A couple of days ago, I wrote that scripture is worth little if it does not communicate, and I promised to follow up.
For anyone who might be prone to be taken aback by even the possibility of devaluing scripture, I’ll state it again, with more preface and more punch:
Our scriptures are not holy in the sense of “don’t touch because they’re unimaginably beyond you” or “don’t write in the margins because this is so pure and cannot be adulterated” and “heaven forgive you if you drop your Bible in the parking lot.”
Rather, our scriptures are designed and set apart for the purpose of communicating with humans . . . for interacting with human life and conversing, as it were. Where scripture is found to be non-communicative, something should be adjusted: either my understanding, or the translated language of the scripture, or both.
There are passages that I likely will never understand — but many others that I have grown, and/or am growing, to understand better. It does not discredit our great God to suggest that the words of scripture, having been translated a time or three through the ages, might require some effort to understand.
Communication takes effort.
In this case, God has expended great effort through His servants who wrote the words that became scripture millennia ago. I’d say most of the effort ought to be mine these days, as I seek to understand and then to apply.
Some people, and some denominations and congregations, simply do not understand the nature of language. They are careless with words and word studies — like all of us at times. And some even insist on a single translation of the Bible — which should be against the law for all of us, all the time. Hey, let’s add this to the ACLU’s agenda: biblical-version freedom as a civil liberty, a right of every believer!
In the pursuit of understanding, where we have a choice, we ought to use versions of scripture that contribute most readily to communication.