittle will pass before the grand finale. Most English Bibles today do not believe or teach this theology. Most English Bibles today are translated from a skeptical, critical, unbelieving starting point. Most English Bibles on the market are translated from what’s called the Critical Text. The starting point of the Critical Text is that God’s Word has been added to and removed from, that man was powerful enough to spoil that good gift of God’s Word and so corrupt that we no longer have the original writing and can only hope to maybe, just maybe, recreate it one day. And who knows how we’ll know when that day comes. I hate this theology. I hate its promotion. I want preservation taught and believed. And that starts with using a Bible translated from a source which has as its foundation the theology of preservation. That source, for the Greek New Testament that is, is the Textus Receptus. It is from the Textus Receptus that the King James is translated. That’s why I use it. I use it because of theology, Reformed theology.
2. Stability. The Bible is the one and only firm foundation for the faith of the saints of the Lord, laid for us by the Lord. This is such good news that one of the best Christian hymns sings about it. The Bible is always there for us, unchanging, firm, stable, our foundation from which we build and conquer and live. We need the Bible to be stable like we need the dirt under our feet to remain unmoved. Yet no Bible translated from the Critical Text can claim to be a firm foundation for the saints of the Lord. Why? Because the Critical Text is an ever shifting, ever moving, ever changing text. Does God’s Word shift and change? No. But the Critical Text does. In the near future, there will be a new Critical Text published, purporting to be God’s Word, though it’s different than the previously published Critical Text that also purported to be God’s Word. How many versions of Romans did Paul write, I wonder? How many versions of the Revelation of Christ did John record? Apparently, about 30, and counting. Because, you know, firm foundation and all that. In contrast, the Textus Receptus you buy today from the Trinitarian Bible Society will be the same TR bought by your grandsons. It is stable. It qualifies to be considered firm. Again, the King James is translated from this firm, stable source material.
Furthermore, most English Bibles today, including the New King James, are owned and copyrighted by private companies. They own and maintain the copyright to “their version” of the Bible because she’s one heck of a cash cow for publishing. And, if you really want to treat the Bible like a lady, make sure she’s profitably turning tricks for you. They will change the words of their translation to make sure they can maintain copyright and keep the money pumping. In contrast, the King James is in the public domain. It is the possession of Christ and His people, not some company. So you can do novel things like read it in public, cover to cover, without breaking a law. Sweet.
I use the King James because of stability, non-commercialized, non-skeptical, non-stuttering, non-schizophrenic stability. How firm a foundation.
3. History. The history is in. By the providential wisdom of God, the King James Bible is the Bible of the English Reformation, the Bible of the English speaking church. I love that Geneva Bible; Knox and the Pilgrims are heroes. But the Geneva Bible was not used by God in the English speaking Reformation and down today throughout the English speaking church like the King Jimmy. It just wasn’t. That’s no insult. It’s just recognition. Even today, with so many haters, the King James is still the most read English Bible. The King James is the catholic Bible, it’s the universal Bible of the English world. No Bible can compare to its impact, the practical light it has shed and blessing it has brought.
Additionally, not only is it easy to read after just a couple weeks of daily reading, it, unlike modern contenders, opens up treasures of writing from church history. It prepares you to read works from our Puritan fathers, making their language sound more familial and less like clunky, intellectual cardboard that makes you want to take a nap.
I use the King James because of history.
4. Majesty. We know that the Bible is God’s Word because it evidences itself to be so. We know that it is what it is because it shows itself to be what it is by the way it is. It is self-authenticating. If I call my brother but *67 the number and leave a voicemail without leaving my name, do you think he’d still know who it is? Darn right he would. How? Because of the way my voice is. The same is true, just on a more magnificent scale, with the Bible. The confession says that its qualities, the heavenliness of its doctrine, the consent of all its parts, its power to convert sinners and edify saints, and the majesty of its style, are the qualities of God’s own voice. The Bible, in Hebrew and Greek, is more majestic than any other book in existence, to the same degree that God is more majestic than any other existing being. A good translation, therefore, is going to appropriately capture and convey that majesty in new language. That’s part of translating the right words rightly. Given that premise, know that absolutely no English Bible competes with the majesty of the King James Bible. It’s not even close enough to be considered a race. It’s so majestic that it forever changed the English language. I use the King James because of this majesty.
Theology. Stability. History. Majesty.
That’s why I use the King Jimmy.
It’s just a bonus that it gets their knickers twisted.