Just Read The Bible!

Over the past year I have been reading through the entire Bible chronologically, thanks to my YouVersion Bible App on my iPad.  I’ve read through the entire Bible before but never according to the chronological schedule that I am following this year.  But whether I am reading the Bible chronologically, traditionally, or whatever, I continue to learn, be challenged, and most importantly, desire to live in righteousness before God (which doesn’t always happen).

I normally read from several translations.  My two favorite are the New Revised Standard Version (1989) and the New International Version (2011) of which I also do most of my preaching and teaching from.  There are other great translations to choose from.  A lady who recently began attending our church still reads from the old King James Version and she asked me if that was alright.  Of course, it is.  With few exceptions, a person should read from whatever translation they are most comfortable with, prefer, or find the easiest to read from.

While all versions of the Bible are just translations of the original language, every committee translation is reliable to teach us who God is, who we are as God’s creation, and the life we are called to live as people redeemed in Jesus Christ.  With every translation there will be questions about how certain words from the original language have been rendered in English (or whatever language the Bible has been translated into).  But that fact itself does not render any translation as unreliable, especially those translations done by a committee of scholars.

I have six graduate hours of instruction in Old Testament Hebrew and twenty-one hours of graduate and undergraduate instruction in New Testament Greek.  Yet I am not even close to having the qualifications to say that one translation is unreliable, filled with error, and so on.  However, I am continually amazed at how many Christians there are who have less instruction, if any, in Hebrew and Greek yet they believe they are somehow qualified to condemn one translation over another (such as the NIV in particular).  These Christians preach and teach to people about such hearsay information that they have learned (often from people just as unqualified as they are) when they have the slightest ability to even determine if what they have heard is true or false.

Stop it!

Stop preaching and teaching such poisoned messages that only distracts people into talking about the Bible rather than reading the Bible!

I’ve been preaching for over ten years now and the more I continue preaching the more biblical illiteracy I encounter, even among Christians.  So with little exception, rather than wasting time on stupid arguments about which translation of the Bible is better, let’s spend our time trying to encourage people to read the Bible—reading from whatever translation they prefer (KJV/NKJV, RSV/NRSV, ASV/NASB, NIV, ESV, NEB, CEV, etc…).

Just read the Bible!

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5 responses to “Just Read The Bible!

  1. “I’ve been preaching for over ten years now and the more I continue preaching the more biblical illiteracy I encounter, even among Christians.”

    Sadly, that’s the truth. You might have even said “especially” among Christians. I appreciate the entire post, well said.

  2. So true about the “especially.”

  3. A funny thing happened while expanding my reading; I fell in love with the King James Version again. No, it is not my favorite; that would be the NRSV. But I have come to truly appreciate more and more how the KJV Psalms are among the most beautiful poems in the English language. They, and the Odes of Solomon in the KJV language, are my Saturday morning readings with my coffee before my wife wakes up and puts me to work in the yard.
    Amazing, is it not, how the KJV becomes more beautiful as it becomes less lawful.

  4. The NIV isn’t worth the paper its printed on. Dropping “who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit” from Romans 8:1 and translating Psalm 51:5 with Calvinist bias as “born a sinner” condemn it instantly to pits of hell.

    • The “Calvinist bias” is not nearly as prevalent in the NIV 2011 as it was in the NIV 1984 translation. As for dropping “who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit” in Romans 8:1, that is because that phrase is omitted in the early manuscripts which means it was likely not an original part of Romans but an addition in the later manuscripts.

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