What About the Living Bible?
The Bible that is all the rage today is The Living Bible. It is available in many different forms and editions, e.g., Reach Out, The Greatest is Love, The Way, Living Letters, etc. But they are all the same Bible. The Living Bible is Kenneth Taylor’s paraphrase of Scripture, published by Tyndale House, distributed widely by the World Home Bible League, and on sale everywhere. It is at once the worst and the most popular of all the modern versions of the Bible.
The Living Bible is, inherently, an attack upon, indeed it makes a mockery of, the doctrine of Scripture’s infallible, verbal inspiration by the Holy Spirit. It purports to be the Bible, in fact, arrogantly, it claims to be a LIVING Bible in distinction from the other versions which presumably are then DEAD ones, and it is being received and used as the Bible. However, it is a paraphrase, i.e., it gives what the author conceives to be the sense of a passage, and it gives the sense of the passage in the author’s words quite in disregard of the words which the Spirit inspired. It is not faithful to God’s Word; it replaces God’s Word with the words of man. If such a “Bible” is acceptable, infallible, verbal inspiration is a farce.
The Living Bible is filled with false doctrine. Genesis 6:2 solemnly tells us that “beings from the spirit world looked upon the beautiful earth women and took any they desired to be their wives,” and verse 4 says that “evil beings from the spirit world were sexually involved with human women,” introducing the nonsense of Greek mythology into Scripture a teaching as foolish as it is erroneous. We will bypass other, similar errors, for the main evil of The Living Bible is that it is an all-out attack on the Christian faith – it is the Bible of Arminianism, the gospel of man’s free will.
Acts 13:48 reads: “and as many as wanted eternal life, believed.”
Romans 8:28 reads: “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans” – a rendering which, if correct, would have been enough to have routed the entire Synod of Dordt.
Romans 9 cannot be recognized: “This proves that God was doing what He had decided from the beginning; it was not because of what the children did but because of what God wanted and chose” (vs. 11); “I chose to bless Jacob, but not Esau” (vs. 13); “God’s blessings are not given just because someone decides to have them . . .” (vs. 16); “God told him (Pharaoh) He had given him the kingdom of Egypt for the very purpose of displaying the awesome power of God against him” (vs. 17); “fit only for destruction” (vs. 22); etc.
One only needs to compare these verses with the correct translation in the King James Version to see that The Living Bible has gone through the Scriptures replacing the testimony of the sovereignty of grace with the message of the dependency of salvation upon the will of man. This is every bit as serious as the denial of the Deity of Christ.
In addition, The Living Bible represents and promotes the religious movement that downgrades doctrine, preaching, and the instituted Church of Christ and substitutes feeling, experience, and individualism. As such, it serves as a powerful instrument of the ecumenical movement. Most significant is the introduction – by a Roman Catholic priest – to The Way, the Roman Catholic edition of The Living Bible. Concerning The Living Bible, which he heartily recommends, the priest states: “This present volume departs radically from (the) history of Scriptural translations . . . Perhaps more than other translations, this translation cannot be used as a basis for Doctrinal or traditional disputes. More than other English versions of the Bible, this one freely departs from a literal translation from the original languages . . . Most readers of the Bible who choose this translation will not be interested in such technical, theological considerations. They will be looking for spirit and life from the Word of God. We rejoice in our chance to encourage and help those who approach the Scriptures for this reason. We caution those who wish to engage in theological disputes not to use this volume.”
A genuine Protestant, much less a Reformed man, needs to hear no more.
To this “Bible,” we are totally and unalterably opposed. If it should prevail among us, the biblical faith would be destroyed. It may not be the Bible that we use at home, in school, in our personal study, or in any aspect of the life of the Church. Our young people must be aware that it is another arm of the power of the lie that we fight as Reformed saints. It is a wicked effort to destroy God’s Word, as wicked as Jehoiakim’s burning of the Scriptures that he disliked, or Thomas Jefferson’s whittling down the Bible to the sermon on the mount. That Reformed people and Reformed institutions can smile on it only shows how little knowledge of and love for the true biblical faith there is today.
By David J. Engelsma