Considering the news that came from Florida this week (and the horrendous incident and court case behind it) I was surprised to see a commentary titled "Casey Anthony: The System Worked." Alan Dershowitz makes some legitimate (albeit uncomfortable) points, but that's not what stood out in the piece. Instead, it was how Dershowitz explained why "for thousands of years, Western society has insisted that it is better for 10 guilty defendants to go free than for one innocent defendant to be wrongly convicted."1 He continues:
This daunting standard finds its roots in the biblical story of Abraham's argument with God about the sinners of Sodom.
Abraham admonishes God for planning to sweep away the innocent along with the guilty and asks Him whether it would be right to condemn the sinners of Sodom if there were 10 or more righteous people among them. God agrees and reassures Abraham that he would spare the city if there were 10 righteous. From this compelling account, the legal standard has emerged.2
Although I still can't help feel that justice wasn't done for little Caylee Anthony, it is comforting that even in today's "remove all vestiges of Christianity from the public square" atmosphere one simple story from the pages of Scripture still has so much influence. What may be even more aggravating to the most rabid "new" atheist is that regardless of how hard they try, they are unable to change the fact that you can't modify history. No matter how vehemently they attempt to apply an anti-religion scalpel, our Judeo-Christian foundation will remain an overwhelming influence in our society. They can ignore the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (or even condemn its implicit "homophobia"), but even if they banish that from the mind of every American, they would have to use a linguistic microscope to find all the other influences. For instance, have you ever said any of these?:
A broken heart
A drop in the bucket
A labour of love
A law unto themselves
At wit's end
Seeing eye to eye
Put words into one's mouth
Put your house in order
Sign of the times
The root of the matter
That is only a portion of a list called "Test Your Bible Knowledge: English Phrases and Saying that Derive from the KJV."3 How many times have you used some of those expressions without realizing that you wouldn't be saying them if it weren't for a book that is celebrating it's 400th anniversary? Like me, you may prefer a more modern translation, but none has the chance to affect our speech as much as the King James Version did. One might argue that English itself might not be so dominant, especially in the areas of commerce, if it weren't for that Bible. Just like today, there were plenty of dialects competing for prevalence (developing their outposts in certain geographic areas and cultures). If you have ever tried to understand the banter between two people who seem to have a secret slang code, or perhaps an Englishman with a thick cockney accent (and colloquialisms), you can understand what could have happened to English if the "Authorized Version" hadn't corralled all the wild horses of our language.
Instead, the King James Version became the standard for knowing how the English language should be used. Combine that with a willingness to leverage those 66 books in the schoolroom (even after our Constitution's 1st Amendment promised us separation of church and state) and America owes a whole lot more to the Bible than just a bunch of familiar idioms and a legal foundation for erring on the side of letting the guilty go free. It could be argued that those who are doing everything they can to try to expunge all mentions of our Christian history from textbooks wouldn't be allowed the free speech (or a such a willing legal system) to do so if it weren't for the scriptural foundation they are now attempting to deny and expel.
Yes, I thank King James for "his" Bible. I also thank our American forefathers for their wisdom in seeing that the principles established in Scripture were the best footing for a successful government and society.
But I mostly thank God for inspiring the writers of the Bible to pen His words (and for providentially protecting its texts for future generations). To His glory (and our blessing) He has provided a fountain of truth (that leads to wisdom and salvation) which we can drink from regardless of whether secularists succeed in eradicating it from anything the government touches. Someday every government will be replaced by one, and on the judgment day that precedes that change there will be many who will have wished that they had paid more attention to the words and principles in the 66 books.
The words and principles they worked so hard to remove.
The words and principles, thanks in great part to King James, they use without even realizing it.
1 Dershowitz, A. (2011, July 27). Casey Anthony: The System Worked. WSJ.com. Retrieved July 8, 2011, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303544604576429783247016492.html
3 Test Your Bible Knowledge: English Phrases and Sayings that Derive from the KJV. (n.d.). Christian History, (100), 1.