The Burden of Proof


Subject:     Re: Question to KJV only
Posted By: Bill Kincaid

First you wrote:
You're basing your argument that the KJV authorized version of scripture is the only translation that is acceptable because God did not intend for it to be corrected or questioned.

You misunderstand my position, at least. The KJV is not the only acceptable translation possible. Nor is it the only acceptable translation that ever existed. Nor is it the only acceptable translation in the world today. The KJV is the ONLY English Bible that ever became the standard English Bible. It is the ONLY English Bible that put all of its predecessors out of print. It did this because all faiths and denominations that hold the Bible as their sole authority (sola scriptura) accepted it as their standard Bible. The KJV, during its tenure as the ONLY significant Protestant Bible in English (hundreds of years), begat every significant evangelical institution in existence to this day. Every real revival, every missionary society, every Bible society, every gospel enterprise, was founded using ONE standard English Bible. KJV believers insist the KJV was God’s providence to the English speaking world, its acceptance by all was demonstration of its approval by God, and its phenomenal success (its fruit) was the reward of FAITH in God’s word. We believe it because it was responsible for our doctrinal soundness, our spiritual growth, and in a very real and practical sense, it BEGAT us. Of course we believe it. If anyone accuses it of error, they should consider it their burden to prove their accusation. If their accusation turns out to be just their JUDGMENT or PREFERENCE, we judge them to be in error. The KJV is the ONLY standard English Bible to ever exist. Why should I doubt any word in it?

No matter how difficult it is to focus this issue correctly in our day, the fact is, believing the KJV has been the “status in quo” among Christians in English for 350 years. Of course, there were always some who never believed it was God’s word without error, and they were simply called “unbelievers,” (Deists, Skeptics, Gnostics, Catholics, Evolutionists, etc.). Nowadays, there are many more who do not believe the KJV is God’s word without error, but some of them do “believe the Bible” in general terms. Therefore, they do not like being categorized as “unbelievers.” I can understand that. However, they actually accuse the KJV of error. I don’t mean they assume theoretically that the KJV has errors, in the sense that all translations MUST have some error by default, even if it is impossible to prove. I mean they accuse the KJV of specific errors in countless specific places, and maintain some other translation is “better,” i.e. not guilty of that same error (although they would find errors in whichever translation also). All of these alleged errors in the KJV are impossible to prove, of course, and many of them are indisputably inconclusive, consisting of conflicting textual “evidence” and such. Even their own “best” experts cannot be sure themselves, but must “guess.” Furthermore, many of the very same types of errors found in the KJV by non-KJBOs can be demonstrated in all versions, (e.g. re’em as a plural, “unicorns,” and so on). KJV believers rightly define this attitude toward the KJV as unbelief, not as unbelief in Bible doctrines (which are found in all Bibles), nor as unbelief in the original documents (which is almost immaterial), but as unbelief in the Bible that they ultimately owe their spiritual lives to. The Greek word for this is “apostasy.”

Then you wrote:
Let me ask you a question: before the invention of the printing press which took place sometime in the 16th century and the FACT that most persons were illiterate (I’m not saying that to be ignorant or put people down ok - it's just fact) what DID people do without the Bible or even if they did they could not READ it?

KJV believers believe in providence. The printing press (15th century) was the very providence of God. It is directly responsible for the overwhelming dominance of the Gospel in modern times. As can be expected, no major religion or religious system of beliefs grows beyond natural population extension except by armed conquest. There are two notable exceptions to this, Apostolic Christianity (in the first two centuries), and Modern Evangelical Christianity (since the printing press). The simplest answer to your question is providence. Not all people receive the same light. No one knows where God’s Spirit will go next, or in what strength, but it is He that determines the direction and the limits. The FACT that we in English speaking lands have received more light than others, and the FACT that in our day we have received more light than others before us, will only be questioned by someone who dislikes some conclusion it brings us to.

A more detailed answer to your question is possible, but I must be brief. Before the printing press the Bible had been standardized in several different languages, but to our purposes we can focus on Greek. The foundation of the “Textus Receptus” (the name itself betrays its principle) is the standardization of the text of the New Testament in Greek. Before the 4th century there apparently was no standardized Greek text, for “church fathers” of the times quote very different texts. Greek manuscripts of the time also differ enormously, even from the same area of the world (compare Aleph with B). After the 4th century, however, church fathers quote essentially the TR. David Ewert, president of
Mennonite Bible College, Winnepeg, Manitoba, says this on the subject:

“Most of the later uncials and nearly all the minuscule (which are generally late) support this text type. Among the versions the Syriac Peshitta is Byzantine, as are all of the later Fathers, beginning with the fourth century.” (David Ewert, From Ancient Tablets to Modern Translations, 1983, Zondervan)

Apparently the need for a standard Greek text, especially in the Greek speaking church, begat a standardized Greek text. These manuscripts are so standardized that a thousand years later it was not difficult for editors to make accurate printed editions out of just a few late manuscripts. The editors themselves assumed the providence of God in the standardized Greek texts they had in their possession. This Greek text was literally “received by all” for 1400 years.

Small differences found in individual manuscripts were treated as we might treat typographical errors in any edition of the KJV. We compare our printing with another, and correct it accordingly. This is quite different than the assumption inherent in modern Textual Criticism, that the standard Greek text, available, common and believed for 1400 years straight, was in fact full of transcription errors, and outright corruption, whole phrases added, not just by “harmonisms” or other innocent variations, but doctrinally poignant insertions, i.e. deliberate additions to the Bible’s text. The assumption of modern Textual Criticism is that the truest text of the Bible can be found in the extremely rare copies that had been lost, buried or otherwise stored away BEFORE the Greek text was standardized. Of course such ancient manuscripts can only survive in extremely arid climates, and ONLY if they are lost or buried (untouched and unused), which itself means any modern text built primarily on these rare discoveries will be lopsided. That is, the textual variations found in one small arid area will be given much greater weight than those found in less arid areas, since the latter could not survive as long. What is more, the UNUSED texts, primarily functioning as reference works in libraries, not being used in congregational services, or being read in homes, etc. will be given preference over common Greek Bibles constantly and continuously used by believers over the ages, because the latter cannot survive as long.

The stinger is that few modern critics give any weight at all to the fact that the Greek text was standardized in the 4th century (meaning copyists went to the trouble to compare different manuscripts and decide on the standard available reading in their day. In fact, modern textual criticism discounts as practically useless the standardized text, in spite of it being found in 95 percent of all manuscripts, and being essentially identical to all other exemplars, because of their total disregard for the providence inherent in the standardization of any Bible. Effective standardization is a miracle. We believers in providence accept the fact that God provided the standardized text that became the Bible in Greek. We do not assume that a few old manuscripts found in one area of the world, which happened to be propitious for preserving manuscript materials, should be given more weight than thousands of manuscripts derived from a standard Greek text. God preserves his word continuously among his people. To assume otherwise is to deny providence.

Finally you wrote:
God couldn't have possibly permit people just to be aimless about His teachings until the printing press were what is the problem with a corrected translation of scripture as long as the translator is attempting to make the Word of God as close to the original as possible?

What is the problem with correcting the Bible that was ultimately responsible for your spiritual existence, you mean? What is the problem with ignoring all the Bibles that continually existed, that were consistently available, that actually influenced history, in favor of Bibles that were only recently discovered, after being unused, un-copied, unread, untouched, and lost for centuries in extremely dry climates? What is the problem with doubting the standard Bible, and replacing it with a constantly changing, eclectic, almost original? What is the problem with pastors correcting any version they are using, according to their preference? What is the problem with thirty-five different translations in the same meeting place?

We owe something to the providence of God in our actual history. Today, we owe immensely to the providence of the printing press. The printing press changed the world. The gospel was largely ineffective before it. Now the gospel is part of the world’s vocabulary. God provided the world with movable type operating in a press, and he provided it with the standard Greek text to print. This was no coincidence. The fall of
Constantinople (1453) “coincided” mysteriously with the invention of the European printing press (1450), don’t you think? The flight of thousands of Greek Orthodox priests to the west, carrying standard Greek manuscripts with them, was a most curious accident of history, also. In fact, since the aftermath of the apostolic church, it is almost silly to speak of the advance of the gospel until the printing press. It is almost silly to speak of advance in doctrinal understanding of “the Bible” before the printing press. Everything we are (as Bible-believing Christians) is directly attributable the providential invention of the printing press, the resulting proliferation of the standard Greek text, and the standard Masoretic text, and the corresponding development of standard versions in German, English and Dutch, and other languages influenced by the “reformation.”

We inherited our faith, our “Gospel,” our doctrinal understanding, and in a very real sense, we inherited our very salvation. Only now do believers, willingly ignorant of God’s special providence in the last 500 years, refuse their heritage, and go looking for some supposed “originals,” hoping to find something better than our immediate fathers in the faith had. It is similar to American youths during the 1960s going back to the superior “Indian” culture of “earth worship.” At night they slept in feather beds, tucked in so safe, during the day studied the history of the most advanced and successful democracies imaginable, during study-hour read the finest books in the most advanced language of all time, in the afternoon drove to the mall in the finest automobiles dollars and pounds could build or buy, and at night sat around smoking “grass,” and trying to discover their “spiritual” roots in Native American folklore. There you have it. Today Bible believers go to church buildings built by the miraculous and incomparable English evangelical progress of the last three centuries. They listen to radio and television broadcasts paid for by grass-roots Christianity which was built up by progressive revivals in English-speaking lands since the reformation. They send their children to Bible colleges built by the phenomenal exposure of past generations to a KJV that was preached, not corrected or questioned. And they come out of those seminaries and Bible institutes smarter than their fathers in the faith, able to demonstrate errors in their parents’ Bible, and quite adept at mocking us KJV believers as “overweening” fideists who believe the “KJV came straight from heaven.” Well, yes, in fact, I do believe the KJV, and I suspect it was sent from heaven. It’s called providence.


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