NIV versus KJV

We are easily a contentious people. Even within (or perhaps more so within) the body of Christian believers, there is great dispute about a great many things. In fact, if we were as good at caring for others as we are at fighting over the details, our world would be a much different — and better — place! Choice of Bible translations is a common point of dispute and it bears addressing, at least briefly.

Many believe the Kings James Version (published in the early 1600s in conjunction with the reign of King James I of England) to be the final, authoritative copy of God’s word. We honor and respect the Kings James Version. Many of us learned our first words of Scripture from this version and it is near and dear to our hearts. There is something powerful and poetic about its phrasing and, without a doubt, some verses simply “sound better” in this early English version, at least to our ears.

However, other portions can be incredibly hard to understand. The English language of 1610 is not the English language of 2010. Nuances in the original English can be easily lost. Many of Paul’s letters (making up much of the New Testament) rely heavily on an ancient Greek technique of logical point-counterpoint that — when the arguments are translated into archaic English and then broken up into convenient chapters, thus breaking the original ideas apart — can seem completely counter to their original points.

The result? People are hurt because Scripture truly is a double-edged sword, both helping and healing, depending on its use.

Our position at Smyrna is simple. We respect and honor many different translations. We honor the Kings James Version for its history and our love of its language. For teaching and exposition, we rely heavily (but not exclusively) on the New International Version. And if you have a favorite version (be it New King James, The Living Bible, the Weymouth Bible, or others), we offer no judgement but humble respect.

And, as Pastor Dale often says, “If you want to get really picky about which Bible to use, I recommend bringing the original, written in Koine Greek, and just using that!”

We believe our mission of offering help and love to the community demands respect, respect for others, and a focus that stays on assisting the needy, not in fighting about which Bible someone may or may not be using.

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