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.
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.
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.
Smith’s endorsement called Shack “the most absorbing work of fiction I’ve read in many years.”
Following his announcement on the TPT, 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.”
Billed as a “dynamic equivalent translation of the Word of God without a religious filter,” the TPT website states that it's a translation that “uses Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts to express God’s fiery heart of love to this generation, merging the emotion and life-changing truth of God’s Word.”
According to the website, TPT wanted “to trigger inside every reader an overwhelming response to the truth of the Bible and reveal the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the love language of God, the language of the heart.”
After its initial release in 2017 as a New Testament version including the Psalms, the TPT now includes the Old Testament books of Genesis, Isaiah, Proverbs and the Song of Solomon.
Simmons — a former missionary linguist and pastor who now leads Passion and Fire Ministries — was the lead translator for the TPT, having previously helped with a Central American indigenous translation of the New Testament, according to the site.
Long associated with the New Apostolic Reformation movement, Simmons has stoked controversy for some of his public teachings, including in 2014 during an event at Jubilee Church in Sydney, Australia, where Simmons suggested Jesus as the Son of God is no longer in human form.
“We are the Seed of Christ … we complete the genealogy of Jesus,” Simmons said. “Christ is no longer a man, He’s a people. You and I carry like Mary, we will bring forth the Christ.”
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.