The controversy as to whether the King James Version of the Bible is the inspired Word of God or not has raged over many generations of Christians. Some believers unwaveringly claim it is the inspired word and others hold just as strongly that it is not. Occasionally, the opposing views can be so vehemently embraced that is causes schisms in the body and ministry suffers.
That something like this could bring Christians to loggerhead in light of incontrovertible evidence is difficult to understand. We can understand when unbelievers stir up controversy about scripture, but not when it comes from those who have been enlightened by the Spirit of God. Regardless of one’s position, for a member of the body of Christ, charity and harmony should always prevail.
Before charity and harmony are sought however, it is important that a Christian arrive at the right position on a matter. We are admonished in scripture to search out at thing to ensure that it is true. When we give due diligence to discover the truth, we leave no room for conflict in the body.
In this matter of inspiration the search reveals that the King James Version simply is not and cannot be the inspired Word of God. No version or translation is. To arrive at an opposite conclusion than this is to not ignore the facts.
I suspect that many use the word “inspired” when they actually mean to say “preserved.” Let’s briefly look at the difference and let’s keep it simple. Too often so-called Bible scholars get so deep that we common folk cannot understand what they are talking about. Consequently, not wishing to appear ignorant, we accept their teachings as fact, thereby perpetuating the error.
Inspiration was a one time, never to be repeated act of God whereby he transferred his thoughts to paper by the hand of holy men that he selected. He searched their hearts and employed them to this holy task. These men were sometimes contemporaries, but often lived during different periods of history over many centuries of time. God revealed his thoughts according to his time table in the format and way he wanted. This is best evidenced in the continuity of thought and purpose of scripture. He used approximately forty men to deliver the complete canon of scripture over a period of some 1900 years, but clearly the Bible is the work of one author.
We can allow some wiggle room for those who claim that these men wrote with their own flair, but even this concession borders on being dangerous. To infer that these men had any latitude to write what they wanted is simply preposterous. II Peter 1:21 tells us:
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but
holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
The statement could not be any clearer. The will of man was not involved in any way. The will of God was affected through men by the moving of the Holy Spirit. Picture a large sailing vessel becalmed in a bay, its sails hanging limp from the masts. Though they want to get underway, the men on the ship can do nothing to cause the ship to move.
Suddenly a breeze is felt and the sails begin to rustle. The wind picks up to a steady pace and the sails fill. The ship begins to move. The men rush to their stations. The ship comes about and swiftly leaves the bay, rising and falling on the waves as it reaches open water.
The men on the ship were not responsible for the ship’s movement. They did nothing but be where they were supposed to be. The vessel did nothing but move involuntarily to the will of the wind. So too the men God used to pen his word did nothing more than make themselves available to his will by being who and where they were supposed to be. Though they were willing vessels, they wrote involuntarily, and often ignorantly, as the Spirit of God moved them.
Again, this was a one-time, never to be repeated act of God. God will never again transmit his thoughts to men until after he comes again to set up his theocratic kingdom on earth. Then he will commune with men in person and not through the written word.
We no longer have the inspired word of God. Frequently you will hear someone try to qualify their ideas and conclusions about the meaning of a certain portion of scripture by saying “well, if you check the original…” That person is not well-versed on canonical history. The fact is that the original, known as the Autographa or Textus Receptus (Received Text) no longer exists.
The original, or rather originals (as each book was given at different times in history) are no longer available. Of course we know that the Word of God is settled in the heavens, or, in other words, God holds it; but there is no collective work held in some secret vault somewhere on earth. It simply does not exist as some would suppose. Inadvertent and deliberate destruction, aging and other reasons have taken its toll.
However, that is not problematic, because God tells us that he has preserved his word for all time so that all generations can know his truth. The word of God is preserved in a translation and those who hold to the King James Version being the Inspired Word will be happy to know that while that notion is not supportable by scripture and fact, it is indeed the Preserved Word.
How can we be sure this is true? We know by simply by looking at the difference between the two concepts. The Inspired Word was perfect and flawless. The Preserved Word is not. In your service to the Lord you have heard people say “oh everyone knows that the Bible was written by men.”
By this declaration, they mean that men had latitude in the development of the Bible. This was not true of the Inspired Word as we have already seen. However, there is a modicum of truth to this statement when it comes to the Preserved Word. Men did have some latitude. This is why there are so many inferior and unfaithful texts.
The fact is that the King James Version of the Bible, or the Preserved Word, does have flaws. There are at least two miscues made by the translators that come to mind, and if I gave it more thought, I could come up with several more. For example, in II Thessalonians 2:2 the term “day of Christ” is used when it should read “day of the Lord.” It is an obvious error on the part of those who had the responsibility of translating and preserving the Inspired Word.
Many might drop their lower jaw on this revelation and perhaps have their faith injured, but that should not be the case. There are no ramifications to major doctrinal issues or positions. They are benign and easily corrected by any Christian who is asked to explain the discrepancy.
This underscores the importance of Christians being “instant in season.” We are the final link in the chain of preservation of the word. Inspiration brought us the perfect word of God. Translation began the preservation process. The King James Version continued the process by putting the preserved word into the hands of believers. The believer, in the role of priest, is to vigilantly protect the preserved word.
To quote a familiar radio personality, “and now you know the rest of the story.”