Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Let's Rewrite the Bible ... or Not.


"And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book" (Revelation 22:19)

I used to love preaching through entire books and chapters of the Bible. Why? I enjoyed it because it forced me to deal with difficult and unpopular texts.

By way of example, suppose you support and believe in the doctrine of Free Will. By preaching through the Bible, sooner or later you will be forced to dealing with some of the many texts that teach Predestination, often a stumbling block for many in the Free Will camp. The fact is, though, the Bible teaches both.

Or suppose you are a staunch supporter of a government’s military campaigns and related policies concerning weapons and their use. Preaching through the Bible by chapter and verse forces one to consider some of the many pacifist-type teachings of Jesus. Now what are we going to do with that?

Likewise, consider economics. Many today have no problem with a capitalistic approach to finances in which the rich get richer, and often by default, the poor get poorer. That’s all fine, except then Jesus comes along and says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). And then in other texts, Jesus actually gives us a responsibility to care for the less fortunate, even if it means selling our possessions to do so. Many of us quickly bypass Scriptures such as these because they make us uncomfortable. After all, as someone has joked, “he who dies with the most toys wins.”

Apparently, though, there is now another solution to dealing with uncomfortable texts; simply delete them.

That appears to be the route that a new Bible translation from the Netherlands has taken. While I haven’t personally looked at this translation, according to an article I just read in the Christian Examiner, a spokesman for the new translation said,
"Jesus was very inspiring for our inner health, but we don't need to take his naïve remarks about money seriously. He didn't study economics, obviously," and, 
"We don't use them anyway! There's no single Christian selling his possessions and giving them to the poor."
So, apparently the message then is that, if we don’t like something in the Bible, or if we choose not to use certain texts because they clash with our lifestyles and other dearly held beliefs, then it is perfectly OK to rewrite the Bible to suit your own accepted form of depravity (oops, did I say that out loud?). I mean, why not? If I do not “want” to help the poor, and prefer rather to simply care for my own self-interests, then I can either, grab a marker and cross out the verses I don’t like, or, I can rewrite the Bible to say what I’m comfortable with it saying. Makes sense, doesn’t it? (Yes, I’m being facetious).

But then again, maybe the new Bible’s translators are on to something. According to the same article,
"Many Christians accept the Western lifestyle, including the degradation of creation and the injustice of our trade, and they only take the easy parts of the gospel,” he said. But it isn't until we publish this gospel with holes, that they get confused!"
Hmm, a "gospel with holes." There is probably more truth there than we would like to admit. I guess the alternative would be that we rethink our lifestyles in light of what Jesus said. Maybe the alternative would be for us to "really" start to obey the one we call Lord. Hmm, how's that for a New Year's resolution? If nothing else, it would save everyone an awful lot of trouble deleting all those troublesome verses.

That's the way I see it anyways. Peace.

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1 comment:

  1. A very good discussion. If I would get rid of the parts of the Bible that I trip over, or those I fail to follow, I could probably print the remaining verses on a match book.

    I suspect that God would rather we fail trying, then fail to try.

    Thanks for sharing, Will.

    ReplyDelete