A very helpful overview of Bible translations

This presentation is one of the most helpful explorations of the complexities surrounding Bible translation. It focuses especially on comparing various modern translations, and shows arriving at a ‘word for word’ translation is not only virtually impossible, it’s also not necessary.

Do yourself a favour and take the time to watch this video:

 

Some helpful thoughts on Bible translations

Bible on a Wooden Table

In the church, there are a number of topics that seem to generate varying levels of controversy. Whether it’s the type of music you sing/play, how often you celebrate the Lord’s Supper or your view on creation/evolution, there’s no shortage of topics which garner a range of (often emotional) reactions.

One such topic is what Bible version should be used in the church. When it comes to different kinds of Bibles, options – often expressed as acronyms – abound. Do you like the NASB, NJB, ESV, RSV, NIV, NIrV, GNT, ASV, CSB, CEV, NEB, KJV, NLT, NRSV, NKJV, TLB, NCV, AMP, or “the Message” Bible? There are many options, and the English-speaking world is truly blessed to have so much to choose from.

Many Christians who read their Bible regularly (admittedly, a minority of Christians today) feel a strong attachment to the wording and tone of a particular translation. This means any discussion of what Bible translation is best to use in the church will be caught up in a web of opinions, feelings and experiences. One of the key sticking points is whether you should use a more “literal” (word-for-word) translation or a more free-flowing translation that offers “thought-for-thought” translation. Or should you use something in between these two options?

One impediment to having a clear-thinking, robust discussion about this topic is the fact that almost nobody who holds an opinion about Bible translations actually knows much about the nature and process of translation. The videos below offer some useful information about Bible translation/s. I hope you can spend a little time looking at them.

Here’s a short presentation by Mark Strauss, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary, in the U.S.:

Bill Mounce, an expert in Biblical Greek, addresses the word “literal” that comes up all the time in these discussions:

Our church uses the NIV translation, which is carefully translated from the original languages, often seeking to convey the intended meaning of the Greek and Hebrew – particularly where a phrase might be unclear to our modern ears. In our post-Christian Australian context (where Biblical illiteracy is a pandemic), the simplicity and clarity of the NIV is very helpful. In this next video, Bill Mounce addresses the reason why the NIV has been updated over the years:

If you have a little bit more time, watch this video where the NIV’s Committee on Bible Translation answers numerous questions:

Whatever you think about Bible translation our hope is that you read, study, memorise, and believe the translation of your preference! The world and the church need a growing number of Christians who know their Bibles!

Blessings

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Ecclesiastes

At church we’re looking through the fascinating Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. In this video, Paul Tripp makes some helpful connections between the life issues raised in Ecclesiastes and the gospel. Worth a few minutes of your time:

 

Some resources for thinking through transgender-related issues

Legs with gender symbol on asphalt, gender concept

The following links and resources outline some conservative Christian approaches to transgenderism and gender identity issues (GII). If you’re a Christian or a curious open-minded person, you might find these links helpful. These links express the opinions of the authors/speakers only, and are provided to stimulate further thinking in these areas.

  1. What should be our approach to people who experience GII? This article suggests we need to hold firmly to the objective truth of God’s word, while relating graciously and carefully. While this article is focused on women who internally feel like men, it applies both ways.
  2. This article takes a firmer view, seeing the wider cultural acceptance of transgender ideology as a deliberate undermining of God’s good order for relationships and sexuality.
  3. There are plenty of thought-provoking articles on the gender-related topics at the “The Gospel Coalition” website (USA). Find them all here. I think you’ll especially find this compassionate, personal article by Sam Allberry helpful.
  4. This book, simply entitled “Transgender”, is a helpful and clear Christian introduction to this topic. It’s a short book, affordable, and a good one for giving away to other Christians.
  5.  An interesting quote from a psychiatrist about the scientific facts concerning gender confusion. He says “you don’t fix unhappiness with surgery.”
  6.  Here is one website that is filled with very well-argued articles on a range of topics. It’s definitely worth checking out.
  7.  A prominent gay atheist says that transgenderism is a “lie”. Read it here.
  8.  This link suggests the modern ‘cult of gender’ is harmful to children.

I hope you have the chance to read the above links and, with an open Bible, are able to arrive at some clear conclusions about this subject. If nothing else, we should at least strive for two key things: compassion and conviction. We should maintain a gentle, listening posture towards those who experience concerns about their gender, while affirming the objective goodness of God’s created order and the reality of personal wholeness which is found only in Christ.

Matt

 

Things to Click (13)

Greetings. How are you? Good? Whatever your answer is, I hope your day gets “gooder” by clicking on some of the links below.

But let’s start with an appeal: if you’re a Christian, please try to read more. The church needs its members to uphold and defend a Christ-centred worldview. In these changing times it simply isn’t enough to let the minister and the elders hold the ground – it has to be the concern of every Christian. But it can’t happen if everyday Christians don’t know their Bible, or how the Bible applies to the cultural challenges of our day. That’s why at our church we do a bunch of things to try to encourage people to read more. Here are some of the ways we do this:

(a) We have a small but helpful church library where good evangelical/reformed resources are available to you free of charge.

(b) We have periodic book offers where a good Christian book is offered a significantly reduced price.

(c) We print a helpful monthly article which covers a relevant topic from a Christian perspective – we call this our Monthly Mind Matter. It’s available in the entryway of the main church building.

(d) We have this blog to help connect you with some good Christian resources and videos.

(e) We have 5 mid-week Bible study groups, called Home Groups, which meet to study the Bible and see how it applies to life.

(f) We encourage people to join together in 1-to-1 Bible reading prayers, and prayer triplets. These can be especially helpful for people who struggle to be part of a Home Group.

(g) We have a Twitter account that is chock full of thought-provoking quotes and links to articles.

(h) We promote good devotional apps for people to use on their phones.

So basically, we’re doing what we can get Christians reading their Bibles and also engaging with other reading that will stimulate them to think about what they believe, and why it matters.

For now, here are a couple of quick links for you to check out:

  1. The Western world needs a re-energised Christianity to survive. Here’s a really great article that I know you’re going to enjoy.
  2. Radical new abortion laws were recently passed in New South Wales. This blog post from Akos Balogh surveys the central issue in question.
  3. Reflections from an incident in Scotland where a student was disciplined for speaking his mind. It’s a lesson in the reason for, and dangers of, conformity.
  4. First Things is a top-shelf, academically rigorous source of reflection on religion, politics, and culture. Look around and you’ll find an abundance of deep thinking on a whole range of topics.

That’s all for now.

May your internet usage be a blessing to you, and bring glory to God.

Soli Deo gloria.

 

Matt

Some thoughts on sanctification

Sanctification is a fancy word used to describe what God has done – and is doing – in the life of a follower of Jesus. To understand it more fully there are two key aspects to consider.

Firstly, sanctification refers to a new reality in relation to God. To be ‘sanctified’ is a miraculous work of God where he takes a person who rejects him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, brings them into a real loving relationship with himself. The Holy Spirit sparks faith in a heart that has been wandering from God. When the Spirit moves, things change. The heart that was cold to God begins to beat. It comes alive. It becomes warm to God. This is saving faith that shows we now stand in a right relationship with God. And it’s not because we’re smart, or can grapple with religious concepts, but only because the rebellion we’ve engaged in has been fully dealt with by Jesus. Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t an accident. It was a sacrifice wherein Jesus took upon himself God’s rightful justice against us. In this sense we’ve been sanctified – literally, we’ve been ‘set apart for a special purpose by God. Taken from rebellion, and brought into a new reality. It’s a miracle. A gift. A relationship.

Here’s how Paul addresses the Christians in Corinth:

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours . . . (1 Corinthians 1:2; NIV)

Instead of a person being ‘out there’ running from God, rebelling, he brings them ‘in here’ – ‘in Christ Jesus’. They are set apart. Sanctified.

But the second sense of sanctification builds on the first, in that it refers to the process of how God changes us to become more like Christ. We have been set apart, not to be spiritual ornaments on God’s bookshelf, but active members of his worldwide family that proclaim to the world the reality and relevance of Jesus. Paul again . . .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . . (Romans 8:28-29a; NIV)

God wants us to become more like Jesus Christ – the Son of God who became a human to show humans what it means to be truly human! While the primary aspect of sanctification is its miraculous nature, this second emphasis points out that once we are in a new relationship with God, we have to be active in how we live for God. We have to get to work. We have to DO something. But what?

Theologians have pointed out that God gives us ‘means of grace’ to help us change. ‘Means of grace’ are things that God gives as resources or avenues of growth that we can make use of. These include daily prayer, regular reading of the Bible, meeting for corporate times of praise and encouragement, fellowship, worship, and other ways that connect us with a deeper understanding of who God is and what he’s done in Jesus.

growing

That’s why we encourage people to ‘go to church’ and pray, to read their Bibles, and to get involved with their church family. It’s because these are the means by which we grow.

As we read and pray and serve others, we seek to turn from rebellious self-focused ways. The more we do, the more clearly we see Christ. We see his majesty and his beauty. We see his love shown at the cross. And bit by bit, we grow. Here’s how C. S. Lewis put it in his novel Prince Caspian (note: Aslan is the lion-like character who represents Christ):

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.” “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?” “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”  – C. S. Lewis Prince Caspian

How big does Christ seem to you? And how does the new reality of being ‘in him’ show in how you live? How are you changing? What sins and bad habits are you confronting? What new heart-habits of love and service are you choosing?

If you’re a Christian, you’ve been sanctified by God. It’s a new reality. Now God calls us to see how satisfying Christ is. And to trust him, turn from laziness and sin, and to choose those things that grow us. That’s the process. He won’t do it for us. But he will help us on the way.

It’s time to become the people God has made us to be.

Pastor Matt