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King James Only movement

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The First Page of the Book of Genesis in the 1611 printing of the KJV.

The King James Only movement (also known as King James Onlyism or KJV Onlyism) asserts the belief that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is superior to all other translations of the Bible. Adherents of the King James Only movement, mostly members of certain Conservative Anabaptist, traditionalist Anglo-Catholic, Conservative Holiness Methodist and some Baptist churches, believe that the KJV needs no further improvements because it is the greatest English translation of the Bible which was ever published, and they also believe that all other English translations of the Bible which were published after the KJV was published are corrupt.

These assertions are generally based upon a preference for the Textus Receptus (which is mainly based of the Byzantine text-type, with some influences from other text-types)[1][2] and they are also based upon a distrust of the Alexandrian text-type or the critical texts of Nestle-Aland, and Westcott-Hort, on which the majority of twentieth- and twenty-first-century translations of the Bible are based. Sometimes these beliefs are also based on the view that the King James translation itself was inspired by God.


Christian apologist James White has divided the King James Only movement into five main classifications:[3]

Church sign indicating that the congregation uses the Authorized King James Version of 1611
  • "I Like the KJV Best" – Although White lists this point of view as a subdivision of the KJVO group, this is disputed by some. This group simply regards the KJV as a very good translation and prefers it over other translations because the church which they attend uses it, has always used it, or prefers its style, or the individual person uses it, or has always used it, or prefers its style.
  • "The Textual Argument" – This group believes that the KJV's Hebrew and Greek textual base is more accurate than the alternative texts used by newer translations. Many in this group might accept a modern Bible version based on the same Greek and Hebrew manuscripts which are used in the KJV. White claims that Zane C. Hodges was a member of this group.[4] However, Hodges considered that the Majority Text "corrects" the Received Text (Byzantine priority).
  • "Textus Receptus Only"/"Received Text Only" – This group holds the position that the traditional Greek texts represented in the Textus Receptus were supernaturally (or providentially) preserved and that other Greek manuscripts not used in this compilation may be flawed. The KJV is viewed as an exemplary English translation that is based on this Greek grouping of Bible manuscripts put together by Desiderius Erasmus, but it is also believed that other translations based on these texts have the potential to be of equal quality. The views of the Trinitarian Bible Society fit into this TRO division. The Trinitarian Bible Society does not believe that the Authorized Version (KJV) is a perfect translation, only that it is the best available translation in the English language.[5] The Society believes this text is superior to the texts used by the United Bible Societies and other Bible publishers, which use texts that incorporate as their basis a relatively few manuscripts from the 4th century, and some going back to the early 2nd century.[6]
  • "The Inspired KJV Group" – This faction believes that the KJV itself was divinely inspired. They view the translation to be an English preservation of the very words of God and that they are as accurate as the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts found in its underlying texts. Often this group excludes other English versions based on the same manuscripts, claiming that the KJV is the only English Bible sanctioned by God and should never be changed. White believes most KJV-Onlyists would belong to this group.
  • "The KJV As New Revelation" – This group claims that the KJV is a "new revelation" or "advanced revelation" from God, and it should be the standard from which all other translations originate. Adherents to this belief may also believe that the original languages, Hebrew and Greek, can be corrected by the KJV. This view is often called "Ruckmanism" after Peter Ruckman, a staunch advocate of this view.[7]

These classifications are not mutually exclusive, nor are they a comprehensive summary describing those who prefer the KJV. Douglas Wilson, for instance, argues that the KJV (or, in his preferred terminology, the Authorized Version) is superior because of its manuscript tradition, its translational philosophy (with updates to the language being regularly necessary), and its ecclesiastical authority, having been created by the church and authorized for use in the church.[8]

Although not expressly "King James Only", The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recommends the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.[9]


Benjamin G. Wilkinson (1872–1968), a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, theology professor and college president, wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930) in which he asserted that some of the new versions of the Bible came from manuscripts with corruptions introduced into the Septuagint by Origen and manuscripts with deletions and changes from corrupted Alexandrian text. He criticized Westcott and Hort, believing they intentionally rejected the use of the Textus Receptus and made changes to the text used in translation using their revised Greek text based mainly on the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus.[10]

Gail Riplinger (born 1947) has also addressed the issue of differences in current editions of the King James Bible in some detail.[11] A lengthy critical review of her book New Age Bible Versions, originally published in Cornerstone magazine in 1994, authored by Bob and Gretchen Passantino of Answers in Action, described the book as "erroneous, sensationalistic, misrepresentative, inaccurate, and logically indefensible".[12]

Jack Chick (1924–2016), a fundamentalist Christian who was best known for his comic tracts, advocated a King James Only position.[13] His comic Sabotage portrayed a Christian whose faith was shipwrecked by the rejection of the King James Version as the Word of God, only to be rescued by another character's defense of the King James Version.[14]

The Southern Methodist Church holds the King James Version of the Bible to be a "trustworthy standard to preach from the pulpit."[15] The 2015 Manual of the Bible Missionary Church, a Methodist denomination in the conservative holiness movement, states: "We wholeheartedly endorse the use of the Authorized Version (King James Version) of the Bible as the final authority in our English-speaking churches and schools. We also go on record as being opposed to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, The Living Bible, the New English Translation of the Bible, the Reader's Digest Condensed Version, the New International Version and the public use of other modern versions."[16]

The Church Polity of the Dunkard Brethren Church, a Conservative Anabaptist denomination in the Schwarzenau Brethren tradition, states: "To aid in Scripture memorization among our members and our children, to help avoid confusion and to promote sound doctrine in our services, the Authorized King James Version of the Bible shall be used in our Sunday School, Bible Study, and church services. Exceptions may be made where languages other than English are necessary."[17]

Agapé Boarding School in Missouri endorsed the King James Only position. One student said that when he first arrived at the school, he was strip-searched and his Bible was thrown in the trash because it was not a KJV.[18]

Other promoters of the KJV Only movement include the following organizations and individuals:


James White has thoroughly researched the background and sources of the Bible as we have it today, and he points out the serious weaknesses of the KJV Only position, a view seemingly based more on faulty, unprovable assumptions than on solid evidence.[7]

One of the saddest signs of legalistic Christianity is the tenacious defense of the KJV as the only legitimate English-language translation. Almost as sad is that countless hours of scholars' and pastors' time must be diverted from the larger priorities of God's kingdom to point out the numerous historical, logical, and factual errors of KJV Onlyism — even though these errors have been repeatedly exposed in the past. Nevertheless, the job must be done, and James White does it masterfully in this book.[7]

The King James Only controversy is essentially a conspiracy theory that claims that all modern translations of Scripture are based on tainted manuscripts and that their translators are driven by a liberal Protestant or Roman Catholic (or even one-world government) agenda.[40]

— Trevin Wax

See also[edit]


  1. ^ F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, (George Bell & Sons: London 1894), vol. 2, pp. 183–184.
  2. ^ Heide, Martin (7 February 2023). "Erasmus and the Search for the Original Text of the New Testament". Text & Canon Institute. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  3. ^ White 1995, pp. 1–4.
  4. ^ White 1995, p. 5.
  5. ^ Watts, Malcolm H. (2007). "The Accuracy of the Authorised Version" (PDF). Quarterly Record. 578 (1). Trinitarian Bible Society: 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  6. ^ "The Text of the Bible used", Principles, The Trinitarian Bible Society.
  7. ^ a b c White 1995.
  8. ^ Wilson, Douglas. "Hearers of the Word". Credenda/Agenda. 10 (1). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  9. ^ "400 Years of the King James Bible – ensign". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  10. ^ Westcott and Hort, The New Testament In The Original Greek (New York: 1882).
  11. ^ Riplinger, Gail A. "Settings of the King James Bible" (PDF). Our KJV.
  12. ^ New age vers. (book review), Answers, 9 August 2020
  13. ^ "FAQ's Concerning Bible Versions". Chick.com. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  14. ^ "A Critique of the King James Only Movement", James R. White, chapter in Translation that openeth the window: reflections on the history and legacy of the King James Bible. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. 2009. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-58983-356-2.
  15. ^ a b Kurian, George Thomas; Day, Sarah Claudine (14 March 2017). The Essential Handbook of Denominations and Ministries. Baker Books. ISBN 978-1-4934-0640-1. ...and the KJV as a trustworthy standard to preach from the pulpit.
  16. ^ a b Manual of the Bible Missionary Church, Inc. Bible Missionary Church. 2015. p. 138.
  17. ^ Dunkard Brethren Church Polity. Dunkard Brethren Church. 1 November 2021. p. 7.
  18. ^ Briquelet, Kate (4 July 2022). "Ex-Students Reveal Abuse at 'Christian Torture Compound'". The Daily Beast – via www.thedailybeast.com.
  19. ^ Lewis, James R., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions (2nd ed.). Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-57392-888-5.
  20. ^ "Doctrinal Statement of Andersonville Theological Seminary". Andersonville Theological Seminary.
  21. ^ "Believing Witnessing Resource Tracts". Dial-the-Truth Ministries.
  22. ^ "What it Means to be King James Only - Pastor Steven Anderson". Strong Hold Baptist Church. 24 October 2019 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ "Faithful Word Baptist Church – Phoenix, AZ". Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  24. ^ Which Bible? (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids International Publications. 1970. ISBN 0-944355-24-2.
  25. ^ "Kent Hovind - Why KJV ONLY ??? Why not other versions?". Jeff The Watchman. 25 March 2011 – via YouTube.
  27. ^ Enemies of Soulwinning by Jack Hyles, pp. 46–47.
  28. ^ "What We Believe". Hyles-Anderson College.
  29. ^ Unholy Bible Versions of the New Age.[full citation needed]
  30. ^ "WHAT IS THE NEW IFB MOVEMENT?". thenewifb.com. The New IFB. Archived from the original on 21 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Why King James Bible Only? Bible Questions with Michael Pearl - Episode 027". No Greater Joy Ministries. 22 February 2010 – via YouTube.
  32. ^ "Spiritual Life FAQ". Pensacola Christian College. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  33. ^ Ruckman, Peter (1990). The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence. Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Press.
  34. ^ a b Sword of the Lord, issue from Dec 27, 2019
  35. ^ Quarterly Record no. 578, p. 8.
  36. ^ Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.
  37. ^ "WCBC Doctrinal Statement". wcbc website.
  38. ^ Suominen, Edwin A. (26 January 2012). An Examination of the Pearl. Ed Suominen. ISBN 978-0-9851362-1-5.
  39. ^ "Primitive Baptist Library: Why We Use the Authorized King James Version of the Bible". pblib.org. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  40. ^ Wax, Trevin (7 August 2007). "The King James Only Controversy". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved 30 November 2022.


Further reading[edit]

  • Anderson, Robert (1903). The Bible and Modern Criticism.
  • Ankerberg, John; Weldon, John (2003). The Facts on the King James Only Debate. Eugene, OR: Harvest House. ISBN 0-7369-1111-1.
  • Beacham, Roy E.; Bauder, Kevin T (2001). One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2048-2.
  • Carson, D.A. (1978). The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. ISBN 0-8010-2427-7.
  • Comfort, Phillip W. (2000). Essential Guide to Bible Versions. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 0-8423-3484-X.
  • Dewey, David (2005). A User's Guide to Bible Translations: Making the Most of Different Versions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-3273-4.
  • Macgregor, Alan J (2004). Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV and NKJV. Salisbury, Wiltshire, ENG, UK: Bible League. ISBN 0-904435-87-3.
  • Mauro, Philip (1924). Which version?: Authorized or revised?. Boston: Hamilton Brothers. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  • Paisley, Ian RK (1997). My Plea for the Old Sword. Emerald House Group. ISBN 1-84030-015-9.
  • Ryken, Leland (2002). The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN 1-58134-464-3.

External links[edit]