Friday, October 20, 2023

God's Language

As always, there is an easier way to understand the Bible than attempting to contextualize it according to whatever the prevailing political winds happen to be (and in fact, that's what we've been doing - trying to make the Bible more "politically correct," as if Jesus ever cared about such a thing). 

It goes against everything the world tries to tell us about what it means to be humans living in a particular time in a particular place. It goes against what we think we understand about this thing called "culture." It goes against the message that has been so beaten into our heads on account of contextualization for so many years. 

But it lines up perfectly with everything that we know about God. 

So what is that other way? 

That other way is to believe that God wrote a timeless Word that speaks to us in our own culture in exactly the way that He intended it to without us needing to contextualize it at all. That other way is to believe that our eternal God, Creator of all things, is capable of providing a message for us that doesn't change based on culture. 

Now, the immediate objection to this is, "Well, Aidan, I hear what you're saying, but someone had to translate the Bible for us from Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic into English, and at the point that that happened, it became a cultural product necessarily tied to a specific people, time and place. We can't just ignore that." 

We are not ignoring that. Rather, what we are saying is that it doesn't really matter. What we are saying is that God used that translator to produce this good in the format He wanted us to have. You know, the same way that He used human beings in the first place to produce a Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic good. 

It's a really hard argument to make if you try to say that God inspired the authors of the original Scriptures, but did not inspire the translators just the same. It says something about what you believe about God, and it says quite a bit about what you believe about men. 

Okay, so maybe you accept this point, but it leads only to the next natural question: if God used those translators to give us the Scriptures as we have them, then who am I to say that He's not using the contextualizers to give us the scriptures they're trying to give us? 

Quite simply put, the answer is straightforward: today's contextualizers are taking us further away from the Gospel Jesus, not closer to Him. 

For centuries, the translations that have arisen have been rather close to what the original languages suggest. But no longer are we satisfied just translating language; now, we're trying to translate culture. And in doing so, we are changing the contexts of persons and peoples and the very message of Christ. We are twisting things to make them make sense, not just to make them reflect our language but also to reflect our common ethic. 

And if there's one thing God doesn't care about, it's what the world thinks is right. 

But here we are. 

Which is why I can confidently say that the God who created us male and female is not inspiring a new generation to make His Word gender neutral. The God who created a woman out of a man and gave the two to one another is not inspiring a group of academics and cultural "experts" to declare that male and femaleness do not matter. The God who sent His Son not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, is not now inspiring a whole new generation to abolish it. 

And, I would add, the God who deliberately wrote women into His Story at every major turning point - Sarai, Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Phoebe, Lydia, and many others - did not send a team of high-brow academics to "uncover" the "missing" women in the Bible. He already told us plainly that they were right there. 

So that's it. That's my proposal. My proposal is that the easier way is to believe that our eternal God is capable of giving us a timeless work that may have to be translated as languages change, and can be done so by inspired translators the same as the original works were created by inspired authors, but it's a timeless work that doesn't have to be contextualized. 

Because culture has never dictated what truth is. 

Only God has. 

Only God can. 

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