Are Sandwiches and Contemporary Bible Translations Wrecking the World?
By J.R. Ensey
According to Newsweek, researchers in the UK have declared that sandwiches are bad for the environment and cause global warming—as bad as what 8 million cars would do. The worst are egg and bacon or sausage. For shame, McDonald's! Beware the coming invasion of the giant Intergalactic Ham and Cheese!
Besides the sandwiches, contemporary translations like the ESV, NLT, NASB, NKJV, etc., are contributing to the destruction of the world—at least according to some conspiracy theorists.
Every bad thing that has happened in history since new translations began appearing at the first part of the 20th century is being blamed on them. Good events are the result of the King James Version.
Here is what one KJV advocate recently wrote: “Personally, I will stick with the Bible that gave the world political freedom with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Many books have been written on the K]V’s influence on these two seminal documents. It’s the Book that gave us science, Western Protestant civilization, its liberties and morally Christian culture. It’s the Bible that freed us from Catholic superstition and false doctrine. It’s the Bible that gave rise to America being a moral lighthouse in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. The King James Bible was the Word of God of the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings, the Bible of Apostolics that tilled the English—speaking world even before Azusa Street. It’s the Bible of Wesley, Finney, Edwards, Tozer, Moody, and Spurgeon among others. It’s the Bible that freed the slaves. The Bible that gave us Stone’s Folly, Azusa Street and Arroyo Seco. The Bible that Fauss wept and prayed over, when receiving the wonderful ]esus’ Name revelation in the woods of Louisiana. The Bible that Cook and Ewart used to proclaim Jesus all over America and then it went all over the world. The Bible that G.T. Haywood saw the truth in, and left the AOG to follow the Truth of the Word of God. …With a weapon that has lasted the centuries, and still unifies the English language, it is impossible that we will lose this war. It has defeated Satan for centuries, and will continue to do so if used properly. Amen!”
Some King James Version advocates assume all positive historical events during the last 400 years of history are due to that version. This is known as the erroneous “post-hoc fallacy,” the claim that what is first or previous in time is the cause of what follows. Extremists like to suggest that virtually every missionary endeavor, every revival or advancement of Christianity anywhere, every establishment of government that incorporated Judeo/Christian principles since 1611 is proof that the KJV is the only legitimate Bible in the English language. Whatever positive historical events that can be named are used to support the idea that the KJV is the underlying cause.
King James Only enthusiasts like to blame virtually every negative event or cultural outrage in the last century on the ASV, NIV or NASB or some other version. KJV extremist William Grady blames them for the rise of theistic evolution, Oral Roberts, Christian rock bands, Rev. Ike, and even Tammy Bakker’s air-conditioned dog house.1 Popular KJV advocate Samuel Gipp wants to connect abortion, pornography, homosexuality, drug abuse, and Satanism on the availability of contemporary translations.2 Others name two world wars, terrorism, high divorce rates, drug abuse and immorality as being the result of new versions. (Actually, throughout the known history of Great Britain and the U.S., other translations and versions of the Bible—from the pre-Christian Greek Septuagint to the ESV—have been available to some degree.)
Rick Norris asks, “Are KJV-only advocates omniscient to the extent that they can pick out the cause of every event from the infinite number of preceding events? In order to trace ideas and events to their supposed cause, have history books superseded God’s Word as the authority?”3 That gets my NO vote.
The truth is that proliferation of English Bible versions from 1534 to 1609 did little or nothing to bring peace or harmony among the religious factions in England during or after King James’ reign. The publication of the 1611 KJV added nothing of substance to national unity, either internally or with neighboring nations. Decades of dissension followed—a brutal civil war, and a Thirty Years War (1618-1648) that devastated the economy and spirit of England and several other European nations. Troublous times followed the publication of the KJV.
James’ son and heir to his throne, Charles I, could not overcome the negative trends, and in 1649 he was beheaded by his own government. Charles had been 25 when he assumed the crown, thoroughly disgusted with his father’s lifestyle, but could do nothing about it without damaging his own political future. James’ biographer Otto Scott states: “Charles was 16 when he was made the Prince of Wales. [He was] a slender, solemn, and not a very bright boy. He grew up at court where drunkenness and profligacy were common. An undertone of sexuality of all sorts permeated the palace.”4 Charles’ reign was a disaster with one catastrophic event after another occurring, some of his own making and others beyond his control. He was eventually executed “for high treason,” the only British king in history to be executed by his own subjects. The influence and reign of James I left a lasting scar on the history of the British Empire. But he will be remembered most for publishing a Bible version to his liking that still bears his name.
Now flip the coin. We could point out that a new Greek text, based on many earlier manuscripts unknown to the KJV translators, was published in the late 1800s with an accompanying English version. Subsequently, the endtime Pentecostal revival broke out in Topeka, Houston and Los Angeles. Following those revivals, the doctrines of the Oneness of God and baptism in His name were renewed on a broader scale. Should the credit for these positive events go to Westcott and Hort, their updated Greek text, and the subsequent American Standard Version of 1901?
Before the ink on the KJV pages was dry, King James and his religious hierarchy, among them the KJV translators, were burning anti-Trinitarians at the stake. Americans tend to forget that the Pilgrims came to America to escape the tyranny and corruption of James’ reign. Would KJV defenders want to claim that bit of history as a legacy for the 1611 translation? Would they want to claim that the KJV was responsible for subsequent circumstances that brought death to his successor son, the dissolution of Parliament, and England’s financial disaster during the years 1626-1629? Was the disastrous (for England, the publisher) American Revolution a result of the KJV?
The KJV did indeed become widely used in the U.S., in part because the Geneva Bible, which was the Bible of the Pilgrims, ceased publication in 1644. As a British colony we were not allowed to print the KJV here before obtaining our independence via the revolution, and since it had been copyrighted by the British crown. They had to be bought directly from England. The slavery matter soon arose and divided our nation in a civil war when the KJV was virtually the only English Bible that could be obtained. Should that conflagration be blamed on the KJV? We experienced countless Indian wars and massacres, the Spanish-American War, the War of 1812, the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, the stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and many other negative events in our history during the time the KJV was the best-selling Bible in America. Do the KJVOnlys want to claim credit for all of those crises? Every thinking person knows the answer to that question.
Trying to blame historical tragedies—or credit successes—on particular Bible versions is rather disingenuous and short-sighted. It is like blaming sandwiches for global climate change when the attack on sandwiches is likely from the growing Muslim population in Britain trying to stop pork from being used in any way.
Please, if we are going to be divided into camps, may it be over something more worthy than the Bible translation issue, or whether Egg McMuffin and the Sausage and Biscuit sandwiches are going to advance the destruction of the world.
1. William P. Grady, Final Authority: A Christian’s Guide to the KJB (Schereville, IN: Grady Publications, 1993), pp. 184-185.
2. Samuel Gipp, The Answer Book (Bible and Literature Foundation, 1989), p 113.
3. Rick Norris, The Unbound Scriptures (Unbound Scriptures Publications: Fayetteville, N.C., 2003), p. 179.
4. Otto F. Scott, James I (New York: Mason/Charter, 1976), p. 355.