Saturday, July 28, 2018

WM 100: Rejoinder to Mark Ward: 3 Ways to Engage Modern Translation Onlyism

I have recorded and uploaded WM 100: Rejoinder to Mark Ward: 3 Ways to Engage Modern Translation Onlyism (listen here).

A friend called my attention to an article posted to the Gospel Coalition site this week (July 26, 2018), by Mark Ward and titled “3 Ways to Graciously Engage KJV-Only Believers” (read it here).

The article's author is Mark Ward (PhD Bob Jones University) an academic editor at Lexham Press and the author of Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible (Lexham Press).

WM 100 offers a review and critique of the article and closes with a suggestion of three ways to respond to those who suggest Christians should only use modern translations. Here are my notes for those three suggestions:

First: If they are willing to listen and understand, help them to understand the difference between a truly heretical KJV-Onlyist position and a KJV preferentialist position. Help them also to understand those who are Majority Text advocates and Confessional Text advocates. Help them to understand that it is not helpful or charitable to confuse these categories into a mishmash.

Second: Talk about a confessional view of text criticism. Walk them through WCF/2LBCF 1:8. Explain the historical roots of modern text criticism in the Enlightenment. Explain the difference between a reconstructionist view of the text and a preservationist view of the text. Explain how post-modern text criticism is no longer even interested in finding the original text and no one really knows what future editions of the modern critical text (and thus modern translations) will even look like.

Third: Talk about how important the KJV is as a treasure not only for the Protestant Christian English-speaking world, but for all of Western civilization. Suggest that rather than dumbing down the liturgical language of the church we should be lifting it up. Ask them why the KJV is loved in the English department but villainized in the religion department. Suggest they read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death or T. S. Eliot’s review of the New English Bible (listen here). Explain that using the KJV might just be one small way in which we might swim against the tide of this world.



Mark Ward said...

Jeff, I invite you to read my new book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible. My work on that book gave rise to my TGC article, but the audience and focus of that book are very different. In particular, you'd find that not only do I agree with your statement, "the KJV is…a treasure not only for the Protestant Christian English-speaking world, but for all of Western civilization," I wrote a whole chapter describing what benefits we received when we had a common standard in the KJV. I decidedly do *not* say that we should use only modern translations. I'd be a terrible hypocrite, because I don't. I use all the ones I have, going back to Tyndale.

My TGC article was not neutral on textual criticism, because my audience was TGC readers who already agree with my views on that topic. And you and I disagree on that topic. But Authorized *is* neutral on textual criticism. It's entirely about English. You should be able to read and agree with what I say on vernacular translation while maintaining a preference for the TR, no problem.

Brother, it is not wrong for you to issue a rejoinder to my article. I wrote something in public; you commented in public. But in this case you would do me an extra kindness if you would interpret my very short TGC article in light of my book. I sense from your rejoinder that you don't yet grasp where I'm coming from. The time it took you to record a rejoinder could easily have been spent getting through half or more of my book—and my book has jokes, unlike my rather dry article. =) I'll send you a digital review copy if you'll email me at my contact form at

I'll also confess that "confessional bibliology" hasn't made it onto my radar very often, and I completely ignored it in my book. I did so mainly because textual criticism was *not my concern in the book.* I also did so because my impression is that your viewpoint is held by a tiny number compared to the mainstream KJV-Only movement—represented by thousands of churches and many institutions such as Pensacola Christian College, West Coast Baptist College, Hyles-Anderson College, Crown College, Ambassador Baptist College, etc. I don't mean this as an insult in the least; minority viewpoints aren't wrong just for being held by small numbers. But this means that my descriptions of KJV-Onlyism/TR-Onliysm admittedly don't all fit you; instead they fit the self-professedly KJV-Only people that TGC readers are most likely to encounter.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your 100th WM post! Thank you for posting this and for all the work you have done in defense of the text which we have received. Your labors are truly appreciated. May the Lord continue to bless you in this endeavor and may He lead the church away from confusion into all truth. ~ Josh

A. J. MacDonald, Jr said...

I was very disappointed to see Peter Gurry post Ward's article to the Evangelical Text Criticism blog. The article is so bad it's an embarrassment. Thanks for doing a critique of it. As you've observed, his arguments, like James White's arguments, are similar to those of liberal Protestants. Have you ever read Mark Noll's book "Between Faith & Criticism: Evangelicals, Scholarship, and the Bible in America”? If you haven't, I think you would find it very interesting. After reading Noll's book I realized that, basically, today's Evangelicals are yesterday's mainstream liberal Protestants. Noll provides a good description of various types of believing critics (like Gurry, Ward, and White) and their critical anti-critic opponents, which would be someone like you. E F Hills called these two basic types of Bible students unbelieving and believing, which are simpler and more accurate descriptions than Noll's. After all, one either embraces the historical-critical methodology or one does not. People of faith should not. Thanks again for your rejoinder to Ward's article.

Unknown said...

Having read Mark's book, I'm not sure these three rejoinders hit the mark.

In the Mark makes distinctions between heretical KJVO and other, non-heretical positions on the matter. Second, Mark is happy for people to take a confessional text view. Third, Mark recognizes the cultural value of the KJV. But he would argue that more important than cultural value is actually understanding what God revealed in Scripture. He demonstrates that because language changes there are things that people no longer understand in the KJV that they don't even realize they are misunderstanding. I think Mark would say, that it is fine to be KJV preferred for the reasons you give, but that those who hold this position would be wise to read from a translation like the NKJV alongside their reading of the KJV to better aid their understanding.