Here We Go Again: Are Gay Satanists Rewriting the Bible?

As you know, our English Bible is translated from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, so even the direct quotes attributed to him in the New Testament were translated into Greek before someone translated them into English. Portions of the King James Version were translated from a Latin translation of the Bible, which itself had been translated from Greek documents that were no longer in existence. The Latin text was translated back into Greek (without reference, obviously, to the missing originals), then the Greek was translated to English. (We’ve since found copies of those missing Greek manuscripts, so modern translations are on a much firmer foundation.)

Translation is an art, not a science. It requires command of both the source and target languages. This is complicated by the fact that biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek are no longer spoken, so there are no native speakers from whom to learn the nuances of the language. Every translator differs in his or her choice of words and phrases to translate the original.

There is a contingent of Christians today who feel the newer translations are being manipulated to promote a particular agenda. These people would never consider that the older Bibles they prefer would have been subject to the same biases, but they were. For example, the Greek word βαπτίζω (baptizo) literally means “to dip or submerge”. But since the English-speaking church was no longer immersing believers in water but rather sprinkling them, the translators were in an awkward position. Rather than point out the error in practice by the church of the day, they invented the English word “baptize”, which is just a transliteration of the Greek word βαπτίζω (that is, it is a made-up English word which, when pronounced, sounds like the original Greek word). Errant sprinklers could claim to be “baptizing”, just like they did in the Bible, without having to explain the change in the mode of baptism compared to the New Testament examples.

It’s pretty easy to get a rise out of Christians who are ignorant of the nature of translating from one language to another by suggesting that nefarious forces (Satan himself being on the top of the list) are working to subvert the work of God by causing the Bible to be mistranslated. The Facebook post below is an example. I first saw a version of this post in 2015. It makes a number of false claims, urges the reader to try to find verses that don’t exist in most Bibles published in the last 40 years, then uses that to “prove” that publishers are actively promoting a gay and satanist agenda by altering the text. Altering it from what the post does not make clear, nor does it explain how Luke’s failure to mention that Pilate had a tradition of releasing a prisoner during the Passover celebration advances the gay or satanist agenda.

The new version of this post I saw today added the ESV to the Bibles owned by HarperCollins (which is false), and unnecessarily took a swipe at the Olive Tree Bible App that wasn’t there last time I saw it. Here’s the post:


VERY CRITICAL ALERT!!!

NIV was published by Zondervan but is now OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex.

  • The NIV and ESV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name but a few…
  • The NIV and ESV has also now removed 45 complete verses. Most of us have the Bible on our devices and phones especially “OLIVE TREE BIBLE STUDY APP.”
  • Try and find these scriptures in NIV and ESV on your computer, phone or device right now if you are in doubt
    • Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14;
    • Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46;
    • Luke 17:36, 23:17;
    • John 5:4; Acts 8:37.
    …you will not believe your eyes.

Refuse to be blinded by Satan, and do not act like you just don’t care. Let’s not forget what the Lord Jesus said in John 10:10 (King James Version).

There is a crusade geared towards altering the Bible as we know it; NIV, ESV and many more versions are affected.

THE SOLUTION:

If you must use the NIV and ESV, BUY and KEEP AN EARLIER VERSION OF the BIBLE. A Hard Copy cannot be updated. All these changes occur when they ask you to update the app. On your phone or laptop etc.


Laridian’s Response

A PocketBible user sent the above to Tech Support and asked if this horrific news was true. Here’s how we replied:

First, this post is old. It first circulated in 2015. Second, it represents a misunderstanding of everything it reports.

The NIV text was translated and is owned by Biblica (The International Bible Society), not Zondervan. Biblica is a 200-year-old organization that translates the Bible and distributes Bibles to various language groups around the world. The ESV is a revision of the Revised Standard Version (RSV), which itself is a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV), which is an americanized version of the Revised Version (RV), which was, in the 1880’s, a modern-language revision of the King James Version (KJV). The ESV is owned and distributed by Crossway Bibles, not Zondervan.

The right to publish and sell the NIV in the US is held by Zondervan under license from Biblica. Zondervan and Thomas Nelson are both owned by HarperCollins. HarperCollins is the publisher of a wide variety of books including those mentioned in the post. But neither HarperCollins nor Zondervan are involved in the translation of the NIV. That started over 60 years ago by the New York Bible Society, which became the International Bible Society, then Biblica.

The right to publish and sell the NIV outside the US is held by Hodder and Stoughton, a secular publisher in the UK. The post doesn’t mention them for some reason, choosing instead to focus on HarperCollins, which it claims owns the NIV, which it does not. And neither company has any rights in the ESV.

Let’s look at the other claims:

The NIV and ESV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible. The grammatical error (“has” instead of “have”) resulted from an illiterate person, perhaps the person who forwarded this to you, adding “and ESV” to the original post from 2015. That makes the claim even more questionable, since it would be odd that two entirely different translations had each removed exactly the same number of words. 

What were these words removed from? “The Bible” is not a single document that you can point at or hold in your hands. It is a collection of writings, written over some 4000 years by 40 or more authors, in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. We have multiple copies of portions of it in the original languages, and they differ from each other. This is more true in the New Testament than the Old, but it is true to some degree throughout. The job of Bible translators is to choose the versions of the originals they want to work from or think are authoritative, then translate those into English. In doing so they do not remove words from the original text; they translate from one language to another. Translation is not a word-for-word, mechanical task. Just comparing the number of words used in one translation versus another does not tell us anything about the relative quality of either translation.

The author seems to be suggesting that the newer translations remove words from an older, more authoritative translation. Which one? The post doesn’t say. And why would that fact alone matter? For example, newer translations “remove” a number of words from the King James Version, including thee, thou, ye, comest, goest, conies, kine, and hundreds of others. Most have fallen out of use or changed their meaning over the centuries. This isn’t bad, it’s necessary if we who speak the English language are going to understand it.

The specific words cited as removed are not removed as much as they are replaced. In particular:

  • “Jehovah” is an older (and many argue less accurate) attempt to transliterate the Hebrew word יהוה (often called “the tetragrammaton” — the 4-letter Hebrew spelling of God’s name). Many newer Bibles translate it as “Yahweh”. I believe the NIV and ESV use the convention of translating it as the word “Lord” in all caps or small caps (LORD or Lord).
  • The word “Calvary” as a translation for the place where Jesus was crucified is completely wrong to begin with. The Greek word used in the Gospels is Κρανίον (kranion or “cranium” for the Hebrew golgotha “skull”). “Calvary” is a transliteration of the Latin Calvariae Locus, which is the term used in the Latin Vulgate to translate Κρανίον. To insist that we continue to use a made-up word based on Latin instead of a direct translation of the Greek or Hebrew term would be identical to insisting that we refer to God by the made-up name “El Senior” because it is an English transliteration of the Spanish El Señor, the name commonly used for God in Spanish Bibles.
  • The term “Holy Ghost” is translated “Holy Spirit” in newer Bibles because the meaning of the word “ghost” has shifted over the years.
  • “Omnipotent” is used only once in the KJV, in Revelation 19:6. It is used as a title for God: “…for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” The Greek word is παντοκράτωρ (pantokratoros) which comes from the Greek word for “all” and the Greek word for “strength or might”. The other 9 times this word is used, the KJV translates it “almighty” (which is and adjective meaning “all powerful”). So if the NIV and ESV are wrong for “changing” this word from “omnipotent” to “almighty”, then the KJV is wrong for doing the same thing in 9 different places.

I see they’ve added a mention of the Olive Tree Bible app in this version of the post. Interestingly, Olive Tree is also owned by Zondervan/HarperCollins, which is not mentioned.

The post claims the NIV and ESV have removed 45 complete verses (though it lists only 10). Again I ask, “removed from what?” The post doesn’t say. The specific verses cited are present in some older translations of the Bible because the Greek manuscripts from which they were translated are actually newer (that is, they date from a later time in history) than the more recently discovered and older manuscripts used by the NIV translators. Because the older manuscripts are closer to the originals in time — that is, they went through the copying process fewer times — they are believed by modern translators to be more accurate. So it is not the case that these verses have been removed from newer translations like the NIV, ESV and many others, but rather that they were added by the copyists of the manuscripts upon which older versions, like the KJV and ASV, are based. It could be accurately argued that the “removal” of these 45 (or 10?) verses makes the NIV and ESV more accurate translations than the older ones the author prefers.

The post concludes by recommending that you buy and keep an earlier version of the Bible without saying which one. Most posts like this come from people who prefer the KJV. The KJV can be shown to contain thousands of errors in printing and translation, including one edition that said “thou shalt commit adultery”, and another that transgendered Ruth, referring to her as “he”. The KJV is where we get the phrase “strain at a gnat” where the Greek is more accurately translated “strain out a gnat” (“You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”)

There is no perfect translation of the Bible, and there is no single original-language source from which to translate. Posts like this one come from people who are ignorant of the history of transmission of the Bible, the process of translation, and the business of Bible publishing. Please don’t give these people a bigger platform by reposting their nonsense.


The illustration at the top of this article is from a Facebook group called “Satanic/Luciferian Gay Community”. It’s difficult to find an image to illustrate this article that isn’t more offensive than it needs to be. I thought this one looked better than the others I found. Note that the Satanic/Luciferian Gay Community has nothing to do with propagating this story or mistranslating the NIV. I just used an image from their Facebook page.

Americans Lack Basic Understanding of the God of the Bible

The Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University released a study last week showing that Americans demonstrate an increasing ignorance of God and in some cases hold self-contradicting views of God’s attributes and actions.

The survey of 2000 adults was conducted in January, 2020 to determine the percentage of the country that holds a biblical worldview. It found that only 51% of Americans believe that God is the “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe who still rules the world today.” This is down from 73% who agreed with that statement in 1991.

The largest drops are among the youngest (under 30) and the oldest (over 75) among us. There is also a clear divide along political lines, with self-described liberals and Democrats holding the least biblical worldview and conservatives/Republicans, the most. Agnostic (“there may be a God, but we can’t know for sure”) and atheistic (“there is no God”) views have grown substantially in the last 30 year.s

Some contradictory views also come out in the survey. 45% who claim God exists also say they can’t be sure. This would actually seem to be more consistent with an agnostic view. One-third of those who old a biblical view of God way that he has no reason behind what he causes or allows to happen to them. One could argue that an irrational God is little better than (and certainly more frightening than) no God at all. Only 1/3 of those who believe in the God of the Bible say that he is involved in their lives. Again, a God who doesn’t care about us seems little better than no God at all.

Slightly more people believe in the biblical person of Satan than in the biblical person of God. Think about that for a while.


PocketBible can’t fix a person’s ignorance of God or of God’s character on its own, but it can give you the tools you need to repair your own understanding of God and help you share a biblical worldview with the people you live and work with. And this survey reflects only the opinions of Americans, where Christianity allegedly has its best foothold. There is no lack of work to be done, starting here and throughout the world.

To What Are You Blind?

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

I used to spend two or three days per week working from various coffee shops around town. Most of them open at 6AM. I’d be there right as the doors open and stay through the entire day. It wasn’t unusual to have to wait in line at 6AM as everyone stopped by to get a coffee and pastry on their way to work.

There’s a coffee shop right next door to my office. It opens at 7AM. I asked the owner why she didn’t open earlier. After all, her competitors are already open. She’s giving up a lot of business. “I don’t want to get up that early,” she said. One time I asked if they had anything for lunch. She said they do lunch but only on Thursdays. She makes some quiche and when it runs out, there’s no more lunch until next Thursday.

There’s another coffee shop farther away that opens at 6AM according to their sign, but when I showed up early one day I was surprised to find the lights on and the door open. The owner told me, “I get here about 4:45 and the first thing I do is unlock the door and put coffee on. So if you get here early and the doors are open, you’ll probably be able to get a cup.”

I looked around and noticed there was nothing for lunch. I asked if they served sandwiches. He pointed to the door on the wall across from the counter and said, “That door takes you to the restaurant next door. You can get food there and bring it here, or take your coffee with you over there when you want some lunch.”

I would argue that the lazy lady next door doesn’t know what business she’s in nor who her customers are. The guy who opens early and sends people to the restaurant next door has transcended the coffee shop business and is operating at a state of consciousness that the lady next door can’t even imagine, let alone perceive.

We have a publisher with whom we’d like to do business. They have a Bible translation that we get a lot of requests for. They refuse to license it because they want to protect their own internal sales. They don’t have a software version of this Bible; they just have print. But they worry that an electronic version will cannibalize their print sales.

Electronic publishing costs traditional print publishers nothing. It only generates royalty revenue. It is money applied directly to the bottom line. People purchase electronic books that they would never buy in print, and people who are still buying print in 2020 are not buying electronic Bibles. There are exceptions and the two worlds definitely intersect, but it’s difficult to argue that one robs from the other when you’re looking at a particular title. I would argue that in an effort not to lose the revenue stream with which they are familiar, this publisher is blind to no-cost, revenue-only opportunities. These opportunities are knocking directly on his door, coming to him. He doesn’t even have to work hard to take advantage of them.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m blind to in my business. The coffee shop next door doesn’t realize they’re a coffee shop, and that people want a cup of coffee on their way to work. They aren’t going to her shop. They didn’t realize that serving lunch only one day a week is like not serving lunch. Publishers come out of marketing and sales meetings where they struggle with how to increase revenue, then tell a no-cost revenue stream that they’re not interested in taking money from them. I worry that I’m doing some outrageously silly thing. Other than wasting my time writing blog articles that no one will read, what am I blind to?

What Americans Believe

Every other year, Ligonier Ministries conduct The State of Theology survey. In it, they question Americans about their religious beliefs. As you might expect, the results are generally disappointing.

While it’s easy to blame one’s neighbor for believing that humans are basically good, or blame the person sitting next to you at church for believing that religious belief is not about Truth but about personal opinion, the fact of the matter is that they’re often not getting good teaching.

I’ve spent the last 30 years helping pastors, teachers, and everyday Christians have everything they need to understand and apply what they read in the Bible. Whether it was QuickVerse for MS-DOS in 1988, PalmBible for Windows CE in 1998, or PocketBible for iOS and Mac OS in 2018, the goal has always been to put the tools in peoples’ hands to help them discover what the Bible has to say and to teach others what they’ve learned.

While the general philosophy of those around us drifts farther and farther from Truth, it’s important that we stay firmly grounded and that we share that Truth with others.

Read the complete survey results here. Read about our new Pastors and Teachers Library here.

When the Bible Becomes an App

You would think by 2018 we would be well beyond 20th-century thinking about the relative merits of printed vs. digital Bibles. But apparently not. Recently, a PocketBible user sent me this link and suggested I send the author a copy of our PocketBible app.

The author (Trevin Wax, Bible and Reference Publisher at Lifeway Christian Resources) argues that the form in which we experience the Bible (print vs. digital) matters. How the words of Scripture are presented to us says something (or many things) about those words. The question Wax asks is, does a particular format (in this case, print or digital) take away from our experience of reading, comprehending, and internalizing the message of the text?

The conclusion Wax comes to is that one should continue to read and study their printed Bible because what is lost when going from print to screen is simply too great. I want to address those alleged losses from the perspective of one who doesn’t have the author’s vested interest in print publishing and who has been carrying a digital Bible in one form or another for over thirty years and has been exclusively digital for almost as long.


Wax states that a leather-bound Bible with gilded edges and single-column layout “says something about the value” of the words it contains. But remember that the words of the Bible were originally written by hand on common paper or animal skin. The words themselves carried the value, not the medium. It could thus be argued that wrapping the words of Scripture with fancy covers and printing them on expensive paper with handcrafted fonts and gilded edges takes away from the value of the words themselves and places the emphasis on the physical presentation of those words.

The very argument that “presentation matters” makes the case that the form in which the Bible is published adds to the words of Scripture. I’ve long argued that the benefit of an electronic presentation of the Bible is that it removes the text from its fancy wrapper and places it in a position of prominence. A couple years ago I acquired a KJV Bible from about 1908 that was literally falling apart in my hands. There was nothing special about this Bible except that it was the first “red letter” edition of the Bible. After a couple months of sweeping up the crumbs it left behind wherever I placed it, I sent it off to be rebound. I was stunned by the results. Even though I no longer read or study from the KJV as I once did, I wanted to carry this luscious Bible everywhere. I had developed an emotional attachment to the look and feel of this Bible that overwhelmed the fact that the archaic language of the KJV doesn’t speak to me as clearly as some of the newer translations do.

Even binding the books of the Bible together adds meaning and makes implications that some Christians have difficulty overcoming. While I believe the Scriptures were “God-breathed”, it’s a fact that the Bible wasn’t written by one person at one time. It was written by over 40 people over a period of some 4000 years. The copies of those documents that we have were transmitted and copied by hand over centuries. It has only been in very recent history that Christians have had a “Bible” that collects all these works into one convenient binding.

The implications of presenting the sixty-six books of the Bible as one continuous book can include the idea that the worldview, culture, and understanding of God experienced by a person reading an original autograph of the book of Job (considered to be the earliest-written book of the Bible) would be the same as or similar to that of one reading an original account of John’s vision on Patmos as recorded in Revelation (probably the latest-written book of the Bible). We’ve all heard Christians refer to “how they did things in Bible times” – as if the customs of antediluvian nomadic hunter-gatherers were “basically the same” as those of a freed Roman slave living in Corinth when Paul wrote his epistles to the believers in that city. It could be argued that this misunderstanding is exacerbated by our practice of collecting the biblical books of history, law, prophets, poetry, gospels, and epistles all into one book.

But even this “benefit”  that is, that printed Bibles bind the disparate books of the Bible together, presenting a message of unity of message, thought, and ultimate authorship – is not a unique property of printed Bibles. Digital Bibles “bind” the same content together in the same way; they just present it differently.

The author cites research that indicates that screens are best for “surface reading” and that books are best for “deep and meditative reading”. I’ve seen those studies. They conclude that reading comprehension is higher when reading books vs. reading text on a screen. But it isn’t clear whether the medium itself is the cause of this difference. Other studies indicated that reading paginated text results in better comprehension than reading scrolling text. For years, our PocketBible app for iPhone presented the Bible in a paginated format for exactly this reason. While many PocketBible users appreciated this format, most objected to it, as it was so different from their customary experience with interacting with text on their device. We could have continued to ignore their pleas for change – arguing that it is for their own good – but in late 2017 we relented and now present text with both scrolling and paginated interfaces.

The point is that the medium (print vs. digital) may not be the cause of the difference in reading comprehension, but rather the way that text is presented in that medium (paginated vs. scrolling). Interestingly, while it’s difficult to change the way text is presented in a printed book, it’s easy to do it with a digital book. In PocketBible, the user can simply choose to interact differently with the text to regain the benefit of pagination vs. scrolling.

Wax further states that when the Bible is presented digitally, we lose the “geography” of the text – just as we do when using GPS to navigate in an unfamiliar city as compared to using printed maps and our own innate sense of location and direction. Digital Bible readers can simply type “John 3:16” to get to that verse; they don’t have to have a concept of where the Gospel of John lies physically within the text. They may lose the idea that the book of Psalms, which, according to its order, lies right in the middle of the Old Testament, actually lies right in the middle of the entire Bible. They may not realize that the “second half” of the Bible – the New Testament – isn’t “half” the Bible at all — it’s more like one-fourth or even one-fifth of it.

But I would argue that this sense of geography is only “important” because printed Bibles are so difficult to navigate. Small books like Obadiah and Jude are invisible in printed Bibles unless you have a really good idea where to begin looking. But they are just as “big” and “visible” in an electronic Bible as Jonah and Revelation, their larger and more familiar neighbors. In other words, the idea that the geography of the Bible is important is only true if knowledge of that geography is important to accessing the text, which is the important part.

Wax goes on to make a bizarre claim – that we more easily submit to the text when we read it in print than when we read it on the screen, because we have less control over print and are forced to “become more attuned to the complexities of family life, the vicissitudes of social institutions, and the lasting truths of human nature” when reading words on a printed page. This claim is questionable if not outright false just on its face. But if “complexities, vicissitudes, and truths” are what is important, it can be argued that an electronic Bible is better able to convey them because of the depth of resources it places at one’s fingertips.

On a recent Sunday, I was listening to a sermon on 1 Peter 2:1-3. Verse 1 tells us to “put aside all slander” (NASB). Having myself been falsely accused of slander (by a sociopath as part of her request for a restraining order against me – but that’s another story), I’m very familiar with the nuances of the term. I was intrigued by the fact that other translations of the same verse used “evil speaking” instead of the very specific term “slander”. I noticed this because my digital Bible, unlike my printed Bible, allows me to simultaneously view multiple English translations, multiple Greek New Testaments, and multiple Greek dictionaries.

The word used in 1 Peter 2:1 is καταλαλιας, which literally means “to speak against”. This includes more types of speech than simply slander (making statements about a person that are provably false), including gossip (which is often true statements being told out of context). The proscription of καταλαλιας includes more than slander, a fact I may not have realized if I did not have access to Bibles other than the one most people in my church carry on Sunday.

Wax concludes with an admonition against relying solely on digital Bibles and an encouragement to depend primarily on a printed Bible so as not to lose the benefits of reading the Bible the way God intended it. I believe I’ve shown that the perceived detriments of reading a digital Bible are not negatives as much as they are simply differences between reading words from a screen vs. reading words from a page, and that in some cases, the same positive (or negative) characteristics apply to both screens and pages.


Since we’re making arguable arguments, I’ll make this one. Do a study sometime on occurrences of the phrase “the word of God” or “the word of the Lord” and similar phrases throughout the Bible. (Needless to say, this is easier with a digital Bible.) You will find that the word of God is “received”, “heard”, “given”, and “spoken” but not “written” or “read”. This is not to say that written words are not the Word of God, but rather than there is more to the “word” than its form on a page. The Word of God is the message itself, as communicated to humans by God. It is not constrained to shapes made with ink on pages made of dead trees. It is God’s Word that is “sharper than any two-edged sword”, not your leather-bound Christian Standard Bible. The pages of your printed Bible do not convict of sin or judge the thoughts or intents of your heart, but the Word of God does.

The point is that God’s Word transcends medium, language, and typographical style. The Law was no less authoritative because it was printed on stone instead of paper. Paul’s letters convict believers of sin whether they were the original autographs written on papyrus or parchment, or a modern translation printed on paper or illuminated on a screen. The Spirit of God conveys the Word of God to people through their hearts and minds. Always has. Always will.

Photo byAaron Burden

Does It Matter Where Your Bible App Comes From?

DumpsterTrevor McKendrick is an atheist who wrote one of the top-selling Bible apps for iOS. A former Mormon, McKendrick saw an unserved niche market on the App Store and created a Spanish audio Bible to fill it. Now he’s banking over $100,000 per year selling the app. He compares the Bible to Harry Potter and describes Christians as people who learn the spells in the book and try to use them to heal their children. He compares them to people who teach The Lord of the Rings as real history.

Does it make any difference whether or not the people who create the products you use for Bible study agree with the materials they publish?

When I started writing Bible software in 1988 there were very few other products on the market. I purchased the King James Bible from Public Brand Software, a distributor of freeware and shareware programs for MS-DOS. While browsing their catalog (paper catalog — this was before the Web) I saw a Bible program called WordWorker and picked up a copy of that, too.

WordWorker was pretty impressive compared to other programs available at the time. My problem with it was that the programmer who wrote it was associated with The Way International, which denies key teachings of historic Christianity and adds a few of their own. They encourage severing ties with family and friends and living with other “believers” instead, which many argue qualifies them as a “cult”.

Coincidentally I had been unsuccessfully recruited by a member of The Way while in college. Noticing a strange-looking guy observing me playing pinball at the student union, I struck up a conversation and bought him a couple games (he had never played pinball). He invited me to join his “twig fellowship”. As a brand new Christian with very little foundation in the Bible, I struggled with figuring out if this was God’s direction or not. Fortunately I dodged that bullet, and got involved with a local church that had a strong emphasis on the Bible and Bible study, which is what eventually led me into developing Bible software.

It was difficult to get excited about using WordWorker because I felt like I was supporting a cult. Even if it coincidentally met my needs, it was hard to recommend to others or even use enthusiastically because I knew where it came from. One benefit of using Bible software that comes from a person with whom you share a common faith is that you don’t have to feel guilty about supporting something with which you disagree. You and I may not agree on every fine point of doctrine, and we may not share a common worship style preference, but I bet we’re closer to agreeing with each other on the fundamentals of the faith than you would be with an atheist.

I originally wrote my Bible study software as a tool for myself to use. Its features were designed to meet my needs, which I obviously knew well. I didn’t have to do any research to figure out what people who read the Bible wanted; I wrote what I wanted.

I took my Bible program (QuickVerse) to Parsons Technology in 1988, where, over the next ten years, I employed a couple dozen different programmers. Not all of them were practicing Christians, but they were good programmers. Jeff Wheeler (who would later leave Parsons with me to start Laridian) and I led the development of the program. Both of us were Bible-believing Christians who were not just developers, but users of the program.

Having real Christians write your Bible study app guarantees that it is designed to meet the needs of someone who really studies the Bible.

Parsons Technology was not a “Christian company”. It was a plain-old software company that happened to have a Church Software Division that published church management and Bible study software. Parsons was eventually purchased by Intuit (1994), which sold us to Broderbund (1997), which was purchased by The Learning Company (1998), which was purchased by Mattel (1999), which sold the Church Software Division to a dormant company that was rumored to have previously been a booking agency for Las Vegas acts (2000). During those years we were faced with a number of demands from our pagan overlords that compromised the quality of QuickVerse. They saw “unserved niches” on store shelves and wanted us to create products that were just old versions of QuickVerse with a new cover. They weren’t interested in meeting needs, but in making money.

This was the final straw for me. When it got to where creating Bible software was about duping people into buying old versions of our program at a cheap price because BestBuy or Costco was looking for 25-cent CD-ROMs to fill an end-cap, I bailed out and started Laridian in 1998.

Our goal has always been to focus on our customers and our product, not on creating a company to sell to the highest bidder. The features and reference materials you see in PocketBible come from customer feedback (and from our own needs as our product’s first customers). We bristle at doing things like renaming our product “@Bible” so that it pops up first in alphabetic search results on the App Store, or calling our program “Bible App” to cause it to come up first when you do a generic search for a Bible app, or seeding the store with identical products, all with different names, so it appears more often in your search results. This is what marketeers do to trick people into buying shoddy products. We aim for letting the quality and usability of our apps speak for themselves.

So another benefit of having real Christians write your Bible study app is that they’re not just seeing you as a rube who will spend their hard-earned money on a quickly thrown-together, shallow product, but rather they are committed to creating not just one download but an ecosystem of products that will meet your Bible study needs not only today, but for years to come.

I don’t have a doctrinal test for people with whom I do business, but I expect my Bible study materials to come from people who are as firmly committed to the Bible as I am. It’s not that they’re the only ones who I can trust to create useful products, but it is at least more likely that they’re doing a better job.

Laridian and the Better Business Bureau

About a year and a half ago we let our Better Business Bureau (BBB) membership expire. We had been members since 2000, and were some of the earliest members of their “BBBOnline” program that sought to separate the better businesses from the scams that are so much a part of online life. At the time we joined, we paid $310 to join the BBB itself and another $225 for the BBBOnline program.

From the beginning, it was clear that the BBB was just a consumer con-job. From the fact that it has absolutely no power nor willingness to involve itself in resolving disputes, to the minimal requirements it places on its members, to the shoddy paper membership certificate it sends you to “display proudly”, the BBB is little more than an organization that shakes down businesses for $350+/year with vague offers of increased credibility while offering those businesses and the consumers whose interests it claims to represent little in return.

Now, ABC News is reporting here and here that the BBB is little more than a pay-to-play scam, where the terrorist organization Hamas received an A-minus rating, while Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants get F’s. The difference? Hamas (or at least, a blogger claiming to be Hamas) pays their dues. Wolfgang Puck does not.

I went back through my records and found three complaints in the ten years or so we were members. One complaint was from a customer who had purchased from us twice. The second time he claimed to be a new customer and as a result his new purchases ended up in a separate download account from his old purchases. However, when he logged in to download, he logged into the old account rather than following the login instructions in the confirmation email we sent him. This kind of thing happens fairly regularly, of course, and we’re always able to handle it through tech support. This customer, however, contacted the BBB before contacting us. Once he contacted us, of course, we resolved his problem instantly like we always do.

The second complaint was from a customer who had purchased a Bible but not the PocketBible program that was required in order to view the Bible. Again, instead of contacting us when he couldn’t view his Bible, he contacted BBB and filed a complaint. By the time we received notice of the complaint several days later, he had contacted tech support and the problem was solved within hours — all before we even received his BBB complaint.

Complaint number three was similar to the first. Customer orders a Bible but no reader. We tell him to buy the reader, which he does, but now claims the Bible is not on his download page. We log into the customer’s account, and there it is. We write back and tell him “it’s the third one from the top” and he files a complaint with the BBB. Again, problems like this happen from time to time, but we’re always able to solve them without any help from the BBB.

Unfortunately, when you look at our BBB status report, all it will tell you is that we’ve had complaints. It doesn’t say that they were all from customers who technically didn’t have a claim in the first place. It just says they were “resolved”. (Since we haven’t had any complaints in the last three years, our current report will say “no complaints”.)

My one big experience as a consumer using the Better Business Bureau was a complaint against a competitor who was advertising their software as “the only true PDA Bible study software”. I felt this claim was demonstrably false, since there were dozens of PDA Bible study programs available at the time. BBB is very particular about advertising claims. You can’t say things like “discounts up to 50% off” or even “lowest prices in town” (the latter is OK only if you can exhaustively demonstrate that it’s true). So I felt the claim that this company had the “only” Bible software was simply false, and since they were BBB members, the BBB should hold them responsible for their clearly false advertising.

The BBB forwarded my complaint to the company, and the company replied that their software contained Greek and Hebrew lexicons, and therefore was the only true Bible study software for PDAs. I wrote back with a list of six Bible programs that included Greek and Hebrew lexicons for the same mobile platforms as this competitor supported. That was the end of the discussion. The BBB didn’t do anything against the company even after an advertising review. The whole issue was simply dropped.

In 2004 we did a customer survey. We selected several hundred people who had purchased within the last week or two and presented them with a list of certifications like “Better Business Bureau”, “BizRate”, “Verisign”, “Verified by Visa”, “Good Housekeeping”, etc. We asked how important each of these were, and if any of them were instrumental in their decision to purchase from us. Here are the top four, in order from most important to least important:

  1. Verisign
  2. Verified by Visa
  3. TrustE
  4. BBB Online

Ironically, at the time, neither the Verisign nor Verified by Visa logos appeared on our site yet customers told us the appearance of those logos is what changed their mind about ordering products from us. (The exact question was: “I was uncertain about ordering from Laridian until I saw this certification.”) More importantly, these imaginary logos were more important (by a factor of almost 2) than the BBB certification that was actually on the site!

So a year and a half ago it seemed abundantly clear that (1) very few people were actually making use of BBB; (2) those who did make use of it were actually making baseless claims that were solved by tech support without help from BBB; (3) all claims, regardless of how specious, were counted against us regardless of their resolution; and (4) customers weren’t relying nearly as much on the BBB certification logo as they were on certifications which they only imagined seeing on our site. We explained all this to our BBB rep and told them we’d be willing to sign up for another year for $30 instead of $365. (We figured it might result in one or two more sales over the course of a year, so $30 seemed more than fair.) They declined our generous offer so we let our membership expire.

We hesitated to mention publicly that we had dropped our BBB membership because we were afraid of what that might imply. But now that the facts about the BBB have finally come to light, I think it’s safe to let you know that despite our current “A” rating and being complaint-free for the last three years, we are no longer paying protection money to this particular gang.

I’m Done Answering QuickVerse Questions

Update – September 26, 2015 – This is the most popular article on our blog, believe it or not. I wrote this in 2007 and people are still coming here, looking for QuickVerse support. If you’re here you need to just give up on your old version of QuickVerse. Time has left you behind. 🙂


 

I get several emails every month from people running QuickVerse 4 and needing help to install it on a new machine, or to install some add-on product. Or they want to know where to find a particular QuickVerse 4 Bible, CD, or other related program.

I’ve made a decision tonight to just be done with that topic. Laridian has its own Bible software for Windows now, so there’s no need for anyone to keep using QuickVerse.
Continue reading “I’m Done Answering QuickVerse Questions”