The Love of the Truth Part I
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth, John 17:7.
Over 40 years ago I was invited to attend a Greek Orthodox Easter Mass in one of the many churches of Athens, Greece. At that time in my life, I had just begun reading and studying the word of God. As I looked at all of the people standing around (no pews), and as I watched the priest wave a censor and light candles, I could not help thinking about the Apostle Paul's admonition to the Philippians; Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12.
I listened to the chanting of the priests as they intoned "Χριστός Ανέστη" (Christós Anésti) meaning Christ is risen. I stood among the crowd watching this doleful enactment of the exact same words and ritual that had been practiced for over a thousand years and I could not help but reflect on how far these people had strayed from obedience to Paul's directives. Neither the priests nor the people needed an exact bible to do what they were doing. The bible was in their churches as a a relic, but they lived and breathed the liturgies of John Chrysostom from 1500 years earlier.
Western Fundamental Christianity is slowly headed in that direction. Before such a dull orthodoxy can be achieved, the word of God needs to be moved from its place of honor in the hearts of Christians and in the practice of the church. Could any plan to replace the word of God in its preeminent position be more cunning than to make the word of God to be malleable in the hands of man? Are we to obey the words of a bible whose exact words are in constant flux?
That question does not seem to bother the broad evangelical community. It seems to be their main departure from conservatism. These are people who in the main oppose abortion, support Israel and in their political life vote for conservative candidates. If there was to be a proposal made to alter the United States Constitution to make it read more easily to modern readers, these same people who lightly sit by and watch the same thing done with the words of God would go apoplectic at the thought of modifying any phrase in the core legal documents that form their nation.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Imagine now that we apply the same reasoning to the constitution that is behind the new translations:
All of us in the United States are writing this to make our union better. We want to make things fair, keep people at peace with each other, make armies and navies, and see to it that people can get welfare. Because we all want to have liberty for us and our children, we are establishing this constitution.
For those of us who have watched the steady erosion of common sense law and constitutional interpretation, we would grieve to see such changes. Some of the foremost conservative political writers from within the evangelical community are in the forefront of keeping the original constitution as pure as possible. They have seen the great destruction wrought when liberal judges neglect the exact wording of the American Constitution and interpret it as they please. Yet, these same men will sit idly by while the very words of God are manipulated for profit under the guise of making them easier to read.
The problem is that like liberal court judges, these men and women do not derive their theology from any particular place. They are in tune with schools of theology which are in a constant state of flux and don't necessarily need any exact verse or passage. Like liberal judges who lightly blow off the exact wording of a legal passage, these men feel no obligation to conform to any version. They simply thumb through as many versions as possible to justify what they believed before they started their research. They look at all those versions, stick in their thumb, pull out a plumb and say "what a good boy am I".