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Calvary members and regular attendees who missed the Family Talk can obtain a CD or DVD of it free of charge. Contact the church office or go to the Information Center in the church lobby. Additional copies can be ordered for the normal cost of sermon recordings.
Sunday evening, August 23, I presented a “Family Talk” to the dear people of Calvary Baptist Church of Simpsonville. I began with some observations from Ephesians 4:1-16 regarding how God uses pastors to lead the church in developing maturity (12-13, 14a, 15), unity (2-6, 13a), stability (14), and efficiency (16). Growth requires change. Good change is good, bad change is bad.
Certain things do not change (e.g., truth, doctrine, values). I as Pastor and we as a church are committed to remaining unchanged in our position and practice in these areas. At the same time, I believe that we should be eager for and embrace change that develops our maturity and enhances our efficiency in fulfilling Jesus Christ’s purpose for us. My calling and passion is to see us as a church fulfill our potential for the glory of God.
I endeavored Sunday to communicate as the shepherd of this flock, opening my heart, being transparent, and giving clear information. Here is a summary of what I shared:
I was asked a year and a half ago at our deacon retreat whether I would consider introducing the use of a current English Bible translation at Calvary. Since that time I have had numerous discussions with the pastoral staff, deacons, Extended Leadership Team, and other individuals and groups about this issue. I have prayed for wisdom from above and clear direction to know whether this is something we should consider. The conclusion I have reached is that I want to “open the conversation” with the church family so that we can discuss it freely and discern God’s direction for us as a church on this matter. I realize this issue is highly controversial, potentially volatile, and intensely personal for many people. Christians have the right to determine for themselves and their families what they will do. Every local church has this right and responsibility also. It is a personal issue, a family issue, and a local church issue.
I recognize there are dear Christians who have a strong attachment to the text we have traditionally used at Calvary, the King James Version. Reasons for this love and loyalty to the KJV may include comfort and familiarity from many years of reading, study, and memorization; appreciation for its beautiful, reverential language; belief that it is the “Bible of Fundamentalism” or the “Bible God uses;” conclusions about the manuscripts and texts that form the basis for translation; belief that the Word of God is preserved in only one English translation; and other deeply personal and strongly held opinions and convictions. I respect each individual Christian’s right to develop his or her own position on what Bible translation to use.
Our constituency also includes numerous people who use a current English translation of the Bible for their personal reading and study as well as when attending church and Bible studies. There are many among the children, teens, and young adults in our church to whom much of the language spoken and written in 1611 in Britain is foreign. There are people in our community, of whom we are commissioned to make disciples, who will not comprehend the meaning of the truth of Scripture if they cannot read it in their spoken language.
I have decided to “open the conversation” with our church family in order to discern whether we should consider recognizing and potentially using a current English Bible translation to some degree in our ministry. There are three reasons I am doing this:
- God’s Word never changes, but language does.
- People should have access to God’s Word in the clearest, most accurate form possible.
- The use of a current English Bible translation could enable us to fulfill our vision of outreach to all people within our region of influence and even greater fellowship around the Word of God.
I am not making a case for change. I am explaining why I am open to considering it. From my heart, I want what is best for Calvary, and am passionate about leading our church to fulfill our potential for the glory of God.
It is my desire for us to walk together through this as a church family. Here is what I am asking of you as we proceed.
- Pray for God to lead our church. Spend time alone, as families, in classes, and anytime you can asking God to direct me, our leadership, and our ministry.
- Attend and listen as we finish my message series on The Eternally Enduring Word Sunday evenings, September 6, 13, and 27. My stated purposes for this series are: to strengthen our faith in God’s Word, to encourage interaction with God’s Word, and to equip for discernment regarding God’s Word. My final messages will include topics related to the manuscript basis for English translations, the history of the Bible in English, the translations in use today, and how to personally benefit from your reading and study of God’s Word.
- Interact with me through email, conversations, question and answer meetings, and a survey that we will make available. More information about these avenues of discussion will be provided later this week and Sunday.
- “Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We are a family of believers, and we will engage in gracious discussion, be respectful of one another when we disagree, and remain Holy Spirit-controlled, not allowing a contentious spirit in any form.
- Determine that we can all be transparent and direct as we communicate with one another.
- I suggest that you read from one or more of the following current English Bible translations: New King James Version, New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version. This link will take you to a site where you can pull up passages from all three translations. (James 1 is already loaded). For ease of reading, you can turn off the footnotes and cross-references in the text by going to Preferences and hiding them. Make sure you save your preferences at the bottom of the page. I encourage you to read select passages, for example, the first chapter of Genesis, Psalms 1-3, John 3, Romans 5-6, and James 1.These three are, in my estimation, the clearest and most accurate and readable current English Bible translations. If we determine that Calvary should accommodate the use of a current translation, it would likely be one of these three. It will help you to experience the language and flow of one of these translations so that you can better evaluate and discuss the issue. I would also encourage you to read the preface of each (see links at end of post), which will explain the philosophy and methods of translation.
- Commit to walking through this together as a church family.
My calling and passion is to clearly communicate the Word of God in order to nourish and strengthen believers and expose unbelievers to the gospel of Jesus Christ so they can believe and be saved. Nehemiah 8:8 describes the model for Bible preaching: So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
The men who translated the King James Version faced opposition for producing a new translation. They wrote a lengthy preface defending their work. In it, they stated the following:
But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknowen tongue? as it is written, Except I know the power of the voyce, I shall be to him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shall be a Barbarian to me. The Apostle excepteth no tongue, not Hebrewe the ancientest, not Greeke the most copious, not Latine the finest. Nature taught a naturall man to confesse, that all of us in those tongues which wee doe not understand, are plainely deafe; wee may turne the deafe eare unto them. The Scythian counted the Athenian, whom he did not understand, barbarous: so the Romane did the Syrian, and the Jew, (even S. Jerome himselfe calleth the Hebrew tongue barbarous, belike because it was strange to so many) so the Emperour of Constantinople calleth the Latine tongue, barbarous, though Pope Nicolas do storme at it: so the Jewes long before Christ, called all other nations, Lognazim, which is little better then barbarous. Therefore as one complaineth, that alwayes in the Senate of Rome, there was one or other that called for an interpreter: so lest the Church be driven to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in a readinesse. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtaine, that we may looke into the most Holy place; that remooveth the cover of the well, that wee may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which meanes the flockes of Laban were watered. Indeede without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacobs well (which was deepe) without a bucket or some thing to draw with: or as that person mentioned by Esau, to whom when a sealed booke was delivered, with this motion, Reade this, I pray thee, hee was faine to make this answere, I cannot, for it is sealed.
Emphasis added. You can read the full preface here. You can also find it in updated English 🙂 at other sites.
Their word “vulgar” meant “common, generally used, vernacular” [an example of how language changes!]. Their goal was to put the Scriptures into the commonly spoken language of the people. If Calvary considers using a current English Bible translation, it will be to accomplish this same worthy purpose.
May God help us to discern how to best clearly convey God’s Word to the people of God as well as those who need Him.