Canonicity and Whether the KJV Needs and Update

If you hold to Confessional Bibliology or you have listened to considerable amounts of argumentation made in favor of said position you know that questions of Canonicity overlap strongly and often with questions of which TR and which Bible. Regarding whether the KJV needs an update is no exception.

Once upon a time, all New Testament Christians had for written revelation was the 39 books of the Old Testament. This was the Canon. So much so that it was used to judge the words of the apostles as to whether they were true or false apostles.

Along came the writings of Paul which began to add to the Canon, then the work of the Gospel writers and the General Epistles. When all was said and done an additional 27 books were added to the original 39 book Canon of the OT. At the conclusion of the apostolic writings which ended somewhere in the late first century, the Christian Canon was now 66 books.

At the writings of these 27 books, the Canon was closed.

No more additions, modification, or changes. Some have tried by suggesting the Gospel of Thomas belonged in the Canon or that Apocrypha should be regarded as inspired Scripture or Marcion who rejected the whole of the OT as Canon. Still, while these suggestions and objections were raised, they were not accepted by the Church. Why?

Certainly we could look at the testimony of the Church Fathers and artifacts like the Athanasius’ Easter Letter, but the primary way the Church came to believe these 27 books and only these 27 books were to be added to the 39 books of the OT was by the Spirit of God speaking through the words of God into the hearts of God’s people who then received those canonical words, and by extension the Canonical books, by faith.

As the Westminster Confession of Faith says,

”We may be influenced by the testimony of the church to value the Bible highly and reverently, and Scripture itself shows in so many ways that it is God’s word; for example, in its spiritual subject matter, in the effectiveness of its teaching, the majesty of its style, the agreement of all its parts, its unified aim from beginning to end (to give all glory to God), the full revelation it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, its many other incomparably outstanding features, and its complete perfection. However, we are completely persuaded and assured of the infallible truth and divine authority of the Bible only by the inward working of the Holy Spirit, who testifies by and with the word in our hearts.

WCF, 1.5. [Bold: Mine]

So now let’s ask the question, “Does the KJV need to be updated?” Well, how would we come to know if the KJV needed an update? Who has the authority to claim and then enforce an update? Certainly educated people can have their opinion just like Marcion did, but how can mere educated opinion serve as an authority and have the power to enforce that opinion?

The only “opinion” which had sufficient authority to limit the Canon to 66 books was almighty God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit speaking through His authoritative words in the hearts of His people. As such, it stand to reason that the only “opinion” which has sufficient authority to call for an update of God’s word is almighty God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit speaking through His authoritative words in the hearts of His people.

Ward, Wallace, and White can all have their opinions and with all the honesty they can muster declare that the KJV needs to be replaced or updated, but in the end, the only means and mechanism whereby such a thing could take place is the same means and mechanism whereby God has done it in the past. The Holy Spirit must move His people through His words to that revision.

Question, Has the Holy Spirit done that?

Those who hold to the KJV say, no. Those who do not keep making the argument “…but but but the evidence.” In other words, the KJV side says the Holy Spirit has not so pointed to a better version and then those calling for a revision are somewhere in left field majoring on the evidential minors. Taken together, it does not appear to either side that the Holy Spirit has pointed His English-speaking Church to a new or updated text of Scripture.

Objection: “But look at the plethora of versions out there. That must mean that the Holy Spirit wants us to move to a different translations.” Bah…just stop it! What if I said, “But look at the plethora of religions out there. That must mean that the Holy Spirit wants us to move to a different religion.” Many ecumenical Christians are making such a case, and they are wrong for doing it. Or how about, “But look at the plethora of denominations out there. That must mean that the Holy Spirit wants us to move to a different denomination.” Right, so all you Presbyterians need to become Southern Baptists and all you Baptists need to become Missouri Synod Lutherans. Most of our opponents would think my examples ridiculous and yet the truth or error of religions and denominations is dependent upon the Scriptures. So “plethora of religions” and “plethora of denominations” is not grounds to change but “plethora of versions” is?

I’ll take “Ridiculous” for 100, Alex.

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