In Galatians, a letter written about the so-called Judaizers in the early church, the Apostle Paul says,
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of the Messiah and, instead, are following a different gospel, 7 not that another one really exists. To be sure, there are certain people who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel about the Messiah. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that person be condemned! 9 What we have told you in the past I am now telling you again: If anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that person be condemned! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of people or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be the Messiah’s servant.
— Galatians 1:6–10 (ISV)
In one of the strongest statements in the Word of God outside of the teaching of Jesus Himself, Paul insists that the name Christ is not enough. The Judaizers had a gospel, but it was “another gospel.” Just as the worshipers of the golden calf had another god—another god under the name* God—here is another Christ* under the name Christ and another gospel under the name gospel. Paul confronted the churches of Galatia and said, “Because this ‘gospel’ is ‘another gospel,’ it is no gospel.
While this passage Paul wrote was in regard to the Judaizers that took a legalistic view of the New Testament, these verses also hold true for some of the Bible translations now on the market.
There are a number of Bible translations on the market; some of them are listed below:
(This newsletter uses the ISV. — ed)
However, there are some translations that call themselves such only by the greatest stretch of the imagination. They cannot be classified even as a paraphrase.
One translation comes to mind. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Mission Frontiers are translating the New Testament in a way they claim Muslims can understand.
Many Christians are calling it a perversion.
While this effort first came to light a few years ago, it has again come into the news with tracts starting to appear that are “Muslim friendly”.
Frontiers and SIL have also produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, an Arabic translation that removes “Father” in reference to God and replaces it with “Allah,” and removes or redefines “Son.”
The verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit” instead of “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
The Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab-American who runs Middle East Resources, calls the standard Bible translations “a western imperialistic attempt that’s inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology.”
Part of the rationale for doing these various translations comes from the premise that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God. As stated by Mission Frontiers:
From a Muslim’s perspective, the premise that Muslims, Jews and Christians believe in the same God— the God of Abraham—is so central to Islamic theology that unqualified rejection of it would, for many, be tantamount to a repudiation of faith.
Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, says,
… [F]or many denominations, the validity of baptism depends on the words used: ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ No euphemisms, no nicknames: for example, trial balloons aiming to portray a more gender-neutral God have already been burst: the use of ‘Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier’ in baptism has been rejected by the Catholic Church, if not others.
Pamela Geller sums up the debate succinctly:
Instead of Christians bending over backward to appease Muslims, “it is Islamic authorities who should be excising the Quran and Hadith of the ideology that calls for jihad, genocide, subjugation and oppression of women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and all non-Muslims,”.
Another affront to the inerrancy of the Bible is the Queen James Version (QJV) of the Bible, a homosexual-friendly work.
The editors have the tagline, “You can’t choose your sexuality, but you can choose Jesus. Now you can choose a Bible, too!”
In their words, the editors chose that name because, “The obvious gay link to King James, known amongst friends and courtiers as “Queen James” because of his many gay lovers.”
Their rationale for this translation is:
The Bible is the word of God translated by man. This (saying nothing countless translations and the evolution of language itself) means the Bible can be interpreted in different ways, leading to what we call “interpretive ambiguity.” In editing The Queen James Bible we were faced with the decision to modify existing interpretively ambiguous language, or simply to delete it.
They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to visit you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” (ISV)
Has been changed to:
And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may rape and humiliate them. (QJV)
Their reason for the change? They state:
We side with most Bible scholars who understand the story of Sodom and Gomorra to be about bullying strangers. Strangers were not well-treated or well-regarded at the time of Bible (We contend that saying “most” Bible Scholars take this view is incorrect – ed.).
They also single out the Book of Leviticus for the largest changes because it is an “outdated moral code”.
Two passages in Leviticus are highlighted on their website:
You are not to have sexual relations[a] with a male as you would with a woman. It’s detestable.” — Leviticus 18:22 (ISV)
This was changed to:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination. (QJV)
Leviticus 20:13 was changed from:
If a man has sexual relations with another male as he would with a woman, both have committed a repulsive act. They are certainly to be put to death. (ISV)
If a man also lie with mankind in the temple of Molech, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (QJV)
This verse, pointing to idolatry (the temple of Molech) as the sin rather than homosexuality.
(For a complete rendering of the rationale for this translation, go to the Queen James Bible website.)
There are other translations whose editor’s state they want to get rid of the “outdated language” of other translations.
Some of the guidelines for a gender-neutral Bible translation were stated by the NIV Committee on Bible Translation in 1992:
Authors of Biblical books, even while writing Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit, unconsciously reflected in many ways, the particular cultures in which they wrote. Hence in the manner in which they articulate the Word of God, they sometimes offend modern sensibilities. At such times, translators can and may use non-offending renderings so as not to hinder the message of the Spirit; and
The patriarchalism (like other social patterns) of the ancient cultures in which the Biblical books were composed is pervasively reflected in forms of expression that appear, in the modern context, to deny the common human dignity of all hearers and readers. For these forms, alternative modes of expression can and may be used, though care must be taken not to distort the intent of the original text.
What have been the results of the proliferation of English Bible translations? Earl Radmacher and Zane Hodges had named five “present-day problems” in regard to some of the English Bible translations out in print. The problems are these:
The translations that play fast and loose with the original available autographs also add to a decrease in biblical literacy. Based on what you hear coming from many “Bible-believing Christians”, it seems as if the impact has been profound.
One example is found in the variants in The Lord’s Prayer. In the paraphrase book The Message it reads:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best –
As above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
With publishers putting out translations that have these types of variations in it, no wonder people doubt the divine inspiration of the Bible.
The translations highlighted above were written with an agenda; not to accurately translate the Word of God, but to pander to a target audience. The 17th Century Puritan Church leader Richard Baxter was very clear on the subject:
I like to hear a man dwell much on the same essentials of Christianity. For we have but one God, and one Christ, and one faith to preach; and I will not preach another Gospel to please men with variety, as if our Saviour and our Gospel were grown stale.
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