Amazing how I have forgotten so much that I knew very well at one time. It is like being away from a places a long time and traveling back through here and there and thinking, yes, I remember this place! My bible study and church/ministry associations has spanned over 30 years unlike others who stayed one course I have studied so many different doctrines (Even many other religions out of curiosity mostly) I cant even remember them all.
It is staggering how many different ideas, opinions and doctrines capture my thoughts as I do my devotions or study the bible making it very hard to focus on one thing at a time. It’s all very frustrating and tiring now while it used to be exciting. I mean all these various ways one may choose to study… Some have told me I try too hard, I don’t know. I do have analytical mind, I know that is how I think. I have read where some people think in such a way that they often overlook the obvious and simple trying to find the complicated. I think another way to put it would be “not seeing the forest for the trees”.
Nevertheless there are absolutes in my faith that do not change such as Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Savior of the World, God The Father is Sovereign over all, The Holy Spirit is a reality in my life, my only Spiritual Advocate, Comforter, and Teacher, my true life. The Holy Bible is the Word of God, my rule of faith and practice as best I can follow it with the help of the Holy Spirit. These basics have not wavered over the years.
On the bible, I have been all over the place with that too. There are so many versions and translations philosophies, manuscript variations and sources it is mind boggling. Everything from strict literal word-for-word (which actually is impossible from one language to another, there has to be some interpretation by the translator which means personal decisions and choices in some places) to formal equivalence, to dynamic equivalence, to thought for thought, to a complete paraphrase! Whew! I have seriously studied all of this and own hundreds of bibles hard copy and digitally in english and original languages. Most of the variations make little difference in the basic doctrines of the bible and Christian faith which makes arguing about them a waist of time or even down right silly sometimes; considering some of the things they argue over. I may write some about that sometime. Now I didn’t used to see it this way, I was right in there with them in one of the camps at one time and another. I have been King James only to original language only to all we need is a good paraphrase. I see good in all these now and understand where they are all coming from accept the nonsense of arguing over words or phrases that do not change the overall meaning; which when overheard by non-believers only serves to weaken their possible faith in it. I have settled down sort of in the middle of these translation philosophies leaning toward the formal equivalence but not quite because of the unreadability and misunderstanding a true formal equivalent can cause. The language needs to be as natural as possible without sacrificing the true intent of the word. So I have settled on the NIV as “My Bible”, I especially like the updated 2011 version. I have made many circles with all these but have always come back to the NIV and now it’s even better with the new updated version. Many would disagree with me about that as there is much debate about it. Mostly bickering over small changes which all seems silly to me as I stated above. I can study the original languages in may other ways as deep as anyone wants to get, I have many tools to do that. The reason I bought my bible was to read it and hear God speak to me through it and the NIV does this for me more than the others for the most part. Furthermore I agree with their dynamic equivalence translation philosophy and therefore I can trust what I am reading as the Word of God to English speaking people today.That’s what everyone should do; get one that speaks to YOU and forget all the arguing over this or that word. Even Paul speaking to Timothy warned about this. 2 Tim 2:14 It only does harm.
I suppose I have written my way back around to where I started with an answer to my first concern. All of the major Christian Churches and organizations agree on the basic doctrines for the most part as far as salvation is concerned. Although there are some doctrines that can be very important that are hotly debated but these are not soteriological or would effect ones salvation thank God. So I suppose I should just do as I said about the bible translations; find one that speaks to me and quit fretting about all the other arguments. I have never found any one of them I can completely agree with nor do I think most other people can either. So, for fellowships sake, which every Christian desperately needs, I suppose I should quit nit-picking, analyzing, and scrutinizing everything and find one I can be comfortable with and I can hear God speak to me there. Although this would require my holding in what I believe or think about some things. So maybe I haven’t answered my concerns… See what I mean, I feel like I am walking in circles following myself while having a conversation with myself about these things which ends up leading me back around the circle once again… I am tired, very tired… I have been on this roller-coaster for much too long and I am starting to get light headed…
Daniel W Isrite