Those who teach that the infallibility of the KJV was an established teaching in past centuries long before Ruckman, including the first half of the twentieth century, have come up with some quotes to attempt to bolster their claims. An example of this would be Joey Faust’s book The Word: God Will Keep It – The 400 Year History of the King James Bible Only Movement. No doubt the millions of books and articles that have been digitized in recent years by giant companies such as Google have made it easier to do research on the existence of certain views throughout history, regardless of how obscure or rare they might have been.
On the page right before the historical quotes begin, Faust makes the following introductory claim, revealing the premise of his work: “Thousands of Christians (and even many Christian leaders) in the past 400 years have believed that the King James Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, sacred, unalterable, preserved Word of God.” Throughout this book review we will demonstrate why we believe that Faust’s conclusion, especially regarding “many Christian leaders” is more a matter of his subjective interpretation rather than proven fact. That there have been a variety of individuals who apparently believed in an infallible and/or inspired English Bible at different times before Ruckman is likely; however, the issue is whether it was truly a common view among all sorts of believers, including Christian leaders. In other words, was it mostly restricted to uneducated believers who hardly knew in what language the Bible was originally written, or was the view held by known, educated, and respected leaders who were theologically sound?
There is no doubt that Faust did a lot of research for his 330-page book. However, his research was marred by several issues. First of all, no page numbers were provided for the source of his quotes. The omission of this most basic element of proper documentation made it time-consuming to verify quotes. There were also far too many generalizations in much of the quotes as we will proceed to prove. Faust seems to labor under certain assumptions that cloud the objectivity of many of his arguments. This may have led to quoting various authors out of context, which we will demonstrate. He quite often depends on secondary sources (in which those who are supposed to hold to a view are not identified) instead of primary ones.
One of the many weaknesses of the book is that many of those who are supposed to believe in the inerrancy of the KJV over hundreds of years remain unidentified in the quotes. Two random examples of this are the following quotes:
“There are of course, some persons to whom a new English translation of any part of the Holy Scriptures seems a sacrilege…The old version is regarded as faultless and something more.” (p. 180)
“…[There are] those who are so far given to Bibliolatry as to think the AV absolutely infallible.” (p. 114)
In the above example quotes there are references to “some persons,” and “those.” Other quotes yield references to “certain classes,” “some people,” “many pious people,” “earnest Christians,” “those good people,” etc. The weakness of a collection of quotes referring so frequently to those who held to the infallibility of the KJV in such general and anonymous terms is that it is impossible to ascertain whether they were true believers, new converts, whether they held to orthodox views, whether they were even literate, whether they even truly believed what is alleged of them, and so forth.
Faust’s reference to “many Christian leaders” cannot apply in all these instances, because we do not even know who they were, much less whether they were spiritual leaders, knowledgeable of the Scriptures, and sound in doctrine.
Mixing quotes of those who did not believe in KJV infallibility along with those who did
One individual stands out in particular.
The first person we are aware of in the 20th century to write a book defending the KJV who could properly be called a KJV defender was Philip Mauro. In 1924 he published Which Version? Authorized Or Revised? The following quote on p. 87 reveals that he believed the KJV was reliable, but not inerrant, perfect or infallible:
… we do not fail to recognize, what is admitted by all competent authorities, that the A.V. could be corrected in a number of passages where the meaning is now obscured because of changes which three centuries have brought about in the meaning of English words, or where diligent study or recent discoveries have brought to light better readings. Such instances, however, are comparatively few …
In spite of Mauro’s belief as just quoted, this book being reviewed quoted Mauro favorably on pp. 173-174 (with words of praise but not inerrancy for the KJV), intermingled with those who may have believed in an inerrant KJV.
Inclusion of quotes of those who were merely praising the KJV
Dozens of quotes consisted of high compliments and extolling the virtues of the KJV above its rivals. However, praise for the KJV proves nothing regarding whether the person doing the praising believes in an inerrant KJV.
Inclusion of quotes that came short of declaring the KJV infallible or inspired
The inclusion of quotes by those who admired and defended the KJV but did not ultimately believe in its inspiration or inerrancy is a huge distraction to the premise of the book. The following is but one of many examples throughout the book:
“What, in truth, is inspiration? And in what sense and degree is the Bible an inspired book? Such are questions heard all around us, and the answers given range from a claim to a verbal inspiration, almost, of the King James’ Version…” (p. 149)
Inclusion of quotes of those who were merely against new translations, as if this constituted a belief in the infallibility of the KJV
Many quotes were of this nature. However, the weakness of those quotes can be demonstrated by the very author of this book review. He believes the KJV is the best English translation, and does not endorse other versions, however he does not hold to the inerrancy of the KJV. One cannot legitimately argue from silence or assumption, therefore the use of quotes from those who were merely against new translations as if this constituted a belief in the infallibility of the KJV was deeply flawed.
Quotes that include references to illiterate or uneducated people
It’s entirely possible that some quotes referring to those who held to an infallible KJV as uneducated or ignorant were originally accusations designed to place such people in a bad light unjustly. On the other hand, the writer being quoted may have at times been accurately describing the education level of those holding to such a view. Most of the quotes do not offer enough context to determine whether the writer was trying to describe the holders of the view accurately or whether he was trying to stigmatize them. It should be kept in mind that illiteracy rates among the general public remained high during the first few centuries that the KJV was in existence. William B. Riley explained it this way back in 1917, in the process of specifically answering the question, "Is the King James version absolutely inerrant?"
And even now in more remote districts, where educational advantages have been few, the history of the Bible is unknown. Of its translation from language to language they have never learned… To be sure, there are multitudes who do not understand that the Scriptures were originally written either in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek; that all the original versions were lost, and that the copies of the New Testament date many years this side of Jesus, and that our Scriptures are translations… (Riley, William B. The Menace of Modernism. New York: Christian Alliance, 1917, pp. 12-13)
The following phrases from various quotes throughout the book under review reveal what we are referring to:
“illiterate minds” (p. 69) “uninstructed person” (p. 73) “unlettered peasant” (p. 75) “minds of the vulgar” (p. 75) “uneducated” (p. 102) “ignorant people” (p. 121) “The less intelligent” (p. 169) “Unthinking Christians” (p. 170)
“Ignorant people” could accurately describe the biblical ignorance of many in our churches today who are new believers or who are nominal Christians that attend church infrequently and know very little about the Bible. They may not even know in which languages the Bible was originally written or how it was translated, leading them to make inaccurate assumptions about the translation they possess.
Some quotes were not in context
On p. 194 Faust quotes 7th Day Adventist Elton Jones as stating “the Book is inspired.” In the previous sentence as quoted, Jones did mention the KJV, so perhaps it was thought that “the Book” was a reference to the KJV. However, an examination of Elton Jone’s book revealed that he often referred to the Bible in general as “the Book.” Also, on page 82, a mere five pages from the page from where Faust lifted his quote, Jones admits that the KJV is not free of every blemish.
On page 163 of Faust’s book there is a quote that starts as follows: “I was brought up by my father to believe that every word in the English Bible was inspired by the Spirit of the living God.” I obtained a copy of the source of the quote, and noticed that the KJV was not mentioned in the context, but rather Tyndale and Wycliffe. His father is further mentioned as correcting a word in the KJV with Greek.
On p. 105 Faust quotes an author writing in 1867 in such a way as to give the impression that he believed in the inspiration of the KJV. However, upon examining a copy of the work cited, on the very next page the author states “…we do not claim that it is a perfect translation.”
Many more examples could be given.
Obvious hyperbole presented as fact
When the authors of quotes weren’t describing those who were genuinely ignorant, they often were trying to stigmatize those against translations to rival the KJV as holding to unreasonable and illogical views. Incredibly, Faust takes those quotes with exaggerated views as fact to bolster his premise. Here are two quotes from one page alone that reveal what I’m referring to:
“The adherents of this faith apparently look upon the Bible as a book dropped down from heaven, already translated into the King’s English, correct and infallible down to every dot and comma.” (p. 196)
“Today millions worship this version with a positive idolatry!” (p. 196)
The authors of the above quotes were obviously trying to stigmatize those who hold opposing views by characterizing their views in an exaggerated fashion. In some cases authors of quotes were not trying to maliciously frame those with differing views, but were simply trying to speculate as to why many conservative Christians were so adamant in opposing new translations. An example of this is the following quote from p. 201: “Now some among us seem to assume the King James Version is inspired.”
Lack of proof
The area in which the book fails miserably is its lack of proof that recognized leaders that were sound in doctrine held to the inerrancy or inspiration of the KJV before 1950. Even though he includes some quotes from Spurgeon that favor the KJV, Faust was forced to acknowledge on p. 130 that “Spurgeon did not appear to ever absolutely understand or embrace the infallibility of the AV.”
In conclusion, we believe that the premise of this book is deeply flawed and should not be considered for serious research.