Wednesday, March 11, 2009

As Far As It Is Translated Correctly

Even in this day and age, many people take what they understand and assume it is applicable to all - or would be if only everyone else were as enlightened as they. Also, our scriptures are full of hyperbolic statements that either express the perspective of the ones who utter them or are exaggerated to make a point. Perhaps the easiest example of this is the idea that Caesar sent out a proclamation that “all the world” should be taxed. I have to assume that he (or the Biblical authors who quoted the decree) might have been egotistical enough to think that his decree was going out to all the world, but I doubt it; I believe he knew there were parts of the world that would not hear his decree. Nonetheless, it is worded as it is worded for practical and political reasons - probably to reinforce his official status of ruler of the entire world to his subjects who had no idea of the greater world around them. Iow, there are lots of statements in our scriptures that are not "religious" or "inspired" but rather political or scientific or biological ad infinitum. Those statements, not being necessarily "of God", can be problematic - and, I believe, are a part of the reason we need the caveat, "as far as it is translated correctly".

For example, “all the world” can be interpreted consistently as “all the known world” or “all the land” (the world as it is known). People who reject such an interpretation usually do so because of what they have been told the scriptures mean, not necessarily by what those scriptures actually might be saying - or said in their original, untranslated form. No matter what interpretation earlier prophets held, it is reasonable to me to allow for different interpretations in light of new scientific information and modern perspectives - especially for a Church that believes the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly.” For us to insist that a literal reading of the Bible is the only option completely defeats the message of that Article of Faith - and that is coming from a hardcore parser in instances where we can be sure we have exactly what the person actually said.

In our own modern times, scientists and other secular professionals are tasked with explaining what happens and how things happen in this world. I believe totally that whenever we ask non-scientists and non-secular-professionals to give us the “how” and the "what" instead of the “why” and the “so what” we open ourselves up to the possibility of interpretation and error - even from those who are legitimate prophets and oracles of God. Prophets are called as special witnesses of Christ, not as biologists or geologists or astronomers or as any other kind of secular professional. I believe we need to recognize that and stop expecting from them what they have not been called to provide.

1 comment:

KrizteeTrain said...

Thank you for this interesting message. I will use it tonight for our FHE lesson.

Very instructive! It's true what the Bible Dictioniary says about Prophets :)