A few years ago I wrote a four-part series about The Passion Translation–a new NAR translation of the Bible being produced by the NAR apostle Brian Simmons. This series of posts has been among my most read. Since many of my newer readers may not have heard of the Passion Translation, I reprinted Part 1 below.
First a quick update. Since I wrote this series back in 2013, Simmons has released more installments of his NAR Bible: Proverbs, Matthew, Acts, Hebrews and James, and Romans. NAR leaders, including Bill Johnson, continue to promote this translation and quote from it in the pulpit. And rave reviews from Simmons’ readers pour in. I’m disappointed to report that the Passion Translation has been selling extremely well based on its rank at Amazon. For those who have never heard of the Passion Translation, you can get up to speed by reading my first post.
A New NAR Bible
Beware: An NAR apostle has come out with his own NAR translation of the Bible, called “The Passion Translation.”
Apostle Brian Simmons, of Stairway Ministries, is the lone translator of this “groundbreaking” project. To date, he has released four installments of his new translation:
- Psalms: Poetry on Fire
- Song of Solomon: Most Amazing Song of All
- Luke: To the Lovers of God
- Letters From Heaven by the Apostle Paul
Next in line is Proverbs, Wisdom From Above, due out in Fall 2013.
Simmons’ translation is endorsed by influential NAR leaders including apostle Che Ahn (Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, USA), prophet James Goll (Encounters Network) and apostle Katherine Ruonala (Glory City Church in Brisbane, Australia).
Simmons claims he undertook this work because he saw a need for a more emotionally passionate translation of the Bible that speaks to the heart. He believes the leading translations of the Bible speak mainly to the mind and don’t adequately capture God’s passion. He describes his translation like this:
The Passion Translation Project is a groundbreaking attempt to re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader. God longs to have His Word expressed in every language in a way that would unlock the ‘passion’ of His heart. The goal of this work is to trigger inside of every English speaker an overwhelming response to the truth of the Bible as it is unfiltered by religious jargon – unfolding the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the language of love, the language of the heart. Accurate to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, but passionately powerful in a contemporary form.
So, what’s the problem with his “passionately powerful” translation?
Simmons has taken verses of Scripture that have nothing to do with NAR teachings or practices and reworded them so they appear to support those very teachings and practices , such as “prophetic singing,” the “transference of an anointing,” and the issuing of “apostolic decrees.” In other words, despite his claim to unveil the truth of the Bible “unfiltered by religious jargon,” he’s actually exploiting his audience’s ignorance of sound textual criticism to smuggle in a heterodox theology along with a good measure of NAR jargon.
The bottom line? He’s changing God’s Word–a serious offense to God. I will look at specific verses he has changed in my next post.
But, for now, I want to point out that this translation is potentially one of the most disturbing developments in the NAR movement. Simmons is following in the footsteps of the major cults of Christianity who have released their own translations of the Bible, including the New World Translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Joseph Smith Translation used by some groups of Mormons.
By creating a new NAR translation of the Bible, Simmons is shaping the way a generation of NAR followers will read and understand Scripture–and also creating a divide between those who use the NAR translation and those who don’t.
It remains to be seen how many NAR people will make the switch to this NAR translation of the Bible. If a lot of them do switch Bibles, then The Passion Translation could truly–as its advertisements say–”impact the Church for years to come.”
Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.