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Why Are Men Attempting to Displace

The King James Bible?

By BOB SHULER (1880–1965)[1]


(Bob Shuler was an old-time Methodist preacher in Los Angeles. He wrote this article in 1953 following the publication of the now infamous Revised Standard Version, 1946.) 

There was certainly nothing sacred or holy about King James.  Nor have I ever claimed that the men who produced the King James translation of the Bible were all saints by nature or by grace. But I do claim and believe that history will justify the claim that the King James Version of the Bible is God approved and supernaturally trustworthy.  First, it is the one enduring version of the Word of God that has withstood the tests of bombardment and hostile criticism from the hour of its presentation to mankind. 

Second, it came into being in an hour of tremendous crisis in Christianity— when the very foundations of God’s revelation to man were being tested. There was every reason why the God who had originally given us His Word should preserve it through the process by which the King James Bible came about.   

Third, the glorious rise of Protestant Christianity and her progress, despite burning stakes and other persecutions as brutal as that, came hand-in-hand with the King James Version of Holy Scriptures.  Fourth, there have been published numerous other versions (most of them interpretations rather than translations), but none have been able to displace the King James Bible, which is recognized by all Christian scholarship as being an actual translation rather than an interpretation.  Fifth, the King James Bible, in language, in phraseology and in content, rises above the level of all other books ever published. Its sale and circulation over the entire world have never been equaled by any book published. For years it has been the bestseller on the world’s market. 

Immediately, the question arises, “Why attempt to displace such a Book? If Christianity is satisfied with the King James Bible as the very Word of God, why set it aside and put another in its place?”  There is no question that the King James Bible is accepted by orthodox Christianity. Many other interpretations have appeared, but none have even approached taking the place of the King James with orthodox Christian leaders.  Those who still teach and preach sound doctrine are supporters of the King James Version of the  Bible. 

Then why these thousands of mass meetings and celebrations in an effort to introduce substitutes?  There is undoubtedly a reason.  Protestant Christianity today is divided, hopelessly divided. There are those who believe the Word of God to be the Word of God.  They stand staunchly by the King James Bible. 

There are others who believe that the Bible contains the Word or revelation of God, often incorrectly stated, together with much extraneous matter. This latter class also believes that the King James Bible is wrong on certain affirmations therein contained. And therein lies the tragic reason why thousands want a substitute for the King James Bible. 

We call this second class of theologians modernists or liberals.  They want a Bible that is not dogmatic and positive on the virgin birth of Jesus. They want a Bible that is not authoritative on the deity of Christ, but one that will rather justify their liberal interpretations. 

They want a Bible that admits of some leeway on the miracles recorded both in the Old and New Testaments. The King James Bible certainly does not. 

They want a Bible that will not force them to stultify their very souls before their congregations by being forced to affirm the blood atonement, especially the substitutionary atonement. The King James Bible gives them little room for evasion, must less for denial. 

They want a Bible that will supply some way out of their horrible plight about Easter time. The King James Bible declares that Christ rose bodily from the dead. They certainly want a Bible that will afford some way of escape when it comes to the second coming of Jesus, the most spoken of event in the King James New Testament. 

What’s more, these liberal folks want a Bible that will justify them in their social, economic, political and racial “kingdom of God” with its automatic “Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man” preachment so necessary to this one world- one-church that they propose to build. 

The King James Bible makes this new plan of the National Council of Churches very difficult indeed.  The King James clearly teaches that the only way to enter the family of God is by the new birth.  This is most disheartening for the liberals. 

It goes further and declares that the kingdom of God is within, a spiritual kingdom, and that the setting up of a glorious kingdom in which we will have a new world and ideal conditions of every character awaits the return of our Lord. Again, such snatching of the laurels from the brows of our liberal leaders, who now propose to make the world over, would seem almost brutal to them. 

Sad as it may sound, the New Revised Version falls far short of hopes and expectations on the part of these liberals. The opening sale was phenomenal. The advertising program was all that money could buy and brains could stimulate.  But the book itself was a disappointment to many. As one of the translators said, “The original manuscripts at our disposal justified most of the King James translation, especially as those documents referred to doctrine.”  

The translators were able to put a question mark over the virgin birth of Jesus (Isa. 7:14). Their gratuitous effort was of doubtful value, for they concede that the King James was correctly translated, though they prefer their own translation. 

They also, by juggling pronouns, were able to help out the liberal cause just a bit by casting some indirect doubt on the deity of Christ. They were not able to do much with the blood or pull down the hill of Calvary to the level of other little mountains about. They did get in a sly pass or two, but they were of little real value to liberalism. This was true also of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and of His second coming. 

The translators of the new “Bible” do claim that they were justified in putting a flock of quotation marks about passages, showing that they were taken from contemporary sources. That would remove those passages from the category of direct revelations and subordinate them to the realm of folklore, fable and the like. 

The claim is also made that in their new “Bible,” they cure many minor mistakes of the Scriptures, simplify the wording and thus bring the book down to the level of the ordinary reader. In other words, they did all they could do without bringing about open war, but they have, nonetheless, come very near to that. 

The translators are very smart men. They have known all the time that the Bible would have to be whittled down very gradually. It cannot be made into a liberal “Bible” overnight. The process must be very gradual, much like the cigarette people were forced to proceed in order to introduce their product to decent American womanhood. Some things simply can’t be done at once. 

It will possibly take a half-dozen revisions and a hundred years of slow adjustments to make the Word of God into just another book suitable to the modernistic lecture rooms and liberal pulpits of our times. 

In the meantime, Christ may return and knock the whole process into a “cocked hat” before our liberal scholars have it well under way. Even if He doesn’t, the King James  Bible is apt to do what it has been doing for the past hundreds of years—dominate the pulpits and the desks of devout students and the homes of genuine Christian People.

[1] Resourced from The Sword Of The Lord, April 16, 2010