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Friday, February 17, 2006

Rage, riots, and holy books

It is a dangerous time to live. It is a dangerous time to believe. It is a dangerous time to be regarded as a heretic or infidel by believers in a sacred book, including the Bible. It is a dangerous time to translate the Bible as you believe it should be translated. But maybe it is no more dangerous today than it has been in the past. Maybe we just feel the danger more now that we have worldwide media to give us the images and the sounds.

William Tyndale translated the first New Testament to be printed in English. This did not gain him favor with the authorities, and he was burned at the stake in 1536. His final prayer before he died was, "Lord, open the eyes of the King of England".

Riots occur when people believe that their sacred book, such as the Koran, has been desecrated.

When I was a young boy I heard of RSV Bibles being burned because it was believed that that version did not properly teach a virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14.

When I was a teenager I discovered the newly published Good News for Modern Man Bible. It was written in my dialect of English. I could understand it clearly. But when I visited my home church I found a tract at the back of the sanctuary titled "Bad News for Modern Man." The author decried the fact that some words were left out of the Good News Bible which appeared in the King James Version. No mention was made of the fact that older manuscripts of the Bible also left out the words which were "missing" in translation.

More recently radio preachers and theology professors have called for a boycott of the TNIV or its publisher because they believe that the TNIV does not have enough masculine words to support their theological views about men and women. So far, their efforts have dissuaded many bookstores from selling the TNIV and individuals from seriously examining that version.

D.A. Carson has written about Bible rage over gender-inclusive language in English Bibles, language intended to create more accurate Bibles.

When pressure tactics are questioned, one response is, "Well, I just believe so strongly in this matter," as if believing something strongly enough justifies the means to a desired end.

Some believers, in my opinion, have lost their way. They have forgotten the words and ways of teachers of many religions, including a poor itinerant rabbi, who never suggested that anyone use violence or pressure tactics to right a perceived wrong. Instead, he taught that we should love our enemies.

It doesn't matter what the faith is. Rage and riots never usher in the kingdom of God:
[The angel] said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts. (Zech. 4:6 NRSV)


At Fri Feb 17, 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

I work at RBC Ministries (formerly, Radio Bible Class). Most of the people working here are not "fundamentalists" in the sense of rigid conservatism.

Yet I'm amazed at the lack of knowledge that is here in regard to the TNIV. When I describe it to people, I find them in agreement with what I'm saying (the few times).

It is hard to not be frustrated with this "culture war" negating what I believe to be the best translation, or at least my favorite. (And I have concerns about our culture also. Doesn't every Christian?)

If the NLT or whatever other like translation was maybe moving into pulpits, then they'd do the same to it.

I want to love and keep doing what I believe God has called me to do. And I want ot love them, though we may disagree, even on Bible translations (again- like KJV days).

Thanks for the good reminder, Wayne.

At Fri Feb 17, 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Dickie Mint said...

Amen, Wayne.


At Sat Feb 18, 07:04:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

It's interesting Wayne, how you put people who have criticized the TNIV in the same category with Muslim rioters who are wantonly killing people. This is a bit over-the-top I think.

I was not aware of it, if anyone has threatened to kill anyone in this TNIV dispute.

At Wed Feb 22, 04:39:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

I am afraid I have to agree with Michael.
Your attempt to link those who disagree with the TNIV with those who practice violence and terror is shabby to say the least.
Whether you like it or not you also seem to imply that those who favour the TNIV are in danger of being treated in the same manner as Tyndale by the Church of his day.
If to do so wasn't so disagreeable it could almost be laughable.
I think you need to take a sabbatical and get some clarity about what you write.
When I read your comments I am sorry to say that it appeared that you are the one who is that which you seem to accuse others of.

At Wed Feb 22, 05:37:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael and Glenn, no one has threatened to kill TNIV translators and I did not say that nor imply it. My post was about sacred rage and how it manifests itself at various times and in various contexts. Please re-read the post. If you find any linkage between the anti-TNIV crusade to terrorism in the post, please quote the specific words and I will gladly withdraw them.

It has, indeed, been a dangerous time for Bible translators. The campaigns against various Bible versions during my lifetime are proof of that. Just re-visit some of the discussion lists and blogs which you, Michael, and I have been on together and re-read comments there against the TNIV and its translators. They are, I believe, accurately characterized by those portions of my post which refer to the anti-TNIV campaign.

Ends do not justify the means, no matter how sincere we are in our beliefs. Neither physical violence nor threats of boycotts or accusations of heresy have ever helped to usher in the kingdom of God.

I stand by the words of my post, unless you can quote any of them which are not true.


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