‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord,
‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Saviour.
There’s an old Chinese saying, “May you live in interesting times.” There’s no doubt that we do and then some. At a time in history when humanity is at its most creative, its most technologically advanced, a time when scientific knowledge has been increasing exponentially, it is also a time when mankind has begun to unhinge itself from the timeless truths and morals rooted in the Judeo-Christian faith, which held much of the western world together through a common culture and creed for centuries and millennia. Church attendance began to decline in the mid-20th century, slowly at first and then more rapidly, when in the twenty first century, many of these beautiful and age-old centres of Christian worship have been transformed into pubs, restaurants and nightclubs. This is part of what the Bible calls the ‘great falling away,’ where the end of days is characterised by a small, healthy, recalcitrant Church of true believers walking the narrow path, loyal to God’s unchanging message. I believe these trends to be no accident; this falling away was augured from the foundation of the world.
Deceived by silver-tongued atheist evolutionists (read fools) who disseminated their godless(and false) ideologies in best-selling glossy books and prime-time television documentaries proclaiming that we’re not made in the image of God, as the Bible uniquely attests, and that we are only highly evolved animals, our morality was destined to take a steep nose-dive. Abortion, once outlawed in all civilised nations is now fair game in many of the same nations, where today it has become the leading cause of death in the west, outstripping heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The same is true of homosexuality. Scarcely a quarter of a century ago, surveys consistently showed that the vast majority of people were firmly against it on moral grounds. Today, as activists in positions of power have lobbied(I would say bullied) our governments to normalise it, it’s now all over our television screens – morning, noon and night. And while one or two per cent of people identify as such, I find it truly alarming that nearly every second programme beamed into our living rooms has a theme or story related to these deviant sexual lifestyles. What’s more, for a career in modern showbizz, being openly gay has almost become a prerequisite!
So I don’t watch TV anymore and carefully vet all programmes my kids choose to watch, lest their minds be caught up in this campaign for immorality.
Men are now marrying men, and women do the same. They are raising children in homes where the traditional roles of father and mother are no longer considered important. With single-parent families now the norm, children grow up without the steadying influence of a mother or a father. Small wonder so many of our little ones grow up confused. And if the present trends in society are anything to go on, polyamory will become widespread and bestiality will also be normalised.
Our entertainment industries; Hollywood, sports, gaming and pornography, take centre-stage in many of our lives and have done much to erode traditional Christian moral values. Our children learn to kill efficiently and mercilessly with their joysticks, the films they watch are filled with gratuitous violence, infidelity, and blaspheming. Pornography is ubiquitous, tearing families apart. Our sports men and women and other types of celebrities have been elevated to the status of idols and we’re on our iphones more or less constantly, bombarding our senses with as much meaningless drivel as we can possibly soak up. Instead of seeking the true God, we lose ourselves in drug-induced trances. Who needs God when you have alcohol, cannabis, heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth and so-called ‘prescription drugs’ to dope you into a false utopia?
While childhood used to be a relatively happy and carefree time of life, our young ones are now sexualised to the hilt. Indoctrinated by depraved activists with no respect for traditional values about gender or the family, the number of children receiving puberty-blocking drugs has skyrocketed in recent years, as has the number of teenagers and adults undergoing transgender hormone therapy and/or surgery. And yet, all the while, there has been an avalanche of such transgender individuals reporting that they regret undergoing such life-changing therapies, triggering severe depression in many cases and a commensurate rise in suicides among their members. This only serves to reveal the truth in all of this; transgenderism is a mental disorder, pure and simple, and many clinicians working in the field would agree with me.
With increasing wealth comes increasing materialism. We have larger disposable incomes than at any other time in human history, and yet our propensity for greed spirals ever upward and out of control. The ugly sceptre of human covetousness has led to great deteriorations in the salubrity of the natural world, with the collapse of whole ecosystems, the decimation of animal and insect populations, and all-out extirpations of hundreds of land-based and aquatic species. Without a shadow of a doubt, humans have proven to be irresponsible stewards of the planet and we won’t be given another one.
Many forms of counterfeit Christianity have emerged in recent decades. False teachers are a dime a dozen and very effectively disseminate their lying doctrines to their sleepwalking congregations, who have ever shorter attention spans and who resent being challenged or rebuked. Whatever you believe, however unscriptural it may be, you’ll soon find a pastor willing to tickle your ears. The internet is crawling with them!
Curiously though, all of this has occurred in lock-step with increasing knowledge of our significance in the Universe. Naive and ill-thought-through faith in Darwinian evolution led many scientists to suppose that extraterrestrial life would be the rule rather than the exception. But we are now more certain than at any time in the past that our planet is extraordinarily rare, if not unique in the Universe, and that all terrestrial life is far too complicated to have evolved naturally from the everyday laws of chemistry and physics that govern everything else in the inanimate cosmos. No, life comes from the mind of God. To deny this fact is sin. Life on Earth is God’s ‘Ace card,’ and human life His Royal Flush. We ain’t going anywhere either, to the chagrin of space-age dreamers. With the possible exception of our nearby Moon, humans are unable to travel and live on other worlds. The reason is simple; our physiology precludes it.
Lawlessness has greatly increased in recent times, with hardly a day going by before we hear of another terrorist strike, protest or war breaking out. The victims of these conflicts are usually the ordinary citizens, leading to the destruction of their homes, their places of business and worship and their livelihoods. Millions of people have been displaced from their homelands, creating the largest humanitarian crisis in living memory. Christian persecution worldwide has also greatly increased in our times. Coupled to all of this, the events surrounding the prophecies of Ezekiel (Chapters 36, 37, 38 and 39) are now aligning themselves in the Middle East. You simply couldn’t make this stuff up!
The bubble has truly burst!
Bearing in mind how human society has changed in recent years, would it be unreasonable for God to express His displeasure with us?
I don’t think so!
This pandemic is a chastisement from the Living God.
The Bible informs us that God expresses His indignation with His human subjects in a variety of ways; by sending freak weather – fires, floods, droughts and blizzards as judgements. He sends plagues, pestilences and earthquakes which, like Sun and rain, affect both the righteous and the unrighteous. He turns the wicked over to strong delusion so that they wallow in their lies and seared consciences. And yet, Jesus warned us that as humans become more wicked and depraved, all of these events would increase both in magnitude and frequency, just like birth pains, toward the time of the end. And this is the world we now inhabit. In one fell swoop, by allowing(but not causing) the spread of the Coronavirus, God has silenced the idols of Hollywood, the idols of sport, and the idols of health, wealth and prosperity. He has restricted our freedoms and our civil liberties.
God now has our undivided attention and the world would do well to listen. Perhaps most importantly, God is reminding us not to get too caught up in the cares of this world and that this is not our ultimate home. Everything we possess and covet will be burned up when God finally brings this Universe to a fiery end.
Of course, none of these trends come as a surprise to Bible believing Christians, who have been forewarned about them in the words of Scripture. Christians know and understand that the world ruled by man, with no regard or acknowledgement of the Creator, is doomed to failure and always goes from bad to worse, so that it is hardly surprising all of these events are converging in this day and age. And while I’m confident that we will get through this Coronavirus pandemic, there will certainly be other and possibly bigger challenges to come, especially if wider society does not repent. It also highlights the importance of understanding what God has planned for his people, and one of the best ways of gleaning that information is by reading the Bible.
Background to the NIV
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention, and in the case of the New International Version (NIV), it was born out of a desire to share the gospel with those who had never heard it. It’s story began with one man, Howard Long, an engineer by profession based in Seattle. Possessing a strong Christian faith, Long spent a lot of his time travelling and liked to share his faith with others. Back in the 1950s, there were only a few Bibles penned in the English language, but the one most popularly used by evangelical Christians at that time was the old King James Version(KJV). But Long soon hit a snag; quite a few of the people he witnessed to didn’t really understand the KJV, as it was written in archaic English. And that got him thinking, “can a new translation be made of the Bible in contemporary English that accurately conveys the Word of God?” That question started a decade long consultation with Bible scholars across the nation and by 1965, he had successfully received support from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals, who set up a new committee that would begin work on a brand new translation of the Holy Scriptures that was not based on any other existing translations at the time, and which would draw upon the latest Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts. By 1966, Long had successfully garnered the support from 80 evangelical ministry leaders who established the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT), an independent body overseeing the creation of the NIV.
Thus began the painstaking process of creating a new English Bible translation with the goal of attaining maximum accuracy and readability for a contemporary audience. Each book of the Bible was assigned to a translation team consisting of two translators, a couple of translation consultants and, where necessary, an English style consultant. Furthermore, another 5-strong team of scholars reviewed their work, comparing it to the original biblical texts and assessing its readability. After that, each book went to a committee of between eight and twelve scholars, as well as lay reviewers who offered constructive criticism on the translation in regard to comprehension and overall literary style. Finally copies were dispatched to working pastors, students and members of church congregations for general feedback. By 1968, the CBT secured a financial sponsor in Biblica, who oversaw the development of the NIV text, and by 1978 Zondervan became the official publisher of the newly completed NIV Bible. The first print run – amounting to a million copies – was sold out almost overnight.
The NIV was the first to use gender inclusive language, recognising that older translations tended to use male biased terminology to reflect the culture in which the Scriptures were first penned. An example can be seen in 1 Thessalonians 2:1. Here is how the KJV reads:
We beseech you, brethern……….
And in the NIV :
You know, brothers and sisters……………
The aim of the translators in producing more gender inclusive language was to make it more accessible to a female readership. In most cases, these changes are entirely inoffensive, as they do not detract from any doctrinal issue and render the text more natural sounding to a modern reader who accepts the equality of men and women as children of the Most High. But in other passages the use of gender inclusive language renders the translation somewhat corny or awkward. Take Mark 1:17 for example. In the KJV it reads:
I will make you to become fishers of men
Note how the NIV phrases the same passage:
I will send you out to fish for people
The NIV underwent its first revision revision in 1984. This version is probably the highest regarded among Bible readers and remains a firm favourite with a broad section of Christians. But in 2005, more revisions were introduced including the highly controversial Today’s New International Version (TNIV), which introduced gender neutral language to refer to people. Noting the tendency of older versions to translate humanity as ‘Mankind,’ the TNIV replaced many of the passages emphasising overtly male-centred language. An example will help illustrate the point.
Here is how the 1984 NIV translated Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image
The TNIV translates the same passage as:
So God created human beings in his own image
Many Bible commentators felt that this was a step too far, as it sought, they argued, to make the Bible more ‘politically correct.’ Taking these criticisms on the chin, the CBT brought out a new version of the NIV, discontinuing both the 1984 version and the TNIV. Called the NIV 2011, it toned down a lot of the gender neutral language introduced by the TNIV, making it more similar to the NIV 1984. Indeed the CBT stated in the introduction to the 2011 edition that, “the updated NIV you now have in your hands builds both on the original NIV and the TNIV….”
The interested reader can learn more about the NIV 2011 by clicking on the Preamble link at the top of this page.
Strking a Balance Between Two Translation Philosophies
Unlike old Bibles like the KJV, which drew upon a relatively small number of newer manuscripts( 12th century and younger), 100+ bible scholars working on the NIV included the Dead Sea Scrolls (which featured a number of Old Testament books), the Masoretic Hebrew Texts (which are the authoritative Hebrew scriptures, featuring 24 books of the Hebrew Bible), the Samaritan Pentateuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible attributed to Moses), the Latin Vulgate (a 4th century Latin translation made by St.Jerome that remained the official Catholic Church’s Bible for many centuries), to name but a few. All of these manuscripts were thoroughly read, translated and brought into modern English. The translation process was long, thoughtful, and in-depth.
Some critics of the NIV have stated that many verses have been left out or placed in footnotes when compared to translations like the KJV, the New King James Version(NKJV) and the newer Modern English Version(MEV). But The CBT were justified in doing so as many of the older manuscripts discovered in the centuries after the KJV was created do not contain such verses. The decision to do this was not at all intended to deceive, as some Bible commentators I’ve read have suggested but rather to clarify them as facts. For example, the ending of Mark’s gospel is presented in italics with a heading stating that, “the earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9-20.”
A curious aside: Check out this youtube link to an NIV user who was villified by KJV onlyists. Such bigotry is, unfortunately, still alive and well today
Most modern Bible translations draw on one of two translation philosophies; so-called ‘word-for-word’ and ‘thought-for-thought’ (sometimes referred to as dynamic equivalence) The KJV, NKJV, MEV and New American Standard Bible(NASB) and the English Standard Version(ESV) are highly literal, word-for -word translations, but many readers, especially new Christians, find them to be difficult to read and understand. The NIV is a thought-for-thought translation, and so often departs from the precise wording of more literal Bible translations in order to convey the essential concepts more firmly. That said, having read the NIV 1984, TNIV and the NIV 2011 in their entirety, I would say that all achieve a very high level of technical precision yet are easy to read. The language of the NIV is at a grade 7 level and so is suitable for all readers 12 years old and upwards. In regard to reading through the NIV 2011 in particular, I found it to be very enriching experience. And while it is a new and fresh translation, it is obviously respectful of classic translations like the KJV. The poetic sections of the NIV Bible, particularly the Book of Psalms, is arguably one of the best presentations I have personally encountered.
As an avid reader and collector of different Bible translations, I recognise the value of every version. What may be unclear in one rendering of the Word of God, other translations can help you arrive at a crystal clear understanding of the same text. Crucially though, the NIV, like all other modern English Bible translations, there is no change in doctrine between them. So you can be assured that in reading the NIV you will arrive at an accurate understanding of God’s message to humanity.
There has never been a better time to get back into reading the word of God, and the NIV 2011 is a great, scholarly translation that is both accurate and easy to read. But I would also recommend reading another more literal version of the Bible as well if you can. As world events continue to unravel before our very eyes, knowledge of the Bible will help you see the wood for the trees, so that you’re not frightened or caught off guard when disaster strikes. Time spent reading and applying Biblical wisdom will be added to your life.
Dr. Neil English is the author of seven books in amateur and professional astronomy. He delights in using science to debunk misconceptions about the supposed incompatability of science and faith.
The NIV is also available in both American an anglicised (UK) English
The NIV has also been translated into many other languages to reach millions of non-English speaking people around the world.
Like all good Bible translations, the entire text of the NIV can be accessed free online.
There are audio versions of the NIV available. Arguably one of the best is narrated by the actor and Christian, David Suchet.
The full Gospel of Mark(NIV version) can be watched here.