Banning the Bible: In Certain Churches, the Word of God is No Longer Welcome


It is the worst fear Evangelicals and Protestants have imagined. As children, our well meaning parents, pastors, and elders spoke of a coming age in which all Bibles would be burned, Christians would be detained, and at gun-point forced to renounce the name of Christ.

Such fears were stirred to get us bright-eyed “Christians” to get serious about Christ before the Anti-Christ emerges and drags us into sin and hell on earth.

When Y2K never turned out to be that economic collapse ushering into the one world government, many fled the church. Still, from time to time we poke our heads up out of our busy lives and ponder the possibility of apocalypse and Bible-banning and whether it will ever occur.

In fact, it has.

This ban has come in a form not quite recognized by our parents because our parents and our parents’ churches are doing the banning.

Bible Banning

A firestorm of controversy is brewing. The horizon is red and preverbal blood is being spilled over which Bible translation is the true and authentic Word of God. Once only a controversy stirred by the “King James Only” folks, Southern Baptists have officially banned the NIV Bible from holding any place in their churches.

Those at the annual summer Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in which the updated NIV translation was condemned. They barred the use of this translation in any members based congregation associated with the Southern Baptists.

Those at the convention expressed concern and down-right rage and foaming at the mouth over the “gender-neutral” wording implemented by the new NIV.

Let us be clear, the ban was enacted more out of fear of what may come rather than what has actually been translated in this text.

The controversy primary circles around the style of translation. KJV and ESV use “Formal Equivalence”—a direct, word-for-word, straight-down-the-line translation method. NIV has traditionally used “Functional Equivalence”—a translation based on what the word or phrase meant to the writer or reader rather than something literal.

A perfect example of the difference is what has incited the ban. The new NIV translates the greek term adelphoi as “brothers and sisters” rather than the literal “brothers” because Paul meant that the letter be for all people of Christ—not just men.

The Southern Baptists have seen such translations as a destruction and corruption of the Word of God. After all, salvation and the gospel truth of Christ could never be found in such a translation of the scripture.

Reading Banned Books

Many of our former pastors may thumb their noses and lecture us on our NIV reading habits or the fact that you might want to read something other than the Bible and Berean-bought Christian fiction. The truth is, while I was raised on the NIV, I don’t read it any more. But that is beside the fact.

We know the church has lost its’ way when a few translated words are being argued over while millions are starving, cold, naked, and without the gospel displayed in truth and love.

Reading an accurate Bible is great but it means nothing if we don’t live the Bible.

No one is contesting the command, “whatever you have done for the least of these you have done to me.”

Perhaps it’s time we focus on that, and not on whether or not Paul intended Anthropos to mean “humanity” or just “men.”


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  • Anonymous

    I had decided at an early age that I would never read the Bible. It was old, written worse than shakespearean language, irrelevant, and outdated. This was based on my experience with my first Bible when I was a wee youngin: it was a KJV. I couldn’t understand it. There were no colored pictures. There was nothing that excited a child’s interest. And I never again picked up a Bible because I figured they were all like this.  Then I was at a Greg Laurie Harvest Crusade. He hands out Bibles there for free, so I took one. Many will argue I shouldn’t have been reading a Bible “translated” by Greg Laurie. But it said the same thing: Christ came and died for me because He loved me that much and, if it wasn’t for that Bile, I may have never come to God or read the Bible. It was after that, my husband (boyfriend at the time) purchased a Teen Version NIV Bible for me. That continued to excite and ignite my desire to learn more of who this God is and what His word has to say which has helped me to become who I am today. I don’t discourage different translations, from KJV to New Message, to a Kid’s picture story Bible. God will reveal Himself even through our mistakes. You don’t need a perfect person to be a pastor. You need someone willing to share His word, praying God’s will be done even through our screw ups. We all speak different languages. None is more right than the other. What we need to speak is love. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jon, I just want to get clarification on your view before I take exception with it. Are you mainly concerned by the fact that the Southern Baptists took except with the NIV in particular because you do not see the merits of their argument? Or are you more upset by the fact that Southern Baptists are having meetings about the merits of a bible translation at all when the world is full of hurting people?

  • While I have a problem with them focus on something so insignificant as this as opposed to making a bigger priority of action, my biggest “beef” is the fact that they ban, bar, or otherwise condemn a translation of the Bible. Now it is one thing to say that you think one is better than another. It is whole other thing we an organization forbids the reading of said translation. 

  • YES YES YES YES. Well said! I agree so completely. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

  • Anonymous

    But you must not think that there is never an instance when a Bible translation should be banned, right? I would assume that you’re ok with the fact that Christian churches do not read the New World Translation. So you must have a “beef” with the fact that the NIV Bible was banned in particular. You believe that the Southern Baptist’s argument for banning the NIV is weak, correct? Illegitimate?

  • Lex

    Talk about straining at a gnat …

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