Grieving the NIV — part 2

June 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Posted in English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

I have been busy the past few days with comments on the previous post of this title.  If you have been following my series of articles on ESV vs NIV2011, you will want to revisit that post and read the comments section.  Here is the link to that article.

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Commissioning My Daughter

June 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Personal Testimony, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I was touched by the events in church Sunday and am trying to identify all the emotions I felt.  We had a commissioning prayer for our daughter since she begins her mission in Utah this week.  She will be helping a church planter and his family whom our church supports.  She spent a week there last year to help with Vacation Bible School and has been interested in going back ever since.  She contacted them about going, planned the trip and raised the support all by herself.  I was happy and sad; inspired and excited; tearful and smiling.  But mostly I was proud that she is growing up and allowing God to lead her in this matter, yet totally humbled that God’s grace is touching her al all.  Blessings dear Amber as you travel, as you grow, as you stretch your wings and get stretched by God, as you learn more about the amazing gospel of Christ, and as you discover more of his plan for your life.  I’m a proud, yet humbled daddy!

To see some of my thoughts about Utah church planting, check out the two posts I wrote after a vision trip there with other pastors over two years ago.  One was called simply Utah and the other Pine Painted to Look Like Marble.

Grieving the NIV (ESV vs NIV2011 vol. 5)

June 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Posted in English Bible Translations | 14 Comments

I haven’t written about this topic for a while even though I promised to post occasional notes about it throughout this year.  I have made numerous notes of possible translation thoughts and questions in recent months, but haven’t had time to compile those.  However, I did want to write these thoughts.

I will always view the NIV(1978, 1984) as the greatest translation of my generation.  I was given a NIV New Testament in 1976 and was on the waiting list for the first edition of the entire Bible in 1978.  I have been memorizing out of it for about 28 years and preaching out of it for 25.  It has been a best seller because it captured the language of my generation.  I understand that language evolves and minor changes need to be made in translations.  I also realize that I am getting older and may be more uncomfortable with change now than I have been in the past, especially since I have become so comfortable with the NIV1984.  However, the NIV2011 is an entirely different beast.  This is not a minor edition of the same translation; it is a different translation, though based on the earlier one.  It appears that there are numerous changes on every page.  Here are my three major thoughts:

First, the translators or publishers are hiding what this translation is and using a marketing scheme that is shady at best, and downright dishonest at worst.  I addressed that issue here.

Second, it seems the NIV2011 translators have violated their own stated translation principles.  This is demonstrated in their refusal to include “selah” from the text of Psalms.  You can read my thoughts here.

Finally, I believe the NIV2011 translators have sacrificed clarity for political correctness.  This becomes most evident in their incessant use of they, them, their as singular pronouns.  I have mentioned this in other places, but have never concentrated on it in this series of articles.  It is so bothersome to me, and so prevalent in the NIV2011, that this alone causes me to look for a preaching Bible somewhere else.  The translators argue that these pronouns have become singular through common usage.  I understand that common usage determines grammar; however, when the older usage is still acceptable and offers greater clarity, one must opt, especially when dealing with scripture, for the higher clarity.  John Piper and Wayne Grudem present evidence for the common usage of masculine, singular pronouns in this article and its links.  As Piper comments about this matter, “The larger issue here is: Are the ‘programmatic changes’ worth the difficulties that the translators find themselves in when trying to bring singular Greek or Hebrew words over into English as plurals, or masculine words over into English without masculine connotations?  The price is high and linguistically unnecessary.”

I read Isaiah 26:3 in my devotions just the other day.  I am familiar with the famous KJV language here and with the ESV (which is really close to the translation I memorized it) “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  The NIV2011 has “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”  On this verse a deliberate change from a singular to a plural object avoids the misuse (in my mind) of plural pronouns for singular objects, but it changes the language of the original and loses the intended punch.  Did God inspire this statement in singular for a reason?  That I don’t know, but it shouldn’t be changed without good reason.  Besides, the singular has more impact on the reader as though the verse were speaking to him; the plural lacks that punch.  (Did you notice what pronoun I used?)  The same could be said of Isaiah 32:8.  Where the NASB had “The noble man devises noble plans, and by noble plans he stands,” the NIV2011 has “The noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.”

Probably the worst example of this I’ve run across is in Mark.  “Whoever (singular) wants to be my disciple (singular) must deny themselves (plural) and take up their (plural) cross (singular) and follow me.  For whoever (singular) wants to save their (plural) life (singular) will lose it, but whoever (singular) loses their (plural) life (singular) for me and for the gospel will save it.”  Wow!  That seems like a lot of unnecessary verbal gymnastics to avoid using “he” and “his” as generic pronouns.

There are three questions that bother me.  They are harsh questions, but valid ones.  I don’t mean them to be accusatory – I do not doubt the sincerity of the translators – but the questions remain.  I wonder what else is hidden for marketing purposes.  I wonder how many other translation principles were violated.   I wonder how often clarity was sacrificed for political correctness.  These matters are serious enough in my mind to make me give up using the NIV2011 as my preaching Bible.

I am grieving as I write those words, because I have so loved the NIV.  It’s time to bury an old friend.  There are probably many more NIV fans out there who can only hope the 1984 edition is someday put back in print.

True Worshipers

June 15, 2012 at 11:07 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, It's All About God, Worship | 2 Comments

John 3-4.  These two chapters are full of some pretty incredible things.  There is so much that could be written, said, preached about them:  There is Jesus’ talk about being “born again;” there is the most famous verse in the Bible (3:16), a verse that presents the Gospel in a sentence; that is followed by 3:20-21, a statement that has fascinated me in recent years – those who trust Jesus show their works to be done by God; there is John’s incredible statement, “He must become greater and I must become less (3:30); there is a contrast between those who believe and those who do not in 3:36, a verse that convinced me once and for all that punishment is in store for those who don’t know Jesus; these are followed by the amazing story of the Samaritan woman at the well in chapter 4, which includes Jesus’ teaching about giving the living water (4:13-14), Jesus’ only direct claim to be the Messiah other than his testimony under oath (4:26), and a passage which demonstrates that Jesus was all-knowing (4:18, 29); these chapters possibly include the first non-Jews to believe that Jesus was the Savior of the world (4:42); and finally,there is an official’s son whom Jesus healed from a distance (4:49-53).

However, I was pondering 4:23, where Jesus said to the woman at the well that true worshipers worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Jews and Samaritans had a debate about proper worship, whether it should be done on the Samaritan mountain where Abraham built his altar, or in Jerusalem where Solomon built the temple.  Jesus seemed to say that place didn’t matter as much as the heart of the worshiper.  Today we also have debates about worship, whether it should be done in this or that style.  I think Jesus would say that style doesn’t matter near as much as the heart of the worshiper.  As I age, I hope I can worship with any style the people I worship with use.  I hope I can worship with any age group no matter the music they use, as long as it is God-exalting music.  I hope I age with a heart of worship rather than with a form I happen to like.

With that thought, I love the words of this song we sing occasionally on Sunday:  “I’ll give you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required.  You look much deeper within, through the way things appear; you’re looking into my heart.  I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you.  I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it when it’s all about you, it’s all about you Jesus.”

The Nature of True Confession (part 2) Two Examples

June 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Grace and Faith, Questions for Pastor Glenn | 6 Comments

I was on vacation for a week with no electronic communication.  My family had a wonderful time camping at Mesa Verde National Park.  We took all the guided tours through the ruins and a number of the self-guided ones too.  I thought it might get boring after the first few tours, but the rangers kept it interesting.  One guide was a forester, one studied history and the third anthropology.  They each had a different perspective on the evidence of who lived there and why they left.

So many people read the previous post on confession, that I wanted to follow it up with some other thoughts.  Then yesterday morning I read Ezra’s prayer in my devotions (Ezra chapter 9).  As a teaching pastor, Ezra is one of my heroes, for he devoted himself to study God’s word and teach it’s truths to others.  Ezra 7:10 is one of my “life verses.”

After Ezra moved to Israel from Babylon to teach God’s Law, it was discovered that the people were doing what God had forbidden, and that “in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men had been foremost.” (v2 ESV)  Ezra was appalled.  He fasted and mourned until evening, then fell on his knees to pray.  He confessed Israel’s sin before God, even though he had not taken part in it.  His entire prayer is not about “their sin,” but about “our sin.”

There are probably books that could be written about the sin Ezra confessed and the nature of corporate sin and corporate confession.  But in this context I just want to point out that Ezra was quick to confess.  He demonstrated sorrow for and hatred of sin (“As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled.” v3).  He recognized the guilt that was theirs because of sin (“O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” v6).  And he demonstrated a willingness to repent (“Shall we break your commandments again?” v14).  This prayer is a good example of a true confession.

Another example can be found in David’s prayer known as Psalm 51.  David wrote this prayer after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sins of adultery and murder.  He too demonstrated sorrow and hatred for sin (“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” v3); he confessed guilt before God (“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” v4); he wanted to turn away from the sin (which vv10-15 demonstrate in many ways).  Reading the prayers of these old saints (or should I say redeemed sinners) can teach us much about the nature of true confession.  God’s people are quick to confess their sins and their sinfulness.

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