A Pet Theory on Why People are Abandoning King James Onlyism

Why does it seem like people are leaving KJVO in droves? And not only that, but also many other “traditional” IFB doctrines that have sprung up in the last century or so.

My theory is that King James Onlyism was born and bred in an era where it was very expensive and time-consuming to look into facts for yourself. Until recently, there was no Internet. If your pastor told you that the King James Version was the only true Bible, you pretty much had to take his word for it. And how did he know? Generally the same way; someone told him, or maybe he had gone a step further and purchased a book or two that supported the KJVO theory. Buying books, however, is expensive, and purchasing books that refuted the deeply held beliefs of your upbringing was not always the wisest choice for spending scarce resources.

And so you have a situation where the propagation of factual information is limited by: fear of being labeled a heretic, apostate, Alexandrian, Nicolaitane, Satanist, etc.; reluctance to give up a strongly held belief; scarcity of funds and free time for research; and a scarcity of research material to evaluate.

We are part of the first generation that has the opposite problem. We take “information overload” for granted nowadays, and we have become adept at filtering and sorting that information in meaningful ways using tools like Google. If we have a question on a doctrine, we can pull up almost limitless opinions on that doctrine, and we have learned to use logic and reason to compare and validate facts and come to our own conclusions. We are connected now to more facts than ever before, and we are connected to more people via forums, which allows us to debate and sharpen our views much more easily.

In even earlier times, you were much more likely to find Christians involved in what we would consider obvious theological error. Most KJV translators, for example, were strict Anglicans. Why? Same reasons, but more pronounced. In contrast, with the wealth of knowledge God has blessed us with today, it is unthinkable that we wouldn’t start refining our views.

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2 thoughts on “A Pet Theory on Why People are Abandoning King James Onlyism

  1. Hi there! Thanks for the Comments!

    I think there is another reason people leave KJV-Onlyism, and that is that they realize we don’t ask doctors to operate on us like they did in 1611 or 1769 (the most recent edition of the KJV), so why do we assume God stopped learning English?

    The funny thing is that the contemporaries of the KJV hated it. Cromwell’s protestants saw it as a symbol of totalitarian monarchy. Most of the early settlers in the US did not use it because it was associated with the Crown.

    The problem for me, to be honest, was it had no worthy successor. Although it WAS done under a tyrant; although it WAS done based on a very small collection of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts; although it WAS essentially a plagiarism of Tyndale’s NT (something like 90% was outright stolen!); the KJV was an accurate translation in a contemporary English, and it was one of the best translations ever done. It was truly formal, which is a claim few modern translations even attempt to make. It was faithful to the text (with the exception of a few places where the translators were just plain guessing).

    But it is dated; it DOES have mistakes; it does rely on a very small contingent of texts. I was waiting for its successor. The RSV is not that great, the NIV deviates from the texts too much, the NLT – well, I think it needs coloring pages. The NKJV? Talk about putting a new patch on old cloth! The NASB was just too academic for me.

    Recently, however, I have discovered the ESV and absolutely love it. Having read the Bible in at least 6 translations thus far in my life, I couldn’t ask for a better balance of contemporary language and formal equivalence. I even like the way they treat the variants (although I wish they would leave a few of them in the text that they have moved to the margins).

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Good to hear from you. I’ve subscribed to your blog in my reader, so I will read through more of your stuff.

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