Inoffensive "Bibles" bear toxic fruit...

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London's Mail Online reports: "Parents and godparents no longer have to ‘repent sins’ and ‘reject the devil’ during christenings after the Church of England rewrote the solemn ceremony. The new wording is designed to be easier to understand... In the original version, the vicar asks: ‘Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?’ Prompting the reply: ‘I reject them.’ They then ask: ‘Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?’, with the answer: ‘I repent of them.’ 

But under the divisive reforms, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and already being practised in 1,000 parishes, parents and godparents are asked to ‘reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises’ – with no mention of the devil or sin. The new text ...also drops the word ‘submit’ in the phrase ‘Do you submit to Christ as Lord?’ because it is thought to have become ‘problematical’, especially among women who object to the idea of submission."

Yes, yes; "the new wording is designed to be easier to understand." Reading this news piece reminded me of the corruption of the text of Scripture in our new Bible versions. Reformed Evangelicals justified it too with the claim they were making Scripture "easier to understand." But it's all bunk. The problem our new Bibles are designed to address is not readers' lack of understanding, but the text's offensiveness. And if we're honest, we'll admit we've only begun our quest to render God's word innocuous.

Why stop with the removal of words like "Jews," "old wives tales," "man," "brothers," and "effeminate" when words like "devil," "rebellion," "sin," "submit," and "repent" remain in the text? And why do we have such little faith in the understanding of simple Christians. It was not always that way.

Starting in the seventeenth century, the Protestant, Reformed Christians of New England had one of the highest...

literacy rates of history because they were determined their sons and daughters would read and honor God's Word, the Bible. Scripture was the core of their education. They taught their little ones the first letter of the alphabet through the ditty "In Adam's Fall, we sinned all," and Harvard and Yale were founded to train their pastors with well over half their graduates entering the ministry.

Until recently, the most obvious mark distinguishing America from other nations was our universal knowledge and reverence for Scripture passed down from our founding fathers. Scholars praise Jonathan Edwards as maybe the greatest philosophic mind ever produced in these United States, but not enough has been said about the parishioners who sat under and supported this sort of preaching:

Conscience is a principle natural to men; and the work that it doth naturally, or of itself, is to give an apprehension of right and wrong; and to suggest to the mind the relation that there is between right and wrong, and a retribution. The Spirit of God, in those convictions which unregenerate men sometimes have, assists conscience to do this work in a further degree, than it would do if they were left to themselves: he helps it against those things that tend to stupefy it, and obstruct its exercise. But in the renewing and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, those things are wrought in the soul that are above nature, and of which there is nothing of the like kind in the soul by nature; and they are caused to exist in the soul habitually, and according to such a stated constitution or law, that lays such a foundation for exercises in a continued course, as is called a principle of nature. Not only are remaining principles assisted to do their work more freely and fully, but those principles are restored that were utterly destroyed by the fall; and the mind thenceforward habitually exerts those acts that the dominion of sin had made it as wholly destitute of, as a dead body is of vital acts.

This is an excerpt from a sermon preached by Edwards on Matthew 16:17 in August of 1733.1 Titled A Divine and Supernatural Light, the sermon preached to the townsfolk of Northampton demonstrates how highly developed Northampton's commoners were in their reasoning and listening skills. This was their normal fare each Lord's Day worship service. Yes, Edwards was brilliant, but his congregation's appreciation and support of his work is too often overlooked. Northamptoners didn't complain. They didn't ask for milk, but were thankful for this meat week after week, month after month, year after year. 

Try to imagine our own Reformed church members comprehending such a sermon.

Today, Christian fathers and mothers aren't teaching their children to read the Bible. And if children do open a Bible, it's likely to have had thousands of God's words altered or removed for the sake of better sales. Reading is mostly tweets and texts, now, but if someone should want to read God's words, he'll find the majority of Bibles sold today pander to postmodern consumers by deleting Scripture's many, many offensive words—again, all in the name of making Scripture "easier to understand."

It's hard to sell products postmoderns judge to be homophobic, racist, sexist, or anti-semitic, so for several decades Bible salesmen have been busy updating their products so they don't lose their appeal. Thus the Church has become acclimated to a new brand of Christian preaching and witness that is as inoffensive as her Bibles.

Do you know your Bible? Do you know what our Lord told us about the world's hatred?2 So then, how can a true Christian be inoffensive within such a wicked age?

Our Bibles point the way.

Scared to death of being called a racist? Chill out. We've created a Bible product where the word 'slave' is deleted.

Worried about catcalls for being a homophobe? We have you covered. We've gotten rid of the Apostle Paul's homophobic slur.

Terror-stricken at the thought of being labelled a Jew-hater? Rest easy. We've toned down the Apostle John's nasty anti-Semitism.

Break out in cold sweats at the possibility of someone accusing you of not believing in the full equality of women? Never fear. We were very careful to gag that male authority stuff in 1Timothy. And where we could get away with it without our abandonment of the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture becoming too obvious, we cleaned up the Holy Spirit's male chauvinism.

The cumulative effect of our repudiation of God's words is becoming clear as Christians become indistinguishable from the pagans we live among. It's a closed cycle. Bible salesmen churn out the kind of Bibles we want and those Bibles turn us into the kind of people who want that kind of Bible. No wonder Christians today have made their peace with feminism, sodomy, and the repudiation of God's Fatherhood in man.

We have no basis for condemning Archbishop Welby's corruption of the liturgy of Thomas Cranmer when we ourselves have declared the corruption of the Holy Spirit's words no big deal.

  • 1. Jonathan Edwards [1730], Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733 (WJE Online Vol. 17) , Ed. Mark Valeri; accessed January 13, 2014.
  • 2. John 15:18-25
Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!