Review: The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? – James White

Rating: 5 out of 5
This has probably been my favourite book to read this year. Whilst it appears to be about a very niche topic (and one that many Christians may be unaware of, even if they will have heard some similar arguments before), the book is very beneficial to all Christians who read the Bible – which is, of course, all Christians.

The book’s main aim is to show the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of the ‘King James Bible Only’ advocates’ arguments, who claim that the modern translations are not God’s Word, but instead are corrupt perversions of it. In doing so, Dr. White gives an ample background in textual criticism, the process of textual transmission of the New Testament, and the process and difficulties of translation to be applicable and beneficial in a study of all manner issues that arise with the Bible in modern form.

Throughout the work, Dr. White is careful to distinguish being ‘anti-KJVO’ and ‘anti-KJV’, maintaining that the KJV, when properly considered, is one of many fine translations that can be used to determine the message of a given text. The key point being made is that the King James translators were neither infallible or Divinely inspired in their translation of the Bible. Not only did they never claim such a distinction, but it can be shown that there are superior readings, both textually and translationally, in the modern versions to the KJV, as well as internal inconsistencies within the KJV itself.

One of the best and most effective ways that Dr. White deals with the conspiracy theories and accusations that the modern translations ‘delete’ sections of Scripture to deny the deity of Christ, is by turning those same arguments back upon the KJV.

For example, when the modern translations have “for we shall stand before the judgement seat of God” (NASB) at Romans 14:10 (as opposed to the KJV “…judgement seat of Christ”) some KJVO advocates will argue that this obscures the deity of Christ as the modern translations deny that Christ is the Judge. However, such argumentation can be applied to the KJV itself at points such as Acts 16:7, where modern translations may read “…and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (NASB) against the KJV reading “…but the Spirit suffered them not”, omitting reference that the Spirit is in fact the Spirit of Jesus! Is such a translation, therefore, signs of an anti-Trinitarian conspiracy on behalf of the KJV?
Many such arguments are presented and refuted in similar fashion, highlighting not only the robust witness of the modern translations to orthodox truth, but also to the inconsistent standards of the KJVO advocates.

Whilst this book could be described as “scholarly” (in its precision, topic matter, and scope), that is not to say the Dr. White uses language and terms inaccessible to those of us who are not Koine Greek fluent New Testament manuscript critics. On the contrary, Dr. White labours extensively in the opening chapters of the book to get the reader up to speed with the technical language needed and explains any necessary point with sufficient clarity as to be understood by any thinking reader. The only exception to this, perhaps, is the very end of the book which is explicitly stated as only supplementary material to those willing to interact directly with the Greek.

In summary, this is an excellent book for all those look to trust their modern English translations (including the KJV!) and any who falsely believe that “if the King James was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me”.

Review: The Bruised Reed – Richard Sibbes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An excellent book that centres around an exposition of Isaiah 42:3. This book is written as a comfort to Christians who identify as ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoking flaxes’. As Sibbes points out, this is more than a few Christians at any one time, and almost all over the course of their Christian lives.

In identifying what it means to be a bruised reed or a smoking flax, Sibbes shows convincingly why it is against Christ’s nature to break the reed or snuff the flax. Indeed, as Christ is a source of the spark of the flax, it is nonsensical that He would snuff it – the promise of His Word states the contrary.

Sibbes makes some excellent points at this juncture, pointing out that:

1) Weakness should not keep us from the duties to which we are bound as Christians. Weak obedience is no excuse for no obedience.
2) We are debtors to the weak and therefore should by no means take advantages of our weaker brothers and sisters.
3) It is in Christ’s nature to support and aid those who are weak.

Finally, Sibbes moves on to a discussion and an encouragement that Christ’s government will be established in great, and public, victory. Moreover, this victory begins in us, His Church. Our victory is certain, and is the ultimate hope to all those who are weak, fearful, and trembling in this age.

Sibbes provides almost a summary of the work towards the end of the book:

“Satan will object, ‘You are a great sinner.’ We may answer, ‘Christ is a strong Saviour.’
But he will object, ‘You have no faith, no love.’ ‘Yes a spark of faith and love.’
‘But Christ will not regard that.’ ‘Yes, He will not quench the smoking flax’
‘But this is so little and weak that it will vanish and come to nought.’ ‘Nay, but Christ will cherish it, until He has brought judgement to victory.'” (p. 123)