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What Bible version are you using, have you changed to a different version recently, and does one version vs another matter to your Christian experience?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #155 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


I grew up with the KJV, the King James Version. Didn’t everyone back to 1611?

Early in my career when I began speaking more, churches started using the NIV (1978) and my wife gave me a parallel Bible, KJV one side, NIV the other. I joked I could now shoot from either barrel. I used this for a few years because it both helped me study, drawing on wording with which I was long familiar, and helped me speaking if I happened to walk into a church that used one of the other versions.

In 1992, a few months after I became President of Grand Rapids Baptist College & Seminary, eventually Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, then Zondervan President Jim Buick gave me a brown leather my-name-embossed NIV that his company produced. With that beautiful new Bible, I shifted to NIV, leaving the heavier parallel version at home. 

Now, the ESV (2001) is becoming commonly used. Both the ministry with which I serve, SAT-7 USA, and our home church, First Baptist Church of Middleville, uses the ESV as its primary biblical resource. And I keep running into it in my travels.

I like the ESV. It’s a good version. 

Finally, then, a couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to step out on my own take on "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." I measured my faithful old, falling apart NIV and then looked on Amazon for Bibles the same size.  

What amazed me is that I not only found several choices, but most of them were also reasonably, if inexpensively priced, this for a product that can be $75 and up. The order was placed and about nine days later my new Bible arrived.

It's the same size, but then again it is not. The overall size of the book is nearly the same, but I intentionally ordered large print, so the font is bigger. This is a bow to advancing age and declining eyesight.

This happens to me in my work. I get a document written by a much younger colleague and it shows up in 9 or 10-point font, which I used “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” but not anymore. Now I go for 14-point font, so the Bible needed to be bigger print too, easier to use at my desk, better, or safer if you will, to use when I am speaking, meaning hopefully I don’t lose my place and can actually read when I need to do so.

Not long after I began this podcast, I wrote one called “Losing a Language of the Faith.” The idea was we’ve moved in my lifetime from a largely One-Bible-Version world to a Multi-Bible-Version world.  

Many different available versions of the Bible are a blessing of contemporary times and economic abundance, in other words, freedom. But there is a cost, even if we’re careful to select only those versions that accurately present the wording of the original autographs, we end up with choice run amok. We can end up with people in each church using multiple versions. If we memorize Scripture, or even if we are simply taught Scripture, we’re learning or hearing different wording and we may not recognize a verse from another version when it is cited.

This is what I mean about losing a language of the faith. We no longer can quote Scripture together.

I cut my teeth on the what’s now called the “old” King James Version of the Bible, the 1611 version that influenced the course of Western Civilization. When I memorized Scripture, I learned the language of the KJV, including all the “Thees” and “Thous” and “Verily verilys,” just like generations learned these passages before me.

When we went to church, we heard the KJV. There were no “pew Bibles,”—not that there’s anything wrong with them. But the point is: everyone had their own, usually black, KJV and carried it to church.

Though anyone my age—still happens—might speak from NIV or another version, but when a memorized verse comes to mind out comes KJV because it was imprinted indelibly on the brain since youth. 

I have several relatives or friends who’ve moved to a newer, easier to understand version, but having grown up on the KJV as I did, they want to stay close, so they use the New KJV.

Now, I have no problem with multiple Bible translations as such, as long as they maintain fidelity to ancient and original texts. I am decidedly not a KJV only guy and never have been. But I do think we’ve paid a price for the multiple versions of the Bible we now employ and enjoy. It’s a kind of embarrassment of riches. 

Pastors and churches have addressed this fact of life in various ways. Some pastors work hard a encouraging people who regularly attend to purchase whatever version he and that church regularly use. Some used a selected pew Bible and ask people to turn in it, citing page numbers. More often, with the help of projection, screens, and PowerPoint, Pastors place the Scripture on the screen, then everyone can relate to the same wording no matter the version in their lap.

One result of multiple versions and churches addressing the issue variously is that fewer people bother to carry a Bible to church. Some just access the Scripture via an app.

I am not suggesting “doing away with” multiple versions of the Bible.  

However, it still concerns me that we are losing a common Christian language within the Body of Christ,the Church, and what this might mean going forward for the Church. It concerns me even more that youth, already living in a highly chaotic pluralistic world, no longer learn or relate to the same biblical text. And if the Christian community is ever-less familiar with the Scripture – a form of biblical illiteracy – then certainly it is not much of a stretch to think the public will be even less familiar.

And if you pay attention to any of Christian researcher George Barna’s work, that is exactly what is happening:  less understanding of biblical stories, less understanding of theology, little or no evidence of a developed Christian worldview.

Now I am not saying multiple Bible versions is the reason for declining cultural understanding of Christian teaching. It’s more complicated than that. But it seems logical this is one additional source of the waning influence of Christianity upon Western culture.

But no Bible version means much if the Word is not read, is not studied, is not understood, and is not applied in the real world. We should not wrap the Bible with the American flag, but we should, so to speak, wrap the flag and the content of city newspapers—insofar as they still exist, but you know what I mean—we should wrap the Bible around current events and issues, vigorously applying our biblical worldview.

We live now in a post-Truth culture, one of the negative spinoffs of postmodernity.

People, especially Gen Z that have been and are being taught this lie in public schools, do not believe truth exists or can be known, so it is going to be more challenging than ever to live out the Christian life. But this is what our declining culture needs. It needs living testimonials, ambassadors of reconciliation, who believe truth, live truth, refuse to subjectivize truth (an oxymoron really), will stand against degenerate lies we hear daily on air and online, and will speak the truth in love.

The Gospel still stands as the most powerful transformative power in the world. No one, not a Christian-killer like the ancient Saul who via salvation became the Apostle Paul, not a murderer on death row, not a seemingly hopeless drug addict or dealer – as long as he or she is still breathing, as long as there is life, there is the message and hope and conversion of new birth in Christ wherein all things become new.

This hope is what our hopeless culture needs. This message of life is what our culture of death and culture that is dying needs. This love, forgiveness, and restoration is what our degraded, dissipated, perverted, addicted, evil, dissolute, demoralized, tragic culture, which is to say individuals, need. 

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and you can read this in any accurate version of the Scripture.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2024   

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