Thursday, December 06, 2007

Is KJVO a Great Danger to Historic Fundamentalism?

I like men to come right out and say what they believe. I would rather have that than the public jello accompanied by the behind-closed-doors concrete gossip. That is something I like about Mike Harding. I'd rather know and he doesn't disappoint when he writes this yesterday:
I am a committed Fundamentalist. At the same time there are some great dangers in our movement. KJV Onlyism is the greatest embarassment to historic Fundamentalism that I know. It shows how intellectually bankrupt and dishonest some aspects of Fundamentalism really are. It is laughable if it were not so serious in its consequences. Also, we have our fair share of Easy Believism and Semi-Pelagianism. Third, certain quarters of Fundamentalism have a pattern of preaching that does grave injustice to the text on a regular basis.
For this essay, I want to park on what Harding says about those who use the King James Version only. I want to enumerate what he says so that it is clear to everyone reading. He writes that using the King James Version only is:
1. A Great Danger
2. The Greatest Embarassment to Historic Fundamentalism
3. Intellectually Bankrupt
4. Dishonest
5. Laughable
6. Serious in Its Consequences

Did you feel like Harding was holding back here? Or did it seem like what he was thinking somehow seeped out? I guess we can put away this urban legend that the KJVO guys are the impolite ones, one of the major arguments that I regularly read by eclectic, criticial text guys like Harding. It's true that many KJVO guys should say things in a nicer way (even me sometimes). I don't think "intellectually bankrupt," "dishonest," and "laughable" are nice, but I'll leave that up to you. Personally, I'd rather know what he is thinking, but since "nice" is important to them, and they use it as a major argument in almost everything that they write, then one would think that he would use a different tone. You see, style never was an issue. Manners always was a red herring to cover for the incredibly faulty exegesis of the multiple version people. They regularly will tell their own people that "errors in the Bible might shake you up a little, but don't let it." They don't want their people hearing a position that says that we don't have errors in the Bible. The vitriol comes out.

I would actually welcome a public debate with Harding on this very issue to check out how dishonest, stupid, and funny we are. If our position really was those three things, he should cream me. I would gladly go and do it on his home turf. He could have home court advantage, so to speak. I should run out of material in about 17 minutes and resort to ad hominem type personal attacks if my side doesn't have the stuff, but then again, maybe liars, dummies, and hilarious are actually ad hominem, aren't they? Well, of course!

Now you may think I'm angry with Mike Harding. I'm not. I've said I like him. I feel sorry for him. He's been blinded on this issue. Satan is working powerfully, I believe. Harding's been compromised in a number of ways through his associations (because of fundamentalism and his commitment to fitting into it), which results in numbers of blind spots. To give it a Scriptural designation, he's been spoiled "through philosophy and vain deceit" (Col. 2:8), so that he staggers "through unbelief" (Rom. 4:20).
I'm going to go one by one through the labels that Harding gives the KJVO position and I'm going to show how that those designations actually and ironically do clearly belong to him. I'll let you judge for yourself. I've searched my soul and I can't defend laughable and unintelligent. Sometimes I'm embarrassing, especially when I spill on my tie or miss a spot shaving. I'm probably those three. Dishonest though, no.
1. A Great Danger?
Is KJVO a great danger? I think that double inspiration is a great danger. That doctrine isn't in Scripture. Harding is saying, however, that the belief in one Bible, the text behind the KJV, that it has been perfectly preserved by God, is a great danger. On the other hand, he is saying that his position, that we don't know what the Words of God are or where they're at is actually the safe, edifying position to the saints. We have certainty. He has doubt. He is saying that doubt is the less dangerous position.
His position is incredibly dangerous. Bart Ehrman was on a track to the Lord's service, but he couldn't square errors with the doctrine of preservation, so he pushed the eject button on Christianity. Now Daniel Wallace professes that inerrancy of Scripture is not a cardinal doctrine and unnecessary to the Gospel. He pragmatically explains that the reason is because if we tie inerrancy to the Bible we currently possess too many people will go off the deep end and depart from the faith. Even Wallace would say that preservation is a logical conclusion to inspiration, so, according to him, if we claim inerrancy, we'll propel people away from the Bible. And here's a comment from a Vinny at Daniel Wallace's Pen and Parchment blog in a recent article Wallace wrote about the impact of textual variations:

Like Bart Ehrman, I came to a belief in evangelical Christianity in my late teens and I know that a significant part of the attraction was the idea of finding a source of certainty in an unsure world. One of the first books I read was “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and I remember thinking that the arguments and evidence were not nearly as persuasive as I thought they were going to be. Over the course of a couple of years, I found many things to be less certain and knowable than I first thought. Unlike Ehrman, I abandoned the faith before I turned twenty.
Now that is dangerous! What I am finding is that the doctrine of inerrancy is being attacked vehemently by many today and their reasoning often comes from the acceptance of errors in the Bible because of an eclectic and critical text view.
Eclectic and critical text men are often the same men who assail the authoritarian type leadership of certain fundamental Baptist pastors. Do you understand that when one of these men stands before his congregation and tells the people what the Words of God are that he is taking canonicity into his own hands? He is canonizing those Words into the text, making himself the pillar and ground of the truth. Does that seem dangerous to you? Does that seem to supercede his God-ordained authority? And yet these critical text pastors do this regularly.
Do you think that the proponderence of new versions has led to greater or lesser trust in God's Word? That is fairly easy to answer, isn't it? Do you think their attack on the standard Bible for the English speaking people for 400 years could possibly engender more respect for Scripture? Of course not. The multiple version crowd is the dangerous crowd. Danger has become their business.
What isn't dangerous is believing that God fulfilled His promises of preservation and that He supernaturally did it either by providence or a miracle, whatever it took to do what He said He would do. So I absolutely beg to differ on this point that the KJVO position is a dangerous position. Certainty in Scripture would seem to be what we want. We have it. They don't.
2. The Greatest Embarrassment to Historic Fundamentalism
My question on this one is: "Embarrassing to whom?" It is embarrassing to, ta-da, new-evangelicals and liberals! We is embarrassed before these great "scholars." Most people in churches wouldn't know that they were supposed to be so embarrassed for believing in the perfect preservation of Scripture if they weren't told by the so-called scholars and these eclectic, critical-text pastors. I'm glad he told us this one, because if he hadn't, then we would be judging his (and their) motives. They feel lumped in with all the KJVO "hicks."
Another question: "What difference should this make?" It shouldn't make any difference how we look. What makes a difference is that we take the Scriptural position and honor God. By faith we please God. As long as I'm not shameful to God, I don't mind if the world and its scholarship doesn't like me or my positions. They should be embarrassed for their lack of faith. I'm not.
This point was very revealing about fundamentalism and the hold that respect and admiration from men has on it. This is where fundamentalist politics comes in. Men cow-tow to the norms of a fundamentalist sub-culture. Whoever doesn't fit in, doesn't get dealt with an open Bible or with patient discipline, but with a political cold shoulder. Much of the reputation of meanness has been earned by fundamentalism. Harding should be embarrassed about even bringing up embarrassment.
I'm going to continue this series, in the near future, perhaps the next couple of days. When I do, I will also discuss preservation in light of the issue of providence and miracles, that I started a few days ago.


Dave Mallinak said...

First, I hope you will succeed in getting a debate lined up with Pastor Harding. I think it would be both good and helpful. When I was a college student, I enjoyed Pastor Harding's teaching greatly, and he earned my respect in great ways when he would come to speak as a guest preacher. I think he genuinely loves God's Word, and I also think he is genuinely in error.

Second, you are exactly right about the reason why he is embarrassed by us. It has everything to do with his desire that fundamentalism be considered "legitimate" or "relevant" to MacArthur and other "heavy-hitters" in the evangelical world. And it illustrates why modern-day fundamentalism is irrelevant.

Maybe he should be embarrassed, but maybe for a different reason than he is.

By the way, a man moved to my town who had attended Harding's church (I think he left it several years before he moved here). Anyway, he visited my church, seemed to like it very well, until he heard that we only used the King James. His immediate response was "I've been warned not to ever have anything to do with a KJVO church."

Really? I said. So, you don't want to talk about it, discuss it with me so that you can know why we stand this way, or how serious we are about the word of God? So, its just like that, huh?

Just like that. Haven't seen him since. Sad really, that they are that schismatic about this issue.

Albert said...

Pastor Kent,

Do KJV-Only fundamental Baptists fellowship with non-KJV-Only fundamental Baptists? Thanks.

Dave Mallinak said...


Of course, you bring up an interesting point. No, we do not fellowship with those who deny that God has perfectly preserved His Word. And we are not afraid to say so.

I point out the schismaticism of men like Harding for the sake of irony. Harding and the FBF say that we are wrong to separate over this issue. So, they separate from us, over this issue. Do you see the irony of it all?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Albert, You asked: "Do KJV-Only fundamental Baptists fellowship with non-KJV-Only fundamental Baptists?"

I don't consider myself a fundamentalist, Albert, but I would understand why you would consider me to be one. I break fellowship over a bibliology that says there are errors in Scripture. This relates to the authority of God's Word. With errors, Scripture becomes non-authoritative. This is why men like Daniel B. Wallace are calling inerrancy a secondary or tertiary doctrine, Albert.

However, our view of separation says that we don't cut people off. We give people time to understand and be convinced of Scriptural doctrine, but if he does not receive it, just like someone who disobeys Scripture without repentance, we separate from him.

Fundamentalism gives the political cold shoulder to those with whom they disagree, using this "schismatic" idea completely out of its Scriptural context (Titus 3:10, 11). Normally, you don't hear about the separation until after you get it through the fundamentalist grapevine (gossip-line).

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks for this post.

I enjoyed it.

Mike Hontz said...

Dave & others,

I certainly don't know the reason why this man's pastor told him not to become part of a KJVO church. I am not one who would separate over such an issue even though I am not a KJVO. However, even though I wouldn't personally separate from KJVO, nor would I equate what they teach as 'false doctrine' in the way that I would label infant baptism as false doctrine. However, in my previous church, we used to support some missionaries who were KJVO as well as some who were 'Baptist only'. (We were an independent Bible church that believed doctrinally almost everything that Baptists believed, only we didn't have the name baptist on our door.) Our missions' committee eventually adopted a policy whereby they wouldn't support missionaries who were 'Baptist only' or who were 'KJV only' not because we refused to fellowship with them, but because we knew that in most facets of ministry, they would avoid fellowship with us. In the case of 'Baptist only' mission boards, we found it somewhat hypocritical that they would allow their missionaries to take our money, yet they would refuse to take our own people as missionaries with their agency. For this reason, we decided to no longer support their ministries financially because they were teaching and preaching to others that we were not 'baptist' enough or were not 'orthodox' enough.

This MAY have been the spirit behind the why this other pastor encouraged this man not to attend a KJVO church. Not because he wanted to separate from them, but because such a church would teach this man over time to separate from their previous church affiliations and claim that they were false teachers. As such, this pastor was concerned that this man would be taught something that would not help him in the area of discernment or spiritual formation, but would become a hindrance. I know that I would not encourage another believer to attend a KJVO church in light of my own particular convictions on that issue even though I would not have a problem fellowshipping with them.

Leroy St. Jean said...

Is believing in the KJV being the only version of the Bible scriptural? I have spoken to some folks who are kjvo and it seems if someone reads another version then they are not born again and destined for hell.

I'm not a kjvo. The reasons I have heard given for that stance has not convinced me but rather driven me away from it.

Kent Brandenburg said...


The point is that there is only one Bible, just like there is only one God, and one Truth. It's not that you couldn't do more than one translation from one text, but that there is just one text. Do you think we don't know what the words are?

Leroy St. Jean said...

"Do you think we don't know what the words are?"

I don't know what you mean by that but I did ask if it was scriptural to believe in the kjv only. And I guess the one true text of scripture is from the KJV right?
Thanks for answering my post. Appreciate it.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Scripture is Words. God inspired Words, Hebrew and Greek words. The King James Version is English, not Hebrew and Greek. I'm asking you, do you think we know what the Hebrew and Greek words are?

Thanks for writing. I would appreciate if you answered that question. Thank you.

George Calvas said...

Leroy wrote:

"I'm not a kjvo. The reasons I have heard given for that stance has not convinced me but rather driven me away from it."

What convinced you that the Holy King James Bible is not the words of God?

Is it because of an "over zealous" bible believer who should have been praised by you for believing that there are no errors, or spurious words in the bible, "but as it is in truth, the word of God" even though he was wrong for his over-zealousness?

Leroy St. Jean said...

Mr. Kent yes I think the Hebrew and Greek words are known. Not by me since I'm not a Hebrew or Greek speaker. But the kjv was translated from those languages to English so I guess the translators must have have known them.

Leroy St. Jean said...

Mr. George Calvas, The kjvo folks I know make it seem like the kjv was what Samuel and Paul had in their days. I was told by a KJVO advocate that if I changed the word "thee" in the kjv to the word "you", I was committing error. Those same folks would then "thee" means "you", when preaching a sermon.

Leroy St. Jean said...

Mr. George again, I'm not saying the kjv is not the word of God.It is the word of God. I'm saying I don't hold to the belief that one should stick to reading the kjv only. I know there are false versions. Can I give my email here or just continue posting away here till I'm satisfied?

Kent Brandenburg said...


Three things.

1 - George is a Ruckmanite, so he believes the English was inspired, given directly from heaven. He is not us. Don't confuse us with him, just because he comments here. He doesn't believe in the preservation of scripture.

2 - Kent, me, I am the owner-operator of this blog, and Thomas Ross is here with me, writing on Fridays.

3 - The Hebrew and Greek words behind the KJV are different than the modern versions. Did you know that? The KJV translates a Greek text at least for the New Testament that was accepted as the Word of God for centuries, until textual criticism came along in the 19th century. Did you know that?


Leroy St. Jean said...


Referring to #3, I did not know those things. So then, is that the reason for the kjv being thought of as the only one to be read?

Kent Brandenburg said...


There could be only one Bible. God said He would preserve it. People accepted that until along came the enlightenment and the so-called science of textual criticism that accepted certain unbelieving ideas about the text of scripture. They started fiddling with the text, making judgments based on humanistic principles.

There isn't a translation from that text, accepted by believers for centuries as the Bible, in the English except for the King James Version. The New King James, claiming to be from the same text, in fact isn't. That is a lie. The people who did that translation were using it as a marketing ploy, and the translators did not believe in the superiority of that underlying text, so they were not respectful to those particular words.

There can only be one Bible, and it was the underlying text for the KJV for hundreds of years. Those who believe in divine preservation of scripture believe that is the one Bible, and the King James Version is a translation of that text.

The text behind the modern versions is 7% different than the text behind the KJV, and overall a shorter text, leaving out words, and they believe it is superior since it is shorter.

Anyway, most people in the pew in churches don't know this. Their leaders don't tell them, just like Mormon missionaries don't tell people about all the weird stuff.

Leroy St. Jean said...


Ok, thanks, I understand now. All right last comment/question:Would it be wrong if someone was to take the kjv and write a new translation where all the old words like thee and thine etc are changed into "you" and "yours"? In other words make the verses readable. Or would that be a perversion? I was told that is not needed since God gave us pastor and teachers to explain the Bible.

Thanks for all your answers.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I think a new translation from the same words could be acceptable, but it shouldn't be done willy-nilly by people, but by churches who agree with the preservation of scripture, have the scholarship to understand, etc. I don't advocate for it, because it would change the Bible for people who are English speaking, and they would have to start from scratch. New Translations in other languages, however, should come from the underlying text and not from the English. There are a lot of languages that don't have the Bible in their language. You can actually buy a defined King James that explains the words not in common usage today, where the word is right there on that page in an index. I tell people the Bible you understand is the one you use.

Thee and thou, by the way, has the advantage of being more literal. The pronoun "you" is not clear as to whether it is singular or plural. The Greek actually tells you if it is plural, so the KJV is more like the original Greek text in that way, which should be important to people, since that's how God wrote the Bible.

Your questions are fine. They come across as from a believing person.

Leroy St. Jean said...


Yes, I'm a born again Christian.
Your answers cleared up a lot of questions and things I've been trying to get my head around.
May God continue to bless you. Thanks again.