Monday, August 26, 2013

Are you chosen to understand? 5

Almost done watching Mark Driscoll jump the shark on the ESV... I'm wondering if his church has had just about enough of his noodle whippings.

Previous posts include:
1. The letter kills, the Spirit gives life.
2. All translation involves interpretation.
3. Stay out of semantics; keep your day job.
4. Driscoll likes big words.

His fifth point is:
5. Scripture isn't always easy to understand.
I believe there is a touch of Driscoll's 5 point Calvinism hiding in this one.  Not everyone is predestined to "have ears to hear" and therefore there's no point in trying to make the Bible as clear as possible, because God has just made some people seed to be eaten by the birds. Notice how he words the first couple lines: "God loves the whole world... and we should seek to reach as many people as possible" (italics mine).  Subtext--God himself is not trying to reach everyone, although we should because we don't know who is predestined.

This undertone is mixed with other comments: "There’s no doubt that we should make every effort to have the Bible translated in words that as many people as possible can understand. But we must also be careful not to cross a line where we change God’s words in hopes that more people will be willing to accept them." That doesn't sound too bad in itself, but he's just plain wrong in where he thinks the line is, as we've seen in the previous posts.

So does translating "justify" with "put us in right standing" (the Message) cross the line? Not in the slightest. IMO this is an excellent translation that makes the sense of "justify" really clear.  Are modern translations avoiding "propitiation" because they don't like the idea of God's wrath? I seriously doubt it. And, like I implied in the last post, "propitiate" contradicts Driscoll's earlier desire only to translate what it says and to leave the interpretation to commentaries.

In the end, I don't think Driscoll really means it when he says, "we should make every effort to have the Bible translated in words that as many people as possible can understand." His approach is filled with the theological orientation that says, God will enable a lucky few to reach up to him rather than that God tries to reach down to everyone. By contrast, God's revelatory principle is the incarnation principle. Revelation is God reaching down to us, meeting us where we are and moving us along. It is not God bringing us up fully to where he is.

God has always "dumbed down" the message--our human minds are not capable of understanding him fully or on a completely literal level.  God would rather people understand something rather than nothing. His normal operating mode is to speak to us like children who can only understand the barest amount.  The only full revelation of God is Jesus Christ.  Anything else is idolatry, setting up an image of God in our minds.

1 comment:

Christopher C. Schrock said...

Your last comment made me think of Calvin's ICR, where he says God lisps to us like nurses do to children. :)