When visitors are welcome they are warmly greeted at the door and served inside. When they are unwelcome the door may be slammed in their face. Former neighbors of ours had a sign taped to their front door. It read “Panhandlers and proselytizers go away. You are trespassing!” If a visitor fit one of those categories, it was best to move on.
As a writer, my task is to inspire thoughts that give meaning to our God-given existence and help for life’s journey. Essential to this end is the Bible. To be trusted as a workman for God I must demonstrate proficiency with Scripture, yet for many Christians knowing what is in God’s Word and how to apply it is not enough. For these poor, misguided souls, what matters most is the Bible translation I use.
What I am about to reveal may surprise you or it may be of little interest. We need to know so we can avoid the pitfall. It should cause dismay that otherwise wonderful Christian folks create walls with other believers based on their Bible of preference. This sad state is unique to Western English-speaking Christianity because of the numerous Bible translations and paraphrase editions available. We’ll call this barrier to communication “Instant trouble!”
Listening to Christian radio one day, I heard Ken Ham, a prominent Creationist (creationists teach a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3). He was answering this question: “Why do you use the older King James [KJV] Bible?”
His short reply said a lot. “It keeps me out of trouble. Next question.” As a pastor, I knew exactly what he meant. Prior to this, I innocently accepted a call to a church that exclusively used the KJV. Why they offered me the position, could only have been God’s will for I came with a different translation.
(Some background is necessary. The English King James Version or KJV was introduced in 1607. It was revised numerous times until the late 1700’s. Trusted for centuries, the KJV has had a devoted reader base of millions. Despite the Shakespearean language, there is an emotional attachment to the language. I used a KJV Bible early on, but I switched translations according to the fellowship I attended, finally opting for a reliable modern translation. (Please stay with me.) To be clear, the problem is not with having the option. People should use whatever Bible suits them. Trouble arises with the militant attitude of many KJV users. They make war against other “modern” Bible translations and make trouble for those who favor them.
When the church asked me to be their pastor, my mother wisely suggested that I use the familiar KJV. I rejected her counsel and got into trouble. My efforts may have been doomed from the start. Chalk it up to a learning experience.
Ken Ham understood that if he did not have the right Bible he would never have listeners. To get in the establishment’s door, the panhandler or proselytizer must prove they are one of them. They must either have the KJV or scram.
For decades as a pastor I have dealt with this ridiculous argument over which Bible. It grieves me that it separates believers, but God will bring this to an end. Go knocking. See if your Bible affects your reception. Beloved, this should never be!
As far as spiritual obstacles, the following is hard to fathom but true: I may have correct Christian doctrine but if I have the wrong Bible I’ll likely have the door closed in my face. Worse, I could have the right Bible and false doctrine and be treated to Christian hospitality. Go figure that one.
When we are finished describing the barriers surrounding the traditional church, I hope readers will be convinced that the old must give way to the new. Allowing new ideas in–such as God’s Word cannot be restricted to a single translation or language–has to occur if the saints are to receive transformational truth.
Down with artificial walls. That is where God is headed. I hope you will stay along for the ride, but a warning: We are going to get into trouble with the old guard Christians!
Next time: “Sorry, We Don’t Want Any”