Summary: Why is the Bible so hard to understand? Why does there seem to be a disconnect between the Bible and reality? Why is the church out of touch with the world around it? The answer to all of these questions is simple, yet hard to stomach.
Have We Been Using the Wrong Words?
Why is the Bible so hard to understand? Why does there seem to be a disconnect between the Bible and reality? Why is the church out of touch with the world around it? The answer to all of these questions is simple, yet hard to stomach.
We have been using the wrong words. Grace is the wrong word. Faith is the wrong word. Believe, flesh, gospel, righteousness, glory, and a few hundred other Bible words are the wrong words.
Why are they wrong? They are wrong because they do not communicate the correct meaning of the original Greek text. They make the Bible hard to understand. "In the same way you also unless you speak words with your tongue that are easy-to-understand, how will the thing being spoken be known? You will be speaking into the air." (1 Corinthians 14:9). Using words that are not easy-to-understand is wrong, especially when dealing with God’s Word.
The purpose of talking and reading is communication. If the wrong words are used, no communication takes place.
When I was a missionary in Russia and my interpreter first used the word, "flat", I didn’t know what he was talking about. It meant nothing to me. I later found out that "flat" is the British word for apartment. It was the wrong word to use with me, an American.
The same applies to the Bible. When used by people in the twenty-first century, twenty-first century words should be used, not fourteenth century words. Fourteenth century words are the wrong words. Grace, faith, flesh, gospel, righteousness, and glory are fourteenth century words.
These wrong words were first used by John Wycliffe in 1395 when he translated the first English Bible from Latin. Back then they were the right words. People used them every day. When people went to the market, they used them. When they whispered words in their loved ones ears, they used them. They were regular words used every day in the fourteenth century.
But things have changed. Today they are not regular words because through the centuries those words have been replaced by newer words. It is the newer words that are used at the store, at work, on television, and even in private talk. The old words are not used. They are only used in church and in the Bible.
Today these wrong words present a problem. Not only do unchurched people not understand them but most churched people also don’t understand them. If you don’t believe this, just ask people what grace is, or what glory is. I have been doing this for thirty years. You will get very few correct answers. The most common answer will be either, "I don’t know" or silence. If they don’t understand the words, how will they know what the Bible says to do? "If a trumpet gives a strange sound, who will get ready for battle?" (1 Corinthians 14:8)
These words actually hide the message of the Bible. Why does the church insist on using words that hide the Bible?
Some pastors try to correct this by giving twenty-first century definitions for all of the wrong words. That is a step in the right direction but a good definition is no substitute for using the right word.
The solution is simple. Start using the right words. Use "trust" for "faith" and "believe". Use "generosity" for "grace". Use "the right way" for "righteousness". Use "physical body" for "flesh". Use "good news" for "gospel". Use "greatness" for "glory".
"The Bible for a New Generation" (www.bible4ang.com) is a Bible version that does this. It is easy-to-understand, educational and eye-opening.
It is time for our churches and the Bible to join the twenty-first century. Help it do so by using the right words.