Bible - Versions & Translations

Vatican Promotion of the Contemporary English Version

This version has been greatly influenced by Roman Catholic guidelines in translation. In fact, various verses in this Bible do support the doctrines of Rome and undermine Protestant teachings.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Continuation of a series. Read part five.

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.

This article discusses Vatican efforts to promote 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


The Contemporary English Version

It was not long after the ECT and PCBI statements of 1994 that in 1995 (see previous article) the American Bible Society published the Contemporary English Version (CEV) of the Bible in which the translators followed the following principles: that the version was to be understood by people without stumbling in speech, by those with little or no comprehension of "Bible" language and by everybody.

It is often represented as a revision of the Good News Bible; however, it is in fact a new translation. This version has been greatly influenced by Roman Catholic guidelines in translation. In fact, various verses in this Bible do support the doctrines of Rome and undermine Protestant teachings. The CEV was published in Great Britain by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1996. It is not officially an inter-confessional translation, as it is advertised as a Protestant one. There is also a Roman Catholic edition of this Bible which bears the Imprimatur (Approval of the Vatican).

It is interesting to examine two examples of translation of Romans 1:16-17 in both the CEV and the Authorized Version.

l am proud of the good news! It is God's powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, "The people God accepts because of their faith will live." (Romans 1:16-17 CEV).

The CEV is a dynamic equivalence translation, namely a thought for thought translation. The intent of the translator in this type of translation is to bring the meaning of the text out in an easier to read format. The translations in this category essentially take each portion of the text and reword it to [supposedly] better convey the meaning of the original writer. In this type of translation bias and erroneous interpretations can easily creep into the text. In the abovementioned verse it seems that faith is something which an individual can exercise in a meritorious way, which is in fact a Roman Catholic teaching.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17, Authorized Version)

The Authorized Version is a formal equivalence translation, [that is,] a word for word translation. In fact, the translators worked from the original Greek and Hebrew texts and translated as literally as possible the text in correct English within the limitations imposed by the differences in language and style.

The text of the CEV of Romans 1:16-17 along with other texts [such as] Romans 3:19-20, Romans 3:23, Romans 10:3-4, 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, 1 Corinthians 15:10, 2 Corinthians 6:1, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:2, Colossians 1:14, 2 Timothy 3:8 and 1 Peter 2:9-10, do favour the doctrines of Rome.

Dr. Thomas P. Johnston of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in his analysis of the abovementioned Biblical texts in the CEV, commented about this dynamic equivalence translation: "It affirms the Sacrament of Penance in which absolution of sins is declared to faithful Catholics in confessionals all across the world and reduces the weight of Justification by faith from the text of Scripture."[1]

The dynamic equivalence principle of translation provides the Roman Catholic Church with a tremendous tool to alter, change, [or] amend those texts which undermine her blasphemous tenets.

The Damage Done by Dynamic Equivalence

The Roman Catholic Church has successfully applied the dynamic equivalence principle of translation of the Bible in all those versions issued by the Vatican to eliminate, dilute and modify those passages which support the Biblical teachings of total depravity, justification by faith, imputed righteousness, Scripture alone, faith alone, predestination, and so on. The CEV is the proof that the guidelines in translation agreed to by Rome and the United Bible Societies have been carefully followed in producing a non-confrontational version of the Bible which is currently used both by Protestants and Catholics. Similar examples of alterations of other passages of Scripture by Rome can be found in Bibles produced under the auspices of the United Bible Societies (UBS) not only in English, but also in other languages. The UBS has also entered into a co-operation with another seventeen Bible agencies by facilitating the formation of the Forum of Bible Agencies in 1992. Among those agencies are the WEC International, Open Doors, Scripture Gift Mission, Scripture Union and Wycliffe Bible Translators.[2]

Some of these agencies are financed by many Bible believers to provide persecuted Christians throughout the world with Bibles in their own language as well as other Evangelical missionary societies operating in various countries. We wonder if all those manipulated translations of the Bible, smuggled at great risk into closed countries, and ending up in the hands of sincere Christians, carry the venom of Rome hidden within their pages? The Vatican is undermining both Biblical Protestantism and the Evangelical missionary movement. It is time that Evangelical and Protestant missionary agencies should realize the danger of cooperating with Rome. To distribute a Rome-influenced version of the Bible is to pave the way for the Roman Catholic missionary orders which will follow suit in due time. We must not be surprised to learn how the present Pontiff, with his excellent diplomatic skills, would be able to connect to China, North Korea and other countries where Christians are persecuted to gain more religious tolerance or freedom for his own church. We can only imagine the disastrous consequences of such endeavours.

The Policy of This Alliance

We are sometimes accused by people of very differing religious views of a lack of love because we oppose the errors of Romanism. It is our policy to extend to every Roman Catholic our love in Jesus Christ; we long for them to experientially know Him for He alone can save. It is not love to condone error, or to imply that the fundamental differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity do not exist. It is therefore our policy to preach the Word of God - contend for the Faith - educate and instruct our people in the facts of our great heritage and the manifest lessons of history that support the truth of the Gospel.



1. For a more detailed discussion, see Johnston's book Evangelizology, which is available in its entirety online at

2. See also our article "Wycliffe's Islam-Friendly Bibles: The Abomination of Cultural Contextualization".



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