Authorized Version Means Doctrinal Accuracy

by George M. Bowman

Using a sound system of theology or doctrine as the criterion by which to check a new translation of the Bible is an effective method for evaluating its worth. I say this because the importance of sound doctrine cannot be over emphasized. What we really believe influences our whole life and determines where we will spend eternity. We cannot afford to use a version of the Bible that questions any part of the doctrinal structure of New Testament Christianity.

Using the doctrines recorded in The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689 and The Westminster Confession of Faith, I checked a number of modern translations and found several passages that cast a shadow of doubt or denial upon some major doctrines. These included the deity, the virgin birth, the divine authority, the atonement, the bodily resurrection, and the redeeming blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

With their man centered gospel many preachers, religious educators and Christian writers seem to be more comfortable with the modern versions and paraphrases of the Bible than with the Authorized Version. But the Word of God is against the so called gospel that exalts man in the process of salvation. "No man can come unto me," said Jesus, "except it were given unto him of my Father" (John 6:65).

Paul the apostle taught the same truth when he wrote that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. 2:14).

Therefore, Bible societies, translators, missionaries, evangelists, ministers, editors, teachers, and writers commit a grievous sin when they change the message of God's Word to appeal to the natural man. We have no right to lower the Word of God in its expression of truth to appeal to the natural interests of man. From what I have read about God's great plan of redemption in the Bible, I am convinced that God saves the sinner, not by lowering the literary and doctrinal standards of His Word, but by raising the sinner up to those standards.

Have you noticed how publishers of modern versions often promote their new Bibles by saying their versions bring the Bible to life and make it relevant to readers? The publisher of a new Student Bible calls it user friendly instead of God glorifying. The people at the American Bible Society say their Contemporary English Version is a Bible "anyone can understand and recommends it because it is the Word of God in your words."

It seems to me that an accurate translation of God's Word should not be set in the reader's words, but in God s words. The Canadian Bible Society describes the same Bible in this amazing statement: "This exciting new translation breathes contemporary life again into God s eternal Word."

The Bible says that God's Word is "quick and powerful" which means it is not dead. Its divine Author neither permits nor requires a human translation by sinful men to breathe life into it!

Trying to make the Bible relevant to readers is an unbiblical objective for translating or preaching the Word of God. The prophets and the apostles preached and wrote to glorify God, to faithfully proclaim His revealed purpose, and to urge His people to exercise continuous faith in, and obedience to, the Lord Jesus Christ. Wise translators adhere to the same goals.

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones once said that we should not make the Bible relevant to people. Rather, we should teach people how they can be relevant to the Bible. He was speaking about the Authorized Version at the time.

For nearly 400 years the Authorized Version has been a mighty instrument in the hands of faithful preachers and writers. Providentially preserved by God, it has been "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16 17).

I believe that the Authorized Version stands out as the leading English translation. It was not produced with designs by translators to be relevant to people. Neither was it published by men ambitious to make a profit. In 1604 a group of Puritans led by Dr. John Reynolds, approached King James I with the suggestion that England publish a new English translation of the Bible.

The 47 translators of the Authorized Version were so devoted to the accuracy of God s truth that they left no stone unturned in their search for that accuracy. They took advantage of the more than 100 years of study that had gone on before the appearance of the Authorized Version. Many Christians using modern versions today think that the Authorized Version was translated by inferior scholars, but such is not true. They were scholars of outstanding ability who loved the Lord and believed with all their hearts that the Bible was God's sacred truth.

Great preachers of sound doctrine such as the Puritans, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Bishop J.C. Ryle, J. Gresham Machen, Charles Spurgeon, Dr. D. Martyn LLoyd Jones and a host of others recognized the authenticity of the Authorized Version and preached from it alone. They found that it, not only taught all the Christian doctrines, but it presented sound doctrine that held biblical truth in balance. Unlike many modern versions the Authorized Version contains no doctrinal contradictions.

These men and others faithful to God's Word called the doctrines of the Authorized Version the doctrines of sovereign grace. They preached and wrote about them because they knew that those doctrines exalted and glorified the triune God, made plain the gospel of God's grace for sinners, and urged believers to live in "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14).

After making doctrinal comparisons between the modern versions and the Authorized Version those who love the sound doctrines of grace will choose the Authorized Version because there is no doubt as to its doctrinal accuracy.

You will never find a passage in the Authorized Version from which a doctrine of the faith has been excised. It was the Authorized Version that hymn writer Benjamin Beddome was likely thinking about when he wrote these lines:

God in the gospel of His Son,
Makes His eternal counsels known;
Where love in all its glory shines
And truth is drawn in fairer lines.

O grant us grace, Almighty Lord,
To read and mark Thy Holy Word;
Its truths with meekness to receive,
And by its holy precepts live.