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I think the first time I heard the line in the title was during the rage over a new version called “Good News for Modern Man.” This “Good News Bible” was a mass marketed version of the New Testament that came out in the late 1960s. It was supposed to be more appealing to that age. It was illustrated with artful sketches, but in my youth I thought they were cartoons and they seemed out of place in a Bible. As I recall it was supposed to read like a newspaper, which I suppose it did, and which is probably why people soon tired of reading it. It lacked the simple elegance we had come to expect from the Bible. I have not seen one for years.

Being “dynamic” in their approach, the translators preferred to call Mary a “girl” rather than a “virgin.” They thought the apostle’s choice of the word “blood” was too graphic so they created substitutes. They freely incorporated their own ideas into key verses like Acts 2:38 where they wrote “...you will receive God’s gift, the Holy Spirit,” which is what they believed, but which is not what the text says.

Good News For Modern Man was part of a new translation precedent that broke from the careful Tyndale tradition and gave the translators more freedom to express themselves. Some preachers exposed its errors, but others dismissed their warnings saying, “But think of all the good it could do.”

Those words have been heard many times before and since. They were heard when a “Christian celebrity” took up with Oral Roberts and started “speaking in tongues.” They were heard when celebrity preachers were holding “Campaigns for Christ” and telling the crowds to accept Jesus as their personal savior, pray the sinner’s prayer, sign a card, and join the church of their choice. They were heard when people were reading rapture books like, “The Late Great Planet Earth.” They are still heard when Hollywood incorporates their own brand of cultural correctness into their stories of Noah and Moses. I recently heard these words in defense of a young lady from David Lipscomb University who was preaching before a church in Franklin, Tennessee; “But think of all the good she could do,” they said, dismissing 1 Timothy 2:12. The use of the word “but” as a contrasting conjunction is revealing in that line. “It could do a lot of good” in contrast to what? In contrast to all the evil it could do? Verily! What shall we say? Let us do evil that good may come? Perhaps we should go back and chew on Romans 3:8 a while.

When Paul and his companions were preaching in Philippi, there was a slave girl with a spirit of divination following them and crying out, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). She was preaching the truth, and she was good at what she did. She had already brought her masters great gain by her soothsaying. But Paul was not thinking about all the good she could do. He was grieved. “But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts 16:18). Remember this story the next time you hear someone talking about all the good that error can do.

By Bill Boyd

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