A Mystical View of Bible Translation

by Rick Norris

A mystical view of Bible translation is similar to the mystical view of inspiration. Wally Beebe described and condemned the mystical view of inspiration. He noted that the neo-orthodox say: "Only what speaks to me is the real Word of God." He added: "I don't believe that, and I know of no one who is a fundamentalist who does" (CHURCH BUS NEWS, Oct.-Dec., 1997, p. 3). Robert Barnett also stated: "We are quick to spot the of Neo-orthodoxy for saying the Bible is only the Word of God when the Holy Spirit subjectively applies the Word to our hearts" (WORD OF GOD ON TRIAL, p. 24). Barnett also wrote: "Neo-orthodoxy would say that the Bible is only the Word of God when an individual experiences the Word through the work of the Holy Spirit" (IBID., p. 37).

While defenders of the KJV correctly reject the mystical view of inspiration, do they as strongly condemn a mystical view of translation? A mystical view of Bible translation would be one that claims that a translation is inspired or is the Word of God when or if the reader or hearer feels or experiences something from reading or hearing it. Such a view implies that a translation is not the true Word of God if the reader or hearer is not moved by it. Surely, defenders of the KJV would not adopt a "neo-orthodox" view of translation.

Gail Riplinger announced: "The KJV is the Bible through which God speaks to me" (LANGUAGE OF THE KJB, p. xviii). Mickey Carter wrote: "The King James Version has the awe of the Holy Spirit on it" (THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT, p. 92). Bill Grady claimed: "These counterfeit Bibles were void of Holy Spirit endorsement" (FINAL AUTHORITY, p. 277). Hugh Pyle stated: "The new versions leave me cold. I've tried to read some of them and there's something missing--the vitality, the life, the warmth, the power just isn't there" (CHURCH BUS NEWS, Oct.-Dec., 1995, p. 18). D. A. Waite contended: "Many of these new versions do not even sound like the 'Bible' to those of us who love the King James Bible" (BURGON'S CONFIDENCE IN THE KJB, p. 16).

Do not the statements of KJV-only advocates imply that they only acknowledge as from God the one translation that touches their hearts? How do such statements differ from from they condemned as the neo-orthodox's mystical view? Since they believe or assume that no modern English translation can deliver God's Word to their hearts, their self-fulfilling mystical claim comes true.

A mystical view of translation is wrong and harmful. A translation is the Word of God regardless of the experiences of those that read it. If an atheist reads the KJV and does not feel or experience something from reading it, would that prove that the KJV is not the Word of God? Of course not. All translations are to be evaluated by comparing them to the perserved Word of God in the original languages instead of evaluated by the feelings and experiences of fallible men.