Dr. Van on KJVO

hebrew.gifDr Van,   When you refer to King James Version Only-ism, what do you mean?   Most people lump those who believe that God has preserved His Word in the Textus Receptus text with the Ruckmanite position, which says the King James Version is superior to the Greek and Hebrew.  The latter position is unacceptable.   Dr. Gary Gillmore, evangelist. 

Reply: 

1)  The Ruckmanite position, as you refer to it, is the one usually meant by King James Only people.   It declares that the English translation of 1611 is the one that God inspired, and that other translations are to be judged by it.  No transmission or translation, however, is infallible, whether declared so by pope, professor, or preacher.  Some among them even consider that the Greek and Hebrew texts are to be judged by the ‘Official and Inspired’ KJV, which, as you say, is unacceptable.  God molded and selected historic Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek for a distinct purpose.  No translation into another language, even Latin, can fully and properly convey God’s truth.

2)  Some, including Dr. Clearwaters, as you may recall, have declared the KJV to be the best of English translations for one reason or another.  Dr. Clearwaters favored it for its literary quality and clarity.  Others prefer it because it is closest to the Textus Receptus, that is, the Hebrew and Greek copies as handed down through the ages.  In my opinion, thus far, those who cite evidences and reasons to favor the TR have not been convincing.  New evidence, of course, might change that.  But, based on evaluation of extant Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, the texts used for more recent translations seem preferable.  Favoring  the TR or the KJ is no problem;  I still favor the KJ for many things.  Declaring the TR or the KJ the providentially correct transmission or translation is totally unfounded.

3)  The term inspiration refers to the original inscripturation (the first writing down) of the various special revelations from God, the sum total of which constitute our Old and New Testaments.  That inscripturation was divinely guided, infallible, without flaw.  No single text exactly represents those various originals.  Copies made through the ages have included errors made by copyists.  It is determining which words and letters were of the original inspired text and which might have been scribal errors that is the work of textual research.  It is in this area that differences have risen.

4)  One important distinction:  What did God promise concerning retention of His Word?  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:33) “and it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fall” (Luke 16:17).  “Till heaven and earth pass one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled” (Matt 5:19).   The doctrine of preservation declares that every detail of the autographa will survive.  It does not guarantee that anyone will be able infallibly to sort out which variation represents the original autograph and which was by later scribes.  Any who claim to be able to identify the correct text today, for any reason they invent, have merely appointed themselves God.  Declaring KJ only or TR official and infallible is definitely heresy.

5)  Some have reported that there is a divisive attitude among fundamentalists over this issue.  If that is so in some areas, it is either because certain dogmatic, unfounded views have engendered a bitter spirit or perhaps because a more-holy-than-thou attitude is being manifest.  Neither seems to be in the spirit of Christ.

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This article was written by Dr. Warren Vanhetloo, a former professor of mine at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary.  It is published here with his permission. You can subscribe to these Cogitations by emailing Dr. Van at cbsvan@sbcglobal.net.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing this. The TR Onlyists are better than the KJV Onlyists, but they still make adherence to the TR a matter of faith and separation. There are a few happy exceptions however.

    Reply

  2. On my own blog today (August 27, 2007 at http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com, I offer some good advice to Gov. Huckabee on how he can advance his standing in the race for the Republican nomination and the presidency. I’d love to hear your comments (and get your support for my suggestions). Thanks.

    steve maloney
    ambridge, pa
    national coordinating team Palin 4 VP

    By the way, your professor is absolutely correct on the “worship” of the KJV. It is beautiful, but it is not the best translation — and certainly not superior to the original languages.

    Reply

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