The short answer is that they believe it to be inaccessible and off-putting.
But in this they are mistaken; and as proof I have found an unsurpassed authority: Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981).
I have been listening to Lloyd-Jones
sermons over the past few weeks (there are about 1500 available
on http://www.mlj.org.uk/home )
If he was not the greatest preacher
of the twentieth century, then my imagination fails to conceive of how
anyone could be better.
Anyway, the point is that he was a huge success as a preacher, and always used the AV as his primary text.
And Lloyd-Jones was a nonconformist Calvinist - not an Anglican.
Indeed, in the classic evangelical style of expounding scripture
- short passages, often a single verse, maybe a couple of words - there
is ample opportunity for explaining any difficulties with unfamiliar
But why use the King James Bible in particular? Lloyd-Jones explains
Part of an address given at the National Bible Rally in the Royal Albert Hall, London, on October 24, 1961 - emphasis added by me.
that the most popular of all the proposals at the present moment is to
have a new translation of the Bible.... The argument is that people are
not reading the Bible any longer because they do not understand its
language—particularly the archaic terms. What does your modern
man...know about justification, sanctification, and all these biblical
And so we are
told the one thing that is necessary is to have a translation that Tom,
Dick, and Harry will understand, and I began to feel about six months
ago that we had almost reached the stage in which the Authorized Version
was being dismissed, to be thrown into the limbo of things forgotten,
no longer of any value.
apologize for saying a word in favor of the Authorized Version? Well,
whatever you may think, I am going to do it without any apology.
Let us, first
of all, be clear about the basic proposition laid down by the
Protestant Reformers: we must have a Bible which is, as they put it,
“understood of the people.” That is common sense; that is obvious.
We all agree,
too, that we must never be obscurantist. We must never approach the
Bible in a mere antiquarian spirit. Nobody wants to be like that or to
defend such attitudes.
But there is a
very grave danger incipient in much of the argument that is being
presented today for these new translations. There is a danger, I say, of
our surrendering something that is vital and essential.
Look at it
like this. Take this argument that the modern man does not understand
such terms as “justification,” “sanctification,” and so on. I want to
ask a question: When did the ordinary man ever understand those
colliers to whom John Wesley and George Whitefield used to preach in the
eighteenth century. Did they understand them? They had not even been to
a day school, an elementary school. They could not read, they could not
write. Yet these were the terms which they heard, and the Authorized
Version was the version used. The common people have never understood
want to add something to this. We must be very careful in using such an
argument against the Authorized Version, for the reason that the very
nature and character of the truth which the Bible presents to us is such
that it is extremely difficult to put into words at all.
We are not
describing an animal or a machine; we are concerned here with something
which is spiritual, something which does not belong to this world at
all, and which, as the apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthians
reminds us, “the princes of this world” do not know.
is of no value here; it is a spiritual truth; it is something that is
altogether different. This is truth about God primarily, and, because of
that, it is a mystery. There is a glory attached to it, there is a
wonder, and something which is amazing.
Paul, who understood it better than most, looking at its contents,
stands back and says, “Great is the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16).
Yet we are
told, it must be put in such simple terms and language that anybody
taking it up and reading it is going to understand all about it.
My friends, this is nothing but sheer nonsense!
What we must do is to educate the masses of the people up to the Bible, not bring the Bible down to their level.
One of the
greatest troubles in life today is that everything is being brought down
to the same level; everything is cheapened. The common man is made the
standard of authority; he decides everything and everything has to
brought down to him. You are getting it on television and in newspapers;
everywhere, standards are coming down and down.
Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say, No!
happened in the past has been this: an ignorant, illiterate people in
this country and in foreign countries, coming into salvation, have been
educated up to the Book and have begun to understand it, to glory in it,
and to praise God for it.
I am here to
say that we need to do the same at this present time. What we need is,
therefore, not to replace the Authorized Version.
rather to reach and train people up to the standard and the language,
the dignity and glory of the old Authorized Version.
Very well, my
friends, let me say a word for the old book, the old Authorized
Version. It was translated by fifty-four men, every one of them a great
scholar, and published in 1611.
another thing to commend it to you: this Authorized Version came out of a
time when the church had not yet divided into Anglican and
Nonconformist. I think there is an advantage even in that. They were all
still as one, with very few exceptions, when the Authorized Version was
important point to remember is this. The Authorized Version was produced
some time after that great climactic event which we call the Protestant
Reformation. There had been time by then to see some of the terrible
horrors of Rome and all she stood for. The early Reformers had too much
on their plate, as it were; Luther may have left many gaps; but when
this translation was produced, there had been time for men to be able to
see Rome for what she really was.
translators were all men who were orthodox in the faith. They believed
that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and they submitted to it as
the final authority, as against the spurious claims of Rome, as against
the appeals to the Church Fathers, and traditions.
fifty-four men, scholars and saintly, who were utterly submitted to the
Book. You have never had that in any other version. Here, and here
alone, you have a body of men who were absolutely committed to it, who
gave themselves to it, who did not want to correct or sit in judgment on
it, whose only concern and desire was to translate and interpret it for
In view of
all this, my argument is that the answer does not lie in producing new
translations. They are coming out almost every year, but are they truly
aiding the situation?
No, and for this reason: men no longer read the Bible not because they cannot understand its language, but because they do not believe in it.
They do not believe in God; they do not want it.
Their problem is not one of language and of terminology; it is the state of the heart.
what do we do about it? It seems to me there is only one thing to do,
the thing that has always been done in the past: we must preach it and
our preaching must be wholly based upon its authority.