The Theological Illusions of King James Onlyism by Kevin Bauder (part 2)

One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible may just be the best book on the King James Only debate, period.  The posts in this series are tracing the arguments of one of the editors, Kevin Bauder, in his conclusion to the book: “An Appeal to Scripture”.  Bauder explains several theological arguments that KJV Onlyists resort to, in an effort to continue propagating their belief against a mass of contrary evidence.  Bauder illustrates how these arguments really are illusions that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Part 1 set the stage, and now we get to the first of the theological arguments for KJV Onlyism.

The first illusion is the appeal to faith. According to its leading defenders, the King James-Only movement is fundamentally a “faith position.” Genuine, biblical faith, however, must rest in the promise of God. To be believed, the promise of God must be clearly revealed in the pages of Scripture itself. The question is not whether the Bible contains a promise that God will preserve His Word. King James-Only advocates go much further. They insist that God has preserved His words and preserved them exactly in a singular, identifiable, and accessible form. So the question is whether the Bible contains a promise that God will preserve, word for word, the text of the original documents of Scripture in a particular manuscript, textual tradition, printed text, or version. As this book has shown, the Bible contains no promise whatsoever that includes the preservation of all the words of the autographa (without addition or deletion) in a single, publicly accessible source. Without such a promise, the appeal to faith does not rest in the promise of God, but in the untestable and unverifiable speculation of the King James-Only advocates themselves. Until they can produce a Scripture that (properly and contextually understood) does promise all that they assert, they have no legitimate right to appeal to faith.

(Bolded emphasis mine. Excerpted from pg. 158, One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible, edited by Roy Beacham and Kevin Bauder; Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 2001.)

?This is the rub in my opinion.  The various texts that apply to a doctrine of preservation, do not make the explicit claim that all the words of Scripture will be preserved in an accessible form.  For at least 1500 years, most KJV Onlyists allow that the words of Scripture weren’t together in a printed text or version that is accessible too.  Especially when one considers what E.F. Hills points out that several of the TR passages are preserved in the Latin language texts rather than the Greek language texts, and the New Testament was purified when the two streams were brought together.

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The Theological Illusions of King James Onlyism by Kevin Bauder (part 1)

For the last several years, I have considered One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible to be the best book on the King James Only debate, period.  Kevin Bauder and Roy Beacham, the editors, are fundamentalists.  All the authors were professors at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, a fundamentalist institution.  They understand the issue from the inside out.  Their circles have been most affected by KJV Onlyism and so their book is extremely helpful.

Perhaps the best chapter in the book, is Kevin Bauder’s conclusion: “An Appeal to Scripture”.  It is full of so many excellent quotes that I plan to share bits and pieces from the chapter over a series of posts.  Of course, you need to get the book to get the full effect, but I hope this whets your appetite for the real thing.

Bauder sets the stage for his discussion of KJV-Onlyists’ appeal to scripture by presenting the quandry that King James onlyists face.

If the preservation of the Word of God depends upon the exact preservation of the words of the original documents, then the situation is dire.  No two manuscripts… [no] two editions of the Masoretic Text… [no] two editions of the Textus Receptus… [no] two modifications of the King James Version contain exactly the same words, and the Bible nowhere tells us which edition, if any, does contain the exact words of the originals.  These are not speculations; these are plain facts.

Confronted with these facts, King James-Only advocates are faced with one of two choices.  Either they may specify, a priori and without biblical evidence, a single manuscript or edition of the Bible in which the exact words are preserved, or they may begin to qualify their insistence upon exact preservation….

If they are pressed, they will admit that they do not have all the words and only the words of the original in a single place.  Instead, they will point out how similar most of the manuscripts are…. most King James-Only advocates are eventually willing to admit the possibility of an acceptable range of variation.

These King James-Only proponents, therefore, wish to have it both ways.  They insist upon condemning the Ben-Asher Hebrew text, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, the contemporary eclectic Greek texts, and the New American Standard Bible because they only contain some (not all) of the words of God.  But they are willing to accept differences in the various editions of the Ben-Chayyim Hebrew text, of the Textus Receptus in Greek, and of the King James Version in English, even though no more than one edition of one of these documents can conceivably contain all of the words and only the words of God….

In other words, if the King James-Only advocates were candid, most of them would have to admit to holding precisely the same theory of those whom they oppose.  They would have to admit that the whole debate is merely an academic quibble over the percentage of acceptable variation.  …they would have to admit that their preference was based on a difference of degree and not a difference of kind.

Of course, such an admission would be fatal to the King James-Only movement.  If its leaders were so candid, people would recognize that the whole debate amounts to a cyclone in a coffee cup….  The movement survives, but only by clouding the issues and distracting people from the main point.  It protects itself with an elaborate structure of theological illusions.

(Bolded emphasis mine. Excerpted from pg. 155-158, One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible, edited by Roy Beacham and Kevin Bauder; Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 2001.)