Baptists > Issues > Which Version of the Bible?
 The "King James Only " debate has divided Bible-believing Baptists.


   Previous to the middle of the twentieth century, choosing a Bible version was simple.  Other than a small handful of versions and revisions in limited useage at the time, the King James Version of the Bible was, by far, the accepted text for English speaking Christians.  Since then, there are more versions and revisions (some posing as versions) than one can count.  The result has been threefold: 1) increased sales of the Bible by those who publish them, 2) confusion amongst Bible believing people as to which version to use, and 3) a debate that has seriously divided Baptist people.  It is the latter result that qualifies this as an issue that needs to be adressed.
   Most of the current information regarding this issue comes from the more conservative Baptists.  They regard the prolifiration of so many Bible versions as an attack on the Word of God while presenting numerous arguments that point to the King James (Authorized) Version as the only true English version.  In fact, the Internet is flooded with web sites which address this issue, including numerous message boards and even chat rooms dedicated to the subject.
   Certainly, the very fact that Baptists distinguish themselves regarding the doctrines of Individual Soul Liberty and the Independency of the Local Church, demands that all such views be considered as well as consideration demonstrated to those who express them.  However, this hot-button issue is one that has brought out the worst in some of us.
   There is little doubt that the debate would be as intense if not for the influence of Dr. Peter Ruckman.  His book, Bible Babel (1964), is attributed to have started the debate.  In truth, when the discussion is framed within the context of mature Bible believing Christians who treat each other with honor and respect, it is definitely a 
worthwhile topic.  However, Dr. Ruckman's overwhelming need to attack those who disagree with him, both verbally and by the written word, caused an attitude of hostility that has proven to be a point of embarassment amongst Baptists.  The issue has expanded in to the Internet.  Dozens of web sites are dedicated to the subject and too many of them exhibit a kind of meanness that contradicts any notion of scholarly debate.  Some are downright viscious.
   This writer has personally experienced attending a church where the ushers were instructed to ask visitors to the church what version of the Bible they were carrying.  If they had brought any version other than the King James, they were asked to not take it into the "sanctuary."  If unable to comply, they were asked to leave.  I might also mention that the church dropped from over 500 in attendance to under 150 upon adopting this practice.  Interestingly enough, the leadership of the church stated that the loss of membership was justified in that they were taking a stand for God.  That point may be debateable but no one will argue that nearby Baptist churches appreciated the influx of the new members that they received as a result.
   Conversely, there are those men of God on both sides of the issue who argue their views on this subject with true Christian dignity and maturity.  They are to be applauded and appreciated.  Rather than attack personalities and allow the subject to alienate other good Baptist people, they argue from their understanding of the historical texts and the development of the English Bible.  Believing in the power of God's Holy Spirit to speak to the hearts of believers, they simply present the facts as they see it and let whatever is true convict others as to on which view they adopt.  This approach has always been understood by Baptists to be the only way to present Biblical truth. 
   Gentlemen, be passionate about your convictions but remember that a house divided against itself can neither stand nor do those outside desire to come inside such a disagreeable dwelling.
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