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DarkScribe's avatar

Is this acceptable to most Christians?

Asked by DarkScribe (15470points) October 7th, 2009

True or False

It seems that some of the true believers don’t truly believe. Do you consider that a religious group who decides to “un-consecrate” the supposed words of their God and replace them with biased personal beliefs and heavy editing can still be considered a genuine Christian religion? I am an atheist, but have a great deal of interest in all religions and their effect on humanity.

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44 Answers

filmfann's avatar

This is appalling. They are saying liberal words got in thru mis-translation.
These people don’t love and trust the Lord.

ESV's avatar

The core truths that a person needs to know and understand are absolutely and abundantly clear in Scripture. Even on the non-essentials, if Sola Scriptura were consistently applied, there would be unanimity. The problem is that it is very difficult to perfectly and fully apply Sola Scriptura, as our own biases, faults, preferences, and traditions often get in the way. The fact that there are many different denominations is not an argument against Sola Scriptura. Rather, it is evidence that we all fail at truly allowing God’s Word to fully shape our beliefs, practices, and traditions.

aphilotus's avatar

There’s this thing called Poe’s Law, which says, roughly, that without an obvious smileyface or other mark of sarcasm (perhaps <sarcasm> </sarcasm>), there will always be people who, when reading material that satirizes fundamentalism, mistakes it for the real thing (thinks it is actually fundamentalist views).

There is a converse to this law, which says that it is just as easy to mistake actual fundamentalist ranting for satire.

I think conservapedia, and especially this bible project, fall under that second law. The project idea is funny as hell, until you realize that it is actually serious business in the minds of (a non zero amount of) people.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I believe in a higher power but no specific religion. I don’t know what that makes me.

However, probably more in answer to your question, one thing that irritates me are religious hypocrits. If you’re Christian you’re not supposed to judge right? Let’s be honest, pretty much everyone has judged another person at some point in their life. It happens and most of the time it is harmless but don’t be self righteous about your beliefs when you know full well that it is basically impossible to be (according to the Bible) the perfect Christian.

For the record. I know a lot of people who believe in Christianity but are also aware that they are mere humans and have faults. They keep their beliefs to themselves and are not self righteous in anyway. My rant above was hypothetical for the most part.

gussnarp's avatar

This is totally absurd. There’s no doubt that various translations in the past have been done for specific ideologies (for example, the King James bible is intended to cement the divine authority of the King, specifically James) but to totally eliminate all liberal thought from the bible one would have to pretty much eliminate the Gospels. Interestingly, I expect it would be completely at odds with Thomas Jefferson’s rewrite of the bible, and most of these people probably love to cite the founding fathers. Next they’ll want to “translate” the Constitution to make it less liberal. I’m not a Christian, but as an ex-Christian, I would never have approved of this.

gussnarp's avatar

@aphilotus I thought this was an example of the 1st Poe’s law when I first heard about it. I’m still not convinced it’s not some kind of Troll project. I mean, can they really be this loony? Wait, that’s insulting to loons.

aphilotus's avatar

@gussnarp Yeah, it’s sort of ambiguously Poe/ContraPoe, but either way, sort of funny-awful-funny-again.

DarkScribe's avatar

I particularly love this piece – used as an example of “liberalism”.

The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:[7]

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Is this a liberal corruption of the original? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible.

They are going to make Jesus into a bad guy – or at least not the good guy that he is currently considered to be.

mattbrowne's avatar

This article is another example showing a dangerous trend. I’ve said this before. In Islam the dark ages clergymen took over about 500 years ago. We can still observe the effects today when fatwas are issued or when people fly planes into skyscrapers awaiting 72 virgins as a reward. The same can happen if the dark ages clergymen of Christianity take over? Can we really be so sure reason stays in control?

History teaches us other lessons. Nothing is guaranteed. Humanism is not guaranteed. Democracy is not guaranteed. We have to defend it every day. We have to be watchful. Deliberate mistranslations of the bible should be alarming. If the religious right takes over, the US could eventually become a theocracy. Separation of state and church will no longer be maintained. The Puritans in the US in the year 1700 believed that there should be no difference between religion and government, that the state and the Church should be governed by the same laws. Some of the religious right feel the same way.

If modern religion does only offer what the religious right has to offer we’re in trouble. Religious people should be offered something else. Michael Lerner calls this the ‘Left Hand of God’. Open-minded religious people capable of critical thinking should join forces with spiritually inclined agnostics and atheists because many values are in fact shared values. If we accomplish this, the bible project you mentioned will create a new translation no one will read.

Cartman's avatar

Isn’t that what most religions do pretty much all the time? Reinterpret the word of a deity, written or revealed, adapting the religion to the followers or the other way around. The Mormons comes to mind as a late example and isn’t the Christian bible (any edition) a reinterpretation of previous texts, texts the also make out a bulk of the religious doctrine for other religions?

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m hard pressed to think of anything more antithetical to the essence of what Jesus was all about.

They want to change it to conform more to their political agenda. Absolutely disgusting.

Jesus was as apolitical as they come.

wundayatta's avatar

I have no problem with it. It’s all about translation and interpretation, and people can interpret words however they want. The meaning of words can not be nailed down the way the experience of a physical thing can be. The meaning of words evolve over time. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be many different interpretations of words, or the words in a book, such as the Bible.

People may say this is antithetical to Jesus, but that’s just another interpretation. There are no absolutes in religion—no universally accepted interpretation of images, characters, or stories. Anyone who thinks that there is only one possible interpretation of any word (or Word) is a dangerous person in my book.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Cartman – There’s a major difference between defining an agenda first and doing a translation later versus doing a translation first and then discuss what it could mean. When Martin Luther created the first German Bible translation in 1534 he wanted everyone to get the chance to read the texts without having to rely on the church and the priests. That’s quite different from what the religious right is doing right now.

CMaz's avatar

Daloon – Right on!

I want to add that being a “Christian” in not about being a Christian.
Christianity is a word, a high sign to let people know what club you belong to.

Some people take their “membership” too serious and become blinded to the main intent (in this case) of the faith.

It is about how you live your life. How it affect you and what motivated you to do what you do. And, did.
If you want to belong to a “faith” you also have to understand there is a final “judgment” included into the equation.
That final judgment is between you and your God. He/she/it knows your heart.
No one is in a position to assume or understand anything about what makes you tick.

I will repeat a quote from another post. How blasphemous to quote Budda.
”‘Each of us knows all. We need only open our minds to hear our own wisdom.”

Grisaille's avatar

I’m going to go ahead and say that most Christians (at least the ones I know) would be disgusted. It’s as disgusting as Ray Comfort adding his 50 page “introduction” to Darwin’s Origin of Species.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ChazMaz – I recently quoted Buddha. I’m sure some people of the religious right would love to introduce blasphemy laws in the US. The blasphemy laws in Pakistan and Iran could serve as an ideal model. Next time I travel to the US I might get arrested at JFK for quoting Buddha. See you in prison then assuming they put you and me into the same cell.

Cartman's avatar

@mattbrowne Martin Luther was considered rather outre at the time, leading to him being excommunicated and his followers being persecuted. Martin Luther was considered a hard core heretic in his day, and his making the bible available to a broader audience was not all that in most eyes.

Harp's avatar

As many negative things as there are to say about religion, I feel that one of its potential positives is to challenge our worldview, nudge us out of our comfort zone, make us question our assumptions and prod us into swimming against the current of our self-serving habits. If nothing else, religion should have the effect of putting one’s sense of self-importance into a larger perspective. This is something that people are unlikely to do in their own private brand of spirituality. Our tendency is to make things easy on ourselves as we “pursue our bliss”. Religion can make us confront things we’d rather just avoid.

The kind of revisionism described here has the opposite effect. It’s aimed at paving over those aspects of scripture that challenge the worldview of some so that they’ll no longer be vexed by the disconsonance of scripture with their own inclinations. It’s about affirming the self rather than diminishing it.

CMaz's avatar

mattbrowne- Amen brother!

johanna's avatar

I haven’t met a religious person yet who doesn’t pick and chose and adopt whichever sacred script he or she believes in to fit his or her needs.

@mattbrowneThe religious right also promote laymen to preach and to interpret’ the bible , as do the liberal Christians and the Catholics and every other group I can think of. Any translation, Martin Luther’s or otherwise, involve loads of interpretations and I do not think any one person is above adding personal beliefs into his or her translation.

christine215's avatar

If scholars, linguists, etc, managed to translate the dead sea scrolls, the only possiblity of “re-translating” the bible I could agree with is to go back as far as possible to the earliest evidence of the bible’s origin and have THOSE texts translated

(there’s a theory about Jesus being mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls)

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,976524,00.html

mattbrowne's avatar

@johanna – I agree, there’s no such thing as a bias-free translation. Nonetheless I consider the religious right to be a dangerous movement trying to use specific bible translations to serve their political agenda. The best we can do is make sure that few people will read it. The issue really is about a better religious alternatives. Liberal Christian leaders are not doing enough. That’s my point. I like Michael Lerner’s approach with his network of spiritual progressives.

Facade's avatar

I only read the title of the article, but the Bible is not supposed to be edited. People need to get a grip.
I don’t think what they are doing is the same as translating the Bible, btw.

CMaz's avatar

“but the Bible is not supposed to be edited.”

Too late, that started a long time ago. With the Catholic Church and even before that.
They did not like Martin Luther getting his hands on it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Facade – What Moses and Jesus really said and what ended up in the old and new testament is the result of a lot of editing. What you probably mean is no Hebrew and Greek revisions of the original text.

cyndyh's avatar

Amazing. Thanks for providing the article of the day. Cheers!

SpatzieLover's avatar

@DarkScribe Thought probing and irritating article for me to read. I am Catholic.
Personally, what others believe or do not believe does not have affect my life. I’m all for freedom of religion, expression and speech.

I have a problem when it comes to any religious group censoring what their followers read/teach to their children. I take issue with editing the Word of God.

wundayatta's avatar

@Grisaille Most Christians would be disgusted? Who knows? I hope you are right. However I think that there are hundreds, if not thousands of different groups with their own spin on the Bible. Most of them are probably disgusted at any number of the others’ interpretations. I don’t see why any interpretation should be privileged over any other, except that they can mass together people to protect their interpretation by force of numbers.

Disgust is fine. I’m totally in favor of having an opinion about someone else’s interpretation. What I don’t like is when disgust crosses the barrier to censoring or righteousness. Anyone who refuses to question their interpretation of the Bible has a problem, I think. In fact, that may be the problem with religion in general—so many people thinking that they, and only they, are right.

@SpatzieLover Those two problems would seem to be contradictory. If people aren’t allowed to edit, that’s censorship. If people are uncensored, they will edit. The Bible is a document that has gone through many different translations and much editing.

Have you ever played that game—telephone? Where you get a group of people together and one person whispers a sentence into the next’s ear, and they each pass the message on down, and the person at the end then speaks the message aloud, and they compare the ending message to the original message?

If you’ve played, you know that the two messages will be very different. You may have seen the same thing in making copies. If you copy a copy, the image gets fuzzier and fuzzier with each subsequent generation. Or try translating a sentence into another language, and then translating it back to the original language. The resemblance between the original and the current version is laughable! To believe that the “word of God” as it stands in current Bibles bears much resemblance to the “word of God” when it was first written down is to place an undue faith the capabilities of human beings.

At this point, I think it is safe to say that the Bible means whatever the group reading it says it means, and that there are thousands of different groups with different senses of what the Bible means. You are Catholic, and the Catholics have one of the more successful (in terms of longevity) organizations in history. Yet even they have difficulty maintaining orthodoxy within the Church. Or perhaps they, especially, have difficulty, due to their size.

New versions of Christianity have splintered off from old ones so many times, I don’t think anyone can count the different kinds of Christianity. And they all have interpretations of scripture that vary from each other to a greater or lesser extent. This conservative effort is nothing new. It will get attention to the extent that it attracts followers. That’s nothing new, either.

This is a tempest in a teapot, as far as I’m concerned. There is nothing new here. Not one bit.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@daloon There’s nothing new here? I never heard of the young earth theory until a few years ago. I had no idea people actually thought God “planted falsehoods” to make us question our faith before these fundamentalist groups starting teaching this to their kids in church run seminars.

gussnarp's avatar

You know, I was thinking about something the other day, it seems that for thousands of years religion has been progressing. Many ancient religions practiced human sacrifice, animal sacrifice is common in the old testament, punishments were strict for all sorts of offenses that we think little of today, and the law and religion were tightly intertwined. Christianity was part of a shift away from that, so was Buddhism. Sure, the dark ages were dark, but Christianity was in some ways an improvement over the past. Then of course we have the reformation, the birth of Protestantism and the associated reforms in Catholicism. Later we have the Quakers, the Puritans (who were of course Puritan, and not a perfect example, but in some ways an improvement over a corrupt Church of England), the Deists, and then a burgeoning atheist movement. Religions have continually become less involved with the machinery of the state as they advanced, they have become less socially repressive, less literal, less based on magic, myth, and miracles. But it seems like now religion is regressing, fundamentalism, which is basically a return to socially repressive, magic, myth, and miracle based religion is spreading, not only in Islam but in Christianity and even Judaism. There are even fundamentalist Hindus. The fundamentalists are also more interested in intertwining religion and the state. This seems to me to be a fairly recent trend, and a reversal of thousands of years of religious and social progress, and the Conservative Bible is a part of this trend. Then again, it could just be a temporary spasm, sort of like the Inquisition.

wundayatta's avatar

@SpatzieLover I was thinking that there’s nothing new in the fact that such a thing is happening. Of course it is new in the specific form that it takes. But that’s just an excuse. Differentiation is an old and well-established process. It will happen, and that’s what I find old. Like I said, the actual form of the differentiation will be new. Otherwise it couldn’t be differentiation, could it? But the actual kind of behavior is very old.

timothykinney's avatar

Lord of Hosts just becomes Lord. Prince if Peace becomes Lord. Wonderful becomes Lord. What would happen to Handel’s Messiah?

Or you could use a bit of logic:

1) Man screwed up the Bible and now it’s not as good as it could be.

2) A large collection of people will be able to put the Bible back as good as new, especially when that effort is completely unregulated, such as in a Wiki format.

Said another way…

1) Someone threw a baseball and broke my TV.

2) Therefore, I should ask thousands of random strangers to throw baseballs at my television to fix it.

What?

kevbo's avatar

Speaking of truth, I refuse to read the Huffington Post since Ms. Ariana made a point of telling her readers that she despises 911 truther PsOV and has banned all related comments from her site.

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – Great analysis. I couldn’t agree more. The question is, what are the reasons for this trend, this regression present in many forms of religion today. We have to find the root causes and develop strategies to slow down and reverse the trend. Maybe the accelerating change of technology and the massive information overflow related to it creates fear. Many people long to get simple answers. Modern liberal forms of religion have largely failed to appeal to spiritually inclined people. Spiritual voids are being exploited by the religious right and other fundamentalists with their (hidden) political agenda. It seems that people only have the choice of becoming atheists or joining the religious right and their anti-scientist way of thinking. Where is the third way? Where are the charismatic leaders who can explain that the existence of God and evolution is no contradiction? Where is the resistance of religious people against the mega-televangelists preaching about a vengeful God? To me “not believing in evolution” is no small trivial offense, unless people have really been denied access to good education. Not believing in evolution is almost like supporting Galileo Galilei’s house arrest. How come some people have not learned this important historical lesson?

gussnarp's avatar

@mattbrowne – Good questions all, and those I have no answers to at the moment. I do think that, ironically, technology plays a role, as you suggested. To answer one question, here’s you charismatic leader explaining that the existence of God and evolution is no contradiction: http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – Thanks for the link. I’ll check this out and get back to you.

gussnarp's avatar

@mattbrowne He’s far from perfect, but he is a practicing Catholic, and one of evolutionary theory’s most eloquent defenders.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@gussnarp I’m Catholic too. I’d say most Catholics accept evolution as a truth. Thanks for that link

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

what a bunch of lunatics…...

mattbrowne's avatar

@SpatzieLover – I don’t like the Pope at all. He’s a German and he’s really mean and condescending to German Protestants and all the hopes in Germany about ecumenical progress are being cruelly dashed. But there’s one thing about this Vatican bunch of graying geezers who know almost nothing about women: they all accept evolution. Funny. Maybe it has to do with some previous Pope whose scientific advisors convinced him to make everyone accept it. One can’t disobey the Pope. The Vatican turned Galileo into a heretic and rehabilitated him more than 350 years later (bureaucracies are slow). But as far as I know Charles Darwin has never been officially declared a heretic.

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – Kenneth R. Miller is very convincing. There are so many great Catholics I really admire. It’s too bad that none of them ever make it to the Vatican demanding some real change.

I ordered Miller’s book “Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution”

cbloom8's avatar

I doubt it, but most of them don’t know about those practices. It’s sad.

Judi's avatar

I am a Christian, and I don’t like it, but I’m not surprised. Sort of reminds me of Orwell’s Animal Farm.

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