I have many reasons for preferring the KJV. This is by no means an exhaustive list. This is, however, probably my Top 5 reasons for preferring the KJV that I suspect would have the broadest recognition or appeal. Anyway, here goes.
1. It’s been working great for 400+ years, at least for Protestants. This is a track record no modern translation can compete with. If the person you were not saved through didn’t use the KJV, the person he was saved through very likely did. If it was sufficient for them, why then is it not sufficient for you? I fully expect sects, cults, etc., to get their stories straight and make their own version.
2. If the current statistical analyses for biblical literacy, church membership, church attendance, spiritual health, understanding of basic theology, etc., are any indication, the 100+ complete English translations of the Bible aren’t helping things. When this hot topic bubbles to the surface of conversations with folks online and/or fellow bondservants of our Lord Jesus Christ, I’m not shy about challenging them to cherry pick some data that would suggest a correlation between the increase in complete English translations of the Bible and anything that could plausibly be inferred to provide a spiritual net benefit.
3. In fact, the 100+ complete English translations of the Bible are demonstrably hurting things. Have you ever participated in a Bible Study, Church Service or even an Online Sermon and tried to follow along when you and the Pastor are using different Bible versions and that information isn’t previously known or presently declared? What about after you do know which version he’s using and which version you’re using: How much easier does it get after that? Have you ever seen what happens when you multiply that same disparity with an entire congregation? Joey’s got the Pastor’s verse in the next verse down. Lisa has that verse but it’s worded completely differently. Bob can’t find it right away but chimes in a minute later when he finds it in a footnote. You get the picture.
4. But in case you don’t get the picture, let’s look at the same 100+ complete English translations of the Bible from the perspective of the seeker, or new convert, or an old believer who is struggling with their faith, or a worldling who is being witnessed to. Does having 100 of these versions floating around make it easier or harder for Satan himself to say “Yea, hath God said, ____________?” (Genesis 3:16)
Unfortunately it’s difficult to visualize the variation for one verse across the 101 listed versions of complete English translations per Wikipedia as shown here, because websites like BibleGateway, BibleHub and even Logos don’t seem to have an option to show you that same verse across every Bible version written in English. It seems like the most they offer are the Top N of those versions on one page, although you can spot check some of the more ludicrous ones like The Message.
5. Wading into this arena for the first time years ago, I’m going to leave you all with the one verse that stood out to me the most. With it, I was able to filter out so much of the noise about caves and papyri and gender inclusion and cultural norms and the dynamically equivalent. Don’t get me wrong, those things have their place – well, some of them do, the rest ought to go in the waste bin – but this ought to be really simple in the mind of the Christian. Let’s look at Revelation 22:19.
Let me tell you what’s beautiful about this verse.
What’s beautiful about this verse is that despite the fact that there are at least two camps which interpret the verse differently (one group saying that this warning is referring to only the Book of Revelation, and another group saying it applies to the entirety of God’s Word, that is – all sixty-six books of the Bible), this is one of those special moments where you can say ‘it doesn’t matter’ and be right without being guaranteed to sound like a jerk. Why? Because all of these Modern Bible Versions in English make changes to the verse that specifically warns people to not make changes. Regardless of how broad or narrow you interpret this passage, surely the warning to not modify the text applies to the text of the warning.
Come, let us reason.
6. We live in a Word-based construct. By that, I mean that in creation was created, finely tuned, administered, etc. with words. Our Lord Jesus Christ being the Logos, and us having God’s Word in a preserved, written form today. Plenty of the human agents (or authors, if you like; but I trust you know what I mean here, so mission accomplished either way) that produced the inspired writings of the New Testament used the Septuagint, so God can rule and overrule even with translations. However, that’s not really what we’re talking about when we consider over 100 copyrighted translations being marketed to a particular target audience or segment which occasionally plagiarize the preceding translation or manuscript (notice I didn’t say autographs, because so far as we know we don’t have them, nor do I particularly think we need them). That’s starting to sound more like something being done in service to Mammon, not to God. Why not instead, if they must produce modern translations, abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22) in so doing, by choosing to not copyright their texts?
7. The great enemy of souls, Satan, knows who his enemy is. Taking a stand for the KJV is a sure way to get martyred in any company. Who’s talking about replacing the ESV? You’re undoubtedly well acquainted with the political heuristic to ‘follow the money’ when you’re trying to root something out or get to the bottom of something. Let me introduce you to a spiritual heuristic, one worthy of all acceptation: ‘follow the hate’. It is enough for the servant to be like His Master.
A lot of people might think someone like me could be taking all of this a little too seriously. If that’s you – if you’re in that camp, and if you believe that Revelation 22:19 is God-breathed and that God preserved His Word in accordance with the promises in His Word, and that He is sovereign, then I would submit to you that I don’t think you’re taking this issue seriously enough.
Dear friends, we live in a post-modern world. A place where people wish to explore far more than fifty shades of gray, objective truth does not exist and anyone’s truth will do unless your truth and my truth can’t both be true. 100+ English Bible Versions is fast approaching Baskin Robbins levels of ridiculousness, and ice cream is a much easier sell.