Defining KJV-Only and What Sites to Watch Out For


(last updated Nov 24, 2012)

I'm doing a little bit of side-study on the "King James Version Only" issue (hereafter, KJVO). I was a KJVO during the early years of my Christian life, as I had been saved while attending a Fundamentalist, Independent Baptist church. So, the issue is a tender one to me.

What is KJVO?
There are several types of people who fall into the KJVO camp, most of whom are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Some simply like the sound and flow of the KJV.  We should feel free to walk with these folks in gospel fellowship.

Others believe the Greek and Hebrew manuscript tradition underlying the KJV to be the best representation of Apostolic writing.  As all Bible translations postdating the KJV use more abundant source material, these folks, who are really TR or Textus Receptus Onlyists, find themselves KJVO by default.  These are simply well-meaning but mis-educated fellow believers.

Then there are the hardcores.  This flavor of KJVO believes that the KJV translators received direct revelation from God.  They therefore judge all English translations by the standard of the KJV, or "the way God did it."  Since there is only one version of God's Word in English, all other English Bibles are perversions of His truth.  The most extreme of this group would even claim the KJV replaces the original languages in priority, and that Bibles in other languages should now be translated from the King's "authorised" English version.

While I'm not saying this latter group doesn't have anything to offer God's people (they do, after all, study Scripture), I have the following, serious concerns:
  1. As far as Bible study goes, extreme KJVO's sometimes undergo strange exegesis of certain passages. Whether it be from a misunderstanding of the original language, confusion brought about due to the older English of the KJV, or sheer hermeneutical aerobics, KJVO's will sometimes develop very interesting theories to try to get a the KJV mistranslation (etc.) to work.
  2. As far as Christian behavior goes, many of these groups exude unbiblical attitudes. Cursing, misquoting, and ad hominem attacks are considered "truth with an attitude." See the stunning comments in any of the pictures I've posted here as examples - I have collected them from pro-KJVO sites and rallies; they are not satire.
  3. As far as gospel living goes, there are troubling, moralistic trends that pollute Christian living.  Scandal becomes common place in churches where the gospel is not in a central place.  Some even add to the gospel by making the Gospel presentation from the KJV a prerequisite for salvation or godly living.
  4. Some of these sites are even listed on Phil Johnson's Bookmarks of "Bad Theology," and that should mean something!

What are the roots of KJVO?
Author Doug Kutilek posted a history of the KJVO movement online, which you can read here.  Here are the highlights of that "True Genealogy and Genesis of King-James-Version-Onlyism:" 
  • 1930—Seventh-Day Adventist Benjamin G. Wilkinson wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated
    • not popular in its day
    • created the common arguments of the King James Only movement (such as the misapplication of Psalm 12:6–7)
  • 1955—Book was revived by John Jasper Ray’s God Wrote Only One Bible.  Ray’s book “heavily plagiarizedOur Authorized Bible Vindicated.
  • 1964—Peter Ruckman publishes The Bible Babel, which “betrays unmistakeable signs of heavy dependence on Ray.”
  • 1970—David Otis Fuller published Which Bible?  In its 5th, 1975 edition, it contained 350 pages, of which “almost half were taken” from Wilkinson's book.  Fuller gives Ray credit for inspiring his personal investigation into these issues.
  • Others, including D.A. Waite, Jack Chick, Gail Riplinger, Jack Hyles, etc., draw inspiration from the men above.
  • There were others before and contemporaneous with Wilkinson who advocated the KJV over other translations, but none seemed to hold to the extreme views he inspired.
  • So then Wilkinson, when he had conceived, brought forth Ray, and Ray, when he was full-grown, brought forth Fuller, Ruckman, Waite, Chick, Riplinger, Hyles, Bynum,....

What are some KJVO sites to avoid?
Therefore, without further ado, here is the list of websites and places for the young and un-discerning to avoid, listed alphabetically. I'll add to this list as I come across new sites.
If you come across more, let me know and I'll add them to this list. Entries are KJVO of the more extreme variety - churches that simply prefer the KJV do not qualify as "places to avoid."  So, here is how to know you have stumbled on KJVO turf—the red flags:
  • Claims to be comprised of only "Bible-believers," believers  in the KJV alone. Those who reject KJVO would not be "Bible believers" by their definition.
  • Preferential use of "AV" or "Authorized Version" and "KJB" over "KJV."  (This alone is not proof, as British evangelicals who are not KJVO also prefer these abbreviations.)  While originally a reference to King James' approval of the translation, KJVO's adopt the concept of an "authorized/authorised" version to speak of the King of King's approval.  As it is "the Bible" for English-speakers, it is the "King James Bible," not just another version.
  • Obsession with "AV 1611."  Even though the 1769 revision is in nearly every KJV American readers' hands today, KJVO's will claim it is the 1611 or, at least, close enough to call it such.
  • Studies in "corrupt versions," i.e., all Bible versions other than the KJV.  This includes studies in "omissions," "insertions," or "alterations;" ominous-sounding language which only amounts to differences between the KJV and other Bible versions.
  • Studies in "corrupt manuscripts," Greek Alexandrian text-families or even readings from the Majority Text that differ from the Textus Receptus.
  • Talk of "Bible haters" (not those Bible-haters in the world who hate the truth of God, but fellow Christians who reject the KJV as the only inspired Word).
  • Variations on "Fundamental" in the title.  Yes, some KJVO advocates go as far as to say that belief in the KJV, or belief in Christ according to verses from the KJV, is one of the fundamentals necessary for salvation and Gospel-preaching.

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