11.16.2010

A Message for the Masses


As I alluded to earlier this month, I am working my way through "The Message," Eugene Peterson's contemporary translation of the New Testament. It's been a little bit since I've studied the New Testament, and this version is particularly fresh, as its more casual style reads more breezily.

As Peterson points out in his introduction, it comes as quite a surprise that the Bible was written in this more informal tone, for one would suspect that if one were writing for posterity, a more formal tone would be taken, rather than the flow and idiom reserved for family letters and chats with neighbors:

"And this is the language used throughout the New Testament. Some people are taken aback by this, supposing that language dealing with a holy God and holy things should be elevated - stately and ceremonial. But one good look at Jesus - his preference for down-to-earth stories and easy association with common people - gets rid of that supposition. For Jesus is the descent of God into our lives, just as they are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping he might approve when he sees how hard we try."

Sadly, we Christians, especially those of us with letters next to our names and sheepskins hanging on our walls, have too often buried Jesus and the Bible in high-falutin' language, decipherable only to ourselves and accessible to no one else. If Jesus and the Bible were for the masses, how is it that we have become so unknowingly elitist? It's for this reason that I try hard - in this blog, when I am out and about, and even in church - to avoid Christianese jargon and other impenetrable words and phrases.

Jesus and the Bible hold fast to timeless truths about right and wrong, about who it is right to worship and who it is wrong to follow, so there is no "modernizing" or "progressivity" there; but there is a refreshing consistency to the commonness and earthiness of the words and syntax used to communicate them. God forbid that we modern-day believers should be any different.

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