If any of you are familiar with the King James Only movement (KJVO) then you are well aware of how they claim that modern bibles are perversions of the Word of God. They push forth conspiracy theories leading people to believe that all modern Bibles have some dark Satanic/worldly agenda to taint the very Word of God. Some KJVOist even go so far as to blame modern day apostasy on modern translations. I will not go into debunking the KJVO myth, but I do want to talk about the real dangers facing the church today – perversions from the pulpits.
Generally a poor translation can be spotted easily. I consider all paraphrased translations very poor because they are not literal translations of the Scriptures. It is easy to spot the weak renderings in these paraphrased translations. I do not promote using paraphrased translations. An example of a poor rendering is found in The Message 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.”
Translations like the NWT: New World Translation is an example of a translation where the people had an agenda to change the Word of God to conform to their beliefs. The cult known as the Jehovah Witness set about to create a Bible version that conformed to Watch Tower dogma. The result was a truly perverted translation with some very poor textual renderings. Translations like the NWT are easy to detect. All we must do is look at the source of the translation and compare it to other Bibles. Verses like John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” stand out as a clear perversion of the underlying text. Hebews 1:8 “But with reference to the Son: ‘God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.'” is another clear example of changing the Scriptures to support Jehovah Witness dogma.
Even the KJV has weak renderings like 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The love of money is not the root of all evil. Money is not the root cause of rape; the love of money has nothing to do with rape. If we dig long enough we can find poor renderings in all English translations.
The real poison and perversion, far deadlier than any poor translation, are the false teachings coming from the pulpits (or stage in the case of the Emergent Church). These wolves can use any translation to poison the sheep. They can use their enticing voices (2 Peter 2:1-3),their ear tickling messages (2 Timothy 4:2-4), and their form of godliness to deceive the hearts of many (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). It’s not the translation that they use that is the root cause of the problem, but rather the false teacher preaching.
If we blame apostasy on the bibles used by false teachers and cult leaders, many KJVO advocates will be alarmed to know that many major cults like the Mormons used a King James Bible to spread their heresies. The KJV destroys the Mormon myths when the KJV is taken in context. The problem is how false teachers twist and distort the Word of God to conform to their beliefs. I am sola scriptura because this belief goes a long way in preventing these types of false teachers from spreading heresy. The last thing a false teacher wants is for his people to actually read/study the Bible and ponder what they read.
I agree that poor translations can aid in bad doctrines and poor teachings. To some extent these poor translations like The Message, NWT, etc… are the cause of some questionable teachings and beliefs. Does this mean that all modern Bibles are responsible for bad doctrines and heresies? The answer is no. To blame modern Bibles for all the problems today is to convict the KJV along side the modern Bibles. The KJV was used by Oneness Pentecostals, Mormons, and various other cults. Cult leaders like Peter S. Ruckman are KJVOists. Does this mean the KJV is bad? The answer again is no.
If we take the time to follow the Berean example in Acts 17:11 NASB, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so,” it will help us spot these wolves and hirelings who are distorting the truth. It’s up to all of us to study the Word and ask questions about what we are being taught from the pulpit (2 Timothy 2:14-17).
The truly disturbing thing that I have seen in many from the KJVO Camp is how they refuse to address the issue of Scriptural support for their KJVO belief. KJVO advocates denounce sola scriptura in favor of prima scriptura because they do not have any Scriptural support to back their KJVO doctrine. Some go so far as to blind-eye heretics like Peter S. Ruckman, Gail “god and” Riplinger, and Sam Gipp just because they are King-James-Only. I’ve said many times in the past when debating KJVOists, “King James Onlyism pardons a multitude of sins and heresies as long as the offending party is King James only.” I fear that too often my observations are correct regarding the double standards held by many in the KJVO Camp.
Instead of worrying so much about whether the preacher is using a KJV, we should be examining what he is preaching to make sure that he is preaching the whole council of God. We need to study to make sure that no false teachings are slipping in through the pulpit. Regardless of the translation, a wolf can devour the sheep with a smile are he reads from even the most conservative translations available today.
Romans 16:17-18 (NASB)
16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.