In this post, I want your honest opinion of the questions that I pose further down. You have to go through the imagination process first, though. Once I ask the analogy question, I’ll make my point.
Imagine yourself as a technician or trade worker in a long-standing, well-respected industry. (Any industry is fine; it’s your imagination.) You may be brand new to this work, a well-seasoned master, or somewhere in between.
Obviously, in order to do your job well, you must have the right tools. Now imagine that a long time ago, someone invented a tool for your particular line of work. This type of tool has been used by hundreds or thousands of others before you, and you were taught to use it as well.
However, over time, you noticed that there are some defects in the tool, some things that could have made it a lot better originally and now. You also notice that, while the tool probably worked really well on the older models of equipment, it doesn’t fit the newer models as well without some work (sort of like trying to use standard and metric together).
Now imagine that over the years, there have been improvements made to that tool. Newer versions work much better on newer equipment and have had some of the original defects corrected. (Some defects still remain, though, because people got so used to them that correcting them would have actually made them feel “wrong”.)
Here’s my question: Do you keep using the favorite well-worn model, even though it’s not nearly as efficient any more and actually has a few problems, and keep training your apprentices with it? Or do you switch to one of the newer models that you’re not quite as familiar with, knowing that it’s much better and can do a better job than the “comfortable” one?
Once you’ve answered for yourself, you can finish reading after the picture.
OK, this can be applied to any number of issues (customs, traditions, methods, etc.), but here is my point today. The number one tool for the Christian life is the Bible. God has told us over and over that the Bible is his hands-on tool to grow his people (see, for example, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3).
That being the case, why do people continue to insist on using the King James Version of the Bible? Yes, it has been in use for a long time (400 years). Yes, many people have used it successfully for salvation and godliness. Yes, it is an acceptable English translation.
But it’s not the best translation (some “defects” in the translation), and it certainly doesn’t work as well in the 21st century as it once did (old tool, new equipment).
If you would upgrade your tools to the best available for a trade or industry… If you would insist that your apprentices and new hires were trained on the latest tools… Why would you not do the same for your spiritual life?
Why are we still requiring children and students to memorize passages from the KJV? Why do some insist on forcing them to learn dozens (possibly hundreds) of archaic words they will never use outside of a church setting?
Why are we still trying to adjust our lives with a 400-year-old tool, when there are so many other, better tools available?
In the early ’90s I switched from the King James to the New American Standard Bible when I began studying New Testament Greek. It was like working with a brand new tool. Not only did it “feel” better in my hands, it worked better in my personal study, teaching, and preaching. A few years ago I switched again, to the NET Bible, for the same reasons. As language changes and translation scholarship gets better, I’ll probably switch again in the future.
If you want to do your best work, you have to have the best tools. It’s time to retire the KJV for good.
(On a side note, if you’re interested in learning how to read New Testament Greek so you can use commentaries and Bible study materials that reference the original language, you can learn through our church’s Learning Center. Contact me for more information.)
OK, my rant’s done. It’s your turn. The comments are open.
Do you still use the KJV? Have you switched to something else? Why?