The Spirit Filled Life Bible: a bible review

I first had my eye on the Spirit-Filled Life Bible a decade ago. At the time I attended an expressively Charismatic church and was hungry for a study Bible  rooted in good scholarship but open to the winds of the Spirit. I liked the look of the Spirit-Filled Life Bible and almost purchased it several times, but didn’t because I wasn’t a big fan of the New King James Version (NKJV) version of the Bible (I already had several Bible’s in that translation and found it wanting in several respects).  However the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible piqued my interest when I saw that it was available in the New Living Translation (NLT). The NLT can be justly criticized for occasionally allowing a smooth translation obscure the meaning of the text, but it is one of the translations I have read through the whole Bible a few times so I have developed a fondness for it.  I hope that with Thomas Nelson Books and Zondervan being a part of Harper-Christian there is a future possibility of a NIV version of this Bible coming out.

The  New Spirit-Filled Life Bible combines the  detailed comments of a study Bible with a charismatic friendliness which strives to be open to where the Spirit is moving in the text.  So in addition to the standard notes at the bottom of the page and the center column chain-references, there is 41 themed articles on “Kingdom Dynamics,” sections entitled “World Wealth” which points to important Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible, and “Truth-In-Action” sections which offer practical applications from every book of the Bible.

Having delved deeper into what this Bible has to offer, my excitement for it is somewhat subdued. Generally I like the notes (they are not perfect but the notes are not inspired, the Bible is) and the “World Wealth” sections.  I respect Jack Hayford (executive editor of this Bible) as a Charismatic-Pentecostal leader without personal scandal.  However some of the contributors to the articles in this book, are unfortunately influenced by the prosperity gospel. For example, Paul Crouch writes a “Kingdom Dynamic article on how to ‘get your miracle. (1207)’ This emphasis seems wrongheaded to me.

Also, I felt that the “Truth-in-Action” tables at the end of each book occasionally miss the point.  The table at the end of the book of Amos , encourages readers to see how Amos calls us to godliness and personal holiness (1101-2). However the theme of justice and how we treat the poor is not discussed (cf. Amos 5:10,11). Thus the focus seems to be more on personal experience than social implications. This is unfortunate as it seems to miss the whole tenor of the prophetic literature that Amos is a part of. I see this same dynamic with other books as well.

I think charismatic Christian will benefit from reading and using this Bible and happily commend it. However, there are limitations in the notes here and this marginal notes should not be treated as sacred writ. There is more to the Bible than this Bible tells you so.  I give this book 3.5 stars. I do however  find it valuable enough to keep using it for personal devotional use.

This hard cover edition is a quality product and I am very happy with the value of this Bible.

I received this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.

4 thoughts on “The Spirit Filled Life Bible: a bible review

  1. This has been swept under the carpet for years: Dr. Judy Brown was an Old Testament Editor for The Spirit Filled Bible. She is now a convicted Felon, serving time for bludgeoning the pastor-husband of the woman she was having a prolonged lesbian affair with. She had intended to dismember him following the murder, had it succeeded. This is IVP’s response to it. Press Release. 2005-APR-08: InterVarsity Press stops distribution of book: InterVarsity Press (IVP) learned on APR-07 that Judy L. Brown had been sentenced to 30 years in jail after found guilty of breaking into the home of Rev. Ted Smart during 2003-AUG, and trying to kill him. Brown had allegedly been engaged in a lesbian affair with Ted Smart’s wife Toby. Brown had contributed a section to IVP’s recent book “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy.” IVP has stopped distributing the book and intends to publish a new edition in a few months with Dr. Brown’s article deleted.

    • Thanks Bob for this little bit of review spam. I did google it, and read up on the details of the case. Actually that is a lie. I binged it. After Google got rid of Google Reader they are more or less dead to me, so I only search there unless I really must.

      The original publication of the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible was in 2002. Judy Brown was one of the editors but did not contribute (as far as I can tell in 2013 edition) any of the actual articles or notes. Certainly it is easier to remove a contributor (as IVP did with their book in 2005). Thomas Nelson still lists her as an editor (which they must, because she was), but I doubt seriously that she worked on the revised edition.

      Plus I’m not sure why you drag this up now. It is not as though I wrote a glowing, uncritical review of the Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

      • “Brown is the author of numerous biblical and theological books and articles, including Women Ministers according to Scripture. She also helped edit and annotate the Spirit-filled Life Bible (Nelson)”
        (http://cbmw.org/uncategorized/female-pastor-serving-eight-years-for-attempted-murder-ivp-ceases-publication-of-book/)

        What is “a lie” about this? She was an Editor AND Contributor to the Spirit Filled Bible, and she did indeed bludgeon, intend to murder, and is serving time in the Penitentiary for her crime. You say, Why bring it up? I say with others, Why cover it up?

        Prof. Judy Brown is now remembered for the attempted murder of fellow Assembly of God minister Ted Smart, following a prolonged lesbian relationship with his wife, Toby. Early on the morning of Aug. 25, 2003, Brown entered the Smart home, slipped undetected into the basement and tripped the circuit breaker switch, shutting down electricity in the house. When Ted Smart entered the basement to investigate, Brown repeatedly bludgeoned him with a crow bar. Smart, though injured, escaped and called police. Brown was arrested and following a trial in early 2004, was found guilty on felony accounts of breaking and entering with the intent to commit murder, and malicious wounding. Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Fred King summarized the evidence during court proceedings by telling jurors that Brown and Toby Smart established a relationship while Brown was head of now defunct Life Bible College in Christianburg, Va. Brown lived in the basement of the Smart home for nearly a year before she bought a home next door, news reports show. King argued that Brown planned, then attacked Smart because he was the only obstacle Brown saw to continuing her relationship with Toby Smart. Following Brown’s attack on Ted Smart, police found two butcher knives, three pairs of latex gloves, a flashlight, two empty McDonald’s bags, a partially empty water bottle, a large plastic garbage bag, and the steel crow bar which Brown wielded in her attack on Smart. On March 26, 2004, she was sentenced to 30 years for Attempted Murder. Brown was disciplined by her denomination–the Assembly of God–immediately following the incident. Brown is imprisoned in the Pocahontas (Virginia) Correctional Unit.

      • Forgive me silliness Bob, I didn’t say you lied. I lied because I said I googled something when I only Bing-ed it (talking search engines, not results).

        I agreed with you that the case is disturbing. but this review was on a newer edition of the Spiritual Life Bible (Brown’s editorial work not-withstanding) and I damned it with faint praise. So I am still not sure what the purpose of your posting this. Yes it happened, yes its awful. Does that mean that everything she ever did was awful?

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