Article No. 2


The Principle

It is a fundamental principle of the Trinitarian Bible Society to circulate only Protestant versions of the Holy Scriptures. This affirmation frequently evokes enquiry concerning the inherent defects of the Romish versions. The subject is an interesting and extensive one, upon which much has been said and written by distinguished scholars, and the present leaflet can do no more than present the salient facts. The discriminating reader will readily discern that a vital Scriptural principle is involved.

The Problem

Protestant Churches and Missions operating in lands predominantly Roman Catholic have to choose one of the following alternatives:--

(a) To circulate only the Roman Catholic versions ;

(b) To circulate only the Protestant versions ;

(c) To circulate both.

Some have chosen the first course, on the grounds that the Roman Catholic should be offered the version he is likely to accept, and that he may have been warned by the priest not to accept a Protestant or "heretical" version. Some have chosen the second alternative, to circulate only the Protestant versions, believing this to be the only honourable and Scriptural course. Others have endeavoured to justify their circulation of both Roman Catholic and Protestant versions by the argument that this must result in the greatest good to the greatest number.

The Precept

The Scriptures do not leave the answer to the discretion of the minister or missionary, for it is written:

(1) Ezekiel 2.7. "And thou shalt speak my Words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear."

(2) Deuteronomy 4.2. "Ye shall not add unto the Word ... "

(3) II Corinthians 4:2 "...nor handling the Word of God deceitfully ... "

(4) Mark 7.13. "Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition... "

(5) Jeremiah 23.28. "He that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully."

What is Wrong with the Romish Versions?

The versions approved by the Church of Rome do not satisfy any of these five requirements, but are corrupted:

(1) by dangerous mistranslations affecting vital doctrines,

(2) by the addition of "explanatory notes" reconciling the text with the erroneous dogmas of Rome.

(3) by the perpetuation of known errors, and

(4) by the addition of the Apocrypha.

Is it possible to retain the text of the Roman Catholic Version, while discarding the Apocrypha

and the Notes?

This compromise has been adopted by a number of Protestant Societies, but it leaves untouched the most dangerous corruption of all -- the corruption of the text of Holy Scripture.

Rome intended that her versions should act as a corrective to the influence of the translations of such Protestant "heretics" as Tyndale, Luther, and Calvin. Ignoring the renaissance of Hebrew and Creek learning, the Roman Church decreed that the Latin Vulgate should be the only authoritative source of accredited versions, and selected the edition approved by Pope Clement VIII in 1592 as "the end of all perfection". The Roman Catholic versions in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, and other languages, share with the Vulgate the following gross and palpable mistranslations, which have been used to give some semblance of Scriptural support to errors in doctrine, discipline, and worship, which were rightly disowned and rejected by the Reformed Churches.

What are the alleged Corruptions?

Gen. 3.15. "SHE shall crush thy head." (Applied to Mary by Alphonsus de Liguori.)

Job 5.1. "Turn to some of the Saints."

Job 42.6. "Do penance in dust and ashes."

Ps. 99.5. "Adore His footstool, for it is holy."

Jer.31.19. "For after thou didst convert me, I did penance

Ez. 18.21. "If the wicked do penance for all his sins."

Ez. 18.30. "Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities."

Dan. 4.27. "Redeem thou thy sins with alms."

Matt. 3.2. "Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand ... "


Penance is the name of a sacrament of the Roman Church and involves private confession to a priest, the recognition of a priesthood in the Christian ministry, and the doctrine of salvation by works.

Some of the translations are worse than the Vulgate, and ensure respect for the "priesthood" by transmuting the "elder" of I Tim. 5.17 into a "priest".

Wycliffe and Luther

Protestant advocates of the Romish versions have endeavoured to justify their position by affirming that to Wycliffe and Luther and many others the Vulgate was a means of blessing. This may be so, but none have been blessed by the errors of the Vulgate, and once these are recognised, the Protestant is not at liberty to perpetuate them.

The Whole Loaf

"Half a loaf is better than no bread." Protestant Churches and Societies today are in the happy position of being able to offer the whole loaf, pure and unadulterated. This is the desire and aim of the Trinitarian Bible Society -- not only that the Principle should be clearly stated, but that it should also be faithfully practised in the worldwide circulation of trustworthy versions of the Word of God.


Many devoted Protestant Christians are doubtless genuinely perplexed about the whole subject. It is earnestly hoped that such will read this brief explanation, not as a harsh rebuke or contentious censure, but rather as a warm invitation and exhortation to consider carefully and prayerfully the divinely inspired counsel of the Scriptures, which must be to every child of God the Sole, Supreme and Infallible Rule of Faith and Practice.


Since 1831, the T.B.S. has promoted the circulation of the Protestant versions in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, the Argentine, and many other countries.

For more information write to:

Trinitarian Bible Society
Tyndale House, Dorset Road
London, SW19 3NN, England
Telephone: 0 181 543 7857
Fax: 0 181 543 6370