Question: I’m very concerned about New Age Bible Versions and it has little to do with my personal bias for or against any particular version of the Bible. It’s creating division in my church. Although I don’t mind some necessary confrontation, my reading of Mrs. Riplinger’s book tells me that it is more harmful to the body of Christ than the modern versions she warns against. What are your thoughts?
Response: The stated purpose of New Age Bible Versions is to prove that there is “an alliance between the new versions [sic] of the Bible (NIV, NASB, Living Bible and others) and the chief conspirators in the New Age Movement.” The author also claims that her approach is objective and her work is heavily supported by methodical documentation.
If New Age Bible Versions (NABV) had both accomplished its goal and fulfilled it in the way the author stated, NABV would be of great value to the church. The book, however, not only misses the author’s professed marks, it seriously undermines her credibility and brings her integrity into question.
We’ve received a half dozen evaluations of NABV from individuals whose research we respect. Their work, much of it checked against the difficult-to-obtain sources quoted by Riplinger, has complemented our own scrutiny of Riplinger’s book.
Those who have a preference for the KJV, as we do, will find no encouragement in Riplinger’s endeavor. Her writing is driven by a misleading style and loaded with contrived “evidence.” She starts off misrepresenting people and continues to do so throughout the entire book.
For example, the introduction alerts the reader to “shocking” information which reveals New Age objectives and connects them to individuals who had some degree of influence upon modern version translations. Quotes #2 and 3, page 2, given to support the author’s thesis, feature statements attributed to Edwin Palmer, an editor of the NIV. The setup for the quotes implies a New Age connection. Yet neither quote has anything even remotely to do with New Age teachings. Quote 2 is a reflection of Palmer’s reformed theology, and #3 (“[F]ew clear and decisive texts say that Jesus is God”) is a statement of simple fact. No matter what Bible version is used, there are fewer than ten verses which explicitly state that Jesus is God, though hundreds more reinforce that basic truth. Palmer makes that clear in his writing. Yet he is maligned by false implication, and the reader is grossly deceived.
Time and space will not allow for more than a sampling of the hundreds of mistakes in Riplinger’s 690-page book. Most of the errors can be chalked up to incompetence, but there are far too many that seem to be designed to convince the reader of the author’s viewpoint regardless of how lacking the proof might be, or even of how much evidence exists to the contrary.
In Chapter 1 she correctly states that the New Age is making inroads into Christendom by using terms familiar to Christians. Her example, however, is the title of the book Communion, a secular best-seller which describes a man’s alleged contact with extraterrestrials. She claims, without a hint of documentation, that the author named it that “to make it more easily acceptable [to Christians].” The example is far-fetched at best. The title cover of Communion features a horrifying image of an alien that would keep even the most gullible Christian at arm’s length.
Riplinger then introduces the first of dozens of comparative charts. They give the impression of presenting supportive documentation, yet rarely contain any documentation whatsoever. Her first chart lists what she says are New Age definitions compared to what she claims are correspondent teachings contained in new Bible versions. The charts are visually impressive—but meaningless without documentation. Some charts elevate faulty accusations to the level of substantial concerns; some convey the idea that all new versions are guilty of the same alleged errors, and that particular errors are rampant. Again, nearly all are without documentation. Most of the charts are incomprehensible, but that doesn’t necessarily lessen their persuasive value. Charts, whether one fully understands them or not, can generate the perception that “the author know what she’s talking about and has the charts to prove it.”
New Age Bible Versions collects New Age concepts, teachings and strategies and imposes them exclusively upon the modern translations; the author demonstrates her lack of objectivity by avoiding or rationalizing away the KJV’s similar vulnerability. For example, new versions are accused of being New Age because they use the phrase “the Christ,” while there are more than a dozen such verses found in the KJV. “The Mighty One” is said to be New Age; the KJV has four examples. References to God as “the One” in new versions indicate New Age influence, according to Riplinger; the KJV has dozens of verses where the term “One” is a referent for God (Holy One, Mighty One, Lofty One, etc.). There are too many other instances where the author fails to apply her New Age version theories to the KJV, to assume an oversight on her part. Clearly, either they disprove her theory, or the KJV is also a New Age version—which also disproves her theory.
Perhaps the most reprehensible aspect of the book is its penchant for guilt by association, and quite often that “association” is contrived by the author. Roger Krynock sent us many examples of Riplinger’s misquotations in which she, through her own construction, “terribly wrenches [the quoted words] from their contexts.” R. Laird Harris, for example, is quoted to prove his New Age view of hell. Riplinger thus presents his quote: “This view [hell] has some problems. [It]…refers only to death, not to…any punishment….” She took the first quoted sentence from page 59 of The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation and the second sentence is a misquote from page 61 of the same book. Putting the two together makes Harris say what Riplinger wants, but it’s not even close to what he actually said.
Another reviewer, Rick Norris, succinctly articulates the danger of New Age Bible Versions: “An essential part of Riplinger’s book is based on the ad hominem fallacy which appeals to the situation or prejudices of the person to be convinced instead of logically proving the premises that pertain to the subject under discussion.” We’ve received a number of letters from NABV enthusiasts who share our preference for the KJV, yet seem to have let their bias override their objectivity. To them we would recommend a more “Berean-like” reevaluation.
We have little doubt that a Bible version will eventually surface that will subvert the doctrines of “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), but let’s be watchful in a way that is true to that faith.