My position on the King James Version is the same as that of Colin Maxwell from the Free Presbyterian Church. His position is as follows:
MY POSITION ON THE AUTHORISED VERSION: I am an AV man. I believe it to be the most faithful English translation of the Bible available. As a translation, I do not believe it is perfect. There are places where it could be better translated and I feel free to go to the original languages if the need arises to do so. Some of its langauge has become archaic. While I do not think that the AV will ever be surpassed, I am not opposed (at least in theory) to the idea of a fresh translation or revision. Whether this is the time for such remains to be seen. I think keeping any revision to the marginal notes would best serve the purpose. Due mainly to my access to the Online Bible, I occasionally check out some other translations, but never with the same confidence which I have in the AV. I disagree most strongly with the Westcot and Hort texts which underlie most of the modern versions and the translating methods which many modern translations employ. I do not want to know what some translation committee thinks God said (dynamic equivalence) but what God actually said (formal equivalence) Thus far, my stand on the AV.
The second to last sentence has special significance to me. I began my Christian walk using the NIV. However, the more I dug into the scriptures and searched out their meaning, the more confused I became. For starters, the other modern versions I consulted often said entirely different things for the same verse. This put me in a situation where I had to decide for myself which translation was the most accurate, without being fluent in the original languages. How could I determine who was best representing what God really meant if I didn’t know what God had actually said in the first place?
I believe this is a dangerous position to be put in because it’s easy for a sinful human being like myself to be drawn to the translation that requires the least amount of change in my life vis-a-vis any given verse. For instance, was the headcovering in 1 Corinthians 11 a piece of cloth, as the Amplified Bible seemed to imply, or long hair as the NIV seemed to state in its footnotes? Given that I already had long hair and no one really talked about headcoverings at any church I attended, I was content to stick with the NIV’s footnotes. But now using the KJV and looking into the issue deeper, I am convinced that headcoverings are required for women in public worship. Before one can even properly look into the meaning of a passage, it’s imperative to first know what God actually said. Of the most-used present versions, only the KJV uses a translation method (formal equivalence) aimed at giving the reader that information.
Second, I have already mentioned how my position on headcoverings changed after changing Bible translations. This is very serious because it shows how easily one can be led astray by following a bad or inaccurate translation. The problem is, as I have already stated, how is a person to know if their translation is accurate or not unless they first find out for themselves what God actually said? (and how many sermons have you heard where the preacher says, “the original Greek actually says…” as he corrects or changes the wording of the text he is discussing?) As I see it, a person then has two options: First, he can do hours of research of his own into the original languages, commentaries, etc. and form his own opinion on the best rendering of any particular passage, or Second, he can put his trust in one or more of the translation committees and assume they have given him the proper meaning of the text (assuming he can settle on a meaning for a particular text in the first place).
The first option, as I alluded to above, is time-consuming and can lead to much confusion and uncertainty as a person is pulled amongst the different translations when all he is trying to do is understand what God actually said so he can obey it. The second option requires putting faith in an “expert” class to guide the laity. But why should anyone do so when he doesn’t even necessarily hold to the same beliefs or theology as many of these experts? And consider this: Protestants reject the idea of having a priest class tell people what the Bible says while withholding the actual Bible from the people, so why should we accept an “expert” class to tell us what God means, while withholding the actual words God used, in terms of the biblical text we use? I’d rather just know what God really said, thank you, and to that end I’ll stick with the KJV.
Finally, I am interested in historical theology and historical commentaries, etc. quote from the KJV and similar translations (Geneva Bible, etc.). Using the KJV creates a lot less headaches for me. There’s nothing worse than reading a commentary on a Bible passage and then opening up a translation like the NIV only to discover that the modern version’s translators have either excised the passage from the actual biblical text or placed it under serious doubt in their footnotes. It’s pretty scary to think that for hundreds of years great scholars and theologians expounded what they thought was the word of God only for modern people to later discover that it wasn’t God’s word after all. At least, that’s what I would have to conclude if the modern versions with their underlying critical texts are giving me the accurate word of God. And in that case, a lot of people spend a lot of unnecessary time parsing unnecessary words in an unnecessary search for meaning and truth. That said, given the state of apostasy in the church today, I’ll stick with the KJV — a translation completed during a spiritual peak by people who were willing to suffer persecution and death for their work. In doing so, I stand on the shoulders of giants in the faith, and I am not ashamed of so doing.