How Shall They Read?

David Burchard Doctrine, Writings 3 Comments

This is a brief follow up to the article I posted on the Colorado Springs Guidelines. The point of that article was to criticize the CSB and NIV for being intentionally gender-inclusive versions.

By not translating adelphoi as brethren, or brothers, the CSB is missing the points God sovereignly makes with the word itself, that of male headship and the heirship of all the saints. It is a change of the God-breathed Word to accommodate to a rebellious culture that results in a loss of meaning. That ain’t good.

What do I want? I want churches to use Bibles other than the CSB or NIV. I want them using Bibles like the KJV and NKJV instead.

Why a follow-up? The common pushback to my position deserves recognition and answer. I have good friends in ministry who use the CSB as their preaching/pew Bible, not because they think it is the best translation, but because they find it so readable. For my friends ministering in low literacy areas, working-class areas where fewer folk get tertiary degrees, readability is a big deal. They want new believers encouraged to read their Bibles consistently in the morning. They want to be able to hand out Bibles to visitors and trust that reading level isn’t going to be a massive barrier.

This is a strong point to make against me. It comes from a desire for people to know God’s Word, to read it and understand it and trust it and be transformed by it. So, is this a strong enough point to sway things? Ought folks use a Bible like the CSB because of its readability?

I still think the answer is no. Here’s why:

First, we want folks reading and understanding and trusting God’s God-breathed words. And so the goal isn’t just giving folks the most readable thing out there.  We want God’s words themselves, as best we can get them in our language. They are the words of eternal life. It is by them that we know God and are sanctified. They feed us. Not just the thoughts. The words matter. The words were breathed. Readability is subservient to, it is subordinate to, accurate, specific translation.

Second, we are not the first English-speaking Christians to love the poor and the working class and want to reach them with the gospel. The illiterate and poorly educated of the 1600s would not have picked up a 1611 King James Bible and found it to go down like chicken noodle soup. It took real work to understand what was being read. It required improvement in reading ability. Pastors and teachers had to labor consistently to expose the meaning of Scripture from pulpits and in homes. But the challenge of a specific, accurate translation of the Bible didn’t retard change, it fueled it across the English speaking world. The King James Bible shaped language and thought and theology. Its words initiated, people responded and were conformed and changed.

Yes, people are lazy today. But laziness is not new. And so it does not particularly require a new solution.

Same challenges.

Same Bible. Same saltiness and light. Same call to take up and read with hard work and diligence, motivated by the greatness of the Author. Same need for teaching.

Same. Same. Same. Then death.

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