Up until recently, I had gone to churches that were King James Version Only all of my life. I read the books that were available to me as a youth such as New Age Bible Versions, and some of D. A. Waite’s books. Honestly, I loved it. I went to a high school where they used modern versions, and I felt it was my mission to spread the “truth” to as many of my fellow students and teachers as possible. Once I got a job, I went on shopping spree from Bible For Today and Ruckman’s mail order catalogs to “learn” as much as I could about how the people behind the modern versions were all members of a secret Alexandrian Cult.
After attending an Independent Fundamental Baptist college, my KJVO views became more charitable. Maybe people behind the modern versions weren’t evil… Just horribly misled. I became aware of a book called The King James Only Controversy and viewed it with the same fear and contempt I may have had towards a book like The God Delusion, if it had existed at the time. Luckily, I paged through one of my professor’s copies and saw red ink all over the margins and across the text of every page, and this was all the confirmation I needed that the KJVOC was just a bunch of unscholarly fluff. Before leaving college, I had a chance to pen my magnum opus, a defense of the KJV translation of “Easter” for a single occurrence of the word pascha in the New Testament. I started building my defense from what I “knew” was true, that Easter was the proper translation, and worked backward from there, selectively finding quotes, definitions and “evidence” that supported my presupposition. It got high marks, of course.
Fast forward a few years. One of my children goes to a preschool at a Baptist church down the road from us. I notice while sitting in the auditorium for one of their little concerts that the Bibles in the pews are New International Version. After my initial disappointment, I start thinking about it… These people genuinely seem to love God. How could this be if they are using a counterfeit Bible? Wouldn’t it lead them away from God? If these Bibles were the cornerstone of Satan’s devious and conniving plan to turn people away from the truth, why did it seem to have the opposite effect?
Coincidentally (?) around this same time, I was having a sort of minor crisis of faith at my own church. I wasn’t by any means a “good Fundamentalist”–I knew that some day I would probably have to stop going to movie theaters, get rid of all of my DVD’s, attend Thursday night visitation every week, wear suits to church, and so on, in order to really be close to God, but at the time being, I was content in my mediocrity. This was the status quo for some time until–and I won’t go into the details about exactly what transpired here out of respect for my former pastor, but suffice it to say–I realized that my pastor didn’t always have all the answers. In fact, as I thought a little further about the case he was building in that sermon, it seemed to have an awful lot of logical fallacies. But if we were wrong about this, what else could we be wrong about?
This initiated a very careful, thorough study of everything I believed. I realized that if I didn’t do it now, I may just be burdening my kids with something that should have been the father’s responsibility. So I changed my outlook on truth and started coming at things from a different standpoint. Instead of caring only to prove my treasured beliefs were correct, I sincerely prayed for and sought truth. It was a liberating feeling. I learned how to have an open mind, being able to adapt my viewpoints as I researched a subject. And, I think, most importantly, as I read not only books, but even the Bible, I got a thrill out of trying to throw out my presuppositions as I read and really determine what the author was saying. So by the time I was ready to defend or reject my King James Onlyism, I got myself some books, some for KJVO and a couple against it.
The first thing I noticed was that when the KJVO authors I was reading wrote books, they tended to read their own presuppositions into a text. No one is perfect, and of course I will always do it myself to some degree, but what I saw seemed to be people just skimming books, trying to find little fragments of text that supported their position, and ripping this out of context and using it as “evidence”, regardless of whether or not the author was actually saying what they supposed he was. I decided to go back and read some of the source materials frequently used in the debate, and came out with a totally different picture than what was being painted by the authors of the KJVO books. It wasn’t much later that I had to admit I had been wrong about the issue all my life. This is not a concession that one makes lightly or without much deliberation.
I also found that I wasn’t alone. You see stories similar to this all over the internet these days. I believe this is due in large part to being able to research things on-line, without having to finance enormous personal research libraries. And for every story written, I believe there are many more that are unwritten. I hope that in adding my story to the mix, some people will be blessed by it. I certainly do not mean to offend anyone, and I look forward to meaningful interaction on this topic and many others through this blog.