Today there are many Christians who try to distance themselves from the King James Version Only (KJVO) movement but who at the same time insist on using only English translations based on the KJV’s underlying Greek New Testament, known as the Textus Receptus (TR). This position argues both Biblically and historically and is sadly the cause of much discord within the church.

What Does the Textus Receptus Movement Believe?

In their own words, the TR Only movement comes in two flavors.

First, there is the TR Perfect position. This states that the TR is identical to the original autographs. The TR Perfect movement believes that the Textus Receptus is a fulfillment of the promise in Matthew 5:18. TR Perfect holds that there must exist a complete Greek New Testament text in general availability that, in its main text block, is identical to the original autographs, or else God has failed his promise in this verse and elsewhere.

Secondly, there is the TR Preferred position. This position is very similar to the TR Perfect position, but it is slightly less absolutist in its claims.1 The TR Preferred position states that the TR is very close to the original autographs, certainly much closer than the Byzantine Priority or Critical Text platforms, and should be preferred over both.

What Do We Believe?

We agree with everything stated in Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures, as set forth originally in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) and restated in the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (2LBCF). We affirm the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture. We affirm the tenacity of Scripture as defined by the Protestant Reformers. We affirm that the Word of God has been kept pure in all ages and that this purity can be found in the TR platform as well as the Byzantine Priority platform and the Critical Text platform. We believe that our definition of this is the same as the Reformer’s and that it is robust enough to handle the historical realities of how we got our Bible today. We believe that the TR Only movement is a departure from this understanding, and does not accurately represent the views of the Scriptures or the Reformers. We believe that if they were alive today, they would distance themselves from the TR Only movement, and we have their words and actions to prove it.

What Is the Goal of This Site?

Our thesis is twofold: firstly, that the TR Perfect movement is Biblically and historically indefensible; secondly that those who hold to the TR Preferred position should cease judging modern English translations for not being based on the TR.

To achieve this thesis, we must shed light on a debate that is all too often riddled with lopsided information and zeal that is not according to knowledge. There is much confusion and downright censorship of knowledge within the TR Movement and many inconsistencies. Notably, the TR Preferred position invariably uses arguments that only work in the context of a TR Perfect position. The moment one admits there might be a solitary verse in need of improvement in the TR, the TR Perfect’s argumentation of Matthew 5:18 immediately breaks down, and a consistent method of textual criticism must be produced. The TR Perfect position accurately recognizes this is the death knell for its position since it cannot produce a consistent method of textual criticism; consequently, the TR Perfect position is more internally consistent than the TR Preferred position. However, as this site demonstrates, it’s Biblically and historically indefensible, and reformers such as John Calvin didn’t believe anything remotely like it.

For Whom Is This Site?

First, let’s start with for whom this site is not. It is not for those who are intent on holding a position regardless of the Biblical and historical evidence.2 In our experience, it is sadly the case that there are those within the TR movement who will not change their minds no matter how much evidence is produced that directly contradicts their claims. For them, their authority is ultimately (a misinterpretation of) man’s tradition, not God’s word.

This site is for those who genuinely want to know what God teaches about transmission and translation. It’s for people who have been told that they’re sinning if they read any English translation other than the King James. It’s for people who have found the TR Movement’s arguments to be daunting and challenging, don’t have satisfactory answers to the claims, but sense that something is off. It’s for the modern plowboy who is tired of being stuck with a 400-plus-year-old English translation and wistfully yearns for a vernacular translation that he can understand more fully.3 If this sounds like you, this site is for you.

  1. When trying to understand if one holds to a TR Perfect versus TR Preferred position, here are a couple of questions to ask. First, what’s a good example of a verse that the TR got wrong and needs revisiting? A great place to start would be a verse where the manuscript evidence is strongly against the TR (e.g. Ephesians 3:9, Revelation 22:19). If the answer is, “there is no verse in need of revisiting,” one holds to a TR Perfect position. The second question to ask is this: “What verses speak of God’s promise to preserve Scripture?” If the answer involves passages such as Matthew 5:18 and Revelation 22:18-19, with the implication that the promise that “not one penstroke will be lost” can be confidently applied to the TR, then one likewise holds to a TR Perfect position. As these questions demonstrate, most people who espouse the TR hold to a TR Perfect position, whether they’re comfortable admitting that or not. The answers to these questions make it clear where they stand. ↩︎

  2. This site is also not for those who openly admit that they are King James Version Only. There are good books out there for such people (e.g. Mark Ward’s Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Version), and they are not our focus. The TR Only movement is more sophisticated and uses different lines of argumentation than the openly KJVO group. In our experience, the TR Only movement is functionally a KJVO movement too in terms of practice, but it is vehemently opposed to being labeled that. ↩︎

  3. Lamentably, the TR Only movement is seemingly as opposed to a vernacular translation as the Roman Catholics were of William Tyndale’s vulgar translation. They have their reasons, but we’re here today to say: they’re wrong↩︎