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"Mazes" of Bible Versions and Calvinism

In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

> Pray this finds you in good health and spirits!<

Thank you.

> I just have a couple of questions/ thoughts I'd like to run by you (no rush on your response, and you don't have to worry about length--whatever you have time to respond to is fine). I was on your site (AGAIN!),<

I am thankful you find my site helpful enough for return visits!

> and was reading on the topic of Bible translations. I was concerned when I saw that you felt the NIV [New International Version] was a bad translation (I couldn't find your reasons why...I must have just overlooked it).<

I mention the NIV on several pages. But it is discussed in the most detail in the following article: Three Popular Bible Versions.

> I know it's (NIV) not a literal translation. When I was saved, it was the first Bible (translation) I read, and I am really grateful for it because of its readability (I use the NKJV predominately now--guess you could say I "graduated!").<

The NIV was also my first Bible version. I discuss how I also "graduated" to the NKJV on the following page: My Bible Versions Experiences.

> Also, what about the NASB [New American Standard Bible]? I have heard that it was the most literal of the translations. Obviously, this is not my field of expertise, and I greatly respect your insight.<

I review the updated NASB in the following article. It also discusses the NIV some: NAS95: A Review.

> One more issue. I am still undecided as to the Reformed vs. Arminian position (I find myself somewhere in-between!). Anyway, I was thinking of the whole issue of "free will." Could it be possible that "free will" is something altogether different than "faith."

The reason I say that is because John 1:13 states (paraphrase) that we are not "born of human will...but of born of God." Yet we know that it is by "Grace THROUGH faith that we are saved... It seems the crux of the argument between Calvinists and Arminians revolves around "free will," but, if the issue weren't "free will," but faith, would that change the nature of the argument? Just wondering.<

The question would then be "Where does someone's faith come from?" Or to put it another way, why do you have faith and your neighbor does not (assuming for the moment you neighbor is not a Christian).?

Did you exercise faith and not your neighbor because you were "better" than he is? Because you were smarter? Because you were more moral? Moral spiritual? If you answer "yes" to any of these. Then dig deeper and ask "Why was I like that and not him?" (see 1Cor 4:7).

Or, could it be, you were no better than your you neighbor in any of these? But God chose to give you faith, according to the good pleasure of HIS will? (Eph 1:11).

Think about these questions carefully.

> I really appreciate your work brother, and pray that the Lord strengthen you.

God Bless,

Thank you again. And God bless you too.

>Dear Gary,

Thanks so much for your response and help. I reviewed the articles you referenced, and was very impressed with the work you had done (and continue to do). I will definitely think twice before I recommend the NIV Study Bible again!

Thank you also for the questions for me to ponder regarding the Calvinist vs. Arminian issue. I've been through the "maze" (I think Calvin himself referred to the doctrine of election and "free" will as such) before, and I think I'm getting closer to at least a firmer conclusion in my mind. I've gone from "My God would NEVER operate THAT way!" (Calvinism) to "God is God and can do WHATEVER He pleases."

I mean, if God isn't Sovereign, then He isn't God. If there is one "maverick" molecule running around outside of the control of God, then He couldn't really be God, could He? (rhetorical).

I was just thinking the other day of how we humans try to apply what WE deem as moral, etc., to God. But, like Paul said, "What if God..." You know, what if God did decide to choose CERTAIN ones to salvation and not others? Who am I to say the omnipotent, omniscient, Creator of the universe is "unjust?" What is justice anyway? Who determines what justice is? Is it my finite understanding and definition, which really doesn't mean anything in the big scheme of things, that determines and defines justice, or is it the infinite, all wise God who determines and defines justice? (rhetorical question, of course!).

Even in answering the "problem" of evil, how do we really even know what evil is? Of course, we have to PRESUPPOSE that there is a "good," (which is exactly what the Atheist does, and then the question is "Who determines what is good?"). But again, "what if" God DID bring about something that WE would consider evil? He's still God. And, what I THINK is evil, may actually be GOOD, and what I think is GOOD may actually be EVIL. Thus, all we can do is TRUST God, and ACCEPT whatever HIS truth is.

Gee, sorry I got longwinded! All I was going to do was write and say, "Thanks!"

Keep up the great work!


No problem about being "longwinded." What you say all sounds very good. I really don't have much to add. I am just thankful if I have helped you think through the "mazes" of Bible Versions and Calvinism.

> Sorry it's taken a while to respond. I went to Florida to the Southern Baptist Evangelism Conference. Man, it was fantastic! I am heading up the Evangelism Outreach Program at our church, and I gleaned a lot of outstanding info from there. I'll also be training our people in the Evangelism Explosion Program (D. James Kennedy).

It is a great program I took a few years back that really changed my life. I always thought that was quite fitting: One of the greatest evangelism tools in the Church developed by a Calvinist! ha ha ha! And people say that Calvinism detracts from Evangelism! :-) <

I've heard of this program but no specifics on it. From what you say it sounds very good. And you're correct, Calvinism in no detracts from evangelism, in fact it gives more of an incentive for it. It is the Arminian who has no hope that anyone will actually be converted. As I Calvinist, I know that if God wants to convert the person I am talking to He can. An Arminian cannot have that confidence.

> You know, I was thinking recently of the ministries that have had the most impact on my walk with Christ. At the very top are D. James Kennedy (Evangelism Explosion), and R.C. Sproul—2 Calvinists! I am really hooked on Sproul's work. Just an outstanding teacher (in my opinion)....<

You are correct again: these are two of the better popular evangelists out there. I watch Kennedy occasionally on TV; one of the few tele-evengelist I actually like. Most of them I cannot even stand to listen to for than a minute or two.

As for Sproul I have read many of his books; and yes, they are excellent. His book Chosen by God is about the best introduction to Calvinism I know of.

> Be encouraged, and keep fighting the good fight of faith!

In Christ,

Thank you, and the same to you.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

Calvinism - General Correspondences
Calvinism (Reformed Theology)

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