Freedom to Use More than One Translation

At BBA’s senior high ‘school’ retreat at Camp Anchorage, Pastors Bill, Joey, David, myself, and Mr. Farmer preached from the book of Colossians. Our preaching was focused on helping each student understand what Paul’s message was to the church at Colossae and its application to and for us today. Passages of Scripture were read and analyzed, and our ultimate goal was for the students to be able to comprehend the truths of God’s Word for themselves. We asked questions directly from the Bible text, and we wanted each individual student to be able to grasp the message of the text. This was certainly not an easy task, but we feel that the students are rapidly approaching adulthood, and they need to learn to read and understand the Bible for themselves. We know in Paul’s day these students would have been part of the house churches and small group assemblies where Paul’s letter was read aloud to the body of Christ. So, we did the same thing. We read the letter to the students, but our letter was different; it was a translation, but not just any translation; our translation was 400 years old.  It was translated in such a way that the people of the 17th and 18th century would have been able to understand the English well, but we are now in the 21st century, and our beloved English language has changed significantly. We don’t talk that way anymore; our vocabulary is decidedly different. We were preachers preaching with our hands tied behind our backs. There are newer, accurate translations we could have used, but the church constitution does not give us the freedom to utilize something different. And I have to ask: when it comes to our student ministries, how much longer will we continue to be handicapped in our ability to use an equally accurate and trustworthy translation without archaic renderings, obscure words, and difficult sentence structure? 

It is not necessary that everyone immediately stop using the KJV in favor of the ESV (English Standard Version). Last Sunday night, I showed a long list of very archaic words in the KJV from just the letter C; and unfortunately, the difficulty does not stop there. Numerous archaic words are employed throughout the KJV, and the only way one could insist that the KJV should be used exclusively is if there was acceptance of the theory that God led the KJV translators in a very specific way that was different than all other translation committees throughout history. Were they inspired of God to always pick the correct English words? In order to believe such a thing we would need to have Bible texts that prophesy of the coming of such an exclusive English translation. 

For 400 years, the KJV has undoubtedly stood the test of time. It is a very accurate translation, but as is the case with all translations, it is not perfect. All translations must be compared to the original manuscripts in the original languages, as well as against other translations, for the greatest clarity in understanding the meaning and intent of the text. Can we add a good word-for-word translation to the choices available for our teaching and preaching ministry? Can we have the freedom to use more than one translation?

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