New Emergent ‘Bible’ Stirs Vocal Opposition

A new Bible released by Thomas Nelson Publishers has many voicing their opposition.

The publication is called The Voice, and is a modern paraphrase of the Scriptures in screenplay format. It has come under fire in recent days due to its purposeful omission of words like “Christ,” “Lord,” “apostle” and “angel.” Instead, these words are replaced with “Anointed One,” “Eternal One”, “emissary” and “Messenger of God.”

The Voice was written in part by the Ecclesia Bible Society, which is led by emergent “Pastor” Chris Seay of Houston, Texas. It is said to assist readers to better understand Scripture and to provide more of an experience with the Bible, rather than a theological education. Emergent writer and speaker Brian McLaren participated in the project as well, namely the writing of the book of Luke.

Recently, one of the participants in the project, Professor David Capes of Houston Baptist University, was questioned on CNN about why writers decided to remove the word “Christ” from the text.

“[P]eople don’t understand exactly what ‘Christ’ means,” he said. “You ask Christians and a lot of people who read the Bible frequently — they think ‘Christ’ is a name. … But, in fact, it’s a title. It’s probably one of the earliest Christiological titles expressing the fact that they believed Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.”

Another example of how The Voice is causing a stir is found in John 1:1, which reads in the King James version, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In The Voice, the Scripture reads, “Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God.”

“Was it T.S. Eliot who said the less people read the Bible the more they translate it?” asked David Wells of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. “The Christian faith of the evangelical kind is somewhat distant from where it started out, even in the immediate post-War period. The Bible doesn’t make as much sense today in the evangelical world as it once did; isn’t that an irony? So, [they move on] to a new translation more attuned to the times.”

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Blogger Chris Rosebrough also expressed concern. In his online review of the book, he stated that he purchased a copy of The Voice out of curiosity and quickly became distraught. He explained that numerous texts raised alarm, such as John 1:9 and 14, which read, “Though the Voice utters only truth, His own people, who have heard the Voice before, rebuff this inner calling and refuse to listen. … The Voice that had been an enigma in the heavens chose to become human and live surrounded by His creation.”

The Voice undermines the doctrine of the incarnation … by turning Jesus’ coming into a ‘truth speaking inner calling’ that people have rebuffed,” he said. “The Scriptures NO WHERE speak of a ‘truth speaking inner calling’. This verse injects foreign and false Eastern mystical concepts into the Gospel of John that cannot be supported from the original languages.”

“Unfortunately, not since the release of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures in 1950 has there been a Bible published that so blatantly mangles and distorts God’s word in order to support a peculiar and aberrant theological agenda,” Rosebrough opined.

However, those behind The Voice state that the publication was not meant to be a word-for-word transliteration of Scripture, but rather a paraphrased translation that can help readers better connect with its meaning.

“The Voice speaks to the person who has some experience with church, but is seeking a new way to connect with God, as well as for active Christians who have been in the church all of their lives and are looking to get lost in the beauty of the story,” the project’s website states. “Today’s translations often present the Bible as a reference book filled with facts. The Voice expresses Scripture as a narrative with engaging conversations, passionate poetry and beautiful literature. The Voice brings literary art to the Bible. This Bible lends itself to dramatic readings; first, because of the beauty of the language, and second, because of the unique acting-script format.”

“It is the Good Book that reads like a good book,” it added.

The Voice has been endorsed by professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, Mercer University, Samford University, Houston Graduate School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University and many others. Dr. David McKechnie, the president of the Texas Theological Foundation, stated about The Voice, “It is academically respectable without the boredom factor.”

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