Billy Graham and Modern Bible Versions
April 30, 2024
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061

See also the free eBook Billy Graham and the One World Church. It is impossible to understand “evangelical” Christianity today without being educated in regard to Billy Graham, and “evangelicalism” in its myriad forms is probably the one greatest danger to thorough-going Biblicist, fundamentalist homes and churches. Evangelicalism today is so enticing: so seemingly doctrinally sound, yet so fun-oriented, so broadminded, so non-judgmental, so broad tent, so easy-going, so tolerant, so multi-faceted, so intellectual. Yet evangelicalism is the path to the New Calvinism, immodesty, rock & roll worship, contemplative mysticism, the Church Fathers, C.S. Lewis (and his multitude of heresies), Mere Christianity, cultural relativism, Chuck Colson’s tolerant grace, out-and-out Protestant-Baptist-Roman Catholic ecumenism.  Billy Graham and the One World Church 


Billy Graham (1918-2018), the most influential evangelist of the 20th century, had a major role in the popularizing of the modern Bible versions. He exemplifies evangelicalism’s capitulation to the endless stream of versions.

Though there is no evidence that Graham had made the effort to understand even the ABCs of the Bible text/version issue, he put his imprimatur on practically every new version, no matter how corrupt and even flippant. He never warned of the ultra-liberal bent of the prominent textual critics who produced the Greek New Testament underlying the modern versions, or of the terrible corruption of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts (the so-called “oldest and best”) favored by the textual critics, or of the unbelieving principles of textual criticism. Graham largely treated the modern version issue as that of updating language and making the text “easier to understand.” 

Graham had zero warnings about the Bible text/version issue, but he did warn about those who cause divisions over this issue. He said, “Do not get caught up into a divisive and fruitless controversy over which of many good translations is best. Instead, consider using a number of them in your study and reading” (“Billy Graham Answers,” June 1, 2004). 

Since God has exalted His Word above all His name (Psalm 138:2), and since Jesus said man lives by every word of God (Matthew 4:4) and since Paul warned that many would corrupt the Word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17), it is definitely not a fruitless matter to make sure that we have the infallible Word of God.

By promoting the multiple version philosophy, Graham had a large role in weakening the authority of God's Word. A sure “thus saith the Lord” has been replaced by “my version says this, what does yours say?” The modern versions speak with multiple, conflicting voices.

In 1952, Graham enthusiastically accepted a copy of the REVISED STANDARD VERSION and told a crowd of 20,000, “These scholars have probably given us the most nearly perfect translation in English. While there may be room for disagreement in certain areas of the translation, yet this new version should supplement the King James Version and make Bible reading a habit throughout America” (Graham, cited by Perry Rockwood, God’s Inspired Preserved Bible, Halifax, N.S., p. 15). 

The “scholars” to whom Graham referred were the most liberal theologians in America. None of them believed in the divine inspiration of Scripture, calling it “folklore,” “legend,” “reverent imagination,” “popular tales,” “superstitious ideas,” and “conjecture.” For example, Millar Burrows said, “We cannot take the Bible as a whole and in every part as stating with divine authority what we must believe and do” (Outline of Biblical Theology). Many of the RSV translators rejected Christ’s deity, virgin birth, sinlessness, infallibility, bodily resurrection, and ascension. Henry Cadbury said, “He [Jesus Christ] was given to overstatements” (Jesus, What Manner of Man?). James Moffatt said, But what is common to all the tales of the resurrection is the belief that the personality of Jesus passed into life eternal, that he lived again and lived as Lord of life and death” (Everyman’s Life of Jesus, 1925, pp. 221-223). Clarence Craig said, “The resurrection of Jesus did not mean the reanimation of a corpse ... It meant that the new age of God had already begun. ... Paul was not talking about an event which could be photographed by eye-witnesses, but an event in the world of spiritual perception. ... It was not to be demonstrated by appeal to graves that were empty. It was a proclamation that must appeal to religious faith” (Craig, The Beginning of Christianity, pp. 135, 36). William Irwin said the phrase “thus saith the Lord” “is an almost unfailing mark of SPURIOUSNESS” (The Problem of Ezekiel, p. 273). Fleming James said, “What REALLY happened at the Red Sea WE CAN NO LONGER KNOW” (The Beginnings of Our Religion). Willard Sperry said, “Plainly no divine fiat compounded man out of the dust of the earth and the universal spirit on a Friday in the year 4004 B.C. It is harder than once it was to see God walking in that garden in the cool of the evening” (Signs of These Times, 1929, p. 110).

These are just a few examples of the wicked unbelief of the RSV translators. Not surprisingly, they corrupted many major passages dealing with Messianic prophecy. For example, in Isaiah 7:14, instead of, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive,” they came up with, “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son,” which, of course, is no miracle at all. 

Graham promoted the PHILLIPS NEW TESTAMENT IN MODERN ENGLISH. In his autobiography, modernist Bible paraphraser J.B. Phillips (1906-1982) stated that Billy Graham spoke highly of his work: “I think it was in 1952 that I received a visit from Dr. Billy Graham with his charming and intelligent wife. ‘I want to thank you, Dr. Phillips,’ he began, ‘for Letters to Young Churches’” (J.B. Phillips, The Price of Success, 1984, p. 116). Phillips taught a form of universalism and the Fatherhood of God, denied hell fire and the existence of Satan and demons, rejected the verbal inspiration of Scripture, claimed that Jesus conformed His teaching to the ignorance of His day, was a skeptic in regard to supernatural miracles, and believed that Christ’s ascension was a parable.

Graham single-handedly rescued the LIVING BIBLE from oblivion. “The Living Bible might be called ‘The Billy Graham Bible,’ for it was he who made it the success that it is. According to Time magazine, July 24, 1972, Billy Graham ordered 50,000 copies of the Epistles, and a short time later ordered some 450,000 more, and still later ordered 600,000 special paperback versions for his autumn television crusade in 1972. From that time on, orders began to pour in” (M.L. Moser, Jr., The Case Against the Living Bible, Little Rock: Challenge Press, p. 9). 

That was only the beginning of Graham’s love affair with the Living Bible. At Amsterdam ‘86, Graham allowed Living Bibles International to distribute free copies of the Living Bible in 40 languages to the 8,000 evangelists in attendance (Light of Life, Bombay, India, Sept. 1986, p. 23). Graham distributed 10,000 copies of the Living Bible to attendees of his Mission England Crusade (Australian Beacon, No. 241, Aug. 1986). In 1987, Graham appeared in television ads for The Book, a condensed version of the Living Bible. He said it “reads like a novel.” He also said it reads like the morning newspaper. In an ad that appeared in a 1991 issue of Charisma magazine, Graham said, “The Living Bible communicates the message of Christ to our generation” (Charisma, March 1991, p. 98).

The original Living Bible reads like the morning newspaper, because it is not the Word of God.

Ken Taylor, translator of the original Living Bible, said, “I felt such a thrill at my own privilege of stripping away some of the verbiage ... being a co-worker with God in that respect ... I flipped open my Bible and began to experiment with this new method of translation’” (The Living Bible, Trinitarian Bible Society, p. 1). Thus, the infallible, living words of the eternal God are mere “verbiage” that Taylor felt free to strip away and experiment with.

Consider just a few examples of the frightful way that Kenneth Taylor handled the Word of God. These are from the original Living Bible that was promoted heavily by Billy Graham.

1 Kings 18:27

KJV “Cry aloud: for He is a god: either he is talking, or he is pursuing.” 

LB “Perhaps he is talking to someone or else is out sitting on the toilet.”

Job 3:26

KJV “I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet: yet trouble came.” 

LB “I was not fat and lazy yet trouble struck me down.” 

Psalm 34:20

KJV “He keepeth all His bones: not one of them is broken.” 

LB “God even protects him from accidents.”

The Messianic prophecy of Psalm 34:20 is destroyed through the Living Bible’s shocking perversion. That not one of Christ’s bones were broken was a fulfillment both of direct prophecy (Ps. 34:20; Joh. 19:36) and of the typology of the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:46).

Billy Graham also helped popularize the perverted GOOD NEWS FOR MODERN MAN (Today’s English Version). He “called it an excellent translation over nationwide television from his campaign in Anaheim, California.” It was distributed by the Grason Company of Minneapolis, the distributors of Billy Graham materials (M.L. Moser, Jr., The Devil’s Masterpiece, Challenge Press, 1970, p. 80). The Good News for Modern Man replaces the word “blood” with “death” in speaking of the atonement of Jesus Christ and corrupts practically every passage dealing with the deity of Jesus Christ. The translator of the Good News for Modern Man, Robert Bratcher, did not believe that Jesus Christ is God. 

Graham endorsed the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. “In the late 70’s, the New International Version was published for the first time. From this time forward, Billy Graham began referencing the NIV in his writings instead of the KJV, even though he continued to use the KJV in his sermons” (“Which Bible Did Billy Graham Use?” Inspiring Tips, April 20, 2020)

Graham endorsed the ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION. An ad stated, “The ESV is the preferred Bible translation for many international ministries, including the Gideons International, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Awana, and others” (“10 Things You Should Know about the ESV,”, Feb. 18, 2021). 

Graham printed his own edition of Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE. It is called a “translational-paraphrase” and is said to “unfold like a gripping novel.” In fact, it IS a novel! It is filled with new age terms and concepts. It even uses the term “as above, so below,” which is a New Age expression for the unity of God and man, heaven and earth. In the book As Above, So Below, the editors of the New Age Journal say: “This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked” (quoted from Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, 2004). (For more about The Message, see our report: “Eugene Peterson and the Message”)

For more about the deep corruption of the modern Greek texts and versions, see the free eBook The Modern Bible Version Hall of Shame, 292 pages.

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