Are “Old Time Religion” & The King James Bible Outdated?

            According to the King James Translators the Apostle Paul said, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” A more recent translation, after listing a long list of evils says

“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” The literal Greek says, “For a root of all evils is the love of money.” Interestingly, William Penn said, “Covetousness is the greatest of Monsters, as well as the Root of all Evil.”

            There is quite a list of synonyms for money. Paul spoke of filthy lucre. Jesus said “ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the King James Version translation of the Greek word transliterated mamonas. While money may not be an exact translation of mamonas it is close enough to be considered a synonym. Currency could be another, as is cash. Jack is another. Then there is coin, specie, funds, capital, dough, long green, wampum, roll and many others which are slang terms. Most of them have their own connotations.

            Jesus said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” This was said in the context that one cannot serve two masters but must choose between the two. The two that one must choose between are “God and mammon.” He gave further explanation by saying that we should not worry about what we are going to eat or drink or wear but that if we will seek, “first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, ... all these things shall be added unto” us. A friend once said to me that, “money is the only thing I have ever found that would pay my bills.”

            With that let us leave the subject of money temporarily, and move to another subject. On page 290 of The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren I find,


“When I took our music preference survey, I couldn’t find a single person who said, ‘I listen to organ music on the radio.’ About the only place you can still hear a pipe organ is in church. What does that say to you? Think this through: We invite the unchurched to come and sit on seventeenth century chairs (which we call pews), sing eighteenth century songs (which we call hymns), and listen to a nineteenth century instrument (a pipe organ), and then we wonder why they think we’re out-of-date! I’m afraid we’ll be well into the twenty-first century before some churches start using the instruments of the twentieth century.”

            It appears to me that Rick Warren makes a valid point, but it may be somewhat of an exaggeration. The church my son pastors has pews but I doubt that they resemble anything from the seventeenth century as they are upholstered and padded and quite comfortable; attractive as well. They sing many hymns and gospel songs from the twentieth century. It has no pipe organ but a piano and they sometimes use packaged music. I have seen many instruments in churches but I believe there are some that allow no musical instruments. So it seems there is diversity out there. Oh, by the way, some stained glass windows I see today are yet quite beautiful even though they are ancient.

            I have an old friend who retired from the faculty of Asbury College after 33 years of service to devote full time to evangelism and missionary work. Some time ago I asked him what he thought of “Christian Rock”? He responded, “It’s an oxymoron!” I tend to agree with him but responded to his statement by saying that a lot of young people think that we are just old- fashioned and stuck in a rut. He was well aware of that as he worked with young people daily but said he tells them if they can worship God with that music then it is fine but at the same time they shouldn’t discard the old hymns of the faith. The eighteenth century hymns of Charles Wesley rarely, if ever, had a chorus. The lyrics were sound doctrine, i.e. Scriptural, and while the music, written by others, was pleasing to the ear, the emphasis was always on the message of the song and never on the tune or the beat of the music.

            The churches, all of which are administered, and ministered to by people, have a great tendency to get stuck in ruts and hung up on traditions. However, in endeavoring to get out of these ruts and in discarding traditions that no longer serve any real purpose, we need to take great care that we don’t run off the road on the other side. There is a ditch on both sides of the road. The devil will be very happy to have us in either one of them.

            There are many churchmen today that, I am persuaded, think that in using the King James Version of the Bible we are using a seventeenth century book. They see no reason for using Elizabethan English in the twenty-first century. Using “thee” and “thou” and such words as “shalt” or “believeth” is out of date and serves no useful purpose. It puts us back in the rut and makes us appear dated to this present generation and is a turnoff to them. I am 72 years of age and use the KJV even though I read numerous versions as well as the original Greek in my Bible study. I’ve got news for you. The King James Version was ancient when I was a boy but we got along with it quite well. If you can’t handle “thee” and “thou” and “ye” don’t take the course called Western World Literature that I was required to study in college. After dealing with Chaucer and other ancient literature you will be happy to digest the King James Version of the Bible and Elizabethan English. The fact is that one is never going to understand the Bible without considerable and intense study and no modern version is ever going to eliminate the need for this study or even alleviate it.

            The King James Bible says in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to them that love God...” Modern versions generally have it otherwise. The NIV has it as, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him...” The academic dean of my college alma mater wouldn’t buy it but told me “they are just watering it down.” I am afraid he was quite right.

            The last of the four years I spent in the US Air Force I was in Japan. I was a control tower operator. In the air traffic control center there they had teletypes. At the end of a sentence in a message that came over these teletype machines, instead of putting a dot for a period one would find “pd.” P and d are the first and last letters of the word “period.” Hence “pd” meant period. When we spoke it we never said pd but we phoneticized it as “peter dog.” Often in our private conversation we would end a statement with “peter dog,” meaning end of statement, end of discussion, end of debate.

            Take an honest look at our world today and you will find that the god of this world is MONEY. This world since the fall of Adam has always had problems and the United States of America has always had them too. However I can tell you that we have many problems in the US today that we absolutely did not have in my younger years. What has caused this? Allow me to suggest that there are two things.

            Firstly it is our thinking, which is corrupted by the teaching of Darwin’s evolution; we think we are smarter and better informed today than were our forbears. It is this attitude that makes it easy to throw out the old and usher in the new. However in doing so we are too often throwing out the baby with the bath water. This also leads to the second thing as the old very often is just not as profitable as the new. If I publish a new version of the Bible many people will buy it but if I only offer the King James Version they already have that.

            The second is, we have surrendered to our greed, and as is stated above have allowed money to become god. Consider the following. A few years ago as we approached a national election I asked a man where we were working how he was planning on voting. He said he was going to vote for the democrats because he had studied both parties’ tax proposals and he would come out better financially with the democratic plan. Nothing other than his finances figured into his decision as to how he was going to vote. That old, out of date King James Version says, “the rich ruleth over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” The politicians know that they can buy votes by promising things that will enhance the electorate’s finances and mostly the voters don’t even notice that it robs them of their individuality and their freedom; little by little though it may be.

            An evangelist friend of mine once used the following illustration. It seems that in one of our western states in years gone by there was a rather sizable herd of wild horses. Numerous attempts to corral them had failed. One day in the town closest to where these horses roamed a stranger showed up and started to inquire about them. He was told by the locals where they generally roamed but was also told that thus far all attempts to capture them had failed. This stranger studied the habits of these horses and found one place that they often passed. Then one day he put some food out there. The horses at first were nervous about eating this food but ultimately the free food was too good to pass up. He continued to put food there and they continued to come there and eat it. Then he started to build a fence. This made the horses nervous once again but eventually they got used to it. After a time the whole area was fenced in except for a gateway. Once again the horses hesitated but then entered and ate. By the next time they came back to eat the “free” food a gate had been hung even though it was not closed. The horses didn’t notice and entered the gateway and began eating. The stranger walked up and closed the gate and had his horses. Many, many politicians (and preachers and church leaders) know how to corral horses and the love of filthy lucre entraps the voters (and the parishioners).

            Moses delivered God’s law, the ten commandments, to the twelve tribes of Israel. The last of these commandments says, “Thou shalt not covet.” However one cannot break any of the first nine commandments without coveting. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Philippians said,”Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” You can interpret the word, “want,” as it is used here by Paul, any way you want but you will never legitimately make it mean anything that is not a synonym of “covet.”

            Is loving money a root of some evils or is it “the root of all evil”? Not only is money the only thing I have ever found that will pay my bills but it is, in one form or another, the only thing that will purchase anything tangible. Materialism is rife in our world and keeping up with the Joneses is still in vogue in our society. I am afraid that William Penn was quite right:

Covetousness is the greatest of Monsters, as well as the Root of all Evil.

And the King James Version of the Bible is valid yet today.

Peter Dog!