King James I And The KJV Bible

King James I of England died in peace on March 5, 1625, at the age of 59, having caused the creation of the most popular text in all of human history.

James Charles Stuart was born at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, on June 19, 1566. His father was murdered before he was one year old and his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, after a short spell on the Scottish throne was forced to abdicate to her son, James. She spent the next 19 years imprisoned in London by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, before being executed in February of 1587. So King James was raised without mother or father at hand.

James became King James VI of Scotland when he was 13 months old, with John Knox preaching at his coronation. However he was then placed under four tutors who disciplined his mind and life. James excelled in his studies, spoke many languages and was highly learned in many subjects.

James began to rule Scotland at age 19 and took Anne of Denmark for his Queen a few years later. Thus followed a happy marriage, producing nine children. James wrote poetry to his beloved bride.

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James believed that his monarchy was a divine appointment, subscribing to the notion of the Divine Right of Kings and the monarch’s duty to reign according to God’s law and the public good.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, James ascended to the English throne and united Scotland, England and Ireland for the first time, forming Great Britain, which is the title he liked to use.

There were several attempts on the King’s life, most notably that of Roman Catholic Guy Fawkes who, in 1605, attempted to blow up Parliament while the king was to be there. The plot was discovered and all conspirators executed, and the English celebrate Guy Fawkes Night on November 5 each year. James was no friend to Catholicism, strongly delineating the errors of Roman doctrine and spurning them. Yet he treated Romanist subjects fairly.

It was during the reign of this “wisest fool in Christendom”, as he is called by some historians, that this Scottish-born king of England granted permission for an ‘Authorised’ version of the Bible.

In 1604, at the Hampton Court Conference, the Puritan, Dr John Reynolds (or Rainolds) broached the subject.  The king was not happy with the Geneva Version which had been the “Bible of the people” for about half a century.

Thus it was that 54 men were nominated for the task … although we only know of 47 who actually took part – and in 1611 the “Authorised Version”, or “King James Version” was printed, and this has remained a firm favourite with millions of Christians for almost 400 years.

The men chosen to create the new Bible translation were the best linguists and scholars in the world. They were top of their field and brilliant men. Much of their work on the King James Bible formed the basis for our linguistic studies of today. The creation of this great text had a profound influence on English literature from then on.

Yet the translation and translators are not without criticism. Among the translators was “Richard Thomson, the fat-bellied Arminian who, they said, went to bed drunk each night…” (The Men Behind the KJV, by G. Paine, page 155). “Ah, yes,” says Donald Prout, “there are some curious moments in church history!”

There are two historical views of King James I of England. His detractors, such as Anthony Weldon and Francis Osborne, spoke scandalously of him after his death, when he could not defend his reputation. Despite the obvious bigotry and racial prejudice among the writings the claims have been given credence by many.

It has been said that to have the name of King James I on the frontispiece of the Scriptures is ‘a blasphemous joke’.  This was the king who persecuted Puritans and Presbyterians, was a “notable exponent of the Divine Right of Kings,” and caused thousands of Christians to leave England seeking religious liberty.  “He created the most openly homosexual and drunken court in England’s long history!” … was “headstrong and haughty” … “at odds with nearly everyone during his reign” … “never popular or highly respected”…

Other records of King James I show him to be a devoted husband and a god-fearing man, motivated by the highest ideals. His book, Basilicon Doron (the Kingly Gift), written to instruct his son who would succeed him, gives the following instructions:

“Diligently read his word, & earnestly … pray for the right understanding thereof. Search the scriptures saith Christ for they will bear testimony of me. The whole Scriptures saith Paul are profitable to teach, to improve, to correct, and to instruct in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect unto all good works.” “The whole Scripture contayneth but two things: a command and a prohibition. Obey in both… The worship of God is wholy grounded upon the Scripture, quickened by faith.”

When knowledge of that book got out the people demanded to have copies and it became a popular text in English, Welsh, Latin, French, Swedish and German for the following 50 years.

James Disraeli declared that James “had formed the most elevated conception of the virtues and duties of a monarch”.

James was an excellent writer and is regarded by some as the leading literary figure of his day, with his writings being among the most important and influential British writings of their period.

Despite the great achievements attributed to King James, he was no stranger to pain and grief. He endured poor health with various physical handicaps, especially in his legs and with an enlarged tongue. He suffered many falls, accidents and injuries. His diseases are listed as “crippling arthritis, abdominal colic, gout, inability to sleep, weak/spasmic limbs, nausea, frequent diarrhoea, and kidney pain“. His pain was so great that the king at times became delirious.

James also suffered from depression following the loss of his beloved wife Queen Anne in 1619. She was preceded in death by their eldest son, Prince Henry in 1612. The King was no stranger to pain and sorrow.

However, at the time of his death, James ruled over a nation that had enjoyed internal and international peace. He died peacefully and handed the throne to an adult son. There was indeed great grace upon his reign.

As a side-note to the KJV Bible the name “James” was inserted into the New Testament, in place of anyone among Jesus’ generation named Jacob. Jesus’ disciple and Jesus’ brother were not known as James, but as Jacob. The inclusion of the name James was a personal concession to the King.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

King of America

I am an Aussie and so I am not into American patriotism. I leave that to them. Since American influence over western culture is ubiquitous much is written and said that is tinged with that patriotism. What I am writing here is not to suggest any idolatry of the American nation, but simply to share with you something I recently found which honours God with a significant place in that nation.

But first, some background.

Nations have their own deities, leaders, values, etc. These things have more impact on the nation and its future than might be anticipated by some. So when a nation makes a strong statement about what it is and what it stands for or worships, you can be sure there will be repercussions in the future.

The nation of France, as an example, made a deliberate mockery of God, during the French Revolution. Catholicism had been France’s national religion, but on November 10, 1793 Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was rededicated as a Temple of Reason. An opera dancer, Mademoiselle Maillard, draped in the colours of the new republic, was enthroned as the goddess of reason on the altar of the Cathedral. The Cathedral was then used as a food warehouse during the revolution.

That rejection of Christianity in all its forms has had profound impact on France and Europe in the centuries since.

In 1606 the Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros arrived at the Pacific islands of New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) and dedicated all the lands from there to the South Pole as “Terra Australis del Espiritu Santu” – the “Great South Land of the Holy Spirit“. This dedication is held to have significant prophetic fulfilment yet to be enjoyed in Australia and New Zealand.

So, now to America. I was delighted to be shown the following excerpt from a tract titled “Common Sense”, written in 1791 by an Englishman who took up the revolutionary cause of the Americas. Thomas Paine uses the term “king of America” and directed it to acknowledge God’s significant role in that nation, which at that time had not yet developed its constitution or gained statehood.

Paine declares that God is the King of America and rules via His Law, which is found in the Bible. Thus a crown should be placed on the Bible itself, to show that God’s law is King and there should be no other. Then scatter the crown among the people to show that the law belongs to them.

“But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.” Thomas Paine “Common Sense”

(For a full text of this tract go to: http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/commonsense/text.html)

Thomas Paine proclaimed, before the formation of the fledgling nation, that God is the sovereign and God’s Word, the Bible, is the holy law upon which the nation is established.

That’s a wonderful start and is just part of what has made America a significant player in world affairs over the past 2 centuries. Note that the French mockery of religion dates to 1793, while Paine’s profession of God’s centrality occurred almost at the same time, 1791. In the 200 years since we can see that Reason did not produce the same national significance that godliness brought to America.

We need to be careful about what we dedicate ourselves to, at an official and practical level. Future generations are at stake.

The Divine Right of Kings

English history plays out for us a lesson on our own condition. I’ll tease it out for you, through reflection on the Kings of England. Two competing notions of royalty played upon the English monarchy over the past millennia. One notion is that of the special rights conferred upon a king, as God’s appointee. This concept comes under the heading of ‘the divine right of kings’.

The other notion is that of the limitation of a monarch’s authority, in that he or she is not above the law.

In the middle ages the King was considered a divine appointee who ruled with God’s authority. Kings throughout history relied on the notion of their own superiority in order to maintain their position of power. In ancient Egypt, for example, Pharaoh’s were regarded as divine.

Since power corrupts, such notions of personal power tempt monarchs to overstep their bounds. In a land of powerless people a despotic monarch can do as he or she pleases. In England in the 1200’s the nation was in the hands of barons, who had large land holdings and who operated as mini kingdoms within the larger kingdom. Kings funded and staffed their activities, such as wars, through taxing the barons.

During the reign of King John many barons and church leaders resisted his heavy taxes and demands, demanding of him instead. This led to the creation and signing of the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215. King John acceded to the baron’s demands, thus making himself subject to the law. The Magna Carta effectively limits the divine right of kings to be expressed within the bounds of God’s law.

English poet, Rudyard Kipling (whose poem “If” I have used elsewhere in these posts) refers to the divine right of kings in his poem about the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, 800 years ago.

“And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising ‘Sign!’
They settled John at Runnymede.”
Rudyard Kipling, What Say The Reeds At Runnymede?

That was not the end of the matter. Kings continued to push the limits of their power. Thus, over 600 years after the Magna Carta, kings and queens of England continued to play their part in this running battle between privilege and obligation.

Due to a series of abuses by kings and a running religious struggle between Catholic and Protestant monarchs, King James II was overthrown in what is called the Glorious Revolution of November 1688. The English Parliament invited James’ daughter Mary and her husband William to the throne, on condition they are subject to the rule of Parliament.

This further limiting of the divine right of kings celebrated again that monarchs, even if appointed by divine mandate, are not above the law.

These historic landmarks illustrate the tension between rights and responsibilities. Privilege and obligation coexist in tension. In most aspects of our existence we must be subject to obligation in order to fully enjoy our privileges.

Marriage is an example. It affords a couple the rights and privileges of conjugal intimacy, while it also requiring both to accept the part God assigns them, in their unique role as husband or wife.

However, I digress. Where I want to go with all of this is to the point that kings do have privilege. A ruling monarch does have something akin to a divine right to their position. Yet they are not only subject to the law, as explained above, but they are unable to exercise authority over others who also share a ‘divine right’. Now, that’s where I’m going with this, but you’ll have to wait for a later post to let me take you there.

Logophile for Queens

Here’s a royal theme to give us an excuse to play with some words. I am sure the pedants out there can explain whether “queen” is both singular and plural. I haven’t bothered to dig too deep on that one, but I have a suspicion that the plural of queen can be both ‘queen’ and ‘queens’. Anyone have the good oil on that one?

My focus is with the types of queen and the verbiage which relates to them. There are two main types of queen. A queen regent and a queen consort. When the ruling monarch is a queen then she has regal power. She is the ruling authority, as is currently the case in England with Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth carries royalty in her blood and so she is queen regent.

When I was young I couldn’t understand why the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip, was not the king. The reason is that he is not of the royal lineage and has no right to the throne. His wife is his monarch.

Where a king is on the throne his wife is designated as a queen. She is a queen consort, since she is his consort. Consort comes from an Old French word meaning to ‘share with’. Any group or person who cooperates with another could be designated a ‘consort’.

Consort, therefore, includes any spouse. It also includes such collections as a musical ensemble and it refers to one who tags along, including a ship which accompanies another. In common usage it is often used in a negative connotation, such as saying that someone consorts with unsavoury friends.

Now, having put ‘regent’ and ‘consort’ onto the table let’s have a look at the vocabulary that springs from them.

Regent is linked to regal. Regal gowns are known as regalia, although that term is often used in a light-hearted fashion when describing the elaborate costume of an ordinary person. “Decked in his official regalia the yacht club captain struck a handsome pose.”

Consort gives us more room to explore. We can have a consortium, being a collection of things which go together. A consortium may be a group of companies which collaborate together in a project or enterprise.

Legally the term consortium refers to the emotional bond shared between parent and child or husband and wife. It also refers to the conjugal blessings which a married couple can share.

Consorting is given almost criminal implications when the police notice a person mixing with the wrong company.

A Dowager Queen is one who has received a dowry, including her status as queen. It seems logical that only a queen consort could become a dowager queen, since a queen regent would not receive an endowment from their spouse.

A Queen Mother refers to a queen consort whose husband, the king, has died and the monarchy has passed to one of her children. She is thus the mother of the monarch, and yet a queen, not losing that title when the king dies.

Now, I have no idea why these words took my fancy, but I have successfully distracted you with them. If you are a lover of words you won’t mind the distraction. If you are a pedant you are probably distracted by holes in my definitions and you may wish to correct and expand my observations. Please feel free to do so. The joy of words is to use them, explore them and apply them where they can enrich our understanding and experience.

‘Dreaming’ About Australia

I have pointed out recently that our world now suffers from the New Dreaming, where people believe things without any basis in fact, and they try to build their life on those beliefs. At the same time there are those who exploit the ignorance of today’s dreamers with mythologies that cause phantasms to dance through dreaming heads. The stupor that is created is a threat to the very way we live.

New Dreaming is seen in Australia in the Republican debate. Strident efforts have been made now for several decades to delude the uninformed Australian citizenry into thinking our Constitution is flawed and needs to be overturned in favour of something new.

A number of deceptive notions are embedded in this debate and much of the Australian populace is too ill-informed to detect the way they are being played for fools. So let’s take a moment to consider the advice of our current Head of State, Australian Governor-General Michael Jeffery.

“What I do emphasise very strongly is that before people can make an informed decision on better ways of governing ourselves – including perhaps whether we go to a republic or not – you’ve got to have a good understanding of how your present system works, its strengths and weaknesses.”

“Without question our system has worked very well for over 100 years. That’s not to say that we can’t do better, but we won’t do better unless people understand where they have come from if they are looking at where they want to go.”

“If they’re going to take a plunge out there simply because they think it’s a good thing to do, without understanding the subtleties, nuances and the ramifications, then we have the potential to make a big mistake.” (Quoted from News.com.au, written by Doug Conway – http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23586774-1702,00.html)

Here, here. The good Major General knows only too well that Australian’s are ignorant of their own constitution and the realities of their present governmental structure. The public is ripe for exploitation and happy to be duped in this debate.

Aussies are frequently reminded that they are tied to the monarchy of England. Just about all Aussies are sure that is the case, and so some like the idea of moving away from that connection. The link to England is presented as a vestigial construct overdue for surgical removal.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, dated April 23, about Australia’s first female Governor General, the whole notion of our link to England is a furphy. It is a lie. It has no basis in fact. As far back as one year after Australia was constituted as a nation it was realised that the Australian Governor General is commissioned by the Australian Constitution to act independently of the English Monarchy. The Australian Governor General is the true, Aussie Head of State.

Australians do not need a Republic. They do not need to sever their constitutional links to the English Monarchy. Those links simply do not exist. And don’t take my word for it. Read what Sir David Smith, a retired public servant who spent many years working with Australian Governors General, has uncovered on the subject. The link to his article is: http://www.monarchist.org.au/smith3.htm

The New Dreaming includes all manner of ideas propagated as truth to people who have lost all foundation for what reality is. Arrogant people are asserting themselves upon a lost society, vying for devotees to their favoured mythology, and initiates to affirm their self-proclaimed guru status.

Truth is greater than the lie, to the degree that God is above all else and Jesus Christ is triumphant over the devil. The lie is not to be feared, but it is to be exposed and it is to be dispelled. This is best done, by exalting the person who is ‘Truth’. It is supported by building the kingdom belonging to the one bearing that title. Please join me in building the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.