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with Bible Versions?
By Gary F. Zeolla
The following e-mails are commenting on my three-part discussion Obsessed with Bible Versions?. They are being presented without comment on my part.
Hi Bro Gary, I have read the OBSESSED WITH BIBLE VERSIONS e-mail exchange. I doubt this Mike had read enough or totally ignorant of those KJV-only websites before he single you out for criticism. If he is so concerned for the Christian babes let him direct all his argument to the militant KJV-only advocates whom I think really tear down more than edify the Church. May God gives you the strength to continue in your good ministry and not be disheartened by this criticism.
Your website is a beacon to all those confused by the Bible versions controversy. The number of e-mail you received on this subject confirm that the Lord has positioned you here to shine the light of Truth to those stumbled by their careless brothers. Your cool and loving manner in dealing with controversial subject is exemplary for many of us to emulate. This advice goes to Mike as well.
Bro in Christ
I just read Part 3 of OBSESSED WITH BIBLE VERSIONS. I find that the objective of the argument on the part of Mike has strayed from seeking the truth to a bid to win. It is very wise on your part to conclude the discussion and not let this consume too much of your precious time. He is probably being used as a distractor like Simon Peter in Matt 16:22-23.
Hi Gary, I just read the "Obsessed with Bible Versions" exchange.
"Mike" wrote that:
"... I couldn't help but get the impression (while I was reading your article) that you are sectarian, legalistic, and obsessed over an issue that is a non essential of the Christian faith. I think you have lost your focus and that you have become bogged down in academic minutiae."
LOL! Is Mike WAY off base or what?? I for one really appreciate your scholarly approach to this topic, it has really helped me in my studies!! Obviously he disagrees with your conclusions which is why he calls you "legalistic" and "obsessed".
"Mike" also writes:
"...but gee whiz, embrace relevance and stop waltzing with non essentials. Use the gifts God has given you to build up rather than tear down."
You are one of the few people on the net who does NOT "tear down"!! If finding the best Bible is not relevant and not essential in our walk with the Lord then I don't know what is!! For those of us who can't get to church as often as we like, we MUST have a dependable Bible!
Dear Gary, After reading the two e-mail exchanges on "Obsessed with Bible Versions" I can only think of one comment: wolves in sheep's clothing.
Dear Gary; A fuller thought on the subject. If Bible versions are "irrelevant" than what difference does it make which one we use? Why not use the NIVI, NRSV, CEV, TEV? Why not even the NWT? To be sure, as already elucidated by yourself, the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV can all be used successfully by the Christian, but that is not the point.
The point "Mike" misses is that the Bible is supposed to be the faithfully translated innerant, inspired word of God. I would hardly call that an irrelevant issue. Does he realize that men have bled and died because they have attempted to faithfully translate the word of God for the people? Is that irrelevant? Did the Reformers risk the stake and the guillotine because they thought that a faithful rendering of the Bible was irrelevant?
We are so spoiled in our day and age, and in the security of the United States, where we can pick and choose Bible translations to read and compare. It wasn't long ago that most of the Christian world literally gave their life to possess a faithful translation of God's Word. Even today in most of the world many people are killed for possessing the Bible. Irrelevant? Does "Mike" realize that a major reason the Catholic church fell into the apostasy of tradition and paganism is because the believers were kept from reading the Word?
Mike says he is a sophomore in Bible college; I hope he takes a lot of church history courses and learns a whole lot more before he receives his degree.
Hi, Gary, Long time no write... I read Mike's e-mail which claims you are obsessed with the Bible version issue, you are causing catastrophic results for your unfortunate readership, et cetera.
Hope you don't mind an overly long e-mail on this (read it in parts or something, my time-deprived friend), but I have issue with both his straw-man misrepresentation of your position on the Bible version issue, and his characterization your work as obsession. (I think you'd have to expect an e-mail from me on this, knowing that my once-per-month visit was coming up, and that I couldn't stay silent on this one!)
The Bible encourages what the world calls "obsession" when it states "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2, KJV) Meditating on anything "day and night" is what the world calls "obsessive behavior", Gary. Having a web site with over 300 Christian web pages probably classifies as "obsessive behavior" as well. The world has to label things it doesn't understand, and especially with regard to Christianity, it has to label it negatively.
I think people like Mike are themselves somewhat obsessed with being uninformed about things such as the Bible version issue, and are determined to make sure others are equally uninformed. I believe they choose to remain in ignorance; they feel guilty about it their choice, but do not want to change their minds, reverse their decision, and reopen the issue, and they don't want other people questioning this choice. A desire not to repent in one isolated area of their lives, or is that an overstatement?
Let me give you an illustration. I apologize in advance for the length.
I am a Baptist, having studied the Bible three times before choosing a church. I believe no one can come to Baptistic views unless they have been convinced through personal study. It is too much of a hassle to get splashed underwater just to join a church unless you really believe that is the right way to show your allegiance to Jesus Christ. It is also too tempting to give yourself partial credit for your salvation (for example, through our "good works" or "baptism" or our partaking in "sacraments") rather than give the full credit to a sovereign and merciful God who chose us for no reason we can understand and certainly no worth of our own.
While I'm sure this would be far too sectarian to say to Mike, I find that many people in other denominations are desperate not to consider the things that I have considered in coming to Baptistic beliefs. They have chosen not to consider these things and will refuse to consider them.
For example, I was recently ambushed at a dinner by a Roman Catholic and a member of the Church of Christ who blasted me for being a Baptist. "I suppose you think your church is the only true church," accused the Catholic. This seemed like a funny idea to me, really, because about 500 years ago she'd have been gleefully participating in my burning at the stake for not being a part of *her* "only true church", while Baptists have always supported freedom of religion. This thought gave me an idea of how to respond.
I answered by saying, "This is a true story. In 1524, there was a young fellow, an Anabaptist, who had come to faith in Christ, and was a known member of the Anabaptist sect, who was apprehended by the Roman Catholics prior to his baptism. He was tortured on the rack and with burning candles by the priests, and told to give up the names of other Anabaptists and to renounce his faith. He would not renounce his faith, but he gave up the names of two Anabaptists who had already escaped to safety. That infuriated the priests, so he was led to the stake to be burned. He had to be carried, for the candles had damaged his legs to the point that he couldn't walk. They tied him to the stake and burned him to death. Now here's the question: Keeping in mind that he had never actually been baptized, do either of you think it is possible that he was saved?"
They looked at each other, then the person from the Church of Christ said, "Well, yes, of course he was saved, he died for his faith in Christ." I looked at the Catholic. "Well? What do you think?" "Yeah, I guess he'd be saved," she confessed.
"Then how come neither of you go to a church that would agree?" I asked. "How can both of you, through your collections, financially support a church that teaches something you yourselves know is not true, that his baptism is absolutely necessary for his salvation?"
Their reply? "Well, no church is perfect," huffed the Catholic. But this is dodging the bullet: Why does the individual go to a church that teaches something that they themselves know is not true? Why financially fund such a church so it can go on to deceive subsequent generations? This is a personal responsibility, not just a responsiblility of the church one attends.
But no one wants to think about their personal responsibility for the fallacies they are helping to spread to the next generation by funding their traditional denomination. (I mean "traditional denomination" here only in that the choice of denomination was passed from parents to children, without the children having made their own choice. There are many denominations that don't spread baptismal regeneration doctrines that I suppose would otherwise be called "traditional".) They do not want to think about this, else their guilt may force them to change things.
I think people also try to sidestep their personal responsibility in promoting Bible versions that omit around 10-15% of the New Testament text, trying to justify it in their own minds so they do not have to reconsider.
Along that vein, I wish that my church did not support garbage translations like the New International Version. However, I agree the Bible version issue is a "non-essential" and I can still sleep easily at night knowing my church uses the NIV. I finished reading the New International Version, incidentally, and my estimation of "garbage translation" is based on first-hand experience reading it. You've received a lot of my miscellaneous complaints and questions about the NIV translation, so there's no reason to go over it all again here.
Perhaps those who prefer dynamic equivalency translations should hear the words of Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate: "For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek (except in the case of the holy scriptures where even the order of the words is a mystery) I render sense for sense and not word for word." (Jerome, Letter LVII. To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating.)
Jerome was as far as I can tell a man of great faith, and even though a thought-for-thought advocate with regard to translating the words of men, he would never so treat the words of Almighty God. The first Christian scholar since the first century to translate from the Hebrew, going against the demands of his own church to stick with the Septuagint, I wonder who can honestly argue with his position on the matter?
I once thought modern textual criticism was the cat's meow, and the idea of the restoration of the text of the first century church thrilled me. It was only after long study that I realized the text I was reading was a restoration of only one branch of the early church, the Alexandrian, and not a restoration from the first century but from the fourth, the time of the Arian heresy, while the Majority Text seems to have been present since the beginning.
I think it is no coincidence that the churches are falling away en-masse, denying the Trinity (the very Lord who bought them, hm? 2 Peter 2:1) when they are using the Alexandrian Arian-heretical Bible text. I'm sure that sounds pretty crazy on the surface, but how can we account for the incredible shift away from Biblical Christianity among many of the churches in the past century without taking into account the Bible text being used?
On his web site, Jerry Falwell points out that this is the only century in American history in which a revival has *not* taken place. Regardless of what anyone thinks about Jerry Falwell, there is no debating this true statement. There simply has to be a cause, and I don't think mere Darwinism is it; there are a lot of Christians who are not experiencing revival, who no longer believe their Bibles, who are deceived by clergy who no longer believe their Bibles, who themselves were deceived by seminaries that no longer believe the Bible.
One final comment: Mike wrote, "Do you really think that the issue and controversy over modern Bible versions couples truth and love? Truth and academia - yes. Truth and love - Hmmm."
Truth and love are inextricably mixed according to God -- quite like repentance and faith, you can't have one without the other! (The 1963 Baptist Faith and Message of the Southern Baptist Convention refers to repentance and faith as "inseparable graces"; I think the same is true of truth and love.) Let me share a Scripture quotation from Mike's favorite, the NIV:
"Now that your have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1:22) Why do these people have sincere love for their brothers according to this verse? Because they have purified themselves by obeying the truth.
So, if you know something about the Bible version issue for example and don't share it, is that an act of love or a lack of love? It certainly is not obeying the truth, and disobeying the truth cannot lead to love. Love stems from obeying the truth according to God's Word!
So, if we understand truth to be inseparably connected to love, which I really believe it is, Mike's statement about truth and love versus truth and academia is an oxymoron; logically, the only comparison can be "(truth/love) vs. (truth/love) and academia." It is a loving act for you to provide this information, especially at risk of receiving that low-grade form of religious persecution we call e-mail.
Your friend in Christ,
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