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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Divorce and Remarriage II: When is Divorce Permitted?

(continued from here)

Considering the value of marriage, we know that death breaks the bond. Besides this, are there any other ways that the marriage bond can be broken? There are essentially three views on this – no, yes, but limited, and yes, but limited in name only.

1) No. This view is based primarily upon exegetical variations of the exception clause presented by Jesus in Matthew 19 (and similarly taught in Matthew 5)

“And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (ESV)

The Greek word for “sexual immorality” here is porneia, a word with a broad range of English words that it includes, all of which are aberrant or immoral sexual behaviors, such as incest, adultery, etc. Because other Greek words are used to refer to adultery specifically, some see this reference as a prohibition to incestuous marriages, not an exception clause.

Added to the Greek exegesis argument is the use of a preposition we would consider woefully inexact: epi. In the dative case, as it is used here, it can mean “only” or “including”. Thus, proponent of the no divorce argument would say that what Jesus says is not what every English translation reads, but instead: “whoever divorces his wife, not only for cases of sexual immorality (but for all reasons), commits adultery.” This reading would obviously support an “all divorce = sin” view. Of course, out of over 200 Bible translations, none read this way, so we can probably consider their exegesis faulty.

2) Yes, but limited. This represents the views of many in the West, who hold that divorce is ok, but only for certain reasons. For this view to be truly limited, the reasons must also be limited. They include adultery, physical abuse to the spouse or children, drug addiction, and abandonment. The reasoning varies, but is either the exception clause here in Matthew 19, common social perceptions, or a combination of both. Honestly, the view is really only a two-exception clause, with sexual immorality and danger to the family as the only reasons.

3) Limited in name only. Once one gets beyond sexual immorality and danger to the family for reasons for divorce, there really are no limitations. Reasons such as emotional abuse, mental abuse, financial insolvency, irreconcilable differences, etc all really can mean, “It’s not as fun as I thought it would be”. Is there real emotional and mental abuse? Certainly – but those who hold that these will be ground for a possible divorce of their own will justify “she’s not meeting my needs” or “he’s always crushing my dreams” as some kind of non-physical abuse.

This last category has no Biblical justification. Honestly, I don’t know how people who claim to be Christians can hold this view.

However, as interesting as the distinctions may be (and feel free to comment on them and my appraisal), the real issue for most is not, “Can a person get divorced”, but, “can a person remarry?” I feel that is the most interesting question, because for some, the two questions are in exact accord. For others, they are definitely not. Most Southern Baptist congregations will not reject a prospective pastor if he is divorced, but they will if he is remarried!

The next part of the series, “Can A Christian Remarry?” will address these differing views and attempt to present them even-handedly. While I have come to a conclusion while studying for this series, I recognize my own inherent subjectivity, and find the arguments that are not in agreement with mine to be somewhat compelling as well.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Divorce and Remarriage: What Makes and Breaks a Marriage (Conclusion)

Clearly, marriage is something special that makes people, on the whole, better than they are without it. We must ask ourselves, why is there such a high divorce rate in the US?

I believe it is because the special, sacred nature of marriage is largely ignored prior to the wedding. I would wholeheartedly agree that many of the couples who were married and get divorced, “made a mistake”, just as they often say. Why did they make this mistake? Because they did not consider the marriage unbreakable from the start.

Simply put, if two human beings commit themselves to a lifetime of marriage, with no room for divorce, the marriage will work. The person initiating the divorce often says, “I have only two choices: get divorced or stay miserable the rest of my life.” This is a false dilemma, intentionally ignoring the option of “get happy – work it out”. In short, if quitting is an option, human beings will quit.

Ironically, when individuals who rated their marriages as “bad” or “very bad” are surveyed five years later, of those who stayed married 80% rated their marriages as “good” or “very good!” Of those who divorced, over half rated their personal happiness as “fair” or “poor!”. Divorce is not only the only option other than “stay miserable” - it is often the option that is most likely to lead to continuing misery. Some couples divorce because they think that a strained marriage hurts children, However, one landmark study revealed that 90 percent of children from divorced homes suffered from an acute sense of shock when the separation occurred, including profound grieving and irrational fears. Fifty percent reported feeling rejected and abandoned, and indeed, half of the fathers never came to see their children three years after the divorce. One-third of the boys and girls feared abandonment by the remaining parent, and 66 percent experienced yearning for the absent parent with an intensity that researchers described as overwhelming. Most significant, 37 percent of the children were even more unhappy and dissatisfied five years after the divorce than they had been at 18 months. In other words, time did not heal their wounds.

Why is this? In nearly every case, the married couple becomes unhappy due to selfishness on the case of one or both of the partners. That is why second and third marriages fail at even higher rates than first marriages. The problems in the first marriage are attributed to the other partner, and the self-correction needed (and forced when divorce is not an option) never happens.

God knows how lazy and selfish humans are – that’s why he hates divorce. Not only is it a failing of the sinful man, but it negatively impacts not only the other spouse, but especially the children.

In her landmark study, “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce”, Dr. Judith Wallerstein follows children for 25 years, observing those whose parents divorced and those who didn’t. The results are disturbing: children of divorce were negatively affected well into adulthood, and had much greater difficulty in establishing trusting romantic relationships that lasted. Divorce hurts families. Surely this is one of the reasons why God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

The failure of our society to embrace this hatred for divorce is because we do not start with the regard for marriage that would lead to a hatred of divorce. A marriage lightly regarded is a marriage lightly dissolved. Until we, as a society, regain a regard for marriage that is found in Asia, Latin America and Africa, our divorce troubles will continue. Unfortunately, this type of progress only occurs with massive societal upheavals, and is unlikely.

Next: When is Divorce Permitted? (I hope to have it up today)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Tolerance is a virtue - for those who have no convictions." G.K. Chesterton

To judge another religious group to be false can seem a pompous undertaking, especially in a culture that preaches tolerance for everything. Tolerance is the banner that unites much of our culture, and anyone who points a judging finger at someone or something is often ridiculed.

But Christians are told in the Bible to separate themselves from the sinful practices of man and to expose error. A distinction has to be made between Christians and those who label themselves as such who clearly are not. God’s word tells us to examine all things and hold fast to that which is true (1 Thessalonians 5:21), so we do.

How can we then examine without judging what is right and wrong? Jesus judged the Pharisees as hypocrites. Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira as liars. (Acts 5:3,4) Paul judged the Galatians as fools (Galatians 3:1).

Something can be said to be right or wrong because the Bible has laid out before us a moral and doctrinal standard that is clear. It is wrong to lie, so we are able to say to someone who lies, “what you are doing is wrong.” That is making a judgment. Of course, a Christian already realizes they are sinners saved by grace (recognizes the log in their own eye first), and is therefore not perfect. But, that doesn’t mean that we should have an ‘anything goes’ attitude for fear of being seen as “judgmental” and ignore sin when we see it.

Christians are commanded to be able to give answers to everyone and to contend for the faith. If we do not fight for the faith, the faith will be lost. If we do not expose the errors of false "Christians" and cults, then the cults and false teachers will move unchecked in the world and lead even more people into eternal destruction.

To make a judgment means we must recognize that there are absolutes. In a world that worships relativism, absolutes are not welcome and the cults that espouse their demonic doctrines beg tolerance.

The true Church stands for the truth of God’s Word, not a compromising collection of beliefs that changes as people’s whims change. The false religions are false because they deny the true God, add works to salvation, and corrupt a multitude of biblical truths. Their end and the end of all who follow them is damnation. To do anything other than warn people about them would be unloving.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Divorce and Remarriage: What Makes and Breaks a Marriage?

(Continued from here)

The issue in the possibility of divorce is not whether divorce happens, but whether the marriage bond can truly be broken. To examine this, we must not only look at the Scriptural guidelines regarding divorce, but those regarding marriage. The primary marriage passages must be Genesis 2:18-25, especially verse 24, and Matthew 19:4-6. (While the continuing verses in Matthew are relevant to the overall question of Divorce and Remarriage, they are not to this initial question. We will address them later.)

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Matthew 19:3-6 “He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

What is the “therefore” of Genesis 2? The therefore is the creation of the institution of marriage between man and woman by God, for the purpose of making both better for their created purposes. A man will leave (the Hebrew is strong, like ‘totally abandon’) his parents because God has set aside for him a wife who makes him better. The converse is true for the woman – therefore, she must do the same, because there is set aside for her a man who makes her better.

What is, “They shall become one flesh”? Of course the sexual act is implied and part of it, but it is far greater than that. This is evident in our society, which is plagued with live-in sexual relationships. These couples are almost TWICE as likely to divorce than those who do not live together first, and married couples have lower rates of domestic violence, child abuse, relationship dissatisfaction and unhappiness than those couples who are merely living together. Lastly, the rate of those who remain together for the rest of their lives is no comparison. When we compare the married and the unmarried, one group is clearly more of one flesh than the other.

So how is it that this special, ordained bond can become broken? Well, we know it can be broken by death. There are no married couples in heaven (cf. Matt. 22:24-30), and on both the OT and the NT we find expectations that younger widows will remarry. Yet, the question is still present asked by those who were testing Christ in Matthew 19, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?”

If our answer to this is based upon current cultural norms, the answer is obviously yes. In all 50 states a marriage can be dissolved at the insistence of only one member, with no reason beyond their desire to divorce required. In some states, it is easier to divorce than to get out of a contract with a lawn mowing company!

Jesus emphasizes later in the passage that the state of divorce, even in the first century, was not what God intended. In fact, the Lord makes it quite evident what he thinks of the dissolution of families in Malachi,

You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth… For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that he hates divorce.”

What is clear is that the view of God, revealed through the Scriptures, is that marriage is a bond of value well above what we put it, and that the dissolution of that bond requires something as drastic as death. Psychological studies have shown that divorce is as equal a stressor on a person and family as the death of a family member!

How do we reconcile the Scriptural view of marriage and divorce with the view of society? (I intend to discuss the “exception clauses” in Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 in the following post, but as they are specifically exceptions, I’d prefer to focus this discuss upon the value of marriage and the strength of its bond when we compare the Scriptures and society, and why there is a difference.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

False Converts

I had been planning for some time to write about false converts, but due to some recent issues, I feel more compelled than ever to share my concerns. My intent here is not to single out any one denomination or judge any group of persons, but to warn and remind those of us who call ourselves Christians to “examine yourself, to see whether you are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) I realize that as I speak out about the issues that God clearly defines as sin, I will be seen as intolerant and judgmental and I will offend some. I am seeking to please God, and oftentimes that will not please men: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) I will attempt to speak the truth in love, but the reality is that the truth IS offensive to those who walk in darkness. True Christians are not only called to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but to instead EXPOSE them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

I am deeply troubled by some recent websites I visited from a link on a blog site of an ordained pastor. These websites promote and support homosexual marriage, “progressive” Christianity and moral relativism and portray a false image of God. One cannot be a true Christian and call good the things that God calls sin. (Isaiah 5:20) “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” A false convert “claims to know God, but by their actions deny him.” (Titus 1:16) My purpose is not to point a finger because I am certainly not without sin myself, but to be sure that no one is deceived into thinking that all religious people are really genuine Christians. There are many self-proclaimed Christians, even pastors, who will have elements of Christianity, but are not saved because they lack true contrition (sorrow) for their sin. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”(Colossians 2:8) Don’t be led astray by false teachings! We must read the Bible ourselves daily to know and understand what it says so we will not believe a lie and can recognize false teachings when we hear them!

A true Christian will believe in the inerrancy of the Bible- that is, that every word of it is true and unchanging. There is no such thing as “progressive Christianity”!! God’s Word does not evolve to fit our agenda. It is timeless and still as applicable today as it was when it was written. We cannot pick and choose which verses we like and which ones “no longer apply” to current times. To preach only a God of love and not warn sinners of God’s wrath for sin and the punishment of hell for those who choose not to repent are not preaching what Jesus taught- the narrow path to salvation. (see Matthew 7:14)

Let me preface this with telling you that I am not homophobic, nor do I hate homosexuals. I have a gay brother, a gay uncle and a gay cousin, and I love them dearly. I might even be able to justify their lifestyle by telling you that it “runs in the family”. It does to some extent, because we are all born with a sinful nature! Loving them means that I don’t tell them that their sin is acceptable, but just like with any other sin, they are damned to hell if they refuse to turn from it and trust in Jesus. They need to be taken through God’s Law and shown their sinfulness even despite their sexual tendencies, “for the law is not laid down for the just, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for …men who practice homosexuality.” (1 Timothy 1:9-10) Yes, come to Jesus just as you are, but don’t stay that way! By the power of God’s Spirit, not of their own strength, they too can change. Let me clarify what the Bible says about homosexuality, to name a few:

Leviticus 18:22 - You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Leviticus 20:13 - If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death.

1Corinthians 6:9 - Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…will inherit the kingdom of God.

And as for transvestites:

Deuteronomy 22:5 - A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

It is very clear! Homosexuality, while no greater a sin than others, is an abomination, and those who continue to practice the lifestyle will NOT inherit the kingdom of God. To preach anything but these truths is a lie! “There are some who…want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if…an angel from heaven (or a “Christian” minister or great religious preacher, for that matter!) should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1: 7-8)

Yes, we are to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, but “love” does not just mean to wrap our arms around them and tell them God loves them, but to tell them what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear: that God’s wrath is upon them if they don’t repent and turn away from their sin. For a so-called Christian to embrace what God abhors is an outright defiance and rejection of His Word. The Bible portrays marriage as symbolic to the church, and to promote homosexual marriage as equal to the God ordained marriage of a man and a woman is to make a mockery of Christ and His Church.

The issue here is not debating whether or not homosexuality is a sin- the Bible says that it is. The issue is that professing Christians are saying that it is not by their acceptance and embracing and even promoting of the GLBT agenda. “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32) These “Christians” obviously do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and instead of calling sin for what it is, they seek to justify it to be praised among men. (James 4:4b) states “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” They have created a god in their mind (idolatry) that they are more comfortable with who will overlook their sin and they have no fear of God. False converts say they have fellowship with God, but walk in darkness- they lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6) Whoever says “I know God” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. This doesn’t mean that a Christian will never sin, but it does mean that he will acknowledge when he does and not make excuses for it.

Do not believe the claims that Christ is one who will Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us. There is no place for moral relativism in Christianity. Relativism is the position that all points of view are as valid as any other points of view and that the individual is the measure of what is true for that person. It is basically a justification to do whatever you want and because of this it is a contributor to overall anarchy. A Bible believing Christian knows that there are black and white truths and set standards of right and wrong, such as the Ten Commandments. Even sinners have a God given conscience to show them right from wrong. Society cannot flourish nor survive in an environment where everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6), where the situation determines actions and if the situation changes, lying or cheating is acceptable- as long as you’re not caught. Without a common foundation of truth and absolutes, our culture will become weak and fragmented. For any “Christian” group to say otherwise is heresy - a false preaching about God.

A true convert has a knowledge of sin (his own personal sin and agrees with what the Bible says is sin) and has Godly sorrow, truly repents, and produces the things that accompany salvation (Hebrews 6:9). This conversion is evident in his or her life by the fruit of the Spirit and the good works it produces. This is not to say that everyone who does good works is therefore a Christian. Jesus told us we would recognize false converts by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20) The fruits of the “Christians” on these websites are abominable because they are calling good what God has called evil. They are justifying sin with moral relativism. Are you guilty of preaching a gospel that reaps false converts? Are YOU a false convert yourself?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Sometimes we need a reminder:

Jesus came to bring life to those who needed life - not to bring help to those to need help, but so much more than that, to bring life to those who need life and to be that life and light in them.
-Louie Giglio, heard here.

He's good - check it out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Divorce and Remarriage: Introduction

Why would I want to blog about this?

1) It’s prevalent. With a divorce rate over 50%, it’s obviously all over. Self-identifying Christians do not have a significantly lower divorce rate.
2) It’s important. Divorce and remarriage affect families, the most important human institutions. Such issues cannot be left unaddressed.
3) It’s polarizing. I love a good discussion, and this one will be structured to encourage comments. I honestly want to know what people think, and more importantly, why they think it.
4) It steps to my next series on Biblical authority. You’ll see how it does!
5) It’s personal. Neither I nor Mrs. Hammer have escaped this issue. It’s not only meaningful in the abstract, or meaningful to society at large, but it's meaningful to us.

There are two main parts to the series – the first will address the Biblical mandates and guidance for divorce and remarriage, the second the relation of this to church leadership. Each main point will have two to three sub-posts within it. The primary references will be the Bible for guidance and social and psychological research for evidence of the truth of the guidance. I intend to present some Biblical texts, my understanding of those texts, and ask what and why others think. I will follow that with a summary of the points presented and a conclusion for it.

I am looking forward to the discussion. Some of us have family members and friends who are going through marriage, divorce and remarriage as we speak. Their views can certainly be helpful – and perhaps our views will be to them, as well.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Books, July Edition

I have recently completed two books - here are the reviews:

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The Power of Christ's Second Coming, by Charles Spurgeon

This collection of sermons by Spurgeon about the second coming is a doctrinal, hermenuetical, and homilitical masterpiece. Spurgeon's theology is clearly end-times related. Many claim they read Spurgeon, but to read him at all and not to be gripped by the need for evangelism, the reality of eternal hell, and our heart for those who are without Christ seems to be dissonant. Spurgeon's texts are textually sound, but I felt I could actually hear his preaching at certain points. A great read for those looking to understand the importance of the Second Coming and anyone who seeks to deepen their witness.

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Exodus: Why Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity, by David Shiflett

Perhaps the greatest reason for considering this book is the author. David Shiflett describes himself as essentially an agnostic, who occasionally darkens the door of a Presbyterian church. As such, Shiflett doesn't have a dog in the theological fight. Through interviews with priests, pastors, laity, and converts of all types, Shiflett is able to identify perhaps the biggest difference between the hemmoraging mainline Protestant denominations and their more conservative counterparts: Biblical fidelity. By forsaking the Bible as the source of doctrine in an effort to become more culturally relevant, the liberal churches have nothing to offer people that they can't find on Oprah or at the local non-profit organization. On the way, they have abandoned the Great Commission in a quest to become inclusive. This leads the mainlines to lack what many people find attractive about church in the first place - the opportunity for individuals to become part of something bigger than themselves. With no evangelism to bring people to Christ, and no sense of purpose in ministry to attract seekers, the mainlines are dying off. Check it out for an analysis from an outsider.

I'm currently reading "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and "Ready for Reformation" by Thomas Nettles. Although I am only halfway through "Life Together", I get the same impression I did from Spurgeon: many who say they read Bonhoeffer obviously don't.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bible Translations: Language and Conclusion

The last consideration for your Bible translation is the language. While significantly less important, I believe, than translation philosophy, textual philosophy, or denominational influences, it is still important, as will be evident in my conclusion.

Translations are more or less difficult to read, and this can be estimated using a grade-scale measure. Here are the grade level ratings of some of the most popular Bibles:

KJV: 12
NASB: 11
NAB: 6.6
ESV: 8
NLT: 6.3
The Message: 4.8
CEV: 5.4
Good News: 6
NIV 7.8
NRSV: 10.4
New Jerusalem: 7.4

Perhaps the most surprising to me is the ESV. All of the other word-for-word (formal equivalence) translations are above the 10th grade level, yet the ESV manages to stay at essentially the same reading level as the NIV, which is lauded for its readability.

The KJV has unique challenges because of its seventeenth century language. Examples of them are “sick of the palsy” (Mk 2:3), “thou hast possessed my reins” (Psalm 139:13), “not in chambering and wantonness” (Rom 13:13), “Isaac was sporting with his wife” (Gen 26:8), “by his neesings a light doth shine” (Job 41:18), and “when divers were hardened” (Acts 19:9).

I discount the often heard phrase “I just don’t get the thees and thous”, because we all know they mean “you”. What most don’t know is why they mean “you”. Some think they are references to deity, since the RSV used them that way, and others have no idea. They are there, actually, for clarification! “Thou” is a singular “you” as the subject or predicate nominative of the clause. “Thee” is a singular “you” as a direct or indirect object or similar dative or accusative case. “Ye” is a plural “you” indicating a nominative case, with “you” a plural “you” in the dative or accusative. These are helpful because they show what the “you” refers to in the sentence, whereas in modern English we rely heavily upon word order, which is sometimes deceiving. These are useful for study, but make readability reduced.

So why is readability important? Because if you have difficulty understanding the book, you are less likely to read it! Thus, we come to my conclusion…

The best English Bible translation for you to purchase is…

The one you will use! It does no good to grab a KJV or NASB if it is too difficult for you to understand. It does no good to buy the Good News translation if you will be turned off by the apparent dumbing-down of the language.

Furthermore, it should be appropriate for your intended use. If you have never read the Bible, I would not oppose The Message…but if you intend serious Bible study, you should avoid paraphrases and dynamic equivalents, particularly those with strong theological slants, which disqualify The Message!

If you intend to present Bibles to unbelievers, one that is more readable should be your purchase. However, if you are already a Christian, buy a word-for-word translation, because a Christian WILL read and study their Bible. If you want someone’s theological interpretation, there are a host of resources for you to use to do so. Keep your knowledge of the Scriptures and your understanding of interpretation slightly apart, so that you can gauge the second by the first. “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 1 Tim 3:15-17

The Team Hammer top Bible choices? Combining translation philosophy, textual philosophy, denominational/theological influences and readability lead us to:

1) KJV
3) ESV

In all honesty, since I know the ESV and KJV can be purchased for $5 or less, there is no reason not to have both of those.

I hope this series was useful to some of you. If nothing else, I hope it made you think about the Bible you use and consider adding another, different translation to augment your study.

(This series began here)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bible Translations: Denominational Influences

While translation philosophy and textual philosophy are important factors in considering the purchase of an English Bible, another consideration is the denominational influences of the translators. To simplify the thought, a translation by a few translators of a single denomination is more likely to be doctrinally slanted than one by many translators of a wide range of denominations and theological positions.

This is especially true in any Dynamic Equivalence or Paraphrase translation, which leave the greatest room for modifications, but can also be true in a word-for-word translation, because some Greek and Hebrew words can have multiple English equivalents (though almost always those variants are in the same semantic domain).

While it would take much more room and time than you are willing to read to demonstrate how these denominational influences can affect the reading (though the first example in Translation Philosophy between the dynamic equivalence and paraphrase Bibles is a good example), I think it is useful to demonstrate the wide variety of translators and denominations used by some translations.

Note: Many translations will note not only the translators, but the “translation team”, which will include the “Advisory council” and “translation reviewers”. However, in the end, the translators, not advisors or reviewers, make the decision on what the words will be. The publisher’s own words are generally used to describe the translators’ affiliations.

King James Version: 47 (plus 7 for the Apocryphal books) for 54 – All Anglican…but as it was the only English-Speaking Church of the period this would not be an example of a denomination as we know it. There were significant dissenters in the Anglican Church, most notably the Puritans, whose theology was known by the translators. Conservative, evangelical.

New King James: 119 (includes all categories)– Trans-national, trans-denominational. Conservative, evangelical.

NASB: 54 – Trans-denominational, conservative.

ESV: 14 (over 100 total) - International and represents many denominations, shares a commitment to historic evangelical orthodoxy, and to the authority and sufficiency of the inerrant Scriptures. Includes J.I. Packer, Robert & William H. Mounce and Wayne Grudem.

NIV: 15 – International, trans-denominational. The National Association of Evangelicals, which includes most moderate-to-conservative denominations (not the Southern Baptists, though) represents the general denominational beliefs of these translators and associates.

Holman CSB: 13 (90 total) – Conservative & Evangelical. Has many SBC translators, but lacks the big SBC names.

NRSV: 30 - “has received the widest acclaim and broadest support from academics and church leaders of any modern English translation. It is the only Bible translation that is as widely ecumenical”. The NCCUSA is the denominational representative of this translation. They are, by any standards, “liberal”, including the PCUSA, ECUSA, UCC, and UMC.

Good News Translation/TEV: 7 – Denominational/ theological influences? Well, here are the words of one of the lead translators: “Only willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty can account for the claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible.... No truth-loving, God-respecting, Christ-honoring believer should be guilty of such heresy... No one seriously claims that all the words of the Bible are the very words of God. If someone does so it is only because that person is not willing thoroughly to explore its implications ... Even words spoken by Jesus in Aramaic in the thirties of the first century and preserved in writing in Greek 35 to 50 years later do not necessarily wield compelling or authentic authority over us today.” You make the call.

The Message: 1 – PCUSA. You can’t get much more slanted in any direction than one translator!

A truly “trans-denominational” translation is, well, absent. The KJV, being produced before denominationalism became prevalent, is the closest one can get. If you are concerned about denominational influences, it would be worthwhile to get more than one type to compare.