Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word, John 8:43.
To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken, Jeremiah 6:10.
In our second look at Dr. Mark Ward's book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible: KJV; we will look at one of Dr. Ward's reasons for wanting new translations. On page 17 he repeats a story told by Howard Long an evangelist and businessman who had an unpleasant encounter during 1955 while witnessing to a man in a Seattle hotel lobby. The man openly laughed at the phrasing of the King James Bible and exclaimed that he had never heard such strange English in his life. This prompted Long to consult with his pastor Peter DeJonge, and ultimately lead to the NIV 23 years later.
This is certainly an interesting way of solving the conundrum of the Sower and the Seed. Instead of working to change the soil that is rejecting the seed, Dr. Ward would have us to change the seed. My church has many people in it who initially balked at the phraseology and wording of the King James Bible. I could have reached into my coat like a side show huckster and found a message more palatable to them, but instead I did the work of an evangelist. I instructed them.
The idea that the King James Bible is too out of date is no new idea. The 1700s saw many attempts to update the language. The New York library of the American Bible Society contains a Bible listed as Herbert Catalogue #1159 which is a translation of the New Testament published in 1764 by R. Wynne, Rector of St. Alphage, London. It purports to be a translation "in which he endeavoured 'to steer in a just medium between a servile literal translation, a paraphrastic loose version; between low, obsolete, and obscure language, and a modern enervated stile."
It was plain to people as far back as the 18th century, that the King James Bible is not written in conversational language as would be spoken on the street. How thankful we should be that educators and Christians of that day did not subscribe to the theory that if the soil can't accept the seed in its present condition, just change the seed! Our founding fathers in America, the forefathers of the nation of Australia, the settlers of New Zealand, the settlers of Canada, and the Englishmen who carried their language, culture and God to the four corners of the earth all learned to read the King James Bible as written even though none of them spoke King James English. Why? Because educators of that day believed that the students sitting in front of them were malleable and able to be shaped into something better than what their natures would make them without guidance.
What educator of today would advocate easier math books that sacrifice accuracy for a style that is more acceptable to their students? Perhaps more people would study chemistry or biology if we sacrificed accuracy to make the text books more palatable to more students. There is rank hypocrisy in the Neo-Evangelical movement when they complain about the loose and dumbed down educational standards of the US Department of Education, but the one book with which they exercise control can not be dumbed down fast enough for them.
Go through and enumerate the great men of the late 1700s, the 1800s and the early 1900s. They did not speak King James English yet their teachers taught them to read and understand it. Were they spiritually beggared by this? No, all evidence shows that having that common text and adhering to it produced generation after generation of profound thinkers who could seamlessly mix religious thought with both political and moral thought. The little pipsqueaks that are being turned out today by bible colleges are like little boys in short pants trying to mingle with the men who stood on Lexington Green, or the convicts who were exiled to Australia only to turn it into a vibrant land of opportunity and freedom.
If you should find yourself in a hotel lobby and you witness to a person there; if that person laughs at the awkwardness or strangeness of the text you hold, do the work of an evangelist. Explain holy writ. The only people that I have ever had who held out against the King James Bible and still insist that it is too hard and strange for them after I took time to help them, have been highly educated people who were too proud to bend their knee to God, the bible or anything else.
Keep in mind. I actually have converts in my church who exhibit completely changed lives. Most of them found the language of the King James Bible to be strange and difficult. Fortunately for them they were undereducated people struggling too hard with the emotional traumas of their upbringing and early disastrous decisions in life to have ever had it hammered into their heads that they needed bibles dumbed down to their level. As a result, the King James Bible brought them up to its level. They are a joy to behold and many times I have told the Lord that I need no reward in heaven. Seeing these families with hope and seeing their children being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord has been sufficient reward for me. Why? Because I resisted the temptation to change the seed. I fully believed that the three types of soil illustrated in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed could be worked by a man of God laboring with the Spirit of God to accept the seed just as it is.