I work in a Christian bookstore. Most of the time I really like my job; it is a nice place to work. I encounter a variety of people each day, most of whom are Christians. Christians are an interesting group of people. Some tell me that I must be spirit-filled and speak in tongues (unknown languages), others are more reserved. Some like Southern Gospel music while others listen to rap, rock or alternative. Others make comments about the evil liquor store next door to us. Yes, really we are next door to a liquor store, personally I find it amusing. Of course, being a Christian bookstore we carry a variety of Bibles. For some this is a big problem. Some Christians believe that the King James Version is the only reliable Bible. For more on Bible translations read this. Personally, there are three I use the most: English Standard version (ESV), New Living Translation (NLT) and New International Version (NIV).
Well, today I had an encounter with a couple who were die-hard KJV-only. My first indication was when the man started loudly complaining that we only had a few real Bibles and the rest were junk. I quickly learned that the KJV was the only real Bible. I have finally found a good response to KJV only: Personally, I think nothing beats reading the Bible in the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. I have found this usually catches the person off guard. I think many have never considered that the Bible was not originally written in English. The couple proceeded to trash other translations of the Bible as being just worthless books. I did point out that both the NASB and ESV were closer to the original language than the KJV. I even suggested they should try comparing the ESV or NASB with the Greek and Hebrew. This really seemed to shock the couple. The man was apparently not used to women who stood up to him or had any form of theological training. For the most part I tried to leave the couple alone or only talk about other merchandise. However, the couple could not resist throwing barbs at me about the KJV and as one last parting jab the woman begin slamming Christian rock music.
One of the things that struck me about the encounter was something the man said. The KJV had been the only Bible for years and there was no reason to change. There are many Christians that like things status quo. They are comfortable in their nice little church world. Things have worked for them for years and see no reason why they should ever change.
So why do churches/Christians need to change any way? First, I am not talking about changing the message of the Gospel but rather our methods. For starters, the church is quickly becoming irrelevant to an entire generation. I have read some articles recently about how 18-30 year-old are leaving the church, because they believe it is no longer relevant to their lives. (See Is the Church Irrelevant for Today’s Society?) Instead of bickering over things like Bible translations, we as Christians should be more concerned about reaching non-Christians. In fact, fighting among Christians is a big turn off to those who are not believers.