The SBJT Forum -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:4 (Winter 2011)
Article: The SBJT Forum
Author: Anonymous

The SBJT Forum

Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the forum’s format. Carl Trueman, Paul Wegner, Peter J. Gentry, and Vishal Mangalwadi have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.

SBJT: What was the role of James I in regard to the production of the KJV, and, even though contemporary translations are necessary, what has been lost with the rise of new translations?

Carl Trueman is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he also holds the Paul Woolley Chair of Church History. Prior to this, he served as Senior Lecturer in Church History at the University of Aberdeen. Dr. Trueman is the author or editor of many books and articles, including most recently, Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History (Crossway, 2010), Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative (P&R, 2010), and Jown Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man (Ashgate, 2007).

Carl Trueman: When I became a Christian in the mid 1980s, the only Bible available in the family home was an old, pocket sized KJV than my father had been given many years before. As a complete neophyte to the Christian world, I was unaware of how many translations there were then available, and so I used it as my devotional for some months. Finally, a friend steered me towards the NIV as a version which he thought I would find easier to understand.

I was also unaware of the fierce battles which were then raging in the British Christian context concerning Bible translations. The 1980s represented a major shift from the power of the inter-war generation, still very much tied to the traditions of an earlier Britain, to that of those who had come of age in the 1960s and who had a more skeptical and iconoclastic attitude to the past. While the wider world sloughed off the staid manners and tired traditions of an earlier generation, the church’s part in this was her movement from old Bible translations, liturgies, and hymnody to more contemporary versions.

The fierce battles I witnessed over the dropping of the KJV generally saw those who wanted to be “relevant” pitted against those who saw all such change as part of the slippery slope to apostasy. The latter group saw changing Bible translations not so much as a response to the decline of the church as one of its major causes. I remember one particularly egregious pamphlet which actually linked a rise in reported child sexual abuse to the availability of contemporary Bible translations.

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