Issue #88 -------
November 26, 2003
It ain't those parts of the Bible that
I can't understand that bother me,
it is the parts that I do understand.
--- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
There are many people who feel the King James Version is THE Bible; that it constitutes the one and only STANDARD by which all other versions and translations must be measured. Some have even gone so far as to state that the KJV itself was "inspired by God" and is 100% free of any errors or imperfections. Such appalling arrogance has led some of the more militant supporters of the KJV to condemn all other translations of the Bible as either inferior or an intentional effort by "Satan and his servants" to subvert the true Word of God (which they identify as the KJV). I actually had an elder in the Church of Christ tell me that if this version was good enough for the apostle Paul, it should be good enough for Christians today! No, such shocking statements are not an "urban myth" ... there are people in the church who really are that ignorant of the history and transmission of the Scriptures! In view of such extreme attitudes, the admirers of the KJV are frequently accused of engaging in a form of "idol worship." If you find this hard to believe, just type in the phrase "KJV Only" in any Internet search engine and visit some of the web sites that come up. Your jaw will hit the floor after only a few minutes of reading their views. It is quite amazing, and even frightening, that such thinking (or lack thereof) exists among those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.
It should never be overlooked by honest students of the Word that the King James Version, like all others before and after it, is the work of mere uninspired, fallible men; an honest attempt to provide the people of their day with God's Word in their own language. It is a noble effort, and one which has captured the hearts of countless people throughout the centuries, but it does have its weaknesses. It is far from being perfect.
Some supporters of the King James Version maintain that this version of the Scriptures is quite literal, and is nothing less than a complete word-for-word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. They claim NO paraphrasing of the text exists in the KJV. You may recall the comment made by the reader from Ohio, as quoted in my last Reflections -- "If a bible is NOT a word for word translation, then it is not a translation at all, but just another paraphrase." Sadly, such people will be forced to eat their own words if they ever bother to educate themselves in this field of study.
A paraphrase, incidentally, is simply "a rewording of thoughts or meaning expressed in something that has been previously written." ALL translations make use of paraphrase. It is simply a fact of translation. When translating from one language into another, paraphrase will always be employed to some extent to make the meaning more understandable to the reader. Those who disparage the use of some degree of paraphrase in a translation only display their woeful ignorance of the vital work of translation. Paraphrase in a translation need not be a problem as long as it is used responsibly. It is the unwarranted use of paraphrase, or the abuse of this device, that must be avoided. Notice the following examples of paraphrase in the KJV:
It should again be noted that paraphrase in a version is NOT wrong. In fact, it cannot always be avoided. However, it becomes a problem if the paraphrase violates the meaning of the text or promotes a concept inconsistent with the clear teachings of Scripture elsewhere. If the meaning conveyed by the paraphrase to present day readers is the same as would have been conveyed by the literal reading to the original readers, then the paraphrase is acceptable.
Although some have very caustically contended that the KJV has NO inaccuracies whatsoever .... that it is absolutely PERFECT in all respects ..... that it always accurately renders the original Hebrew & Greek texts and never misses the intended meaning of the original, this is simply not true! Notice the following examples:
#1 --- In Psalm 8:5 there is a very familiar quotation in the KJV: "For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels." The Hebrew word here is actually "elohim" which means "gods." The KJV translators were aware of this fact, for they correctly translated this word in Psalm 138:1 --- "Before the gods will I sing praise unto thee."
#2 --- Genesis 12:19 reads, "Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife." The Hebrew text actually says, "I took her." By changing the verb tense, the KJV has also changed the meaning!
#3 --- Psalm 77:2 reads, "My sore ran in the night, and ceased not." This isn't even close to what the actual text says, which is: "At night I stretched out my untiring hands." Their mistranslation would almost be humorous if it was not so seriously flawed.
#4 --- In John 20:17 the KJV has Jesus saying to Mary, "Touch Me not." It seems He is here forbidding what He has elsewhere allowed (Matthew 28:9). However, the Greek word employed here actually means "to cling to." Jesus was not forbidding Mary to touch Him, but rather forbidding her to cling on to Him as if to prevent His departure --- a completely different concept.
#5 --- In Acts 5:30; 10:39 the KJV, in speaking of Jesus' death, reads, "Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." The word "and" is not in the Greek text, and by adding it to the text at this point in the verse it could lead to confusion on the part of some readers. The conjunction "and" indicates grammatically that one action follows another; the implication being: two separate actions independent of one another are in view. Some unbelievers have actually tried to use this verse to demonstrate that Christ was killed first, and then His dead body was hung on a tree. By inserting the word "and," interpretive complications have arisen which could have been prevented by a correct translation of the original text.
#6 --- In Romans 3:25 the KJV speaks of "the remission of sins." The Greek word actually refers to "passing over" sins, not the canceling or remitting of them. The KJV translators confused two similar Greek words here.
#7 --- 2 Corinthians 2:17 reads, "corrupt the Word of God" in the KJV. The Greek word actually means "peddle" the Word of God. It refers to men who proclaim the Good News only for what they can get from it; a "huckster."
#8 --- There are two errors in James 3:2 in the KJV: "For in many things we offend all." This should read, "For we all stumble in many ways." In the Greek text, "all" modifies "we," it is not the object of the verb's action. Also, the Greek word employed here means "to stumble," and does not mean "to offend" someone. The KJV translators made two major blunders in just one short phrase. By virtue of these errors, they have presented a teaching other than the one intended by the inspired writer.
#9 --- The Greek word agape (a self-sacrificial love) is used over 300 times in the New Testament writings. The KJV translates it "love" in most places. However, the KJV renders it "charity" in 26 different locations. Since "charity" conveys a different meaning today than it did in the 17th century, this has led to some confusion among readers. Some have assumed that "charitable acts of benevolence" are being referred to, rather than "love." Such could easily have been avoided by consistent translation of the word in the KJV, and by responsible revision in more recent years.
The translators of the KJV lived and worked over 400 years ago. This is a considerable length of time, especially considering the many important discoveries which have been made since then. These discoveries have shed considerable light on areas of the text that they simply did not understand at the time they made their translation. They did the best they could with what they had to work with, but through their lack of knowledge they made many unintentional errors in the text. The following are just a few examples:
#1 --- In Joshua 11:13 the translators of the KJV rendered the text as follows: "....the cities that stood still in their strength." Actually, the Hebrew speaks of cities "standing on their mounds." These "mounds" are known as "tells" in the linguistics of archaeology (they are the accumulated rubble of past cities located at that site; city upon city upon city). Not understanding this, the translators sought some meaning from this idea of a city on a mound. They arrived at the figure of strength. This is an interpretation of the original text, NOT a translation of it. It is more commentary than translation, as the "KJV Only" crowd themselves often assert about other translations.
#2 --- In 1 Kings 10:28 the word "Kue" is translated "linen yarn" in the KJV. This is incorrect. Actually, "Kue" was a location in Cilicia where Solomon purchased his horses. This is a fact which has been verified by archaeologists, but of which the KJV translators were painfully unaware at the time.
#3 --- The translators also did not know what the "Asherah" was (a wooden idol representing a Canaanite goddess), so they translated the word repeatedly as signifying a "grove" of trees. In 1 Kings 16:33 they state, "And Ahab made a grove," which provoked the Lord God to anger. In point of fact, Ahab made an idol here (the Asherah); his sin was idolatry, not planting a grove of trees!! People got enraged when the NIV put "cypress wood" (Genesis 6:14) instead of the traditional "gopher wood." Where are the similar "cries of outrage" over this blunder in the KJV?!!
#4 --- In 1 Chronicles 5:26 the KJV translators present Pul and Tilgath-pilneser as being two separate kings of Assyria. Actually, these were two names for the same man, as archaeological discoveries have proven.
#5 --- In 2 Kings 23:29 the KJV reads, "In his days Pharaoh Nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria." This is not true. Pharaoh Nechoh went to the aid of the Assyrian king; they were allies, not enemies, as ancient records from that time have now clearly proven. The KJV translators did not have that information available to them, and thus they assumed their meeting to have been one of enmity. This was an historically false assumption; a poor commentary by the KJV translators.
#6 --- In England in the 17th century it was normal practice to light a "candle" and place it on a "candlestick." This was NOT the case in ancient Palestine. They used oil lamps, which were then placed on lampstands. Throughout the NT writings the translators changed "lamps" and "lampstands" to "candles" and "candlesticks" (Matthew 5:15; Luke 15:8; Revelation 1:12f).
LACK OF UNIFORMITY
A great deal of unnecessary confusion is created in a translation when a name or place is spelled in more than one way. This leaves the reader wondering who or what is meant when a name or place is rendered three or four different ways in a translation or version. Notice the following examples in the KJV:
Most modern versions simplify the matter considerably by adopting one form of a name or place and using it consistently throughout the translation. This use of variety by the KJV translators, however, was done intentionally. They felt it made the Bible more interesting for the reader. Although variety of expression can indeed be good at times, and even necessary on occasion (some Greek and Hebrew words have many different shades of meaning, which should be reflected in a translation), yet this variety can be carried too far. Variety for variety's sake can lead to unnecessary confusion.
For example: In the OT, the word "dabhar" (meaning "word, thing") is rendered by 84 different English words in the KJV. "Panim" (meaning "face") is translated by 34 different words in the KJV. "Sim" (meaning "to set, place") by 59 different English words. "Nasah" (meaning "to lift up") by 46. "Abhar" (meaning "to pass over") by 48. And on and on we could go. In the NT, the Greek word "katargeo" (meaning "to make void; bring to nothing") appears 27 times, and in the KJV it is rendered by 17 different English words. The Greek word "logizomai" is translated "counted" (Romans 4:3), "reckoned" (Romans 4:9), and "imputed" (Romans 4:22-23) "for righteousness" --- and all within the limited context of just one chapter!
UNDERSTANDEST THOU WHAT THOU READEST?
In the Preface to the KJV the translators themselves pose the following question: "How shall men meditate on that which they do not understand?" Their goal was to give the Word of God to the people in a form that could be readily understood by the common man. That was almost 400 years ago! The English language has undergone tremendous change since that time (as does any language). As a result, there are places in the text of the KJV that are simply impossible for the vast majority of people today to understand. See if you can fill in some of the blanks by providing the meaning in the following examples:
There are some words that were in use in the early 17th century that are still in use today, but their meaning has changed drastically. These words in the KJV can become "hidden rocks on which the ship of understanding runs aground" (Dr. Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation, p. 55). Notice the following examples of words appearing in the KJV, and what those words actually meant to the readers back then:
"Would it not be simpler and better to have a translation which would at the first reading, without comment, suggest the meaning the writer intended? Is it not time to do what the King James scholars said they were attempting to do: 'To deliver God's book unto God's people in a tongue they understood'?" (Dr. Jack P. Lewis, p. 61).
Due to the evolution of language, some words and phrases which were acceptable "in polite company" 400 years ago, are NOT considered acceptable today! To speak of someone "sitting on their ass" (donkey), for example, conveys a much different meaning today than it did in England in 1611. Also, most people today wouldn't even consider reading the following KJV passages in public before the congregation (although in 1611 it was viewed as acceptable speech). If passages of Scripture are no longer "fit to be publicly read," due to changes in acceptable usage of certain words, then responsible rewording is called for!
Many years ago, while my family and I were living in Germany (I preached in Kaiserslautern), a man (who was a KJV Only advocate) informed me, during the course of a Bible class on Sunday morning, that there was not a single passage in the KJV that could not be read before a mixed assembly. I asked his wife to turn to the two passages below and read them to the class. When she saw what they were, she refused! Point made!!
The scholars who worked on the KJV were also not above manipulating the text so as to include something of their own devising. One example which demonstrates this quite well is the manipulation of Psalm 46 to include a personal tribute to William Shakespeare (1564-1616), who turned 46 years of age just a few months before the publication date of the KJV. It was dedicated to him in honor of his influence upon the English language of his day.
The word "doctrine" simply means "teaching." Thus, "any failure to present the Word of God accurately, completely, and clearly in a translation is a doctrinal problem!" (Dr. Jack P. Lewis, p. 61). Many people claim that the KJV is "totally free" from any doctrinal problems, as evidenced by the graphic (to the left) taken from a KJV Only web site. Again, this simply is not true.
In the early 17th century there were many religious struggles going on: Catholics vs. Anglicans ....... the Prelate Party vs. the Puritans ....... Calvinists vs. the Non-Calvinistic theologians ....... and many other such conflicts. These translators brought with them to their work of translation and revision their various religious backgrounds and biases. In fact, no matter how careful a translator is, or how honest and sincere, or how objective and unbiased he tries to be, his biases and beliefs will still affect his work to some noticeable degree. For example, certain passages in the KJV clearly reflect a Calvinistic perspective:
#1 --- In Acts 2:47 the KJV reads, "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." The actual Greek verb form here is: "the ones who are being saved." The rewording of the KJV (from "are" to "should be") is felt by some scholars to reflect the doctrines of election and predetermination.
#2 --- In Galatians 5:17 the KJV reads: "...so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." This particular verb appears in the Subjunctive Mood in the Greek text; thus, it is a conditional statement, not an absolute statement! Its correct translation would be, "so that ye might not do..." By failing to correctly translate this verb form the KJV implies a lack of free will, which is another strong Calvinistic doctrine.
#3 --- In Hebrews 6:6 the KJV reads, "If they shall fall away." The word "if" is not in the original Greek text; it has been added by the KJV translators. The text actually reads, "and having fallen away." This is a statement of absolute fact, yet the KJV translators have changed it into a conditional statement. By making it more hypothetical, the implication is left with the reader that the statement is unlikely at best, thus upholding the Calvinistic doctrine of The Eternal Security of the Believer or "Once Saved, Always Saved" (the "P" in TULIP theology --- Perseverance of the Saints).
#4 --- In Hebrews 10:38 the KJV reads, "Now the just man shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." The words "any man" have been added to the text. The actual subject of the verb "draw back" is "the just man." The Calvinists, however, do not believe that the "just man" can draw back after having drawn near, so the wording of the verse was changed to better reflect their false doctrine. The correct reading of the verse is: "...but if he draw back," with the antecedent of "he" being "the just man."
#5 --- There are seven passages where the KJV has the phrase "be converted" (Passive Voice), when these verbs are actually in the Active Voice. This changes the meaning of the verb. Instead of the person performing the action of the verb, the action of the verb is performed upon the person. The Calvinists believed that conversion was passive on man's part. The individual was acted upon from an outside source: the Holy Spirit. Thus, if God chose to save you, you were saved regardless of what your will in the matter might be. This is the "I" in TULIP theology --- Irresistible Grace of God. Acts 3:19 is an example of this doctrinal manipulation of the text.
Men have often ridiculed the Bible because the KJV speaks of mythological animals as if they actually existed. In the early 17th century most people believed that these animals did exist, so that belief also found its way into the KJV. Note the following example:
Notice some other passages associated with the animal kingdom and various mythological beings, and how the KJV translators failed to perceive the true meaning of the original text:
There are also a great many other doctrinal problems connected with the KJV. The following list of ten is merely representative, and does not even scratch the surface of the flaws and failings of this version with regard to sound doctrine:
#1 --- In Exodus 20:13 the KJV reads, "Thou shalt not kill." This rendering has become quite familiar, since we have all memorized the Ten Commandments, and usually from the KJV wording. However, it is incorrect. The actual word used here in the original language is "murder," NOT "kill." The command is against murdering someone, not against killing someone. This is an important distinction since God many times ordered His people to kill others for one reason or another.
#2 --- For hundreds of years the KJV has confused people over the state of the dead through its poor handling of several key words. It translates the word "Sheol" as "grave" 31 times and as "hell" 31 times! Which is it?! The grave or hell? "Hades" is always translated "hell" in the KJV, but so also is "Gehenna" and "Tartarus." Thus, the KJV has all but effectively wiped out all distinctions between these various words (and the distinctions are extremely significant in the original languages). A great many false doctrines about the afterlife and the so-called "intermediate state" can be at least in part blamed on the confusion generated by this extremely poor handling of these key words and concepts. It would not be until almost 300 years later that these distinctions would again be brought to light by more correct renderings in more modern and scholarly English translations. By that time, however, the damage had been done!! False doctrines arising from or bolstered by these false renderings had already planted themselves firmly into the hearts and minds of men. It is with great difficulty that such false teaching is eradicated, even with the use of correct translations. It is simply too deeply ingrained in our Western Theology, and any challenge to it is viewed as heresy.
#3 --- In John 10:16 the KJV reads, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold ..... there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (the NIV makes the same mistake here, by-the-way). There are actually two different Greek words used in this passage: "fold" and "flock." There is only "one flock" (the church of our Lord Jesus Christ) and "one shepherd" (the Lord Jesus), but there are many "folds." I encourage any new readers to refer to my Reflections article on the teaching of this passage -- One Flock, Many Folds (Issue #57).
#4 --- In Luke 18:12 the KJV reads, "I give tithes of all that I possess." The Law did NOT require one to tithe a tenth of all that he "possessed" (all his capital holdings), but rather a tenth of his increase (that which he acquired in addition to his possessions). This is clearly stated in the Greek word used in this passage. The KJV, by not translating this correctly, has left a false impression concerning the practice of tithing.
#5 --- In Matthew 26:27 the KJV reads, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink ye all of it'." This is an example of a problem caused by poor sentence construction. Does this mean: (a) they were all to drink from this cup, or (b) they were to drink all of the contents of the cup? Either meaning is possible from the grammatical construction. Some individuals within the church who hold to the second of these two interpretations, for example, teach that it is a sin to leave any of the grape juice in the cup when partaking of the Lord's Supper!! Why? Because the Lord "clearly commanded" that we are to drink "ALL of it."
In the original Greek of this passage, the word "all" agrees in both number (both are plural) and case (both are Nominative) with the word "you." It differs in both number and case with the word "it." Thus, "all" refers to the people to whom Christ was speaking, not to the contents of the cup. To reduce confusion, this passage should have been translated, "Drink from it, all of you."
#6 --- In Isaiah 14:12 we read the following in the KJV: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning." The teaching that "Lucifer" is a name for "Satan" comes from the KJV. The Hebrew word here actually means "bright one," or "bringer of light." The word "lucifer" is simply the Latin translation of this Hebrew word. The mistake of the KJV translators was in not translating the Latin word into English. By leaving the Latin word in their version, the implication was left in the minds of a great many readers that it was a proper name. The text actually refers to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, although there may well be a secondary reference to Satan. The belief, mistakenly derived from the KJV's failure to translate this Latin word into English, that "Lucifer" is a proper name of the "prince of darkness" is so wide-spread that Webster's dictionary defines "Lucifer" as being another name for the being also known as "Satan."
#7 --- The KJV also fails to distinguish between the two different Greek words "daimon" and "diabolos." The former is where we get our word "demon," the latter is the word for "slanderer." The KJV translates both of these words as "devil." Our word "devil" actually comes from the Middle English word "devel" and the Anglo-Saxon word "deofol," which mean "slanderer." Again, by not giving the meaning of the word, we have arrived at another proper name: "The Devil." Further, nowhere in the NT writings is anyone ever said to be possessed by "devils" ....... rather, they are possessed by "demons." Many present day doctrines concerning exorcism arise from this confusion. Although this has led to many notable plots in movies, it has no basis in biblical fact. It is confusion generated by the KJV.
#8 --- In John 3:34 the KJV reads, "For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." The words in italics have all been added to the text by the KJV translators. They do not appear in the original text of the Bible. By adding these words the KJV translators make it say something entirely different from the original text. This has led to the false doctrine that Jesus alone receives the Spirit without measure, whereas men only receive very limited measures of God's Spirit. This simply is NOT what the text says. It clearly states, "He gives the Spirit without measure."
#9 --- In Isaiah 35:8 (speaking of the Highway of Holiness) the KJV says, "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." This has left two false conclusions in the minds of some who have read this: (a) fools will be found traveling the highway of holiness; actually, the text says they will not be found traveling upon it, and (b) these foolish travelers are unable to sin while traveling the highway of holiness. This sounds very Calvinistic. Actually, the text simply states that wicked fools will not be found walking in the Way that leads to life! The wording of the KJV leaves just the opposite impression.
#10 --- In Acts 12:4 the KJV reads, "...intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." The Greek word here is "Pascha" which means "Passover," and refers specifically to the day upon which the Passover lamb was slain. "Easter," as defined by Webster, is "a Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus" --- a much different event than the Jewish Passover! This was something which the KJV translators were well aware of, and for them to render "Passover" as "Easter" is inexcusable, especially when they translated the word correctly as "Passover" in all its other appearances in the Bible! Yet, most militant KJV Only advocates will defend to the death the word "Easter" in this single passage. They would rather die than admit an error exists in their "inspired version."
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of other examples that could be cited, but these few will have to suffice to illustrate some of the major areas of concern with the KJV. Even though there are some obvious problems with this translation, it should not be rejected --- after all, there are problems with every translation and version! These works are simply the efforts of mere fallible, uninspired men to render the Word of God into the current language of their own people. Flawed men will produce flawed translations and versions! We must simply educate ourselves as to the nature of those flaws.
The most obvious positive quality of the KJV is the beauty of its language and the dignity of its expression (at least to our modern day ears; it probably did not have that same effect upon its original readers in 17th century England). Some have even stated it sounds "holier" than more modern translations, and it is true that there is a definite "reverential ring" to the wording as perceived by modern day Americans. Again, however, this was not the intention of the KJV translators. The poetic rhythm of the KJV has also made it much easier to memorize than many of the more modern translations. Although many of the newer translations and versions are far more accurate, it must be admitted that they just don't compare to the literary beauty of the KJV's expression.
The major concern of those embroiled in the "Translation Debate" that is raging today, however, is that far too many advocates of the KJV place undue importance upon this one translation. It is almost literally worshipped!! The concept of "one translation for all people for all time" is simply ludicrous, and displays only the foolishness and ignorance of those who make such ridiculous claims. Even the KJV translators themselves wrote, "variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures." Such a limited view, as some take today, also does not take into consideration all the other languages of the world. If the KJV is the only infallible version (as some claim .... "The version the apostle Paul used!"), what are the non-English speaking peoples of the world to do?! Must they learn English (17th century British English, of course) so as to have access to the one true version of the Bible? One preacher told me this is why every missionary should also teach the native peoples English -- because to fully understand Truth, they would need to read it from the King James Version.
Dr. Jack P. Lewis sums it up this way: "Those who feel they can escape the problem of translations by retreating into the citadel of the KJV have a zeal for God that is not in accord with knowledge. There are no valid reasons for one to insist fanatically that everyone should read only the KJV; to declare that it is a mark of orthodoxy to use the KJV as a standard, consulting other translations only for comparisons; and to look with suspicion on the person who calls attention to the shortcomings of the KJV or who has other preferences in his reading. Were the KJV the form in which God first gave the Bible (as some have actually thought) there would be justification for the insistence that everyone must learn its brand of English in order to learn the will of God. But it is NOT the original Bible. The translators worked neither by inspiration nor with special Divine approval. There is no valid reason why God's Word should be frozen in 17th century English by those who have educated themselves to understand it, while men perish for want of understanding. The KJV Preface asks, 'How shall men meditate on that which they do not understand?'" (p. 67-68).
From a Reader in Texas:
Al, I know I am behind in my reading, but I teach high school, and it's been a very busy time lately. I just read Reflections #84 with disbelief. My dad was a minister, so I have been a part of the Church of Christ all my life. I thought I had heard it all, but I found out today that I hadn't. I read the part about C. A. Smith who uses 2 John 9-11 to prove that singing special praises to God in a building on Sunday afternoon is wrong. That just blew my mind; I had never heard that before in my life. Someday some people are going to find out that petty little things that they worried about and condemned people for, God could have cared less about. As we say in Texas, He has bigger fish to fry. Thank you for your insight and for listening to me.
From an Elder in Missouri:
Al, I am enjoying your thought-provoking articles. I am an old KJV user (mostly from habit and long use). My version of preference is the NASB for its literal translations (but, it too has its faults). As with all versions and translations, since they are the work of men, there will be problems. I have long shown others the discrepancies in the KJV, and other translations I have used, and have stated (with proof, if needed) that I can and will use whatever translation a person wants to use, for I can show anyone out of any version how to become a Christian. Have you seen the TNIV? Your opinion?
From a Minister in New Mexico:
Al, You've done it again. Right on! Thank God that He does forgive doctrinal sins as well as moral sins. That means God will forgive us our doctrinal errors as we forgive others their doctrinal errors. As you have so cogently pointed out, neither Paul nor Al nor any other servant is without sin. We all stand guilty on a level playing field, all totally and completely dependent on the mercy and grace of the same God we all strive to serve. Pastors in the community need to recognize one another as erring siblings each striving to serve God as fellow pastors. With pastors divided, each preaching the traditions of their own heritage, flocks remain divided. The church, singular, within our community needs to unite in service to our God. When the pastors unite in practicing obedience to the commands our Lord said are most important, letting go of traditions that divide, our community will become a light set on a hill to proclaim the glory of God. May our Lord continue to praise your service with His favor.
From a Minister/Writer in California:
Bro. Al, Not too far back I was in an extended email discussion with a brother of the same party in which I was raised. He kept asking me the same questions (which he admitted) and kept insisting I answer them with just "yes" or "no." These restrictions create the very problems you anticipated with the brother who wanted to debate you. Not to be "cute," but in order to point out the problem with the restriction this brother wanted to place upon my responses, I asked him one question which I wanted him to answer "yes" or "no." That question was -- "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Over the years many of our debates and discussions have been more to defend a party or system than to ascertain the Truth, as I am sure you well know.
From a Reader in Texas:
Thanks for the FIRING LINE discourse; as usual, it was very thought-provoking. What is your definition of "grace"? It seems to me that many confuse the results of grace with what grace is. Is mercy the result of grace or is grace the result of mercy? Is forgiveness the result of grace? Some seem to have grace confused with forgiveness. What is grace other than the favor extended to us through Jesus Christ so that we do not have to be victims of the law of sin and death where one perishes, suffering the final second death, being no more?
From a Reader in Oklahoma:
Dear Brother, Your article On The Firing Line has probably touched my heart more than any of the many I've read. I guess because I can relate to much of what you have been through. Also your attitude of love and tolerance toward others, even those with whom you disagree. And the desire to spread God's love and grace. I have enjoyed more peace and contentment in these last few years now that I have discovered the truth of God's Word. You are not an apostate. Don't ever let any of those critics bother you for a second.
From a Ph.D. in Alabama:
Al, I just wanted to let you know that, although all of your articles are excellent, your latest (#87 -- On The Firing Line) has got to be the best one you've written thus far. Keep up the good work!
From a Reader in Texas:
As I read your article On The Firing Line, you cleared up a lot of things. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!
From a Preacher in Texas:
When I first saw your writings in GRACE-CENTERED Magazine, and now in your Reflections, I knew there was something that I liked about you. Now that I have read your abbreviated biography, I know why. It reads almost exactly like mine, only the names, dates, and places need to be changed. I have experienced all these things in the past.
Brethren get so "hung up" on translations. I, like all persons, have my favorites, but I have found out through much study that all have a purpose. When I am studying a given passage or topic, I get all my translations (some 20), my Interlinear, and all my word studies, and open them to the topic under study. I jot down all the various translations of the passage, and compare them for similarities and differences. Then I go to the word studies, check on the Greek word used, and then try to see why each version was so translated. This gives me a wide perspective of the passage, which makes it easier to see what was really being taught or explained. This makes it easier for me, and might work for your readers, especially those so dedicated to one or the other translation. Just use them all, and as you say ... read them. Keep up the good work. It is the best.
From a Preacher/Elder in (Unknown):
I just read with great interest your latest post in Reflections titled "On the Firing Line," and was especially interested in your comments concerning those who serve as both elder/minister. I have been preaching for over 40 years, 17 years in the present congregation where I have also served as elder/preacher for the past 6 years. I cannot agree more with you about most elders not having a clue about what the "eldership" is all about. Where I am, we believe that a scriptural eldership oversees the decisions of the congregation -- not makes them! Our elders teach, serve and lead by example. All decisions are left up to the members of the congregation who come together in regular congregational meetings to discuss issues concerning them and to make decisions. Our role is to determine whether or not these decisions are scriptural, not whether or not they express our personal wants and desires. These congregational meetings are attended by both men and women. Our deacons care for the physical needs of the congregation, plan and organize the teaching programs, work on and decide the financial budget and are free to make decisions that involve spending money without permission or even knowledge of the elders. Our elders do write checks, but receive the financial statement when the other members of the congregation receive it. As elders, we do have "private" meetings when we need to discuss some spiritual need or problem a member is having when it is not expedient for the problem or need to be public knowledge. We constantly meet together to study the word of God and begin each Lord's Day worship service by meeting together for prayer before the service begins. It is amazing how close the members of the congregation are to each other and how much work they do for the advancement of God's kingdom, and the wonderful peace we enjoy. Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.
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