Let’s get ready to rumble!

episcopal gaysLast summer I attended a worship service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I went so that I could witness the congregation’s interfaith Eucharistic prayer. The sermon text was Mark 7 and the priest told us that it showed how Jesus was xenophobic, racist and sexist.

The next day I ran into another priest from the church. I told her I had been at the previous day’s service. “I’m so sorry,” she immediately replied. “Why?” I asked, thinking she was going to apologize for the sermon. “Oh, our sound was all off and we had those problems with the lighting. Didn’t you notice?” she said.

Oh how I wish I could go back to Grace Cathedral this weekend when it hosts a vote on who will be the new bishop of California:

The Episcopal Diocese of California’s nomination of three gay clergy among seven candidates for bishop is no surprise — priests in the diocese have been blessing same-sex unions for at least 27 years.

But the possible election of one of them Saturday threatens to split not only the 220-year-old Episcopal Church in the United States but also the centuries-old Anglican Communion, the group of churches around the world that share worship and prayer traditions rooted in the Church of England.

That lead came from the San Francisco Chronicle‘s religion writter, Matthai Chakko Kuruvila, who does an excellent job of highlighting the international importance of a local issue and the myriad interests concerned by the vote. Episcopalians in America are but a fraction of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, he writes, only one-ninth the size of the Nigerian church.

Four California churches now proclaim affiliation with the Anglican province in Uganda and are distancing themselves from the Episcopal Church in the United States and battling it in court for ownership of church properties. An Oceanside church says it is affiliated with the Diocese of Bolivia.

This rift has a racial and colonial subtext in which power dynamics have been reversed. The Anglican faith of white colonizers is now being dictated by the once-colonized.

africananglicanMany reporters highlighted the racial aspect of the schism, but I’m not sure about the colonization angle. Not just because both the colonizers and the colonized are, well, dead, but because it ignores the fact that this is not a colonial situation in which people are being forced to change their aboriginal traditions. The Africans aren’t forcing new traditions on anyone, they’re merely maintaining the church’s historic teachings. That the descendents of the colonizers have changed their minds doesn’t make this reverse colonization.

I also wanted to highlight this from the Los Angeles Times:

“To watch your church suddenly say, ‘Anything goes,’ is a horrifying thing,” [Cynthia Brust, a spokeswoman for the American Anglican Council, which has 300 affiliated churches in the U.S.] added.

The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, who was bishop of the Diocese of Newark in New Jersey before his retirement in 2000, said Brust misses the point.

“There’s not a scientist in the world today who supports the idea that homosexuals are mentally ill or morally depraved,” said Spong, a noted author and outspoken church leader on the subject. “So I’d rather see the church split. I have no desire to be a part of a homophobic church.”

Many reporters frame this issue as a division between conservative and liberal interpretations of Scripture. But as Spong so eloquently says, for some folks Scripture is not necessarily the arbiter of how the church should consider homosexuality.

Where’s the Presbyterian beef?

grill steakPeter Smith is the veteran religion reporter at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He gets to cover a bunch of interesting religions stories, including an ongoing battle over a Ten Commandments display in a Kentucky courthouse.

He also does a great job of finding the local perspective on national religious stories. That was a lot easier this week with the news that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was cutting 75 staff positions in the face of budget cuts. The headquarters for the church body are in Louisville.

Smith has written several stories about the cuts, but each one left me asking questions. See if you have the same reaction. Here’s Sunday’s story:

The 2.4 million-member denomination has been losing members for decades, but church officials say donations to congregations are actually at record levels. But church officials say churches are sending less money to the denomination for its mission programs and are spending more of it on their own ministries.

Here’s the Monday update:

In 2002 and 2003, the church cut 85 jobs through layoffs and attrition. Presbyterian officials say the denomination’s 2.5 million members are giving at record levels to their congregations. But those congregations are sending less money to headquarters to fund national programs, church officials say, and are instead spending more on their own ministries.

And here’s Tuesday’s story:

[General Assembly Council Executive Director John] Detterick said Presbyterians are actually donating more money to their churches than they were a decade ago, but congregations are sending less to headquarters and spending more on direct ministry.

“Presbyterians today do not want to write a check and send that money off for somebody else to make a decision on where it goes,” Detterick said. “More and more work is being done more directly by Presbyterians, and the need of the national (office) to do it is not as great.”

Hmm. I wonder why local Presbyterians aren’t giving money to headquarters. I wonder if there’s any more to this story? I can understand not digging deeper if it were just one story, but at some point you have to wonder whether to accept headquarters’ take on the problem. Also, Smith says the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) “has been losing members for decades.” That’s one way to put it. Hemorrhaging would be another:

Without a word of explanation, the number crunchers for the Presbyterian Church (USA) are projecting record-setting membership losses in 2005 and 2006.

The loss in 2005 was estimated at 65,000, followed by an 85,000 projected loss in 2006. The 2005 figures, which congregations are already reporting, tally membership as of Dec. 31, 2005.

If the Presbyterians are like other church bodies dealing with budget cuts, the reason for funds not reaching national headquarters could be deeper than both the HQ explanation and the dissatisfaction among laity. Yes, laypeople who are dissatisfied with church leaders and the direction of a church begin giving their funds directly to the causes they support. But regional church organizations are also developing expensive bureaucracies and choking off church funds that might go to national headquarters. Both stories are ripe for exploration.

Yes, it’s a big religion story

FacesOfDarfurI joined a few friends from church yesterday and went to the Save Darfur rally on the National Mall. It was a very interesting event, featuring everyone from Manute Bol to George Clooney. My favorite speaker was Paul Rusesabagina. It was not a large rally — only several thousand people, I think — but I was struck by how many of those gathered had signs or T-shirts announcing their religious affiliation. I saw many Christians, but a ton of Jews.

The Baltimore Sun‘s Matthew Hay Brown and Laura McCandlish noticed the same:

Days after Yom HaShoah, when Jews remember the victims of Nazi Germany, busloads traveled from the synagogues of Baltimore to make their numbers known. . . .

“The timing of it, coming so close after Yom HaShoah, made it obvious,” said Lisa Pintzuk, a member of Har Sinai. “What’s the point of remembering the Holocaust if you let it happen again?” . . .

“One of the things that allowed the Holocaust to happen was the world’s silence,” said Joel Nathanson, a dentist and part-time cantor at the synagogue. “We just don’t want it to happen again. Especially in this day and age, when information travels so much faster. It’s our responsibility to speak up.”

The “never again” mantra spoken by many Jews has been broadened to include acts of genocide against non-Jews. The Holocaust Museum has a whole shop dedicated to exposing ongoing human rights abuses (NB: one of my housemates is employed there). The sentiment was expressed by one young Jewish woman at the rally who wore a T-shirt that said “Why mourn a Holocaust when you can stop one?”

In the past, the Jewish community has been extremely reticent to see the Holocaust linked with other claims of genocide. Yesterday the linkages couldn’t have been more pronounced. That’s a very interesting development and one that could be covered more.

One quick criticism of the Sun piece, which is really thorough and gives a look at a wide variety of participants at yesterday’s rally: the story never covers the evangelical angle at all. The National Association of Evangelicals was one of the sponsors of the rally and evangelicals got interested in the problems in Sudan years ago. Matthew Hay Brown mentioned their involvement in an earlier piece, but it would have been good to see a mention in the rally write-up.

The Washington Post‘s Sudarsan Raghavan wrote up a rally piece that mentioned evangelical involvement, but read this carefully:

But yesterday’s rally brought together people from dozens of backgrounds and affiliations, many of whom strongly disagree politically and ideologically on many issues. Judging from T-shirts and banners identifying the various groups, Jews appeared to be among the largest contingent of demonstrators.

Among the speakers were Rabbi David Saperstein; Al Sharpton; Joe Madison, a liberal black radio talk-show host who has been pushing the issue; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; rap and fashion mogul Russell Simmons; and former basketball star Manute Bol, who is himself Sudanese.

I didn’t know Richard Land was president of the Southern Baptist Convention! I knew he was a lot of things, but I didn’t realize he took over the SBC. Does Bobby Welch know?

I also have to mention Alan Cooperman’s Darfur piece from last week’s Washington Post, which is a very good summation of the groups involved in the current efforts in Darfur and how difficult it is to get hundreds of disparate groups on the same page. It has one of the funniest and most colorful closing quotes I’ve read in a while. This passage caught my eye, though:

Some Darfur activists also have complained about the involvement in the rally of a Kansas-based evangelical group, Sudan Sunrise.

Last week, after an inquiry from The Washington Post, Sudan Sunrise changed its Web site to eliminate references to efforts to convert the people of Darfur. Previously, it said it was engaged in “one on one, lifestyle evangelism to Darfurian Muslims living in refugee camps in eastern Chad” and appealed for money to “bring the kingdom of God to an area of Sudan where the light of Jesus rarely shines.”

Yep, get the presses running again. Evangelical Christians continue to evangelize! Don’t they know that evangelism became passe in the last century? Someone should really tell them.

UPDATE: Reader Tom Zoellner just co-wrote Paul Rusesabagina’s autobiography, An Ordinary Man.

Prison ministry questions

image002BAlan Cooperman at the Washington Post has an interesting story about a federal faith-based initiative to prepare inmates for release. I think it’s a very important story and I could not agree more with Americans United for Separation of Church and State in raising concerns. Having said that, let’s look at how Cooperman frames and discusses the story:

The Justice Department plans to set aside cellblocks at up to half a dozen federal prisons for an ambitious pilot program to prepare inmates for release. But it has produced an outcry by saying that it wants a private group to counsel the prisoners according to a single faith.

Taking Cooperman at his word, I searched for all the outcry over this program. The only story I could find was his. And the only group raising concern that I could find is Americans United. There are other things, too. For instance, the phrase “up to half a dozen.” This reminds me of when I would go shopping with my mom. When we were deciding what to buy, she would always round up the price of what I wanted. A $40 blouse for me was “almost $50″ while a $60 blouse for her was also “about $50.” Not fair. Anyway, I see no need for the word “dozen” to describe a number between zero and six.

The Justice Department plans, about which no specifics are given, apparently do not establish which religion the program should be, but they rule out both secular programs and interfaith programs. I would gripe about my hard-earned tax money going to any religion or religious program that I don’t believe in, but the aformentioned “outcry” is more narrow in scope:

The Washington-based advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State charged in a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons has tailored its bidding requirements to fit one particular program: an immersion in evangelical Christianity offered by Charles W. Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Outlining 10 ways in which the Bureau of Prisons’ request for proposals from private contractors dovetails with Prison Fellowship’s “InnerChange” program, Americans United contended that the plan is unconstitutional and urged Gonzales to withdraw it. Gonzales has not responded to the April 19 letter, Americans United said.

Okay, so there we get to the story. This is part of an ongoing campaign by Americans United against InnerChange! It would be nice for the reader to know about American United’s campaign, but Cooperman doesn’t mention it.

Independent experts on constitutional law asked by The Washington Post to review the bidding documents also questioned the plan’s legality.

I’m all for qualifying the word experts, but what does independent mean? Especially considering that the two independent experts he goes to are Erwin Chemerinsky, an attorney who has argued in front of the Supreme Court for the National Organization for Women and Douglas Laycock, who has writen for the not-so-independent publication The American Prospect. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Laycock. I just don’t think it serves anyone’s interest to refer to him as independent. No one is independent. And I bet we could play a six-degrees-of-separation game between Americans United and these two attorneys and we could end in one or two steps.

Cooperman quotes a Justice spokesman who says the plan is noncoercive and constitutional. He also says the bidding requirements were not tailored to Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci L. Billingsley said $3 million has been appropriated for the program. She said it is possible that the bureau could approve several proposals and set up, say, a Roman Catholic program at one prison, a Jewish program at another and an evangelical Protestant program at a third.

“It’s early to speculate, but we hope we’ll have multiple contractors and multiple locations,” she said. She added that she did not know whether inmates would be allowed to transfer between prisons to participate in a program of their choice.

handsSounds about right. The whole point of faith-based initiatives is to treat all religions as equally valid and give them equal access to the huge piles of cash for social programs we give out every day. As a taxpayer who does not want to fund any religion other than my own or give any charity at all to any religion other than my own, these programs infuriate me. The thing is that even though Americans United has its blinders on against Chuck Colson, the religion with the most notable prison ministry is Islam. And even if the rules were written to support Prison Fellowship (which was never substantiated in this piece), other religions could quickly adapt their programs to fit the guidelines. Stephen Schwartz’s analysis in The Weekly Standard gives a descriptive look at the Wahhabism practiced in prisons today:

Soon after September 11, 2001, I and a group of individuals with whom I have worked first began consultations on the problem of radical Islam in prison. We identified change in the prisons as a leading item in the agenda of our nation in defeating the terrorist enemy. Some of us had received letters from American Muslim prison inmates complaining that radical chaplains had harassed and otherwise subjected moderate Muslims in prison to humiliation, discrimination, confiscation of moderate Islamic literature, and even physical threats.

Muslim chaplains have established an Islamic radical regime over Muslim convicts in the American prisons; imagine each prison Islamic community as a little Saudi kingdom behind prison walls, without the amenities. They have effectively induced American authorities to establish a form of “state Islam” or “government-certified Islam” in correctional systems.

Cooperman frequently writes about the same issues that Americans United cares about. He also frequently takes the Americans United angle. I think Cooperman is one of the religion beat’s best technical writers. He’s enjoyable to read. He also explains complex issues in a way that’s easy for the reader to understand. I just wish he would have looked more broadly at this issue. Programs like these could produce an outcry among Americans if they got the bigger picture of what state-sanctioned religious activity in prisons could mean to them personally and to our country’s Constitutional disestablishment of religion. Perhaps he can cover those things in a follow-up. In the meantime, my church will continue our prison ministries without government funds.

Pandora’s pulpit

election creationThe collision of religion and politics always makes for a good story. Last year the IRS opened an investigation into All Saints Church, an Episcopal congregation in Pasadena, for featuring a liberal political sermon two days before the 2004 election. Bradley Whitford, former Quaker, outspoken liberal and erstwhile star of The West Wing, is a member of the church and wrote up his thoughts about the action a few months ago.

First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech buck up against the U.S. tax code, which prevents nonprofit entities from participating in partisan political activities. However liberal the sensibilities of All Saints, the offensive sermon by former rector George Regas didn’t explictily come down in favor of a particular candidate, according to the Los Angeles Times:

In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991′s Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that “good people of profound faith” could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

The idea of the Feds investigating churches makes many queasy, but in Ohio, some pastors are actually siccing the IRS on churches across the political aisle. From the Washington Post comes a report that another IRS complaint has been filed against two churches with ties to Secretary of State Ken Blackwell:

In a challenge to the ethics of conservative Ohio religious leaders and the fairness of the Internal Revenue Service, a group of 56 clergy members contends that two churches have gone too far in supporting a Republican candidate for governor.

Two complaints filed with the tax agency say that the large Columbus area churches, active in President Bush’s narrow Ohio win in 2004, violated their tax-exempt status by pushing the candidacy of J. Kenneth Blackwell, who is the secretary of state and the favored candidate of Ohio’s religious right.

I could not be more personally opposed to the blending of politics and religion. I’m an old-school Luther’s Two Kingdoms kind of person. With that blinding bias out of the way, I have to admit I was surprised by the lack of information in Peter Slevin’s report here. He mentions that 56 Ohio clergy signed the petition but fails to characterize the group as a whole. He mentions that one pastor is with the United Church of Christ — my mom’s former denomination. The UCC is neither apolitical nor leaning conservative. The other cleric mentioned is a Jewish rabbi who describes himself as centrist. Which may or may not be true — self-identification isn’t always the most reliable. Except when I tell you that I am gorgeous, funny and wise beyond my years.

Anyway, the article could have served the reader more by explaining a bit about the motivations of the clergy who are going after these conservative churches. I could be wrong, but I don’t anticipate this same group of clergy monitoring the activity of Detroit churches this fall — or taking notes for the IRS next time they attend the liberal political services at Riverside Church in New York City. In that sense, this could be a case of religious political activity on one side of the aisle being fought by religious political activity on the other.

The questions surrounding political activity and the pulpit are serious — on both sides of the aisle. And I’m not just saying that because I oppose them both. Reporters would do well to illuminate the deeper issues (mostly in American Protestantism) that result in religiously fueled political activity on liberal and conservative issues.

Can I get a witness?

JamesDid you all catch Frank DeFord’s rather pretentious defense of sportswriting in the Washington Post Book World Sunday? I love Frank DeFord and listen to him all the time on NPR and watch him on (the best sports show out there) HBO’s RealSports with Bryant Gumbel. I also love sportswriting. I’ll never forget the transformative experience that was reading Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes while on a transcontinental flight.

But not only did DeFord violate my rule against more than one French word in a paragraph, he told too many too-perfect stories. He acts like sportswriting is some derided ghetto when most folks think that the sports pages have the liveliest writing in newspapers across the land. Case in point is the Washington Post‘s Mike Wise and his excellent analysis of Nike’s new ad campaign that uses religious ideas to sell shoes:

At the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Quincy Avenue, on the fringes of East Cleveland, the guest minister’s voice rose with fervor on Sunday morning.

“We worship at the cathedral of entertainment,” warned Peter Matthews, “where athletes and rock stars are high priests and high priestesses.”

The pastor looked prescient if you drove 15 minutes toward downtown. An entire building’s facade is dedicated to a black-and-white mural of LeBron James. The basketball is held aloft like a torch pointed toward the heavens.

“We Are All Witnesses,” reads the most visible symbol of Nike’s ad campaign for James, Cleveland’s 21-year-old wunderkind, the NBA’s best young player since Magic Johnson.

The intersection of sports and religion is an area not mined enough. Last year Thomas Herrion, the offensive guard for the 49ers, collapsed and died after a preseason game. His casket was draped not in a baptismal pall but in a blanket with his team logo. And not that it ended well, but I found it interesting that stranded New Orleans residents were told to find sanctuary in the Superdome. Dell deChant, a professor of religion at the University of South Florida, has written a bit about the religious role sports play in our culture. Wise provides examples of the intersections:

Sports Illustrated christened James “the Chosen One” when he was 16 years old, which explains the large tattoo on his back. He also goes by “the Golden Child,” and “King James.”

The unabridged version, of course.

LeBron is not coached as much he is “shepherded” by Mike Brown. LeBron also did not lead the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time in eight years. No, he took them to the promised land.

The Cavs team store is not yet selling nativity scenes with Bron-Bron in a manger, but it’s only April.

Nice. The piece is enjoyable and thoughtful. And largely because of Wise’s original reporting — in a church no less! I wish more non-Godbeat reporters would see the value in considering the religious stories in their areas of coverage.

Everyone loves to use the word “glossolalia”

apostolic faith churchPentecostals make for great copy. Their leaders are, well, charismatic (and, dare I say, sometimes found dancing near the devil). They have some righteous tunes. And they make frequent claims of dramatic healings. Now they’re celebrating their 100th anniversary, more or less. The Azusa Street Revival — where an interracial Los Angeles congregation of thousands, led by the Rev. William Joseph Seymour, experienced speaking in tongues and physical manifestations of supernatural contact — began in April 1906.

The Associated Press’ Gillian Flacchus has a complete and tightly written wrap-up that tells you most of what you need to know, including this interesting bit about how newspapers followed what was happening. The disaster refers to the San Francisco earthquake:

The same day as the disaster, a major Los Angeles newspaper published a front-page story about Seymour’s strange prayer meetings — all-night services so rowdy that two policemen were posted full time at the church to keep order. The story bore the headline “Weird Babel of Tongues: New Sect of Fanatics is Breaking Loose.”

Soon, all eight major newspapers were covering the revival, as were religious newspapers called “holiness circulars” that were passed among evangelical churches nationwide. Word spread across the nation — and then the world — about the massive revival under way in Los Angeles.

One of the revival’s most notable characteristics, experts say, was that blacks and whites worshipped under the same roof and shared pastoral duties.

“At its height, it drew people from all classes, wealthy and poor, Hispanics, blacks, Jews — you name it, everybody came,” said [Pentecostal scholar Vinson] Synan. “Whole churches collapsed and joined it. There was a force there, it was almost supernatural. People said they could feel it in the air from about three blocks away.”

I love that headline Flacchus cites. Anyway, she goes on to explain how Pentecostalism spread throughout the country and world. I have to take issue with the figure she and other reporters use to show how large Pentecostalism is:

The movement, once relegated to the theological fringe, now claims up to 600 million followers worldwide and remains one of the fastest-growing sectors of Christianity, according to Vinson Synan, dean of Regent University’s School of Divinity and an ordained minister of the Pentecostal Holiness Church.

data on charismaticsArgh. Church statistics are difficult on a good day. And it could be true that pentecostals claim 600 million people — the graph at left came from a charismatic magazine. But you can’t just let folks make outlandish claims without noting the problems with the data. Other sources put the size of Pentecostal churches at 115 million or so. And yet every story I read on this this cited the remarkably high number.

Many newspapers are finding local angles to the story. Richard Vara with the Houston Chronicle tells readers that Seymour learned about the baptism of the Holy Spirit only a few weeks before the Azusa Street revival . . . at a Houston Bible school where Charles Fox Parham, the founder of Pentecostalism, taught:

Parham’s involvement with glossolalia began on New Year’s Day 1901 at his Bible school in Topeka, Kan., when student Agnes Oznam spoke in tongues.

Three days later, Parham and other students experienced the phenomenon. . . .

Parham and his Topeka students concluded that speaking in tongues was biblical evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

“What Parham does is develop a theology that becomes the Pentecostal theology, one that is quite preachable,” [Cecil] Robeck [Jr., professor at Fuller Seminary] said. “He packages it and markets it, in a sense.”

The marketing of Pentecostalism is frequent fodder for critics, from Sinclair Lewis’ satire Elmer Gantry to Ole Anthony’s Trinity Foundation. Anthony is mentioned in the Dallas Morning News, which offers the best package of information I came across. Jeffrey Weiss writes the anniversary story while Sam Hodges looks at Dallas’ Christ for the Nations Institute, including a sidebar with a tidbit about Bob Dylan. Great package.

I have to make a quick book recommendation — Jim Bakker’s autobiography I Was Wrong. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s a really fascinating. He wrote it after serving a prison sentence, so I was expecting the title to reference some sort of criminal wrongdoing. In fact, he writes an eloquent critique of the Prosperity Gospel he had advocated for so long. He realized in prison that even though he lost his wealth, his family, his ministry and his reputation, God loved him. You’ll thank me later.

The consumer’s guide to the Bible

extreme teenCathleen Falsani, the Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter — and author of the new book The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People — had an interesting story that ran on (Western) Easter Sunday. Rather than taking the controversy tack used by so many others, she wrote an article about all the different translations and versions of the Bible:

There are literally hundreds of English versions of the Christian Bible on the market, ranging from the traditional to the trendy.

There’s a Bible for brides and another for dads. You can get the Old and New Testament bound in Moroccan leather with gold gilded edges, or download them as MP3 files onto your iPod.

The article has sidebars that give readers helpful info, including a list of websites that readers can use to help them figure out which Bible to get, a list of top-selling Bibles and a comparison of the same verse in different translations. She explains differences in translation philosophies effortlessly and concisely:

There are two basic philosophies of Bible translation: word-for-word and thought-for-thought. In the former, translators begin with the original Greek or Hebrew and try to find the most literal English equivalent.

In thought-for-thought translation, which has been the more popular mode in the last 50 years, scholars also begin with the texts in their original languages but concentrate less on literal accuracy and more on readability by finding corresponding thoughts or phrases in English. The NIV is a thought-for-thought translation.

A third approach begins with an existing English translation to create a new version, resulting in a “paraphrase” rather than a true translation. One wildly popular example of a paraphrase is Eugene Peterson’s The Message. It has sold more than 10 million copies since 1993.

Falsani gives an interesting history of translation battles and discusses the commonalities and differences that match up with the divisions in the church. The article is enjoyable and informative. The only thing that surprised me was that I kept expecting her to get into the “so what?” of the different translations. We get to learn how different translations came to be but little about why it matters. I think it’s because Falsani takes a consumerist approach rather than a doctrinal one.

My church body doesn’t believe there is one true translation, and, in fact, we use several. But even I know that my pastor tends to use the New King James Version and it’s because he has problems with aspects of some other translations. I was eager to learn more about some of the doctrinal issues involved in different translations, but there clearly wasn’t room in her already thorough piece. I vote for her to look into the deeper issues in a follow-up.