(OPINION) A Grammy-winning Christian singer has given his endorsement to a controversial Bible translation. Michael W. Smith, a singer-songwriter whose career spans over two decades, offered his endorsement of The Passion Translation (TPT) version of the Bible, which was removed last year from one of the internet’s most popular Bible platforms.

The Christian Post reported that in a statement on the official TPT website, Smith calls the translation “a gift to Bible readers” and calls it “a beautiful marriage of powerful accuracy and readable, natural language.”

“The vivid wording strips away the centuries, reminding me with every phrase that each prophecy, letter, history account, poem, vision, and parable is God’s Word to me today just as much as it was to the original audiences,” Smith said.


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It’s not clear how recently Smith’s endorsement was added to the TPT website, nor what prompted the endorsement. Last February, TPT translator Brian Simmons said Bible Gateway “provided no explanation” when it removed the TPT version from its platform, but upon learning of the move, voiced — and then later deleted — his extreme disappointment with the decision to discontinue the translation.

“So cancel culture is alive in the church world. Bible Gateway just removed TPT from their platform,” Simmons said in a now-deleted Facebook post.

The Christian Post reached out to both Smith and Simmons for comment. This article will be updated in the event a response is received.

The endorsement is far from a first for Smith: In 2017, he was among a number of high-profile Christians to endorse The Shack, a highly successful book and then a movie, which also drew both praise and criticism for its depiction of God as both male and female and what critics said was a universalist message.

In 2018, the book’s author, William Paul Young, addressed one of the main controversies behind his book by disputing the Christian view that those who die without knowing Jesus Christ cannot achieve salvation.

So why is the “Passion Translation” of the Bible so bad? First of all, The Passion Translation is not even a translation but a paraphrase. Translations are for the purpose to convey as accurately as possible the thought of the original manuscript.

The Passion “translation” inserts multiple concepts, words, and ideas to which the original translations give no references whatsoever. Brian Simmons, who is the founder of this translation is intrinsically linked to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.

During a television interview in 2015, Brian Simmons claimed that in 2009 Jesus Christ himself visited his room and commissioned him to write a new translation of the Bible. During the same TV program, Simmons claimed that Christ had revealed to him a new chapter of the Bible, John 22.

The Passion Translation has received very mixed reviews from many in the Body of Christ with many pastors such as Bill Johnson praising the translation as “One of the greatest things to happen with Bible translation in my lifetime.”.

However, many pastors and denominations reject the translation. Pastor Andrew Wilson writes: “The Passion ‘translation’ inserts all kinds of concepts, words, and ideas of which the original gives no hint whatsoever.

This example comes from the promotional website. In Gal 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 is in view in this text. It’s not a translation. It’s an interpolation, or a gloss, or (more bluntly) an addition.”

Following his announcement on the TPT, Michael W. Smith faced calls on social media to reconsider the endorsement, including from Mike Winger, a pastor from Southern California, who tweeted, “I sincerely hope that @MichaelWSmith will reconsider his very troubling endorsement of TPT.

Top scholars from a variety of Christian backgrounds unanimously say this is not a reliable Bible translation. And they are not just against paraphrases or persecuting the work as Brian Simmons has suggested.”