Friday, October 3, 2014

Geneva and King James Bibles Still Approved For Public Worship

Approved by a majority of congregations, clergy, and the USA Synod. 
Full and Final Draft October 8, 2014
All fellowships and ministers notified

As Puritans we never used the Authorized King James (AKJV) of 1609 or 1611 until 1875 when a choice was given in public worship between the Geneva and AKJV.  The Bible every Puritan family had in their home was not the KJV of 1609 or 1611. The Bible which they carried was the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible was the most widely read and influential English Bible of the l6th and 17th centuries, which was printed from 1560 to 1644 in over 200 different printings. As a product of superior translation by the best Protestant scholars of its day, it became the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers, thinkers and historical figures of its day. 

Puritans John Bunyan and John Milton used the Geneva Bible, which is reflected in their writings. During the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell issued a pamphlet containing excerpts from the Geneva Bible to his troops. The Geneva Bible was even brought with the Pilgrims when they set sail on the Mayflower and was the generally accepted text among the Puritans. William Bradford cited it in his book Of Plymouth Plantation. 

This tradition carried into the Congregational Churches and into the Church of Christ as well.  Although the Presbyterian Congregations began to use the AKJV it was not until 1928 that the Church of Christ turned to the AKJV from the Geneva.  Many of the Congregational Churches turned to the Living Bible in 1975.  Today Puritans still use the Geneva and AKJV and some congregations have begun to use the Living Bible and New International Version.

Now that we have formed a congregation from the Puritan, Congregational, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches that have split with their former denominations for various reasons, and circumstances dictate we must face a reality that in public worship we must have consistency for the benefit of our congregations.  We simply cannot have congregations using which ever translation happens to turn up.  It is causing confusion among our flocks and this is not good.

Since May 2011, when we first began uniting for a joint communion we have discussed what translation would best for unity in our congregations.  The The translations still approved for public worship in the Puritan Church in America, effective October 19, 2014 is the Geneva and Authorized King James versions.   In the home, of course, the faithful are free to use whatever translation they please, but in public worship the Geneva and AKJV shall be used.  The benefit is that the majority of churches use these two translations.  Both translations are widely available and are inexpensive for those who do not already own a copy of either Bible.

Our synod for the last three years has been looking at alternative translations that were more "modern" and have the latest "scriptural scholarship and knowledge".  In almost every case we were disappointed at the rewriting of God's word or the absolute acceptance of heresy in these "translations".  What we found is that the Geneva and AKJV still both possess the finest scriptural scholarship.  

An option was the Living Bible (LB) or New International Version (NIV).  In the preface of the LB and NIV we read that one goal of the editors was to "produce in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original-language text—both in meaning and in style," But when we examined the version it seems that there was no real attempt by the LB editors to reproduce the style of the original, or even the meaning of the text beyond a very basic and simplified level.  The NIV editors wanted a translation that was gender neutral and one that "was non judging and presents Christian faith as a tolerant faith".  Rather, it appears that the main idea was simply to make the version easy to read at all costs. It should be understood that the "dynamic equivalence" approach to translation does not in itself require such a reductionistic treatment of the text. The simplifications are a consequence of the self-imposed need to dramatize biblical stories and render a genderless reading.  What was accomplished was a rewriting of scripture in both LB and NIV that a true Christian congregation would refuse.

In May of 2012 we began to reach out to scriptural scholars from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Georgetown , and the Presbyterian Reformed Seminary in Baltimore.  The scholars looked at the NIV and found too many theological errors.  The next was the NKJV and again there were errors of theology and also problematic translating that reduced Divine Revelation as dreams and not communication with the one true God.  The next translation looked at was the New American Bible.

The New American Bible (NAB) contains all 73 books as the original Geneva that Puritans use.  In fact new scholarship has improved the rendering of Tobit and 1 and 2 Maccabees better than the Geneva.  The NAB was translated from original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls for the NT and OT, with some influence from the Vulgate in the Apocrypha. What the final product renders is a translation that holds true to the theology and to the intent of the Hebrew, Koine Greek, and Aramaic.

While The New American Bible is a great translation, it is still a Roman Catholic Bible and the in line notations and the footnotes show this.  The publisher is not willing to remove the Catholic constitutional pages or the Papal approval for printing for a Protestant client.  As Puritans we simply cannot use a Bible that promotes Catholic doctrine and Papal authority in a Bible for use in our public worship.

With all of the above the Puritan Church in America shall continue to use the Geneva and / or the Authorized King James translations in public worship.  While the apocryphal books may be used in teaching, it is not necessary to have a Geneva edition with the books in it.  As Protestants we are free to dismiss these books as non inspired by God. We ask our overseas affiliates to use either the Geneva or AKJV as well.

Understand, at our homes we are free to use any translation that promotes ease of understanding and reading.  For our public worship we shall use the Geneva and King James translations.

USA Synod
Plymouth, MA