I must admit I was a little shocked when I saw all the ABCDEFGHILMNOPQRSTUWXYZ’s in my KJV Only Study Bible.
The phone rang as I sat down for dinner with my family. An anonymous person warned me, “There are people in your church who will leave if you keep using the NIV. You have a small church; you can’t afford to lose more people. I’m telling you: go back to the King James immediately.”
One of the weirdest things I’ve run into while being a pastor are people’s rabid defenses of Bible translations. I like the King James. I use the King James. I also have some problems with it. But I like it, I’m familiar with it, and I use it.
The fact that I preach out of the KJV has led many to believe I am a KJV fanatic. They do the wink-wink, nod-nod KJV Club stuff with me, until the Sunday comes where I say, “The King James kind of botches this translation.” Redness overtakes their face.
I have had four people leave my church because I “used the NIV” on Sunday morning.
Here’s the thing: I have never once used the NIV on a Sunday morning.
Here’s the other thing: I constantly make fun of the NIV. Anyone who listens to me for any time knows I don’t care for the NIV (no, I do not want explanations about the NIV’s strong-points). I don’t care if other people use it, I just don’t like it.
The people were actually upset when I read something out of the New American Standard Version, which they took as the NIV, and left the church.
Nope, it didn’t matter when I told them it wasn’t the NIV. It didn’t matter when I said I never have, nor will, use the NIV with any level of seriousness. Nope, didn’t matter. They were gone. I used the NIV while reading the NASV and that was enough.
One lady actually yelled at me during the service to “use a real Bible” when I read from not the KJV.
Who knew that Bible translations could be so divisive? It’s God’s Word, originally written in not-English. Translations into English are just people’s best efforts to help us understand the Greek and Hebrew. I encourage people to use all kinds of translations (even the NIV can be occasionally helpful. Sometimes.). When the KJV uses a weird word, I pause in my sermon and define what the word means, and that definition is usually the way other translations translate it!
But the KJV Only crowd aint playin’. They take this stuff to an unreal level, claiming the KJV is inspired. They will fight you. They will lay you out.
Apparently salvation doesn’t come by the Gospel; it comes by what English translation you prefer. And if you bring your newfangled ESV up in here, they will condemn you to hell and that right quick.
Oh well. I continue to use my KJV. Although I’ve considered using the NAS or ESV simply to remove all visitors’ hopes or fears that I’m a KJV Only man.
But I don’t cave to stupidity. Plus over the years I’ve adapted a liking for poking people who take themselves too seriously. So I keep using my KJV and critiquing it when necessary. I’ll keep a running tab of how many people leave. It keeps me entertained.
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
–2 Timothy 2:14