Yesterday, I shared how the KJV-only beliefs literally cut many people off from being able to understand the Bible. I explained how, if the KJV is written at a twelfth-grade reading level, the average American would need someone to interpret the meaning of the text for them–just as most people need footnotes to understand the subtext, slang, and old-English phrasing of Shakespeare’s plays.
This creates a very strange situation for KJV-only believers. They may not even realize that, in order to understand God’s word, their beliefs actually require them to have a mediator, such as Pastors, Sunday School teachers, easier-to-understand devotional materials, and Christian living books. They need an authority to tell them how to walk with God. And unless they read for fun at a twelfth-grade level, they have no guaranteed way to double-check the teacher’s words with Scripture, to see if this “authority” is speaking the truth or not.
This ends up having crazy consequences. Long before I knew about the KJV-only belief system, I prayed about whether or not to join the church that sponsored my daughters’ school, and was surprised when I knew the Holy Spirit was saying, “No.” Why would He do that?
I prayed and asked Him to open my eyes. That’s when I started noticing something strange.
Everyone at the school, and at the supporting church, had exactly the same facial expression.
They smiled. They smiled in the morning before they had coffee. They smiled when they just got out of surgery. They smiled on Mondays before a week of exams, and on Fridays when they were finally all done. They smiled when they asked for prayer for their mother’s sister’s neighbor who had cancer and was going through chemo. They never, ever asked for prayer for themselves, unless it was an “unspoken.”
I wondered, “Does every believer in Indiana have a hard, glossy coating on their face, freezing it in one expression? ”
I visited four different churches in their denomination in a two-county area. After a while, another thing started to bother me: the voice of the pastor.
Now, I’m a worship leader, songwriter, and guitar player. I’ve also lead drama programs in two churches. This means I’m very sensitive to rhythm and structure in music, and catch little variances in body language and movement.
In each church I visited, every pastor used the same cadence of speech. The same vocal inflections—this syllable goes up in pitch, that one comes down, that one stays level. The same rocking rhythm with their volume—this word is soft, that one is a bit louder, and THAT one is punched for emphasis. Even their walks were similar! Straight up, shoulders back, chin at a certain angle, and a certain firmness to the handshake—I couldn’t have asked for more consistent performances from a church drama team.
Then I started reading some of the “Christian Living” books that were passed around my daughters’ school, and my friends’ churches. I was shocked at what I learned:
- I learned that there are certain types of smiles that God approves of—a “ministry smile,” a “joyful smile,” and an “obedient smile.” I learned that your eyes would “shine” if you seek God’s face, but that your eyes would be “dark” if you were in rebellion against God. (I guess a bad night’s sleep, or a case of pinkeye, is naturally indicative of sin.)
- Worse, not smiling was seen as drawing attention to yourself, and was regarded as selfish. Romans 12:1-2 was used as a proof-text for this: these dear brothers and sisters thought they were just presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice to God!
- I learned that everyone had to act under an “umbrella of authority.” The first umbrella was the Pastor, then the Husband, then the wife, then the children. Stepping out of that “umbrella” meant that Satan could rain on you—and was the cause of any trouble in your life.
- I learned that, as a woman, I should not spend my time reading the Bible or engaging in Women’s ministry groups—my primary role was to be a submissive wife to my husband. His job was to “wash me with the water of the Word.” In other words, I was supposed to get all of my spiritual and Biblical information from him. I was also supposed to believe exactly how he believed. God was not honored through my wasting my family’s time, selfishly studying my Bible on my own. God was honored by me serving my family by making sure the house was clean, and the dishes were done.
- I learned that, if anyone believed that a person in authority over them was actually sinning, then there were certain steps to “make an appeal.” However, if your appeal was rejected, and you were forced to do something you felt was wrong, it was guaranteed that you would be blessed by God for following your authority anyway. I was reminded that “His yoke is easy, and his burden is light,” implying that it was perfectly reasonable for God to ask this of us, considering what Christ did on the Cross.
- I learned that any music with drums that contained a certain beat had demons attached to them, and that they would infiltrate the minds of impressionable young people. It didn’t matter what the lyrics said—the beat would override that.
- Most importantly, I learned that any translation of the Bible other than the King James Version was perverted by lesbians and Satanists. There must not have been any other sinners of any sort in the KJV translation committee—no secret adulterers, liars, thieves, drunkards, child molestors, or even gluttons—because they all came later, with other Bible translations.
This crazy, convoluted set of rules meant that, in these KJV-only churches, 1) no one could question anything that the pastor said or did, 2) everyone’s lives were managed down to the expressions on their faces, and 3) there was no outside source—like THE BIBLE—that anyone could turn to for truth, because everyone in the church literally had the Bible interpreted for them.
It was a very creative trap–worthy of the Father of Lies who concocted it.
Let me state very clearly: this level of deception and control is not the fault of the King James Version of the Bible. The KJV is a translation of God’s word that has been used to great good. I’m not here to argue about the legitimacy, validity, or translation philosophy the KJV. However, Shakespearean English it is no longer the dominant language of the English-speaking world.
The level of deception I saw is the direct (and perhaps unintended) result of only allowing the Bible in a language that common, uneducated people (like the first disciples) can never, ever understand. We as believers need to know why such Biblical illiteracy exists, and determine how to fight it.
In my next post, I’ll share a few simple strategies that my family started using to engage KJV-only believers.