Monday, August 15, 2011

The Idolatrous Cult of King James-Onlyism

Our church sign on Telegraph Road reads: "Biblical Greek Seminar - Aug. 16-17-18."

Seeing our sign, a couple of "King James Only" (KJO) people clandestinely leafleted the cars in our church parking lot two Sundays ago. Why?

Because KJO-ers believe the only authoritative biblical text is the 5th edition of the one written in the 17th century in English. So we must only study the a particular version of the KJV, and not go back to the original autographs. "We don't have the originals," they claim. OK. But we are very, very close. All relevant biblical scholars look to them, and not the KJV or any other translation for that matter.

KJO-ism is small, narrow, cult-like, idolatrous and heretical. KJO philosophy is akin to Muslim fundamentalism in its view of the Qur'an. In that version of Islam the Qur'an has the place that Jesus has in Christianity. The Qur'an is the perfect, untranslatable word from God, to be read only in Arabic. KJO-ism worships one translation of the Bible. That's been called "bibliolatry."

The leaflets told us that, if we read any translation other than the KJV, we are going to hell. I am serious.

This Sunday morning I reassured our church family that our eternal destiny, our salvation, comes from embracing the gospel, and not some translation of the Bible. The Bible is not to be worshiped; Jesus is. And we are sozo-ed by embracing the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day. (1 Cor. 15:3-4) The Bible contains the gospel; it is not itself the gospel. Remember that when Paul write the Corinthians in the first century and told them about the "gospel," they did not have King James Bibles. They had no Bibles at all. Yet they were saved as they embraced the good news.

If you want more, my colleague Josh Bentley has written a nice, clarifying piece on his website.