Translation Wars

John Piper:

“There were surface reasons and deeper reasons why the church opposed an English Bible. The surface reasons were that the English language is rude and unworthy of the exalted language of God’s word; and when one translates, errors can creep in, so it is safer not to translate; moreover, if the Bible is in English, then each man will become his own interpreter, and many will go astray into heresy and be condemned; and it was church tradition that only priests are given the divine grace to understand the Scriptures; and what’s more, there is a special sacramental value to the Latin service in which people cannot understand, but grace is given. Such were the kinds of things being said on the surface.

“But there were deeper reasons why the church opposed the English Bible: one doctrinal and one ecclesiastical. The church realized that they would not be able to sustain certain doctrines biblically because the people would see that they are not in the Bible. And the church realized that their power and control over the people, and even over the state, would be lost if certain doctrines were exposed as unbiblical—especially the priesthood and purgatory and penance.

“Thomas More’s criticism of Tyndale boils down mainly to the way Tyndale translated five words. He translated ‘presbuteros‘ as ‘elder’ instead of ‘priest.’ He translated ‘ekklesia‘ as ‘congregation’ instead of ‘church.’ He translated ‘metanoeo’ as ‘repent’ instead of ‘do penance.’ He translated ‘exomologeo’ as ‘acknowledge’ or ‘admit’ instead of ‘confess.’ And he translated ‘agape‘ as ‘love’ rather than ‘charity.’

“Daniell comments, ‘He cannot possibly have been unaware that those words in particular undercut the entire sacramental structure of the thousand year church throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa. It was the Greek New Testament that was doing the undercutting.’ And with the doctrinal undermining of these ecclesiastical pillars of priesthood and penance and confession, the pervasive power and control of the church collapsed. England would not be a Catholic nation. The reformed faith would flourish there in due time.”

Why People Reject the Historicity of the Bible

In his book Church History: A Crash Course for the Curious, Christopher Catherwood made a very interesting observation.

He mentioned that people have no trouble accepting the historicity of Julius Caesar’s accounts in Gallic Wars, a book that he purportedly wrote about his conquests in what we now know as France. The problem is that according to archaeology, Gallic Wars was actually written 900 years after the death of Julius Caesar!

The Bible, on the other hand, has thousands of proofs that are archaeologically precise. It is referenced in many other writings in that period, both in Christian literature and in secular writings. Interestingly, despite the overwhelming body of evidence that favor the authenticity of the Bible, people still consider it as scientifically unproven. Continue reading Why People Reject the Historicity of the Bible

A Lamp and a Bible

A portion of William Tyndale’s letter to an unnamed prison officer in the castle where he was detained for 18 months until his execution in October 1536.

“…and I ask to be allowed to have a lamp in the evening; it is indeed wearisome sitting alone in the dark. But most of all I beg and beseech your clemency to be urgent with the commissary, that he will kindly permit me to have the Hebrew Bible, Hebrew grammar, and Hebrew dictionary, that I may pass the time in that study…

His verdict was sealed in August, 1536. He was formally condemned as a heretic and degraded from the priesthood. Then in early October (traditionally October 6), he was tied to the stake and then strangled by the executioner, then afterward consumed in the fire. Foxe reports that his last words were, “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes!” He was forty-two years old, never married and never buried.”

Excerpted from John Piper’s Always Singing One Note- A Vernacular Bible

When God is Taken Out of the Picture

What happens when we deny that there are moral absolutes? What happens when we take God out of the picture and insist that morals and ethics are cultural and are, therefore, relative?

D. James Kennedy, author of Why I Believe, wrote of what happened at the Nuremberg War Trials after World War II:

During the Nuremberg War Trials after World War II, Nazi leaders were brought before that court and charged with all manner of crimes, including the slaughtering of millions of Jews and other people.

What was their defense? It was a clever one. The Supreme Court in Germany had declared that Jews were nonpersons. So these indicted Nazi leaders said, “We have done nothing wrong. We acted according to our own culture, according to our own mores, according to our own laws. We were told that they could be killed. Who are you to come from another culture, another society, and impose your morals on us?”

The Allied attorneys were thrown for a fifty-yard loss. They didn’t know what to say. If there are no absolutes, if everything is relativistic, if everything is culturally induced and we have no authority to impose our culture upon another, how dare we say that the Nazis were wrong for killing millions of people.

The lawyers were so taken aback, that after huddling for some time, they finally decided to retreat. Since they apparently were not willing to retreat to the moral law of God, they retreated to “natural law,” which has been held through many centuries. Although it is less precise, more vague, it nevertheless still has some moral content to it.

The lawyers appealed to natural laws, and it was on that basis that the Nazis were convicted.

A Dagger to the Sky

“Julian the Apostate endeavored to destroy Christianity. He wrote a whole book against it, but in the book, instead of destroying Christianity, he affirms that Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus at the time of the taxing made in Judea by Cyrenius.

He also confirms the fact that the Christian religion began its rise in the times of the emperors Tiberius and Claudius. He affirms the authenticity of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the authentic sources of the Christian religion.

This same Julian went to Jerusalem to disprove the Bible, but he failed. When, unknowingly, he destroyed the wall of Babylon, he confirmed the Biblical prophecy.

When he finally came to his death, pointing his dagger up to the sky at Jesus, he gathered his blood after being wounded on the battlefield, threw it into the air, and said, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean.”

Julian left behind no trace of the paganism he endeavored to rebuild. All of his efforts evaporated before the power of the Galilean.”

Source: D. James Kennedy, Why I Believe (Thomas Nelson; Revised edition, 1979) p106.

Jesus and History

Jesus Christ, the greatest man who ever lived, changed virtually every aspect of human life—and most people don’t know it. The greatest tragedy of the Christmas holiday each year is not so much its commercialization (gross as that is), but its trivialization. How tragic it is that people have forgotten Him to whom they owe so very much.

Jesus says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Behold! [idou in Greek]: “Note well,” “look closely,” “examine carefully.”) Everything that Jesus Christ touched, He utterly transformed. He touched time when He was born into this world; He had a birthday and that birthday utterly altered the way we measure time.

Someone has said He turned aside the river of ages out of its course and lifted the centuries off their hinges. Now, the whole world counts time as B.C., Before Christ, and A.D. Untartunately, in most cases, our illiterate generation today doesn’t even know that A.D. means Anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord.”

It’s ironic that the most vitriolic atheist writing a propagandistic letter to a friend must acknowledge Christ when he dates that letter. The atheistic Soviet Union was forced in its constitution to acknowledge that it came into existence in 1917, in the “year of the Lord.” When you see row after row of books at the library, every one of them—even if it contains anti-Christian diatribes—has a reference to Jesus Christ because of the date.

Source: D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (Thomas Nelson, 2005), pp. 1- 2.