What KJV-worshipers believe about the bible.

by K.W. Leslie, 09 August 2016

I know; I already wrote an article about the history of the King James Version—and the people who worship it. But two years ago I wrote a different article, and was asked to repost it. I was a little reluctant to, ’cause it’s largely based on a Chick tract.

Some of you already know who he was: Jack T. Chick (1924–2016) was a conspiracy theorist who believed the devil was behind everything he doesn’t like. Seriously everything—and Chick didn’t like much. In order to prove it, he played really fast and loose with the truth. He’d misquote bible, mangle history, and apparently just make stuff up from scratch. ’Cause for some of his claims, I can’t find confirmation anywhere—well, other than books Chick himself published.

Primarily his company publishes evangelism tracts. Nearly all of them lack fruit of the Spirit: They’re loveless, impatient, unkind, joyless (his humor is the ironic, mocking sort), graceless (any little slip-up on our part sends us to hell), and fearful. I needn’t remind you they likewise make up any facts he needed to prove his points… and hopefully scare you into the waiting, loving judgey arms of Jesus.

His tracts are controversial, because many Christians love love LOVE them. Believe it or not, some of them actually aren’t bad. But most of them are. Christians justify using them ’cause “Chick tracts work!”—but that was just Chick’s marketing slogan. If they win anyone to Christ, chances are you wind up with just another Chick-style conspiracy theorist.

Yep, someone’s supposedly burning the One True Bible. Attack 1
(Reference numbers refer to images on the website; the cover is 1, the next page is 2, etc.)

So I’m loath to use him as an example, ’cause the man doesn’t need any more publicity. Then again, he was mighty typical of what a KJV-worshiper believes. Not only that: You’ll find more than one KJV-worshiper actually turn to Chick’s publications as their “historical” justifications for believing as they do. So if you wanna go straight to the source of the madness, Chick’s got a river of bile flowing out of him.

Chick’s tract, “The Attack,” is his alternative history of how we got the King James Version, and the devil’s conspiracy to deny it to us. You can read it, in its entirety, on his website. As with all his “historical” tracts, a fraction is true. The rest is out of context, hyper-compressed, reinterpreted, whitewashed, or pure fiction.

It uses two sources. One’s David W. Daniels, whose book Did the Catholic Church Give Us the Bible? is published by Chick Publications, and where “The Attack” got its secret history. The other’s Alberto Rivera (1937–97), a con artist who claimed he used to be a Roman Catholic bishop, whom the Jesuits sent to infiltrate and undermine Protestant churches. In the 1970s, Rivera “outed” himself, told all sorts of wacky tales about how the Catholics are secretly behind Islam, Communism, the Masons, the Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia, the Mormons… and pretty much every boogeyman Chick feared. Rivera was debunked years ago by Cornerstone, Christianity Today, and Walter Martin’s Christian Research Institute. But Chick Publications still produces Rivera’s books, and plenty of anti-Catholics still believe his every word.

“The Attack” begins with an attack: One of the men who translated the bible for King James was poisoned by secret agents—and later they’ll come back for his family. Nope, never happened in real life. It’s a bit of melodrama meant to make the reader anxious.

And if you read any other bible translation, they’ll come for you too! Attack 3

To Chick’s mind, a conspiracy was going on. A devilish one.

The next page flashes back to Eden. Ever since the beginning, the devil’s tempted us humans to not trust what God’s said; to doubt God even though he just said it, and proved himself reliable countless times. This part’s true—and it’s nothing new. It’s been going on since the beginning.

But according to Chick, Satan has since switched tactics. Instead of getting us to not trust God, the devil’s decided to trick us into trusting faulty bibles.

The apocrypha.

If there are apocrypha in your bible, Chick insists it’s been corrupted. Attack 5

Apocrypha is a plural noun, meaning “hidden books.” (Chick, and a lot of folks, used it as a singular noun, to refer to the whole collection of hidden books.) These books consist of extra chapters of Daniel and Esther, plus several other books written after Malachi which continue the history of Israel till the second century BC. They’re not found in the Hebrew scriptures, nor in Jewish bibles. But they’re in the Septuagint, so for this reason you’ll find them in Orthodox and Catholic bibles. And some Protestant bibles.

Both St. Jerome (who translated the bible into Latin) and Martin Luther (who translated it into German) believed apocrypha shouldn’t be included in the Old Testament. Luther put them in a separate section, after the New Testament. “Apocrypha” was Luther’s title for them: “Books which are not regarded as equal to the holy scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read.”

Chick, however, believed them evil. Unspeakably, devilishly evil. You’ll be led astray if you read them. And he made a few other unhistorical claims:


Jerome and Luther didn’t consider apocrypha to have the same rank as the other scriptures. Even so, they didn’t ban ’em, nor believe they were bad, evil books. They may not be 100 percent historically accurate—but neither’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, and who’s got a problem with that book? Why have a problem with apocrypha? You wanna read ’em? Bible Gateway has ’em. Go right ahead.

Every bible before and including the KJV had apocrypha in them. Every Christian from the first to 16th century accepted this. The KJV was translated by the Church of England, one of the churches which regularly includes apocrypha in their bibles, and still teaches from it. Yep, there’s a for-real KJV translation of apocrypha. They weren’t removed from publications of the KJV till 1885. And if you’re a member of the Church of England (or as we call it in the United States, the Anglican Mission or the Episcopal Church), your KJV includes apocrypha.

If Chick knew these facts, he may not have even believed them. He spent a bit of “The Attack” claiming the KJV’s translators didn’t really wanna include apocrypha, or the Puritans didn’t really approve of them, or how the KJV is the lone exception to all the apocrypha-defiled bibles in Christendom.


The rabbis were actually the ones who first translated the Septuagint in the third century BC. They added these books to the Old Testament. Apocrypha were in that bible for two centuries before Christianity came around. It’s why so many Christians still include apocrypha in their bibles: They were always in their bibles.

Early Christians quoted apocrypha the same as the rest of the OT. The church fathers quoted it a lot. (Hey, there’s good stuff in there.)

This may be some of the reason the rabbis finally took apocrypha out of their bibles. Round the year 100 (when apocrypha’d been in the Septuagint for three centuries already), the rabbis voted to remove them. Historians suspect this was as a response to us Christians. Some of us, like Justin Martyr, were quoting apocrypha to debate Jews as part of their Christian apologetics.


The KJV’s translators included cross-references to other passages of scripture. They cross-referenced 10 passages in the New Testament to apocryphal books, noting obvious parallels between the ideas.

All the New Testament’s authors clearly knew apocrypha. These stories were part of their national culture. It’s like how just about every American knows who Batman is, whether they’ve read the comic books or not. Further, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, Jn 10.22 the story of which comes from 1 Maccabees, which is an awesome patriotic story about how the Maccabees drove out the Syrian Greeks. You know every Jew, irritated at the Roman occupation, hoping history would repeat itself again, shared that story every Hanukkah.

To be fair: Quoting something, or not quoting it, is no proof of its validity. Paul quoted Greek philosophers more than once, and the New Testament never once quotes Judges nor Nehemiah.

The Textus Receptus.

If your bible’s based on original manuscripts from Egypt, Chick insists you’ve got a corrupted bible. Attack 7

It seems Chick knew jack squat about ancient manuscripts and textual criticism. So I gotta explain his claims about “mutilated” Old and New Testament manuscripts.

First, the Old and New Testament have entirely different histories when it comes to how they were passed down to the present day. The Old Testaments we have in our bibles—in both the KJV and other translations—came from Hebrew-language manuscripts preserved by Masorete Jews, who lived in Israel and Babylon. Not Egypt. The “Alexandrian manuscripts” only have to do with the New Testament. Not the OT, nor the Septuagint, nor apocrypha.

Yeah, Chick was oversimplifying. But I’ve read enough of his tracts to know this “oversimplification” was really the fact he didn’t care about historical accuracy. He skipped facts all the time; namely whenever they got in his way.

Okay, in a nutshell, the history of ancient books.

The ancients didn’t have photocopiers. They made copies by hand: One person read the original aloud, and a gathered group scribes transcribed it. And sometimes mistakes happened. Readers might repeat themselves. Or mispronounce. Or jumble things. Scribes might misspell. Or drop a word. It happens. Even when you’re being extra-careful with an extra-important book like the bible.

The Masoretes—the Jewish family best known for their copies of the OT—didn’t copy like that. They were very careful. They even invented checksums to make sure each line was precisely duplicated.

But in the early days of copying the NT, mistakes happened. Thankfully not many: About 85 percent of the NT, passed down by hand from the oldest copies of the bible to the advent of printing, match one another. The other 15 percent are minor textual variants. Like different spellings, different word order; one bible has “Jesus” and another “Lord Jesus.” Little things like that.

Yeah, sometimes whole extra verses. 1Jn 5.7 NASB In one case, a whole extra story. Jn 8.1-11 NASB But the NT was remarkably preserved, considering the persecution, and considering how mangled it could’ve been. Loads of other ancient books didn’t fare so well. (Heck, Shakespeare’s only 5 centuries old, and he hasn’t fared so well.) Give the Holy Spirit credit for that.

Thing is, if you’re a bible-worshiper, any difference is an error, and any error is unacceptable. Chick believed the KJV is perfect. ’Cause he believed the Greek NT it was translated from, was also perfect. And, no surprise, his particular perfect Greek NT didn’t come from Alexandria. It came from Belgium.

The KJV is a revised version of a previous translation of the bible, the Bishops’ Bible. The translators updated the language, and compared it to the Textus Receptus, a Greek NT produced in 1516 by Dutch scholar Desiderus Erasmus, meant to be the basis for correcting the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the NT. The Textus is a critical text, which means it’s edited together from other ancient copies of the bible.

Erasmus put the Textus together by beginning with a Greek NT from Constantinople. Then he tracked down every Greek NT he could find. If that Greek NT had a bit missing from his Greek NT, he’d add it. If one person’s NT had “Lord Jesus,” a second person’s NT had “Christ Jesus,” and his NT only had “Jesus,” Erasmus would include ’em all in the Textus: “Lord Jesus Christ.”

What if there was a verse in a Latin NT, but Erasmus couldn’t find a version of it in any Greek NT whatsoever? No problem: Erasmus personally translated it into Greek, then added it to the Textus. Should I remind you Latin bibles were Catholic translations? Meh; I’ll think about it.

You’d think this fact would’ve outraged Chick more than anything. But I’m betting he either never knew it, or wouldn’t believe it.

Present-day scholars also edit together the Greek NT from ancient copies. But they follow an entirely different process. The New Testament they produce is the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, fifth edition. (The other popular Greek NT, the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th edition, matches it word-for-word. The publishers of both New Testaments use the same editorial board.) Scholars began with the oldest copies of the NT we have: The Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, both of which were written between the years 325 and 350. You may not be a Greek scholar, but still: If you’re gonna put together a critical text, you’re gonna start from the very oldest copies, right? Right: Older is better. It’s less likely to have errors.

Erasmus didn’t have access to the oldest copies. So he used contemporary copies: 16th-century Greek NTs. Which contained 16 centuries of copying errors. And Erasmus went out of his way to include all these errors.

So when your average KJV-worshiper insists today’s bible translations take words and verses out of the bible, you realize it’s the other way round.

Chick insists all bibles but the KJV somehow downplay Christ’s deity. Has he read any of them? Attack 8

On to Chick’s loopy claims:


I teach all the doctrines Chick frets about: Christ’s deity, his virgin birth, salvation by grace through faith. Sometimes I use the KJV; sometimes other bibles. Because all these doctrines are in the other bibles.

How could Chick realistically claim they weren’t? Well, here’s his reasoning, and it’s profoundly stupid: Remember how Erasmus added words to the Textus?—one NT had “Jesus,” another “Christ,” so Erasmus made the Textus read “Christ Jesus”? He did this a lot. Now, because these added titles are missing from the oldest Greek NTs, and today’s translations are based on those old Greek NTs, a lot of bibles now say “Jesus” instead of “Christ Jesus.” On that basis, KJV-worshipers claim it’s a subtle conspiracy to erode faith in Jesus’s divinity and lordship, thanks to devilish translators who don’t really believe in Jesus.

Yeah, it’s nuts. But remember, Chick was a conspiracy theorist.


Everybody knows the first pope was Simon Peter except, obviously, Chick.

“…ORDERED 50 BIBLES…” Attack 8 Okay, true.

And Constantine kept those copies, “created from the satanic Alexandrian manuscripts,” in his new capital, Constantinople. Now… where’d the Textus Receptus get its core manuscript from again? Oh yeah: Constantinople. Hmm…


Jerome didn’t translate the entire bible into Latin. His job was only to correct all the bad Latin translations already in existence. He did translate the gospels into Latin using the oldest copies of the NT he could find—which were likely from Alexandria. As for the OT, he began to use the Septuagint, but quickly realized he oughta translate it from the original Hebrew. So he went to Israel, learned Hebrew, and translated a great deal of it. And because his bosses insisted, he also translated apocrypha—from Aramaic copies of Tobit and Judith, and from Greek copies of the other books.

Catholics, the Inquisitions, and the bible.

Now let’s jump ahead 800 years, then another 300 years. ’Cause Satan can’t keep its crap together. Attack 9

In the early Middle Ages, the Catholics of various countries created Inquisitions, whose job was to investigate heresy: If anyone was accused of teaching what’s contrary to the church, the Inquisition investigated, declared them okay, or declared them heretic. You know, like today’s cult-watchers.

But with one significant difference: Back then there was no such thing as freedom of religion. Heresy was against the law, and you’d get the death penalty for it. Inquisitions were given legal authority to arrest you, try you, and even torture a confession out of you. But not kill you (unless they accidentally over-tortured you): If you were guilty, they handed you over to the civic authority, and they killed you. You know, like the Judean Senate handed Jesus over to Pilate.

Lemme be clear: The Inquisition was one of the least Christian things we’ve ever done. I won’t defend it. Yeah, some heretics are dangerous, like those cults which murder people and abuse their members. But the Inquisition killed a lot of benign heretics, plus a lot of Muslims and Jews. Plus sometimes they killed orthodox Christians (like Joan of Arc) for political reasons. So let’s get the facts straight about what the Inquisition really was.

And a few more facts:


This particular forbidden bible wasn’t just any bible. It was a Cathar bible.

The Cathars, also called the Albigenses, was a gnostic sect which arose in the 1100s. They claimed there are two gods: God, who created spirit, and Rex Mundi/“king of the world,” who created matter. Matter, flesh, and marriage were bad. Starving yourself to death was good, ’cause they figured you’d go straight to heaven. And they didn’t believe in resurrection. Cathars backed up their claims by quoting their heretic translation of the bible. So in 1229, the Council of Toulouse banned them and their bible.

Yeah, it means something way different in historical context, doesn’t it? You thought the Catholics were banning a proper bible. That’s just the sort of misdirection Chick regularly did.


Again, bear in mind why. The Council of Trent met in the 1540s to deal with the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther had claimed apocrypha aren’t really bible. To the council, apocrypha was totally bible; it’d been bible since Jesus’s day; who was Luther to say it wasn’t? I mean, how would you feel if someone went round saying Esther isn’t bible?

True, the council went overboard.


Remember, not every heretic was executed, or executed that way.


The Inquisition can’t arrest people any more. Catholic countries no longer execute heretics, nor even consider heresy a crime. For that matter, Catholics no longer recognize most Protestants as heretics. Chick’s fears of it all starting up again are unlikely. Not impossible; nothing is. But still.


Popes consider themselves Christ’s top guy, not his only guy. Of course in God’s kingdom, the top guy serves everyone else—and some popes have remembered this, and some haven’t. The very same is true of Protestants. We all make mistakes.


The Textus is the name of Erasmus’s edition of the NT, not a generic term for the one true bible. But Chick would sure like to believe so.


True, the Inquisitions would prosecute heretics, and considered Protestants to be heretic. But a lot of Protestants lived in, or fled to, Protestant countries. Places beyond the Inquisitions’ reach. Belgium, where Erasmus lived, was resolutely Protestant. The idea of Catholic Inquisitions desperately tearing through Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Belgium, lest copies of the Textus escape them: Dumb.


When Roman Catholics refer to the “catholic church,” they typically mean the one, universal, worldwide church of Christ Jesus. The body of Christ. The one he recognizes. Which actually includes people who aren’t members of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a body which you aren’t a part of without faith in Jesus.

Now, this isn’t any different than Protestants teach. Nor the Textus. True, during the Reformation, Catholics believed Protestants were heretics, and not part of the body of Christ. Times have changed. Chick just didn’t believe they had. To him, Catholics were still devilish.


I've no idea how the 68 million victims were calculated. I Googled it, but found nothing. More than likely Chick, or Rivera, made it up.

The Spanish Inquisition, the worst of the Inquisitions, investigated hundreds of thousands of people from the 1200s to the 1700s, and of that number about 6,000 people were handed over to the Spanish crown for execution. That’s only 0.01 percent of Chick’s total. Maybe he was including wars, although wars weren't really fought for religious reasons. Maybe he also threw in a plague or two. Most likely he decided his number of dead true believers oughta be 10 times as bad as the Holocaust.

Now “The Attack” is really just Jack Chick attacking Catholicism. Attack 11


Jesus doesn’t hate Catholicism, but Chick sure did.

True, the system is morally neutral. Like any tradition, it can either help people grow as Christians, or hinder people by making us jump through hoops instead of actually following Jesus. It can be politicized and corrupted. It can be living religion, or dead. Jesus is perfectly happy with the living kind. Not so much with works without faith.

But many anti-Catholics claim John’s vision of the Babylon whore Rv 17.3-6 is Catholicism. This, despite what the angel explaining Revelation told John: It’s the city which ruled the world’s kings. Jn 17.18 In John’s day, that was pre-Christian Rome. Not today’s Rome. Further, the popes never really ruled the world’s kings like the emperors did. Historically it’s been the kings pushing the popes around, or appointing their own and having the popes and antipopes fight it out. But I digress.


The Protestant Reformation wasn’t about Vatican brutalities, nor even fighting Catholics. It was about reforming (hence the word “reformation”) Christianity. Ideally from within the Catholic church, but the Catholic leadership kicked Luther out. So it had to reform the church as a separate denomination… and eventually a thousand denominations.

The Protestants didn’t rebel about Vatican brutalities. Just the heresy that salvation comes through works instead of grace. Historically Protestants have been plenty brutal. (Hence the thousand denominations.)

The Vatican has since stated unequivocally: Salvation is through grace. The current debate between Protestants and Catholics is about how we get that grace. Catholics say we get grace through sacraments, and Protestants insist this sounds far too much like salvation by works. But I won’t get into that debate right now.


He also translated apocrypha into German.


The half that’s true: William Tyndale did in fact translate the bible into English. And he was arrested for heresy in 1535.

The half that’s not: He was arrested by the Holy Roman Empire. I don’t care if “Roman” is part of its name: It was so not Rome. Anyway, they strangled him to death on a stake, then cremated his corpse. You might notice the little image in the tract, with the executioner’s hands around Tyndale’s neck? That’s him getting strangled. I don’t know why Chick skipped that fact, even though his artist obviously knew it.

The “devout” English Reformation… and invisible Scottish Reformation.

Chick painted the English Reformation as a noble resistance against Roman Catholicism. As standing up for Christ Jesus, truth, God’s word, and so forth.

Everyone who knows history, even a little history, knows better.

In 1502, 15 years before Martin Luther nailed up his 95 Theses and started Protestantism, the Prince of Wales died, leaving behind a widow, Catherine of Aragon. She was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, the future aunt of Holy Roman Emperor Charles 5. She was a big deal.

King Henry 7 of England wanted to keep Catherine in the family. So he asked Pope Julius 2 for special permission for his younger son Henry to marry his widowed sister-in-law. Which is totally fine in the bible, Dt 25.5-6 but Europeans of the day considered it incest. Julius granted the special exception. Young Henry married Catherine and produced a daughter, Mary; and later became Henry 8.

Jump ahead 26 years: Henry wanted to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn, and annul his marriage on the grounds it was incest. Pope Clement 7 of course wouldn’t undo his predecessor’s special exception. Emperor Charles pitched a fit. So Henry got his local bishops to declare him the head of England’s church—not the pope. And as head of the church, he hired a lackey bishop who’d grant his annulment. Problem solved.

As you can see, this has nothing to do with reforming Christianity. It was because Henry’s mistress wouldn’t let him touch her without a ring on her finger. Henry was no Protestant.

Heck, in 1521 Henry wrote Assertio Septem Sacramentorum/“I Say There Are Seven Sacraments!”, to slam Luther. Clement enjoyed the book so much, he called Henry Fidei Defensor/“Defender of the Faith” for it. Even after he quit the Roman church, Henry kept the title, and passed it to his heirs. Kings of England still call themselves that.

But Henry wasn’t Roman Catholic anymore. So he decided to be his own kind of Catholic. You know, like Catholics in the United States who have their own ideas about what’ll get ’em into heaven. (And their own ideas about abortion.)

That’s been the tack the Church of England has taken ever since: They’re not really Protestant, but they’re not really Roman Catholic either. They’re their own kind of Catholic.

Now back to Chick’s wacky alternate timeline.

In which Henry 8 looks way skinnier than his usual paintings. Attack 12

The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was founded in 1540. A decade after England split from the Catholics. Yet “The Attack” makes it look like the Jesuits came first—and Henry rejected them, the Pope, and their authority, for good doctrinal reasons. Not because he wanted to shtup Anne.

Yes, the Jesuits were founded in part to counter Protestants and defend Catholic interpretations of the bible. But they do believe the bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Where they disagree with Protestants (and Chick) is they disagree Protestant tradition, theology, philosophy, and interpretation is more valid than Catholic tradition, theology, philosophy, and interpretation.

Protestants like to claim the Catholics put their tradition above the scriptures. We fail to recognize we do the very same thing. We all do. We all have our favorite lenses we use to look at the bible.

Chick then put together a very selective timeline to make it look like the Jesuits fought a war with England over Protestantism and truth. Attack 13

  1. The English church established.
  2. Jesuits established.
  3. The Council of Trent, “formed to crush Protestantism.”
  4. Henry’s eldest daughter, Mary, takes the English throne and reinstates Catholicism.
  5. Henry’s second daughter, Elizabeth, takes the throne and reinstates the English church.
  6. The Scottish Reformation. Chick claims the Scots “join Protestant England.”
  7. The Spanish Armada, sent to “destroy Protestant England.” Really, to stop English piracy and English interference with the Spanish Netherlands.
  8. Elizabeth’s successor, her cousin James, authorizes the KJV.
  9. The Gunpowder Plot: Catholic conspirators try and fail to blow up James and Parliament.

Chick actually mentioned, briefly, the only outbreak of real Protestantism in the British Isles: The Scottish Reformation.

This was years before the United Kingdom. Scotland was a separate nation. During the English Reformation, the Scots took advantage of the absence of their teenage Queen Mary, and underwent a civil war between its Protestant and Catholic nobles. The Protestants seized their Parliament in 1560, established the Church of Scotland, and made the nation Calvinist. From its practice of putting presbyters (or elders) in charge of their churches, we usually call it Presbyterianism. And to keep the nation Presbyterian, in 1567 they deposed the still-Catholic Mary, and set up her infant son James as king.

This isn’t some history you just skip. Y’see, this King James 6 of Scotland was also the great-grandson of Henry 7 of England; the first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth. He later succeeded Elizabeth in 1603, and simultaneously became King James 1 of England. He’s the King James of the King James Version.

Much of the reason James authorized the KJV has to do with Scotland’s official bible: The 1560 Geneva Bible, named for the city where it was translated. It wasn’t just a bible, but a study bible: Introductions to each book. Commentary. Maps. Cross-references. Indexes. Illustrations. Verse numbers (the first bible to use ’em). And affordable.

And James hated the Geneva Bible. See, the Geneva Bible occasionally used the word “tyrant” to refer to kings, and its notes stated throughout how it was okay to resist tyrants. James, who was a big fan of absolute monarchy, hated the idea. (You might notice the word “tyrant” isn’t in the KJV at all. ’Cause James ordered it not be.)

Queen Elizabeth, another absolute-monarchy fan, didn’t care for the Geneva Bible either. Her bishops rushed together the Bishops’ Bible in 1568. They revised it in 1572, 1577, and 1602. Once James 6 became James 1, he ordered yet another revision. Not an original translation—despite anything the KJV’s introduction, or Jack T. Chick, claims.

James also made it clear when he authorized the re-translation: No notes. He also made it a felony to own a Geneva Bible.

Yeah, these aren’t the most noble reasons to authorize a bible. Understandably, Chick skipped ’em. In his narrative, it sounds like there were no English-language bibles before the KJV. Instead, he imagined the Catholics were conspiring to slip their translators into the KJV translation committee.

None of this happened. Seriously. Attack 14-15

The above story is entirely fabricated. It’s a little hard to correct errors when the whole thing is made up from start to finish.


And not just ’cause Chick probably meant to say “God had the king post guards.” I mean, God posted guards? You mean angels?

But there were no guards posted anywhere in the translators’ rooms. The translators were professors at various English universities. They did the bulk of their work from home. Then they gathered together to compare their edits. Six individual committees submitted their drafts to a final committee for a final review.

If anyone wanted to slip in some “Alexandrian manuscript,” they easily could have. And considering how 85 percent of NT manuscripts match, it wouldn’t have made any difference. Besides, what security guard is gonna know enough Greek to know which manuscript is which?


The translators never tried to put apocrypha in the Old Testament. They repeated the same practice as Martin Luther: Apocrypha went in a separate section.

The head of the KJV’s production was Richard Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was also a member of the committee which specifically worked on apocrypha.

Apocrypha weren’t removed from Protestant bibles till the Geneva Bible dropped it 19 years later, in 1630. The Puritans banned reading apocrypha in church in 1644. The very first edition of the KJV without apocrypha was published in 1666. Even then, it was still commonly found in editions of the KJV up until the 1880s.

One thing Chick did get right: Puritans objected. But that’s because they felt the entire KJV project was a big waste of time and money. They were totally fine with the Geneva Bible. And since the Geneva Bible’s NT is also based on the Textus Receptus, Chick should’ve been totally fine with it too. It’s just the KJV happened to get his worship first.

The battle for the King James Version.

Because of the popularity of the Geneva Bible, it took a long time for the KJV to take off. English churches still used the Great Bible and Bishops’ Bible… till they wore out, and then they were replaced with King James Bibles. Scottish churches still used Geneva Bibles.

But in Chick’s fictional alternate history, the Jesuits immediately began to fight the KJV.

None of this happened either. Attack 16

Still totally fabricated. The “Protestant translators” (who, because they were Church of England, which was “its own kind of Catholic,” would’ve insisted they weren’t Protestant) weren’t systematically eliminated. They weren’t financially compensated for their work either. But that’s a whole other issue.

Nor were the Catholics all whipped into a frenzy by what was going on in England’s church. England wasn’t even remotely the superpower it became in the 1700s. It’d always been plagued by civil war: This king fighting pretenders to the throne, that king trying to invade France or Scotland or Ireland, and after the English Reformation the Puritans were always on the verge of fighting the Anglicans. This constant warring kept England small and poor.

So the “English-speaking world” was nothing: England, part of Wales, part of Scotland, and a few thinly-populated North American colonies which were full of Indians, French, and Germans. Whatever these “heretics” were up to, the Catholics had little fear it’d “set us back for centuries.”

Besides, plenty of other Protestants were also producing native-language bibles. The French got a French bible in 1530. The Czechs in 1549. The Poles in 1563. The Slovenes in 1584. The Jesuits themselves were translating the bible into American Indian languages as part of their missionary work.

There was a movement to get apocrypha out of English-language bibles in the late 1600s. Chick called it “God’s victory over the Jesuit conspiracy,” Attack 17 but more accurately it was a victory for the Dissenters, Puritans who’d quit the Church of England ’cause it wasn’t Protestant enough. The Dissenters were isolationists, who homeschooled their kids lest they be corrupted by Church of England ideas, who believed apocrypha had to be evil if they weren’t really bible. Dissenters sound exactly like Chick’s kind of conspiracy-minded Christian. I’m surprised he didn’t hold them up as great heroes.

Then, Chick wrote, “Satan moved.” Attack 17 Took Satan about 200 years to move, but whatever.

Oh no! A new bible translation! Attack 18

In 1881, Church of England bishops Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort published their edition of the Greek New Testament. This was a critical text, like the Textus Receptus, but Westcott and Hort did it correctly: They based it on the oldest copies of the Greek NT they could find. The Codex Sinaiticus was discovered at St. Catherine’s monastery in 1844, and dates between the years 325 and 350. It’s the oldest NT we know of. Erasmus never knew of it.

But St. Catherine’s is in Egypt. So according to Chick, that makes it Alexandrian. (’Cause Alexandria’s also in Egypt.) Worse: Westcott and Hort compared the Sinaiticus with another Alexandrian text, the Codex Vaticanus, which also dates between 325 and 350. And here’s where Chick’s conspiracy-minded brain went into overdrive: The Vaticanus! That means Westcott and Hort were corrupted by the Vatican! Eek! Run away!

Every critical-text bible since Westcott and Hort follows the same sound principle they went with: Find the earliest copies of scripture. Compare them with other early texts, and the writings of early Christians. Makes sense, right? But Chick and KJV-worshipers come from an entirely different direction: Presume the KJV is right and infallible. Therefore the Greek NT it was translated from, the Textus Receptus, is also right and infallible. Anyone who says otherwise, has simply fallen for a devilish plot.

Ever since the Westcott-Hort NT was published, newer English bibles have used recent critical texts, not the Textus, to translate the NT. The first was the Revised Version (1881–1894). Your favorite modern bible translations, like the ESV, NASB, NIV, and NLT, have also used recent critical texts.

The exceptions have been:

  • The first edition of the New International Version. The translation committee permitted translators to use whichever text they preferred. This created a huge mess for people who wanted to compare the NIV to a Greek NT. (For a while there, the NIV publishers actually produced their own NIV edition of the Greek NT.) But once the NIV was updated in 2011, they based its NT on the Nestle-Aland.
  • The Lamsa Bible, George Lamsa’s translation of the Peshitta, an Aramaic OT and NT.
  • The New King James Version, which uses the Textus Receptus like the KJV.
  • The Modern English Version, which used the Textus for the NT, and a medieval copy of the Masoretic text for the OT. Basically they eschewed any modern critical texts; the only thing modern about it is its English and its title.

Regardless of the NKJV’s commitment to the Textus, Chick didn’t trust the NKJV either. Like I said, the KJV got his worship first.

Something else Chick got wrong: Nobody (save the rare nutjob) claims the KJV is heretic. Yes it’s hard to understand, because its English is 400 years old. Yes the KJV has words and verses which Erasmus added to the original text, but those additions don’t detract from the gospel. Yes it has translation errors; all translations do. But that’s why we compare them to other translations, and the original—and make new editions. And keep re-translating. And re-re-translating.

But to listen to Chick, you should never ever do that. The KJV is right and infallible. Comparing it with the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek will just confuse you.

Now, Chick claimed, we don’t know what God’s word says anymore. Attack 19

Look, I have a copy of the Textus Receptus. I use it all the time to compare textual variants in the bible. The only difference between the Textus and other Greek NTs, most of the time, is punctuation. When people compare the KJV with “the original Greek,” it’s nearly always the same original Greek. And when you compare the KJV to the Textus… you’ll find the KJV still has translation errors. Greek ain’t the problem.

True, young men come to seminary raised in churches which taught ’em the KJV is absolutely, infallibly true. True, within a year or so they learn otherwise. Hence, “I don’t know what to believe anymore.” And y’know what? That’s good. That’s the perfectly normal crisis of faith. They need to go through that. We all do. We need to stop thinking we know it all, and start trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Some of us never do, and become heretics. Others of us turn off our brains, and go back to worshiping the bible instead of Jesus: It’s a lot more comfortable. Feels safer. Feels surer. Plus you get to call every other Christian a heretic, just like Jack T. Chick did.

Abusing the text.

Chick brought up a few of the “missing verses” in this tract. Namely Acts 8.37, Matthew 18.11, or Mark 15.28, and how you won’t find them in most 20th and 21st century translations. Ac 8.37, Mt 18.11, Mk 15.28 KJV For one simple reason: They aren’t in the most ancient copies of the NT. So modern translations put ’em in the footnotes. But Chick rejected the very idea of textual variants. These verses, he insisted, must be in the bible, ’cause they’re in the KJV. Say otherwise and you’re a heretic.

In “Look What’s Missing” we list over 250 verses in 40 popular Bibles, to show you they are really corrupt Alexandrian and Roman Catholic Bibles in disguise.

Don’t be fooled!

“Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed…” Proverbs 13:13 Attack 22

But since he brought up the issue of despising the word, let’s take a look at the word Chick quoted, shall we? To quote the full verse:

Proverbs 13.13 KJV
Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

This’d be Hebrew poetry. “The word” means the same thing as “the commandment,” namely God’s laws in the scripture. “The word” does not refer to the bible as a whole. Nor the KJV in particular.

When we read Deuteronomy, we learn the rewards for following God’s commands, and the destruction for violating them, have to do with this life. Dt 28 Not the afterlife. You’re not going to hell for breaking God’s laws. Sin’s paycheck is death, not hellfire. Ro 3.23 Not unless you’re a graceless legalist. Yet Chick’s tracts regularly threaten us with a bad life in this age, and hell in the next.

As I’ve demonstrated, Chick isn’t to be trusted. Not when he discussed history; certainly not when he quoted bible. Nearly every single time he quoted the scriptures, he took ’em out of context. This is a problem I consistently see in bible-worshipers: They claim to love the bible. But they interpret it cavalierly, always with the goal to defend themselves and their prejudices. Never God.

It’s never about actually loving the bible. If they loved it, they’d seek its true meaning, instead of trying to invent meanings. It’s actually about loving what they can do with the bible. Namely, manipulate people into doing their will. Whether that happens to be God’s will too, is often just coincidence.

People worship the King James Version for the same reason. It’s got a really useful advantage for them, one which they don’t find in other bibles: It’s unfamiliar English. It uses unfamiliar grammar and vocabulary. It’s not easy for the general public to understand without a dictionary. And this feature aids and abets bible-worshipers in twisting the text to suit them. It’s a bible they can control. Far more easily than an easy-to-understand, present-day translation.

This isn’t the KJV’s fault. Its flaws aside, it’s a really good translation. It’s entirely these idolaters’ fault.

So don’t you be fooled. Go ahead and use the KJV. But don’t worship it. Don’t embrace it, or any translation, as the one true bible. Read it in context. Compare it with other translations. Compare it with the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT. Seek to understand what it really means. And once you find out what it really means, apply it to your life, instead of bending it to suit your needs like a KJV-worshiper.

Note: This article was updated to reflect Chick’s death on 23 October 2016.

Bible translations.