Friday, January 15, 2021

The King James Only “Movement”

Some have defined the “KJV Only movement” as “an organized effort that believes the King James Version of the Bible is the only preserved Word of God in the English language.” Some have talked of it endlessly while leaving it undefined (as to what they mean by movement). Identifying it as a “movement” allows ignoring the existence of any King James Only “movement” before the “movement” came to view.

Independent Baptist pastor Thomas Cassidy wrote, “I don’t see KJVOism as a ‘movement.’ It includes Pentecostals, Protestants, Baptists, and even a Mormon or two. It is much too broad to have the consistency necessary for it to be a ‘movement.’ It is simply a broad spectrum of people who have a similar view of a single doctrine, quite often rejecting any other similarities.”[i] He adds, “I think it is always dangerous to pigeon-hole people based on a single characteristic.” It may be that this is pigeon-holing with purpose

If there is such a thing as a modern “KJVO Movement,” it grew out of the opposition to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible of 1952. Much of the language and rhetoric of the KJV support since that time can be traced to the debate surrounding the RSV. Each “KJVO movement” in history appears to have a catalyst (e.g. see HERE and HERE), and the RSV was the primary catalyst of the 20th century.

Nevertheless, among the anti-KJV all-other-Bible adherents, speaking of the “KJV Only movement” often becomes a mere debating tactic rather than a sensible historical investigation. Their people create a “KJVO movement” with a very specific timeline, and then in their debates discredit anyone before “the movement” – why, they could not be “King James Only” because it did not start until ____. This makes “KJVO” a modern invention rather than an historical position held by some of our forefathers in the faith. I do not disagree that a strong “movement” favoring only the King James Bible grew aggressively in latter half of the 20th century. I disagree when people claim there was no “KJVO” before 1950, or 1930, or whatever date they decide to put on it to create their strawman. Some of these same people also excel in talking out of both sides of their mouths! They will claim some view is “KJVO” when someone writes or says it today. However, when we find someone who said it in 1927 or 1900 or 1817, these same people start crawfishing – no, those people were not really “KJVO”. Consistency thou art a jewel. Anti-KJVs, please find your “just weights and measure.”
[i] In Fundamentalism and the King James Version: How a Venerable English Translation Became a Litmus Test for Orthodoxy Jeffrey P. Straub agrees, writing, “...even from this brief survey of the contours of the KJV-only landscape, it is clear that there is no unified movement.”

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