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The King James Only Controversy by James White

PostPosted: 26 May 2014, 23:04
by bibleprotector
In March 2009 there will be another edition of James R. White’s anti-King James Bible only book, “The King James Only Controversy”.

I want to deal with some of the ideas which this book brings up.


James White makes early reference to the divisive nature of King James onlyism, attributing it as a root of Church splits and other schismatic activities.

However, as White himself argues against Romanish errors, and is himself a reactionary against King James Onlyism, he himself must be just as guilty of “division”, since he has dedicated a whole book and numerous blogs and video clips against the KJBO doctrine.

Division between those who tend toward false doctrine and those who tend towards true doctrine is entirely correct. We cannot pretend that all people who call upon “Christ” are of Christ. In fact, believers are commanded to come out from among them, and be separate.

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34).

To be fair, anti-KJBOism must be equally or just as divisive, since they are claiming to be “right”, and are expending their efforts to “expose” KJBO.


James White has concentrated (it seems) on what achieves the most shock value for the audience, rather than a fair representation of King James Onlyism. In fact, the King James Onlyism that James White describes is quite unlike the beliefs, attitudes and actions of most people who hold to a KJBO view.

The problem is that James White has selectively taken a few individuals, and has highlighted particularities of these individuals which represent an extreme rather than a broad view. If someone read the book, they would come away thinking that King James Bible only people have all kinds of strange ideas. There is very little to temper accusations such as that some KJBOs believe that Paul used the King James Bible or that the translators were inspired in 1604–1611, etc. If James White was really analysing or reporting on KJBO belief, he would have to show just how few KJBOs really hold these extravagant views.


James White has attempted to group KJBOs into five categories. They are:
1. I like the KJV best
2. The textual argument
3. Received Text only
4. The inspired KJV group
5. The KJV as new revelation

Notice how James White wrongly jumps from King James Bible preferred and/or Textus Receptus onlyists (his groups 1–3, which are not really “King James Bible only”) to the extreme KJV inspired group and beyond.

What James White has ignored, or deliberately omitted, is that there is the large grouping which believe the King James Bible to be the only Bible used today (at least in English), and who are not merely “Received Text only”, nor have they gone as far as to claim that the KJB was made by inspiration in 1604–1611.


James White points out how Catholics had the Vulgate as a standard version. Therefore, those who have the King James Bible as their standard must be as erroneous as Catholics... This syllogism is as faulty as claiming that all four-legged beasts are dogs because dogs have four legs.

Also, we find that the modern version people have their own standards of authorities, such as particular editions of the Critical Greek Text, etc.

As for the issue of infallibility, James White champions the view of natural humanism (“to err is human”), that is, that no work of man can be perfect. Therefore, according to him, no version or translation can be perfect. This defies the Scriptural view of God, namely that, God is all-powerful, therefore God is able to manifest His perfect Word wholly gathered in history.

Given time, all modernists can see is multiplying variants, and despite the best efforts of scholars, they will never have a perfect Bible. Notice that this view has no Scriptural support. No verse of Scripture says or implies that God cannot do it. What they have done is look at the temporal, and built up a man-made doctrine that God cannot do it, or that God is subject to the error, sin and devils of this world.


James White asserts that the translators of the King James Bible would not have always caught the different and inconsistent translations of the same original words. However, as the translators themselves said, and as Burgon also wrote, “the plain fact being that the men of 1611 — above all William Tyndale 77 years before them — produced a work of real genius; seizing with generous warmth the meaning and intention of the sacred Writers, and perpetually varying the phrase, as they felt or fancied that Evangelists or Apostles would have varied it, had they had to express themselves in English”.

James White also impugns evil motives onto the translators, such as pride, power, love of money, etc. However, this is only rhetoric, and is the product of anti-prelacy writers. There is no general moderate Puritan witness against the King James Bible or its translators which would suggest the unfitness of the translators in any capacity, either in religion or learning.

James White also points out that the translators held to non-Baptist doctrines. However, since the translators were making an honest translation, what stands is not biased, as James White falsely impugns. Otherwise, the King James Bible would have words like “sprinkling” or “immersion”, but rather it translates honestly and truly, and is the basis of true doctrine, not the daughter of the translators’ doctrines.

James White also asks “the KJV advocate, ‘When the KJV gives a reading that is identical to the Bishop’s [sic] Bible, was the Bishop’s [sic] Bible inspired and inerrant in that place, even before 1611?’”. Consider a moment that he has just implied that the “KJV advocate” believes in the inspiration of the KJB and that basically there was no Bible before 1611. However, James White does not deal fairly here. The answer is that God’s Word existed in truth since its original inspiration, as most KJBOs and non-KJBO fundamentalists believe. Clearly, the text has existed scattered, and only imperfectly in single manuscripts or impressions before 1611. Moreover, there was a purification with all Protestant English Bibles leading to 1611. The reality is that the King James Bible translators were NOT inspired, but that the words which were good, pure and right in 1602 or 1610 must have only been gathered and their rendering into one particular version the finalisation of the purification.

James White also points out that the translators found some words or passages obscure. But this does not mean “impossible to be rendered”. What it means is that providentially, and through the study and cross examination of learned men (i.e. the 1611 translators) the right words were selected, and were rightly translated into English. Thus, we observe God’s providence in godly men’s work.


James White misreads the translators’ own words, claiming that they speak against King James Bible onlyism. However, the opposite is the case.

The translators said, “For when Your Highness had once out of deep judgment apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours, both in our own, and other foreign Languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact Translation of the holy Scriptures into the English Tongue”. This shows that they viewed the King James Bible as one final exact English Bible. This is a statement against modern versions.

The fourteenth section of The Translators to the Reader is entitled, “Reasons moving us to set diversity of senses in the margin, where there is great probability for each.” Where the heading speaks of a probability of a reading, it does not mean as though there is an equal or fifty-fifty chance at God’s Word being one thing or another thing. What happened was that the translators came to certain places where there were two or more possible interpretations, either by textual differences in the originals, or by translation differences. They said, “It is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain.” (TTR, Section 14). Thus, they highlighted places where there were multiple possible renderings. This was the honest course.

But rather than keep things in a state of doubt, the translators weighed each alternative, to discern which was variant. As a certain amount of weight might have been behind one rendering, even more weight was behind another. And so faith in God, the opinion of learned men, and many other things show that God’s Word does not fall to probability, but that the translators’ approach of using their judgment and understanding showed what was the sense of the Scripture, that is, what was the accepted text and what was the variant, as placed in the margin.

When it came to translating difficult words, these cases were resolved, as the translators explained: “There be many words in the Scriptures which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbour, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts, and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as St Hierome somewhere saith of the Septuagint.” (TTR, Section 14). Rather interestingly, many of these rare words are not annotated with marginal references, while on the other hand, other words which do not seem to be rare at all have another sense supplied in the margin. This indicates that the margins were not designed to be a critical apparatus nor to bring out the fuller understanding of the sense of the Scripture.

“Now in such a case doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident; so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as St Augustine saith, that variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is not so clear, must needs do good; yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded.” (TTR, Section 14). If indeed what was in the text was only a guess, then the reading in the margin would be of comparatively equal weight to the text, and that the more variety in guesses and senses and translations, the better. However, this is not the correct understanding of the matter. The variety of translations being referred to were those translations which came before, and not applying to the renderings in the margin as such. The variety of translations was certainly not applying to new translations made afterwards, such as modern versions. The translators chose the correct sense of the originals, and this expressly disallows a person in the present to pick and choose his own version. The margins were supplied so that a reader may check what was rejected and put into the margin. But in reality, either the entire King James Bible must be accepted, or it must be entirely rejected.


James White goes on to say that since the King James Bible today is different to that of 1611, how can a difference be resolved? For example, he says of the KJBO, “there is simply no way of determining the correct text of Jeremiah 34:16.”

Well, I am happy to say that there is an answer. There are two areas to see.

First, the nature of changes in the King James Bible. In the proper revisions, that is, the editions in a line including 1611, 1629, 1769 we observe in the tradition, proper King James Bible differences not in the underlying text, nor in the translation, but,
1. in correction of typographical errors,
2. in standardisation of the language, and
3. in other regularisation (e.g. consistent use of italics, etc.).

Second, that there is a line of proper historical editions from 1611 to 1769, and particularly from the Cambridge University Press’ guardianship, which resulted with the Pure Cambridge Edition of the twentieth century. This edition has resolved correctly any differences which might appear among various editions, providing a basis for rejecting new modernisations, while also rightly portraying places where common variations exist, e.g. at Jeremiah 34:16.

I acknowledge that this was not fully understood until after James White wrote his book. See


James White concentrates his attack on a few individuals, or minority beliefs, tending to broad brush these beliefs to most or many KJBOs. However, this is a deceitful practise, in that most KJBOs do not 100% agree with the KJBO individuals he highlights. The implication is that if a KJBO teacher holds to a particular doctrine which is somehow offensive, that this has somehow automatically disqualified any belief or teaching that this individual brings.


James White argues that the real Bible studies or debate should rest in the issues to do with the original languages, and with particular methods of using the context and hermeneutics on that basis.

The point is that if the KJBO argues on the basis of what the Hebrew or Greek says, or doesn’t say, or what the originals really meant to the original audience, etc., they have surrendered the very position of the Scripture, which is, that the Word of God is present.

“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5, 6).

“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Pet. 1:25).

There clearly is no final perfect Testament in the Hebrew or in the Greek, so to argue where there is no final authority or particular perfection is to argue nothing at all. But as soon as we show that the King James Bible translators got it right, and that God has got His Word to us today in English, we are on a solid, logical, Scriptural and godly foundation.


According to modernists, the English language is always changing, therefore it is impossible to have one fixed English Bible. However, it is something beyond their belief and understanding if there is a Bible which exhibits God’s use of English, which is relevant to the people living in 1611 as much as in, say, 2011.

Since the Spirit of Truth is present in the Earth today, He is able to bring people to understand God’s Word in the King James Bible. In fact, it is only hard to the natural man, but it becomes open to the spiritual.

Whatever accusations are levelled against the seeming peculiar words of the King James Bible are unfounded, because they happen to be the very exact English words to convey the very sense of the originals. In reality, there is no Bible like it.


James White’s “The King James Only Controversy” is a largely misleading, unfair misrepresentation of the King James Only movement. What White utterly fails to accomplish is to give any consolation to his readers/viewers that God’s words exist certainly and utterly today in English. It is as if he holds to a naive faith in modernism (that error prevails), which leads him to defend the existence imperfect Bibles and various individuals who held to heresies or gross sins.

However, if we take the King James Bible as true, and what it says about Scripture as truly applying to itself, we find that the King James Bible is both internally and externally (e.g. historically, textually, etc.) consistent. To accept or admit even one error in the King James Bible is the first step of the path to complete apostasy, this is also internally and externally evident with modern versions.

- - - - - - PART TWO OF THE ARTICLE - - - - - - -

There is a great difference between the modern version view and the King James Bible only view. Also, there are parallels between this issue and the evolution versus creation debate.


How we approach the Bible today, and whether we believe there is a perfect manifestation of the Bible in one book depends actually on our heart. It is dependant on our “world view”.

Evidence exists today. Old manuscripts are not in the past (though they existed in the past). Old manuscripts are here now.

Depending on our “world view”, we will interpret the evidence (the old manuscripts) into a narrative of how the Bible came to us today, and whether or not we have a perfect Bible right now.


Many scientific and other innovations and advances were discovered after the Renaissance and Reformation. If you look at the British Empire or America, you can see how much knowledge has increased. Many of the scientific pioneers, like Isaac Newton, had a high view of the Bible.

Paul wrote, “And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.” (2 Thess. 3:2). This verse says that having no faith is unreasonable. In other words, reason and faith go together. That is why proper Christian inquiry is important and good.

Opposite to this are the rationalists who divorce reason and faith. They think that advancement comes through humanistic endeavour. They think that religion gets in the way of progress.

Today we can either believe that the Bible is true, self-authenticating and explore it on that basis, or else we can start from theories about the early history of the Scriptures, which always emphasise the weakness of men (i.e. that people made mistakes in copying), and always minimises the involvement of God in actually keeping the Bible from mistakes.

Thus, we either look at the King James Bible and receive a doctrine that it is true, pure, etc., and therefore interpret history in that light, or else, we start from the idea that man is subject to mistakes today, and that despite our best efforts, we will never have a perfect Bible, and history likewise is interpreted in this light (which seems to tend toward the most outlandish claims dressed up in serious sounding language, and an attachment to the most divergent manuscripts on the weakest arguments).


Remember that interpretations and narrative of what happened during, say, the Dark Ages exist right now. It is the case which best fits the evidence.

As long as people are disputing on that ground, they have no final authority of appeal. This is why it is heavily practiced by modernist scholars, because they believe that there is no final authority of appeal, but the misguided faith in the “learning” of modernist men.

Modernist thought, by the way, is contradictory, in that while it tends toward denying “faith”, it actually is a faith, and a blind one at that. This is obvious, because people who bring out anti-KJBO propaganda demonstrate an a priori commitment to their theory, which they purport to be fact. Moreover, as much as they have attachment to human reasoning (the deification of man by himself), they hold the contradictory notion that no man is right, and that all are subject to erring.

That is why it is important for Bible believers to stand on the Scripture as it has been given right now as the primary argument, in that the Bible speaks of God, and since God must be working now, this must be His Word right now: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thess. 2:13). “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15).

If we have a perfect Bible today, then we have a sure point of reference to understand what actually was occurring in the Dark Ages. In other words, history is not just subjectivity, or a changing story about the past, or today’s current truth, but we have a link to the true view, and we are able to enter into God’s view... so a Christian inquirer might be said to be unlocking the secrets of God’s creation since we are surrounded by an absolute framework.

People who argue against KJBO must therefore have to accept some sort of subjectivity, some sort of hindrance to human achievement, and most drastically, some sort of limitation of God, even to the point where some deny His existence.


“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

If we have the perfect, infallible Word of God in one book present right now, we can see how everything else will be built up and in place: a proper interpretation of Scripture, right doctrines, proper laws, pure conscience.

If we do not in practice have a perfect Bible today, and hold to a doctrine that we do not know if we can have one, then the whole building of our faith and doctrine begins to crumble. That is why there is a direct link between rejecting the King James Bible and a lukewarm Christianity.


James White, in his book, writes that his view on the King James Controversy is that it is a conflict. This is true. It is a spiritual conflict that is playing right now for the minds of Christians everywhere. The battle is to do with truth, and getting the truth to be understood.


The King James Bible issue is not made or broken on Erasmus, and what he accomplished. The battle is whether or not we have a perfect presentation of the underlying text in an English translation right now on Earth.

James White points to Erasmus and how he decided to portray instrumentally the New Testament, showing human errors, or his critical choices and the annotations in such a way as to deny the infallibility or perfection of Erasmus’ work.

The reality is that Erasmus is only one part of the working of the providence of God, and the ultimate form of the text of the King James Bible lays with the translators themselves, who produced an independent variety of the textus receptus. We see that King James Bible is the final form of the Received Text today.

James White shows how people were criticising Erasmus for going to the Greek, when he could have stayed with the Romanist’s Latin. James White attempts to link this with the doctrine of KJBOists, who say that we do not need the Greek (because we have the Bible in English).

The tremendous difference that James White does not show is that the Vulgate needed to be corrected in light of the Greek Tradition, and that by taking to measure all sources and witnesses, the correct text of Scripture could be recovered. Once that was completed (and it was completed with the making of the King James Translation), there would be no need to go to the Greek or Latin any more. Thus, the KJBO accepts the initial foundation of the original language basis with other witnesses in the forming of the Bible into its final form, quite unlike the ardent Catholic who believed that whatever edition of the Vulgate was in vogue was infallible, and required no correction. The point is that the Vulgate needed correction, whereas the King James Bible comes out of that process of correction (as primarily based upon the Greek with reference to the Latin).

Since the King James Bible has been made from the right springs, and has been checked and used by so many godly men, it is the height of pride, unbelief and foolishness to come up with a doctrine that requires the correction of the King James Bible. Unlike the Vulgate, the King James Bible does not require correction. In fact, going to the Greek today to change the King James Bible is always corruption, impure, error and wrong.


Anti-King James Bible only writers like to point out that the translators of the King James Bible wrote that variety of translations is profitable for finding out the sense of the Scriptures.

The modern version proponent immediately uses this to say how the King James Bible translators must think it is good that there are more modern versions than ever.

But this is not what the translators meant. They said that they were consulting the variety themselves, so that we would have one more exact translation of the holy Scripture in the English tongue. Ultimately, that denies having any other translation of the Scripture except the King James Bible.

In reality, once the variety had been consulted, only one correct text and translation was presented in the King James Bible. Whatever went into the margins was additional, peri-logical or notational. The margins were not provided so that we could pick and choose between them and the text. The margins were not provided to cast doubt on the text. They were there to show other thoughts, including some possible other renderings or translations, which the consensus and sound judgment of the translators rejected.

Many people have studied the Scripture, looked at the margins and the overwhelming judgment of English-speaking Christianity is that the margins are rightly marginal. They are not the very exact sense of the Scripture.

But the modernist tries to use the fact that the margins exist for the very purpose that the translators denied, namely, that they cast doubt upon the knowledge of what actually rightly is the Scripture.


The preservation of God’s Word is providential. The KJB is only the way by which the preservation was finalised. In reality, the Scripture was scattered from the time of the original autographs until 1611, so that the underlying text was never presented correctly in any single manuscript or Bible to that time.

The issue of having a correct text and translation is different to having a perfect presentation.

The KJB was the end result of the gathering of the correct text and translation, however, the KJB itself went through a purification of editions that refined merely the presentation.

Let no one mix up preservation with perfection. Perfection in any single manuscript is unlikely, except for the Autographs and some immediate copies.

The Scripture was not preserved as perfect in a single entity (e.g. no golden plates at Constantinople in the year 1000). The perfect Word was in fact scattered in many MSS, in many witnesses, etc. Thus, there was a gathering process that was occurring, it happened in part in Latin, but primarily in Greek with TR editions, and more importantly with English Versions, and most importantly, finally and supersuccessionally in the King James Bible.

The perfect Word that was in the Autographs must have been scattered, then gathered, and translated into English, so that the perfect Word was recovered, and the preservation was complete. The next state has been the preservation of the perfect text and translation.

As a subset, the purifying work of the presentation of the King James Bible has been to ensure that the perfect text and translation of 1611 has been presented free from any presentational imperfection.

Modern translations display a different text and translation, and they are edited sometimes, and there are presentational errors in them, e.g. typographical errors.

God's providential work in history takes into account (simplistically):
1. the scattering of the text from the autographs to the gathering of the Reformation time,
2. the refining of the main Protestant English translations, and
3. the purification of the presentation of the lineage of proper traditional King James Bible editions.

Moses wrote, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." (Deut. 32:4).

Moses did not see the whole Old Testament. And yet, we would say that having only five books of Scripture is an imperfect Canon. How could God's work be perfect? Clearly, God's work in history must be taken in the total view. God's work when seen in the big picture is perfect.

In regards to text: The inspiration was perfect. Copies were not. But then God was able to providentially outwork so that there was a perfect critical amassing in one Bible.

Were true Christians saved when they practised only infant baptism? Does God require new born Christians to be fully developed? Why would it be wrong to have the book of God only perfectly rendered in 1611, and no perfect single volume in Earth in, say, 1517 A.D.?


James White has reduced King James Bible only as meaning that there is no other possible Scripture. This implication is false. Clearly, there have been many copies of the Scripture in many languages. Even the Alexandrian copies, as corrupt as they are, exhibit Scripture.

The issue in not the existence of Scripture, the issue is that one manifestation of the Scripture is perfect, namely, that there is a perfect text and translation. In regards to use for the King James Bible believer, the formula “the KJB alone = the Word of God alone” is only true in regards to the final and supersuccessionary form of Scripture. In other words, no Bible ever presented 100% what the Autographs had with 100% accuracy except the KJB. Therefore the KJB should be used as the standard. Indeed, it should be the world standard.

This authority is not because the King James Bible was made by inspiration from 1604–1611 as James White implies is believed. The authority of the KJB as being perfect is because it is a self-authenticating argument, consistent with internal and external evidence.

This is lamely accused of being “circular reasoning”. However, the existence of God Himself is based on “circular reasoning”, therefore, there is a proper, logical and consistent use of the self-authenticating argument in regards to absolute truth. Importantly, it is possible and easy to objectively show the existence of God, and likewise to make great inquiry of the truth of the perfection of the KJB.