Three Questions for the “Textus Receptus” or KJV-Only View

We’re aware that being Textus Receptus Only and King James Only are not synonymous. But regarding the article that has received much attention in the last several days, Five Good Reasons Reformed and Confessional Christians Should Use the KJV, we also solicited opposing thoughts and opinions on the subject.

In spite of much guffawing and a few attempts at invective, Pulpit & Pen has not yet received a retort from the anti-KJV community in written form. As users of the ESV, we are certainly interested in hearing that side presented. What we find curious is the incredible growth of Textus Receptus Only (TRO) adherents who are increasingly voicing an articulate position, and curiously in respect to Dane Johannssenn, is doing so as a Confessional and Reformed Baptist.

However, we did receive one response with sincere questions that should be posited to the TRO advocates. Until opponents of the TRO prostrate themselves to provide a response in written form, these questions to Johannsenn should suffice to continue the conversation.

Corbin Hartterr, whose church uses the NASB, asked the following questions:


First, the writer of the article on your site said that James White has called his position “a form of King James Only-ism.” Dane says this as if White calls it that, but he disagrees with this labeling and would prefer not to be lumped into the same category as KJV-Onlyists. As somebody who is not prepared to take either side, I have to ask myself, “If I were to take Pastor Dane’s position, what must I then think of other translations? If the TR contains the very word of God, down to every letter, and is an inspired manuscript, then what am I to think of Bibles translated from other manuscripts?”

I would think that I would say that they contain some of the word of God, maybe even most of it, but I think I would have to agree with the KVJ-Onlyists that they are “PERversions”, as they are known to say, or give them some kind of other inflammatory title. And that would make me one of them, as far as I can tell. And where does that leave me? I have little desire to call other translations evil, but it seems like that is where it leads. Maybe not; maybe I’m not thinking logically all the way through this, but that seems to be what would happen.


Secondly, is nobody concerned with Erasmus himself? From what I have read on the subject, both sides seem to be in agreement that Erasmus was a scholar, nothing more. He was neither a very good Catholic, nor a Protestant. It seems that his only interest was in his scholarly work, and would side with whomever he thought would best allow him to continue it. He attempted to avoid taking a side in the ongoing Reformation, but when he was pressured enough he eventually caved and decided to take the side of the Papists, as they had more power. This is seen in his Diatribe, where he makes a half-hearted stab at the core of Luther’s doctrine, or rather, God’s, basically under peer pressure. Meanwhile, some things he has said seem to be very anti-Rome. We only have to consult Luther to determine what we should likely think of the state of the man’s soul, at least at the time of the work we’re discussing.

He was a scholar. Should we trust the work of a man who was most likely not a Christian? Some might say that it doesn’t matter what he was, just that God could have passed the fully inspired Holy Writ into a manuscript through this man. And I agree that God could. On the basis of that, I think a lot of people would dismiss this concern of mine. But what if, in modern times, we were all using a Bible translated by Christians, translated from manuscripts compiled by Christians, and suddenly some eminent scholar, who was a secular man, appeared and claimed that his manuscripts were an improvement over ours.

Would we, as the Universal Church, even be considering his claims? Sure, we’d have our best minds examining his work, but would this be a hotly debated subject in churches? I don’t think so. I don’t buy the work of a man who wasn’t a Christian when it comes to Christian matters, as far as anybody knows. You wouldn’t put an atheist in charge of a mercy ministry just because he’s the best man in the world at running a nonprofit, particularly nonprofits for the poor. You just wouldn’t. Again, maybe nobody else has this concern, but I do.


Third, why the heck King James; why such strong support for it? Why would we use that? I’d personally go with the GNV. If the TR is what manuscript we should be using, if God handed the Reformers an inspired manuscript in the form of the TR, I’d prefer to use the first English translation they came up with using those manuscripts.

Is the KJV way better than the GNV? I rarely ever hear about the GNV, and I personally think it reads much easier than the KJV, plus it has great notes in it. If I’m being blunt, I think the claim that this position is a “Historical” Reformed/Confessional Baptist position seems like it’s just a mask for “Traditional” and while I understand that some traditions can be useful, this particular stand for the KJV which is so prominent instead of specifically the TR seems like a stupid hill to die on. And most of the stupid hills that people die on are ones that have no ground in anything but plain tradition.

I realize that the author of the article was not traditionally raised on the KJV, but I would suspect that the people whom he read and spoke to that convinced him otherwise mostly were. And why not the NKJV? We have one person in our church that uses the KJV, and we have to take a break about twice every Wednesday night during our adult study to discuss different words that she has in the KJV that literally nobody knows the meaning of. Just why? I’m still not sure what it means by “lee” in Zechariah, and we just talked about it tonight. At least move on from the KJV to an understandable translation of the TR.


We’ll let Pastor Johannsenn answer these questions if he’s willing. In the meantime, those with articulate opposing views are welcome to share them as well.

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