Were The Early English Bible Translators Heretics?

by Rick Norris

In order to defend the KJV-only view, some KJV-only advocates have labelled certain viewpoints as heresy or theological error.

For example, D. A. Waite claimed that referring to "inspired prophets and apostles" is "theological error" (FOES OF THE KJB, p. 26). In another book under the chapter title, "Heresies in Bibliology," Waite's first point was that "Westcott wrongly claimed the 'messengers' were 'inspired' rather than only their words" (HERESIES OF WESTCOTT AND HORT, p. 5).

In effect, Waite is claiming that saying the prophets and the apostles were inspired is "heresy."

Have KJV-only advocates considered the implications of this claim? Evidently, they don't know that the early English Bible translators would disagree with their claim.

Tyndale's, Matthew's, Great, Whittingham's, and Bishops' Bibles translate Mark 12:36 as follows:

"for David HIMSELF inspired with the Holy Ghost."

Thus, to refer to "inspired prophets" or "apostles" was early English Bible terminology used in the very good Bibles on the line or "tree of good Bibles" promoted by KJV-only advocates. Was this a "heretical" translation in these Bibles?

Various Confessions of Faith by Baptists and other believers have used this same early English Bible terminology. The 1833 New Hampshire Confession stated: "We believe [that] the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired" (BAPTIST CONFESSIONS OF FAITH, p. 361).

The first article of the 1920's Fundamentalist Baptist Confession referred to the writers of Scripture as "men supernaturally inspired" (BAPTISTS AND THE BIBLE, p. 385). Many outstanding believers including Baptists and Fundamentalists have used this same terminology.

Were they all actually heretics, according to the claim of the KJV-only advocates?

Of course, defenders of KJVOism do not actually call the early English Bible translators heretics since the KJV is separately linked to the early good Bibles. They would not want the KJV linked to heretical Bibles or Bibles translated by supposed "heretics." Nevertheless, the inconsistent and unproven claims of the KJV-only view have made the early good translators into "heretics." Thus, their own claim undermines their own view.

If the use of "inspired" words is supposed to make the KJV "inspired," the use of the same "inspired" words by the early translators such as Tyndale, Coverdale, or the Geneva Bible translators would have likewise made them "inspired." A Scriptural view of translation will apply the same to Tyndale's, Geneva, and other early Bibles as it does to the KJV.