Translation is good. Jesus translated. His translation was accepted as the Word of God. The apostles translated. God knew translation was necessary. God's Word isn't lost through translation. A major reason for this is that God created man in His image with the capacity of language. God created language. Adam and Eve spoke in the Garden of Eden from the get-go. Languages can be translated into other languages, because God created it that way. You can read Don Quixote in English and understand it, even though it was was originally written in Spanish. You can read The Art of War in English even though it was written in Chinese.
The only biblical position is that God preserved His Words, all of them and every one of them, in the language in which they were written. For purposes of this post, I'm focusing on "the language in which they were written." If you believe that God has preserved His Word in the English language, then you do not believe the biblical and historical position. You don't even believe in divine, perfect preservation. There is no way that you could. You deny preservation. You deny the biblical doctrine. You take a strange, new doctrine not even passed down by His people in true churches.
First, preservation entails preserving something. It preserves something that was there already. If it wasn't there, it isn't preservation. Translation itself is not preservation. What is preserved existed already. The English language didn't exist in the first century. The English language began with the arrival of three Germanic tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, crossing the North Sea from now Denmark to Britain during the 5th century AD. I stress, "began," because there was still no English for quite awhile, because the Angles and the Saxons still needed to combine to the degree that a hybrid, AngloSaxon, could become a different and new language. That was Old English, which was English until 1100. As you observe it below, you will see that you cannot read it, because it is so different in nature than even Middle English.
As you look at Old English, you don't see Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, do you? You can't even read the above Old English. It is a foreign language to you if you are English speaking. You would have had to learn Old English to read it. It isn't spoken anymore.
God did not move holy men of God to write Old English. The King James Version, however, wasn't even written in Middle English, the language of Chaucer and Canterbury Tales. The King James translators translated the Hebrew and Greek that was preserved by God into Modern English, the language of William Shakespeare. The English of today is still Modern English, even though it is late Modern English. God did not preserve His Word in Old, Middle, or Modern English. The English Bible of Alfred the Great wasn't the English Bible of Oliver Cromwell.
A person who believes that God preserved His Words in English in fact denies the preservation of scripture. God preserves what He wrote. He didn't write English. This is so simple that it should insult someone's intelligence. I'm hoping this insults your intelligence. Yet, this that insults the intelligence is very common among independent Baptists among others. They are insulted, but insulted because I'm saying God didn't preserve scripture in English.
With a prescience of what would occur regarding His Word, God in the Bible says that He would preserve "jots and tittles," which are letters in the Hebrew alphabet. "Scripture" itself refers to the writings, the actual etchings or markings. God would preserve the Words He inspired. We should all be happy about that. There are reasons God inspired His Words in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The concepts of the New Testament come through the Greek language. We translate into English, but the very Words of God are Greek ones in the New Testament.
Many independent Baptists do not believe in the preservation of scripture. They say, "We do believe in it -- it's in the English." That is not preservation of scripture. I'm saying that I don't believe the same as many independent and unaffiliated Baptists. They believe this novel and untenable English-preservation position.
I've noticed that a bunch of King James guys will get together and they'll be together with the thought that they are all King James guys, so it's all OK. If you get past the idea that they all use the King James and look under the surface, you see something different. Some believe in preservation of scripture and some do not. Some King James guys don't believe in preservation of scripture any more than a critical text guy.
My church, our church, separates over doctrine and practice. The doctrine I believe isn't the King James Version. I rely on the King James Version because of the text from which it is translated. That text is the one preserved. The doctrine is the preservation of scripture. We separate over the denial of that doctrine. King James men who do not believe in preservation should not get a pass from me. I know what I'm doing when I give them a pass. I'm saying that the doctrine isn't what matters, but that you have the approved translation. I know I'm doing it. It bothers me. I know what I'm doing. I'm starting by laying this out on the table. It isn't going to continue. I'm not going to keep giving a pass here. These men do not believe in the promises of God in His Word. They are not living by faith. They are not pleasing God.
I've been questioned on my King James position as though I'm less King James than other men, who also use the King James. These men talk or behave as though they have the more authentic, approved King James position. To them the King James is the final authority for faith and practice. English is the final authority to them. If it isn't the final authority to me, they see me as not suitably King James. If that's what they believe, they are right that we are different, so if they separate over doctrine, I would understand their questioning. I don't take offense at that. I'm just saying that the very question itself manifests that they know there is a difference too.
Let me give an example that comes to mind. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says that "prophecies, they shall fail . . . . knowledge, it shall vanish away." "They shall fail" and "it shall vanish away" -- those are different words, right? Wrong. They are the same Greek verb, kartargeo. Those hearing this passage in the first century knew that Paul was using the same Greek word. English speakers today might not know that, but it shouldn't be denied once they know. The first is a third person plural, because the referent is plural, prophecies, and the second is a third person singular, because the referent is singular, knowledge. That's the only difference, but it is the same exact Greek verb in both cases, both future tense, passive voice, from katargeo. You don't have to know Greek to figure that out. You could find it in Strong's Concordance.
On our missionary questionnaire that we give to potential missionaries to support, we have the following two multiple choice questions (all 34 questions are multiple choice):
The Bible has been perfectly preserved....
a. Somewhere in the abundance of all the manuscripts, the hand copies from copies of the original manuscripts.
b. In the underlying Hebrew and Greek text behind the King James Version.
c. In the English translation of the King James Version.
In studying the King James Version New Testament, I would primarily study the words by....
a. Finding what the underlying Greek word is and means.
b. Looking up the English word in the dictionary.
Missionaries who call or write to schedule a meeting with us will sometimes (often) answer "c" to the first question and "b" to the second. These are the people I'm talking about.
Since there is no way that God preserved His Words in the English, what is the actual position being espoused here? I would want to be as kind as possible to say that some have not thought this through all the way to the end. I don't know. The position, however, must be something that has been called "double inspiration." If the English takes precedent over the original language, then the English has authority over the original language. Something in the way of inspiration occurred with the translators, the Holy Spirit moving on them like He did with the human authors of the originals.
In translation work, the people who believe the above also believe that translations to non-English languages should come from the King James Version. They would support translators who go from the English to the receptor language. It is no wonder that critical text supporters view this King James position like that of the Latin Vulgate with Roman Catholicism. There are similarities.
The position I'm describing departs from the Bible and from historic Christian doctrine. Some would call it "heresy," and I would understand that. It corrupts the true doctrine of inspiration and of preservation. This position has taken on almost sacramental nature among some independent and unaffiliated Baptists. They are more serious about that position than they are the gospel.
Very often, I've noticed that the ones with this advanced Holy Spirit revelation of the King James Version also look for the Holy Spirit to keep talking to them today. It fits. The double inspiration of the KJV would be a form of continuationism. It is consistent with a position that the Holy Spirit is still talking. The two go together and are very often both believed. You will hear the same language, both positions. The KJV translators must have received some special unction and these men are still receiving some special unction of the Spirit that tells them what to preach, who to preach to, and whether to build a building.
A very common position on the Bible among independent and unaffiliated Baptists is false and dangerous.