The “KJV Onlyism” is now gaining much grounds among Christians and it needs to be properly scrutinised This movement believes that the King James version of 1611 is the only inspired, perfect and true Bible in the world today. Thus, KJV onlyists believe that the NIV, NLT, RSV, NASB, and all other Bible translations (even the NKJV) were drawn from corrupted Egyptian manuscripts. I used to be a KJV onlyite too, and I remember I used to see fellow Christians who use modern versions as “apostates.” It was precisely the illogic, fanaticism and intellectual dishonesty that mare this position that led me out of it.
In the early 90’s, a KJV only theory came up that all other Bible versions except the KJV are also New Age in origin through the instrumentality of two alleged occultists – Fenton Hort and Brooke Westcott. This idea came from a woman named Gail Riplinger, through her book, New Age Bible Versions (published in 1993). Her theories spread like wild fire because the New Age movement was a “hot topic” in the church at the time. While I can’t endorse some very flawed Bible translations (e.g New World Transl., or the Clear Word bible etc) to label all modern versions “the Devil’s bibles” is to me, extremism and legalism which must be exposed.
Riplinger claims that the purpose of her book is to prove that there is “an alliance between the new versions of the Bible (NIV, NASB, Living Bible and others) and the chief conspirators in the New Age Movement’s push for a One World Religion.” (p. 1)
This statement indicates that her approach was far from being objective because she had already decided on her conclusion. The book has a tone of conspiracy theory- finding the New Age behind every bush. Most of what she did in the book was to collect New Age concepts, teachings and strategies and impose them upon modern Bible translations, while at the same time rationalizing away the KJV’s similar vulnerability. Anyone who has studied the New Age religion will find this claim of the New Age forming an alliance with bible translators to create a one world religion very absurd. Anyone who knows about the New Age will agree that they don’t need (or use) the Bible as a final authority.
I. She quoted Edwin Palmer, an editor of the NIV who said: “[F]ew clear and decisive texts say that Jesus is God” (p 2). There is nothing “New Age” about this statement, its actually a fact. No matter which Bible version you use, there are fewer than 10 places in the New Testament that explicitly say that Jesus is God, though hundreds more reinforce that basic truth.
II. Modern versions are labelled as “New Age” for using the term ‘the Christ’: “Real references to Jesus as ‘the Christ’ are rare; however the NKJV and new versions literally paint their pages with this pawn.” (p. 318)
The term ‘the Christ’ does not imply a New Age connection. In 1John 2:22, the KJV has the word ‘the Christ,’ does that make it New Age? The word ‘the Christ’ occurs in the KJV 19 times and 3 times in the New Revised Standard Version, so using this weird logic, we can say that the KJV is more New Age than the NRSV. The term ‘the Christ’ occurs in these passages because in Greek, the word (Cristov) has a definite article (“the”). The only exception is 2Cor 13:3 and many modern translation didn’t render it as ‘the Christ.’
III. The NIV is accused of removing up to 64,000 words from the Bible. Actually, no words are “removed.” The problem is that KJV onlyists are using the KJV to be the standard by which all other Bible versions are to be judged. But the KJV is not the standard and cannot be the standard. There were several translations of the Bible – Wycliffe Bible, Tyndale Bible, Geneva Bible, The Bishop’s Bible – before the KJV of 1611. So why not choose one of these as the “standard”? One can as well use the NIV as one’s standard and say “the KJV has 64,000 words added to the Bible.” Does that make sense?
To an unbiased mind, the areas of differences are minimal and do not affect any doctrine. There is no “conspiracy” on the part of newer versions to hide the deity of Christ or any essential doctrine. For example, if you compare Galatians 4:7 in KJV and NIV, the former has the phrase “through Christ” (though not found in most ancient manuscripts). Using the Riplinger line of thought, we would say “the new versions deny the centrality of Christ in salvation.” But that’s not true, because in Romans 5:1, 11 in the NIV, we are shown the role of “our Lord Jesus Christ” in saving us. If the NIV wanted to hide the role of Christ, it wouldn’t have appeared at all.
IV. Modern versions are attacked for using the term ‘holy one’:
“Luke 4:34 reveals that only the devils call Jesus the ‘Holy One of God” (p 81).
But Jesus is called the “Holy One” in Acts 2:27 in the KJV. Does this mean the KJV is New Age?
V. The NIV is attacked for replacing the word “God” with “He” in 1Timothy 3:16. Now, I agree, this is an error, but the NIV indicates the reading “God” in its textual footnote so I fail to see a conspiracy here.
VI. It was claimed that the name Lucifer was “removed” from Isaiah 14 of the NIV (by New Age translators?) and replaced with the title “morning star” to make the passage refer to Jesus.
This is where I question the level of research of the author. The Hebrew word in the text is llyh which means “shinning one” or “morning star.” The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew lexicon states that llyh means “shinning one, epith of king of Babylon” (“how are thou fallen, shinning one, son of dawn!” i.e star of the morning). The Liddel and Scott Lexicon defines llyh as “bringer of the morn, morning star.”
The reason why the term “Lucifer” does not appear in modern translation is because it only appeared in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate which the KJV translators used. (It was the Bible of Western Europe for more than a 1000 years). He translated llyh as “Lucifer” which according to Cassell Latin Dictionary means “light-bearing, light-bringing.” The Septuagint, Targrum Jonathan, the Peshitta, which are ancient translations, do not have the word “Lucifer.” Just because modern versions do not follow Jerome’s translation doesn’t mean they are identifying Jesus with Lucifer!
VII. Mark 10:21 in both KJV and NIV were compared and it was stated that “New Versions” delete the word “take up the cross.” (p. 22)
The omitted word didn’t appear in the NIV because the Greek texts utilized (Nestle Arland text) didn’t contain it. The word “take up the cross” occurs in all other places such as in Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23 and Mt 16:24, referring to the same story. The command doesn’t become less important because it wasn’t contained in the same number of times as the KJV.
VIII. The NIV is said to be New Age because it deletes 13 words from 1 John 4:3, thus “denying that Jesus is the Christ.”
On comparison, the only thing “missing” is the phrase “Christ has come in the flesh.” Though the reason for its removal here is to be questioned, on a closer look, we see the phrase appear in the NIV in vs 2. “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God. Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” So the NIV actually contains the very word KJV onlyists accuse it of trying to remove. I fail to see a New Age conspiracy here.
IX. The NIV and NASB rendering of Romans 1:20 is called New Age for not containing the term “Godhead” (p 184)
The KJV uses the term “Godhead” in Acts 17:29, Rom 1:20 and Col 2:9. But the KJV translators translated different Greek words in Rom 1:20 and Col 2:9 as the same English word. In the former, the word there is qeiothj meaning “divinity” or “divine nature” while in Col 2:9, its qeothj which means “deity” (the state of being God). Yet misinformed disciples have been roused by ignorance to slander a more accurate rendition.
X. Modern translations are attacked for having the word “Father” and omitting “the Lord Jesus Christ” in Ephesians 3:14.
This is because the words “of our Lord Jesus Christ” is not found in one of the papyri (P46), lectionares and manuscripts of the Vulgate. However, the word “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is in Eph 1:3, 1Cor 1;3 and 2 Cor 11:31 of these same versions. If New Age versions were throwing out the words of God as alleged, why are these words still found in them?
XI. Many tables are presented in the book comparing the KJV with modern versions. On pg 1, a table is titled “Do You Have a “holy bible?” It lists out 10 Bible verses in the KJV and NIV where the word “holy” was not used in the latter.
In one of these 10 verses, Matt 12:31, in the KJV, the word “holy” is in italics because it wasn’t in the original text. It was supplied by the translator. Yet this author found it convenient to include it. Besides, if this criteria is valid, then the NKJV meets up as a Holy Bible and must not be attacked, yet the book says the NKJV too is of the Antichrist! (pp 101-2). This is unreasonable.
Now, does it mean its a sin for the KJV to have “the book of life” in Rev 22:19 when every Greek manuscript has the “tree of life”? What of Acts 8:37 and 1Jh 5:7 which have a very slim manuscript support? If one wants to use this same methodology, one can also make a table titled “Do you have a spooky Bible?” and list out 10 places where the KJV uses the word “ghost” instead of “Spirit” or used “it” for Him in Romans 8:16, 26. What will these prove? Nothing.
XII. “The Greek text used to translate the NIV, NASB and others was an edition drastically altered by a Spiritualist (one who seeks contact with the dead through séances), who believed he was in the ‘new age'” (p. 2)
This is another rhetoric meant to poison the well. There was an endnote there referring the reader to The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, Vol II (London, 1903), p. 252 which actually says: “…the Son of Man will vindicate His sovereignty by showing that He satisfies every need and every capacity which the struggles of a new age have diclosed.” The book terribly takes this man’s words out of context in order to link all modern Bible versions with the occult. And this same trend reverberates all through the book.
I don’t have to refute all the arguments in the book since several Christian scholars, including KJV defenders (like David Cloud) have pointed out the many holes in this theory. KJV onlyism thrives on half truths and sensationalism. Linking modern versions with New Age cults have done much spiritual damage to Christians who were saved by reading these Bibles. This idea has borne the bad fruits of divisions, extremism and false accusations within the church. Don’t let anyone destroy your faith in God’s Word with cunningly devised fables.