August 28, 2004

Welcome to the Church of the Holy Horseshoe

A recent post on the BaptistBoard reminded me of some of the absurd lengths that some KJV-onlyists go to in their zeal to "defend" God's Pure And Inerrant Word in the English LanguageTM from the scourge of "per-versions" translated into contemporary English. A poster remarked that he had been reading 2 Timothy 3:17 aloud from the King James Version:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added)

Someone apparently took umbrage at the fact that when he reached the word throughly, he pronounced it thoroughly - a word with precisely the same meaning, only without the archaic spelling (which, as a matter of fact, some KJV editions update).

There is indeed a faction of KJV-onlyists who believe that even alterations of the spelling of KJV words are "corruptions" of the so-called pure Bible. It doesn't matter whether these differences are due to changes in usage over time (substituting sneezes for neesings, for example), pronunciation (substituting the article an for a sometimes indicates a change away from silent H's) or regional differences (the U in words like colour, Saviour, etc.). I have even encountered Web pages that claim these changes are Satanically inspired. Get a load of this article by KJV-onlyist Nick Kizziah:

Beside [sic] all this, Cambridge [University Press] has also taken the liberty of making doctrinal changes [in its edition of the KJV]. Notice the following: The capital S in the word Spirit has been changed to a lower case s in numerous passages. The capital S refers to the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead, whereas the lower case s in the word spirit could have multiple definitions such as simply referring to a mood or emotion. Its primary definition means to breath [sic]. All living self moving [sic] creatures have a spirit within them. So many definitions could apply to the word spirit when it is not capitalized.

To change the capital S in the word Spirit to a lower case s is an attack against the Godhead, the most powerful threefold cord in heaven and earth: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (emphasis in original)

Well, OK, even though I've never been confused by the difference between a capital-S and a small-s "spirit," I'll grant Kizziah this one. But here's his next point:

Here is another change that has been made in this particular edition: the word twoedged has become two-edged. They added a hyphen. . . .Why? Was this a mistake or did they mean to do it that way? Why tamper with it in the first place? Don't say you were trying to help us Cambridge. If that's the case then please don't try to help us any more. All we want you to do is to publish the same standard text of the King James Bible as you have done so very well for hundreds of years. Don't publish something that is not the standard and call it the standard. Once you modernize spelling, change capital letters to lower case letters and add hyphens, you are changing the standard text in order to please modern society.

This is getting a bit picayune. How does adding a hyphen to the word "twoedged" (following modern orthographic practices) either result in "making doctrinal changes"? How does it "please modern society"?

At this point, someone must have handed Kizziah an X-Acto Knife, because his ability to split hairs suddenly becomes the sort of thing epic poetry is written about:

Here are some other ploys that some of these other worldly publishing companies are pulling on an unaware publick [sic]. One thing a lot of them do is change the spelling of words that end with the letters o-u-r to the more modern American spelling of o-r. For example armour becomes armor. Behaviour becomes behavior. [Examples ad nauseam eliminated by me for brevity. - the Curmudgeon] . . . Well Brother Nic what's wrong with that? . . .

Now the very worst of this battle of o-u-r vs. o-r comes when dealing with the only begotten Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The modern day counterfeiters have changed Saviour to Savior. They have given us a six-letter Savior in place of a seven-letter Saviour. In Bible numerics seven is the number of completeness, purity, and spiritual perfection. On the other hand six is the number of man which is earthly not heavenly. Every one has heard of 666. It has a bad connotation and is not highly esteemed in Bible numerics.

The seven-letter Saviour is the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The six-letter Savior is the son of perdition, the anti christ [sic]. He wants to be like the most High (Isaiah 14:14,) but not in a good way, but in an evil way. He is not a follower. He's a counterfeiter. Therefore his final destination is the lake of fire. The new versions, along with the new age movement, and some of the King James Bible counterfeits are preparing the way for this six-letter so called [sic] Savior. That's the way he will spell his name, S-a-v-i-o-r not S-a-v-i-o-u-r. No thank you Satan. I'm sticking with the seven-letter Saviour as portrayed in the old black Book that I inherited from my forefathers. (emphasis in original)

In case you aren't sure if you read what you read: Yes, Kizziah is arguing that spelling "Savior" in the American fashion is a deliberate deception intended to prepare the world for the Antichrist. Millions of people are being enticed to worship the Beast . . . by reading their Bibles!

This kind of foolishness goes beyond mere KJV-onlyism or even Ruckmanism. I'm going to start calling these people the "Church of the Holy Horseshoe," because this is about as close as you can get to worshipping the letter U. At the very least it treats the title "Saviour" as some sort of magic word that is good if spelled correctly, but is used for evil if spelled incorrectly.

Ironically, many organizations and people that promote KJV-onlyism also promote the use of the original edition of Noah Webster's dictionary published in 1828. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if, some years from now, some extremists start claiming that this dictionary is divinely inspired in some way. The Mormons claim the Constitution is inspired; what's stopping a few psycho-fundies, who believe that the KJV was providentially translated at the time when English was supposedly at its apex, from claiming the same for their favourite dictionary (which often reflects the Biblical definitions of words anyway)? Webster had an overtly political purpose for his dictionary: to produce a distinctly American version of the English language. Most of the differences between British and American spelling can be traced to Webster. (Noah Webster also produced his own revision of the KJV in 1833, but you don't hear too many KJV-onlyists praising it. I wonder why?)

There is an electronic version of the 1828 dictionary available on the Web. Just for laughs, I looked up the offending word. If you guessed that Webster spelled it savior, you're right. Saviour, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found. How will the Church of the Holy Horseshoe resolve this apparent conflict?

There is an appropriate response to anyone who confronts you over such ridiculous trivialities as the spellings of words. Look the drama queen in the eye. Smile. Say something like "Thank you for sharing your insights." Continue with what you were doing. "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him." (Prov. 26:4).