“KJV Onlyism” is a relatively new movement among Christians. It affirms that the King James bible version of 1611 is the only inspired, true and perfect Bible in the world today.
Thus, they reject the NIV, NLT, RSV, NASB, and all other modern Bible translations (even the NKJV) because they were allegedly drawn from “corrupted” Egyptian manuscripts.
As a former KJV onlyite who used to view fellow Christians using modern Bible versions as “apostates”, it was the ill-logic, fanaticism and intellectual dishonesty that mare this position that ultimately led me out of it.
In the early 90’s, a KJV-only theory came up that all Bible versions except the KJV were textually laced with New Age ideas by two scholars – 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 are still adhered to by a number of King James onlyites.
Although I can’t endorse some very flawed Bible translations (e.g. New World Translation, the Clear Word bible etc.) and I have some reservations toward liberal paraphrases like the Message bible, I consider it destructive for a Christian to regard all English Bible versions except the KJV as “the devil’s bibles.”
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 wasn’t objective, because she had already decided on her conclusion. The book is actually based on a conspiracy theory – an attempt to find New Age philosophies behind every bush and shadow.
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 knows about New Age spirituality will find the claim of the New Age movement forming an alliance with Bible translators to create a one world religion to be quite outlandish and in fact, a leap in the dark.
For one, the New Age movement doesn’t see (or use) the Bible as their final authority. The conspiracy theory appended to them by KJVOs appears to be a convenient rationale to evade the scholarly reasons for the differences between the KJV and modern English translations.
There are other problems with Riplinger’s book:
I. On page 2 she quotes Edwin Palmer, an editor of the NIV, who said: “[F]ew clear and decisive texts say that Jesus is God.”
There is nothing “New Age” about this statement, it’s 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 verses implicitly reinforce this basic truth.
2. On page 318 she said: “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’ doesn’t imply a New Age connection. In 1 John 2:22, the KJV has the word ‘the Christ,’ does this also makes it New Age?
The word ‘the Christ’ occurs in the KJV 19 times and 3 times in the New Revised Standard Version, so using Riplinger’s weird logic, then the KJV would be more New Age than the NRSV.
‘The Christ’ occurs in these passages because in Greek, the word (Cristov) has a definite article (“the”). The only exception is 2 Cor. 13:3 which many modern translations didn’t render as ‘the Christ.’
3. The NIV for instance, 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 as 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 English 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”?
The Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts should be the real standard of determining if words were or weren’t added to the text, not a 17th century English translation.
One can as well use the NIV as the standard and say “The KJV has 64,000 words added to the Bible.” Is that reasonable?
To an unbiased mind, the areas of differences between both translations 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, let’s compare Galatians 4:7 in the KJV and NIV.
The former has the phrase “through Christ” (though it’s not found in the more ancient manuscripts) while the latter doesn’t.
Using Riplinger’s logic, we would conclude that, “The new versions deny the centrality of Christ in salvation.” But this is untrue because in Romans 5:1, 11 and other places in the NIV, we are shown the role of “our Lord Jesus Christ” in saving us.
If the NIV or modern translations wanted to hide the role of Christ, such words wouldn’t have appeared in them at all.
On the other hand, there are places in the NIV/NASB/ASV etc. where the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned but the KJV curiously omits it. Jude 1:25 in the NIV reads :
“To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
But the KJV says: “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
Romans 1:4 in the NASB reads: “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
But the KJV reads: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Using the logic of KJV onlyites, we would say: “The KJV has denied the Lordship of Christ!”
4. On page 81, she wrote: “Luke 4:34 reveals that only the devils call Jesus the ‘Holy One of God“.
This argument is banal. Jesus is called the “Holy One” in Acts 2:27 (KJV). Does this mean the KJV is New Age?
5. The NIV is attacked for replacing the word “God” with “He” in 1 Timothy 3:16. This is somewhat questionable, but the NIV does indicates “God” in its textual footnote, so I fail to see a New Age conspiracy there.
On the other hand, there are places where the NIV has the name of “Jesus” but the KJV has “he” instead e.g Matt. 4:19
NIV: “Come, follow me,”Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
KJV: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Again, in Acts 4:25, the KJV omitted the word “by the Holy Spirit” while modern translations did not.
NLT: “You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans?”
KJV: “Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?”
If the case were to be in reverse, that the NIV, NLT and ESV omitted “the Holy Spirit” in one single text, we will never hear the end of it, how “mutant versions are pushing the Holy Spirit into the closet.”
But to attack modern translations at one point while ignoring the KJV when it fails on that same point is intellectual suicide, inconsistency and rank prejudice. A sound argument is always consistent.
6. It is claimed that the name Lucifer was “removed” from Isaiah 14 of modern versions (by New Age translators?) and replaced with the title “morning star” so as to make the passage refer to Jesus.
This is where the research and competence of the author should be doubted by every reasonable believer. 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 term “Lucifer” doesn’t appear in modern translations because it only appeared in Jerome’s Catholic Vulgate which the KJV translators used. (It was the Bible of Western Europe for more than 1000 years). Jerome translated llyh as “Lucifer” which according to Cassell Latin Dictionary means “light-bearing, light-bringing.”
The Septuagint, Targum Jonathan and the Peshitta, which are all ancient versions of the OT, do not have the word “Lucifer” in Isaiah 14:12.
Just because modern Bible versions do not follow Jerome’s translation doesn’t mean they are identifying Jesus with Lucifer!
7. 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 early Greek texts (Nestle Aland) used didn’t contain it.
The word “take up the cross” occurs in all other places such as in Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 and Matthew 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.
8. 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 part that seems to be missing is “Christ has come in the flesh.” Though the reason for its removal here is unknown, on a closer look, we see that the phrase actually appears in verse 2! This is it:
“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! New Age conspiracy? Nope.
9. The NIV and NASB rendering of Romans 1:20 was labelled New Age for not containing the term “Godhead” (p. 184)
The KJV used the term “Godhead” in Acts 17:29, Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9. But the KJV translators rendered different Greek words in Rom. 1:20 and Col. 2:9 as the same English word.
In Romans 1:20, the word there is qeiothj meaning “divinity” or “divine nature” whereas in Colossians 2:9, it’s qeothj which means “deity” (the state of being God). Yet, due to ignorance misinformed individuals have been roused to slander a more accurate rendition.
10. Several tables are presented in this 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” wasn’t used in the latter.
In one of these 10 verses, Matt. 12:31 (KJV), the word “holy” was in italics because it wasn’t in the original text; it was supplied by the translators. Yet Riplinger found it convenient to include it as example of modern versions being “unholy.” She’s using the KJV to judge the Greek text of the NT! How preposterous.
Now, if this criteria is valid, then the NKJV meets up as a holy Bible and it shouldn’t be attacked, yet Riplinger says that the New King James Version is also of the Antichrist! (pp. 101-2). This is highly irrational.
Now, does it mean it’s 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 1 John 5:7 which have 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 how about we compare the KJV and other English translations and point out places where the KJV uses “it” rather than “he” for the Holy Spirit (John 1:32, Romans 8:16, 26 and 1 Peter 2:11)? What will these prove? It would rather prove that no translation is perfect!
11. On pg. 2 Riplinger wrote:
“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‘.”
This is another rhetoric meant to poison the well. There was an end note there referring the reader to The Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, Volume 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 disclosed.”
Riplinger took this man’s words out of context in order to link all modern Bible versions with the occult – and this deceitful trend reverberates all through her book.
Several Christian scholars, including KJV defenders like David Cloud have also pointed out the many holes in this absurd “New Age bible” theory.
KJV onlyism thrives on lies and sensationalism and even worse, such falsehoods have done much spiritual damage to Christians who were saved by reading these Bible translations.
It bears the bad fruitage of divisions, fear and false accusations within the church. But I will say this: don’t let anyone destroy your faith in God’s Word with cunningly devised fables.