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New Bible strips ‘God,’ ‘Jesus,’ ‘angels’

New Bible strips ‘God,’ ‘Jesus,’ ‘angels’
Believers warned: ‘attuned to the times’ is just ‘watered down’
by Michael Carl

A new Bible translation released by Thomas Nelson changes the nouns for God, Jesus Christ and angels to Eternal One, the Anointed One and a messenger of God. But critics say the project that supposedly is “attuned to the times” is just a Gospel that’s been “watered down.”

The Voice translation, a joint project between Thomas Nelson and the Ecclesia Bible Society, was released this spring.

The translation comes at the same time that critics contend Wycliffe Bible Translators is changing the names for God and Jesus to appease a Muslim target audience.

David Wells, a research professor at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, said debates over Bible translation are nothing new.

“This, actually, is an old debate,” he explained. “Do you translate Scripture word for word or sense for sense? The ESV is word for word (i.e. what we would call literal).

“I can tell that the Ecclesia Bible Society/Thomas Nelson version is sense for sense. It is more of a paraphrase like the old J.B. Phillips.”

Wells continued, “That’s OK if you read it as a paraphrase. But if you read it as a translation, it is not OK because there is always commentary in the paraphrase. Commentary is OK if it is read as commentary, but it should not be read as the text itself.”

Thomas Nelson gives its reason for the new translation on its website.

One of the byproducts of the information age in the church has been its focus on biblical knowledge. Many Bibles reflect this, packed with informative notes, charts, and graphs. While there’s nothing wrong with having a deep knowledge, a personal connection and deep relationship are far better. This is exemplified by Jesus’ comment to Martha, “Oh Martha, Martha, you are so … concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 The Voice).

A theologian and biblical scholar, who asked to remain nameless, said the Nelson comment reveals a major social trend.

“The statement is right in line with a trend in current evangelicalism – [a] trend that says experience with the Scripture is more important than actual knowledge of the Scripture,” the theologian said.

An example of what Wells calls the “Sense for Sense” translation in the Voice is God’s statement to the prophet, Zechariah, in Zechariah 4:6. The English Standard Version (the translation Wells cited) reads as follows:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

The same verse in The Voice reads as follows:

“Your strength and prowess will not be enough to finish My temple, but My Spirit will be.”

An example of the change in the names used for God and the emphasis placed on God’s law is seen in Matthew 22:37-40, where Jesus is answering a question about the most important commandment:

And he (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The Voice version of the same set of verses is as follows:

Jesus (quoting Scripture): “Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.”

Another example is from the scene where Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4:18-19.

The English Standard Version renders the passage:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

The same passage from the Voice reads:

“The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me. Why? Because the Eternal designated Me to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them. He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free, and to tell the blind that they can now see. He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression. In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim now is the time; this is the jubilee of the Eternal One’s grace.”

A second Christian ethicist and theologian who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The differences may not seem significant. It’s a subtle and gradual effect.”

“Christians are correct in being concerned that versions like The Voice slowly contribute to a lessening reverence for the holiness of God,” the theologian said.

Evangelical cultural analyst and publisher of the Christian-based “Movieguide,” Ted Baehr, said he shares the concerns of those who believe The Voice will harm people’s perception of the holiness of God.

“These translations are undermining the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Word written,” he said.

Baehr, who is also a leader in the Coalition on Revival, said there’s a very basic fundamental debate going on within the evangelical community.

“There is a lot of theology going on here as you well know,” he said. “That said, even if the translation captures some of the meaning of the terms. It is dreadfully watered down. C. S. Lewis once said something like, ‘Watered down Christianity is nothing.’”

Wells said the likely motive for the new project is profit: “Why did Nelson do this? My guess – pure guess – is the dollar signs.”

His second another likely reason is due to weakness in the present evangelical community.

“The Christian faith of the evangelical kind is somewhat distant from where it started out, even in the immediate post-War period,” Wells said. “The Bible doesn’t make as much sense today in the evangelical world as it once did – isn’t that an irony? So, to a new translation more attuned to the times.

“Was it T.S. Eliot who said the less people read the Bible the more they translate it?”

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A Uniting of World Religions

Pope to promote peace in talks with world religious leaders

Posted by AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

VATICAN CITY,– Pope Benedict XVI has invited 300 religious leaders to a meeting in Assisi in Italy to repudiate “violence in the name of God” amid growing tensions fuelled by fundamentalists across the world.

The day of interreligious council, which will be held on Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi’s birthplace, is intended to be a “journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world,” the Vatican said.

Over 50 Islamic representatives are expected to attend the talks from several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

They will be joined by Rabbis, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism and Confucianism as well as of other traditional religions from Africa and America.

For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is traditionally organised so as not to coincide with the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, the Jewish one on Saturday or the Christian one on Sunday.

However, the Imam from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a heavyweight authority on Sunnism, will not be coming, having fallen out with the pope after he urged Egypt to protect Christians from attacks by radical Islamists.

The meeting is being criticised by Catholic fundamentalists who are strongly against the idea of dialogue with other religions. French fundamentalist Regis de Cacqueray said 1,000 masses would be needed to be said in reparation.

The event marks the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting in Assisi, organised by John Paul II in 1986 as a “day of prayer” inspired by the United Nation’s proclamation of an International Year of the Peace.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, chose not to attend because of concerns shared by traditionalists that it risked mixing religions into a vague common belief.

While guests attending this year’s encounter — the third in Assisi — will in principle follow a “common course”, those who wish to pray will do so separately, according to their beliefs, the Holy See has said.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who helped organise the first Assisi day in 1986, said John Paul II had been careful to avoid mixing beliefs, and Benedict XVI was no different.

“Interreligious dialogue has spread” over the last 25 years, and the pope sees it “as a common, irrevocable heritage of Christian sensibility,” he said.

The pope’s main aim is for participants to agree to “a common commitment to reject the instrumentalism of religion and the use of violence in the name of God,” said a Vatican insider.

Number two of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pier Luigi Celata, said the problems that particularly concern religions are immigration, cultural diversity, religious liberty and the defence of the family.

“These issues oblige faithful people from different religions to look for common solutions,”
he said.

At the end of the day of talks, the main participants will renew their commitment to peace in the square in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.

A burning torch will be symbolically presented to the delegations in the hope that they will take the message back with them to their communities.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

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Van Impe ministry abandons TBN in clash over Islam

A Christian ministry’s decision to expose as “false teachers” several celebrity ministers it believes are corrupting biblical teachings has prompted a rift, with Jack Van Impe Ministries dropping plans to work in the future with Trinity Broadcasting Network, where it has broadcast for more than two decades.

“I Will Not Be Silenced! I will not allow anyone to tell me what I can and cannot preach,” Van Impe said in a statement when TBN would not allow his program to air.

“When I see heretical teaching leading to apostasy, I will speak out,” he said. “The Bible says ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:’ (II Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Paul also gives instructions in Titus 1:9-11, 13 ‘Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers … Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake…Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.'”

Van Impe said he immediately called his media agents and told them, “I no longer wanted to air my program on Trinity Broadcasting Network; we will take the tremendous amount of money that we were spending there to obtain new stations that will allow us to continue to reach every square mile of America with the truths of the Bible without this network.”

The dispute arose over the issue of advocating for “Chrislam” and other efforts that are designed to find “common ground” between Christians and Muslims. TBN declined to air one of Van Impe’s programs that contained sharp criticisms of leaders such as Rick Warren of “The Purpose Driven Life” fame and Robert Schuller.

In a statement from Van Impe Ministries today, Executive Director Ken Vancil said his organization rejected an effort by TBN to reinstate the programming and would work to develop alternative broadcast outlets where they were needed.

“We would not be able to minister effectively if we had to look over our shoulder wondering if a program was going to be censored because of mentioning a name,” Vancil said. “While there is hurt over this incident, we hold no animosity towards TBN. Dr. Van Impe has often expressed his appreciate to Paul and Jan (Crouch, of TBN) and all that they have accomplished.”

But he confirmed that Paul Crouch Sr. “cautioned” him as recently as Monday “regarding Dr. Van Impe’s naming of names and publicly rebuking ministers and their teachings.”

The dispute erupted just last week, when Van Impe’s ministry planned to air sharp criticism of Christians who say they want to “reach out” by incorporating beliefs or practices of Islam into their Christian organizations.

The program specifically mentioned Warren and Schuller, prompting TBN to prevent the broadcast.

TONY BLAIR: THE NEW WORLD CHURCH

“We received a call from Matt Crouch of TBN informing us that they would not run that program. … The reason he gave was that we specifically mentioned Rick Warren and Robert Schuller and that it is TBN’s policy that broadcasters are not allowed to rebuke other ministries,” Van Impe said.

“This is a rather hypocritical statement in light of the fact that they have never said anything in the past when we have rebuked others such as Bishop Spong, Bishop Pike, and in the past few months Harold Camping and Rob Bell,” he continued. “They also stated that they would not run any future program where we offered our DVD Reclaiming & Restoring Biblical Christianity as a premium for a donation to our ministry. A DVD that exposes false teachers and the heresies that they proclaim.”

TBN did not respond to WND’s request for comment on the dispute.

Vancil said after TBN’s decision not to air the program that there was no future between the two groups.

“This was not an easy decision; we have had a relationship with TBN for 23 years. … But at this point we feel it is time to part ways,” he said. “We have been able to over the years develop an independent network of broadcast stations all across America as well as broadcasting on TBN and Daystar. Our media agents have worked diligently and determined that we need to add 14 stations to be able to continue fully covering every mile of America.

“Praise God I am pleased to announce that negotiations have progressed in these 14 markets and that contracts will be presented to the Van Impes for approval in a matter of days,” he said.

In the program that was cut, which remains available on the Jack Van Impe Ministries website, the ministry launches its campaign regarding “apostate ministers.”

Van Impe explains that the Bible prophesies a one-world government and a one-world religion during the end times, and his concern focuses on the move among some Christian organizations to adopt some Islamic thought and incorporate elements of Islam into their worship.

“We’ve got too many of these mush-mouth preachers. All they’re doing is two stories and a movie review,” he said. But the Bible actually outlines that its messages also are to “reprove and rebuke” Christians for failing to live for God.

According to the broadcast, “Chrislam is a term that may be used more often among apostate churches.”

Such Islamic and evangelical Christian leaders, the report explained, are working to find a way to promote “common beliefs the two religions supposedly share.

Specifically cited were Warren and Schuller.

During a subsequent broadcast, also available on the ministry’s website, the advance of “Chrislam” thoughts and practices into Christian churches was described as a “tsunami of compromise.”

“This compromise is going to permeate Christianity,” Van Impe said. “I’m calling for the old-time religion to be restored.

“God called me to preach. And I will not stand down for any man, for any church, for any Christian organization,” he said.

The report noted that there are some Christian missionaries overseas who have “eliminated 91 verses in God’s Holy Word because they wanted to please Islam and the Muslims.”

Those references identify Jesus as the Son of God.

Other developments include moves by some Christian churches to remove clear Christian emblems such as crosses.

He said what churches need today is that “old time religion” and less “self-esteem psycho-babble.”

Criticized on the program were recommendations attributed to Warren that churches change music to a contemporary rock style, eliminate hymnbooks and the choir, eliminate the Sunday evening or Wednesday prayer services, remove the word “church” and refer to it as a “campus,” and reduce the use of the words “unsaved,” “lost,” “hell” and “heaven.

Other ministries have voiced criticism similar to Van Impe’s.

Joe Schimmel, senior pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Southern California and chief of the Good Fight Ministries, openly has questioned whether church leaders are affirming Allah.

Schimmel, who is best known for “They Sold Their Souls for Rock n Roll,” which exposes satanic influences behind much of yesterday and today’s popular music and how it negatively influences youth, suggested in a WND column, “Could it be that we are witnessing the formation of the prophesied one-world religion under the Antichrist? (Revelation 13:1-18)

He cited Brian McLaren of the emerging church movement, who planned for an Islamic Ramadan celebration. And he mentioned Warren’s agreement to address the Islamic Society of North America, which “the Department of Justice categorized two years ago as a co-conspirator in financing a foreign terrorist group!”

Another church leader, Tony Campolo, “a proponent of the so-called ‘evangelical left‘ claimed that ‘even if’ Muslims ‘don’t convert, they are God’s people,'” Schimmel wrote.

“Even more chilling is the fact that over 300 prominent Christian leaders signed a letter issued by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture claiming that world peace is dependent on Muslims and Christians recognizing ‘Allah‘ and ‘Yahweh’ as the same God. This letter, titled ‘Loving God and Neighbor Together,‘ was written in response to a signed document by 138 Muslim leaders titled ‘A Common Word Between Us and You.’ McLaren, Warren, Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels were just several of the signatories to this outright betrayal of Christ!” he said.

TBN previously had a conflict over its intolerance for criticism of Islam. It was in 2006 when Hal Lindsey, WND columnist and one of the world’s most popular non-fiction authors, clashed with the network because TBN wanted him to soften his views on Muslims. Lindsey refused.

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