What is the Mirror Bible/Mirror Word?

The Mirror Bible (also known as the Mirror Word) is a paraphrase translation of the Bible by South African pastor, teacher, and writer Francois du Toit. As of this writing, he has completed some of the New Testament (Luke 1—16, The Gospel of John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter 1—2, 2 Peter 1, 1 John 1—5, Revelation).

It is called the Mirror Bible because of du Toit's exposition on Genesis 1:26: "I remember how it dawned on me that we cannot even begin to understand the cross until we realize Genesis 1:26. We were made in the image and likeness of God. It was not our pitiful state that moved God to pay such a ridiculous price for humanity's redemption; it was his love knowledge of our likeness that persuaded this act" (https://www.mirrorword.net/mirror-study-bible-faq ). In his FAQ page for the translation history, he goes on to explain that we always have been and continue to be a reflection (mirror) of God's image.

There are echoes of truth in du Toit's theology. However, he promotes universalism. He seems to overlay his beliefs on his paraphrase rather than explain the actual meaning of the text. Reading into Scripture what we want it to say rather than allowing Scripture to speak for itself will never lead to an accurate understanding of the Word.

For example, in du Toit's exposition on "What About the Sinful Nature?", he writes, "We theologically created the idea of humanity being 'sinful by nature' as if humans are flawed by design. In fact it is a distorted mindset that we inherited from Adam from which Jesus had to free us."

This is in direct conflict with Scripture, which tells us that Jesus came specifically to free us from sin and death, not just a distorted mindset (Romans 8:1–8). Romans 5:12 explains, "sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." Scripture tells us that we were completely dead because of our sin and the dark powers at work in this world (Ephesians 2:1–3). The Bible tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). That's far more serious than a mindset gone wrong. And salvation is far more weighty than a changed mindset—it's a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Galatians 6:15). While sin brings death, "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Here is an example of how du Toit's theology erroneously interprets Scripture, a comparison of a passage from the ESV with the Mirror Bible:

John 1:12 in the ESV says, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." It is the point of belief in Jesus Christ that separates the saved and unsaved by the work of Jesus.

Du Toit's Mirror Bible paraphrase implies that we need not believe in order to become children of God but that we need to recognize we are already children of God because of Christ: "Everyone who realizes their association in him, convinced that he is their original life and that his name defines them, God gives the assurance that they are indeed his offspring, begotten of him; he sanctions the legitimacy of the sonship." Again, du Toit proposes a fixing of a mindset instead of a rebirth into a new life through Christ, as Scripture says (1 Peter 1:3–4). This misses the gravity of our state apart from Christ and thus belittles the holiness of God and cheapens the salvation Jesus offers.

When choosing a translation of the Bible for study of Scripture, we must try to understand the methodology and theological position of the one(s) doing the translating. Often Bible versions will indicate their "translation philosophy" on an introductory or descriptive page near the front (or on a website). Reviewing that will help us understand what was prioritized in the translation (for example, dynamic or formal equivalence, which manuscripts were considered, whether it was intended to push a particular agenda) and the credentials of those on the translation team.

A paraphrase, like du Toit's is better considered to be a commentary on the Bible than an actual translation. When looking at commentaries, it is helpful to understand the author's approach to the Bible (for example, do they see it as the inspired Word of God? Do they take a literal approach?) and if they have a particular goal or agenda in producing the commentary. We do not consider the Mirror Bible to be a helpful paraphrase. In fact, it seems to twist Scripture and is more likely to lead people away from truth than it is to help bring out the meaning of the text.

Related Truth:

What is dynamic equivalence in Bible translation?

Is it okay to use a paraphrase of the Bible?

Why are there so many Bible translations?

What Bible translation should I use?

Is there a proper way to study the Bible?

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