New International Version Controversy

I have been told that the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible is the work of the Devil. I was told to visit several websites to “get the truth” on this “EVIL Bible”. On the face of things the arguments these websites put forth sounded reasonable, although one sided. I asked a friend, who attends a large conversative Presbyterian church here in town, what version of the bible do they use. Her reply was the NIV. So I am confused. Is the NIV Bible the work of the Devil? Are the arguments against it coming from radical “King James Only” fanatics? What is the REAL story?

I can’t see how anyone could possibly argue seriously that the NIV is ‘the work of the Devil’. We use it a lot in my own church, and it compares well with other translations, like the NRSV, NASB, ESV, and the Amplified. It is used by many mainline denominations, at least here in the UK.

The Truth is that any English Bible is an imperfect translation. Translation is an art, not a science. There are not always direct equivalents for words, so a degree of interpretation is required, always. Theologians and students of the faith mitigate this problem by studying several translations and comparing, when they are not able to read Greek and Hebrew themselves.

The NIV is not a great translation, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the work of the devil. Anytime someone starts with such fanatical arguments it’s not really worth getting worked up about. It likely is the product of fundamentalist KJV-Only thinking, so don’t waste your time with it. As someone who’s studied the languages I can tell you that the NIV is not well translated, that there are better translations out there (and much, much worse), but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it satanic.



You can call a translation poor, biased, or just downright bad, but anyone who would call it “the work of the devil” has their own polemical agenda… and quite frankly they’re liable to be far more biased than any mainstream Bible translation I’m aware of.

The NIV is incredibly popular. Many use it at our church; however, I do know that some people have some strange objections to it (some people just need something to complain about). However, some people propose credible objections to it. Read this blog post for some background, “NIV vs. ESV and why Piper switched.”

There was some genuine controversy over the recent revision of the NIV to include “gender neutral language” throughout its translation. So for example in 1984 Genesis 1:27 was rendered:

“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”

In the latest revision, it was rendered:

“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”

I think it actually messes with the poetic feel of this passage. Instead of having the rhyming “him” and “them”; we now simply get “them” and “them”. Many complain that such forced “gender neutral language” has a negative effect on the beauty of the translation.

That’s likely the real reason for the polemics

The debate far preceded the translation updates, however. Jealousy over its rather sudden popularity is likely a culprit.

So true… I recall a thread a week or two ago asking if the NIV was anti-Catholic, and I was truly shocked by the number of people that answered the affirmative. Personally, I have a hard time accepting that ANY translation, even those which some consider “semi-accurate translations”, could be considered anti-Catholic or the work of the Satan.

Personally, I love the one NIV Bible I own – the Archaeology Study Bible. I find that understanding the context, history, customs, factions, etc surrounding the people & places in the Bible far outweighs any translation concerns.

God bless,

Ignore it! I do not get into the discussions of which Bible is better and more popular and so on. Let the scholars handle it.

Only certain footnotes could be termed “anti-Catholic” (mostly those that have to do with passages Catholics use to support the Sacraments or Papal Primacy).

The text itself is just another translation.

It’s the work of Protestants. It’s pretty evenly balanced between dynamic and formal equivalency, and that balance is fairly similar to what you get in the NAB. Overall accuracy is also similar (both are good but not great), although the NIV was of comparatively higher quality when it was initially published and the NAB needed to make more adjustments over time to catch up.

The NIV owes a lot of its popularity to the wide variety of “packaging” (notes and study guides tailored to a certain type of person or group, which kind of pokes at the idea that SS just means “Bible ONLY”) while the NAB remains popular because it’s found in Catholic parishes and is typically the English translation used from the pulpit, but you know this. From the more dynamic standpoint, each translation interjects some interpretive bias that is unique to the faith-group it comes from. People from both sides over-react to what others are doing while downplaying what is done on their end. It’s very easy to point out.

I don’t really know who calls it the work of the devil. There’s not much that would surprise me from a certain breed of KJV-only people, but I haven’t heard that one myself. It’s really the work of the Christian Reformed Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the New York Bible Society (now “Biblical Society”) at Trinity Christian in Palos Heights, IL., and Zondervan Publishing in Grand Rapids, MI. I don’t think any rational person would suggest that all adds up to The Devil, but maybe somewhere, someone has no idea where it really came from and this is their way of saying they hate it for some unspecified reason.

For those who woould like to see what is being said about the NIV here is one of the site I was told o go to for “THE REAL STORY”:

That website is notoriously anti-Catholic and quite paranoid about other things, this included. I’d say just ignore it and move on.


That page (and likely the whole site) is sensationalist propaganda. Nothing more. I’m sure any halfway decent interlinear Greek Bible would soundly debunk all of their complaints about translation.

My rule of thumb is that any website (like this one) that uses more explication points than periods can safely be ignored.

Calling the NIV bible is the work of the devil is rubbish. I will agree that despite its popularity, it isn’t a good version. I’ve encountered a few cases where it omits a few lines of scripture that other versions don’t. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact locations, but I think the reason why its so popular has to do with marketing for example: you can buy it as a thinline version, it is a woman’s devotional bible, backpack bible, you can purchase a version for windows, there are a bunch of student bible, couple bibles, teen bible etc. My personal preferences are the New King James and the NRSV bible. Both are wonderful bibles whose language flows and is just easier to understand.

Thankfully, I don’t have the latest edition. I’m really not into the whole politically-correct, inclusive language thing. It seems a bad idea to me when you are translating Scripture, as well, because it means the translation is less accurate. :frowning: Older editions don’t include these changes.

Just goes to show, if you are studying the Bible, you need more than one translation, so you can compare and contrast, and get a better idea of the actual meaning of it.

Thanks for the link. That sort of thing is just fundamentalist, KJV-only ranting, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Unfortunately there’s quite a lot of that sort of thing on the internet, but that doesn’t mean they actually have a credible argument that stands up academically. It’s best to ignore that sort of thing, IMO.


…and if you’re serious about it, pick up an Interlinear edition and Greek & Hebrew dictionary. If you’re really serious you’d have to learn the original languages.

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