Archive for January 15, 2022

Discerning a Change

Posted: January 15, 2022 in Uncategorized

In this new year, I have found a new hunger for God’s Word. As a pastor, I better explain that. I love the Word of God and I spend a fair amount of time in it, but I have to admit, lately I have been experiencing some real frustration. You see I became a Christian at the age of 22 in 1986. When I was baptized, I was given a copy of a new translation of the Bible, the 1984 New International Version. I loved it’s plain spoken approach with simple language so I could understand what I was reading, plus my pastor preached from it and so I could follow along. I owe a lot of my growth in biblical knowledge to the NIV and since I went into ministry it has been my translation of choice. Then along came 2011 when the people who put the NIV together, decided it was time for a revision. I was pretty much frustrated from the get go. All of the sudden passages that I had committed to memory were different in my Bible. Not only that but the publishers went “scorched earth” on the old translation, making it virtually impossible to find. I didn’t really like the new one, and I couldn’t get a hold of the old one.

It wasn’t the inclusive language that bothered me. While I believe with all my heart that women are smart enough to understand that man includes them and “and sisters” was implied when the Bible said “brothers” but I was okay with brothers and sisters being added. What was bothering me was missing verses and missing words. I know what they say, “Older more reliable manuscripts do not include this text” or something to that effect. This has always bothered me because the implication is God is not big enough to protect his word and that the Lord somehow needs our help to get His message right. For example, this week I was getting ready to preach on Matthew 18 where Jesus is teaching on conflict resolution, and when I dug into the verse, one I had memorized a long time ago, I realized two words were missing and those two words change the entire context.

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Sounds pretty reasonable, but the missing words are “against you.”   Read it again. “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” The whole message of the verse is changed by those two words. The new version seems to want to put us in the place of judgmental hall monitors calling out everyone on their sin. I’m being a little facetious there and I do know that there is room for “iron sharpening iron” and calling people own their sins, but the context of Jesus’ message, is about what to do when you’ve been hurt by someone else, specifically in the church, and how to renew the relationship. It’s an urgent message for the church and one that does not need to be watered down.

This is just one of many frustrations and I’ve decided it’s time for a change, so this year I purchased a new Bible from a new translation, the ESV, and so far it’s been a breath of fresh air. It’s exciting to read God’s Word without the frustrations I’d been experiencing. I am not going to make it my new preaching Bible yet, as I feel I need to read the whole thing first, and prayerfully discern whether or not this is what the Lord is leading me to do. So far it’s a great read, and much closer to the Bible I’ve read and studied most of my life, than the Bible I’ve read and studied my whole life had become. There is one thing I have said for years. We are not supposed to change the Bible, the Bible is supposed to change us.

Stay tuned.