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Church Idols – The Bible

November 4, 2013

This week I am tackling a six-part series I am calling, “Church Idols.” I will address things we have elevated above Jesus in our worship. While some of the topic titles may seem absurd, as today’s does, I think I will make a solid case that we have been worshipping idols in our efforts to be the most devout followers we can be. The goal of addressing these things is to make this a topic of conversation. So, please feel free to leave comments. A free conversation will help us work though some of these issues and get our focus back to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Blessings!

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Have we idolized the Bible? That sounds absolutely ludicrous. But it is true. Many devout followers of Jesus have lifted the Bible above Jesus. Why do I think that? If I received $5 every time I hear the King James Version is the only true Bible or that the new NIV is corrupt I would be a rich man. People lift their particular version of the Bible up and proclaim it is the only perfect version, thereby placing it above God. And that would be idolatry.

A healthy understanding of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 will help bring an understanding that God is to be placed above the Bible and man:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (ESV)

If all Scripture is God breathed how can we decide which particular version is perfectly correct? The original documents were written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. We are finding more and more manuscripts every day, closer and closer to the era of Jesus’ life. I will not labor on this point, but to recommend you visit The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts website at http://www.csntm.org/. Dr. Daniel Wallace is doing great work there documenting and recording the multitude of manuscripts being discovered. This site and lectures you can find by Dr. Wallace online will help you get a good grasp of the multitude of material being found.

In other words, none of the authors wrote anything in English. So every modern translation is a best possible translation, fitting a particular criterion, possible with the documents at hand at that time. What criteria you ask? There are two different thoughts on translating and each Bible translation team tried to place fit their translation into one of the camps. The first is a word-for-word translation, or literal translation. Translators who strive for this are searching for the perfect word for each Greek or Hebrew word. In other words, they are striving for a perfect translation word-for-word. Two popular translations that fit this are the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The other translating method is a thought-for-thought translation. With this concept the translators are searching how to best communicate the thought of the original authors. This type of translation has the value of typically being easier to read. The most common translation in this camp is the New Living Translation (NLT).

All this is to say, we have many excellent translations written in the English language. I have yet to find anywhere in the Bible where God has limited us to one particular translation. Look at this from a different angle: We translate Bibles all the time in native tongues to send overseas and find it perfectly acceptable. Yet, in America many swear by one version or another condemning other translations as false. To follow this logic, the translations we send overseas in native languages must also be false. So are we sending false Scriptures overseas? I believe not. We have deified our beloved Bible, made it a golden calf. Have we chosen which translation God intended and failed to leave enough grace in the situation for others to determine which one is best for themselves?

If we are going to use the Bible in the full extent 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the reader needs to be able to understand what they are reading. If that means they need the simplicity of the NLT, then so be it. Or if a person’s particular tradition holds the King James Version is the one they will use, as long as they can understand the language, then let it be. We must leave room for each person to search out the translation they can best understand so they will spend time in the Word of God and grow in their walk with Christ.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please take a moment and respond with a short, or long if you desire, response.

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From → Church Idols

2 Comments
  1. Courtney permalink

    I just read this series backwards, and it has really made me think. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comments. I am glad this series has been helpful for you. I have an unusual Saturday post coming up as the last one for this week. And there will be future Church Idol posts.

      Again, thank you for your time to read and comment.

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