Enough with the English Bibles Already!

God, can You make up Your mind what You want to say?

Modern Christian scholarship has this “thing” for the commercialized mosaic that is the bible translation industry. God help us, 2011 has seen two more translations, the NIV 2011 (New International Version for 2011) and the CEV (Common English Translation). For once, we can make a decision and stick with it? The liberal mainline churches are adopting the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) as their standard text across denominational boundaries. If they can do it, why can’t the evangelical churches do it?

Now I am not a “fundamentalist,” in the loosest use of the word, and have no problem with technology and modern conveniences. However, the evangelical church has a humorous tumor that needs chemo. Whereas the liberals have abandoned committed faith for the cause of communism, the evangelical church has sold its soul for the cause of perpetual childhood, vis-à-vis happiness through choice.

The problem is that the plethora of bible translations cannot rightly be called the “Word of God.” When preachers and teachers make the claim that scripture is divinely originated, they make a claim in thin air. Humans, being the creatures of material existence that they are, tend to thrive on concrete examples for abstract concepts. In Christian orthodoxy, the claim of Jesus being the Son of God is an abstract identity verified by the concrete reality of His bodily resurrection. The Christians in the first century church would not have offered their lives solely for an idea or concept. They died for something they believed to be concrete, something they had handled and seen.

A preacher reading from the NIV can say his scripture is the word of God as can a preacher reading from the ESV or the CEV. However, given that the translations, in practical, everyday life, read differently from each other in terms of language, there is nothing of concrete substance to cling to. The “Word of God” ceases to be the written words on the page of the translation and becomes an invisible, intangible “idea” that the translations point to. This is fine for the Christian who lives in the perpetual abstract world of scholarly life, but for the Christian on the street, it is like trying to read invisible words written in the clouds. The translations themselves become disposable means to an end and ultimately lose all value. The Christian reads English bibles to find the word of God, not to actually read the word of God.

Let’s use a concrete example. In Jeremiah 29:11, in the English Standard Version, it reads, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. The word welfare is footnoted with an alternative translation with the word peace.  The NIV reads … plans to prosper you …

Now the words welfare peace and prosper all mean different things. If we are trying to understand what God may be saying to the Christian here and now, was God going to give to the Israelites welfare or peace or prosperity? Some might argue all of the above. Fine. That means, however, that all three translations are themselves not the “Word of God,” but merely point towards an abstract concept that we call the “Word of God.”

What word would we then use to describe a collection of welfare, peace and prosperity? The NLT uses the word good. But then the word good itself becomes added, meaning something different and the search for a new term to describe everything is underway, requiring a new translation to be marketed to the masses.

And on it goes.

In my frustration I return to the King James time and again. It is a 1796 revision of the 1611 text, but a revision is not the same as a whole new translation. The King James remains a fixed and unchanging point in the Christian faith. In Jeremiah 29:11, it reads For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. The word used here is peace. The preacher or teaching may expound on how peace may apply to the lives of Christians, including welfare and good, but the word peace is the “word of God.” Any other word, such as welfare or good is not. There does not need to be a discussion on what other translations are possible because the translation has been done and the word is peace. This provides a concrete source of Christian faith and practice, something tangible to be handled and trusted. Pulpits in various denominations can all say that the word of God says, peace.

Another issue is that with the churches centered on a single translation, the culture then becomes influenced by the words of the Bible, not vice versa. Reading the writings of Christians in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, one can see that their language was influenced by the King James Bible. While the culture did not directly speak the exact language of the text, it was influenced by it.

However, now the fixed point of language and definition is the university and scientific journals, forcing the scripture to adapt to the ever-changing world of secular thought. If the “Word of God” is not authoritative enough to dictate to the culture, and is dictated to, then it is the culture that will be trusted, not the “Word of God.”

For sure, I have a hard time calling the stacks of English Translations the “Word of God” and I would suspect that deep down many Christians harbor the same skepticism caused by a lack of a concrete and tangible text. Simply throwing a new translation on the heap will only add to the confusion. For me the “Word of God” seems like the great unknown, an abstract something that the piles of English translations are trying to point to.

It is not about having a bible handed down directly from God Himself, but rather about having a fixed point of authority that is clear in the minds of Christians. The flood of translations shows that scholars cannot make up their minds and gives the idea that perhaps God has become fickle and unsure of what He wants to say. The church says it trusts the “Word of God,” but is that cheap paperback version of yet another translation what it is talking about?

Until the church decides just what the “Word of God” is in concrete and practical terms by settling on a single and agreed upon translation, I will stick with the King James and trust, by faith, that it is God’s word to a wanting world.

Update: After some consideration, I’m seriously considering adopting and endorsing the ESV as the standard translation for the evangelical church in hopes that the church can stop wasting time and money trying to reinvent the wheel with each new translation. Some stability is needed for the church’s future. Of course, I will have to endure accusations of ESV-Onlyism.

Hating The Man

Troy Davis was executed in Georgia last night for the shooting death of police officer Mark McPhail.

Lawrence Brewer was executed in Texas last night for the dragging death of James Byrd.

I feel as if I have to choose loyalties in a case like this. Troy and Byrd were black. McPhail and Brewer were white. Both crimes were heinous and deserving of the death penalty. That is not in dispute. But much more effort was put into trying to prove Davis’ innocence and extolling Byrd’s innocence.

I did not find many efforts to remember McPhail and practically nothing in defense of Brewer. Those who oppose the death penalty were avid defenders of Davis, but similar voices were silent at Brewer’s execution. Much was made of the suffering of the families of Davis and Byrd, but the McPhail family was not as well received. And I do not think anyone really gives a rat’s eye about the Brewer family.

As a “Christian” in the twenty-first century, I am supposed to join in the pro-black, anti-white compassionate cause for social justice. This liberal juggernaut has been successful in pushing its agenda with underdog blinders on, ignoring any possibility that crime and justice should be transcendent.

Even with all the court wrangling and various disruptions caused by Davis’ most intense supporters, he remained guilty in the eyes of the law, even with modern crime investigation, and despite liberal sympathies, met the death penalty for his crime. His being black was a foundational reason for the belief in his innocence.

Brewer also died for his heinous crime. His guilt, however, was based as much on his being white as the facts of the cruelty he inflicted. There was practically no protest against his execution. The important focus of the case was the fact that a black man was savagely killed by whites.

The way to fully understand the state of thing is to hypothetically reverse the racial makeup of those involved. Say a white man had shot a black cop and a white man had been dragged to death by blacks. How would the stories have played out? The black cop would most likely be a hero and there would be great sympathy for the black family whose son was going to be executed.

Then there is the unsung case of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. In 2007, five blacks carjacked this white couple and inflicted incredibly cruelty on them.  Christopher was sodomized with objects, beaten and finally shot several times. Channon was raped, sexually assaulted with objects, had corrosive chemicals poured down her throat and in her vagina before being bound and covered in plastic bags and left to suffocate. One of the five suspects received the death penalty. The news outlets buried the story and it was practically ignored and today more people know about the murder of James Byrd than the murder of Channon and Christopher.

One of the most effective propaganda tools liberals used in their overthrow of Western thought in American culture was the accusation that Western thought and religion was based on the supremacy of whites and men. The plight of African slaves became their postal child and their rise to power succeeded by pitting one ethnic group against another.

To this day, that emotional phenomenon infects and affects everything, from politics to entertainment. There is the undergirding idea that American whites carry a fundamental guilt for crimes that are no longer existent. Whenever blacks are victims of white criminals, it fits the emotional paradigm and is heralded as a teachable injustice. However, whenever whites are victims of black criminals, it is passed over and ignored because it would violate the paradigm of white guilt and black victimhood.

It is all a massive injustice to correct injustice. This paradigm of universal guilt for whites is hating hate, an impossible ideology.

The blood of those viciously murdered cries for justice and those who die for murdering their fellow man fulfill that justice. Though ethnic identity remains a practical reality, it cannot supersede the call of man to spare the lives of his neighbor.

Murder is murder.

Mission Impossible: Gay Marriage

Wired for marriage

One of the most profound phenomenons of the twenty-first century is open advocating for gay marriage. For the cause of marriage equality, homosexual couples are demanding the recognition and support by both state and community that is generally given to traditional, heterosexual marriage.

This would be a non-issue except for the reality that it is simply assumed homosexuals have the capacity to marry without asking what marriage as an institution entails in terms of sex. If there is gay marriage there is gay sex. A simple question of biology reveals that the concept of “gay marriage” is a practical impossibility.

If a same-sex couple goes through the religious and legal ceremonies or requirements for marriage, how do they consummate the marriage on their honeymoon? In a traditional understanding of marriage the couple, a man and a woman, would be expected to be chaste until after they went through the ceremony and then on their honeymoon, they would have their first conjugal experience. The man’s penis and the woman’s vagina are biologically and sexually compatible with each other. When they join, they are officially “married.”

Now take two men on their honeymoon. How are they are going to consummate their marriage? Since they both have penises, the only option is anal sex. Since the rectum is not a biological organ for sex, being designed for the expulsion of waste, the act is not marriage. It is sodomy. What about two women? The only viable option is some sort of artificial device, but then the women are not married to each other, but to the device.

Now in the discussion over gay marriage, the realities of homosexual sex is a taboo. Given that the past forty years were spent making heterosexual sex openly discussed and displayed, this unspoken prohibition on talking about homosexual sex is a blatant double standard.

There is, of course, a reason for the taboo. In the minds of gay marriage activists, marriage and sex are not the same. The emotional and legal joining of marriage is something completely different than the physical act of sex. People can have sex with numerous partners without ever being considered married and they can be married without having sex. The traditional view was that the woman a man had sex with was the woman he married. If he slept with numerous women, he was a polygamist, or in biblical parlance, an adulterer.

Another question reveals that homosexuals have double standards concerning marriage and sex. If marriage and sex are separate then why is a husband having sex with another woman who is not his wife still considered an injustice to the wife? He is religiously and legally married to the woman, but with marriage and sex being separate, there should be no requirement or expectation of sexual fidelity, only marital fidelity.

The reality is that gays cannot biologically marry one another. That impossibility is the real issue. To legalize gay marriage is to legally protect something that does not exist.

Posting Post 9/11

Smelling smoke in America

It is the day after the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It was an anniversary marked by all-day news coverage of memorial services in New York where the finished 9/11 memorial was unveiled. The President of the United States read the 46th Psalm and numerous people related to victims were interviewed.

Given the incredible push culturally to replace Christianity with materialistic philosophies, based on Darwin’s pet theories, the President reading the Psalm and the constant playing of the “Amazing Grace” came across as shallow political posturing and sentimental trinkets conjured for the emotions of the moment. So apparently we are a “Christian” nation when it is politically and culturally expedient.

What struck me were the messages by mainstream church leaders of forgiveness, of Americans forgiving those who carried out the attacks. But it was more than that. It was an insinuation that Americans were taking their vengeance out on innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. One minister compared the 9/11 attacks to the gunmen who killed Amish children, making the point that the Amish showed incredible forgiveness through their kindness towards the gunman’s family, setting an example for Americans towards 9/11. The whole day left me feeling pretty disillusioned.

The constant talk of forgiveness sounds like the religious message of pacifism common among liberal Christians. It is as if Americans should feel guilt for wanting justice for the violence visited on 9/11. The multicultural diversity of those who died in those towers is brought to mind time and again, along with the effort to draw some sort human link between the survivors and terrorists, hinting at some universal brotherhood that forgiveness is meant to heal. It wouldn’t surprise me if these church leaders viewed the situation as white people getting vengeance against non-whites, as if the military actions were racially motivated.

I have another word in mind when it comes to 9/11: repentance.

Maybe Americans need to repent of casually destroying marriage through divorce, killing our young in utero, and commercializing sacred scripture in the name of “the gospel.” Also, the church has become obsessed over praise and worship and the bigger the better. While it is good to praise God for His goodness (to remind the Christian of that goodness), this drive to deluge His altar with praise may be less out of gratitude and more out of fear. Christians look like they’re trying to incur God’s favor by presenting an ever larger offering of praise. It is as if God is a fickle and angry deity who needs to be won over by more and more praise, tithes, holiness, etc. Christians are treating their Father like a pagan god. And this after Christ died to rescue them from a pagan mind. Living for pleasure, killing the young, selling the sacred and then trying to win God over fit right into a pagan way of thinking.

At least the memorials in New York were really nice.

Next of Kin in Modern Christianity

The evolution of marriage in the church

We are all told that humankind is well on its way towards evolving past primitive modes of thought for understanding life on planet, including a creator, ethnicity and the roles of the sexes. There a brave new world where equality and diversity and the universal identity of humanity will finally usher in much desired peace and harmony.

Now I can expect liberals and moderates to evoke such utopian ideas, but the orthodox side of the church seems to have its own version of utopia. The Kingdom of God sought by Christians seems very similar to the utopia that Marxist thought hungers for, a world where all differences are eliminated, all supposed sources of conflict and violence are wiped away for the greater good.

Often quoted is Galatians 3:28: There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (NLT). This single declaration of uniformity and unity has been the banner cry for the church and it happens to fit nicely with the idea that ethnic, sexual and economic differences are the cause of evil in the world and their elimination would sow the seeds for heaven on earth.

Maybe this thinking is right. Maybe, in some way, God is moving on a global scale to put into place the pieces needed for His Kingdom at the Second Coming of Christ.

However, I am left dissatisfied. The liberal churches I can see accepting it, but the conservative churches are fractured and seem confused on what to do or teach on such issues. It is plainly obvious from other writings in the Christian holy text that ethnicity seems a reality of this world (Jews are still God’s people), that the sexes are different and that difference makes them unequal (husbands have authority over their wives), and that economic differences are a fact of life (Proverbs teaches that poverty is a sign of laziness). The conservative churches seems to have a problem with this.

I understand when liberals declare that scripture is errant and archaic and that Christianity is something more. However, when I hear conservative churches attempt to piece together a blend of orthodoxy and compromise, it comes off as confusion. For example, the conservative church will oft declare that there is no Jew or Gentile (no ethnicity) and yet claim that there is male and female (traditional marriage). They hold to scripture as a book carrying divine authority without error and yet they work to apologize for what scriptures holds. While liberals denounce “racism” and “sexism” in the Bible and society, conservatives try to denounce “racism” and “sexism” is society while claiming the Bible has neither. The conservative compass seems rather scrambled.

Also, ethnicity may be as important a part to marriage as sexual differences. The main purpose of marriage in the past was for the sake of procreation, to produce generations to follow and preserve a nation’s survival. The ethnicity of the parents and the children was a protected fact of life and marriage was part of that protection. Ethnic groups protected their respective cultures by having children. When families stop having children, the ethnic group begins to decline along with its culture.

In the modern church, there is no need to protect and preserve ethnicity through progeny, since ethnicity is abandoned for a transcendent identity, that of a “Christian.” Procreation is moved from the biological realm to the spiritual realm, where any child can be the progeny of any Christian parents through adoption. Instead of biological children, there are now “spiritual” children. Older Christians function as spiritual parents, nurturing and raising newer Christians who are spiritual children.

This sounds fine and does right injustice from the past, but it also eliminates the need for traditional marriage and family. Since all Christians are spiritual “kin,” brothers and sisters, biological marriage becomes impractical as single Christians are free to dedicate their time to service and evangelism. They do not need to get married in order to form biological families as spiritual ties supersede biological ties. Family is God and His children and conversion into the church the main method of producing progeny. There is no need for marriage or sex. Even the apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote, I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife (1 Corinthians 7:32-33 NLT). His only concession was that the pagan Corinthians turned Christian choose one marriage partner to have sex with, but celibacy was celebrated and encouraged, even within marriage.

With ethnicity eliminated and sexual differences homogenized into a common Christian identity there only remains economic differences and working to make sure no one in the church is either poor or rich. In fact, this state of affairs seems eerily similar to what the early church attempted right after the ascension of Christ.

Again, maybe I’m just not with the Jesus grand slam program to have a unified kingdom. Maybe, atheistic communism is closer to the biblical kingdom of God than I think. Then again, maybe the church is ignoring the practical realities of life here on earth, realities that God Himself instituted. Maybe.

For sure, I wouldn’t turn to my church for an answer as Christianity seems utterly lost without its pursuit of utopia.

Gays Take The Moral High Ground

Can Gays Do Marriage Better?

The Huffington Post ran the following August 31 article headline: “Paul Stam, North Carolina GOP Representative: Gay Marriage Leads To Polygamy, Incest.”

In the debate over same-sex unions, officially called “gay marriage,” I noticed that gays seem offended that their lifestyle would be associated with polygamy or incest. Comparing Gay Marriage to polygamy and incest is deemed unfair or ignorant or cruel. Being gay is apparently much more than just merely being homosexual. It seems to be a sexual identity community built upon a corporation of sexual leanings (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, etc). It would seem that this community has taken a moral stance on issues like polygamy, incest and pedophilia and placed themselves on a moral high ground.

I have to ask, though, what standard do they use? If comparing the gay way to polygamy and incest is unfair and unjust, then why? After all, polygamists can love each other as can a brother and sister, father and daughter or (the most likely outcome) mother and son? And isn’t equality for the sake of freedom and happiness the very thing gay activists fought for?

What offended gays forget is that they themselves rebelled against the traditional understanding of sex, that infamous Christian idea of “marriage,” enshrined as one man and one woman united monogamously for life for the purpose of procreation and social stability. Having thus rebelled and claimed equal footing for their own enshrined ideas on sex, they have little ground on which say that they are somehow “above” polygamy and incest.

Christians who still adhere to a biblical view of sex understand that once the gay community is accepted as equal, there is nothing to stop other sexual communities from demanding equal rights and recognition. This includes polygamists, incestual relations and pedophelia. I would say that adult-child sex will be the next community. Organizations like NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) has been weak in their social presence, but reveal that the struggle for equality from the gay community has set a precedent.

On an interesting side note, as fervently as American society works to embrace gay marriage, it never succeeded in enshrining marital infidelity and divorce among heterosexuals as powerful political communities, though adultery and divorce are quietly tolerated. It was tried with such things as “open” marriages and feminist rights, but the reality of betrayal by a cheating spouse and the pain divorce visits on both the couple and the children have been sobering.

Perhaps gays believe that they can actually do marriage better than the Christian west, that they will never have problems with infidelity and divorce. That may be part of why they feel justified in distancing themselves from other potential sexual communities.