KJB words not dying: Mark Ward countered

UPDATE. After this article was published, I was contacted by the King James Bible onlyist Mark Ward mentioned, who gave me an account of his conversation with Mark Ward, and explained his views, which differed significantly to how Mark Ward reported the conversation. I have therefore edited this article to reflect this further information.

In a propaganda piece (a youtube video dated 26/1/24), Mark Ward openly argues and states that the King James Bible is maybe 5 to 8% unintelligible. He shows that this number is not strictly the case, but gives the general impression that the King James Bible is to some degree, apparently, containing misunderstood, obsolete, dead and unintelligible words.

To bolster his propaganda, and to justify his “ministry”, he speaks about some dialogue he had with a certain King James Bible onlyist, though Ward misrepresents him as being a “Textus Receptus onlyist” for propaganda reasons.

(And, with his mildly entertaining manner, semi-professional videography and dorky attempt at nerdiness, his propaganda should be considered dangerous.)

The way Mark Ward presents it, naïve TROs are buying into his propaganda. The potential for this to be the case induces us to sound an alarm.

Mark Ward reported that he had a discussion with this King James Bible-supporting young person about their views on the eventual alleged need to edit, update or retranslate the KJB. Remember, Mark Ward already thinks the KJB is maybe 5% misunderstood, so with a purely naturalistic view of the world, one day apparently the KJB will need to be changed.

Mark Ward is taking on a kind of a role of being a “prophet” by estimating the change will be needed at some point, it would seem the thinking is maybe in 150 years, but who knows with these people, they’d probably be saying it should be a lot sooner.

The KJB will never be unintelligible, it is inconceivable that it would be, and there will not be any need for an update/change in so many hundreds of years.

According to Mark Ward’s account, he then says that his strawman “TRO” was volunteering to even change the KJB himself, if it was even allegedly so many percent “unintelligible”, though laughably knew no Hebrew or Greek, and would use Strongs Concordance (the lexicon part) to do the work.

It seems however that Mark Ward’s account of this conversation differs significantly to what the King James Bible supporter says he actually said.

As to some amateurish attempt to update the KJB, anyone who understands about this area will know that Strongs is completely subjective. If Strongs suggests a meaning for a Hebrew or Greek word, that meaning is as good (i.e. as poor as) a modern translation. Strongs’ work is often in conflict with the KJB, and since Strong himself was influenced by modernism, it is obvious that using his definitions would be inaccurate anyway.

Further, if English is allegedly changing, in this fictional hypothesis that the KJB’s wording is becoming harder to understand by the year, wouldn’t that mean that the English used in Strongs would be equally out of date?

Any supporter of the King James Bible who thinks that the KJB to be somewhat (5%) unintelligible, or will become so one day in so many decades, is wrong. This is because there simply are no “dead words”, “obsolete words” or any percentage of “unintelligible” words in the KJB.

I mean, we know that there are religious concepts that need to be taught, that there are hard and dark teachings in the Bible, but this is different to the concept that the actual language of the KJB is dying. The KJB’s words are NOT dying.

This is because the KJB’s English, which is Biblical English, is like a special religious language. This religious English is special as it is used to describe concepts, which are doctrines. Therefore, any doctrine, say “propitiation” or “sanctification”, is itself also relying on the fact that certain concepts are attached to certain English words. And the entirety of the KJB with its “ands” and punctuation marks (jots and tittles too) should be approached like this, as if it is a sacred language, a special language, because it is: it was designed by Providence to convey the very accurate truths of the Scripture to the whole world in the last days.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword” (Hebrews 4:12a).

Preservation is not just in transmission of the Scripture from the past to the present, but is keeping it in the present.

You see, English is not a product of accidents, nor is its future mere random chaos.

Mark Ward used to say, “Usage determines meaning”. Such a view was the very opposite of a (Platonic) Christian presuppositional view that in fact God predetermined words, concepts, meanings. Instead, Mark Ward aligned to the opposite view, that (ultimately) the King James Bible is just a product of its times and the naturalistic tides of deistic history. God apparently was not guiding English, nor the passage of the Scripture to the world via English, nor raising up the succession of Reformers, Puritans, Evangelicals and today’s pygmies who stand on giants’ shoulders.

Mark Ward’s evolutionary view of language seems no different to the evolutionary/atheistic view of languages. But he has noticeably quietened on that front.

Instead, we believe that the English-using people, the success of English-speaking nations and the destiny of the English language with the gospel for the world is all designed by God. We are living in a providential continuum. (What a privilege it is to understand this and to cooperate with God’s Spirit, yet on the other hand, what a terror it is that the sword now dangles so precipitously over the likes of Mark Ward!)

Here are several reasons why the KJB is fully intelligible, and why it will be so into the future.

First, the Oxford English Dictionary people said, as long as someone knows a word, its meaning and use, it is not dead. “Our own words never become obsolete … Even after we cease to use a word, the memory of it survives, and the word itself survives as a possibility; it is only when no one is left to whom its use is still possible, that the word is wholly dead … They are alive to some speakers, and dead to others”.

Now, as long as the KJB is being used, and its words known, then no word in it can be called “archaic”, “obsolete”, “dead”, etc. As the fact is, the KJB is in widespread and current use, and exists all around the place.

Someone could point the OED itself and say that is lists this or that word in the KJB as “obsolete” etc., but such labelling is itself incorrect. The OED is not infallible, it is not comprehensive, it is not a religious text and it is not strictly speaking the dictionary of Biblical English.

So then, this “Biblical English” differs to, yet remains conversant with, English.

There are KJB words out there all over the internet, and used in plenty of churches, so therefore no word’s meaning in the KJB is being lost, nor have they been lost.

To charge the KJB as being the repository of a growing list of “dead” words (i.e. unintelligible words) is wrong.

Another reason why the KJB is not dying is because of the role of the Holy Ghost, and teachers in the church, and the whole heritage of prior learning (library/internet), which is that we may learn and be taught words, concepts, meaning and knowledge, so again, no word KJB word is obsolete, lost, dead and/or unintelligible, nor will they be.

Importantly, the KJB was made in line with modern English, and the very print history KJB reflects the stabilising of English, to our present day. English, due to its global position, proliferation and its connection with technology, is ensuring that English in the bigger sense is not varying, evolving or dialectising to the point of incompatibility with the KJB. Instead, the global rise and diverse sectors where English is being used are providential factors keeping English within the aegis of God’s divine English in the KJB. (As language serves God, then English is servant to the Word of God.)

So English is being kept in a stable place, meaning that the words of the KJB are still relevant and intelligible. God is in control, and it is ironic that a Reformed guy like Mark Ward does not have a view about God’s special care and sovereignty guiding English and the KJB, instead, his view seems to be linked to a naturalistic view of language “evolution” that atheists and infidels teach.

As for the hypothetical “TRO” that Mark Ward boasted about, they both would do well to read Edward Hills’ books and extend that logic in such a way as I have outlined. (As for the real person Mark Ward dialogued with, I suspect that Mark Ward misrepresented him for his own ends.)

“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” (Zephaniah 3:9).