Coffee With Sam: What’s the Big Deal about the KJV?

A new website has launched called, in which (according to the video creator) 8-10 video episodes will eventually be published. In this first episode, KJVO advocate Sam Gipp sits down over coffee with a student to explain to his confused mind why the KJV is the final authority.

In this well-produced short video, Gipp offers many of the same arguments and presuppositions posited by KJV advocates. While Gipp has said things that place him in the Ruckmanite category, he comes off here as a humble and wise professor seeking to take the complex issue of biblical transmission and make it fit into a simple construct with contemporary analogies. Here are some arguments given:

1. The Bible(s) we have today have to be exactly the same as that given by inspiration in order to be authoritative. 

Gipp makes this point in the very beginning when he declares the Bible to be the final authority in all matters of faith and practice, and then clarifies that he’s “not talking about an imaginary book” but “a book that I’m holding in my hand right now.”  He proceeds to point to the Bible in his hand as the final authority.

This idea has been propagated in numerous ways across the spectrum of King James Onlyism. What this concept does is it provides a basis to later declare all modern versions as less than authoritative because they do not all equally match each other. The KJVO advocate may deny it, but if he uses this argumentation, he really is looking for a photocopy of the originals, albeit in English.

2. There are only two Bibles, the Egyptian and the Antiochan.

Over coffee, Gipp tells his suspicious catechumen that despite the hundreds of Bible translations in the bookstores, all Bibles come from just one of two lines of manuscripts: those that come from Alexandria, Egypt, and those that come from Antioch in Syria. From this simplistic categorization of text types, Gipp then uses the guilt-by-association tactic to prove the superiority of the KJV because of its affiliation with Antiochian manuscripts.

Never mind that the Bible provides no precedent to use a distinction between Egypt and Antioch for a basis of judging translations, or that the Son of God was called out of Egypt, or that Athanasius, the champion of trinitarian orthodoxy, came from Alexandria. Because the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch and Egypt is generally spoken of negatively in the scriptures, the issue is presented very matter-of-fact by Gipp that the KJV descends from the Antiochian line, and is therefore superior.

3. The Textus Receptus is the Antiochian line of manuscripts

Gipp says the TR “is the Greek that comes out of Antioch.” So, the line of reasoning is as follows: Inspiration in Antioch > copies and publishing in Antioch > Textus Receptus > KJV.

Unfortunately for Gipp’s argumentation, the transmission of the text is not that simple.

4. The Critical Text is bad because it’s called the Critical Text

I chuckled at the statement, “Just the fact that it’s ‘critical’ should tell you there’s a problem.” All the while he’s promoting the TR, which is a Greek text. A text, by its very nature, is critical. Variant readings from manuscripts have to be compared in order to produce a finished product. In this way, Erasmus’ TR editions are critical, although worked from far fewer manuscripts and with less of a science of textual criticism.

5. Modern translations cannot help a Christian grow in the same way the KJV can.

Thankfully, Gipp admits that people can come to the knowledge of the gospel and be saved through reading versions other than the KJV. However, only the KJV is incorruptible, and corrupt modern versions are not appropriate for the Christian’s growth. No evidence is given here, but at this point, the episode is coming to a close, so I suspect we’ll get more details in the future.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8 by C.L. Bolt

This article isn’t brand new, but I believe it is a worthwhile contribution to our blog. I came across this essay as its author, C.L. Bolt, and I interacted on a mutual friend’s comment thread on Facebook. Mr. Bolt was happy to have me re-post it here. Be sure to check out his website, Choosing Hats, an excellent resource of presuppositional apologetics.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8

by C.L. BOLT on DECEMBER 31, 2010

The Comma Johanneum as a Textual Problem


The phrase “Comma Johanneum” is the name given to a short clause of a sentence found in 1 John 5.7-8 which has become a famous problem in textual criticism. The word “comma” as it is used here just means a short clause of a sentence and “Johanneum” refers to the writings of the Apostle John.[i] The phrase “Comma Johanneum” thus refers to a short clause of a sentence (comma) which has some relevance to the writings of John (Johanneum). The Comma Johanneum can be found in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 1 John 5:7-8 (KJV)[ii]

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“The Superiority of the Majority Text” by Brian Schwertley

Recently, a reader sent me a link to the following lecture by Presbyterian pastor Brain Schwertley. It was forwarded to me under the heading of “Challenging Sermon from a TR-only Perspective.” I appreciate that forward; it gives us something to talk about. In listening to the sermon, I found it to be wanting: he used typical arguments, he confused terminology, and he does not answer each objections as well as he says he does. On the positive note, I found it refreshing to hear a sermon from a TR supporter that is not full of conspiracy theories and ad-hominem attack. Granted, he isn’t thrilled with those who support modern versions, but his passion seems sincere. What do you think?

Link to Sermon

Where Do We Stand?

Last week’s post generated plenty of conversation. I hope to highlight one of the points brought to light in a future post; namely, I will post on Tischendorf’s discovery of Sinaiticus and how the story is portrayed in the KJVO debate on all sides.

What got me thinking, though, is more along the lines of our personal backgrounds. I realize some of our regular guests have shared their own story, but I’m not sure that I even know where everyone stands on the issue. I see we have folks who regularly comment in support of the TR or MT but are not necessarily KJVO. We have others who are very critical of the CT but again, not KJVO. Then we have some who are indeed KJVO. I am also very interested in your theological leanings, as we’ve had people here who are not Christian at all. It helps to know who we’re talking to.

I’m wondering if those of you who regularly comment here (or who have in the past) would mind providing a little theological background and insight into your current thoughts on the Bible version issue. My fellow contributors are welcome to chime in as always. Even though we’ve given short bios on the authors page, and even though we all come from the IFB KJVO position, we have not all given our full position on this topic and I’m sure we even differ among ourselves.

To keep the commentary to the point, would you please follow these guidelines and answer these questions:

Guidelines: Please keep it brief yet specific. Please refrain from replying to a comment unless it addresses a specific point made (perhaps for an elaboration or clarification rather than an argument).


1. What kind of church do you attend, if any?
2. What is your role in ministry, if any?
3. Has your position on the Bible version issue changed? If so, how?
4. How would you describe your current perspective on the TR, MT, and CT?
5. How important is this issue to you and how significant is it to your theology as a whole? (for example, do you practice separation if someone does not agree, etc)
6. What English Bibles do you recommend and use?
7. What resources have helped you, and which would you urge people to stay away from?
8. Finally, to keep things friendly, share with us what your favorite food is.

The above do not necessarily all have to be answered, or answered in order, but if you could frame your comments around these topics that would help us keep things clear and concise.

James White vs. Will Kinney

Will Kinney may not be a household name, but  those who have debated the King James Only issue on the Internet are very likely to have come across Kinney’s articles one way or another. I have personally exchanged arguments with him in the past. I do think he has a better handle of some of the issues than many drive-by commentators on the web (so much so that on a message board, a bunch of folks I’ve debated could not respond to my arguments so one member of the message board threatened to “get Will Kinney over here” to refute me, and the exchange began), but he does not hold back from the typical ad-hominem attacks of many extreme KJV Onlysists. His tone unfortunately takes away from the force of any of his legitimate arguments.

Anyway, in typical KJVO fashion, Kinney has gone on the attack against James White (who has possibly been attacked more by fellow Christians holding to the KJVO view than he has by Muslims and atheists) complete with insults and wide-eyed accusations. One video in which he does this is here, and you can follow related links to others:

On a recent episode of the Dividing Line, White responds to some charges:

Will Kinney calls into the program about 15 minutes in, and the two argue for about 12 minutes. The exchange is rather annoying, as both men are talking past each other and basically saying, “No, you answer the question” back and forth. Kinney is bold; James white is bold. Kinney is on the attack and White does not seem as though he will let these insults fly without response. Knowing Kinney’s pattern, he will not let this go. So unless James White, out of frustration, decides not to pursue the matter any further, I would expect a drawn-out back-and-forth over the next few weeks or so.


The Bible Version Issue and Separation

A quick detour into practical application

I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve enjoyed the discussions we’ve had on the blog lately. Particularly since the posting of the Maurice Robinson interview, the discussion on this site has been lively, engaging, and informative. I’m impressed with how this blog has grown in a short amount of time, and happy to be a part of it.

As I read the recent posts and the ensuing comments, I’m reminded of a principle that took me away from King James Onlyism in the first place: the issue of Bible versions is complicated.  No, I’m not saying the issue is too complicated to study or comprehend, but it is more technical than a simple grasping at one particular version and calling it a day. As former KJV onlyists, we can testify that, for the most part, this doctrine is presented as too simple.  “If it’s good enough for Paul. . .”

Thankfully, we haven’t encountered too much oversimplification in recent days here.  What is obvious is that the task of understanding the history of textual transmission is quite large and quite deep. Some base their conclusions on the church. But what church? Others on the manuscripts. Which ones? How do we know we’re receiving the right information? Who should we trust? The debate is not over.  One of the characteristics of our blog that I love is that we’re not textual critics. We don’t work at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. We’re not from or  While my fellow contributors are widely read and have sharp minds, we all come to the table as analyzers of the facts that have been given, not the producers of those facts. Our practical, lay-centered understanding of the issues offers a perspective one may not find on sites dedicated solely to scholarship.

So what does all this mean? On an applicatory level, the depth of the issue of Bible versions shows that it is unnecessary, and in my opinion, sinful, to separate ecclesiastically from brethren who hold a different view of the text. In fact, debates such as we have will probably be more helpful as Christians with differing views come together to discuss rather than throw stones.

When I forsook my KJV onlyism, it became my opinion that the modern, critical texts were the most consistent and reliable. I am very comfortable in saying that may change. It doesn’t bother me to admit that. I think the majority text perspective, unnecessarily hindered by its unfortunate association with the shrill of King James onlyism, has merits that ought to be more publicized. And I don’t believe that King James Onlyists themselves offer no food for thought; they certainly do. All of this is to say that the issue isn’t completely settled in my mind and perhaps never will be, yet I’m not bothered by it. I wish to study more and watch as more light is shed on the issue over time. I believe that an approach like this, void of dogmatic declarations, conspiracy theories, and assumptions of heresy is the best approach to take on this issue. Those who oversimplify the issue, take hold of the King James, and work backwards from that position aren’t being true to the technicalities of the debate. My plea is for a continuation of good, honest, Christian discussion.

Justifying the Means of a Version’s Rise to Popularity

Another King James Only Double Standard?

Over a month ago, Erik posed the question: Does King James Onlyism come out of imperialism? over at the Fundamentally Changed blog. The discussion spilled out onto this site as well. My answer to that specific question was, “no.” I do not believe King James Onlyism is a result of imperialism. I have never found imperialistic tendencies within the arguments I’ve read supporting the KJVO position. However, I do believe that imperialism was a factor contributing to the rise of the King James Version (check out the links for the discussion).

Apparently, so did others. Even those who support the KJVO view chimed in at the comments section to give a nod to the idea that English imperialism aided the King James Version’s rise to prominence. Of course, none tried to justify the abuses of the imperialistic system nor everything that ensued during the height of the British Empire. However, the use of imperialism to spread the gospel, the Bible (particularly the KJV), and the modern missions movement was seen as a justifiable mean on the basis of the fact that God providentially used this situation for the furtherance of His cause.

Here’s what some of our King James Only commentators said about this:

Erik’s puerile argument could be easily turned on him as the Critical Text view was propogated at the zenith of the British Empire by the Anglican Establishment, I would not be so crass as to couple this incidental fact with the rise of imperialism. If anything, the RSV is tainted more with imperialism as it is the translation propagated by the imperialists. – PS Furgeson

If we believe that God is in charge and that history unfolds according to His sovereign will, then we are happy to see several points.
1. The Bible had an important place in English History: Alfred, Wycliffe, Tyndale, KJV.
2. God blessed England: the sinking of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the spread of British culture all over the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, which included the spread of the Bible.
3. The Bible spread to all the British colonies.
4. The Bible was preached to the world by British and American missionaries: China, India, and Africa.
5. The Sovereign God providentially used Great Britain to spread His Word all over the world—Praise the Lord!
6. We recognize God’s sovereignty, we see His providence, and we see that the King James Version was the Bible of this people. – Kent Brandenburg

In 1611 the English language was spoken by a mere 3% of the world’s population, but today English has become the closest thing to a universal language in history. He used the King James Bible to carry His words to the far ends of the earth, where it was translated into hundreds of languages by English and American missionaries for over 300 years. The sun never set on the British empire. It was even taken to space by American astronauts and read from there. God knew He would use England, its language and the King James Bible to accomplish all these things long before they happened. It is the only Bible God has providentially used in this way. It is the only Bible believed by thousands upon thousands of believers to be the inspired, infallible and 100% true words of God. – Will Kinney

I for one certainly recognise the perfection of the KJB and the greatness of the British Empire, and see a link between the two; I certainly argue for English to be used in missionary work and for people everywhere to eventually use the KJB; I certainly argue for a national view which is based on the KJB. However, I probably would not accept descriptions of my view as put forward by those who are not for it. – Bibleprotector

I interpret this as saying the English speaking people are not more specially important in the history and development of Christianity in the civilised world than any other language group. But, hasn’t the great modern push for cross-cultural evangelism since William Carey been largely born by the English-speaking peoples, as they took the Gospel (and the KJV as an integral part of that) to every corner of the globe, in the wake of English imperial ‘conquests’ ? – Edwin Clive

Now, I agree. History certainly is His Story. God is in sovereign control, and He uses all sorts of means to accomplish His ends. Of this there is no doubt. But the double standard that I see is this: how can we allow ourselves to think that God providentially uses some historical circumstances for good, when those circumstances involve evil, but not allow the same in other situations? I’m referring to the rise of Bible versions. The King James Onlyist is basically saying, “Yes, imperialism, and all its ills, were used of God for the rise of the King James Version.” But then he turns around and says, “(The means by which) the modern versions rose to popularity are evil, and therefore the modern versions are evil.”

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