Presbyteries and Standardization of Bible Version

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Prufrock, Apr 22, 2009.

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  1. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Well even if we used a general consensus of the versions we have the TEV would be heresy.

  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The Good News and NIV often come in for criticism, and rightly so. But one wonders on what authority the criticism is based if there is no "standard" translation. All the individual accomplishes by making such criticisms is the elevation of his own personal opinion to the level of a "standard" which the individual has already repudiated as being too dominical.
  3. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    Right, I know that a number of versions have been criticized - but have any been called outright heresy?

    I could definitely see the utility of having a "standard" translation - but practically, I rather doubt it will happen.

    Edit: Don, I didn't see your post at first. Thanks. I assume GNB is "Good News Bible?" What is TEV?
  4. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    The quick answer to this would be a quote from the confession.

    A presbytery that attempted any of what is stated in this would be very close to violation of XX.2 and would be subject to charges. The most salient portion in my opinion is "...or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship." This sounds more like the RCs than any reformed church. It certainly would smack of legalism, is certainly something the Bible itself does not command, and certainly is something touching faith and/or worship. While for "decently and in order" could be used for someone insisting to read a different version during a responsive reading, or disrupting the worship, telling a church which version to use, or admonishing someone for using a bad translation in personal devotion (or family worship) would be worthy of admonishing the presbytery that did so.

    So not only do I think it not within the authority of a presbytery to command such, I think it sin that they would do so.
  5. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Well hasn't the critical text defined that for at least themselves, if not some of their stronger adherents?

    They say, we are able to say this meets the standard so we decide this is the best.
    So were we to follow its recommendation we have a standard.
    Others compare everything to the TR so to them they have a standard.

    Its just not all of us agree on a standard. But one Presbyterian could be a TR Presbyterian and another follow the Critical text MT.
    May add to more designer presbyteries we have already begun to spring up over issues like BT and FW.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  6. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    The problem with this is that the BOCO is a tertiary standard, the secondary standard states:
    It is NOT okay for a church to state that any translation is the standard. The standard is the Hebrew OT and Greek NT. When the BOCO refers to the Word of God, it refers not to any translation, but the Word as the WFC states.
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    This is only half the section; please read on and take note of the part about these immediately inspired Scriptures being translated into the vulgar language of every nation that the word of God might dwell plentifully in all. See also the afore-mentioned section of the Directory for Worship relative to the best allowed translation in order to discover in what sense the Divines understood their own words anent appeal to the originals.
  8. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    "Standards" by nature unite those who adhere to them and alienate those who do not. We deliberately pursue such a course with respect to our subordinate standard, and the subordinate standard is supposed to reflect the supreme standard, so I don't see why we should be afraid of setting up a standard of translation lest it should lead to the division of those who do not accept it. If the subordinate standard is clearly set forth in language every person can understand and examine for themselves, there is no basis for leaving the supreme standard in obscurity to be translated according to the private judgment of the individual. The church either knows what the Bible says or it does not; one should doubt the ministerial authority of a church which is too afraid to state what the Bible says, not laud it because it does not speak contrary to the voice of private judgment.
  9. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I can think of a few other reasons. Like education, discernment, logical abilities....the fact that none of the major Reformed denominations have ever, or are now seriously considering doing so gives an indication of the nature of the question.

    Who would you trust to do the translating?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2009
  10. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The major reformed denominations have all sprung from a Presbyterian and Reformed tradition which gladly received and used what was called "the common English Bible" prior to the advent of academic popery. The only reason they do not hold forth to the world a "standard Bible" now is because they fear the judgment of men.
  11. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I understand that as well, but the Word of God is not in the translation, but in what God said. Language changes, and the translation has to change as language does. Yet the Word does not change, and yet the translation is necessary and prudent as it allow the Word of God to dwell in the hearts of men. The Word of God is not the words, but Jesus ... he never changes, but words do.

    We translate into the vulgar tongue, but we do not confuse that with the final authority. A defendant in a legal case before presbytery would be well within his right to appeal against a charge based on any English translation. If the defendant had good reason to state that the translation of some verse was faulty, appealed to the Hebrew text, and then properly stated the charge was out of order as it was based not on the original Hebrew, but upon a translation, he should prevail. On the other hand, if a defendant was using an English translation to support his position and the translation (as all translations are the work of men) was in error at that point, he would have no defense. The confession is clear, while men have a need for the scriptures in their own language, that in no way confuses, dilutes, or shares the authority of the Hebrew and Greek.
  12. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    You would need a standard in each vulgar of each language right?

    And we have a hard time agreeing with any translations from the originals now.
  13. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    Might I suggest you think about what you have posted, and contemplate "only God knows the heart"? While you might believe that many are disingenuous for not holding to your viewpoint, "The only reason" is universal in scope, and seldom if ever is correct. If you are wrong about that issue (and I assure you that universal motives will be) then what is your post to those for whom the statement is not accurate?
  14. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    So what you are saying is that the church has a final authority to appeal to, but it is just not permitted to state with any kind of ministerial confidence what that final authority actually says.

    The defendant has no inspired and infallible grammar or lexicon to which he can appeal for his specific translation of the originals; hence any defence would merely be the individual's translation as over against the "standard" translation.
  15. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    If the church of God can not decide what the Word of God is, who can?

    I cannot see how the church can ever move toward the Unity described by Christ if she is not even willing to recognize what the Word of God is, and what the Word of God is not. The church has recognized the canon of scripture, should this be open to debate from the church as well? It is also disturbing to me that most of the modern Bible versions are not even translated BY the church! Instead, in many cases, we rely on "scholars" and ungodly men to do a large part of what the Church should have been doing all along.

    In my humble opinion, we should be able to trust the true church (that the Lord has promised to bless) to provide us with a faithful translation of the scriptures. This is not to say that I believe that any translation is perfect, but I think that if anyone is to provide us with THE word of God, it is the church.

    Also, if we believe that preached sermons by our ministers are the word of God, do we not implictly trust them to provide us with the uncorrupted Word of God each Lord's day morning?

    I look forward to the time when the church will dwell in Unity on all matters, but it seems to me that this is very fundamental to accomplishing unity in other matters as well, as the Word of God is the foundation for determining all doctrine.

  16. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    I'm sorry, Tim. I really don't see how that issue comes into play. This question concerns whether presbyteries have the authority to establish a standard version, whether it be the ESV, NASB, the Word on the Street, or what have you. There is no hiding behind any bushes. I don't want to discuss different texts. Specific texts here are irrelevant: this is about church authority. Also, I would ask kindly that refrain from making speculative accusations about my intentions. I promise, all I want to discuss is what is in the opening post.


    Does WCF XXXI.2 come into play here? Could you see a determination of the translation of a text falling under "Determining controversies of faith?"
  17. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    We set up standards not to divide ... we set them up to clarify what the church believes. It may be that historically, every standard has always been in response to error within the church, yet the purpose was not to alienate, but to educate. If the purpose was to alienate, that would be divisive, and worthy of a charge of being divisive. There are things which are worthy of separating from a body, and there are things were are not. A standard translation is far from worthy of dividing the church when the standards themselves point to the original languages as the primary authority within the church.
  18. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    The issue is not with having a "standard" for teaching, many Reformed and non-Reformed churches already do this. Some do it by action of the board, others by pastoral edict, others by a consensus of pastoral staff, and still others by a combination of the aforementioned methods. Practically speaking, a strong pastor tends to accomplish the same thing by virtue of his own selection of translation from which to preach. Many in the free church tradition have a de facto translational "standard" for preaching and Sunday school teaching. I know of churches where the KJV, NKJV, ESV, or NAS are the exclusively used Bible for all official classes and teaching. Piper, for example, has appeared in ads for the ESV proclaiming that it is the standard at Bethlehem Church.

    The difficulty comes when one tries to sanction the personal use of some other translation. It is not as if we can exercise church discipline against individuals who read the Bible in some other translation than the one the pastor uses on Sundays.
  19. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    My statement refers to the actions of modern denominations, so there is no "heart" to be judged in this matter. Your own initial post in this thread demonstrates clearly that your respect to private judgment is the reason why you think it is a "sin" (judgment!) to maintain a standard Bible translation. Having seriously weighed this subject for many years I am persuaded that the modern idea of toleration is the specific reason why denominations have not acted to state with clarity for the sake of their witness in the world what the Bible actually says.
  20. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Well if this discussion is any example of the larger Reformed church, which I think it would be, we don't have much chance to come to unity on a version or a standard.

    That is why I see the attempt would end up more divisive than helpful, though I would like the idea of one version or at least a list of exclusions that is updated, but only as recommendations, not to bind the consciences.
  21. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    We set up standards knowing they will divide. I stated this in response to the suggestion that we should not set them up lest they divide. There was no implication that we seek division for division's sake

    As for what you regard unworthy of dividing over, an idealist philosophy finds it difficult to identify particulars but a realist knows that the abstract takes concrete form in the tangible world and deals with it accordingly.
  22. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    You can't have one without the other.

    to say we are only creating a standard to unify, is like saying God only elected and did not reprobate.

    The standard defines what is unacceptable so we divide those off who will not unify with us. It is a definition. It divides by nature. And its intent is to divide and make clear that which is acceptable and which is not.
    We unify by dividing off that which we reject and decide is unacceptable

    So to define a version of the Bible to use would divide away other versions and others who think that would be binding their conscience beyond scriptural warrant and might leave, and would divide off those who pick a different version to include or exclude, if they did.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  23. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Let's keep the thread on target. This is not about textual debates, and textual debate posts will be vigorously pruned.

    If you don't have an answer to Paul's 5 questions, maybe this is not the thread for you.

  24. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    It may have gotten lost, so I will post it again. WCF XXXI. 3
    Do these apply? If we consider the matter not so much as the imposition of a book upon the churches, but the church together giving an agreed upon and standard interpretation of the Greek and Hebrew text (a determination of a controversy of faith), what would be the objection? (Sincere question.)
  25. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    It does not fall within the authority of the local church in my opinion to decide for individuals which translation to use though the choice bible to use for reading and preaching during the local service is a legtimate question. I use a different bible for personal reading then I do for studying or during the church service.
  26. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    The problem here is that the issue is as much (or more) one of ecclesiology as translation.

    A very serious question for those who are implying that the answer two the main OP is "yes" (a church may so bind): would you submit to the authority of the church (Presbytery) if it did indeed determine a translation, and if that translation were NOT the AV, making using the AV unauthorized to use from the puplit?
  27. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    I have removed Q.3 from the opening post; I don't think I phrased it very well, and it has caused confusion.
  28. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It would depend what the translation was and the process by which the church came to adopt it. There can be no abstract yes or no answer because the quality of translation depends upon an induction of particulars which must be judged according to the circumstances of the case.
  29. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Pastor Greco,

    Thanks for chiming in! I was hoping you would do so.

    Unless I am misunderstanding you, I agree completely. In fact, I asked this as a question of ecclesiology, not translation per se. I am asking whether such a determination can belong to a presbytery, and not just to individual churches.

    In answer to your second question: yes (within reason, of course). I would have no problems with that. I do take one caveat to your question: I am not sure that any such decision would make any other translation's reading unallowable to use from the pulpit: I'm sure even if the official translation from which the church reads is the ESV, no one take objection to the use of, say, the NASB's rendition to open and explain the passage while preaching.
  30. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Let me be very particular. Your Presbytery sets up a committee to establish a translation. It moves that the NASB be used in all its churches. A substitute motion is made to establish the AV.

    The substitute fails, 35% to 65%.

    The main motion passes, 60% to 40%.

    Do you heed the court's ruling and use the NASB in your church?
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