The Real Story of King James I
by Dr. Phil Stringer

WAS KING JAMES REALLY THE UNGODLY MAN THAT HIS MODERN CRITICS PROCLAIM HIM TO BE?

MISUNDERSTOOD CUSTOMS OF THE TIME

King James's critics ask: isn't it true that King James publicly kissed men on the cheek and called men affectionate names like darling and sweetheart? Didn't men routinely sleep at night in his bed? Didn't King James often lean on male members of the royal household? These allegations are true. Similar evidence is also used by modem homosexual activists to assert that William Shakespeare (a contemporary of King James) was a homosexual. But this is all a misreading of the customs of the time.

Assassination of royalty was a common event and it was a customary thing for kings to have bodyguards sleep in their bed. No one accuses the promiscuous, womanizer, Henry VIII of being anything but a heterosexual. Yet he routinely slept with bodyguards in the royal bed. King James survived two kidnappings and four violent attempts on his life. Such experiences did nothing to cause King James to break with the normal procedure of always keeping his bodyguards close at hand. In sharing his bed with royal bodyguards, King James was only following the normal practice of the royalty of his time.

Terms of affection like "sweetheart" and "darling" were normal terms used between men in the seventeenth century in England. In Psalm 22:20, God the Father calls Christ the Son "My Darling." He does so again in Psalm 35:17. In the 1990's African-American women routinely called each other "girlfriend." This is not a homosexual term but a normal expression of the time. Anyone who presents the use of terms like "sweetheart" and "darling" as proof of homosexuality in seventeenth century England is a very shallow historian (or has a very vulgar mind). King James (or for that matter William Shakespeare) does not deserve such treatment.

Men kissing men as a form of greeting was a common innocent custom in seventeenth century England (just as it is in twentieth century France).

Erasmus wrote of the English: "Wherever you come, you are received with a kiss by all; when you take your leave, you are dismissed with kisses: you return, kisses are repeated, They come to visit you, kisses again: they leave you, you kiss them all round. Should they meet you anywhere kisses in abundance: in fine, wherever you move, there is nothing but kisses."

Before evil minded men are quick to present this as proof of homosexuality, perhaps they should remember that this was also a common custom in Bible times: "Greet ye one another with a holy kiss." 1 Corinthians 16:20 (see also Luke 7:45, Romans 16:16, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26:1 Peter 5:14, Acts 20:37).

Because of the weakness of his legs James often leaned on members of the royal staff as he was dealing with official business. Such a position is not unusual for a king (2 Kings 7:2,17). John leaned on Jesus (John 13:23, 21:20). Homosexual activists toy to claim this as proof of homosexuality on the part of Jesus but Bible believers are quick to see through such foolishness (Titus 1:15).

Anyone interested in the truth would be willing to understand King James's behavior in the light of the customs of the day.

WAS KING JAMES A SAVED MAN?

James was around the preaching of the gospel and the teaching of evangelical theology from his early childhood. His coronation sermon was delivered by Reformation leader John Knox. Puritan theologian George Buchanan was one of James's early tutors and later dedicated a doctrines textbook to him.

Historian Robert Chambers described James's Biblical knowledge this way, "He was deeply read in Scripture; he could quote its texts with great facility; knew it even with philological exactness." James wrote to a friend and said, "Praying God that as you are regenerated and born in him anew, so you may rise to him and be sanctified in him forever." In his writings James often refers to salvation as a free gift, salvation by faith and regeneration. He refers to one day receiving "white garments washed in the blood of the Lamb."

In only one area does James ever seem to differ doctrinally with his Scottish Presbyterian tutors - the doctrine of civil government.

James was trained by evangelical Christians, claimed to be an evangelical Christian; wrote about evangelical doctrine and was accepted as a saved man by the born again Christians of his time. Nothing documented in his life gives anyone reason to question his salvation. In fact the real King James showed an interest in morality and holiness that is almost unique among the royalty of the period. James wrote "Holiness being the first and most requisite quality of a Christian (as proceeding from true fear and knowledge of God)."

There is no legitimate reason to question James's salvation. The real King James was a professing Christian with a good testimony.

KING JAMES'S ROLE IN SPONSORING
THE KING JAMES TRANSLATION

From January 14-18, 1604 A.D., the leaders of the Church of England met at Hampton Court in London. This meeting was called by King James. The Church of England was divided into three main factions. The Anglo-Catholic faction wanted to keep all the trappings and much of the doctrine of Roman Catholicism without acknowledging the authority of the Pope. The Protestant faction wanted the church of England to be the state Protestant Church like the Lutheran in Germany and the Reformed Church in Switzerland.

The Puritans were the most thoroughly evangelical and Biblically oriented of the three groups. They wanted a complete break with Catholicism and a greater degree of independence for local churches.

The three factions were at considerable odds with each other. King James attempted to moderate between the different factions. John Rainolds, representing the Puritans, made a formal request that King James sponsor a new English translation. The Bishop of London opposed this suggestion but John Rainolds eventually persuaded King James to give his blessing! Because of this Rainolds is remembered as the Father of the King James Bible.

King James became the first earthly monarch to successfully sponsor and encourage the distribution of the entire Word of God in the daily language of his people. (King Alfred had made an attempt to get part of the Scripture into the language of the people of England centuries earlier).

William Tyndale, the Father of the English Bible, had been used of God to bring an early translation of the Bible in English to the English people. For this crime he was declared to be a heretic and was burned at the stake. His last words were "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." Now a born again English king was sponsoring an English Bible, produced openly on English soil for English churches and English Christians.

King James appointed 54 learned men to make "one more exact translation of the Bible." Later others would be invited to join them. King James encouraged finances to this project and set the example by agreeing to underwrite the salary of several of the translators himself.

Even though the official name for this translation would be the Authorized Version, it was soon known as the King James Bible. It was uniquely made possible and promoted by the King of England - King James. Laymen now had no fear of owning their own Bible - it was sponsored by the King for them.

THE LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS
AND SCHOLARSHIP OF KING JAMES

King James was fluent in Greek, Latin and French. He wrote a number of books and pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects. In his book Great Britain's Solomon Maurice Lee, Jr. wrote: "It would be difficult to imagine a more absorbing companion than this intelligent, learned, witty Scot, an author who wrote on subjects as diverse as theology, tobacco, witchcraft and the theory and practice of kingship and who was a poet to boot. And a king - a king almost from birth in his native Scotland, for forty of his forty-nine years and of England and Ireland for twenty-two. And be it said at once a successful king."

King James did his own private translation of Psalms. He also wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation and a series of devotionals on the Lord's Prayer.

Tobacco use began in England during the time of King James. Tobacco was being introduced from England's new American colonies. King James wrote a small book about tobacco and condemned both the smoking and chewing of tobacco as a disgusting habit. He wrote that "...a smoker and a non-smoker cannot be equally free in the same room."

James wrote a book entitled Demonology. This book enraged the witches of England because it attributed their supernatural powers to demon possession. They swore their eternal hatred of James.

James wrote often about moral matters including homosexuality. There is absolutely nothing in his writings to give evidence to the moral charges against King James and there is much to refute them.

King James wrote more books than any royal monarch of any nation. As a result he is the most often quoted royal monarch of all time.

The real King James was a respected scholar and an influential author.

KING JAMES POLITICAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

King James was the first British monarch to bear the title "sacred majesty."

King James united Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland under one royal throne. This created the United Kingdom. How different the world might have been if the United Kingdom had not had the strength to resist first the German fascists and then the Russian communists in the twentieth century.

The leadership of King James was essential in planting an enduring English presence in the Western Hemisphere. These humble beginnings would lead to the foundation of the United States of America. Again, how different the world would have been in the twentieth century had the United States not been Great Britain's indispensable partner in resisting both fascism and communism in the twentieth century.

Certainly all the credit cannot be given to King James for the strength and development of the United Kingdom and the United States but he played an important and positive role in the history of each.

One of James's contemporaries described his rule this way: "... for he lived in peace, died in peace and left all his kingdoms in a peaceable condition."

James is also credited with ending torture as a part of the English legal system. He also replaced burning at the stake as a means of execution.

When James became King it was a common thing for Baptists (among others) to be executed by the state for being religious nonconformists. This continued through the early years of the reign of King James but he put an end to this policy in 1612. He wrote, "I will never allow in my conscience that the blood of any man shall be shed for diversity of opinions in religion."

The peace and prosperity enjoyed by England during James's rule would be a credit to any civil ruler. Upon his death in 1625 James was compared (in his funeral sermon) to King Solomon.

"King Solomon is said to be Brigentus Corm Matre Sua, the only son of his mother, Proverbs 4:3. So was King James. Solomon had a complexion white and ruddy, Song of Solomon 5:10. So was King James. Solomon was an infant king, Pver Parvulus, a little child, 1 Chronicles 22:5 - So was King James, a King at the age of 13 months. Solomon began his reign in the life of his predecessor, 1 Kings 1:32, so by the force and compulsion of the state (Scotland) did our late sovereign King James. Solomon was twice crowned and anointed a King. 1 Chronicles 29:22—so was King James. Solomon's minority was rough, through the quarrels of the former sovereign; so was that of King James. Solomon learned above all the princes of the East, 1 Kings 4:20. So was King James above all the princes of the universal world. Solomon was a writer in prose and verse, 1 Kings 4:32—so in a very pure and exquisite manner was our sweet sovereign King James. Solomon was the greatest patron we ever read to church and churchman and yet no greater (let the house of Aaron now confess then King James). Solomon was honored with ambassadors from all Kings of the earth, 1 Kings 4 - And so you know was King James... Solomon died in peace, when he had lived about 60 years and so you know did King James."

Sir Fernando Gorges one of the founders of Jamestown, also compared James to Solomon.

"This great monarch gloriously ascending his throne (1603) being born to greatness above his ancestors to whom all submitted as to another Solomon for wisdom and justice."

KING JAMES - UNJUSTLY ACCUSED

Almost half of the information in this monograph comes from one source - the book King James the VI Of Scotland and The I of England Unjustly Accussed. This book was written by Stephen Coston Sr. and published in 1996. It is 392 pages in length. This book does a masterful job of refuting the moral accusations against King James. Coston's work is unanswerable.

CONCLUSION

King James spoke eloquently of the role of the King as a moral example: "But it is not enough to be a good king, by the thralldom of good laws will execute to govern his people, if he joins not therewith his virtuous life in his own person and in the person of his court and company by his good example alluring his subjects to the love of virtue and hatred of vice..."

King James believed his servant John Gibb had lost some important papers. In his anger he kicked him. Later he found out that Gibb had not lost them. In a display of humility, almost unheard of for a royal monarch, he knelt before Gibb and begged his forgiveness.

As historian Steven Coston Sr. says "James was, no matter what tales some may tell, a virtuous man of good intentions, who did the best he could as God gave him strength."