More on the Baptists

The Independent Baptists were on my mind because one of our callers to the reference desk, Mr. L., a dealer in church furnishings, had sent us a letter asking for the addresses and phone numbers for the Florida offices of a number of the larger church denominations. Most of them were easily found, for the several kinds of Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Anglicans. But I could not find a regional office for the Independent Baptists. They do not regard themselves as a "denomination". They do have regional "fellowships" where like-minded pastors gather for mutual support, but these bodies would not serve the needs of commerce. I don't think that they would, for example, want Mr. L. to set up a booth at their gatherings.

One of the major topics of discussion among them is the status of the King James Version of the Bible, (KJV). Some hold that only the 1611 edition of the KJV is acceptable for use, though if the organ of that faction, The Sword of the Lord, is to be believed, its translators are not actually regarded as divinely inspired. They might be likened to O'Brian's "backwards S" Sethians. Some go so far as to place greater confidence in editions in the original gothic blackletter type face. Others have moved on to more contemporary translations, such as the New King James Version.

My grandmother gave me a KJV Bible when I was about ten, bound in simulated black leather, simulated gilt-edging, and with the words of Our Lord in red ink. And I read it. The Ten Commandments, with Charlton Heston playing Moses, had made a great impression on me, and when Billy Graham invited me to walk up to the television set and give my life to Jesus, I did. I wish that I still had it.

Catholics are different about the Bible. They are widely believed to be discouraged from reading it on their own, and there is evidence that this was so before the Vatican II Council in the 1960's. I have only very rarely, in my twenty years as a Catholic, seen anyone bring a Bible to Mass. It used to be common to bring a Missal when the Mass was in Latin, to be able to follow along in English, but these days we have "Missalettes", seasonal guides changed out through the year, provided in the pews, so it is not really necessary. Anyway, I like to hear the Mass, and reading along is for me a distraction, unless my attention wanders or I mishear the readings.

My own text for study is the Ignatius Study Bible, a Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version, a plain hardback with no red ink at all. But I still have a soft spot for the KJV. I've heard the joke more than once about KJV adherents, that, "If it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me." Yes, it's an unlettered sentiment, but I admire it for it's reluctance to abandon what has been handed down. It was the KJV that I used in my post below about Corpus Christi.

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