“yea, hath God said?”
I was recently reading a blog by a Christian homeschooler who adamantly opposes the practice of spanking, even equating it to assault and/or child abuse. As I read some of the materials linked from this blog’s posts, I came across one article that underscores the problem created by modern English Bible versions — namely, confusion over knowing what God has actually told us.
The author of the article, entitled Christian Scholars and Preachers Disagree on Spanking Children, contrasts the King James rendering of several verses against the ESV and modern scholarly opinion. For instance, in Proverbs 19:18, the KJV says
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
whereas the ESV says
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
I am hoping you can see that these two verses, though they use some of the same words, do not in the least bit say the same thing.
The author concedes that the KJV supports the practice of spanking as a form of discipline (I shall not get into the when, whys, and hows here) but then claims that this is due to the fact that the KJV “is a very poor paraphrase of what the original Hebrew text conveys.” Is that really so? No mention is given of the fact that the KJV has a different underlying text from modern versions like the ESV. Likewise, no mention is given of the fact that the KJV’s translators used a different translation method (formal equivalence) from that of most modern version translators (dynamic equivalence). In addition, no mention is given of the level of training and expertise the KJV translators had, which I can only dream of ever having in this lifetime. The claim that the KJV is a “poor paraphrase,” then, is in the very least a misleading characterization of the situation.
But that issue aside, what is the result of relying on modern translations? It is mass confusion over what God has actually said, which is alluded to in the article’s title. Indeed, if the experts are confused, how can the average people in the pews be expected to figure it out? We Christians are told that we need to rethink our beliefs and doctrines and revise them to fit with what modern scholars are saying:
When we consider what theological scholars and more modern Bible versions are teaching us, many of the ideas about spanking children, which are thought of as foregone conclusions and tried and tested Bible wisdom, become teachings which in fact are not so clear after all…
…In doing so, we may even find that things which we believed were clear and plain are in fact not that way at all and we may need to rethink even cherished teachings that we hold dear and think are true, especially if we find that our beliefs do not square with the facts.
So you see, while Christians once supported the practice of spanking, they were wrong on this issue for the past two thousand years and now modern scholars have set us straight and told us what God really said….er….meant by what He really said. And what He meant is actually the opposite of what Christians always thought He meant. And that’s just one issue.
Do you see how easily Christian doctrines, beliefs, and practices can be changed once Christians decide to follow the “experts” and embrace the ever-changing modern English Bible versions?
Do you see how easily Christians can be persuaded that black is white and white black simply by changing the Bibles they read?
Do you see how easily Christians can be led to make shipwrecks of their faith depending on who they follow?
The Bible translation issue is crucial, especially when one understands that there are forces at work around the world today attempting to implement a one world religion, and these forces don’t play pretty. Just looking at the verses above, I am struck by how easy it would be to fold the vast majority of professing Christians into that religion — which will not be Christian at all — just by changing their Bibles and confusing them with what the “experts” say. Maybe that’s an unintended consequence of the influence of modern scholarship on Christian sacred texts. But then again, maybe that’s been the plan all along.
But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.