The NIV And Calvinism: A Great Inconsistency

Jess Whitlock

Years ago I attended a Gospel Meeting in Oklahoma. The speaker informed us that he would be using the text of the New International Version (NIV). Later that evening he took to task one of the cardinal points of Calvinism. While he made some good arguments against that error, his choice of versions was not consistent with his lesson. That night the thought struck me that if you would speak against any tenet of Calvinism, you had better stay far away from the NIV. The NIV text supports every “petal of the Calvinistic TULIP,” as we shall show:

T—Total Depravity… inherited sin, Adamic sin, sinful nature, original sin, et al. One must not attack this error of Calvinism with the NIV in hand. The NIV rendering of Psalm 51:5 states, “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” That is not what the text says, but that is the 1978 rendering; then in 1984 they changed it, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” The NKJV correctly reads, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psa. 51:5). David was not saying that he was born as a sinner, rather, he was born into a world of sin. One must transgress God’s Law (1st John 3:4) in order to become sinful. The NIV had no idea of the meaning of the Greek word sarx, as they originally (mis)translated that word to “sinful nature” (see Rom. 8:3-5, 8-9, 12-13; 13:14; 1 Cor. 5:5; Gal. 5:13, 16, 19, 24; 6:8; Eph. 2:3; Col. 2:11,13). Now, it is true that in the 2011 edition of the NIV they wanted it to appear they had realized their error, and took away the words “sinful nature” in 13 of the 15 occurrences…but, they could not let go entirely. It is still found in Romans 7:18, 25. And, at the other texts you will find the NIV has a clever footnote which reads: “In contexts like this the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition of the Spirit” (Emphasis mine, jw).

U—Unconditional Election… (salvation), commonly called Predestination. The NIV altered Romans 9:16 to state, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desires or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Cf. 2 Cor. 2:2; 5:5 in NIV) and see the phrase “… guaranteeing what is to come.” The NIV changes the past tense and then inserts “… what is to come” which words are not so much as found in the Greek text!

L—Limited Atonement… i.e., only a certain “limited” number will be saved. The NIV blasphemed my Lord in First Peter 5:8, “…and a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” I emphatically deny that Christ has forced any man to stumble and fall, but that is the teaching of the NIV. The inconsistency of the translators is self-evident in Hebrews 2:9; 5:8-9 where the NIV points out that Christ tasted death for all men. They goofed again at Second Peter 3:9 where they point out that God does not want anyone to perish, but desires that “everyone to come to repentance.” If Christ causes men to stumble and fall (because they are not in that limited number) then why did the (mis)translators leave these passages intact?

I—Irresistible Grace… hence, the direct operation of the Holy Spirit separate and apart from the word of God. The NIV has this in Acts 16:14, “The Lord opened her (Lydia’s, jw) heart to respond to Paul’s message…” Notice that her heart is opened before she heard the Word of God! Watch out for First Corinthians 2:14 in the NIV: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them…” (Emphasis mine, jw). If this be true, then why encourage anyone to read the Bible, to obey the teaching of God’s Word? Without this so-called Irresistible Grace, you stand condemned. This doctrine makes God a respecter of persons, which doctrine contradicts Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11 and Ephesians 6:9.

P—Perseverance of the Saints… commonly referred to as “once saved, always saved,” “once in grace, always in grace,” or the “Impossibility of Apostasy.” This asserts you cannot fall from grace. The NIV perverted Second Corinthians 3:5-6 by removing the words “except ye be reprobates” and “we are not reprobates.” It has been watered down to read “you fail the test” and “we have not failed the test.” The NIV had to get rid of the word for “reprobate” because the word itself denies their pet doctrine. When I met Mr. Ballard in public debate on the subject of the impossibility of apostasy, he tried to get me to use the NIV text, but I adamantly refused to do so. I knew full well why he wanted to use the text of the NIV.

There you have it; the entire tenets of Calvinism located in the text of the NIV. The NIV text is shot through and through with the doctrines of John Calvin.

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