Quick Thought

How Bible publishers show their contempt for the Word of God.

Bible publishers actually have run amok with the myriad of “translations”, editions and special-purpose Bibles now being sold to Christians—those, unfortunately careless and/or immature enough to buy them. The following is a sampling from an Aug 2011 paper catalog from Christian Book Distributors, with additional reviews added about a year ago. (Following each entry is my comment, deliberately droll and/or sarcastic.)

[I wrote this Addendum for a Bible study I led in 2011. I reproduced it here as a Quick Thought with very small edits as needed for the different venue.

As you will see from even a casual review of the following lists, it is not just Bible teachers, preachers and pastors who treat the Word of God (the Bible) with contempt. Bible publishers, apparently not content to print legitimate Bibles, have to swell their offerings by creating ever more creative—and destructive—versions of the Bible.

It is very troubling that they don’t even fear that they have polluted the Bible with their humanistic and self-serving “translations” and editions. Moreover, the people who buy these abominable versions think that they are being given eternal truth are instead being fed with the slop of the very human editors. This is the warning of 2 Tim 4.3-4 being fulfilled in our time.

I hope that you come away with the same abhorrence for these versions as I have. It you don't, then I hope that someday the LORD will open your eyes to "extract the precious from the worthless". (Jer 15.19) Until then, you partake of humanistic and less-than-wholesome "Bible teaching". You'd do better by reading the back of a box of cereal.]

Below, quotations from Bible publishers highlighted.

 

Translation
Highlights (from published product description)
NIV Celebrate Recovery Bible
“If you long to break free from hurts, habits, and hang-ups, the Celebrate Recovery Bible is a powerful, positive ally. Offering hope, encouragement, and the power to live a victorious life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it will aid your goals of living in freedom. This insightful Bible is based on eight principles in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and the twelve steps of Purpose Driven's proven Celebrate Recovery® program. Begin your path to healing with the Celebrate Recovery Bible.”

From Saddleback Church?!?! Do we really need a Bible from someone like Rick Warren?
NIV True Images: The Bible for Teen Girls
Designed specifically for teen girls ages 13-16, True Images connects the timeless truths of the Bible to your life, your relationships and the things you care about most. Above all, you'll get to know the God who loves you and has plans for you that are bigger and better than you can imagine.

120 In Focus articles take you inside the thoughts and circumstances of other girls' lives to see how the Bible applies to the issues you face.”


Another Bible with a generous admixture of the notes of man. And, it's nice to know that the publisher has finally figured out how to apply the Bible. (Apparently the Lord did not do a very good job on that point, so the NIV publisher jumped in to fill the void.)
NIV Revolution: The Bible for Teen Guys
A Bible like none other you’ve ever read, for today’s teenage guy going toe-to-toe with a hard-hitting world. A world God knows all about. He’s the authority when it comes to understanding girls, sex, communication, drugs, divorce, relationships, success, parents, popularity, peer pressure and everything else guys face. He also knows what makes you tick, he loves you more than you can ever imagine, and he wants you to experience a life of purpose, power and impact.

The features in this Bible will strengthen you and hone your spiritual fighting edge. Battlelines show you how other teen guys deal with relationships, sex, drug abuse, and other real-life issues. Match-Ups pit the good guys against the bad guys of the Bible to uncover winning—and losing—approaches to life. Challenge Notes do just that: challenge you to reach for everything God wants you to be. And there’s plenty more—enough to help you make a kingdom-difference in the world around you.

Battlelines interviews share solid insights from everyday, normal guys about sex, conflict, music, anger, addiction, popularity and more.”

Just what we need: interviews with men added alongside the Eternal Word of the Ancient of Days. If I buy this Bible, I'll be able to go “toe-to-toe in a hard-hitting world.” What a relief - I was worried about appearing to be a wimp by merely believing in the Bible that God wrote, under the obvious misconception that His Word is all that I need.
NLT Live Teen Bible
“Many youth Bibles are just teen versions of adult Bibles. Live takes an all-new, teen-centered approach. It includes a wealth of experiences and activities that help teens discover surprising things about God, see God involved in their lives, and express their faith creatively--both in the pages of the Bible and on the tie-in Web site.”

This is the only youth Bible with content created by teenagers. Art, photos, and other creative forms of self-expression from youth are packed into this Bible as a launching point to drive teens into God's Word. See how God works in the lives of other teens and be encouraged to express your faith, too. C. S. Lewis said, "We can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito." This Bible will show teens this truth.

Includes hundreds of expressions submitted by teenagers who looked for God in their neighborhoods… schools…families…the world. Wait until you see what they found.

And here’s what you’ll find…
Introductions to 16 real-life people who did remarkable things. Sergius Bulgakov. Pandita Rambai. Men and women from around the globe who asked the right questions when faced with a challenge—questions you need to know.”


Perhaps the Lord should have waited to close the canon of Scripture until He could have included the permanent addition of the thoughts of the men listed above—along with those of the teens. It must have been a Divine oversight, but no worries: the publisher fixed it.

"Discover surprising things about God..." Long ago the LORD said ""For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. (Isa 55.8-9) You want to be "surprised"? Study the Bible as it was written; you will be surprised by how wrong your immature notions of the Almighty have been!
NLT Student's Life Application Study Bible
“Totally revised and updated, this Bible is designed for teens who desire to deepen their relationships with God. The notes have been carefully reviewed and updated to ensure the content, language and look resonate with today's teenagers. All notes and features written by youth experts and authorities.”

Of course, the Bible is antiquated—why didn't I realize that?

It needs a modern look and feel. Just one small question though: who, exactly, are the reviewers who were tasked with updating the Holy Bible? And what, exactly, was updated? Not really important... just curious.
ESV Reformation Study Bible
“Widely considered one of the best tools available for Bible study and previously only available in the New King James Version, the Reformation Study Bible (RSB) has been updated to the readable and accurate English Standard Version (ESV).

Respected theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul, founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, served as this study Bible's general editor. "The Reformation Study Bible contains a modern restatement of Reformation truth in its comments and theological notes. Its purpose is to present the light of the Reformation afresh," stated Dr. Sproul.

The thousands of in-depth study notes included in the RSB were compiled from over 50 distinguished biblical scholars, including Drs. J.I. Packer, James Boice, and Wayne Grudem. In addition to the comprehensive study notes, the RSB offers readers extended discussions on the authority of Scripture, the atonement, and other key aspects of biblical theology.”

 

At the time of the Bible study I referred to above (originally associated with this note) I went in some detail about the real and serious problems with R.C. Sproul’s teaching. I won’t reproduce here that full lesson. I hope, in the near future, to write an article on the serious problems and equivocations of postmillennial and amillennial eschatology, of which R.C. Sproul is a well-known adherent. When I reviewed Dr. Sproul in the class I referred to above I was shocked to find the low “quality” of his teachings and his apparent belief that the Scripture is insufficient, either to declare prophecy unambiguously or win the lost without a generous admixture of logic and reason.
NIV New Womens’ Devotional Bible
“An all-new devotional Bible, the New Women's Devotional Bible helps a new generation of Christian women apply God's Word to their lives. It includes a full year of all-new devotions by women of God. Added features from its bestselling predecessor make this Bible more engaging, practical, and versatile.”

The devotion to God that He highly regards is that which you yourself experience; the proxy experience of any other woman does not count.

I suppose this is because the Bible, as the LORD wrote it, is somewhat dull and impractical. It was in real need of being punched up and made "engaging, practical and versatile” for people of the 21st century.
NIV Aspire: The New Women of Color Study Bible
“A study Bible in the NIV designed specifically to inspire and inform women of color.

Aspire: The New Women of Color Study Bible gives you perspectives and insights that focus God’s Word directly on the world of today’s African-American woman. Updating and expanding the features that have made its predecessor, the Women of Color Study Bible, a favorite of African-American women, this Bible also adds brand-new features, an attractive new design that emphasizes ease of use, and the full text of today’s most read, most trusted modern Bible translation, the New International Version.”

It appears that the sacrifice of Christ for people “of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation” (cf., Rev 5.9 and 7.9 below) was a bit too broad and we need a return to racism. Here's what my Bible says:

 

Rev 5.9
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Rev 7.9
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
KJV Dake Annotated Reference Bible
“The Dake Annotated Reference Bible is like no other study Bible on the market. More than twenty years of painstaking research went into it. With 35,000 commentary notes, 500,000 cross/chain references and 9,000 outline headings, the Dake Bible gives you more resources for personal study than you'll find in any other Bible. Period.

Yet it's not just the number of notes, references and headings that set the Dake Bible apart. It's what those tools do for you. Thousands of passages are amplified. Obscure readings are made clear. Ancient customs are explained, along with matters of history, culture and geography. Greek and Hebrew words and idioms are handled. In addition, parables, types, symbols, allegories and figures of speech are dealt with. Dispensational issues are treated in a systematic fashion, along with hundreds of details of biblical prophecy.

In other words, the Dake Bible is the ultimate tool to help you truly understand Scripture and “rightly divide the word of truth.”

Mr. Dake evidently did not really understand what “rightly divide the word of truth” means. (It most certainly does not mean “to divide”—an unfortunate translation of the KJV. It's real meaning is closer to “to make straight”. But, he “divided” the Bible all right—with 35,000 commentary notes—so at least we can say he's consistent with his claim.)
HCSB Apologetics Study Bible
“Real Questions. Straight Answers. Stronger Faith. The Apologetics Study Bible will help today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in this age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. More than one-hundred key questions and articles placed throughout the volume about faith and science prompt a rewarding study experience at every reading. 2240 pages, from Broadman & Holman.

The Apologetics Study Bible features valuable contributions from a who’s-who of modern apologists such as Chuck Colson, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, Ravi Zacharias, J. P. Moreland, and Phil Johnson.”

Another Bible with a generous admixture of the notes of man. To show a representative sample of the type of “Straight Answers” that one could expect, consider this quote from the Preface of “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, 1992, by Josh McDowell, one of this “Bible's” contributors:

 

"[there] has been a definite shortage in the area of documentation of historical evidence for the Christian faith." He continues that the rationale and necessity for producing this book (a second edition) was "to keep Christians informed of the most up-to-date information to substantiate our faith."

 

It's nice to know that men like Josh McDowell have taken up the mantle of substantiating our faith. Apparently the Lord has not done an adequate job there with the Bible alone.
NKJV Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible
“With more than 1,000 'Life Lessons' offering insights straight from Max, the message of God's Word will be more meaningful and impactful than ever.

This beautifully designed Bible contains practical application drawn from Max Lucado's entire career—from his first book to his latest release, Outlive Your Life. For the first time, all the devotional material in this fully-revised edition of The Inspirational Study Bible is from Max Lucado and uses the popular and reliable New King James Version translation!”

Another Bible with a generous admixture of the notes of man. And, yet another Bible that claims to be “practical”—with its attendant inference that the Bible, as the Lord wrote it, is “impractical.”

I would really love to hear a proponent of the "practical Bible approach camp provide me a detailed apologetic on why the Bible as-is is "impractical" and how the addition of human notes makes it "practical"!
Fire Bible, Global Study Edition
“Believers the world over are 'on fire' to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ; they want to tap into the Holy Spirit as the source of divine power for advancing the work of the Church and fulfilling their personal lives.

The Fire Bible, Global Study Edition is exactly what you need to be guided toward the Christ-centered, Spirit-led life that your soul thirsts for. Its notes and commentary are authoritative and trustworthy, yet written in language that any reader can easily understand.

Learn how the spiritual empowerment that was bestowed upon the faithful at Pentecost is available today, as God’s gift to modern followers of Jesus. This unparalleled Scripture study resource will greatly benefit anyone interested in living the Christian life to the fullest.”

1. At last, a Bible specifically for the charismatic.
2. From what I've seen in the US (by an extensive review of their websites), I would maintain that most "Christians" are not only not "on fire", they are growing colder by the day.
NKJV New Spirit Filled Life Bible
“Dr. Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way, has led a team of anointed leaders to produce the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, which offers a fresh look at the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit. Now, this dynamic Bible is available in two contemporary new styles, both with durable, smooth-textured Leathersoft material. This new edition addresses important issues of Spirit-filled living in the context of solid biblical scholarship. Readers will be glad to see the popular "Word Wealth" feature and the "Kingdom Dynamics" feature throughout the Bible. A new generation of believers seeking to become biblically equipped for kingdom building will eagerly read and embrace the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

A 40 page section lies between the book of Revelation and the Concordance, featuring the following articles:
'Holy Spirit Gifts and Power' by Paul Walker
'The Holy Spirit and Restoration' by James Robison
'Aflame with Passion for World Evangelism' by Reinhard Bonnke
'The Believer's Potential and Pathway for Ministering Healing to the Nations' by John Dawson
'Understanding Messianic Jewish Ministry' by Shira Sorko-Ram”

Another Bible with a generous admixture of the notes of man, and specialized for the charismatic. Is this "Bible" supposed to validate an approach to Christianity which is largely emotional in contrast to actually understand the written Word?
KJV Life in the Spirit Study Bible
“The Life in the Spirit Study Bible will help guide you into a Christ-centered, righteous and Spirit-led lifestyle. Previously titled the Full Life Study Bible, this new edition includes updated and expanded notes, a new word study feature, and a new interior to meet the needs of Spirit-filled Christians today. In a culture that requires believers to depend strongly on God and his Word, this Bible will help you cultivate a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit as the source of the Church's power.

Themefinders: 12 icons located by Scripture passages tell at a glance which theme a given passage addresses.
Themes include:
Baptized in/Filled with the Holy Spirit,
Gifts of the Holy Spirit,
Fruit of the Holy Spirit,
Healing,
Salvation,
Witnessing and more.”

At last, a Bible specifically for the charismatic. One question: why is that important?
Joyce Meyers' Everyday Life Bible Hardcover Amplified Version
“Reading this Bible is like having Joyce Meyer sitting next to you, teaching you chapter-by-chapter and precept-by-precept!”

At last! A Bible from a woman who presumes to be a Bible teacher, deliberately ignorant of and in violation of the command of Scripture (1 Tim 2.9-15) that “a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness”, and that “women are not allowed to teach or exercise authority over a man”.

Yes, her insights into the Scripture must be profound indeed to make up for the fact that she misses completely the twofold foundation of the command: the creation order and the fact that Eve—not Adam!—was deceived. The last time I checked, neither of these had changed in the last 6000 years.

Perhaps this should be the pew Bible in Southern Baptist Churches, where they already have caved to Beth Moore.
The NKJV Woman's Study Bible
“This popular study Bible features contributions from today's well-known women authors for enriching a woman's heart, mind, and spirit with God's Word. The Woman's Study Bible is a priceless treasure, poignantly delivering the Word of God to a woman's heart. Dig deeper into God's Word with the help of inspiring articles from today's leading communicators. Its many features provide abundant resources to truly study the Bible.

Features include:
Study Articles by authors such as Anne Graham Lotz, Kathy Troccoli, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and many others.”

This Bible must have been inspired by Joyce Meyer and/or Beth Moore—and is just as useless.
The C.S. Lewis Bible
“The C.S. Lewis Bible pairs thought-provoking meditations from C.S. Lewis’s spiritual writings with corresponding passages from the authoritative NRSV Bible. This one-of-a-kind Bible for devotional reading, reflection, and inspiration is perfect for readers of Lewis’s Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, or his other works of seminal Christian writing. Fans of Lewis’s widely-beloved allegorical fantasy series, the Chronicles of Narnia, will love this chance to engage with the author’s more deeply spiritual side after reading favorites like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Features
Over 600 Scripture-linked devotional readings from Lewis's spiritual classics, essays, and correspondence Introductory essays on Lewis's view of Scripture and his journey of faith.”

Here's a "thought-provoking meditation": tell me again why we need a Bible cross-referenced to fiction?
NLT Every Man's Bible
“The Bible for every battle every man faces! Men face different challenges than women, and it is important for men to have a deep understanding of the Holy Scriptures to better understand God’s general plan for masculinity as well as the special and unique role God has for men. The Every Man's Bible has thousands of notes on topics from work, sex, and competition to integrity and more and trusted advice from the pros, just for men. A 2005 Gold Medallion Award finalist.

Features:
New Living Translation (NLT) text
What the Bible Says: Hard-hitting instructions from the Bible on work, sex, competition, and more.
Men, Women, and God: Truths behind the myths & misinformation
Book introductions
Profiles of important Bible people
Sound advice from Christian leaders such as Henry Blackaby, Stuart Brisco, Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, Gordon MacDonald, J. I. Packer, Chuck Swindoll, and others.”

Let's think about that "Men face different challenges than women" claim.

My Bible says:
1 Cor 10.13
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
Apparently, this is gracious and inclusive promise is not enough for the challenges that “real” men face, so the publisher has thoughtfully provided additional advice from a number of men to supplement whatever it was they considered insufficient.

I'll venture a speculation here: I'll wager that none of Henry Blackaby, Stuart Brisco, Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, Gordon MacDonald, J. I. Packer, Chuck Swindoll will want to have their names associated with this so-called "Bible" when they stand before the Lord Christ at the judgment and are asked why their words are embedded in this Bible abomination.
ESV Large-Print MacArthur Study Bible
“The ESV MacArthur Study Bible, Large Print contains John MacArthur's personal study notes below the full-length ESV Bible text. Virtually every Scripture has a matching study note with detailed information, explanation, and helpful insight. The notes are based on MacArthur's verse-by-verse approach to the Bible and nearly forty years of careful study.”

[My comments here would apply to any and all “study” Bibles, regardless of translation (NASB, ESV, etc.) or editor (MacArthur, Tony Evans, etc.)]

It is never appropriate to combine the notes of any man into the same binding as the Word of God then call it a “Bible”. It’s not: it’s a commentary with no intrinsic authority or lasting value.

The last time I checked, the biblical position of inspiration was that the LORD spoke through men in such a way as to ensure that their writings were exactly what the LORD intended to say. So, unless we want to take the position that the “study Bible” contains "new" inspiration of something the LORD forgot to include in His word, these abominations must be rejected completely.
CSB Tony Evans Study Bible
“The Tony Evans Study Bible features study notes and other tools designed for digging deeper into God's Word. These notes and resources have been collected from the sermons, teachings, and writings of Dr. Tony Evans. They are strategically placed alongside the biblical text to explain God's Word in a fresh way. Applying the truths of God's Word empowers readers to live according to the values of God's kingdom.”

So, Tony Evans takes over the work of the Holy Spirit (Joh 16.12-13) to “apply” the Scriptures. But, then, “fresh” is always good, right?

BTW: Who is Tony Evans (in the first place), and why should I care? Is he the fourth person of the Trinity to take over such important work for the understanding of the LORD’s people?
NLT Life Application Large-Print Study Bible
“Trusted & Treasured by Millions of Readers over 30 years, the Life Application® Study Bible Is Today’s #1–Selling Study Bible, and a Bible for All Times.

Now it has been thoroughly updated and expanded, offering even more relevant insights for understanding and applying God’s Word to everyday life in today’s world.

Be warned: anyone who claims the need to make the LORD’s Word "relevant" actually holds it in contempt, since their claim implies that without their editorial help the Bible is not understandable or relevant.

Make no mistake: they place themselves above the Word of God, the Bible.
CSB Heart of God Teen Study Bible
“The CSB Heart of God Teen Study Bible was designed just for teens. It has features like book introductions, summaries, and educational articles to help teens understand difficult concepts in the Bible. Your teen will love this Bible!”

Yet another inference that the Bible inspired by the all-wise LORD isn’t suitable for everyone. I’m sure glad that CSB/Mark Strauss came to the rescue…
NIV Storyline Bible
“The NIV Storyline Bible is designed to help you discover how God's story is beautifully woven together, and how you can apply the Bible's timeless truths to your life today. Helpful tools include over 380 articles; more than 200 color photos, graphs, and charts; and comprehensive book introductions.”

So, 380 articles, photos, graphs and charts… What could possibly go wrong with so much admixture of man’s wisdom inextricably mixed in with the LORD’s own Word?
ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible
“Discover how the truths of God's Word apply to your daily life with the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. This Bible provides informative book introductions, application-centered study notes, and a series of all-new articles by a team of over 50 pastors and scholars. Let the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible challenge you to think about how the timeless truths of the gospel apply to your life today.”

Yet another “study Bible”…

The publisher, apparently not satisfied with the contributions of a single contributor went “all in” and stuffed it with 50 contributors. In the context of this article, this is truly terrifying. There seems to be no end to the number of ways that "Bible" publishers will pollute the Word of God.
NKJV Woman's Study Bible
“With special notes and features appealing to women's interest, highlighting women throughout Scripture, and capturing the unique ways Christ cares for women, the NKJV Woman's Study Bible truly speaks to a woman's heart. With contributions from more than 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds, this Bible combines excellent scholarship and spiritual mentorship. Now with a fresh, new look, the NKJV Woman's Study Bible's timeless content remains as relevant as ever to women today.”

Wow, when the Holy Spirit forbad women to teach (1 Tim 2.11-14; 1 Cor 16.34-35) He must have overlooked that unless women interpret the Bible for other women, those poor women remain in spiritual darkness. (I guess that the publisher never heard of the Reformation and Martin Luther, and how he was instrumental in bringing the pure Word of God to the people without the pollution and interpretation of the Roman church, right?)

And, of course, the “fresh, new look” is always good, right?

 


Do you really want the pure Word of God polluted with the admixture of men (and women), some of whom probably are not even genuine Christians?

I can see only four possible reasons that publishers would dare to publish these “Bibles”:

  1. Practical contempt for the Bible.
  2. Money.
  3. Money.
  4. Money

Any one of these is enough to condemn their arrogance and actions.

 


Regarding the publishing of “Bibles” that contain only the New Testament, or combinations such as the New Testament with the Psalms:

The issues here are that the Lord has not rendered the Old Testament obsolete, and that man does not have the right to pick and choose what he thinks belongs in Bible!

It is not possible to understand the New Testament without the Old Testament. While it may occasionally be a practical issue for an organization (like “in-the-field” Bible translators, for example) to complete the New Testament first when translating to a new language, they shouldn't consider their work done until that people have the complete Bible in their own language.

There is no excuse for any Bible publisher in this current day to produce a book that is just the New Testament.

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