Monday, June 05, 2006

King James Onlyism is a Gnostic heresy

I've been meaning to state that for a while.

Some people may not know what I'm talking about. It's this: the belief among a lot of Christians that we are only supposed to use the Authorized Version of 1611 – more commonly known as the King James Version – of the Bible as our text. They further believe that it's a dire sin to use any version of the Bible other than King James.

(For the record, I use the New International Version in my personal study, but 99% of the time when I'm writing something and need to quote scripture, I will use the King James Version… if for no other reason than because it's classier to use a time-tested masterpiece of the English language, despite some problems in it that have been addressed by modern scholarship.)

Here's what I think: some Christians put too much faith in an earthly incarnation of the Word of God, and contend too much for the sanctity of that incarnation, instead of meditating upon the meaning of the Word itself. Instead of letting themselves be changed by the Word of God, they desire to have the Word as something that they can wield as a tool, or a weapon, to be used against the things and even people of this temporal realm.

In other words, some Christians are imbuing the King James Version of the Bible with a power that it does not have and never was supposed to have, on the sheer basis of its linguistics and structure. To them, it's not the truth that is conveyed by the words, but which exact words are used and how they are ordered that is what is more important.

This belief in the complete inerrancy and superiority of the King James Bible above all others is something very much based in one of the most enduring tenets of Gnostic thought: that things of matter can be given power. Indeed, power is the only driving motive behind King James Onlyism and the lust to destroy the credibility of other versions of the Bible. In doing so these Christians have taken the living Word and made it as something sterile, diminishing utterly its power of spiritual nourishment.

I may write more about this later, but I felt led to share that thought here for some reason or another. If anyone disagrees with my sentiment on this, they're more than welcome to make a comment to this post. I won't delete anyone who disagrees with me (unless the comment crosses the line away from common decency).

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thus far, agreed. I support the KJV and NKJV purely on grounds of textual source. http://ed.asisaid.com/bible/hortwescott.html

The Aardvark said...

Well played, sir.
My wife, The Dread Dormomoo, adds that the "KJV Priesthood" uses the version to obfuscate. Being the experts at the linguistics of the thing, they can couch doctrine based upon the peculiarities of the language.The Unlearned can't decipher it, being, well, unlearned, and so must rely upon their pedagogic priesthood to uncrate "what the Bible says". This is Gnostic in and of itself. If the preacher teaches that any other version is eeeeee-vil, then the people cannot check him out with a comparative reading from another translation. They are thus imprisoned by their belief that only King Jiminy is allowable.
I prefer to read aloud from the "Saint James Version" (no lie, I've heard it called that). The flow and beauty of the language surpasses any current work, but for doctrinal clarity, I prefer NKJV and NASB, tho' I find the latter stuffy, and almost as vocally unreadable as the Amplified.

Anonymous said...

Been a long time since I've commented....but I've been reading! ;-)

I used to be KJVO, until I realized how goofy the idea that somehow we didn't have God's word till 1611 is.

I do think that the Textus Receptus manuscripts are superior to the Alexandrian Texts, but we can debate that some other time.

Chris Knight said...

The past several decades have seen a lot of manuscripts come forward that are neither Textus Receptus or Alexandrian (in fact I think it's safe to say that the last 50 years have seen more biblical discoveries than the previous 19 centuries put together). An ample enough body of manuscripts from which to produce ever-more accurate translations of the Bible.

I appreciate the Textus Receptus... but up to a point. Erasmus wasn't working with the best of materials when he put it together, and there's also the fact that he was rushed for time (he was trying to win a contest). Some parts of it haven't translated as well as we understand them now.

One problem I do have with the King James Version itself is that it does take liberties with text in deference to the religious beliefs of the Puritans who advocated the new version. The biggest example that comes to mind is how "baptism" is handled: the KJV leaves *plenty* of leeway for the mode to be sprinkling, rather than revert to the Greek original "baptizos": "to immerse", clearly the mode used exclusively by the early church.