The KJV–Is It the Only True Version of the Bible? Part 2

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

I want to continue to address this video that has recently been released by those who believe and teach that the King James Version of the Bible is the only true Bible (See Part 1 for link to video).   At this point it is helpful for us to address some of the superfluous arguments that are made by Dr. Gipp. If we can identify their lack of relevance to the subject at hand, we can push them aside and address the historical and textual issues that are pertinent.

Let us begin, however, by noting some positive thoughts. I am happy to agree with a few statements that Dr. Gipp makes in the course of this video. As the classroom scene opens and the lecture is coming to a close, I found myself saying, “Amen.” The question of where we find our authority for matters of faith, practice, life, and godliness is a good question. Dr. Gipp gets it right when he states that the Bible, not “choices, men, education, or science” is our final authority.  I appreciate this aspect of all who hold to KJV-Onlyism. They, usually, are men and women who are serious about the Bible driving their lives and ministries. In that regard, I am happy to stand with them and pray that more pastors and Christians would do the same. The video both begins and ends on this note as Dr. Gipp admonishes the student to make the Bible, and not man, his final authority.

Now, although we applaud Gipp’s commitment to the Bible as the final authority, there are a number of problems with other parts of this video.  At this point I simply want to draw attention to some statements that add nothing of true substance to the conversation.

First, there is a false dichotomy set up by Dr. Gipp. He states that there are only two lines of manuscripts and then goes on to show how one is pure and the other corrupt. Given this dichotomy, if true, then the KJV-Only position makes sense. The thoughtful listener and student will, however, ask if this assertion is true.  Are there only two “lines of manuscripts?” If this is shown not to be the case (which will be shown in another post), then the position already begins to falter. The issue I want to raise here, however, is that presenting the historical situation in this light actually skews the argument. It gives the reader a false view of reality and sets up the argument in such a way that the only position that would seem correct would be the KJV-Only position. The way we present an argument can either guide us correctly or guide us incorrectly. The latter has happened here.

Secondly, the statements made about Antioch and Egypt are, well, silly. Dr. Gipp asserts that because Antioch is where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), and that Paul returned here on a number of occasions, then this must be home to uncorrupted manuscripts.  Because, according to Dr. Gipp, Antioch was the “head of the New Testament church…”, then it must be the place where the Bible was put together perfectly. Really? What historical fact, or Biblical text, says this? The very presuppositions here can be questioned. Paul, indeed, returned to Antioch on a number of occasions. Paul also traveled to Jerusalem on occasion. An honest reading of the New Testament would leave us thinking that Jerusalem, not Antioch, was the center of the New Testament Church. Paul visited here five times that we know of, at the beginning of each stage of his ministry.  When a debate about the nature of the gospel arose, it was Jerusalem, not Antioch, that was host to the council of Christians that would talk through the issue (Acts 15). It was in Jerusalem that the Spirit first fell upon believers (Acts 2). Peter, the apostle on which Christ said He would build His church (Matthew 16:16-18), had his ministry in Jerusalem and the nearby cities of Judea. All that is to say, Dr. Gipp’s statement about Antioch is not necessarily correct.  And, regardless, the fact that this was a major center of Christianity says nothing about the manuscripts that are found in the Antiochian area (more historical facts on the Antioch texts, or what is known as the Majority, or Byzantine, texts will be dealt with in another post) and whether or not the King James is the only true Bible. As a friend of mine has stated, “It seems the professor is talking up Antioch to boost the reputation of his favored text-type.”

Thirdly, and closely related to the preceding discussion, the idea that because Egypt has been a “bad example” in Scripture adds no substance to the debate. Egypt has also been the source of blessing for God’s people. It was the Egyptians that took in a starving Israelite nation in Genesis 41-50. It was an Egyptian who rescued Moses from the river and raised him in safety. From Egypt have come a number of helpful Christians. One of our interns here at Oak Park, Chris Pope (M.Div., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), notes about Egypt, “The apostles show no hesitation in quoting the Septuagint as Scripture in the New Testament, yet it was translated in Alexandria (Egypt).” Chris also points out that Apollos, “mighty in the Scriptures,” (Acts 18:24) was Alexandrian by birth.  Indeed, the statement about those in Alexandria, Egypt not believing in the Trinity is simply wrong.  Arius, an Alexandrian presbyter (elder), surely debated the triune nature of God.  But he was declared a heretic in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea. The Synod of Alexandria in 362 stated the doctrine of the Trinity clearly. Simply put, saying that because Egypt was at times a bad example is typical of the bad history and bad argumentation that prevails throughout the video.

Fourthly, the statement about the “critical text” is simply misguided and unhelpful emotional rhetoric. The professor is simply not honest, or rather ignorant, when he fails to honestly define the way “critical” is used in these academic discussions. “Critical” does not mean that a person comes to the text as a skeptic. All it means is that the translators used some type of “criteria” to determine which reading (out of all the textual variants in all ancient manuscripts, including “Antiochian”) was the best representative of the original. Even the KJV translators did this. They translated from numerous editions and other sources, and thus were forced to be critical in their approach to choosing which text best represented the original. This statement borders on academic and intellectual dishonesty by a man who should know better.

Lastly, when the student asks the professor why it is important to use the KJV as opposed to another translation, since the gospel can be clearly found in other versions, the response is simply “growth.” I have to admit, at this point, I simply sat back and wondered what I have been doing all these years as a believer. I do not regularly study from the KJV, I do not preach from it, and own only one copy of that translation. But, by the grace of God, I hope that I have grown in my love for Jesus, the understanding of His Word, and in my devotion to the Great Commission. I know dozens who do not read, or study, from the KJV. Yet, I can point towards many whom God is continually conforming into the image of His Son.

When we see the false dichotomy, the irrelevancy and perhaps incorrect statements about Antioch and Egypt, as well as the questionable (both theologically and practically) about growth being something exclusive to the KJV, then we can push those arguments aside as “red herrings” (arguments, or statements that lead us away from the actual issues) and get into things that are pertinent. 

Well, we are underway.  In the next post we will begin to deal with the history and the textual issues raised by Dr. Gipp.

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