While on vacation, I'm reading In the World But Not of It: One Family's Militant Faith and the History of Fundamentalism in America, by Brett Grainger. It's a blend of memoir and religious history.
Grainger's well-written memories don't exactly match my own. He grew up in a family who were staunch members of the Plymouth Brethren. (These were F. F. Bruce's people. Their eschatology is dispensational premillennialist. Is this why Bruce, a first-rate New Testament scholar and prolific writer, never did a commentary on the Book of Revelation?) Anyway, here's a taste from one of the more memorable passages in Grainger's book:
However lowly they might be in the eyes of the world, the Brethren had one critical advantage: the King James Bible. When believers gathered to share the Word, they left behind the tedium and disappointment of daily life and became heirs of a great cultural legacy. Their imagination was immersed in Scripture. The hero epics of Genesis, the wisdom of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the promises of Revelation, the psychology of the Psalms--by turns, hopeful and embittered, imprecatory and magnanimous--lent their hardscrabble lives a beauty and grace they might otherwise have lacked. The Bible compensated for their unpolished manners. It was more important to them than their cheap suits and unfashionable dresses.
When believers spoke with one another, the King James was their lingua franca. They used words long vanished from common speech: yea and nay and verily and whosoever, thee and thou and thine. They called one another brother and sister, as Paul had done in his epistles. Outside in the world, such antiquated habits would have sounded silly or affected. But on Sunday morning, when the plumber with a harelip stood and prayed over bread and wine in seventeenth-century English, it seemed as though he had found his mother tongue.