Why were the Hardshells so quick to embrace KJV Onlyism, even to the point of changing their articles of faith on the matter, and many making it a test of fellowship? I have considered this question much over the past forty years. My opinion? Well, I think many of them adopted that view for these reasons, which I will try to give in order of importance.
1) Laziness of both the elders and the members, who did not wish to do the deeper study that is involved in studying the original languages and the veracity of translations.
2) Fear that not adopting KJV Onlyism will lead the more adept ministers into the practice of often citing the original languages in their sermons and that this practice will be detrimental to the more unlearned elders.
3) Worry that not adopting KJV Onlyism will cause confusion among the churches as each minister and member chooses a different version to use.
4) Sonny Pyles seemed to know what he was talking about when he preached in favor of KJV Onlyism and all should go along with what he was saying about how all other translations were part of a conspiracy to deny some fundamental doctrine of the faith.
5) Inability to answer the questions of the KJV Only advocates, such as "do we have a Bible today that is without error?" And, "has God preserved his word?"
In my years of studying the history of the Hardshells and of the Baptists in general, I have taken mental notes of how our forefathers viewed the KJV and the use of other translations. For instance, many of the Two Seeders, and those espousing eternal vital unionism, spoke against the KJV. So too did many of the Absoluters. Many of them wondered how Old Baptists could support a translation that had so many heretics on the translation committee.
Elder Sylvester Hassell was not a KJV Only man. Here is what he said about the matter.
"Nowhere in the Bible does God promise to inspire or make infallible translators or transscribers or printers; but the men of God who first wrote the Scriptures were, as they claim, and as is abundantly demonstrated, inspired of God; and He has not allowed these variations of others to affect a single doctrine or practice of His Written Word." (The Gospel Messenger, 1914)
If one reads many of the oldest writings among the Hardshells, especially in the 19th century, he will see how they often cited from other translations, on particular verses, when they thought they were better or more correct than the KJV. But, such a practice must be condemned by our modern Hardshell KJV Onlyists.
What do you think?