By Ron Rockney
I have a lot of Christian friends who use the New King James (NKJV). They have been convinced that the genuine King James Bible is old and out of date... it needs to be brought "up-to-date." These are great folks. I love them. They are like family. I have no problem with them. I just don't trust that book. Whenever they read out of a New King James, I check it against my tried-and-true King James. I want to
know what God REALLY said. Sometimes they match . . . and sometimes not.
Here are just three quick examples of the kinds of problems in the NKJV that cause me to not trust it. You may be aware of more, but I want to keep this short. These are just examples.
- The first one I became aware of is in Acts chapter 3, where there are not one, but TWO verses (13 and 26) that say that Jesus is God's servant. But my Bible says, in those very same verses, that Jesus is God's SON. Friends, those are just not the same. Which one is it? Is He God's servant, or God's Son? We really need to get this one right! And I just don't have time to read a Bible that doesn't.
- In 1st Corinthians 1:18, my traditional King James tells me that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those that perish, but the power of God to us who are "saved." But the NKJV tells me that it is the power of God to us who are BEING saved. Once again, those are not the same. If I had been raised Catholic, I would be very comfortable with the words "being saved" because I would have been taught all my life that you cannot really KNOW you are saved. You are on the road to salvation. And if I attend mass and confession faithfully, get the last rites
at death, and then suffer a few centuries in the flames of purgatory for my sins, then what I have done can be added to what Jesus has done and together, hopefully, it will be enough to get me in to heaven. But I'm not Catholic. I don't believe that. I have believed on Jesus, and HAVE eternal life. Jesus finished the job. It's a done deal.
- There is a little something that has been added to Luke 23:34. I've been told that it was not in the first edition of the NKJV, but added later. It's just a little footnote. Not important, right? But here we are, looking at one of the big differences between Christianity and the other religions of the world, where the Creator of the universe allows his creatures to torture and crucify Him. There, on the cross, he looks up and prays, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." That's big stuff. He forgave the Jews, the Romans, everyone, for this supreme insult. (And He forgives me, too). But there is that little footnote, that says something like this: "NU brackets the first sentence as a later addition." Oh, so they are telling me that the "better manuscripts" leave this out, that it was added later? You mean, Jesus really didn't say that? He really didn't forgive the Jews? I guess if I was into replacement theology, I might like to believe that God has cast off his people and replaced them with someone else. Then I would have to ignore the verses that say the promises to Abraham were forever. But you see, I'm not into that stuff. I still believe that the Jews are God's chosen people, that Israel is His chosen land, and that He is going to keep all those promises.
The NKJV is just full of "footnotes" that tell me what I have just read might not have been in the original. Think a minute. Do you really think that builds faith? No, of course not. So why are we giving a doubt producing Bible to a generation of young Christians? Is that really what they need? Or do we need to tell them that sure, the King James is written in classical English. And yes, we need to learn the meanings of those classical English words just like we go to school and learn the meaning of new words that are part of the great technologies we use every day. It's called getting educated.