History of the KJV-Only movement within Fundamentalism

Duncan Johnson

9 March 2013 (minor edit 22 April 2016)

Acknowledgement: Main Source

Outline

Historical Analysis

Historical Analysis

Straub on the challenge of analyzing the history of the movement:

Because of the populist nature of the KJV-only movement within fundamentalism, it is not easy to determine when this movement began to surface within the large and rather amorphous movement of self-identified fundamentalists. No single academic institution seems to have initially championed this position. Moreover, when examining fundamentalist institutions, among the older institutions still adhering to their heritage, there is a mixture among the alumni with prominent defenders of the KJV-only position and prominent rejecters of the position from the various schools. For example, among the alumni of the institution where I teach [Central Baptist Theological Seminary, MN], there are published proponents on both sides of the debate. Additionally, the first fundamentalist school I attended [Bob Jones University, SC] also had well-known and published advocates on each side of the debate.1

Forerunners of the KJV-Only Movement

Forerunners of the KJV-Only Movement

Benjamin G. Wilkinson (1872–1968)

Forerunners of the KJV-Only Movement

Jasper J. Ray

Forerunners of the KJV-Only Movement

Edward F. Hills (1912–1981)

Forerunners of the KJV-Only Movement

Edward F. Hills on providential preservation

God’s preservation of the New Testament text was not miraculous but providential. The scribes and printers who produced the copies of the New Testament Scriptures and the true believers who read and cherished them were not inspired but God-guided. Hence there are some New Testament passages in which the true reading cannot be determined with absolute certainty….

In other words, God does not reveal every truth with equal clarity. In biblical textual criticism, as in every other department of knowledge, there are still some details in regard to which we must be content to remain uncertain, but the special providence of God has kept these uncertainties down to a minimum. Hence if we believe in the special providential preservation of the Scriptures and make this the leading principle of our biblical textual criticism, we obtain maximum certainty, all the certainty that any mere man can obtain, all the certainty that we need. For we are led by the logic of faith to the Masoretic Hebrew text, to the New Testament Textus Receptus, and to the King James Version.4

The Battle for the King James Version

The Battle for the King James Version

David Otis Fuller (1903–1988)

The Battle for the King James Version

David Otis Fuller (1903–1988)

Fuller states that he “preferred” the KJV “from the standpoint of the beauty of the language. I realize that it is not as accurate as the Revised but the accuracy does not extend to the doctrine but merely to the clearness of the thought expressed. All of the versions I believer [sic] were verbally inspired, in the original manuscripts.”5

The Battle for the King James Version

David Otis Fuller (1903–1988)

For the providence of God was watching over this sacred text even during the first three centuries of the Christian era. Even during this troubled period a sufficient number of trustworthy copies of the New Testament Scriptures were produced by true believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These were the manuscripts to which the whole Greek Church returned during the fourth and fifth centuries, again under the leading of the Holy Spirit, and from which the Byzantine text was derived.6

The Battle for the King James Version

David Otis Fuller (1903–1988)

The Battle for the King James Version

David Otis Fuller (1903–1988)

The Battle for the King James Version

David Otis Fuller (1903–1988)

Evaluation:

The Battle for the King James Version

Peter Ruckman (1921–April 21, 2016)

The Battle for the King James Version

Peter Ruckman (1921–April 21, 2016)

The Battle for the King James Version

Peter Ruckman (1921–April 21, 2016)

Contemporary Combatants

Contemporary Combatants

Pensacola Christian College controversy (1996–1998)

Contemporary Combatants

Pensacola Christian College controversy (1996–1998)

Contemporary Combatants

Gail A. Riplinger (1947–)

Contemporary Combatants

Donald A. Waite

Contemporary Combatants

William Grady

Evaluation

Below are several points of analysis, drawn directly from Straub:

  1. Belief in the superiority of the KJV is a relatively new position in fundamentalist circles and goes well beyond the historic tenets of fundamentalism.
  2. There is no unified movement.
  3. Few men or women in the movement have the academic training to speak to the issues involved with the textual critical matters.
  4. There does not appear to be any realistic hope that the KJV-only position will die out any time in the near future.
  5. Those who champion the KJV as the only legitimate translation of the English Bible fail to grasp the essential nature of Christianity.

Image Credits

Wilkinson: http://www.kjvonly.org/doug/kutilek_great_which_bible.htm
Fuller: http://www.cbhministries.org/ForParents/AboutUs/OurHistory.aspx
Only One Bible: http://www.amazon.com/God-Wrote-Only-One-Bible/dp/B000J563VQ
KJV Defended: http://www.amazon.com/King-James-Version-Defended/dp/0915923009/
Which Bible: http://www.amazon.com/Which-Bible-Edition-David-Fuller/dp/0944355242
Ruckman: http://www.kjv1611.org/aboutusdrruckman.html
Dell Johnson: http://victorylifechristianschool.com/2012/cec-bio-1/
Gail Riplinger: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/New%20Age/new_age-riplinger.htm
D. A. Waite: http://www.biblefortoday.org/


  1. Straub, 47.

  2. Straub, 48.

  3. Straub, 48.

  4. Hills quoted in Straub, 48.

  5. Fuller quoted in Straub, 49.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Straub, 49–50.

  8. Straub, 50.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Straub, 51–52.

  11. Ibid., 53.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.