Spiritual blindness and KJV Onlyism

by Mike Ratliff

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB) 
 When I am at work attempting to solve a very difficult and serious database problem the last thing I need is someone standing over me pointing out things to me that are non-essentials, trivial things that have little or no impact on the ultimate goal, which is solving the problem. When we fight the good fight, which is standing firm in the middle of God’s truth never swerving left or right from it even in the face of wicked attacks from every direction, we must also beware of the attacks from within that our enemy employs in order to distract and discourage. Those used by our enemy to do this are spiritually blind. Some actually mean well, but they have been deceived by a lie that contains half-truths that are presented to them in such a way that it plays on their emotions, especially fear. What is spiritual blindness?
1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. John 9:1-7 (NASB) 
 Here we read of our Lord healing a man born blind. His blindness was not spiritual, but physical. Why was he born blind? He was born blind that the works of God might be displayed in him. In other words, this man was born blind for God’s glory. Our Lord healed the man on the Sabbath. This was not a sin according to God, but it was a sin according to the Pharisees.
8 Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.” 10 So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He?” He *said, “I do not know.”
Controversy over the Man
13 They *brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
18 The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” 28 They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out. John 9:8-34 (NASB)  

Yes, I know, this is a long discourse. I pray that you did read it all though because here we have the epitome of spiritual blindness being manifest in these men who could not see the truth. Christ’s healing of this man born blind was a miracle that only God could do yet they refused to believe it. They antagonized this poor man and his parents about this and cast the man out of the synagogue, they excommunicated him, based solely on the fact that our Lord healed the man on the Sabbath and that he refused to knuckle under and blaspheme as they were doing.

35 Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. John 9:35-41 (NASB) 

I rejoice every time I read vv 35-39! Why? Who is it that God saves? It is those who were dead in trespasses and sins in which they walk following the course of this world, but in judgment, God enabled them to see and believe and worship Him. However, this is a two-sided coin. The other side is that this judgment also blinds those who believe they have the corner on the truth in their self-righteousness. They believe they are in with Jesus because of their religiosity or their self-righteous acts, et cetera. Our Lord says that to believe in these things out of ignorance is one thing, but the guilt belongs to those who hold to their own set of self-righteous rules proclaiming that they know the truth, which is that unless ones conforms to their man-made rules then they are not of Christ.

It is one thing to point out to Jehovah Witnesses or Mormans their error of their doctrines because they violate the clear teaching of scripture. We must be discerning and confront those who are teaching things that are false proclaiming that they are truth while they attack the truth proclaiming that it is false. We must obey God and confront these by rebuking them with God’s truth. However, it is quite another thing to attack brothers and sisters in Christ using nothing but philosophic arguments, straw man attacks, ad hominem attacks, or tale bearing, all in an attempt to silence them because they teach from a Bible other than the King James. In fact, I have learned over the last several years that when I hear a preacher waste the time given him to preach by berating those who do not hold to KJV Onlyism that I need to not waste any of the time given to me listening to him. Why?

The reason is stated firmly here. This is a topic that is designed to waste our time, divide us, and discourage us. I am very much against the use of blasphemous “bibles” such as the TNIV and paraphrases such as The Message in place of good translations such as the ESV, NASB, KJV, and NKJV bibles. I use them all, but when I need to study in depth, I use my Greek and Hebrew tools. Most of the time, I use the NA28 Greek text for my word studies rather than the Textus Receptus, which is the Greek behind the KJV. It is amazing to me that such a fuss is being made over a supposed “conspiracy” that any Bible that is not a KJV is not a Holy Bible. This is no different than the Pharisees hating Jesus because He healed people on the Sabbath. Why? They used their own set of rules based on the Law. Jesus showed them over and over that their rules were not the Law and if they followed the Law then they wouldn’t need their rules. Instead, their religiosity actually bared people from fellowship and kept many in spiritual darkness.

This KJV Onlyism controversy is just another form of the same self-righteousness. The Pharisees ruled by fear. They demanded that everyone keep their rules or they would be cast out of the synagogue. The KJV Onlyism folks say that to have a version of the Bible that is different from the KJV is to corrupt or change God’s Words and that makes one guilty enough to have ones name removed from the book of life. While I agree that we must not change God’s Words at all, the KJV is most certainly not the only version of the Bible that has been decreed by God to be the only standard and source of His Word. To say that it is flawed logic my brethren. God’s Word was given to us in Greek and Hebrew books and letters. He has preserved them for us. We now have Greek manuscripts that date from early in the 2nd Century. At the time of the building of the King James Bible, the earliest manuscripts were from much later. What have the scholars discovered when comparing these early manuscripts with the later ones used in the KJV? Were any of the passages, which God used to give us the doctrines of the Church, changed in any way? No! The differences were that the later manuscripts, those used in the KJV, had “additions” that were lacking in the earlier ones. Isn’t that adding to God’s Word?

Another saying from the KJV Onlyism folks is, “The original KJV Bible was inspired by the Holy Ghost, and therefore it is perfect!” What? Says who? No, the inspired Word of God is found in the Greek and Hebrew books and letters that were used to translate the scriptures in today’s languages such as English. Also, does this logic mean that Martin Luther’s Bible translated into German is not the inspired Word of God? What about all those Bibles in other languages? Aren’t they the Word of God too?

The reason I have compared the KJV Onlyism folks to the Pharisees is that they exhibit the same spiritual blindness. No matter how often or well we tell them the truth, they ignore it and go right back to the same arguments. Well, my goodness, that is the very same things atheists do. That is the same thing apostates do. That is the same thing the emergents do. Therefore, I plead with any KJV Onlyism folks reading this to consider what you are doing. Examine your arguments. You are using extremely poor logic. I had one fellow tell me that the ESV was a corrupt version of the Bible because the Jehovah Witness version of the bible contains passages that are just like the ones in the ESV. That is extremely poor logic my brethren for the ESV is, in fact, one of the strongest versions of the Bible supporting the Deity of Christ and the Sovereignty of God, even more than the KJV. The JW folks deny that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the sense that He is the second person in the Holy Trinity.

Should we examine Bible translations to see if there are issues with these things? Yes we should, but let’s be frank here. The KJV is not the standard, the underlying Greek and Hebrew is. I honestly do not know what is motivating the KJV Onlyism folks to invent this conspiracy theory except that the fear generated by it sure has sold some books and given opportunity for speaking engagements for its proponents.

Spiritual blindness is an ugly thing. It becomes apparent in people when the truth is not believed or is ignored while the false is accepted. It is manifest through self-righteousness. When I refer to judging according to self-righteousness, I am talking about excluding people based upon religious convictions not based on solid Biblical doctrines or by taking these doctrines to higher level than God intended. I pray that all reading this who are mired in it will have their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit so that they may see the truth and live in it to the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

8 thoughts on “Spiritual blindness and KJV Onlyism

  1. Excellent observation: God gave us His Inspired, Authorative New Testament in GREEK… not in English; not German; not Italian; in any other language. Every Bible since is a “human translation” from the original Greek, which, of course, results in various differences as translators convert the text to the languages of different people. Translations are not “Inspired” in the same sense as the original autographs [manuscripts].


  2. I read a lot and I enjoy your articles every day. I’m not overstating things when I say that they are among the most well thought out, edifying writings I ever read by any contemporary writer. Sadly, I am befuddled how a man with your gift of clear, spiritual insight can think so logically to the wrong conclusion regarding the Bible and Bible versions. Almost every single statement in the article above could easily (and ought to be) turned around and pointed back at those making the argument for what I believe to be corrupted “translations”.
    I am not by any definition a Ruckmanite. I do not believe the (real) Greek NT should be ignored and I have no use for bombastic twits like Riplinger, Ruckman, Hyles, etc. I have, however, studied the subject of Bible translation diligently for over thirty years and I am convinced that you are badly misguided.
    We’re not going to solve the disagreement by going back and forth with data and minutia here but I would strongly encourage you to engage in some investigative research beyond the thoughts and writings of James White and D.A. Carson.


  3. In reading about Bible translations and the means involved, I discovered that the vaunted KJV is not a translation at all; it’s a revision of the Bishop’s Bible and much of the Old Testament in that vein of Bibles has never been translated from the Hebrew but only from the Latin Vulgate!

    Interpreting between languages is tough. We should thank God for His kindness in giving us His Word and men who work to provide it in our language and never worship those men or their work. The men who worked on the KJV did so because they wanted a Bible in the then-common language so people could read God’s Word. It seems they would be saddened by people who think God inspired the KJV.

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  4. Kenny, you stated you carefully read my posts. If so then you know that this one is about the spirtual blindness of KJV Onlyism. I do not use the works of Dr. James White or D.A. Carson in my research. However, I have read the biography of William Tyndale and the history of the Geneva Bible (I have a 1560 version) and am aware of how Erasmus obtained his Greek manuscripts that he used for his Latin/Greek New Testament, which was used by Tyndale and Luther and others in creating New Testaments in other languages such as English and German. I am also aware of the corruption in the Textus Receptus that was intentionally caused by Erasmus so he could get the text to the publisher on time. All that being said, I more often than not do my own translation from the NA28 when things get critical rather than using the ESV or NASB or KJV or whatever. In fact, when I prepare a lesson to teach in church or any class, if the passage I am to teach from is from the New Testament, I do my own translation. Again, my argument is not against the KJV, but against KJV Onlyism…. understand?

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  5. My preference is the KJV because that is what I grew up with but I do regularly use NKJV, NASB and online Bible resources.

    My concern is the accuracy of other translations from English to foreign languages. I have had to take what is available to me when I obtained a Bible or New Testament to give to a few international students from our local college. At my side I have a Slavic Gospel Association, English NASB and Russian parallel New Testament to give to a young girl from the Ural Mountains. The Gideons’ NLT to Chinese and their Japanese and Spanish New Testaments have been well received.

    The You Version Bible app is another great resource with many audio foreign language translations. I get the impression that students don’t have time to read but may listen to a reading of the Scriptures.

    Just get The Word, The Gospel, out and our Lord will bless its reading no matter what language or translation.



  6. Mike, it has been my obversation that all of your writings are well thought through and are first rate. You are one of the primaries on my daily “go to” list. I have been torn for a long time as to which translation to use. You have an in depth knowledge of Greek. Most of us out here do not. At age 70 and with health problems, I’m not going to be learning it either. Then there is the Hebrew, not going to be learning that either. So, what to do? I use the KJV, NKJV and NASB primarily. If there are differences in these three, I default to the KJV. From what you said about Erasmus there might be a problem there but I guess I will continue in what I am doing. This approach doesn’t seem to have failed me yet. I also use the commentaries of William Macdonald, Albert Barnes, John Gill, Harry Ironside and J. Vernon McGee, not exclusively, but mostly. Matthew Henry is great but I seem to get lost in all that verbage.

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  7. Dennis, The KJV N.T. is based on the Textus Receptus. However, the NKJV NT is based on Wescott and Hort Greek Text while the NASB is based on the NA26, NA27, NA28, it depends on how old your NASB is. In any case, I have done studies on critical texts that pertain to our vital doctrines and it really doesn’t matter. The Holy Trinity is proclaimed in all three, the Sovereingty of God is proclaimed in all three, The Gospel is prclaimed as we are saved by Grace alone through faith alone in all three. John 1:1 reads the same in all three, that is, Jesus is God. The controversy is blown way out of proportion. Brother, you are doing fine. Listen to the Holy Spirit, pursue God as we are instructed to in Romans 12:1 and He will accomplish what he promises to do in Romans 12:2. It is the Holy Spirit who transforms us through the renewal of our minds and how is that done? We become living sacrifices and we immerse ourselves in His Word. Those commentaries are good, but secondary to prayer and simply opening your heart to hear from God as you read the Word and draw close to Him. We are not called to be Hebrew or Greek scholars. We are called to be obedient Christians and to do that we have to know the Word and you are doing what it takes to that.

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