Tag Archives: discourse

Committed to holiness but not holier than thou

There was an interesting story on NPR about vegans and vegetarians. The title was “Do Vegetarians And Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?” I found the conclusion of the story especially intriguing:

It’s clear to me that Friedrich and Patrick-Goudreau believe not that they are better people than meat-eaters, but instead that their dietary practices are better for animals, and for our world as a whole, than the habits of meat-eaters. Why do many people so readily confuse these two things?

That made me think about some of the discussions I’ve had over the last few years. There are times when I’ve found it hard to express the idea that I believe a certain way of living and acting is better, yet I don’t think that I’m better than those that choose differently. Some examples:

  • I have come to believe that Christians should not participate in wars. Yet I remain proud of some I know that have chosen a different path, not because of what they did, but because of their reasons for doing so.
  • I think that involvement in politics dilutes our effectiveness in this world, yet I have good friends who hold office and others who are extremely active in their respective parties. Again, I don’t agree with their choice, but I don’t question their motives.
  • I have come to believe that patriotism and nationalism are threats to spirituality, yet I know Christians that I greatly admire who believe just the opposite.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. We hold to our convictions, firmly believing that we are right. Yet we can do so without judging others and without believing that our stance somehow makes us better than others. I will try to convince others of my position and hope they will try to convince me of theirs. That’s how we grow as Christians. Yet it must always be done with an air of acceptance and respect.

Anybody up for a good steak?

Talking About What We Don’t Understand

I rarely read those group e-mails that get sent out. If someone wants to send me something, they can send it to me personally. I especially avoid anything that says “Fwd:” in the subject line.

But the other day I read an article that a brother was sending to a lot of us who work among Spanish speakers. When I got to the bottom of the article, I realized that it had merely been copied from a web site.

The writer was attacking the “modern versions,” especially focusing on Acts 20:28. He was defending the 1602 Valera version in Spanish and the 1611 King James version in English — not realizing, of course, that these two versions disagree with one another on the translation of this particular verse. The article railed against Westcott and Hort and the Alexandrian texts that they followed, praising the integrity of the Byzantine texts. It accused later versions of wanting to deny the deity of Jesus by changing “church of God” to “church of the Lord” in this verse.

Unfortunately, whoever wrote this particular piece apparently hadn’t done their homework. Several Alexandrian texts read “church of God” in this passage. Several Byzantine texts read “church of the Lord.” And there are lots of variants from there. In English, it’s the King James that reads “church of the Lord” and the modern texts which read “church of God.” It just so happened that that trend was reversed in Spanish.

What I find sad is that people can be so intent on arguing about something that they will argue even when they have little understanding of the subject they are arguing about! I especially tire of this when it comes to versions, as accusations are thrown around about “they made this change to promote ___.”

I have long said that I in my years of study I have only found one version that made intentional changes while translating: the New World Translations produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Admittedly, there may be some that I haven’t seen. And I know that the Conservative Bible Project is doing their level best to produce a “translation” that will match their views. But in general, translators are trying to do just that: translate.

I’m going to try and do better about giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially those that disagree with me. I hope you’ll do the same.