What is KJV Onlyism?

QUESTION: "What is King James Onlyism?"

RESPONSE: It often depends on who is asking the question and what they mean when they refer to those who believe the KJV to be the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people. I am called, for example, a KJV only advocate. I am told that KJV only advocates such as myself believe the KJV is inspired. I have been told that other KJV only advocates, such as Dr. Ruckman, believe the KJV is inspired. However, I have never read where Dr. Ruckman has stated such, and I know for a fact that I do not believe it. However, this does depend on what someone means by the term. To me, Biblical inspiration as given in scripture, is something given first hand. It was limited to Biblical writers and not copyist and translators. Inspiration has to do with what "is given" (2 Tim. 3:16), as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:21).

The problem in understanding what was said is because those who misconstrue it do not differ between inspiration and preservation. As has been stated in prior lessons, inspiration has to do with the producing of scripture. Preservation has to do with the keeping of scripture. It is God who inspired His words, and it is God who keeps them.

James White lists five different groups of these he refers to as KJV only advocates (The King James Only Controversy, pp.1-4). I do not find myself in any of these groups listed. Since I cannot speak for others, I am left to speak only for myself in defining what I am. I believe that God gave His words without error by inspiration. I believe that God preserved these words and watched over them to keep them without error throughout all generations since their written inception. The KJV, I believe, is the preserved word of God for the English-speaking world since 1611 and stands without error. When I read the KJV I believe that I am reading the very words of God which He has provided for me through His care in keeping His words, so that they are in fact the very words of God. So if by King James Only one means that only the King James Version is the preserved words of God without error for those who speak English since 1611, I would have to say that I am of that group.

However, some have concluded that KJV Onlyism means that this is the only translation KJV advocates use or that there was no word of God before 1611. From this comes such false arguments as stating that Psalm 12:6-7 does not refer to the KJV. Brother White is quick to point this out in stating, "My first question is, 'Where does Psalm 12 say that the words of the LORD refer to the King James Version of the Bible?'" (Ibid. p. 243). Of course, it does not. It refers to the fact that God said He would preserve His words, of which the KJV is evidence that He has done so even to this day.

Anyone reading the lessons so far must admit that evidence has been provided of the preservation of God's words long before 1611. If not, I would suggest that the student reread lesson five. And, if one insists that being a KJV only advocate limits the Bible only to English-speaking people, I would again suggest that the student reread the same lesson. The simple fact is that the preserved word of God was here before 1611 and in other languages besides English. Any statement otherwise is a perversion of the facts given and a misrepresentation of those who support and believe the KJV.

Nor does my belief in the KJV as the preserved word of God prohibit me from reading additional translations, both in English and other languages. I have freely used modern versions to support a reading in a text and I have often read from modern versions for one reason or another. If someone wishes to use a modern version, they are free to do so. I believe what the translators of the NIV said about their version, that it was made by imperfect men and would undoubtedly fall short of its goal. I think that the NIV, as all Bible translations, contain the word of God and can be used by God. This, however, does not free God from His obligation to keep and preserve his words, to keep them incorruptible, as He promised. I believe that the KJV is a fulfillment of that promise.


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