Bible - Versions & Translations

Papal Opposition to Fundamentalism, Promotion of Dynamic Equivalence Translation

This article, and the one to follow, discuss the efforts of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis to further discredit Protestant Biblical scholarship and expand Vatican control of Bible translation worldwide.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Continuation of a previous series. Read part four.

Editor's Note: This article continues a series we published previously, reproduced from The Reformer, the magazine of the Protestant Alliance of Great Britain. We encourage you to read those articles as important background to these which now follow.

From the Reformation through the 19th century, the Roman Catholic church openly opposed Protestant Bible societies and institutions of linguistic scholarship. But beginning in the 20th century, and especially after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Rome infiltrated what had been Protestant Bible societies, and began to effectively take them over.

In the second decade of the 21st century, Rome has achieved that goal. Through clever maneuvers the Jesuits have gained effective dominance of the field of Bible translation - Protestant as well as Catholic. Today, over 95% of Bible translation worldwide uses source texts that are counterfeits, not the providentially preserved Word of God in the original languages. The Roman Catholic hold on Bible translation and linguistic scholarship grows ever stronger.

This article, and the one to follow, discuss the efforts of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis to further discredit Protestant Biblical scholarship and expand Vatican control of Bible translation worldwide. Prominent in this picture are the Vatican's denigration of Protestant fundamentalism, and promotion of the spiritually dangerous dynamic equivalence method as the translation standard for new Bible versions in all languages - diluting the truth of the Gospel, and providing inroads for Roman Catholic theology and missionary efforts.

Once again we thank Mr. Charles Scott-Pearson, Organizing Secretary of the Protestant Alliance, for permission to reproduce these materials. - Dr. Paul M. Elliott


Previously in this series of articles, we have shown how the Church of Rome is actively involved in taking control of the publication of the Greek manuscript [of the New Testament] from which most modern Bible versions are translated. Its influence is not limited to inter-confessional versions, but also those which might be loosely termed Protestant.

Vatican Criticism of Fundamentalism

In 1994, Pope Benedict XVI was a Cardinal, Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Inquisition), and the President of the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Interpretation (PCBI). Ratzinger made a significant statement in one meeting of this Pontifical Commission in which he said: "As the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible spread to other parts of the world, it gave rise to other ways of interpretation, equally 'literalist', in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. As the 20th Century comes to an end, this kind of interpretation is winning more and more adherents, in religious groups and sects, as also among Catholics." Benedict XVI was a promoter of a Roman Catholic type of fundamentalism based on both the Second Vatican Council and the Council of Trent opposed to both the progressive tendencies influencing the Vatican and Evangelical fundamentalism.

The PCBI issued a document, Fundamentalist Interpretation, in which it is stated: "The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life. It can deceive these people, offering them interpretations that are pious but illusory, instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations."[1]

Neutralization of Protestant Evangelism

It is interesting to notice that in the same year when this document was issued the ecumenical document Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) was signed. In this compromising document it was stated that "in view of the large number of non-Christians in the world and the enormous challenge of our common evangelistic task, it is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for one Christian community to proselytize among active adherents of another Christian community."

The ECT and PCBI are in fact in agreement to neutralize Biblical evangelism among Roman Catholics, the work of Protestant societies in exposing the errors and corruption of Rome, and to facilitate as much as possible Rome's control on the translation of the Bible.

In fact, in 1995, John Paul Il in [the papal encyclical] Ut Unum Sint stated: "Significant progress in ecumenical cooperation has also been made in another area, that of the Word of God. I am thinking above all of the importance for the different language groups of ecumenical translations of the Bible... These translations, prepared by experts, generally offer a solid basis for the prayer and pastoral activity of all Christ's followers. Anyone who recalls how heavily debates about Scripture influenced divisions, especially in the West, can appreciate the significant step forward which these common translations represent."[2]

This approach challenges a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, in favour of the Roman Catholic Church's, which interprets it by the logic of pagan philosophy. The Jesuits, using this method of interpretation to understand the Scriptures, then use the same philosophy in translating them, and even in deciding what should be included in them. It must be noted that the present Pontiff, a Jesuit, is opposed to any form of fundamentalism.



1. This document is part a section titled "Methods and Approaches for Interpretation" ( contained in a much larger Vatican pronouncement titled The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church ( ).

2. The full text of Ut Unum Sint appears at In it the pope stated (paragraph 54) that "the Church must breathe with her two lungs!" - that is, Scripture must be interpreted according to church tradition.

Next: The Contemporary English Version (CEV)


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