What the Church Loses as She Abandons the KJV – “Authorized” by M. Ward

authorized-ward-2018We are beginning to look at a new book that examines Christians’ use and misuse of the King James Version of the Bible. The book is Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, written by Mark Ward and published by Lexham Press (2018).

In our first post we introduced the book and gave a glimpse of its contents, leaving a quotation from the author’s introduction. Today let’s look at chapter 1, which Ward titles, “What We Lose as the Church Stops Using the KJV.”

Ward makes this comment to start the chapter:

Much of English-speaking Christianity has sent the King James Version, too, to that part of the forest where trees fall with no one there to hear them. That’s what we do with old Bible translations.

But I don’t think many people have carefully considered what will happen if we all decide to let the KJV die and another take its office.

There are at least five valuable things we lose – things that in many places we are losing and have already lost – if we give up the KJV… [p.7]

Those five things are these (first I will quote them, then I will reference one further):

  1. We lose intergenerational ties in the body of Christ.
  2. We lose Scripture memory by osmosis.
  3. We lose a cultural touchstone.
  4. We lose some of the implicit trust Christians have in the Bibles in their laps.
  5. We lose some of the implicit trust non-Christians have in Scripture.

Ward makes good points in connection with each of these, but we will focus on what he has to say about #2 – and his point ought to be well taken:

When an entire church, or group of churches, or even an entire nations of Christians, uses basically one Bible translation, genuinely wonderful things happen. An individual Christian’s knowledge of the Bible increases almost by accident, because certain phrases become woven into the language of the community.

…Christians in my growing-up years were constantly reinforcing each other’s knowledge of the KJV every time they mentioned it in conversation. We were teaching each other Bible phrases when we read Scripture out loud together in church. (Corporate reading from five different translations just doesn’t work. I’ve heard it done – no, attempted.)

People can memorize any Bible translation on their own, but the community value of learning by osmosis is eroded when people aren’t reinforcing precisely the same wording. It helps to have a common standard. That standard doesn’t have to be the KJV, of course. [This is going to be the author’s thesis throughout, in spite of what he says positively and powerfully here and elsewhere about the Bible with which he grew up.] But no other translation seems likely to serve in the role. If indeed the King is dying, it is just as sure that none of his sons or cousins have managed to become the heir apparent.[pp.8-9]

That last point is, indeed, putting it mildly. As the modern versions have proliferated, Christians have been tossed hither and yon on the sea of Bible versions – to their spiritual detriment, we believe. And yet we recognize that the KJV has issues with modern Christians – even our own children and young people. Why? And what can be done about it?

Next time we will consider more of what Ward has to say about this matter.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] In our last post we examined the first main chapter, where the author makes five main points concerning what the church stands to lose if she abandons the KJV. These were good points with valid arguments and strong conclusions. […]

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  2. […] In our last post we examined his second chapter, where he laid the groundwork for this criticism. In chapter three – “Dead Words and ‘False Friends,'” – he gives some detail to prove his point that the KJV is no longer understandable by most people today. […]

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