Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jack Chick and the KJV

It seems as if Jack Chick (Chick Publications) is at it again (as if he ever rests from the issue). Regardless of where you are in the world, regardless of the language you speak or understand, he is proclaiming once again that the KJV (1611) is the only “words” of God. In fact, a preface to his most recent article on the issue indicates “Jack Chick’s passionate message will either have you nodding in agreement, or gnashing your teeth in anger." I’m afraid that I am doing neither. While the premise of his article is that as America gets away from the faithful preaching of the Word, we are bound for failure and ultimately destruction, I do not agree that the KJV is the only true Word of God nor do I agree that one cannot be saved apart from it. The KJV is a beautiful translation and a wonderful formal equivalence of its day, however, to believe the argument that it is the only viable translation of the Word of God is both ignorant and lacking in scholarship.

Sadly, Mr. Chick believes that more contemporary translations are from Satan and used as a means to destroy our seminaries. While I agree with the idea that there are several faulty, even heretical translations available today, with good scholarship and a heartfelt conviction to translate the Bible as closely as possible to the original languages for the purpose of edifying the common man in his common language, I do not believe that the KJV is the only “words” of God in English. In fact, it seems as if this movement (KJV-Onlyism) is bent on the idea that the KJV itself is inspired. As ridiculous as it seems, apparently we must remind these brothers and sisters that the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and all others who wrote the Bible did not speak the “King’s English.”

An additional point I would like to make is that concerning Chick’s view of Catholicism. I do agree that the Catholic Church has made efforts at ecumenicalism in the past (during John Paul II's "reign") and that many evangelicals have succumbed to this temptation. I also agree that the Roman Catholic Church itself is an apostate organization (but, I would not say that there are no believers in the organization, even if said believers are spiritually immature, lacking in both discernment and faith to have already come out of the organization). This is not because I hold to the idea that the Pope is absolutely provable as the final “Anti-Christ,” but rather because of Catholic doctrines of interpretation (adding the Apocrypha and including such unbiblical teachings as purgatory, the papacy, and the granting of indulgences, etc.), church traditions (ex cathedra, mass, etc.), and general theology (infused righteousness, veneration of the saints, Marian co-redemption, etc.). These issues have proven time and again that the Catholic Church is based upon a man-centered Gospel in which man can save himself (by being a good Catholic) or the church can save man (through the work of the Priests), rather than upon a Christ-centered gospel in which man is completely incapable by nature and by choice in regards to his own righteousness to save himself. Wasn’t this the reason for the reformation? Yes, a corruption in morality, but also a corruption in theology.

All these things aside, another point to make from his article (“What’s Going to Happen to America?”) is that his understanding of believer’s aversion to his heralding of the KJV as the only “words” of God (as he calls it) is due to its cultic nature, not due to the beauty of its translation or a desire to pervert the Gospel. The entire principle of translation that brought us the Bible in its original inspiration as well as translations throughout the years is that it should be made available to the common people. Greek was the common language during the writing of the New Testament. Latin was the common language during Jerome’s translation to the Latin Vulgate. Luther translated to German, the common language of his day and location. Tyndale translated to English, the common language of his day and location. To conclude that the KJV is inspired (though it holds the inspired Word), or that the principle of translation (making the Word available to the common man) ended with the KJV is foolish. To require that everyone become familiar with a short-lived English dialect in order to fully understand the Word of God is also foolish. If we are to believe this, we are to also believe that unless you can read and comprehend Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek you are not allowed to read the Scriptures. If we go that route, we will end up on the same course as the Catholics with their “Latin Mass” and necessity of the clergy to interpret for us. Many apparently do not know this, but even Erasmus, compiler/author of the Textus Receptus used to translate the KJV, translated missing parts by use of the Latin Vulgate, as well as using it for better flow. If it is such a sin to use the original languages to translate into the common language, why is it not a sin to translate a translation and harmonize the Gospels with words not originally penned in the Greek?

As a last point, Christians who do not prescribe to the KJV alone do not “believe God’s words were lost with the originals,” do not wholly subscribe to an “’ecumenical movement,’ enticing many Protestants and Baptists into their net,” do not “claim both Christ and Ba’al,” do not control Christian bookstores to put the KJV “on the bottom shelf or it’s collecting dust in the back room,” and do not “hold the King James version in contempt.” In fact, I believe that the KJV is the most popular Bible translation available in English today. It is not the KJV, but rather the idea that this version is the focus of cultic Bibliolatry today, that so offends discerning believers in Christ.

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