What Were You Thinking?!

“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1Co 1:20)

We saw yesterday how scholars working on the Contemporary English Version edited the Bible by axing every single use of the word “grace” and replacing it with the notion of “God’s kindness.”

Let me tell you a bit about these scholars, and their reasoning.

The Contemporary English Version (CEV) was produced by employees of the American Bible Society (ABS) working under the direction of one of the Society’s officers, Dr. Barclay M. Newman.soap-box sermon

Newman explained in an interview that he and his assistants “did a lot of research with children.” They wanted to create a text that was equivalent to a fourth grade reading level. “We also did a lot of research with persons who were not familiar with traditional biblical jargon, persons who are almost street people as a matter of fact, and then we tried to simply listen to the way that people speak … We got it by their language, the way they speak, and did our translating accordingly.”

In other words, let’s publish a Bible that small children, and those who are biblically illiterate can easily understand. Hey, a good idea is not necessarily a GOD idea.

For the record, I do not fault these scholars for their efforts, and at times I find their spin on certain verses of Scripture to be helpful; but in this matter regarding God’s grace, they missed the mark by miles.

Friends, there are some things you just don’t tamper with; things that need no editing, no face-lift, no help from modern man. We do not take God’s words and translate them into the way biblically illiterate people think and speak. Are we out of our minds!

Paul said it best: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1Co 2:4-5).

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Co 2:13-14).

In other words, there are some things we will never know apart from God opening our hearts and giving us understanding. That’s just the way it is – and God is pleased to have it that way. James Ryle

Despite their good intentions the collaborators who worked on the CEV have presented a product that falls far below the mark of truth; there is nothing at all mysterious nor majestic about their treatment of one of the single greatest revelations ever given by God to man — GRACE.

Instead, Grace is diminished into little more than sentimental mush. The emphasis in not upon God’s greatness, it is upon our worthlessness. We – poor, pitiable, and pathetic sinners – incapable of good, and undeserving of kindness, cower before God in weak and plaintive cries. And because He is so kind, loving, merciful and good — He forgives us and lets us in anyway.lightning bug

Words have meaning, and their meanings have consequence. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

By watering down the message of grace to make it fit more readily into our contemporary mindset, we deprive ourselves and others of one of the single most empowering truths in the Bible. No wonder so much of what passes for “Christianity” today is so utterly void of God’s presence and power.

Oh, I know; I know — your church is different. But I’m talking about all those other “dead zones.” You know, places where you can’t even get a signal? What are we to do about them? Whether we realize it or not, their weakness impacts our strength; their floundering calls into doubt our faithfulness; their limitations ultimately hold us back from our higher aspirations. For the Watching World sees us all as one Body – fragmented, powerless and offering no real message for their lives.

“Lord, Help us!”

OK. I’ll step off my soapbox now, and first thing in the morning we’ll head on our way to a place named Grace.

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