I don’t know why but it always rubs me raw when King James readers are all lumped into whatever the clump d’jour is. Let’s be clear. Using a KJ Bible is not a salvation issue. The color of your Bible cover isn’t going to keep you from knowing the Lord, and other translations are used all over the world by bonafide, blood bought, spirit filled believers. I’d love for other Christians to stop patronizing KJ readers already. And, as an aside, if you happen to be one of those KJ readers questioning the salvation of NIV pink-cover carrying Christians, cut it out. I’m thoroughly annoyed by the zingers going both ways; this is not iron sharpening iron–this is poking at each other with chopsticks.
So, at the risk of sounding a little defensive (feel free to not read this), here are ten reasons why I use mine.
1. I love His Word. There is nothing better than time spent with it, with meditating on the Word, with turning it over in heart and mind. It is precious food for the believer, foolishness to the lost, sustenance and teaching and comfort and (as needed) rebuke. It continues to be the best selling book in the entire world, even though the New York Times won’t list it on its bestseller list (and, by the way, I believe Pilgrim’s Progress would be consistantly at number two).
2. I am thankful and humbled by the means it took to allow me to have such a wonderful book in my possession. Men and women and children went to their deaths rather than recant what that Book teaches, and they weren’t burned by pagans, by the way. Many went to damp and cold prisons because of their efforts to translate the Bible into English, and they continued to write there rather than go back to their warm homes and families, because they believed everyone ought to have the Word in a language they could understand.
3. Which brings me to one reason the King James is so beautiful and understandable. It was put together at the high point of our language, at just the right time, readied for a language that would sweep the entire world from one end to another. No other language reaches more people in the world than English. Much like the timing of our Lord’s sacrifice and the Roman roads that were ready to propagate the gospel, this Book in English was ready for generations and nations to come to accomplish the same goal: propagating the gospel. The point is always that: the gospel going out.
4. So why not use other translations that are, basically, English? One reason is that the English language has been in decline over the past few centuries. You can see this simply in comparing the newspapers (or even the readers of school children) of the day between then and now. Vocabulary, sentence structure, the need for attentiveness…all have slid lower and lower over time. Making the Bible more current is never an update on the language.
5. And if making an update is supposed to make reading the Bible easier for today, it’s failed miserably. Doing a simple comparison of side by side reading makes it clear that more lofty sounding words and sentence structures have replaced words and form that even a child would understand.
6. Anyone that has studied poetry or read Shakespeare or even listened to rap music has some sense of rhythm, alliteration, repetition and so forth. The King James, under the mastery of the translators, keeps delicious form. There is a cadence to it, which makes memorization far more easier, which in turn makes the Word easier to come to mind and meditate on (both day and night…when it might be too dark to be reading…).
7. And speaking of those translators, these were men of the highest caliber, not only chosen for their love for the Lord and His precious Word, but because of their incredible training and knowledge in language, theology and history. These men sent translated manuscripts all over the country to ensure they were handling the Word of God rightly and in truth. They feared God, and did not undertake the task with flippancy, trying to create a niche market for whatever segment of people to appeal to. I would urge you to read the preface to the reader, the letter they wrote to us, to get a sense of why and how they worked.
8. But we know better now, right? Those are old, white, dead guys, right? Again, check their credentials for yourselves. The idea that just because their work commenced hundreds of years ago and therefore it is antiquated is foolishness. We are not smarter with more material now; we stand on the shoulders of giants as fleas. It is the height of pride to believe more highly than we ought, simply because it is the year 2013.
9. What about those “thee”s and “thou”s? This I hear mocked more than anything else. Listen. It is there NOT because “that’s how they talked back then”. It is there to help with understanding. It helps differentiate between things like “I love you” (you–the one person I am speaking to) and “I love you” (you all–everyone in front of me). It is there for clarity.
10. Lastly, I find that using multiple translations has divided the church. With everyone in the congregation choosing their own translation, there is no unity. The pastor reads from the pulpit and the people cannot in unison even in their minds say them from memory. I believe the Bible is supposed to make US bend to understand and study IT, and too many times we seek a translation that makes IT bend to serve US.
Like I said, this is not a salvation issue. If you want the translation that appeals to your environmental cause or patriotism or the current evangelical favorite, I am not going to hit you over the head with my Bible. Mock me if you must, but I shall continue to carry my King James Bible within my hands and near to my heart. And yes, I secretly hope that, someday, you will too.