*This is the majority of a letter I recently wrote to some individuals I met at a Bible study that is in support of followers of Christ reading the KJV only, because they believe it is the most accurate version.*
Upon my comparing of verses in the KJV and NIV that were mentioned the other day (John 9:6, 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Daniel 7:10, Revelation 20:11, Genesis 1:2, Jeremiah 23:1-2, Matthew 7:22, Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-34 and Revelation 11:1-2) I certainly agree that there is a difference in language used as well as language omitted. But as I thought about the verses given to me to cross examine, despite the differences surrounding language, none of the verses seemed a deal breaker to my faith.
For instance, John 9:6 is an account of Jesus healing a blind man. In the KJV it says clay, in the NIV it says mud. Regardless of what substance was made by Jesus which was used to heal the blind man doesn’t cause my faith to waiver. A blind man’s sight was restored to him, and whatever substance used to heal him isn’t something to get hung up on. Focusing on whether it was clay or mud instead of the miracle performed is in my opinion missing the point.
With that being said I believe God is big enough to speak to our hearts and minds regardless of what version of the Bible we choose to use.
When it comes to baptism, I view it as an outward symbol much akin to Communion. Baptism doesn’t save you, believing in whom Jesus is and what he did and what he’s still doing, that is what saves you. Personally I don’t like using the word “saved” in regards to my journey of following Christ, as it seems to have the connotation that the saving work of Christ is isolated to one particular moment in our spiritual journey.
I believe that the saving God has to offer us is continuous, that God saved me yesterday and he will save me yet again today. To reduce the saving as a onetime occurrence seems theistic in nature and makes God out to be small, cruel, and actually apart from his creation. God offered up “it is good” again and again throughout the creation narrative, and I believe that he hasn’t retracted this statement despite how horrible we humans treat one another as well as this Earth he has given us.
Another thing about pertaining to baptism, this symbol shouldn’t create a sense of elitism. There was a similar issue in the early church in which there was a division caused male Jewish Christians to consider themselves better than Greek Christians, as they were circumcised while the Greeks were not. Yet Acts 15:7-11 reveals that Peter spoke up in regards to this matter to which he said in verse 11; “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (KJV). It was through the grace, not the external symbolism of circumcision that merited them salvation.
In regards to Communion, I’m in support of an open table, as my pastor Jeffry says; “It’s a table set by God and not by us.” God already knows the hearts and minds of those who come to partake in Communion. Who am I to judge or state that “those people” cannot have Communion? Besides stating “those people” whoever “they” might be fosters the unhealthy paradigm of “us versus them” and I don’t like it, I rather tear down walls than build more or enforce ones that sadly still exist.
When it comes to sharing the Gospel message, I’m in support of evangelization but by no means conversion. The language and history surrounding conversion and converting strikes me as hostile, as if the reason someone chooses to follow Christ is because the ultimatum is some form of punishment. One should choose to become a follower of Christ on their own accord, and not based on the basis of converting or conversion. Some things I recognize as I share the Gospel message with those my age and those in the high school youth ministry I’m a part of is that it all starts with relationship; in order to build the bridges that may lead to someone becoming a follower of Christ, it starts with getting to know the person and being their friend for being a friend’s sake, if it is with the motive to make them into a follower of Christ, one’s plans might backfire and the true motive of that so-called “relationship” may be exposed for what it truly is and it’s a damn shame.
My generation and those slightly younger than me may be deemed postmodern and that truth isn’t spelled with a capital T, that is, “what’s true for you is true for you, what’s true for me is true for me, because truth is relative based on the individual only.” While it might seem like this is a characteristic of living in postmodern times, I recognize that an important part of my generation’s DNA is the importance of story/personal narrative. God certainly uses our stories (testimonies) because they point to his story. Because of the importance of story I definitely see the hand of God using this to help individuals like me reach out to those who are hungering for spiritual food, desiring to know God and to find out what truth and life is really all about.
When it comes to following Christ it is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, whoever said that it was easy is a liar! I like how Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it; “when God calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
The death Bonhoeffer spoke of is a dying to self and that which was us prior to Jesus moving into the neighborhood. As we grow closer to God as less of us remains and more of him comes to the surface and stays. Following Christ, living unto him and dying to ourselves may cost us everything including our lives but as it says in Matthew 10:39; “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (KJV).
With all that being said, the God presented to me the other day is too small, manageable, contained and tame for my liking. May God continually meet you and the other individuals on your spiritual journeys as I’m sure he’ll meet me on mine. For it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
All is Grace,