The English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible. “A Dream Come True”?

Written and compiled by Art K.

Introduction to a Study on The English Standard Version

First, why I compared the KJV to the ESV is because the ESV study Bible has received such high praise for being an excellent literal translation.

Second, in the Preface under “Translation Legacy” page 19, we read “The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale’s New Testament of 1526; marking the course were King James Version of 1611…” I understood this to mean that there would be a great similarity between the KJV and the ESV. What I found however, is that the ESV, is, in the majority of the references, very similar or the same as the NIV. This I find difficult to reconcile with the statement made in reference to the KJV.

Third, what motivated me to further compare the ESV to the KJV, was the very high praise that the ESV has received from so many people who are well versed in the field of bible translations. For example, John Piper calls it “a dream come true”? Please see

Fourth, what motivated me to examine the ESV Study Bible was what I read in the Introduction under the subtitle “Divine Words and Merely Human Words,” where it is written “The ESV Study Bible contains two kinds of words. The first kind is the actual of the Bible, which are the very words of God to us. These are printed in the larger font of each page. The second kind is the study notes, which are merely human words” page 9.

The problem is knowing which group of words to trust. The first group of words “the very words of God to us” in the ESV have so many omissions compared to the KJV that it creates serious doubt, not trust. If there are so many omissions in “the very words of God” in the ESV, how can we have confidence in the “words of men,” in the explanation?

Before we accept this translation as “a dream come true,” we need to examine the ESV bible carefully and ponder the words of Jesus, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you.'” Mt. 24:4 Click here to read this entire document.

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Book Review: Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna – A Perfect Example of “Missing the Point”

By Philip Gray
Free Lance Writer for Lighthouse Trails

In Pagan Christianity, Frank Viola and George Barna tell readers “Reading this book takes courage.” We couldn’t agree more, but not for the same reasons that Viola and Barna warn their readers. They tell us that it takes courage, not because of what the books says but because of what a Christian must do after he or she reads it (p. 253). We say it takes courage because of the misrepresentation the authors have given to Christianity and because the book is a smoke screen for the “new” spirituality.

Basically, according to Pagan Christianity,  if you are a Christian and you have been participating in any of the following activities, you have been practicing paganism:

1. Meeting in a building for church
2. Listening to a sermon
3. Having a pastor
4. Paying that pastor a salary
5. Sunday School lessons
6. Sitting in a pew (or balcony)
7. Using a pulpit
8. Using some sort of order to the church service, which includes taking an offering, having communion, giving announcements, and singing songs of worship.
9. Dressing up for church
10. Having a choir
11. Altar call
12. Evangelized to save a soul

After reading this list, how did you rate on that? How many of these activities are you guilty of? Did you go to church last Sunday? Did you put on your best outfit? Did you listen to a choir sing? Did that neighbor you bring respond to an altar call to give his life to Jesus Christ? Did you sit and listen to your pastor teach or preach the Word? Well, according to Pagan Christianity, if you did, you are more like a pagan than a Christian. Of these activities, Barna and Viola say: “Such practices are foreign elements that God’s people picked up from their pagan neighbors” (p. xx).

The point of this review is not to defend all of these practices in and of themselves. The point is to show that this book is another subtle stab at traditional Christianity, a stab that attempts to make Christians feel guilty for just about everything they do that has to do with going to church . . . everything that is, that is external. This book has absolutely nothing to do with the heart condition of man, nothing to do with sin and repentance, but is merely a smoke screen to cover up the real issues that are plaguing the church today. For whether one dresses up for church or not, whether one gives a sermon or not, whether one sings or not, whether one gives an offering or not, and whether one sits in a pew or not, the issue that God looks at is the condition of the heart and not the outward appearances. One can sit in a pew and have evil intent in his heart; another can sit in a pew and be a godly humble man of God. It’s not the pew that makes him one or the other.

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24

 [F]or the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Pagan Christianitysays that “the great bulk of first-century practices have been removed from the Christian landscape.” The book tells readers that “such practices are presently being restored on a small scale by those daring souls who have taken the terrifying step of leaving the safe camp of institutional Christianity” (p. xviii). But the book never really tells us what those practices are, except to continually say it is something spectacular that excludes the above activities and includes small groups of people who stand around in circles, embracing, and sharing with one another their various thoughts, feelings, songs, prayers, and ideas – according to Viola and Barna, that is what makes a person a good New Testament Christian.

While there is certainly nothing wrong, in and of itself, for a group of people to stand in a circle and share with one another, it is not a guarantee that the group of people will be abiding in God’s will in their lives. And, in fact, if Viola’s and Barna’s recipe for proper Christian living is acted upon, that group of people in the circle is probably going to be in trouble because rather than having the Word of God taught to them or preached to them by those who are called into the office of teacher or pastor, they will be “dialoguing” with one another, asking a lot of questions, and never coming up with any answers (because the postmodern isn’t supposed to have any actual answers – having answers offends).

What is the real agenda of Pagan Christianity? Well, this much we can say, it sure isn’t to warn believers against true pagan practices and beliefs such as eastern-style meditation, walking through labyrinths, doing yoga, focusing on the breath, rejecting the atonement, and so forth. In a day when spiritual deception is at an all time high, when growing numbers of Christian leaders, churches, schools, and organizations are falling into the trap of practicing, promoting, and embracing mysticism and other New Age practices (disguised with Christian terminology, by the way), it hardly seems appropriate and wise to tell Christians to stop sitting in pews, stop having sermons (and pastors for that matter), stop meeting in buildings, end all Sunday School lessons, and by all means stop dressing up on Sundays.

Perhaps what is most distressing about this book is that there is an underlying sentiment that the “preaching” and teaching of God’s Word is not a New Testament practice and should be done away with. Perhaps this is the real message of Pagan Christianity. Rather than have the Word presented and preached as if it is an authoritative source for believers, get rid of all the venues in which it is presented (church buildings, sermons, pastors, pews,pulpits, etc.) as such and turn it into something we can all debate, dispute, question, challenge and reinvent. 

What we would call Pagan Christianity is a perfect example of “missing the point.” But with Frank Viola co-authoring a book with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet and George Barna, a Rick Warren look alike with a dominionist agenda, is that really any wonder that they have missed the point? 

I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. Psalm 40:9

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Isaiah 61:1

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. Jonah 3:2

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17

Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: 2 Timothy 4:17

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2

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Conference Alert: Emergents, missionals seek to educate (?) children

Pertaining to the emerging church and its influence on the younger generation, in 2008, Lighthouse Trails wrote an article titled Brian McLaren’s Hope for the Future – The Minds of Your Grandchildren, which stated:

[Brian McLaren] explains that this merging church must infiltrate the “institutions that rejected it,” adding that “conservative Protestants have repeated their Catholic sibling’s earlier mistakes (referring to the Catholic church’s one time rejection of Galileo). Then he says: “But over time, what they reject will find or create safe space outside their borders and become a resource so that many if not most of the grandchildren of today’s fundamentalists will learn and grow and move on from the misguided battles of their forebears [biblical believers]” (p. 133). You see, McLaren and his emerging church fellows (Pagitt, Sweet, Warren, want to change the minds of our children and grandchildren. 

Rick Warren once saidthat the older traditional ones will have to leave or die because they won’t change, thus the emphasis in the emerging church on the youth.What’s alarming is that McLaren’s vision of infiltration is working. And he knows it. Listen: “At the center, safe space happens. A learning community forms. New possibilities emerge. A new day dawns. If the guardians of our fragmented religious institutions forbid their members to meet in the center, the members will not be able to comply. They will simply go undercover and arrange secret liaisons … Eventually, the shared resources, vitality, and new possibilities that unfold … will penetrate and reinvigorate … Trying to stop [this] … is a losing game … against the plotline of God’s universe.” . . .

For those readers who care about the spiritual future of their children and grandchildren, it is vital they understand the meaning of McLaren’s spirituality in particular and the emerging/contemplative movement in general.

Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis and others have a conference coming up concerning how to reach the children.  According to Associated Baptist Press:

Nationally known presenters include progressive evangelical social activists like Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis alongside children’s and youth ministry experts such as Ivy Beckwith, Joyce Bellous, Amy Dolan and Michael Novelli. McLaren, author of books including A New Kind of Christianity, said in a promotional video that in his travels he has heard a recurring theme that new forms of ministry, worship and community taking root and growing around the world are not being transmitted effectively to children and youth. [1]

“We are going into a revolution in the way we do church and the way we understand and practice Christian faith — a revolution that’s changing lives of so many adults, and especially young adults — but then we go down and we’re still using old, off-the-shelf curricula for children,” McLaren said. [2]

It was only a matter of time. As the homosexual lobby has targeted the young, so now are the missional/emergents using this strategy. You can read it all over at PrayerAware: HERE

Related Articles:

John MacArthur Says Emerging Church in “Disarray and Decline” – Evidence Shows Differently

Purpose Driven Resisters – Must Leave or Die

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Southern Baptist Convention Rejects Gender-Neutral NIV Bible But Embraces The Message, Renovare Bible, and Contemplative Books

This summer, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution rejecting Zondervan’s new gender-neutral NIV Bible. A Christian Post article states:

“Southern Baptists repeatedly have affirmed our commitment to the full inspiration and authority of Scripture,” the resolution states. “This translation alters the meaning of hundreds of verses, most significantly by erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language.”

Expressing “profound disappointment” with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House, who printed 1.9 million copies of the updated Bible in the first run, the SBC “respectfully [requested]” that Lifeway Bookstores not sell the new version in their stores and encouraged pastors to let their congregations know of the translation errors.

While the SBC’s willingness to stand up against this new translation Bible translation is worth noting, we are puzzled that they find nothing wrong with Eugene Peterson’s translation The Message paraphrase and Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible. On their LifeWay Resources website, they sell The Message and the Renovare “Bible.” They also carry the New Men’s Devotional Bible (NIV), which includes “contributions” by New Age sympathizer Rob Bell.  They also carry books by contemplative authors such as Gary Thomas, including his book Sacred Pathways where he tells readers to repeat a word for twenty minutes and Sacred Marriage where he references several times a tantric sex advocate.1  They carry books by contemplative proponent Pete Scazzero including Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, a resource for those wanting to practice contemplative prayer. To get a good glimpse at Scazzero’s propensities, check out his favorite books section on his website – it’s a plethora of mystics, emergents, and New Agers sympathizers. And there are countless other examples of contemplative authors that LifeWay is selling. A search on the store website will bring these up.

The message that Southern Baptist Convention is sending out to its members by approving a resolution against the gender-neutral Bible yet continuing to embrace contemplative/emerging authors is that the issue of men’s and women’s roles is important but protecting the church from mysticism, emerging spirituality, and the New Age is not. A number of years ago, LifeWay removed books by authors such as Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, and Thomas Keating (all Catholics).2 But they have erred greatly if they do not realize that Nouwen, Merton, and Keating’s spirituality is still entering the Protestant church at breakneck speed through evangelical avenues – it’s the same spirituality as Nouwen, Merton, and Keating, just an “evangelical” outer layer disguising its true nature.

While we can understand the concern that SBC has over the gender-neutral Bible, we cannot understand their lack of concern over contemplative/emerging spirituality and its harmful impact on the Christian church.

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Irish Prime Minister Condemns Vatican Over Child Abuse Cover Up

New York Times

“[T]he Vatican has recalled its ambassador to Ireland following the release of an Irish government report that the Vatican had discouraged efforts by bishops to report cases of sex abuse to the police.”

The report, released on July 13, found that clergy leaders in the rural Irish diocese of Cloyne did not act on complaints against 19 priests from 1996 to 2009. It also concluded that the Vatican had encouraged bishops to ignore child-protection guidelines that included the “mandatory reporting” of abuse to civil authorities. (The Times has posted the complete text of the report online.)

A brief Vatican statement explaining the decision to recall its ambassador noted, “in particular, the reactions that have followed” the release of the report. Click here to continue.

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Todd Bentley of Lakeland Revival, Florida Outpouring publicly endorsed by Bill Johnson (Bethel)

By Charisse Van Horn

On August 17, 2011, Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California, publicly endorsed the ministry of Todd Bentley.  Bentley was the main leader of the Lakeland Revival, also known as the Florida Outpouring or Florida Healing Outpouring that began on April 2, 2008 when he held a series of meetings at Ignited Church, led by Pastor Stephen Strader in Lakeland, Florida.  The services were aired nightly on the Internet and through God TV and drew more than 400,000 attendees. 

An investigative report regarding the revival was aired by ABC’s Nightline in June 2008.  Several days after the airing of the report, Todd Bentley stepped down from the revival.  He later admitted to having an affair with one of his Fresh Fire staff members and proceeded to undergo a period of restoration under Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries.  Bentley and his wife, Shonnah Bentley, divorced and he later married the woman whom he had the affair with: Jessa Bentley.  Due to the number of testimonies that occurred throughout the revival, yet the differences that noticeably set the Florida Outpouring apart from revivals of the past, such as Bentley’s method for praying over people and the lack of regular, nightly altar calls for salvation, the Christian church quickly split over the revival.  To this day, many refer to the Lakeland Revival by derogatory names such as the “Fakeland Revival” and view Bentley as a sham.  Bill Johnson, however, addressed Bentley’s past failings and has endorsed his ministry saying that Bentley is restored. Continue reading.


Latter Rain: The Spawning of Apostasy

Todd Bentley and “The Beautiful Side of Evil”

C. P. Wagner Gives “Apostolic Alignment” to Todd Bentley


Is Todd Bentley Walking in the Footsteps of Mystics and Seers

Todd Bentley and a Spirit Named “Winds of Change”

Kundalini Energy (the effects of Soaking Prayer) 

Todd Bentley and Contemplative Meditation

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Christian and New Age Leaders Together in Post-911 Book

By Warren Smith

The first time I encountered Rick Warren was in the spring of 2002, in a book titled From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America. The book was a collection of articles written by a wide variety of “spiritual leaders” and “extraordinary citizens” published in response to the events of September 11, 2001. Proceeds from the book were to go to the families of the 9/11 victims. I remember being intrigued by the fact that Christian leaders found themselves included in a book that also featured many familiar New Age leaders. Articles by Billy Graham, Bruce Wilkinson, Charles Colson, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Jerry Jenkins, Bishop T.D. Jakes and others were side by side with articles written by prominent New Age leaders like Neale Donald Walsch, the Dalai Lama and Starhawk the witch. I was not familiar with the man simply listed as “Pastor Rick Warren.”

I discovered From the Ashes just after writing Reinventing Jesus Christ [now titled False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?]. In my 2002 book, I had updated readers on significant recent New Age activity. I was concerned because Christian leaders were doing so little to warn believers about a New Age movement that had reinvented itself and was now referring to its teachings as the “new gospel” and the “New Spirituality.” I found it particularly interesting that in From the Ashes Christian leaders not only found themselves in the company of top New Age leaders, they were now being directly challenged by some of these same New Age people.

New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch’s article appeared just pages from Bishop T.D. Jakes’ opening article. In his article, Walsch challenged religious leaders everywhere, including Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and every Christian leader in the book, in light of the events of September 11th to accept and preach the “new gospel” that “We are all one.” After erroneously claiming that the Bible supports the idea that “We are all one,” Walsch wrote:

We must change ourselves. We must change the beliefs upon which our behaviors are based. We must create a different reality, build a new society….We must do so with new spiritual truths. We must preach a new gospel, its healing message summarized in two sentences:

We are all one.

Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.

This 15-word message, delivered from every lectern and pulpit, from every rostrum and platform, could change everything overnight. I challenge every priest, every minister, every rabbi and religious cleric to preach this.1

I remember reading this and realizing how brazen the New Age was getting, and how deceptively appealing the idea of “Oneness” must sound to a terrified humanity still wondering when the next disaster might strike. What a clever way to present New Age teachings to a vulnerable world. But I was also thinking what a great opportunity it was for Christian leaders—particularly in this book—to contend for the faith by exposing the New Age teachings that were behind Walsch’s seemingly “positive” exhortation.

In Walsch’s best-selling Conversations with God books, in which he purports to have actual “conversations with God,” Walsch’s “God” specifically defines what he means by the “new gospel” teaching that “We are all One.” “God” tells Walsch:

God is creation.2

You are the Creator and the Created.3

You are already a God. You simply do not know it.4

You are One with everyone and everything in the Universe—including God.5

There is only One of Us. You and I are One.6

If the Christian leaders in From the Ashes contended for the faith by responding to Walsch’s New Age challenge, they could use the situation to delineate the significant differences between New Age teachings and the teachings of biblical Christianity. It was a unique opportunity for church leaders to expound upon the fact that God is not inherently “at One” with His creation and that man is not divine. They could explain that the Bible makes it very clear that humanity’s only “Oneness” with God, and with each other, is through the person of Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins and choose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28; emphasis added)

Walsch’s public challenge was a great opportunity for these Christian leaders to contend for the faith. But other than one lone pastor in Iowa,7 I am not aware of anyone else publicly responding to Walsch’s challenge.

Today, Walsch and other New Age leaders have accelerated their challenge to the Church by declaring that “God” has a 5-Step “PEACE Plan” to ultimately save the world through the establishment of a “New Spirituality.” Part of this “New Spirituality” demands that Christians abandon their belief in Jesus Christ as their exclusive Lord and Savior. In a recent best-selling Walsch book, his New Age “God” has now openly declared, “The era of the Single Savior is over.”8

But even with all of these open threats and challenges to biblical Christianity, most Christian leaders today continue to generally ignore almost anything having to do with New Age teachers and teachings. Over the last decade, as New Age teachings exploded in popularity, church leaders suddenly became very quiet about the New Age. Perhaps distracted by church growth concerns and tracking what they considered to be the latest “moves of God,” church leaders seemed to be missing the latest moves of our spiritual Adversary. Excited about all of the “great” things they felt God was doing, they had become ignorant of what our Adversary was doing. (from Deceived on Purpose, chapter 1)


1. Beliefnet Editors, From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America (USA: Rodale Inc., 2001), p. 21.
2. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 1 (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995, 1996), p. 198.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 3 (Charlottesville, Va: Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 350.
4. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 1,  p. 202.
5. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 2,  p. 173.
6. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999), p. 23.
7. Bill Randles, “An Open Letter to Neale Donald Walsch,”
8. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.


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