Football and the Bible

The tiny town of Kountze, Texas was placed on the national radar this past week.  After a series of court cases and injunctions, the Kountze High School Cheerleaders are allowed to continue to use Bible scriptures as part of their pre-game, run though banner.  (read here) Because of their actions it has caused a firestorm of press, debates and protests.  The central issue (as I understand it) is whether or not it is appropriate for the cheerleaders to use Bible scriptures at a school event.  The superintendent of Kountze ISD stated that he barred them because the banners violated school policy and so the debate started.  Do the banners that the players run through before kickoff amount to school sanctioning of religion?

I am not a lawyer by profession but I believe there is a different issue at the forefront here.   The cheerleaders in my opinion are walking a very fine line.  Yes they are student lead and under the letter of the law they should be “ok” to continue, but what about doing it in uniform on the field of school sponsored football game?  Does that change the context and thus change the nature of the event?  I believe it does.

What this boils down to is that in a predominately Christian area of the state, Christianity can not be professed everywhere and this upsets people and any push back is seen as an attack of freedoms.  The fact of the matter is that at Kountze ISD there is an amalgamation of people from various faith backgrounds, contexts and ideas.  By having the cheerleaders promoting their brand of religion is stating that their way is more correct than the others.  Since they have the platform to promote their voice to a wide audience, they have the opportunity to broadcast what ever they want.  This is not fair or correct.

People have been arguing that this issue is centered on the notion of freedom of speech.  While I agree with this, would the fine people of Kountze be ok with an uplifting passage from the Koran or from the Bhagavad Gita?  If you open the door under the notion of freedom of speech then you open it to all.  You have to give the same platform for Muslims, Jews, Atheist, Agnostics and even Satanist.  It has been reported that the cheerleaders take turns choosing the uplifting message; would the parents who fought so hard to get a Philippians 4:13 banner, fight just a hard for a Hindu cheerleader to promote her religion?  Maybe, but maybe not.

There is this idea that society is assaulting Christianity or that the world has some vendetta against Christianity.  I do not believe this is the case.  I believe that some people have an issue with religion being shoved down their throat.  This has been an issue with Christianity for centuries.  Some followers of Christ believe that they have a moral imperative to make sure that everyone believes their version of Christianity.  I believe that Christianity is multi-faceted and complex; it is rich and layered with multiple ways to interpret and act upon the scriptures.   Yes there will be those who will claim that their foundation is in the Bible and the Great Commission, but I think this is pushing it past the limits of its intent.  The Great Commission calls on all who follow Christ to spread the message of love, hope, peace, joy and reconciliation.  Christ had many enemies but it was his changing of social structures and acceptance of those who society had cast out that helped the movement to grow.  No where in the Bible does Christ ever command his followers to many banners and have padded football players run through it.

Don’t the scriptures deserve better respect than to have a team of players tear it to shreds?

Faith is something that is inherently personal and for some Christianity has left a bad taste in their mouth.  Maybe it was a bad experience with a minister or perhaps they were told that because of their life choices they were not accepted in the Kingdom of God.  How would it feel to then see a banner proclaiming the best virtues of Christianity when those were not shown to you?    Instead of making a situation worse, why not live your lives in a way that expresses the faith that you hold so dear?  This will be the biggest witness that you can ever have.  I understand that to many this is a ‘non-issue’ but for the church to be seen in a positive light, people must know that just because a banner is not raised does not mean that Christianity is dead.

I know that many of you do not share the same view as I do and that’s ok.  Its not about who is right and who is wrong, rather it is about the conversation and the examination of widely held beliefs.  Many people might consider me (like many do about the Superintendent of Kountze ISD) un-Christian or even anti-Christian, but that is off the mark.  I am just expressing a theological opinion, the right of every person.

This situation is far from over, but the fact remains that Christ’s central message was love.  Let’s remember that.


In Christ,


Rev. Evan


The Gospel According to Facebook

My latest article for the Orange County Record.

Facebook is one of the most popular websites to date with nearly 500 million users from all over the world.  From its humble beginnings in the dorm room of Harvard University, Facebook is now everywhere.  From your personal computer to your Smartphone, one is never too far away from social “interactions” found within Facebook (or as a friend of my calls it ‘faceless book’).

Facebook connects us to the world around us and we are able to share things from vacation pictures to memorial pages for those who have died.  Facebook at its core is a social networking site, connecting people across various socio-economic statuses, education levels and even religions.  Facebook in my opinion has moved past its original intent of just social networking between friends.  Businesses, churches, civil groups, clubs and even TV shows all have a presence on Facebook.  Breaking news is reported, shared, liked and commented on, all within the confines of one website.  The goal has moved from friendly conversations to specific advertisements and mass information around like issues, causes and beliefs.

What does Facebook do or has done for Christianity?  Has Facebook helped or hurt the gospel message?  Recently I began to see more and more pictures shared that read “Like if you Love Jesus” or “Keep scrolling if you love the Devil, like if you love God.”  If you are a user of Facebook like I am, you have more than likely seen these pictures (or others like it) before.  These pictures call for Christians around the world to share their faith boldly and proudly on their Facebook page so that all who may grace it will know that they are a follower of Christ.

To be honest, I can’t stand them.   They clutter my news feed and are not the reason I get on Facebook.

I do not like them for a number of reasons.  First, it makes Christianity something to do, not something that is done.  Followers of Christ are called to continue the message of Christ in the world around them.  Often in churches there are talks of “letting your light shine before others,” but there is also a warning about doing things just to get attention in the name of faith.  Does it really mean I am “less of a Christian” if I decided not to click the ‘like’ button on a picture?  Does this mean that I have sold my soul to the internet Devil because I am too consumed with posting pictures of my children?  Absolutely not.  Its one thing to have a faith and have that faith inform your life, but it is another to have a faith and guilt trip others into following your actions.  Christ did not call for us to plaster our faith across the internet.  Christ calls us to be the presence of God at all times, in all places and to all people.  A person’s faith or commitment to God/Christ is not contingent on whether or not they share a Facebook photo with their friends.

Facebook and other social media outlets like it have made the gospel a bumper sticker, for good or for ill.  Since the interaction happens in cyber space the relational connection is lessened.  Because of this the scriptures, quotations, theology and sermons can all be taken out of context and promoted as truth with little or no dialogue, conversation or explanation.  Of course this can happen anywhere, but for some reason the internet has brought this to the forefront.  Is this the 21st century model of evangelism?   I sure hope not.  Social media has it place in the propagation of the gospel, but evangelism at its core is grounded in relationships.  Evangelism is a scary word for some people because they believe it means inviting people to church or knocking on people’s doors and passing out ‘salvation tracts.’  While some people believe this is the best way to promote ones faith, I believe that being in a relationship with someone first helps to “open the door” to evangelism.  One does not even have to speak the name of Jesus Christ to get the message of Christ across.  This is what Facebook and these “like if you love Jesus” pictures fail at doing; there is no relationship, just a pretty picture with a cute font.  The gospel demands more than that.

What Is Sacred To You?

Here is my latest article for the Orange County Record.

One of the aims of religion is to determine what is sacred or holy verses what is secular or profane.  Debates have been held to try to navigate this delicate delineation.  In Christianity the understanding of holy is pretty complex.  It is generally understood that the source of holiness in itself is God, but outside of that it is a bit difficult to pin down.

Some people believe that God is calling Christianity to a particular way of life: abstaining from certain actions, alcohol, foul language and pre-marital sex.  However others believe that if the followers of Christ should hold true to the commands of Jesus himself.  Others hold to the teachings of the writers of the letters and epistles more than anything else.  And still others believe in a combination of all three.  As you can see the sacred is not something that one can put in a check list and hope to attain easily.

For every person that proclaims to be a follower of Christ, there are that many understandings of God and expressions of what it means to serve Christ faithfully today.  On top of that, the notion of what is sacred varies from person to person as well.

This however this is not a bad thing when it comes to Christianity.  Too often the church is seen as a place that dictates laws or recites laws that they believe are from God.

The church is not a place that makes rules or establishes what it means to be holy, rather the church is a place where people can come and share their experiences and their expressions of faith.  By changing the mind set about what church is, people might have a better understanding of what Christianity is really about, trying to live as faithfully as possible to the teachings of God and Christ.

The problem that the church has found itself in is that it is trying too much to remove itself and fellow followers of Christ from the secular society, to try to make a holy community.  The problem with is that if we cannot agree on one proper interpretation of scripture then how can we begin to broach the question of what is sacred?

Each person has their own understanding of what is sacred.  I recently attended a seminar in which the keynote speaker stated that every person has their own personal canon when it comes to faith expression.  By canon I do not mean a weapon but an authoritative guide of what is holy.  For Christians the canon which guides their life is the Bible.  But even with that said, the Bible is different between Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant denominations. The word canon comes from a word that means “measuring stick,” so when we claim that the Bible is a canon, then we are stating that we use it to measure our lives and actions against it.

Many things can be sacred to people: scriptures like Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4.  Things like music, art and dancing can bring us to a place of connection with the Divine; they can renew our faith and soul.  All of these things transport us to a deeper relationship with God and you may never have to set foot into a ‘church’ to find it.  During our life when the hard times set in we will all return to that place of comfort and rest; we will go to our sacred canon.  We will return to that place to seek out God once more.

Most people’s canons will grow and change over time and that is just fine.  Our relationship and understanding of God can never be static.  As we mature and have differing life experiences our view of God will change; this does not mean that the central driving message of God’s love for all and the acceptance of all people changes, rather the way that we understand God moving and working in the world does.

What is sacred to you may not be sacred to me.  What connects you to the divine may not connect me.  But by having conversation with the central understanding that we are all serving and worshiping the same God, then we might actually learn from one another.  I might not be a practicing member of an Orthodox church but I can learn from their liturgy, I might not be a practicing member of a Catholic church, but I can learn from their devotion to prayer and confession.

In the week ahead come try to find those places what connect you to the divine.  Do not try to find them in a list of rules or commands, rather in nature or art or in the so called secular world around you.  If we claim that God is everywhere then why are we only looking for God in a set of rules?  God is found a stream in the forest and in a painting by Van Gough.

Where will you see God and experience the sacred?  You might be surprised where you have overlooked God.

America’s Only Hope?

My latest article for the Orange County Record

As the election season is about kick into high gear, the number of political attack ads will increase exponentially the closer we draw to November.  The claims will begin small by showing voting records and then will grow into personal attacks.  There is 141 days until the general election and it is only going to get worse.

One of the claims that political figures like to postulate is that they are the only hope for the future of America, their ideals and the country.  Each side of the isle will believe that they are the sure fire answer for America.  The other day I saw a bumper sticker and a yard sign that caught my attention.  It wasn’t for a certain political candidate or party, rather it read “Prayer: America’s Only Hope- 2 Chronicles 7:14.”

I looked up the scripture and it reads, “if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land,” (CEB 2011). This scripture is taken from a declaration from God to King Solomon.

There are some problems, however, with using this scripture for the sole advancement of the United States.  First, this scripture is taken out of context; this verse is taken from the middle of a sentence that God spoke of Solomon.  The complete sentence is “When I close the sky so that there is no rain or I order the locusts to consume the land or I send a plague against my people, if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (CEB 2011).  The author of 2 Chronicles is showing us that to the Israelite people there is a connection between what God is doing and what God can do.  The hinging factor in all of this is the willingness of the Israelite people.

Secondly, what “wicked ways” is this scripture calling humanity to turn away from?  Is there a list somewhere that I am not aware of?  Some would argue that it should be the scriptural laws contained within the Bible, but then which ones do we follow?  Does this mean that every God fearing Christian should be held to the 600+ laws contained in the Old Testament?  Or are these “wicked things” just a smattering of what certain religious communities and leaders believe is the true will of God?  Given the sheer number of Christian denominations and expressions how could one list ever be completely agreed upon?

With this said, this scripture cannot be applied to today and the current American economic or political landscape.  If we are to take the theology of this segment of scripture then we are stating that God is a vengeful, bully God.  We are staying that God is a God who will only do things for humanity if humanity acts a certain way.  Proponents of this theology believe that the problems faced in society and the world can all be solved if the world would just repent and turn back to God, then and only then would God be nice enough to grant the world peace and harmony.  Is God really that mad about so called “wicked things” that the one recourse God has is to send plagues and do nothing?  Is God punishing America for Harry Potter or Magic Mike?   I have a hard time believing this is the case. This is not the God that I know, love and serve.  Where’s the unconditional love that is espoused in churches and what about that amazing grace we proclaim?  Is that out the window because of the “decline of American values?”

God is not a God who sits on a throne and waits for people to mess up so that God may send a lightning bolt to the evil doer.  I am not saying that prayer is not a useful tool to connect with the Divine and to enter into a relationship with God, but thinking that just because you lied or stole a piece of gum when you were a child means that the suffering you are going through is your fault is far off the mark.

In a world where we like facts, to know why something is the way it is, we have a hard time understanding the movement of God in the world.  Why is there so much poverty in such a prosperous land?  Why are there so many cases of disease?  Why are children going to be hungry at night?  All of these questions and many more can keep us up at night but the fact of the matter is, the answer is not that they forgot to repent for some “wicked thing.”  As followers of Christ we called to bring wholeness to the broken, completeness to the incomplete.  This is not done by placing a bumper sticker on our cars or a putting a sign in our yard.  It is done by serving faithfully and boldly in a world that is desperate need of a ray of hope, care and love.

I am not saying that prayer is not needed in the world today, but claiming that God will restore the world when all of humanity thinks one particular way about God is a bit much.  It puts a lot of pressure on the followers of Christ and on God.  Let’s just work for the betterment of the world and stop blaming one another.

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part V

It has been a while since I have had to write in this series… but alas, Christians are giving Christians a bad name… again.

I want to thank my friend Amy for sending me this story, you can read it here.

Today we venture to the state of Alabama, known for its tolerance and racial equality… right?  Think again….

A Christian ministry based in Alabama held a ministry conference.  There was however one stipulation, it was for white people only… that’s correct, a white only Christian conference.

After doing a bit more research and watching some news videos (one posted below) I was shocked (sarcasm) to find out that the conference had KKK ties.

I respect every human beings right to believe what they want but the KKK is one that I have problems wrapping my brain around.  The notion that one particular race is the superior one and that it was ordained from God is logic that escapes me.

For starters, Jesus Christ himself wasn’t white. (I dont care what Hollywood or pop culture tells you… examples here, here and here and even the most popular one here). You would think that if God was going to make the white race the superior one, that God would indwell in a white man.  Secondly, if God is pro-white as these people claim, then why did God create other races to the begin with?  So they could be picked on, ostracized, killed, and tortured because they have pigment in this skin?  Wouldn’t it have just been easier for God not to create the other races and have a pure, white race to inhabit the earth?

Also, where in scripture is this supported?  I can not remember Jesus ever saying “and white people shall inherit the earth…”  In the video below the news reporter tries to ask this question.  The reporter brings up the fact that in Galatians 3 it states that  there is “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  There are numerous passages in the Bible that speak of the reconciliation of Christ and the unity of all believers.  Sure Christ was seen a counter cultural radical to some, but not a white supremacist.  He didn’t even preach that God was 100% pro-Jewish people either; remember the woman at the well and the parable of the Good Samaritan?  There are other instances where Christ was showing that the God of all the world is wanting to connect with all people of the earth.

The leader of the conference told the reporter that he was taking scripture out of context and was abusing the Bible… isnt that like the pot calling the kettle black? (no pun intended…)  I mean come on… really?  Is this even an argument?  The Bible has been used for and against pretty much every issue under the sun.  However, the notion that in the text there is a decree or teaching that to be a true faithful of God is to have a certain color skin, goes against the foundation of the gospel message itself.  This distorts a text that people have turned to for centuries to connect with the faithful of old, to understand (or try) the movement of God in the world and learn what is means to be a follower of Christ in the world today.

At the conclusion of this event, the white members where going to hold a “sacred cross burning.”   Umm…. OK….

Seriously?  Do they think that if they put the word ‘sacred’ that everyone will be ok with this?  Like sacred murder is ok because it is sacred?  Sacred grilled cheeses taste better because they are sacred?  This is a blatant attempt to justify a practice that has stood as the symbol of hate, racism and bigotry.

All of this is not what Christianity stands for.  Yes, there was a time when the church was on the wrong side of history and supported segregation and even slavery.  But as the church has grown and changed, so have our understandings of God and how God interacts in the world.  For the mast majority of Christians, the idea of burning a cross or segregating people based on skin color is appalling.  Some would argue that the church has not left its segregation roots; many churches today are still prodominately one race or another.  While this is true, it is not mandated by law and there are plently of integrated churches holding worship services together.  Because of this, it shows me that the church has a little more work to do in the area of race relations.  (The Disciples of Christ in 2001 cast a vision of being a “Pro-Reconcillation/Anti-Racism Church, read more about it here.)

The cause of Christ is one that aims to restore all people to wholeness and completeness, to show them a way to connect to the Divine.  Christ welcomed all and so should the church and all of those who claim to be Christ’s followers.

I dont care what color you skin, hair, nails, or clothes happens to be all should be welcomed to experience God.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

“What Does Your Church Believe?”: Part IV- Baptism

This is the fourth installment of my “What Does Your Church Believe?” series.  So far I have looked at the importance of open communion to DOC theology (post link), the notion of freedom of belief (post link) and the belief in the oneness of the church (post link).  Today we will look at Disciples of Christ’s belief in baptism by immersion.  This does not mean however that if someone has been baptized as a infant that their baptism is invalid.  The Disciples of Christ recognized and affirm all baptisms.

Baptism for many is a seen as an act that symbolizes one’s commitment to the teachings of Christ and by making a physical, public act; they are stepping out in faith to make an outward sign of what a deep spiritual commitment.  In the Disciples of Christ Church our practice is to do this when a person believes that she/he is ready to join God on the journey of faith– there is no specific age requirement.

The Disciples of Christ believe that “Baptism, as a gift of grace, received by faith, expresses its meaning in a variety of images: new birth; a washing with water; a cleansing from sin; a sign of God’s forgiving grace; the power of new life now and the pledge of life in the age to come. The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer in the community in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.” (via

The practice of immersion is one that is full of symbolism.  The general belief is threefold.  First, when one enters the waters of Baptism they are coming as they are, ready to receive the cleansing and grace found in God.  Next, when they are immersed they are symbolically dying to their old ways and past sins and when they arise out of the water they are rising with Christ to be God’s servant in the world.

Baptism is a beautiful act that the church does.  It is full of symbolism and faith.  For centuries the faithful of God have traveled to churches, rivers and fonts to enter into the covenant with God and to start their life as a follower of Christ.

Some believe that one must be baptized to be “saved” or inherit the goodness of God.  The Disciples of Christ do not believe that baptism is absolutely necessary, rather an outward sign of an inward reflection.  Many theological and church debates have happened over the concept of baptism. Whether sprinkled as a child or immersed as an adult, all signify the faithfulness of followers of Christ throughout the centuries.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Let’s Stop Lying to Young People

My latest article for the Orange County Record

The Church for decades, maybe centuries, has been caught in a terrible lie.  For some people it is a lie that is has been so engrained as truth, they believe it as such.  This particular lie is one that when confronted or analyzed, many church goers would vehemently deny.  So what is this lie?  Answer- Children and Young People matter to the church.

I know that is a stout claim but is one that is not without merit.  For too long the church has been a place where those in charge or those who assumed the power set the rules, set the order of worship and set the way that a particular congregation is supposed serve and worship God.  Often this is done by people who have been in the church for sometime (generally all or most of their life) and they feel the need to continue on this tradition that they are used to.

Sadly in many congregations around the country the number of young adults and teenagers attending church services are dropping rapidly.  Sure you can blame parents or video games or being over extended with extracurricular activities, but that is a cop-out.  The real answer which may be hard to hear for some is that the church is unwelcoming to them.

If a child was raised in the church they know the stories of Jesus; they know how he touched people’s lives and how Christ came to show the love of God in the world.  They were taught at young age that God had gifted them with special abilities and talents and passions to be used for the work of the Kingdom.  And as children grow into teenagers, teenagers into young adults, the reality becomes more evident.  To be a participating member of most congregations, you have to be at least 45 years old, have been a member most of your life and you have “waited your turn.”  This is the perception of the church- people ‘punching’ their ticket and waiting until they have ‘paid their dues’ to be a full participating, active member of the church.

Young people are not leaving the church because they have objection with the teachings of Christ, rather they are leaving because they have no place in the church.   Sure churches do a great job with their nursery program, Worship and Wonder program and even youth and college programs, but after that the church has not done too well.  The church has bought into the lie that the late Whitney Houston promoted, that the “children are our future.”  This, my friends, is a bold face lie.

Children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, young adults are not the future of the church, they are the “right now.”

This segment of the population needs to know that their ideas, theologies, concerns, worship styles and missional thoughts are valid.  Too often churches try to squeeze all of this into one Sunday generally know as “Youth Sunday.”  On this particular Sunday the youth are able to read scripture, sing praise songs and even preach.  After that one particular Sunday service it is back to the same routine.  Some churches have a “children’s moment” but even then that has turned into a Sunday morning version of ‘Kid’s Say The Darnest Things’ or a well intentioned person is trying to cram too much theology in a simple metaphor.

In some congregations the children are separated from the rest of the congregation to have their own service of worship.  Many children enjoy and learn from this experience but once you hit age of 10 or so, it’s in the sanctuary with your parents.

There is a huge disconnect.

Matthew 19:14 reads, “Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children. ” (Common English Bible)

For the church to be relevant in society it must meet the needs of those around them.  Churches are losing the young adult population as well as the Baby Boomers, why?  They are tired of waiting to make an impact on the church and the world today.  But for this to happen, people in power and church structures are going to have to change.  It will take time and effort and faith; for the church’s sake I hope we are able to answer that call.

Let’s stop telling the lie.

June 2012 Top Post

Thank to you guys, my faithful readers, June was a busy month here at  In June alone, the site racked up 999 hits! (Sooooo close to 1000)

Once again I am overwhelmed by the number of people visiting.  Thank you for sharing, commenting and reading!

Below are the TOP FIVE posts from June 2012

  1. When Faith is Not Enough
    • This article speaks to the nature of faith in regard to a recent death of a snake handling minister.
  2. Robots, Arrogance and the Gospel
    • My thoughts on recent “robo-calls” from a national televangelist
  3. The Gospel According to Family Feud
    • How theology is being taught in the world, even on game shows
  4. Misconceptions about Christians: The Conclusion
    • My conclusion to my four-part series about common misconceptions about Christians (and its not what you think)
  5. Misconceptions about Christians: Part I
    • The one that started it all

In the month of June there were 15 different countries that visited the site.

Thank you again for supporting me!  Please continue to share, comment and read!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Just To Be Clear… It’s All Your Fault

The wonderful world of Facebook is at it again providing me with the resources I need to continue my writing to which you will read. 😀

This picture above was re-posted by a friend who said he got it from a friend who said he saw it on a Facebook group “Religion Poisons Everything.” Can’t say that I am fan of this group, but I thank them for this gem. It has to be one of the most awkward pictures regarding Jesus that I have ever seen. Time and time again people continue to surprise me with their rationalizations of one of the most basic human questions, “Why do bad things happen?”

Whomever created this picture believed that the bad things in our lives are the result of God removing God’s care and protection from us. This totally erases the notion of grace, forgiveness and love. God and/or Christ does not sit around waiting for someone to stumble so they can swoop down and inflict you with an illness.

One puzzling aspect of this pictures is Jesus punishing the child picture by spanking. I have trouble articulating in words why I this is so terrible.

Christians should be out raged that the Savior of the world how came to restore people has been reduced to someone who seeks out those who are subverting his will and authority and offering illness and spankings in the meantime.

(insert sarcasm) Yeah, that’s in the Bible alright… yep that’s the Christ I know….

So just to be clear that child that has terminal cancer and won’t make it to his 10th birthday, yeah totally his fault, God took away God’s protection because he told a lie or something. When someone has a recurrence of cancer or some other horrific disease, again, it is their fault for speeding or questioning authority. Every time you catch a cold you brought it on yourself, right?.

The pharmaceutical companies must love it when you sin…

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Thus Saith The Lord?

My latest article for the Orange County Record

"If It Ain't King James It Ain't Bible"
Source (C) All Rights Reserved

Before moving to Orange I worked at a church in Lexington, Kentucky.  One Sunday between our two services, a parent approached me.  She had a son who was going into High School in the fall and she wanted to get him a Bible to mark this transition in his life.  She had already been to a Christian bookstore and was overwhelmed and lost.  She was about to give up when she came to me.  She said, “I want to get a Bible for my son but I didn’t know what translation to get for him.  What do you suggest, the King James Version?”  I told her, “It is my belief that if we want Bible literate churches, I would stay away from the King James Version.”

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is one of the most used and purchased translations in the world.  It made its entrance in the year 1611, seven years after King James VI proposed a new English translation of the Christian Bible.  Ever since then, this particular translation has been used in thousands of churches worldwide.

For me, there are some issues with the King James Version.  First it is over 400 years old.  The world of Biblical scholarship has grown tremendously since the first printing of the KJV.  Scholars have learned more about the ancient Hebrew/Greek language and older copies of the Bible have helped translators to try to find the most original and therefore most accurate source to translate from.  One of the biggest discoveries in the modern era was the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Before these scrolls were discovered the oldest known copy of the Old Testament was from around the 10th Century CE.  In one single discovery, Biblical scholarship advanced from the 10th CE to the before the time of Jesus Christ.  More modern translations of the Bible use these works to more accurately translate the holy texts.

Another hiccup of the King James Version is its language and use of translation style.  The scriptures themselves are hard to read because of all the “thees,” “begats,” “spakes” and “thous” found heavily throughout the text.  No one speaks Shakespearean English anymore (and neither did Jesus Christ); it is quite foreign for most Christians.  Why do we expect followers of Christ especially new followers of Christ to learn an outdated language?

Some have claimed that the KJV is the only perfect translation; sadly there is no such thing.  Never will the world ever have a perfect translation of the Bible.  Ancient Hebrew/Greek is difficult to translate and has some words that mean different things in different contexts. In some translations of the Bible which contain translation footnotes there are many places that have the footnote, “Hebrew Uncertain.”  After centuries of Hebrew and Bible scholars pouring over these holy texts, no suitable answer for some words are ever found.  We are still working to try to sum up the story of God’s movement from the pages of scripture.

There are churches today that are exclusively King James Version only.  I believe this severely limits the story of God.  This tells me that God is not able to speak in any other way but through the words of a KJV Bible.  It would be like traveling down a dark road using only a candle to see the world around you.  But imagine the journey and what all you can see when we exchange our candle for a LED light bulb.  Because we updated how we looked at the world, we saw so much more.

There are wonderful translations today that try to encapsulate the movement of God and make it more palatable for the modern ear (i.e.- 2011 NIV, 2011 Common English, NRSV).  Not every person who hears a passage from the KJV will understand it or glean anything from it.  Am I saying that if you grew up reading (or currently read) the King James Version that you are a heretic?  Absolutely not.  The goal here is try to find more modern translations to widen our understanding and expression of who God is and how God acts.

Most people will continue to read the King James Version because that is what they grew up with or are familiar with.   However, if we want the church to seem relevant and current, then using a 400 year old translation is not going to help.  The story of God must be told in a way that connects to people on different levels and from different walks of life.  People want some connection between the printed page and the world around them.

If people don’t understand the Bible they are reading, then why read it in the first place?