There was a day when the Bible was believed by most Americans to be the final word on any subject. That’s been awhile!
Is your Bible reliable? How do you know? After all, in most churches everybody seems to have a different Bible: the NIV, the NASB, the RSV, the KJV, the New KJV. The list is long. The preacher or teacher reads from his Bible, but your Bible is different. You look a little deeper and realize that the difference is not merely a choice of words; there’s a difference in meaning, a substantial difference. Wow! How many Bibles are there? They all claim to be the Word of God, but they don’t all say the same thing. How many Bibles did God write? I thought there was only one true Bible. How can this be? How do I know which one to believe?
The devil is a master at creating doubt. He does it right in church! Really! With the pastor, my Sunday school teacher, the people who are supposed to know, those who’ve been to seminar and are learned, “scholars!”
It is a bit unsettling to know that the Bible translating and publishing business is driven primarily by dollars and cents, not the need for a better translation. Publishing houses make money by selling; they’re not in business to produce a better, more accurate translation of the Bible. They are somewhat like those who build automobiles and other machinery. They can’t afford to build a car that lasts a long time; they have to build cars to wear out soon. They make money off parts and selling more cars. One car for the ages is a bad idea. And, so it is with Bibles. To stay in business publishers have to keep selling Bibles. Since God gave only one Bible, publishers found their fountain of youth in translations. Your Bible is old-fashioned, out-of-date, antiquated and written in English that is obsolete. You need a new and better translation. Oh yea, and the trick keeps working! It doesn’t seem to work with Shakespeare or the Canterbury Tales, but it works with the Bible. And who are the shakers and movers who convince the masses that they need a new Bible? It’s mostly the scholars: seminary professors, language experts, theologians, professionals and often pastors. Ironically most (yes, you read it right: most) of them do not even believe the Bible. They don’t believe the Bible’s claim of divine creation, that Adam and Eve were literal, that the account of Jonah is literal, that Jesus Christ is divine, that He performed miracles or that He’s coming again. They think God should be referred to in the neuter, think women should be preachers, approve homosexuality and endorse same-sex marriages. Yet deep, sound Christians snap up their new and better translations like they were candy. Go to Lifeway and see for yourself. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an old translation of the Bible. We can’t wait to get our hands on the latest, newest version of the Bible. The driver? That “old English” is just too hard to understand; I want something in today’s English. My teacher, my preacher said this is really good, better.
It’s never a bad idea to look before you leap. Anybody who exercises even the slightest amount of brainpower realizes that God wrote only one Bible. Not many; just one! He wrote it in Hebrew, Chaldea and Greek. History proves beyond reasonable doubt that by end of the 16th century a Greek standard of God’s original Bible had been established. (No, there is no original copy of any book of the Bible. There are thousands of very old copies, mostly in part and a few in whole.) For several centuries credible scholars have been in essential agreement that the standard Greek text is almost an exact replica of the original autographs which God gave to the prophets and apostles. The original Bible emerges from the agreement of the vast number of copies. God gave His Bible one time. Serious, thinking people know that our objective is to get a translation that is as close to the Bible God gave as possible. (If you know Greek and can read it for yourself, you don’t need a translation. Most of us can’t read Greek and must get the Bible in a translation.) The scholars of our day (real and pseudo) are in almost universal agreement there has long been an English translation that captures God’s Greek Bible very well. It is the King James Translation which has been around for right at 402 years. In spite of their considerable baggage, the King James translators got it pretty well right; even the critics admit that. Yet, the flow of new translations never ceases.
I am a King James Version man and I’m not ashamed of it. However, I am not saying that it is the only good English translation of the Bible. I know the KJV is just a translation and that it has shortcomings. I also know that so far there is not a better, more accurate English translation of the Bible than the King James Version. It’s a plenary (word for word) translation; not a dynamic equivalent (some person’s summary of what God said). The King James translators were honest enough to italicize words they added for clarity’s sake; others don’t tell you what they changed. Our God who gave the Bible has not finally lost it in a maze of translations. However when you go to church and hear several conflicting Bibles all claiming to be the one revelation of God it surely seems He has.
It is obvious that a seedbed for doubt is created when any person (and especially a church) cannot settle on a translation which is as near to the original autographs as is humanly possible. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. When a truly more accurate translation of the Bible from Greek into English comes forth, I will be very interested in it. I’m not holding my breath; the money is not there. The multitudes are not hungering for truth; they are far more interested in easy-reading and watered-down concepts even when truth takes a beating in the process. I am amazed at how successfully Satan has blinded the minds of so many pastors and teachers to the mixed message of many translations in a church. The doubt in the integrity of the Bible created thereby is enormous. A rapidly growing number of people do not believe a true Bible any longer exists. After all, their pastor and church leaders have different Bibles. Right there in church they hear many differing voices all claiming to be the Bible. Yes, a seedbed for doubt! Perhaps there used to be a Bible. Long ago God gave His Word; but it got lost. Now we don’t have it. We hear about it and what our pastor and other scholars think it said, but we can’t be sure. We really can’t be sure about anything because we don’t have a copy of Bible. We just have something close to it. And where did we get that idea? We got it in church where they really don’t have one standard Bible that they hold to be true.
The Bible you use, personally and in church; it does make a difference. It’s always good to figure out things and settle somewhere.