Some people see the King James Bible as far superior to other translations. They believe other translations are heretical, full of redactions with verses purposely and vindictively taken out. Any attempt to “modernize” the language is seen as compromising the very Word of God. Some people in this group see the 1611 English King James Version as even far superior to the Greek copies themselves! Some also believe that the Bible that might be on your shelf is actually… New Age.
I know this because I used to be a King James Onlyist. A KJO.
I want to clarify two things. First, I think the King James is a fine version, and I don’t believe that everyone who prefers the King James is a KJO. Second, I understand that there’s a spectrum of beliefs within the KJO community. I’m going to share what I would consider the most common claims people make on why they believe the King James is superior. I still read this version sometimes. If you like it, that’s great. But some elevate it to an idolatrous level. I want people to know this information, especially the ex-new agers. Many are afraid to read a modern version because they’ve been told the KJV is the only true version and have scared them by saying these other versions are New Age when they’re simply not.
In my time as a KJO, I noticed there are spectrums to this position from the extreme where even putting the King James on the floor is a horrendous sin to the more passive. But, in general, this group basically believes that the true word of God is the King James Version of the Bible, and all others are corrupt and are infiltrated by the New Age. Some are so extreme that they believe the English King James corrects the Greek!
In other words, the King James Bible is the Word of God, not the Greek and Hebrew that it was copied from. This is one reason you see extra verses in the King James and don’t see it in your Bibles, but more about that later.
I personally took more of a middle road in the spectrum and used to believe that the King James Bible was the most reliable and complete, and the rest of these other versions were either missing verses or were compromised somehow. I looked down on people who used different versions, which only furthered my misconceptions about how we got the Bible and how it was translated. When I came out of the New Age, one of the first things I did was research how we got the Bible, and I was amazed by what I learned. The fancy word for this is called “Textual Criticism.”
Here are three main aspects to consider and why other reputable versions are not New Age:
1.) Conspiracy to Deceive.
One of the arguments from the KJO camp is that there’s a New Age conspiracy to deceive people into preparing the way for the antichrist. This is done by creating other Bible translations that they claim take essential doctrines out of the Bible to deceive millions. They say the deity of Christ is taken out and the Gospel itself. This is demonstrably false. First of all, a conspiracy is a pretty terrible one if virtually everyone knows about it. Second, it’s ironically a conspiratorial mindset someone has to be in even to claim there’s a New Age conspiracy. In other words, many KJOs believe this out of a fear-based mindset rather than a factual one. The misinformation that is out there on this is staggering and only hurts the people that promote this as they seem to take a more “cultish” position on this than an academic one. One of the biggest issues they bring up is that the King James is “complete” because it has verses other Bibles don’t. This brings me to my second point.
2.) Supposed missing verses.
This is one of the most significant claims from this camp. They pride themselves in owning a “complete ” version, while we have these second-class versions that are demonic and belong in the garbage. This was probably the #1 reason I ascribed to the King James as superior. For those that might not know, if you compare the King James and New King James Versions with the newer translations (e.g., the New International Version, English Standard Version, Christian Standard Bible, New Living Translation, etc.), you will see that several verses seem to be missing from the newer translations. We usually see these passages or texts in the footnotes in other versions. Along with these supposed missing verses are many words and phrases that are “missing” from newer translations. Why are these omitted? Are the newer translations taking verses out of the Bible, in a grand New Age conspiracy, as some claim? No. Not at all. When I researched this a long time ago, this part of my research was startling, but in a good way.
I learned that there are no Bible verses. What I mean by that is that the King James translators added the chapters and verses to help the reader navigate the text, and this is not a bad thing. This is helpful. But it’s important to know that the original authors never wrote like this. It was intended to be read as a letter or book. And second, the real game changer is that these newer translations are striving to present what the biblical writers originally wrote correctly, which means leaving out anything that was not part of the original text. In other words, any content that’s supposedly “missing” in newer translations? Is believed by most scholars not to have been in the Bible to begin with.
It’s important to mention that the King James translators in 1611 used the manuscripts they had available to them at the time, and that’s when the King James Version was written. Since then, older manuscripts have been found that don’t have these verses. Over 1,500 years, some words, phrases, and even sentences were added to the Bible, intentionally or accidentally. So “missing verses” are simply not found in some of the oldest and most reliable manuscripts. Also, there’s a fancy word called “expansion of piety.” This is a desire to fiercely protect the sacredness of Jesus, which led people to expand the titles of Jesus, possibly even without meaning. It’s ironic because the accusation is that the modern translations removed them when the actual situation was that they were added. This does NOT downgrade the King James Version. Again, I think it’s a fine translation to use.
3.) This brings me to my last point. Why are there so many translations, then? This is easier to answer than you think! Again to someone who holds a King James only position, it’s because there’s a New Age conspiracy, and all the older manuscripts have been infiltrated and compromised. For them, this only holds more reason why the King James is the most authentic version. The Bible is written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. So all these partial and complete manuscripts we find scattered everywhere are copies, but the good news is that they match. This can be a bit divisive when we talk about it being translated into English because there are so many different ways to translate a word sometimes. For this reason, it’s beneficial to compare translations. I think some versions are to be avoided, such as versions with only one translator or loose paraphrases. An example of this is the Passion Translation or the Message. Because Greek and Hebrew aren’t English, you will have different words translated differently in different versions. The King James Version is a testament to how language can change over time. Following this logic, if the King James truly is the very Word of God, then in another few hundred years, people would practically have to learn another language to read it. Language evolves and changes over time, and this includes English. Nobody speaks Old English today.
For these reasons, there are trustworthy modern translations that are not New Age. They are excellent to read and study and compare to one another.
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Melissa Dougherty is a Christian Apologist best known for her YouTube channel as an ex-new ager. She has two associate’s degrees, one in Early Childhood Multicultural Education, and the other in Liberal Arts. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary.