February 26, 2007

Playing rope-a-dope with the KJV-onlyists

Being somewhat fed up with the usual baseless accusations of "corruption" and "Bible correcting" from the KJV-only peanut gallery, I decided yesterday to ask a straightforward question on a forum I frequent: Where does the New International Version of the Bible teach falsehood?

24 hours later, the results are, shall we say, underwhelming.

I did get a lot of the usual chestnuts, though:

  • The NIV calls Joseph Jesus' "father." Well, he was Jesus' stepfather, wasn't he? Besides, so does the KJV several times, so by definition, it must be true.
  • The NIV omits the phrase "by his blood" in Colossians 1:14. I didn't ask what the NIV doesn't say, I asked what it does say that is false. Besides, those words are found elsewhere in the New Testament, so again, what the NIV says is true.
  • The NIV was translated by a lesbian. I didn't ask who translated it, I asked what it said that wasn't true.
  • The NIV is a dynamic translation. OK, but is the translation actually false?
  • The NIV denies the existence of hell in Psalm 9:17. No it doesn't, but on the other hand it makes the true statement that the wicked end up in the grave.

So far only two accusations of any real seriousness have been put forward. The first is that John 1:18 is anti-Trinitarian, but the accuser himself shows a substandard understanding of the Trinity when he denies that God the Father and God the Son can both be the one and only God (at one point he tries to compare the Godhead with a committee of Baptists).

The second is James' command to "confess your sins to one another" (Jas. 5:16 NIV), which supposedly leads to the Catholic confessional system, as opposed to the KJV's "faults." His theological argument is wanting, the distinction between "faults" and "sins" is pretty much non-existent, and in any case saying the Bible might be misunderstood is not the same as saying the Bible teaches something false.

The reason I decided to post this challenge is that I am getting sick and tired of being told that non-KJV-onlyists spread skepticism about the Bible because they cannot have absolute confidence in an inerrant translation. Since a large part of my teaching in church, when I do it, is to assure students that they can have confidence in the Bibles they carry (the vast majority of which are NIVs), naturally I want to be able to tell them where they can't trust their Bibles.

So far, no accusation against the NIV has withstood serious analysis. In fact, in asking for instances of falsehood, the KJV-onlyists have had to concede more truth! As a result, while the NIV isn't my translation of choice, I'm beginning to like it more and more. Thanks guys!