Church History (3 Myths about the King James Version)

iruo December 9, 20226 Comments
church history (myths about KJV)

Hello, everyone! How’s it going‽ We are going to be starting a new series today, might be quite a long one though; Church History. The subtitle for this one is, “3 Myths about the King James Version”. Let’s get right to it.

Church History (3 Myths about the King James Version)

Big moments in history tend to be velcro for myths about their creation, whether it is George Washington and the apple tree, Julius Caesar having been born from a C-section, hence the name, or that Columbus actually discovered America and not the Caribbean. These myths just tend to grow. While some myths are worse than others, they were invented to make things greater than they were or created as just outright fabrications. Many myths from history are the results of misremembered facts or misjudged contexts of an earlier period of time.

Currently, we are going to be looking at three major myths about the King James Bible. We are, however, not going to be wading into a lot of the claims by KJV only or the counterclaims to that movement. But rather, we are going to be looking at the broader myths, the myths that are often told in popular textbooks or just from time to time as would-be storytellers of history actually misjudge either the context or some of the facts as they occurred.

So we don’t want to say some of these myths are pernicious lies or anything like that but rather they misjudge the story, they overturn things, and they stop us from noticing some of the nuances, as well as the shading about the origin of the KJV.

First Myth – King James Used the KJV to Silence Puritanism:

The first myth we will be looking at is the one that goes King James was so opposed to puritanism that he wanted the Bible in order to silence the movement. This myth is more of a problem of our popular recreation of the story of the KJV. This tends to happen mostly around the time of Thanksgiving. Things like school plays and parades during the Thanksgiving season are times when we usually hear about how religion was forbidden back in the old world and all these huddled masses yearning to breathe free put together some ramshackle chips and headed over the Atlantic.

church history (myths about the KJV)

At times, it can actually sound like the Bible itself was stripped from the hands of believers, point of fact, as a Christian historian once said, “I remember my child, taking part in a play in his pre-K days, actually was the King James going around baulking everyone in the head and taking their Bibles”. I’ve heard popular accounts though that should know better, that tell of scores of people executed under Elizabeth I for the simple fact of being a puritan. What! You’ve got to be kidding me!

Overplaying the Evidence

Elizabethan and Jacobean England started to sound a little bit like Stalinist Russia. Of course, we don’t make light of persecution or even oppression but the situation in England was more about ending dissent than outright persecution. Both under Elizabeth’s reign and under the reign of James I. As we delve deeper, one thing to understand is, the Anglican Church was apparently protestant. Later claims about Anglo-Catholicism or some kind of throwback as if Anglicanism had avoided Protestantism is a modern invention.

The issues in the days of Elizabeth and James though were centred on worship. This animated not a few people. One fact that is worth pulling out to folks in order to make them understand is that they are, however, dealing with two versions of Protestantism when talking or dealing with this issue. During Elizabeth’s reign in the 1560s when they were arguing about vestments, both sides actually cited the same sources against one another.

One party:

“Well you haven’t read so and so, if you did, you will know that these vestments are wrong.”

The other party:

“well you didn’t read so and so, if you did, you will understand that they aren’t wrong but are a matter of conscience.”

So in the end, what is happening in the Anglican Church itself during these years is really more of a debate among siblings, and that doesn’t make it irrelevant, it just means that what we are dealing with is not a dominant church that has an opposing theology or confession at its core but rather, we are looking at different applications and those can be very important things but they don’t make you utterly divided, one from another.
We’ll stop here for the now to pick it up where we left off in the following sequel.

Credit: Ryan Reeves.

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Comments (06)

  1. Lola
    January 9, 2023

    Myths sure can be misleading.

  2. Paul
    January 9, 2023

    Wonderful! I’m curious about this series.

    • iruo
      January 9, 2023

      Thank you, Paul. Please stay connected, as subsequent parts of this series will be updated with time.

  3. Osas
    January 9, 2023

    KJV, my favourite Bible translation.

    • iruo
      January 9, 2023

      It’s beautiful to know that KJV is your favourite of all Bible translations. Thank you for sharing that information with us.

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