Use the Bible your people use!

Do we unconsciously discourage our people from bringing their Bibles to church? Does the version of the Scriptures we use from the pulpit promote or hinder congregational response?

Viewpoint is designed to allow readers an opportunity to express opinions regarding matters of interest to the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The ideas expressed in this feature are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the church or the opinions of the MINISTRY staff.

You are invited to submit your ideas to Viewpoint on any topic; however, the editors reserve the right to make a final decision regarding the appropriateness or suit ability for publication. Editors.

Does it make a difference what translation or version of the Bible we use in the pulpit? I believe that it does.

Today our people are not bringing their Bibles to church as they used to because we ministers are preaching from so many different versions they are confused when they try to read along. They lose their thoughts as they try to match the words they are reading with those they are hearing. Eventually, many become discouraged and say, "Why should I take my Bible to church? The minister preaches from a different version from mine, so why not just go and listen? I'll leave my Bible at home." And they do.

If we really want to encourage our church members to study their Bibles, to bring them to church, and to follow along with us as we unfold the truths from God's Inspired Word in our sermons and Bible studies, I suggest we use the King James Version in our preaching.

I realize that many of my fellow ministers will not agree with me. But I believe that in spite of the growing popularity of many modern Bible translations, the majority of our church members still carry the King James Version to church and study from it. Some of my colleagues will no doubt ask in amazement, "Don't you know that the Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, and the New American Standard Bible more accurately translate the original in many places?" That may be true, yet these versions, I believe, are not the ones that most of the people in your church youth as well as adults memorize. The King James Version is still the Bible for most of your people. If this is not so, why do we feel it necessary to announce, "I am reading from The New English Bible this morning" or "I am using the New International Version today," when reading from these translations? We rarely feel it necessary to inform the congregation that we are using the King James Version when that is the case. Is it not because the King James is the recognized standard?

I agree that some modern versions express certain thoughts more plainly than does the King James. I, too, take advantage of these. In my library are some fifteen different translations and paraphrases of the Holy Scriptures. I read from these in my personal study and sermon preparation. In a sermon, I may refer to the wording of a text as given in a modern translation. But for several years I have been using only the King James Version in my preaching. I have done so because I have found that more pages are turned when I use the King James Version than when I use a modern translation in the pulpit.

If you feel you must use a modern translation, at least pick one and use it consistently. Your people will surely start leaving their Bibles at home if they never know what version is going to be used on any particular Sabbath. Perhaps your church should also invest in pew copies of the version you plan to use and have these available along with the hymnal.

Some ministers feel that they cannot be "relevant" to today's society or reach the youth of today if they use the King James. They want to meet the needs of university students and intellectuals in their congregations, so they use another version. Have not these needs been met adequately in years gone by? Is not the King James Version relevant to today's needs? I find it so in my ministry to youth. We may occasionally have to explain an archaic word or an unfamiliar expression in using the King James Version. But I feel that this is a small price to pay for the benefit of having the majority of the congregation involved in Bible reading and following along with the preacher during the sermon. It seems to me that in order to achieve this goal it is necessary to have a commonly accepted reference and I believe that for the majority of our members this still means the King James Version of the Bible.

Are we doing our congregations and listeners a disservice by using other versions of the Bible in the pulpit? We may not be able to answer quickly either Yes or No. But if you want your congregation to follow you in your reading of the Scriptures, use the version that most people carry to church and feel comfortable with the King James Version.

The King James is still numbex one


In connection with this article, MINISTRY editors conducted an informal survey in five Washington, D.C., area SDA
churches of various sizes and composition. While in no sense a scientific sampling, the two-question survey does indicate a clear preference for the King James Version. Totals for the five churches appear below. Because of multiple responses, the totals for the two questions are not the same.

1. The version or translation of the Bible that I normally bring with me on Sabbath morning is:

     235 King James Version
      47 The New International Version
      34 Revised Standard Version
      19 The Living Bible
        9 The New English Bible
        5 Good News Bible (Today's English Version)
        4 New American Standard Bible
        4 Other miscellaneous versions

2. The version or translation of the Bible that I prefer being used from the pulpit in reading and preaching on Sabbath morning is:

     203 King James Version
       57 The New International Version
      39 Revised Standard Version
      23 No preference or let the speaker decide
      16 The New English Bible
      12 The Living Bible
      12 Whatever is most appropriate or clear
      10 New American Standard Bible
        3 Other miscellaneous versions


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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October 1982

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