Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The above image by Smiling Pixell from Pixabay

 

Ties To The New Apostolic Reformation

The Passion Translation has ties to the New Apostolic Reformation, which several biblical scholars have pointed out. Andrew Wilson, a teaching pastor with degrees in history and theology from Cambridge, explains greetings in Scripture are straightforward to translate. He says, “…virtually all the major translations render Philippians 1:1 pretty much the same way: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.” But TPT throws in at least two ideas that fit the agenda of the version, but appear nowhere in the text: “My name is Paul and I’m joined by my spiritual son Timothy, both of us passionate servants of Jesus, the Anointed One.”((Wilson, Andrew. “What’s Wrong With The Passion ‘Translation’?” Think Theology, thinktheology.co.uk, 6 Wednesday, 2016, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/whats_wrong_with_the_passion_translation)) So let’s continue looking at the translations I have used in this series of posts comparing The Passion Translation to the NIV, NASB, and the KJV.

Philippians 1:1

The NIV saysPaul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

The NASB saysPaul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:

The KJV saysPaul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

TPT saysMy name is Paul and I’m joined by my spiritual son Timothy, both of us passionate servants of Jesus, the Anointed One.

Furthermore, Wilson explains in the very next verse where Paul says, “Grace and peace to you,” The Passion Translation reads, “We decree over your lives the blessings of divine grace and supernatural peace.”((Wilson, Andrew. “What’s Wrong With The Passion ‘Translation’?” Think Theology, thinktheology.co.uk, 6 Wednesday, 2016, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/whats_wrong_with_the_passion_translation)) The artistic license Simmons takes with his Passion Translation would make Bob Ross proud. Andrew Wilson identifies multiple mistranslations, insertions, and additions that don’t even come close to the original text. 

Dr. Shead alluded to how Simmons slips in the prophetic to appeal to those within the NAR circles. Shead explains the translations of Syriac and Greek in the footnotes are incorrect. Shead writes, “Simmons renders ‘word’ in Psalm 119:11 as ‘prophecies’, claiming that this is translated from the Septuagint. The Greek word in question (λόγιον) means ‘word’, ‘teaching’ or ‘saying’; thrice in the Bible it means ‘oracle’. But in Psalm 119 it is a key term meaning ‘word’ or ‘promise’ – and this is how Simmons translates all 18 other cases in this psalm where the Septuagint has λόγιον. It appears that he was just looking for an excuse to slip prophecy in, despite the fact that the Psalm celebrates God’s written word, not the spoken oracles he gave his prophets.”((Shead, Andrew, G. “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation).” The Gospel Coalition, thegospelcoalition.org, April 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/burning-scripture-with-passion-a-review-of-the-psalms-passion-translation/))

God’s language of love in Scripture is not hiding. What He has done for us is spelled out plainly, and Simmons, with his visions and visitations, is not needed to expose ‘the secrets’ that supposedly hide within Scripture; because there are none. Scripture is compiled of figurative language, narrative, history, poetry, letters, prophecy, and oratory language, all of which are ways God has used to express his neverending grace, mercy, and love for us. 

Dr. Michael Rydelnik points out, “Brian Simmons holds to an egalitarian view of men and women in ministry and marriage, and his paraphrase reinterprets the meaning of the words to reflect his own view. He also repeatedly uses words and phrases that are significant in the hyper-charismatic world, even when they’re not in the text of Scripture.”((Rydelnik, Michael. “The Problems with the Passion Translation.” Dr. Michael Rydelnik, michaelrydelnik.org, 14 January 2023, 18 March 2023. https://www.michaelrydelnik.org/the-problems-with-the-passion-translation/))

Endorsements

One notable blogger, Dr. Paul Ellis, who endorses The Passion Translation, says, “There are plenty of critical reviews pointing out what TPT gets wrong, so let me point out some things it gets right.”((Ellis, Paul. “Paul’s Review of The Passion Translation.” Escape to Reality, 9 Feb. 2022, escapetoreality.org/. Accessed March 1. 2023. https://escapetoreality.org/2022/02/09/review-of-the-passion-translation/)) Concerning John 15:2, Dr. Ellis explains that Jesus does not remove unfruitful branches, but He lifts them up. Sure, there are many passages Simmons gets correct, but I have to ask, why would I want to read a bible with errors, or even numerous errors? 

Dr. Ellis continues concerning John 15:2, “If you are an unfruitful Christian, would you rather hear [emphesis mine] that Jesus plans to cut you off and take you away (something he never said) or that he will lift you up? Bad translations hurt people; good ones encourage them to trust Jesus.”((Ellis, Paul. “Paul’s Review of The Passion Translation.” Escape to Reality, 9 Feb. 2022, escapetoreality.org/. Accessed March 1 2023. https://escapetoreality.org/2022/02/09/review-of-the-passion-translation/))

Frankly, who cares about what you would ‘rather hear’? Reading Scripture is not an exercise in subjectivism. What is important is what the author is trying to communicate. Don’t read the word to chase the next emotional high or find the next spiritual encounter; those will come naturally. I don’t read the word to feel good; I read the word to understand God. 

If you read the word, flipping through the pages to find something that will confirm a desire you have been praying about or to find a passage that jumps out at you, and you take it as a sign from God, you are going about it all wrong. This method is a favorite pass time of many Christians, but it is seriously flawed. 

It could be Dr. Ellis is pointing out you attract more flies with honey rather than a fly swatter. I get that; nevertheless, The Passion Translation is not something I will read or recommend to new or even experienced Christians. 

Another blogger Margaret Mowczko believes this newer interpretation of John 15:2 is more appealing to this generation but questions if that is true.

She explains, “The main reason is a reluctance, even a ‘terror’ as someone told me, of accepting the idea that a branch may be removed from the Vine―cut off from Jesus―due to a lack of productivity. And this removal appears to go against the theology of eternal security, or ‘once saved, always saved.'((Mowczko, Margaret. “Are the branches lifted up or taken away in John 15:2a?” Marg Mowczko Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism, margmowczko.com, September 1, 2022. https://margmowczko.com/takes-away-or-lifts-up-branches-john-15/))

She continues, “… Jesus’s statements about the unproductive branches, and similar statements in the Gospels, were deliberately designed to be startling and sobering so that hearers would pay attention and assess their hearts and their actions.”((Mowczko, Margaret. “Are the branches lifted up or taken away in John 15:2a?” Marg Mowczko Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism, margmowczko.com, September 1, 2022. https://margmowczko.com/takes-away-or-lifts-up-branches-john-15/)) She rightfully points out that Jesus often used hyperbole to shock and get the attention of his listeners. She feels He intended to provoke an action, not to be a statement on the doctrine of salvation, once saved, always saved. 

He Is More Than Love

I think of the popular Christian artist and musician Zach Williams, whose music I thoroughly enjoy, but he has a line in his popular song, Heart of God, that is misleading. “There’s only love in the heart of God.” So many Christians can’t fathom a God or don’t want to consider a God that has other characteristics. Characteristics which make some Christians uncomfortable. 

They certainly don’t want to think of a God with righteous anger, jealousy, wrath, or vengeance. Or a God that demands us to hate. Psalm 97:10 So many Christians have this ‘Precious Moments Figurine‘ picture of God, sugar and spice and everything nice. Yet, Scripture makes it quite clear it is terrifying to fall into the hands of our living God. Hebrews 10:31

Yes, He is loving, 1 John 3:1, but he has other attributes. 

  • He is giving John 3:16 
  • He is caring Matthew 6:26 
  • He is merciful Ephesians 2:4-5 
  • He is righteous Psalm 145:17 
  • He is just Psalm 89:14

Thankfully, the righteousness and justice He has, and demands we have, He provides through His Son Jesus. Because, without Jesus, this does not end well. Matthew 25:41. Ya, you never hear love songs about the goats and the roasting they receive. 

Brian Simmons describes his Passion Translation as a ‘heart-level’ translation (whatever that means) using Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts,’ which ‘expresses God’s fiery heart of love, merging emotion and life-changing truth, and unfolds the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the love language of God.'((“Bible Gateway Removes the Passion Bible Translation from Its Site – Premier Christian News: Headlines, Breaking News, Comment & Analysis.” Premier Christian News, Premier Christian News, February 10 2022, https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/bible-gateway-removes-the-passion-bible-translation-from-its-site.))

This supposed translation is backed by several Christian leaders, including Bill Johnson of Bethel Church and Hillsong’s Bobbie Houston. Some compare it to the Message Bible, but the numerous additions, subtractions, and alterations without explanations should steer thoughtful Christians away from this reading.((“Bible Gateway Removes the Passion Bible Translation from Its Site – Premier Christian News: Headlines, Breaking News, Comment & Analysis.” Premier Christian News, Premier Christian News, February 10, 2022, https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/bible-gateway-removes-the-passion-bible-translation-from-its-site.))

Should you read The Passion Translation? I’m not. If you do, never use it as a main course. Instead, it would be best to question what you read by comparing it to other solid and reliable translations. 

Brian Simmon’s intentions may have been honorable initially, but he has taken an artistic license with Scripture that all Christians should be critical of. His supposed ‘heart-level’ translation often appeals to those driven by feelings and emotions. Some think if the feelings are absent, then something is wrong, yet that can be part of a Christian’s walk. Psalm 13:1 Psalm 83:1 Job 30:20

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. – George Bernard Shaw

The plea of good intentions is not one that can be allowed to have much weight in passing of historical judgment upon a man whose wrong-headedness and distorted way of looking at things produce, or helped to produce, such incalculable evil – Theodore Roosevelt

To summarize my main points in all three posts:

  • Brian Simmons does not have a ‘real’ doctorate from an accredited university. 
  • The early translations of his Passion Translations were by Simmons alone. It was only after many theologians were publicly critical of his work that he added some other translators. 
  • Most modern, actual translations, have over 100 PhDs as contributors, editors, and authors. For example, my ESV has over 120 Ph.Ds. contributors listed, all from accredited universities. 
  • Simmons relied primarily on Aramaic, not Greek.((Rydelnik, Michael. “The Problems with the Passion Translation.” Dr. Michael Rydelnik, michaelrydelnik.org, 14 January 2023, 18 March 2023. https://www.michaelrydelnik.org/the-problems-with-the-passion-translation/))
  • It is abundantly clear Simmons adds words and phrases that are not in the original text. 
  • Simmons had visits 1 & 2 from Jesus himself, then visions where he visited heaven’s library where Jesus promised him a book of the Bible (John 22) that he alone would receive and have knowledge of to share with others. 
  • Simmons has never offered any explanation for the changes in his new editions. Nor will he sit in the ‘hot seat’ and be interviewed by serious and legitimate theologians that are critical of his work. 
  • Bible Gateway is no longer using The Passion Translation. 
  • Littered with words and phrases, The Passion Translation amplifies emotions and feelings to appeal to those in the NAR circles and those chasing the next experience.

What do you aim for when reading Scripture? Do you have a purpose or objective? What is your intent? Is it to know and understand God in a more accurate and truthful way? I would hope so. If that is the case, I would ask, would you purchase an inaccurate gun if you wanted to do some target shooting? Of course not; you would want a weapon that was as accurate as possible. So why would you then purchase and read a supposed translation that was highly inaccurate and often gives you a false picture of God, his disciples, and their world 2000 years ago? Put away your Passion Translation and aim true. 

I suggest you read these reviews of The Passion Translation: 
The Gospel Coalition  
Dr. Lionel Windsor’s 
Alisa Childers 
Dr. Michael Rydelnik
Holly Pivec’s

Full Interview with Sid Roth

Recommended Books:
A New Apostolic Reformation
God’s Super-Apostles 

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Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://christianapologetics.blog/stop-consider-what-is-wrong-with-the-passion-translation-part-iii/.

Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part II

Reading Time: 6 minutes
The above image by Smiling Pixell from Pixabay

In Part I, I touched on the background of Brian Simmons and what goes into reliable translations. Below I will give you specific examples of The Passion Translation (TPT) compared to the New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), or the King James Version (KJV), so you can decide for yourself. 

Comparing Translations

Ephesians 6:10.

The NIV saysFinally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

The NASB saysFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

The KJV saysFinally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

TPT says: Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you.((Simmons, Brian. “Psalm 57.” The Passion Translation 2020 Edition, BroadStreet Publishing, 2020, p.525))

Andrew Shead, head of the Old Testament department at Moore Theological College, holds a Ph.D. at Cambridge and has earned a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Theology, and Masters of Theology, says, “Brian Simmons has made a new translation of the Psalms (and now the whole New Testament) which aims to ‘re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader.’ He achieves this by abandoning all interest in textual accuracy, playing fast and loose with the original languages, and inserting so much new material into the text that it is at least 50% longer than the original. The result is a strongly sectarian translation that no longer counts as Scripture; by masquerading as a Bible it threatens to bind entire churches in thrall to a false god.”((Shead, Andrew, G. “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation).” The Gospel Coalition, thegospelcoalition.org, April 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/burning-scripture-with-passion-a-review-of-the-psalms-passion-translation/))

Psalm 57:1

The NIV saysHave mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

The NASB saysBe gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by.

The KJV saysBe merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.

TPT saysPlease, God, show me mercy! Open your grace-fountain for me, for you are my soul’s true shelter. I will hide beneath the shadow of your embrace, under the wings of your cherubim, until this terrible trouble is past. 

You use a hyphen to form a compound adjective before a noun. After researching, 

mechon-mamre.org and www.chabad.org

I don’t see anything relating to a grace-fountain. Nor do I see cherubim in the text. 

Brian Simmons may have good intentions (frankly, I find that dubious), but his methods are questionable, to put it mildly. The Passion Translation is not a translation you can trust, consider reliable, or be faithful to the author’s intent to share the word of God. 

Galatians 2:19

The NIV says: For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.

The NASB says: For through the Law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

The KJV says: For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

TPT says: For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God [in heaven’s freedom]1 Note the updated version has changed by dropping, “in heaven’s freedom.” No explanation in the footnotes as to why this newer version has changed. 

Dr. Andrew Wilson, who has ‘real‘ degrees in theology and history from Cambridge, wrote concerning the early editions of The Passion Translation, “…in Galatians 2:19, hina theō zēsō, which simply means ‘that I might live for God’, has been ‘translated’ as ‘so that I can live for God in heaven’s freedom’. To be clear: there is no indication whatsoever in the Greek of that sentence, or the rest of the chapter, that either heaven or its freedom are in view in this text.”2

Wilson continued to explain TPT is not a translation. He said Simmons is adding to Scripture and pointed out what Revelation 22:18-19 has to say about Christians who do this. 

Mark 1:15

The NIV says: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The NASB says: and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The KJV says: And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

TPT says“At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”

It is clear that Simmons is adding to the original words of Scripture. 

According to Got Questions, “The additions in The Passion Translation are justified with the claim that this translation ‘enhances [the Bible’s] meaning by going beyond a literal translation to magnifying God’s original message.'”3

No Explanations

Psalm 18:1

The NIV saysI love you, Lord, my strength.

The NASB saysI love you, O Lord, my strength.

The KJV saysI will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

TPT saysLord, I passionately love you. I want to embrace you, for now you’ve become my power!

Simmons has made many changes to his first and subsequent editions but has yet to offer any explanations. Consequently, you will find nothing in his footnotes or any online explanations of these changes. 

Dr. Shead also writes, “Simmons seems as uninterested in linguistic accuracy as he is in textual accuracy. He searches the dictionary, and sometimes apparently his imagination, for ways to insert new ideas that happen to align with his goals, regardless of their truthfulness.”4

Athanasius, born around 300 AD and an early defender/apologist of orthodox Christianity, wrote a warning about what Simmons does in his Passion Translation, “There is, however, one word of warning needed. No one must allow himself to be persuaded, by any arguments whatever, to decorate the Psalms with extraneous matter or make alterations in their order or change the words themselves.”5

In their book, God’s Super-Apostles, Douglas Geivet, a legitimate professor at Biola University, and Holly Pivic point out The Passion Translation completely rewords verses making them appear to support the New Apolostic Reformation (NAR). For example, in the Passion Translation, Galatians 6:6 says there is a transference of anointing between teachers, prophets, and their followers. It says, “And those who are taught the Word will receive an impartation from their teacher; a transference of anointing takes place between them.”6 This is just one example of a translation Simmons used to correlate with the NAR doctrine where this ‘transference of anointing’ is taught and endorsed. 

“Unfortunately, The Passion Translation (TPT) shows little understanding, either of the process of textual criticism, or of the textual sources themselves.”4

Christians are often sucked in by the experience and led down a path that leads away from the truth. Words like supernatural, explosive, power, flowing, infused, union, victorious, force, grace-fountain, embrace, soul-shelter, experience, and fullness, are littered like breadcrumbs for the wayward traveler to follow. The Passion Translation often resonates with the Christian seeking the ‘next experience,’ but they are being misled. Thinking they have found a way home and a path that sings to their soul, but instead, the course is twisted, and the song is deceptive.

1 John 4:1

2 Peter 1:20-21

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right. – Charles Spurgeon

This is a time when all of God’s people need to keep their eyes and their Bibles wide open. We must ask God for discernment as never before. – David Jeremiah

 

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Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation Part II by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Simmons, Brian. “Psalm 57.” The Passion Translation 2020 Edition, BroadStreet Publishing, 2020, p.503 []
  2. Wilson, Andrew. “What’s Wrong With The Passion ‘Translation’?” Think Theology, thinktheology.co.uk, 6 Wednesday, 2016, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/whats_wrong_with_the_passion_translation []
  3. “What is the Passion Translation of the Bible?” GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/Passion-Translation.html []
  4. Shead, Andrew, G. “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation).” The Gospel Coalition, thegospelcoalition.org, April 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/burning-scripture-with-passion-a-review-of-the-psalms-passion-translation/ [] []
  5. ‘The Letter of St. Athanasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms,’ in St. Athanasius on the Incarnation: The Treatise de incarnatione verbi Dei, ed. and trans. A Religious of CSMV, 2nd ed. (London: Mowbray, 1953), 116. []
  6. Geivett, Douglas. Pivec, Holly. “NAR Prophets vs. Prophets in the Bible.” God’s Super-Apostles, Weaver Book, 2014. []
Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part I

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The above image by Smiling Pixell from Pixabay

Brian Simmons is the founder of Stairway Ministries in Wichita, Kansas, and also an ‘apostle’ under the apostle Che’ Ahn with Harvest International Ministry. And you thought there were only 12 apostles. Simmons also worked for eight years in Panama as a church planter and Bible Translator, but is now the lead translator and author of the Passion Translation.((Pivec, Holly. “Important facts about The Passion Translation.” Holly Pivec, hollypivec.com, 23 June 2018, https://www.hollypivec.com/blog/2018/06/important-facts-about-the-passion-translation/7962))

Presently Simmons has translated the entire New Testament along with Psalms, Proverbs, and Son of Songs. He earned his doctorate with the Wagner Leadership Institute specializing in prayer. That’s who I want to pray for me! However, I’ll point out the Wagner Leadership Institute (now called Wagner University) is not an accredited seminary or Bible college that offers academic courses on the Bible or Theology. But this so-called university teaches courses on being apostles, prophets, and miracle workers. That is a red flag for me!((Pivec, Holly. “Important facts about The Passion Translation.” Holly Pivec, hollypivec.com, 23 June 2018, https://www.hollypivec.com/blog/2018/06/important-facts-about-the-passion-translation/7962))

A God-Given Mission

This duty, mission, and assignment to write the Passion Translation, he claims, came directly from God. View this 40-second clip where he claims on the Sid Roth show that Jesus commissioned him to write the Passion Translation.  That should raise some concerns. 

Brian Simmons said, “Jesus Christ came into my room. He breathed on me. And he spoke to me and said, ‘I’m commissioning you to translate the Bible into the translation project I am giving you to do.’ And he promised he would help me, and he promised me he would give me secrets of the Hebrew language. And I felt downloads coming; instantly I received downloads. It was like I got a chip put inside of me. I got a connection inside of me to hear him better. To understand the scriptures better, and hopefully to translate.”((Alisa Childers. “3 Things Christians Should Know About The Passion Translation.” Online video clip. Alisa Childers, 25 October 2020. Web. 24 February 2023.))

In the same interview, Simmons claims that Jesus showed him a new book of the Bible titled John 22. I can only imagine when he and his team of experts have completed translating the Bible, they will then be adding the new book to Scripture, which has been ‘endorsed’ by Jesus himself. Revelation 22:18-19

For the full 30-minute interview with Sid Roth, go here

Adding To Scripture

It is not a translation, and to suggest it, is misleading. When scholars work on translating, they convey the information as best they can to the original meaning. Some translations work toward accurate word-for-word translations (KJV or the NASB). In contrast, others work toward a thought-for-thought and look to share the sense of what the author wanted to communicate in the current language and culture (NIV).

Another point, the Passion Translation inserts and adds words, ideas, and concepts that have no attachment to the original Greek. Brian Simmons, the author of the Passion Translation, inserts the footnote, “implied by the context.” throughout his translation to cover his bases.((Wilson, Andrew. “What’s Wrong With The Passion ‘Translation’?” Think Theology, thinktheology.co.uk, 6 Wednesday, 2016, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/whats_wrong_with_the_passion_translation))

The NIV translation took over ten years and had over 100 scholars to complete. “…another team of five Bible scholars reviewed their work, carefully comparing it to the original biblical text and assessing its readability. From there, each book [of the Bible] went to a general committee of 8 to 12 scholars. As part of the final review, outside critics gave feedback. Samples were tested with pastors, students, and laypeople. Perhaps no other Bible translation has gone through a more thorough process to ensure accuracy and readability.”((“About The NIV.” The NIV Bible, thenivbible.com, 2023, https://www.thenivbible.com/about-the-niv/history-of-the-niv/))

The Passion Translation has Brian Simmons and his “team” of experts. 

Legitimate Translations

Textual criticism is the process used by scholars to determine what the original manuscripts of the Bible said. The standard among scholars is to use the earliest or most reliable manuscripts when translating Scripture. Sometimes the earliest may not be the most reliable, but those who study textual criticism understand what is needed to properly translate the passages because of their expertise and experience. 

Simmons claims the New Testament may have been written in Aramaic and not in Greek. So much of what Simmons translates is from Aramaic rather than the earlier and more reliable Greek manuscripts. In fact, the earliest Aramaic texts date 500 A.D., while Greek manuscripts date from the first century A.D. Dr. Lional Winsor wrote, “Aramaic was a language spoken in the Eastern Medeterrian. It was common in Seria, Judia, etc. Jesus probably spoke it, and Paul probably knew it too. But nobody thinks that Paul actually wrote Romans in Aramaic. Why would he? Very few people in Rome would have understood it.”((Alisa Childers. “3 Things Christians Should Know About The Passion Translation.” Online video clip. Alisa Childers, 25 October 2020. Web. 24 February 2023.))

Simmons has received substantial criticism from respected scholars and theologians concerning his ‘Passion Translation’ and has revised some of his verses. For example, later editions of Galatians 6:6 leave out the ‘transference of anointing.’ Yet, Simmons needs to explain his rewording of multiple passages in such a significant way. Such revisions would at least garner some explanation to his readers, but Simmons offers no justification. 

Is It a Translation?

I know several people who read The Passion Translation, but thankfully, I don’t know anyone who considers it their primary source for Biblical study. I would not recommend it to anyone; if asked, I would suggest they set it aside for a more accurate translation of God’s word. 

Despite the title of ‘The Passion Translation,’ it is not a translation; Simmons admitted he was not a scholar of the original languages.((Geivett, Douglas. Pivec, Holly. “NAR Prophets vs. Prophets in the Bible.” God’s Super-Apostles, Weaver Book, 2014.)) So I have to ask, how are you translating if you are not skilled in the languages? Like his revisions, he offers no reasons and Simmons removed this quoted admission on Amazon. Still, the authors of God’s Super-Apostles have a copy of his admission in their possession. And why have subsequent editions of The Passion Translation yet to include any footnotes regarding the changes in the text? And there have been numerous, which I will point out in Part II. 

As a result, in 2022 Biblegateway.com removed the ‘Passion Translation.’ Biblegateway has over a million monthly visits and is the number one site visited when referencing the Bible. That should tell you something. Bible scholars, including those who translated the NIV, use a more rigorous standard. A new version must closely adhere to its source’s wording, syntax, and structure. Critics of The Passion Translation say it doesn’t meet those standards and functions as a paraphrase while presenting itself as a translation.((Shellnutt, Kate. “Bible Gateway Removes The Passion Translation.” Christianity Today, christianitytoday.com, 9 February 2022, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/february/passion-translation-tpt-bible-gateway-remove-charismatic-pa.html))

Despite the severe shortcomings of The Passion Translation, it is endorsed by Bill Johnson, Michael W. Smith, John Bevere, and a host of others within the New Apostolic Reformation circles. If you read The Passion Translation, you should be aware it is not a translation, despite claims it is. In Part II, I will give you multiple examples of his translations which should raise some red flags if the above information has not. 

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Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Have You Been Blessed?

Have You Been Blessed?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Above image by Марина from Pixabay

The value of Bitcoin today is just shy of $19,000. However, in November of 2021, it was nearly $70,000. If someone sold a few Bitcoin then I am sure they felt blessed. 

In 2010 Martina McBride wrote the song ‘Blessed‘, which included the following lyrics, “I get kissed by the sun each morning…, I get to hear my children laughing. I thank God for all I’ve been given…I have been blessed with so much more than I deserve…”

Her lyrics adopt the world’s view on blessings. If you are blessed, you are happy, healthy, understood, appreciated, loved, admired, athletic, and wealthy, but is this the biblical view on blessings? 

The Beatitudes

Take a look at the Beatitudes which means blessedness. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit…

Blessed are those who mourn…

Blessed are the meek…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…

Blessed are the merciful…

Blessed are the pure in heart…

Blessed are the peacemakers…

Blessed are those who are persecuted…

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you…((Kim, Jay. “Joy Instead of Comparison.” Analog Christian, Intervarsity Press, 2022, p. 42))

Blessed are those who are persecuted? Blessed are those who mourn? That does not sound like a blessing to me. 

Nevertheless, I have had several experiences in the last few years that, at first glance, were not something I would have called a blessing. Some things are impossible to change, short of a miracle, but now I see many of them were a blessing despite the pain and anguish. I have heard the same from many friends who have navigated difficult times and loss but then expressed and shared the blessing from it.  

Those Blessed Get The Girl

Another songwriter, Thomas Rhett wrote these words in 2019 to his song ‘Blessed.’

“Watching you spin in that dress

Making my heart beat out my chest

I can’t count the times I’ve heard

People say I’m lucky

But lucky ain’t the word, oh, I’m blessed”

Rhett sings about a girl in his life that looks good, spinning in a dress, and he equates that to being blessed. Like Rhett, most believe our life’s circumstances determine how blessed or happy we are. Consequently, we spend a lot of time and money working toward that goal of being happy, and when we are happy, we are also blessed. They go hand in hand. 

At times it seems God is dropping these nuggets of happiness in our life to show that He loves us and wants to bless us. But finding the right spouse, having a good job, health and wealth does not necessarily mean you are blessed.

Jay Kim wrote “Analog Christian” and reflected on what it means to be blessed and how the world and many Christians confuse being blessed with being happy and often use them synonymously. 

Kim pointed out that there are more than 140,000,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag “blessed” and it is no surprise that almost all are of attractive people smiling with some beautiful backdrops. 

Indeed, God does bless us in those ways, but is that the only meaning of being blessed? Could it mean something more profound that can’t be seen on the surface? For example, have you ever experienced a blessing that came from difficult circumstances or tragedy in your life? 

Kim quoted theologian Rodney Reeves, “We often operate with the presumption that blessings are meant for our happiness. But Jesus didn’t see it that way at all; blessings are more important than that.”1

Types Of Blessings

You will find three types of blessings in scripture.

  • God to Man
  • Man to God
  • Man to Man

In Genesis 1:28, you will find the first appearance of blessing. “God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it.” Much more could be said, but one reoccurring theme of blessings is previously barren women having children. So fertility should be considered a blessing from God, not a characteristic of nature. 

Blessings of man to God take the form of praise to God. For example, thanking Him for events that have taken place. In the Psalms, you will read, “May God be blessed.” or some form of that adoration. Psalm 66:20, for example, you will find this type of blessing commonly in Psalms and Proverbs. It should be noted that man does not, or should not bless God to prompt further blessings, but to simply thank Him for what he has already done. 

Finally, man to man blessings can often be a greeting, salutation, or at the end of a meeting when someone may wish or pray that God will bless them as He does others. In Genesis, you will find scenes when an aging father blessed his children, a common practice in the Near East. These types of blessings were often considered binding wills for the surviving children. 

Mercy and Grace

A blessing is not the result of accumulating material things, nor is it defined as health with flawless white teeth (Joel Osteen comes to mind) or wealth with the latest 2022 eighty-grand F-150 with all the bells and whistles. Instead, it’s God’s divine favor that comes in the form of God’s protection and provisions. But more than that, God’s blessing comes in the form of His everlasting divine mercy and grace. If not for what His Son had done for us, the free gift of salvation, all the health and wealth would add up to nothing, just ashes, and dust. 

In difficult times I remind myself of this. Some things in my life I have no control over and can’t change. I have to accept the way things are and be thankful despite the proverbial thorn in my side. 

When life is demanding and challenging, I make a habit of counting my blessings the moment I wake up. I thank God for not only what I have, but what I have lost. You may not see the reasons for your circumstances, but ultimately you will, and He promises we will be comforted. 

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


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Have You Been Blessed? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Reeves, Rodney, Matthew, The Story of God Commentary, MI. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Academic 2017, pg 143 []
Cherry Picking

Cherry Picking

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Above Photo by Taryn Elliott: 

Isolating scripture by a particular verse is not how any Christian or non-Christian should read the bible. All scripture should be read in context.  Anyone who is trying to figure out the meaning of a particular verse should always read what comes before and what verses follow. 

It is also fundamental to look at the broad backdrop of the particular book. Since scripture is composed of 66 books written by over 30 different authors over a period of 1500 years, understanding the author’s intent is essential. Scripture contains documented history, songs, poetry, words of wisdom that you might find in psalms or proverbs, and prayers. Understanding what the chapter is about, who the author is writing to, and what idea the author is trying to relay is key to understanding what we read. 

Christian apologist Greg Koukl puts it this way, “Remember, meaning always flows from the top down, from the larger units to the smaller units. A reflection on a Bible passage from a sermon or a devotional may be edifying, encouraging, and uplifting. If it is not the message of the text, though, it lacks biblical authority even when the quote comes right out of the Word of God.”1

If you would like an excellent source on how to read scripture, I would highly recommend How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition.

I came across this meme on Facebook a couple of weeks ago from someone who is pro-choice. As you can see, it contains bible verses that seem to support a pro-choice view or, at the very least, imply that scripture, the bible, or God endorses the murder of the unborn. 

The translations in this meme are laughable if not for the large number of people that would view such a meme and take it at face value without digging a little deeper. 

For simplicity, I used the NIV (New International Translation) and referenced the Bible Hub, which gives upwards of 20 other popular translations.  

The NIV is a contemporary translation and, like many of the translations today, had a rigorous process before publishing. “This involved assigning each book of the Bible to a translation team consisting of two translators, two translation consultants and, if necessary, an English style consultant. Another team of five Bible scholars reviewed their work, comparing it to the original biblical text and assessing its readability. Next, each book went to a committee of eight to 12 scholars and was also reviewed by outside critics. And finally, samples were tested by pastors, students and laypeople.”2

None of the translated scripture in the meme even come close to what you see below in bold. I don’t know where Caity found these particular translations, but it is blatantly reworded to put a pro-choice spin on the verse or paint God as baby killing, homicidal, murder. 

Let’s look at each of the verses she quoted one at a time. What she quoted or used is bold, and the following is the NIV translation in blue. I quote the whole scripture referenced, and some are quite long.

Life begins at birth-with the first breath (Gen 2:7)

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7)

It says God breathed life into man’s nostrils. It says nothing about life beginning at the first breath but that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and at that moment, man became a living being. From this passage, suggesting that life only begins for the unborn when they take their first breath is absurd. 

Before birth, the unborn requires nutrition and oxygen, just as we all do after birth. However, for the unborn, that all comes from the mother via the umbilical cord. It is then the use of lungs that marks the value of the unborn? You can see how ridiculous this would be. 

Fetuses are not persons (Ex 21:22-25)

If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:22-25)

How on earth did someone get “fetuses are not persons” from those passages? What a pathetic, misleading, and deceitful translation. If anything, those passages suggest there is some value to the unborn since fines are involved if she gives birth prematurely. 

Exodus 21 is about judgments and laws placed before the Israelites, which include: the treatment of servants, murder, manslaughter, assault, liability, theft, rape, idolatry, the treatment of the poor, and money, just to list a few of the subjects. However, it says nothing about fetuses not being persons. 

Fetuses should be aborted as proof of adultery (Numbers 5:11-31)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

“‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—”may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

“‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

 “‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.'” (Numbers 5:11-31)

Two considerations when reading these passages should be weighed in. First, the principal focus in this chapter is purity within the camp of Israelites before they are to enter the promised land of Canaan. Second, a wife was regarded as a possession of her husband, so the greater burden was placed on the wife. 

In many ancient cultures, women were second-class citizens and suffered because of that belief. So, for example, a woman could be divorced if the husband even suspected infidelity. On the surface, this seems to be an unfair and harsh judgment toward women, but it actually eased the laws concerning unfaithfulness. 

Having this law allowed a provision to prove innocence before a jealous or angry husband when there was none before. Before this law, accusations could have been made against a wife, and she could have even been murdered with no recourse. This law ameliorated women’s harsh realities in ancient cultures and limited the oppressive claims made against women in ancient Israel. 

Life is not sacred (Deuteronomy 28:18-24)

The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.

The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed. (Deuteronomy 28:18-24)

This is after Israel entered the Promised Land, and Moses commanded them to renew their covenant and reviewed the blessings and curses they could expect depending on their behavior. 

The first part of this chapter lists blessings, but starting in verse 15, you read about what will happen if they are disobedient. Despair would invade the people and God’s blessings would disappear. It says nothing about life not being sacred. Again, a complete misrepresentation of scripture.  

God will rip open pregnant mothers-to-be (2Kings 8:12)

“Why is my lord weeping?” asked Hazael.

“Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,” he answered. “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.” (2Kings 8:12)

What is in bold is a typical misapplication of scripture and deliberately misleading. If you read what comes before and after for yourself, you will see that for yourself. 

This passage is an extract from a conversation between Elisha and Hazael, a servant to the king of Aram. Elisha was weeping because God showed him what Hazael would do to the people of Israel after king Aram died. The verses say nothing about God ripping open mothers to be, but a warning what an enemy kingdom will do to the people of Israel. 

Israelite King Menahem ripped open pregnant women (2 Kings 15:16)

At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women. (2 Kings 15:16)

2Kings is about the divided kingdom of Israel and it briefly covers the reign of about 30 kings of Israel and Judah; many of them were evil and acted wickedly in the sight of God. Their deeds and actions are recorded in history, and the author evaluated the monarchy by the Mosaic Law. This is one example. And one focus seems to have been pointing out the blessings offered to the obedient and the punishment for disobedience. Many evil kings were listed in the two books of first and second Kings and here you have one. 

God will kill unborn fetuses (Isaiah 13:18)

Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. (Isaiah 13:18)

Isaiah was a prophet, and he spoke for God. Therefore, if you read Isaiah’s book, you will find words of exhortation, hope, and promise, but many words of warning, accusation, and confrontation, which made him unpopular. 

In the first 39 chapters, he condemned the eighth-century Israelites and charged them for their immoral and idolatrous lifestyles. No translation says God will kill unborn fetuses. In chapter 13, the Hebrew word used is na’ar which translates to a boy or adolescent. Chapter 13 are Prophecies about Babylon, and verse 18 is about Babylon falling to the Medes (translated middle land) northwest of Persia and what the Medes will do to Babylon. Once again, an example of misrepresenting scripture. I wonder if Michael Sussmann wrote this meme. 

God will destroy fetuses in utero (Hosea 9:10-16)

“When I found Israel,

    it was like finding grapes in the desert;

when I saw your ancestors,

    it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.

But when they came to Baal Peor,

    they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol

    and became as vile as the thing they loved.

11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—

    no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.

12 Even if they rear children,

    I will bereave them of every one.

Woe to them

    when I turn away from them!

13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre,

    planted in a pleasant place.

But Ephraim will bring out

    their children to the slayer.”

14 Give them, Lord—

    what will you give them?

Give them wombs that miscarry

    and breasts that are dry.

15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal,

    I hated them there.

Because of their sinful deeds,

    I will drive them out of my house.

I will no longer love them;

    all their leaders are rebellious.

16 Ephraim is blighted,

    their root is withered,

    they yield no fruit.

Even if they bear children,

    I will slay their cherished offspring.” (Hosea 9:10-16)

Hosea lived in the Northern Kindom of Israel about 200 years after the Northern Kingdom broke off from southern Judah. The book of Hosea is almost all poetry and has three main sections. The first section is about marriage to a woman named Gomer. The second section is about her unfaithfulness, and the third section is about Hosea’s attempts to restore the marriage to Gomer despite her unfaithfulness. 

All these parts are symbolic of God’s relationship with Israel. First is God’s Covenant (Marriage) with Israel. Then God brought Israel to the Promised land, and Israel took all the prosperity experienced and began to worship the Canaanite God Baal. God then has two options; He could end his Covenant with Israel or continue to love and pursue them despite their unfaithfulness. 

The last two parts of the book of Hosea have accusations and warnings for Israel because they are looking to Assyria and Egypt for protection. However, in the near future, the Assyrian Empire swoops in and destroys the northern empire of Israel. Both parts end with more poetry about God’s mercy and hope for Israel’s future, but no one would point that out, only that God will destroy fetuses.

Like so many I see on Facebook, this meme is absolute rubbish. But the good side is I occasionally see one worth responding to two, and I have a new post for my blog. 

If you ever see anyone post this meme, you can now point it out for the misleading and disingenuous trash it is. 

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Cherry Picking by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Koukl, Greg. “Never Read A Bible Verse.” Stand To Reason, str.org, 4 February 2014, https://www.str.org/w/never-read-a-bible-verse []
  2. Biblica Staff. “The Inspiring Story of How the NIV Bible Became a Reality.” Biblica The International Bible Society, biblica.com, 20 March 2018, https://www.biblica.com/articles/history-of-the-niv-bible-translation/ []
The War In Ukraine

The War In Ukraine

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The above title is outlawed in Russia. Putin forbids my very use of the word “war.” Using that word could place a Russian reporter in the Gulag Archipelago for 15 years. They are not allowed to use “war,” “invasion,” or “assault” when describing their invasion of Ukraine.1

The New York Times reported last Friday, “Russia clamped down harder Friday on news and free speech than at any time in President Vladimir V. Putin’s 22 years in power, blocking access to Facebook and major foreign news outlets, and enacting a law to punish anyone spreading ‘false information’ about its Ukraine invasion with up to 15 years in prison.”((Troianovski, Anton. “Russia Takes Censorship to New Extremes, Stifling War Coverage.” New York Times, March 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/04/world/europe/russia-censorship-media-crackdown.html. March 8, 2022))

For Putin, it is all about controlling the narrative within his authority. Those critical of his actions will quickly be labeled criminals and face severe consequences. 

Instead, the Kremlin says their invasion of Ukraine is a “special military operation.” The Kremlin has also blocked access from within their country to major western news sources or popular social networks such as Facebook. Consequently, the general population within Russia will only hear the state-managed media.((Troianovski, Anton. “Russia Takes Censorship to New Extremes, Stifling War Coverage.” New York Times, March 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/04/world/europe/russia-censorship-media-crackdown.html. March 8, 2022))

This war will not end quickly, and those who have orchestrated the invasion and war in Ukraine will be suffering economically. But what does that mean exactly? First off, you need to understand that Russia is an oligarchy. What is that exactly? It is a government-run by a few very powerful and very wealthy people. Just a handful of individuals manage and own all the property, businesses, trade, and energy. To give you an idea, Putin is worth about 100 billion. Yes, I wrote billion, not million.((Mohler, Albert. “Thursday, March 3, 2022.” Audio blog post. The Briefing. albertmohler.com, March 3, 2022. Web. March 8, 2022)) Give that some thought. One hundred billion. For example, if Putin lost 99% of his entire wealth, he would still have 1 billion left. Can you picture a billion dollars? For those who are math-challenged, think of it this way, 1 billion dollars is a thousand million dollars. Could you live on that? Could a millionaire be comfortable with that? How about someone with a hundred million? You see my point. 

These sanctions will undoubtedly hurt the oligarchy, but what is a 90% loss of their billions? It is a nuisance, maybe an aggravation, but I would not even go so far as to say a discomfort. These men and women in power will not suffer one iota from our sanctions. Who suffers? The people of Russia. Many of them may disagree with the invasion of Ukraine but, out of fear, will say nothing against it. Why? Because the Kremlin passed a law making criminals out of those who speak out against their military or government. Vyacheslav Volodin, a Kremlin official, said with the new law, “those who lied and made declarations discrediting our armed forces will be forced to suffer very harsh punishment.”2

The sanctions may place such a general stress on the populace they could rise up and overthrow the government, but they are already cowed by laws, restrictions, and threats of harsh punishments. Constraints on free speech are in full swing and will only get worse. Those who don’t toe the line will quickly disappear and be examples to those who might consider speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine. 

World view matters, and I can’t say this strongly enough. Countries like Russia and China don’t care about the people; those in power only care about gaining more power and influence even if it costs their people or innocents, including women and children. Culture is downstream of religion, and politics is downstream of culture, always. So what Russia is doing and what China is planning on doing has everything to do with politics, culture, and undoubtedly a religion, or lack thereof. Those in charge are answerable to no one, and they will do whatever they can to keep it that way. 

Ukraine will fall. Those who fought to keep their country independent will either be killed or whisked away to prisons in Siberia, never to be heard from again. If you think Russia will be satisfied with Ukraine, you are sadly mistaken. It may not happen in my lifetime, but the Russian oligarch will continue to make moves westward. 

And I predict within my lifetime, China will take Taiwan. And like Ukraine, we will not want to go to war for another country’s freedom. So like it or not, it is simply a delay of the inevitable. Ideas have consequences, and the ideas coming from Russia and China have world-impacting consequences. 

Does injustice diminish depending on the distance? For example, what would you do if you were to walk out your front door and see a man abusing a woman or child just a few feet away? I think most men and women would immediately step in and put a halt to it if they could. What if it was across the street? Does your responsibility for the abuse that you have knowledge of lessen because of the increased distance?

David French, a conservative Christian and political commentator wrote, 

“The true battle for our country isn’t political, it’s cultural and spiritual…Our nation can survive lost elections, but over the long term it cannot survive a decayed culture.”3

As Christians, we should recognize secular ideas regarding ethics. Secular moralities such as the ones we find from the Kremlin and China are established on the belief that their own ideas and moral codes (what is right and wrong) are merely based on their views. Nothing more than that. No higher universal standard or judge that we may call God. They recognize this and act on it. “If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is not a final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions.”((Schaeffer, Francis. How Should We Then Live? Old Tappan NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1976 p. 154))

You are mistaken if you think theology doesn’t matter. Theological arguments matter because they arrived in the form of jetliners on September 11. You are also mistaken if you believe Godless leaders are a better option. If you have heard and believed the party line that religion has been the cause of more deaths and wars than anything else, you’re deceived. Mao, Stalin, and Hitler, atheist dictators, were responsible for over 100 million deaths in the 20th century. 

The world war for worldviews is just beginning. What side are you on?

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The War In Ukraine by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. AFP, “Russia Bans Media Outlets from Using Words’ War,’ ‘Invasion.’ The Moscow Times, February 26, 2022, https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/02/26/russia-bans-media-outlets-from-using-words-war-invasion-a76605. March 8, 2022 []
  2. Troianovski, Anton. “Russia Takes Censorship to New Extremes, Stifling War Coverage.” New York Times, March 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/04/world/europe/russia-censorship-media-crackdown.html. March 8, 2022 []
  3. Friedersdorf, Conor. “How Breitbart Destroyed Andrew Breitbart’sLegacy.” The Atlantic, 14, Nov. 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/how-breitbart-destroyed-andrew-breitbarts-legacy/545807/. 9 March 2022 []

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