Irreverent Modern Versions
I read with interest Mr.
VanderWoude’s contribution in favor of vernacular language or common speech (Standard Bearer, April 1, 2004). I disagree with the arguments in favor of it. The common people in the time of the Reformation did not even have the Bible to read for themselves personally. This was the “high” and “reverent” responsibility of Romish bishops and priests to the wee, simple folk, said Rome. This is quite different from just mere language problems. You do not have a language problem if you do not even have the Bible to read from in the first place! That was a gift of Christ to His church by men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, and Calvin, not to mention the countless other saints involved in this work to the honor and glory of their heavenly Father. They put the Bible in the hands of the common, everyday people. At the same time, they gave the people the Bible in their own language.
Second, to be sure, one can use Elizabethan language in a sinful way. Is that the truth of the King James Bible, or the Psalter, or our “Three Forms of Unity”? There is uniformity in this, not irreverence. What is true in the history of the Reformed churches in the past one hundred years is that voting to use a more “modern” Bible translation has led to irreverence, not only in addressing a sovereign God, but also in doctrine. That is true. Some of us have dealt personally with this issue, and we see the fruits of it as well.
Third, Mr. VanderWoude laments that as time goes on we will be alienated from those who do not use the language of the King James Version. The King James Bible, hesays, is a barrier to Scripture comprehension, prayer-life development, and evangelistic efforts. To be blunt, the language of today—what passes for English—in some instances does not have a lot to be desired. Mr. VanderWoude’s concerns are irrelevant. Our little children are taught the King James Bible just as we were when we were young ones. If there were any “dumbing down” of language, it would be today’s modern English. God’s Word does not return to Him void.
Rev. S. Houck’s “The King James Version of the Bible,” Prof. D. Engelsma’s “Modern Bible Versions,” Rev. R. Cammenga’s “KJV-NIV,” Prof. H. Hanko’s “The Battle For the Bible,” Prof. D. Engelsma’s “The English Translation of Holy Scripture,” and Rev. R. C. Harbach’s “The Infallibility of Holy Scripture” are all pamphlets and articles written by faithful saints with respect to the Bible. They are not hard to grasp and understand. They are available for saints in the pew and saints on the mission field. The writers are not popes and bishops. They are faithful servants of God called to admonish and preach the truth of God’s Word and warn against error and false doctrine. Why would they take the time to write these articles, if there was no apparent danger? They do not wish to take the Word of God out of our hands and spell it out for such simple, wee folk as us. They warn of that danger.