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Chapter 23

The Bible Societies


National Bible Societies have proliferated. The British and Foreign Bible Society has beome a model for other such societies all over the world. We can but applaud the work of many of these societies in providing the Word of God, in many tongues, distributed by the millions. But recent trends give cause for alarm, for now most of these societies have become agents for ecumenism. Many Scriptures now distributed by these societies are those approved by the Roman Catholic Church. Such Bibles are always based upon the corrupted Greek manuscripts beloved of Rome, and they also contain the uninspired books of the Apocrypha.

Lest any be in doubt as to the baleful effects of the distribution of such perverted Scriptures, we remind the reader of the Roman Catholic attitude toward the Bible.

The attitude of the church toward the Bible societies is one of unmistakable opposition. Believing herself to be the divinely appointed custodian and interpreter of Holy Writ, she cannot without turning traitor to herself, approve the distribution of Scripture "without note or comment." The fundamental fallacy of private interpretation of the Scriptures is presupposed by the Bible societies. It is the impelling motive of their work. But it would be likewise the violation of one of the first principles of the Catholic faith—a principle arrived at through observation as well as by revelation—that of the insufficiency of the Scriptures alone to convey to the general reader a sure knowledge of faith and morals. Consequently, the Council of Trent, in its fourth session, after expressly condemning all interpretations of the sacred text which contradict the past and present interpretation of the church, orders all Catholic publishers to see to it that their editions of the Bible have the approval of the bishop.

Besides this and other regulations concerning Bible reading in general we have several acts of the popes directed explicitly against the Bible societies. Perhaps the most notable of these are contained in the Encyclical Ubi Primum of Leo XII, dated 5 May, 1824, and Pius IX’s Encyclical Qui Pluribus, of 9 November, 1846. Pius VIII in 1829 and Gregory XVI in 1844, spoke to similar effect. It may be well to give the most striking words on the subject from Leo XII and Pius IX. To quote the former (loc. cit.):

You are aware, venerable brothers, that a certain Bible Society is impudently spreading throughout the world, which, despising the traditions of the holy Fathers and the decree of the Council of Trent, is endeavoring to translate, or rather to pervert the Scriptures into the vernacular of all nations. . . . It is to be feared that by false interpretation, the gospel of Christ will become the gospel of men, or still worse, the gospel of the devil."

The pope then urges the bishops to admonish their flocks that owing to human temerity, more harm than good may come from indiscriminate Bible reading.

Pius IX says (loc. cit.): "These crafty Bible societies, which renew the ancient guile of heretics, cease not to thrust their Bibles upon all men, even the unlearned—their Bibles, which have been translated against the laws of the church, and often contain false explanations of the text. Thus, the divine traditions, the teaching of the Fathers, and the authority of the Catholic Church are rejected, and every one in his own way interprets the words of the Lord, and distorts their meaning, thereby falling into miserable errors." The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, art. "Bible Societies," 545

Having failed to stop the work of the Protestant Bible Societies, the Roman Catholic Church now appears to support them. The United Bible Societies (UBS), an organization which includes both the British and Foreign Bible Society and the American Bible Society, along with most other national Bible Societies, has encouraged Roman Catholic participation in joint evangelistic services, joint prayer sessions for Christian unity, and participation in local church councils and organizations.

Roman Catholics, who have no love for the Scriptures as testified in their unrepented history, have, in recent times, seen fit to promote the Word of God. However, it is not promoted on the basis of a belief that the Scripture is the sole foundation of Christian faith, nor a true love for the Word of God. To ensure that the reader is biased toward Roman Catholic dogma, Roman Catholic versions are "assisted" in five ways:

1. The inclusion of the uninspired Apocrypha.

2. Profuse explanatory notes designed to destroy the plain meaning of the Word of God.

3. Provision of courses instructing readers in Roman Catholic dogma.

4. Use only of Scriptures based upon perverted Greek manuscripts.

5. Approval only of Scriptures containing subtle Catholicism.

Thus when Protestants support the distribution of Bibles approved by the Roman Catholic Church, they are unwittingly assisting that church to extend its influence and authority and to spread unscriptural doctrines offensive to God. For example, the Roman Catholic Church cites the twelfth chapter of the Apocryphal book, 2 Maccabees, which enjoins prayers for the dead, in support of the damnable doctrine of purgatory, and in support of the church’s extension of this doctrine to demand money for Masses offered in behalf of those dead believed to be suffering in this fictitious state of torture, that their severe agonies be alleviated.

We suggest that the time has come for true Protestants to withdraw their support from such Bible Societies. Under no circumstance should a faithful Christian regard it as good stewardship of the means God has entrusted to him, to use it in support of the distribution of Scriptures which, rather than uplifting the light of God’s Word, promote Roman Catholicism’s darkness.

In 1986 the British and Foreign Bible Society issued a catalogue of English-language Bibles and New Testaments published by the society. In this catalogue were included the Jerusalem Bible, which the catalogue correctly states to be the work of Roman Catholic scholars, three editions of the New American Bible which is accurately stated to be an American Catholic translation, an edition of the Revised Standard Version containing the Apocrypha, the New Jerusalem Bible, and the Good News Bible containing the Apocrypha and which the catalogue claims is stamped with the imprimatur of Basil, Cardinal Hume, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster. Again we remind each reader that any donations given to the British and Foreign Bible Society are, in part, used to distribute these Bibles which comply with Roman Catholic views. Further, we believe that the common practice of inviting representatives of the British and Foreign Bible Society or national Bible Societies to preach in Protestant churches be discouraged, for it simply gives credence to these societies and encouragement to congregations to support their work, including their distribution of Bibles containing error.

The Second Vatican Council in 1965 opened the way for ecumenical Bible translations by approving translation projects in "co-operation with the separated brethren." Already in 1964 a meeting of major Bible Societies had agreed to the production of a common biblical text in the original Hebrew and Greek, acceptable to both Protestants and Catholics, so that a Bible acceptable to all faiths could be prepared in the languages of the world. Such Bibles could be prepared only by Protestant compromise, for the Roman Catholic Church would never lend its approval to Bibles devoid of the Apocrypha, nor to those translated from the Textus Receptus. Protestants, on the other hand, have become so weakened in their opposition to Roman Catholic error that they will accept such appalling compromise with truth.

In 1966 the British and Foreign Bible Society amended its constitution to permit the inclusion of the Apocrypha in versions which it distributed. The American Bible Society and most other national societies followed the British lead.

The Roman Catholic Church formed the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate (WCFBA) under the leadership of Monsignor Alberto Ablondi, the Roman Catholic bishop of Livorno, Italy, to promote these ecumenical translations. A spokesman for this organization stated that such projects were

An act of common witness and an expression of common grounds. World-Event, No. 57/1984, 6

It was also suggested that

this collaboration opens doors to a better understanding of each other’s point of view and prepares the way for ecumenical dialog. Ibid.

Further the spokesman confirmed that

The WCFBA is not merely interested in, but committed to, this common witness in joint Bible work, which does break new ground for future ecumenism. Ibid.

Bishop Ablondi sees interconfessional translations as

One of the important advancements of post-Vatican II ecumenism—an important step toward unity. Ibid

True Christians must examine the very Scriptures which these Bible Societies are perverting, especially as the bishop claims that these translations

will help overcome prejudice in a divided church. Ibid.

It is these Scriptures which shout an urgent warning against this ecumenical movement which is bound to be so successful that

all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast, symbolic of Roman Catholicism1], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8

Further, God’s people are called by our loving God in His last desperate plea to mankind to

Come out of her [out of Roman Catholicism and apostate Christianity] that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. Revelation 18:4

We are too late in earth’s history for Christians to align themselves with organizations promoting unity condemned of God.

It is not alone in English-speaking lands that this thrust of the Bible Societies is to be found. The distribution of Arabic Bibles in North Africa and the Middle East by the United Bible Societies is a combined effort of Protestants and Roman Catholics. This fact was highlighted by the Executive Secretary of the Bible Society in North Africa when he reported:

1985 got under way with the inauguration of our new offices. . . . This event, preceded by a reception for various heads and staff of diplomatic missions, and marked by an outstanding sermon delivered by the Cardinal Archbishop of Algeria, Monsignor Léon-Etienne Duval, will be remembered as a high point in the rich interconfessional life of this country. UBS Report 1985, 131

In Brazil a Portuguese translation of Scripture which included the Apocrypha was produced by an ecumenical team led by Dr. Robert Bratcher, the United Bible Societies international translation consultant (UBS World Report 180, May 1985, 3). Dr. Bratcher was the chief translator of the Good News Bible. In his writings this minister has denied the inerrancy of Scripture.

Even more sinister is it, that in Latin America the distribution of these modern Bible versions, approved of Rome, is seen as a powerful weapon in the Roman Catholic counterattack against the inroads of Protestantism in that part of the world.

Ecumenical cooperation . . . which includes the distribution of over one million Bibles a year, has been successful in minimizing the divisive inroads of sectarian proselytizing. World-Event, Nos. 65-6/1986

Thus the United Bible Societies’ work is counterproductive to the work of the gospel. Dare any true Christian support such ventures, knowing that Rome boasts their efficacy in keeping its flock in medieval darkness? It must be pointed out that the United Bible Societies in Latin America appointed Miss Maria Teresa Porcile, a Roman Catholic, as their consultant for interconfessional translations. This same organization has assisted Catholicism by providing translations of the Apocrypha in some of the minor languages of Latin America, including the Quechua and Aymara languages of Bolivia, and Creole in Haiti. Undoubtedly many contributors to the United Bible Societies would be deeply disturbed if they knew how their funds are being used.

In Burundi, a nation of Central Africa,

a new interconfessional translation of the Bible in Kirundi [the national language] was started . . . by the Roman Catholics together with the Protestants: work is done by a staff of three—a Roman Catholic and a Protestant translator, and a typist. UBS Report 1984.21

In 1984 the Burundi Bible Society arranged to print

40,000 copies of the traditional Catholic version of the New Testament in Kirundi. Ibid.

The UBS signed an agreement with the Roman Catholic bishopric in Burundi regarding the production of this edition, which will be printed until the new interconfessional translation is completed. Ibid.

The situation in Cameroun is tragic. There the ecumenical movement led to severe persecution of Protestants who would not compromise their faith. In 1967 the leader of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Cameroun reported:

In one year, at least fifty people in our congregation were imprisoned, my mother being a victim. My father, who was a pastor, died in prison. During a three-year period we were all pushed out. The ecumenical group took over all our territory, they took all our churches, they took all our resources. Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, October 1985, 4

Yet despite this terrible consequence of ecumenism, the General Secretary of the Bible Society of Cameroun reported:

The visit of the Pope to Cameroun was an opportunity for distribution of Scriptures among Roman Catholics. We supplied a summary of our activities to the Holy See and the Pope mentioned it with satisfaction during his visit to our country. . . . Many of our translation projects, most of which are interconfessional, are progressing extremely well. UBS Report 1984.22 and 1985.22

In Ethiopia the work of the United Bible Societies was of the same order as in other African nations.

The 1984 Report of the United Bible Societies mentioned with evident satisfaction that "the annual general assembly of the Bible Society of Ethiopia was held in the Patriarchate conference hall of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church." By way of change, the 1985 Report stated that the "prayer day" of the United Bible Societies "was held in the Catholic cathedral and was attended by His Grace Abune Paulos Tsadiwa, Cardinal of the Catholic Church" and that "a Bible rally was held in a Catholic church in Addis Ababa to raise funds, to encourage Scripture distribution and to enlist new members." UBS Report 1984.26 and 1985.25, quoted in G. Burnside, The Bible Societies and Rome, 8

The nation of Kenya has also been invaded by ecumenical translators. The Bible Society in that nation has translated the Bible into three languages and has included the Apocrypha and also satisfied their Roman Catholic pastors by using the corrupted Greek manuscripts. These languages are Swahili,2 Luo and Borana. The same group has produced these faulted translations in four other languages—Massai, Meru, Pokot and Turkana.

There is no secret as to what is happening in the field of Bible translation in Kenya, for Roman Catholic Bishop C. Davies of Kenya has stated:

The Kenya Episcopal conference has had a much greater say in translation work through the good relations which are expressed by having three members of the Board of Governors (of the Bible Society). World-Event No. 59/1985, 32 and WCFBA III, 68-69

Further, Peter Kiarie, a Roman Catholic, is the Bible Society’s chairman and also a member of the African Regional Executive Committee of the United Bible Societies.3

In the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, the ecumenical committee consists of representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist, the Roman Catholic, and the Anglican Churches. The General Secretary of the Bible Society of Mauritius (a nearby nation, also in the Indian Ocean) holds regular meetings with the Roman Catholic bishops of Mauritius, Réunion and Seychelles. The result of this ecumenism is that

To mark the Pope’s visit to Mahé, the main island in the Seychelles group, a Scripture portion was distributed containing an introduction to the role of the Pope in the Catholic Church as well as the text of the two Letters of Peter in Today’s French translation. The Scripture portion was published by the Bible Society of Mauritius, which is responsible for Bible Society work in the Seychelles, and was produced in cooperation with local Catholics. UBS World Report 199, January 1987.

Can God approve such a work?

Even in Sudan the Sudan Bible Society has been engaged in the ecumenical translation of Scripture into four languages of that nation—Belanda, Jur, Ndogo and Viri. WCFBA III, 80-81

In Europe the Catholic Church has such influence in the United Bible Societies that Bishop Ablondi is a member of the General Committee and European Regional Executive of the United Bible Societies. As noted earlier, he is also the president of the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate.

The evidence of the work of most Bible Societies is all too easy to document. Undoubtedly many sincere supporters are ignorant of the real work of these societies. Careful consideration must lead any true-hearted Christian to withdraw his support from these societies.

1 See C.D. Standish and R.R. Standish, Antichrist Is Here, Hartland Publications, Box 1, Rapidan Virginia 22733 U.S.A.

2 See the appendix entitled God’s Word Made a Joke The cartoonist little realized that these translations are underway, when he sneeringly put down those interested in true Bible translations by referring to a Swahili translation.

3 All data on Kenya derived from World-Event No. 59/1985, 32 or WCFBA III, 68-69



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