Thursday, 21 February 2008

Another Bible translation?

Yes, there is to be a new interdenominational translation of the Bible — for some sketchy details of this (as yet unnamed) translation, see the graphe site. Do we need another Bible? Surprisingly, I think the answer is yes. In our college community, the NIV seems to hold sway, with some use of the NRSV, the ESV and others. I encourage students to branch out and read, among others, the New English Bible, the Jerusalem Bible and the New Living Translation, though they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

The translations in most common use seem locked in a time warp in terms of their use of language. The thees and thous may have gone, but the sentence structure too often remains stilted. The characters who inhabit the pages of Scripture seem to speak in translationese, with expressions and idioms which no native English speaker would use. Just at random, would you ask a friend to “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored” (NIV), or would your prayer point be in the form, “Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, so that my hand may be restored to me” (NRSV - 1 Kings 13:6)? We’ve got to do better than this.

The editorial board includes the likes of David L. Petersen and Joel Green, and promises to devote attention to readability. The translation is to be “developed with a special emphasis on education and worship”.

The fact that the new translation includes the apocryphal books is not likely to endear it to conservative Protestants. Are we then condemned to keep using the NIV for the next 350 years just as the church I was in for a while was still insisting on the use of the KJV (“it sounded like a Bible should sound”) long after comprehension had ceased?

Friday, 15 February 2008

"the apology"

John Davies has commented on the apology already. It was well done and created a wonderful reaction around the country.

In April some of our students will spend a week or so in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Yesterday I caught up with Cliff Letcher from AIM who is organising the trip. He is no political radical, but he has worked with indigenous people and churches for a long time and understands their situation. His view is that  the apology is long over due. He also mentioned the work of a Christian couple who have gone to teach at Canteen Creek School in the NT and have "transformed" it. What great Christian ministry that is.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Sorry Day

It normally takes a horserace to bring Australia to a standstill, but yesterday it was a prime ministerial speech. Our staff watched as Kevin Rudd delivered the long awaited “Sorry” speech for the pain and grief that our nation, through deliberate policies and through indifference, has inflicted on our indigenous population. Worst of all the injustices was the implementation of a misguided belief that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly “half-castes,” would almost invariably be better off taken away from their parents and handed over to white families or church-run missions to bring up. Our Church, along with others, has some time ago apologized for its complicity in implementing these policies, albeit, with the best of intentions. It will probably be a long time before we hear a politician speak so movingly and the emotions of a nation so stirred. It remains to be seen to what extent our governments, state and federal, can translate sentiment into practical support for our indigenous communities in areas such as health and education. There is a danger that when the mood fades, little changes. It will take courage and hard work and ultimately the transforming power of the Christian hope at work in indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike, not resolutions of parliament, to effect real and lasting change and genuine reconciliation.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Disciple making - not just evangelism

I've been wrestling again today with the difference between 'just' telling someone the gospel and, gospelling with a view to disciple making. I am working on lectures for "Evangelism" in first semester. That led me to spend two hours this morning hanging out with Harry Burgess who's been disciple making and evangelising for years in churches at Campbelltown and Riverwood.

You always plot a route to take you where you want to end up, and if that end product's a disciple, that has to change things. I reckon a disciple has done more than 'turned to Christ' - they have set out on a journey. A disciple is a learner and follower (emphasis on the continuing present?) As Harry puts it, our gospelling doesn't just mention escape from judgment, but the life we live from here to then.

Of course if God's committing to a journey with them, so should we. Harry's take on that: the Great Commission goes along with the Great Commandment. I like that.