“KJV onlyism” is a relatively new movement among Christians. These folks believe that the King James version 1611 is the only inspired, true and perfect Bible in the world today. Thus, the NIV, NLT, RSV, NASB, and all other Bible translations (even the NKJV) were allegedly drawn from corrupted Egyptian manuscripts. As a former KJV onlyite who used to view fellow Christians using modern Bible versions as “apostates”, the illogic, fanaticism and intellectual dishonesty that mare this position 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 spread widely because the New Age movement was a “hot topic” at the time.
While I can’t endorse some very flawed Bible translations (e.g New World Transl., the Clear Word bible etc.)and liberal paraphrases like the Message bible, I consider it an unwarranted extremism to label all modern versions 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. 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 the New Age religion will find the claim of the New Age forming an alliance with bible translators to create a one world religion quite absurd. For one, the New Age movement don’t need (or use) the Bible as a final authority. Here are other problems with this theory.
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 1John 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 this weird logic, we can conclude that the KJV is 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 2Cor. 13:3 which many modern translations didn’t render as ‘the Christ.’
3. 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”? The Hebrew and Greek manuscripts should be the standards.
One can as well use the NIV as one’s 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, compare Galatians 4:7 in KJV and NIV. The former has the phrase “through Christ” (though not found in more ancient manuscripts). Using the Riplinger logic, we would say “The new versions deny the centrality of Christ in salvation.” But that’s not true, because in Romans 5:1, 11 (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.
4. On page 81, she said: “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 in the KJV. Does this mean the KJV is New Age?
5. The NIV is attacked for replacing the word “God” with “He” in 1Timothy 3:16. I agree that this is questionable, but the NIV indicates the reading “God” in its textual footnote so I fail to see a New Spirituality conspiracy there.
6. It is claimed that the name Lucifer was “removed” from Isaiah 14 of the NIV (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 questioned. 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” doesn’t appear in modern translations 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). Jerome 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, don’t have the word “Lucifer.” Just because modern 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 Greek text (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 thing “missing” is the phrase “Christ has come in the flesh.” Though the reason for its removal here is unknown, at a closer look, we see that the phrase appear 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. New Age conspiracy? Nope.
9. 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, Romans 1:20 and Colossians 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, it’s qeothj which means “deity” (the state of being God). Yet misinformed individuals have been roused to slander a more accurate rendition.
10. 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” 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 Bible text. It was supplied by the translators. Yet Riplinger found it convenient to include it as example of modern versions being “unholy”. Furthermore, if this criteria is valid, then the NKJV meets up as a holy Bible and shouldn’t be attacked, yet Riplinger says the NKJV too is 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 1John 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 the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:16, 26. What will these prove?
11. On pg. 2 she 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 endnote 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 takes 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 pointed out the many holes in this “New Age bible” theory. KJV onlyism thrives on lies and sensationalism, even worse, such lies have done much spiritual damage to Christians who were saved by reading these Bibles. It bears the bad fruits of divisions and false accusations within the church. Don’t let anyone destroy your faith in God’s Word with cunningly devised fables.