Arminian Today

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Just A Thought on the NIV

I was reading a bit from some blogs about the soon release of the MacArthur Study Bible in the NIV.  I wrote a piece myself recently on this subject.  From the blogs I read, the NIV is one of the most despised Bible translations I have ever seen from among some evangelicals.  They consider the NIV an example of modern evangelicalism.  The NIV represents, to them, a watered down Bible that is not focused on doctrine.  The NIV is simply embarrassing to them.

My thoughts on this subject.  First, the NIV was the first Bible I actually begin to read from and the NIV was the first Bible I ever read the entire Bible through.  I used an NIV One Year Bible for many years and read through it seven times in a row.  I underlined that Bible up and many of the pages are tearing out but I still have it on my bookshelf.  I learned much from reading that Bible and preached many sermons from my own devotions.  I have much fond memories of using the NIV.

Secondly, I switched to the NASB during college and then went back to the NIV after graduation.  The move back was purely one of discipleship.  I was working with teenagers in the late 1990’s and they all used the NIV.  It was simply easier for me to preach and teach from the NIV so that they could follow along.  I remained with the NIV from 1997-2006.  In 2006 I switched to the ESV and have been there ever since but I do not despise the NIV.

For many people in the church, the NIV is a breath of fresh air.  I grew up on the KJV and didn’t even know there was a difference until 1989 when I asked my parents to purchase an NIV one year Bible for me from our church.  I was not even saved at the time but wanted to read the Bible and the NIV was said to be easier to read and understand.  For me, a lost 16-year-old, the NIV was a breath of fresh air.  While I did not get saved then, the seeds were planted from my reading of the NIV.

Third, the NIV, like it or not, remains the top-selling Bible in the world.  I watched an interview with John MacArthur in which he pointed out that in many English-speaking nations (including the United States), the NIV is simply a standard.  While I favor the ESV or the NASB over the NIV, I will admit that most evangelical churches use the NIV.  Dr. MacArthur went on to point out that in pastor’s conferences he was speaking at in nations such as England, New Zealand, or Australia, the NIV was used by nearly all of the pastors and theologians.  Why not then offer the MacArthur Study Bible in the NIV for them to study and even correct where the NIV is not accurate (such as in 1 Timothy 2:12).  While you might not enjoy the NIV, the vast majority of English-speaking people are more and more reading from the NIV.

Lastly, the NIV is not full of doctrinal errors.  In fact, for you KJV only folks, the NIV is stronger on the deity of Christ than the KJV or even the NASB.  The NIV is strong on the doctrine of salvation and such teachings as the Trinity or the atonement of the Lord Jesus.  One can teach accurately from the NIV even while correcting the translation as needed.  Prominent preachers and theologians who use the NIV would include: Alastair Begg, Jim Cymbala, D.A. Carson, Douglas Moo, George Wood, Stanley Horton, and Ravi Zacharias just to name a few.

Again, while I prefer the ESV and will continue to use the ESV as my standard Bible translation for both teaching and blogging, I do own several copies of the NIV including the 2011 update.  I have been slowly reading through the 2011 edition and have enjoyed it for the most part.  The church we fellowship with uses the NIV and while I would love to see them switch to the ESV, I will not make this an issue.  One can learn and grow from reading from the NIV.  I also point out that salvation is not found in a Bible translation but in the Lord Jesus (John 5:39).  We are saved from the wrath of God in Him (Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).


Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/05/2013 at 10:02 PM

Posted in Bible Translations

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. My view is that the best Bible translation is the one that will be read. And that will differ from person to person.

    Even if there was a perfectly translated bible, it would benefit no one if it was never read. That is why even the best of the early Greek and Hebrew manuscripts are of no use to most of us. We would be unable to read them.


    09/05/2013 at 10:21 PM

    • I agree. Few people can sit and read the Hebrew or Greek texts. We have to depend on a faithful Bible translation but realize that Bible translations are just that, a translation.

  2. Nice article. Like you I grew up on the KJV. At university I met the RSV and for the next several years used both it and the KJV. I tried various other versions but didn’t really take to any of them. However when the NIV came out I took to it and it became my Bible of regular use. A few years ago my NIV Study Bible fell apart and my wife gave me an ESV Study BIble. It is now my Bible of regular use.

    Bob Hunter

    09/05/2013 at 10:44 PM

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