Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Message translation: like a bad movie you just have to finish watching...

I'm drawing close to the end of the Message translation of the Holy Bible, and now I'm firmly convinced that Eugene Peterson really had no idea what he was doing in this translation. I've just finished the letters to Timothy, and in addition to some of the sillier translations of familar passages, now, apparently, there are no gender restrictions to church leadership (per ch. 5, "Don't promote people to church leadership too hastily." Now it's people in leadership?) It just feels like this is the translation written for a United Methodist congregation, that just missed the mark of providing a literal translation of the holy text. I found this online, too, that offers a good identification of questionable areas of the translation, and is worth checking out for anyone considering picking up this tranlation.

It's sad to make this comparison, but the Message translation/distortion of the Scriptures is like a bad movie, that you just have to see to the end to justify the purchase cost ($10 at Lifeway. And on a related note, I'm becoming convinced of something that Pastor Baucham once said, that "Christian" bookstores like Lifeway need to put signs on their doors that say "the views expressed inside are not necessarily that of Christ and the Bible" (or words to that effect.)

On the surface, the idea behind the Message is a good one: roll the text out in a more easy to consume format for contemporary readers. But at the cost of compromising the integrity of the original MESSAGE, the Message misses the mark. I wonder if I can make a return to Lifeway, on grounds of Scriptural errancy in the translation?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rap-Con Rapture Meter?

Although I think that the Bible says that "no man knows the time" of the end times, I think this site has some interesting news presentations that are, if anything, curious indicators that we could very well be living at the end of the age. I've never seen a rapture-meter before, but it's a clever idea (if debatable in it's accuracy.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

More thoughts on the Message

I've finished the Old Testament translation of the Message, and now I'm into Matthew's gospel, and while some of the translation has been engaging through the Old Testament text, once we get into the gospels, the narrative seems to get a bit strange. Having recently studied Matt. 7 at church, I'm pretty sure that the translator is taking some liberties with some of the text, as if he's writing what he THINKS the text is stating, but which it actually isn't. Still, I'm going to see it through even though I would NOT recommend this translation to others.

Also, if anyone else, like me, transferred the Message MP3's from the disks to MP3 player and did not want to hear the frothy and mostly irrelevant mini-sermons between each book, here's the easy way to get rid of these fast from a CMD prompt...

Matt. 7:7-14

Some notes on Voddie's message about Matt. 7:7-14. Up to this point, the messages of the Beatitudes have focused on our role as Kingdom citizens, followed by the six antithesis ("you've hear it said... I say..."), and then Jesus addressed practical issues (prayer, fasting, giving, etc.). In Ch. 7, the sermon on the mount comes to a close. One of the things that pastor pointed out was that this message wasn't just aimed at "heathens and pagans", but rather it's about believers looking at the Pharisee's, the most righteous folks there were, and being directed to EXCEED their righteousness. And it's impossible to exceed that righteousness outside of the work of Christ alone.

v. 13-14 speak of the straight and narrow paths (Jer. 21:8 - "The way of life, the way of death"). Voddie spoke about the Christian life, and how it must be entered into intentionally. He addressed the more nominal approach to Christianity, that when asked "are you a Christian?", tend to reply with "I go to church", "I was raised a Christian", or "I've been a Christian all my life" (the later of which goes against the viewpoint of entering the Christian life intentionally, but rather makes it sound like an accidental pursuit.) Christianity is not an accidental endeavor, but instead is founded on repentance and faith (Mark 1 - "repent and believe"). To state that "I've been a believer all my life" is a theological impossibility.

Voddie pointed out that we all, by default, find the "wide gate" (the doctrine of original sin). We need to find the narrow gate. We seek it and petition God, with faith and repentance. So many churches this day teach an easy salvation, with belief without repentance, or acknowledgement of the burden of sin. The world wants to believe in Jesus "meek and mild", not the final judge who will convict us based upon our sins. We all deserve the death on the cross.

The expectation, as well, as that we will experience persecution as part of our walk. Modern teaching ("Best Life Yet" stuff) teaches that you should believe to escape persecution (in other words, they have the system backwards.) We learn from the Word that the one who endures to the end will be saved, not the one who just says "the sinner's prayer". We are encouraged to endure patiently.

Pastor also taught that our sin nature makes it difficult to find the narrow gate, as it's surrounded by the wide path. But our companions are few on this road. Language on the broad road, about the narrow road, is that the narrow-road travelers are "over committed", or "they're taking it too far." Responses like "Do you think we're wrong when there are THOUSANDS at our church, or because God is blessing our church?" This was a really good point, as I've struggled with how the local UM church can be so enormous, while being so shallow in it's teaching. The broad road is convenient, easy Christianity. Church on Sunday then go home and live as you like for a week.

We are exhorted to watch ourselves, and test ourselves. Jesus is the author and finished of our faith, and we should never adopt an attitude of, as Pastor said, "Thanks for dying, Jesus, but I did the rest myself." Endurance is evidence of our salvation - it's not a result of sheer credit to our own efforts. Salvation is about more than a "sinners prayer" on a specific date and time written in a Bible somewhere. It's about repentance, because you fully know and understand that you are a sinner deserving eternal wrath (and not just repentance in thinking that we are comparably less-wicked than the "Hitlers" of the world). Repentance and faith in the person and work of Christ alone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


A favorite hymn of mine, particularly the last verse: "Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia!" More background here.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!