Bible Translation Needs at a Glance

Here are some quick stats on a neglected issue. With so many languages around our world Bible translation is an important task. I am thankful for an organization like Wycliffe Bible Translators who are addressing this great need.  Check out these most recent statistics they have compiled and put in an infographic. (click the picture for a larger view.)

wycliffe infographic

A World My Grandparents Would Not Recognize

changeChristianity is the underdog. Times have changed. My grandparents have all past away, but if they were here to see our current state, I believe they would be shocked. How quickly the tides can turn. Biblical Christianity is the minority, yet that does not change our convictions. It just makes it harder to stand up for them. These are the times where individuals, churches, denominations will all be tested in their convictions. Below are some thoughts on Atheism today and the changing definition of Marriage, concluding with a video addressing the key need.

In our day Atheism has a new face. It is the normal face. This is what an Atheist looks like today. The Atlantic published an article where they interviewed college age unbelievers to get an understanding of the new mindset soon to be the primary influencers in our generation. Listening to Young Atheists is a revealing article. Check it out in full at the link but here is a summery.

  1. They had attended church. Most of our participants had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to Christianity. Not Islam. Not Buddhism. Christianity.
  2. The mission and message of their churches was vague. These students heard plenty of messages encouraging “social justice,” community involvement, and “being good,” but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.
  3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions. When our participants were asked what they found unconvincing about the Christian faith, they spoke of evolution vs. creation, sexuality, the reliability of the biblical text, Jesus as the only way, etc. … Serious-minded, they often concluded that church services were largely shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant.
  4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously. “I really can’t consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn’t trying to convert me.” As surprising as it may seem, this sentiment is not as unusual as you might think. It finds resonance in the well-publicized comments of Penn Jillette, the atheist illusionist and comedian: “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…. How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Comments like these should cause every Christian to examine his conscience to see if he truly believes that Jesus is, as he claimed, “the way, the truth, and the life.”
  5. Ages 14-17 were decisive. One participant told us that she considered herself to be an atheist by the age of eight while another said that it was during his sophomore year of college that he de-converted, but these were the outliers. For most, the high school years were the time when they embraced unbelief.
  6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one. With few exceptions, students would begin by telling us that they had become atheists for exclusively rational reasons. But as we listened it became clear that, for most, this was usually connected to a deeply emotional transition as well.
  7. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism. When our participants were asked to cite key influences in their conversion to atheism–people, books, seminars, etc.—we expected to hear frequent references to the names of the “New Atheists.” We did not. Not once. Instead, we heard vague references to videos they had watched on YouTube or website forums.

While belief is under attack, the institution of marriage that has been upheld for thousands of years is being redefined. The recent Supreme Court decision will have ramifications beyond what we can foresee.

Trevin Wax writes a article titled Why Gay Marriage is Good (and bad) for the Church. He shows clearly that things will never be the same, the question is how will the church respond and what foundations do we really have that will guide us in these changing times.

Al Mohler addressed the hypocrisy of the supreme court, and particularly Justice Kennedy, for striking down DOMA with accusations of making “moral judgments”, all the while making an equally moral judgment, just with the opposite conclusion. Read his thoughts in Waiting for the Other Shoe – The Supreme Court Rules on Same Sex Marriage.

Here is an interesting take on the subject. If Jesus were to be interviewed, what might He say about Same-Sex marriage? Joe Dallas takes this imaginative response in this clever article. Check it out – Jesus and Same Sex Marriage.

Above all, the linchpin for how we decide what to do about all these issues, and issues we haven’t even seen yet, are dependent on one thing. Has God Spoken?  If He has, we must heed his words and adjust our lives. If He has not, we live as we wand do the best we can without any real consequences or meaning.  Has God Really Spoken?

This is an interview between three brilliant minds and godly men: Don Carson, John Piper, and Tim Keller. They are addressing the issue of Biblical Authority in an Age of Uncertainty. How will we respond to God’s Word when our culture rejects it?

We live in a world my Grandparents would not recognize. Yet fortunately I believe there is a God who has spoken to us for this day. He has made a plan and given us hope. Above all He has given us Jesus. So no matter what the winds of change bring, there is one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus Christ.

Looking to Him,

-Adam

Ken Ham addresses Bill Nye

I bet all of you saw the video of Bill Nye slamming the belief in creationism. He accuses opponents of evolution of holding back society and teaching inappropriate material to children. Listen for yourself.

Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis offers a rebuttal to Bill Nye.

Here are some creation scientists pointing out some glaring flaws with Bill Nye’s position.

I hope you can think critically about the presuppositions behind the science you hold. Does it really correspond with reality? I hope these videos made you think.

-Adam

Five Myths About Bible Translation

biblesHere is a very interesting read concerning Bible translations. If you are concerned with the reliability of the Word of God and how it has come to us then you have dealt some of these specific questions. Click the link and read in detail about this interesting (and important) topic, written by Dan Wallace, a premiere Greek Scholar and translator.

Five Myths About Bible Translation

In summary:

Myth 1: The Bible has been translated so many times we can’t possibly get back to the original.

Myth 2: Words in red indicate the exact words spoken by Jesus of Nazareth.

Myth 3: Heretics have severely corrupted the text.

Myth 4: Orthodox scribes have severely corrupted the text.

Myth 5: The deity of Christ was invented by emperor Constantine.

Need Real Life Peace? Focus on Sound Theology.

These days we are flooded with the experiential and relational aspects of our faith. While we need to experience God and have an emotional connection as He moves, where is the bedrock for understanding how to relate to God?

The foundation is not rooted in emotional response. It is not rooted in ourselves at all.

Correct relation to God is based in a sound biblical theology. We allow God to tell us through His Word how we connect with Him. Therefore, when resting in a sound theology of God’s love and interaction with His creation we can find peace for real life. We are not stranded, fighting for ourselves. We have one who fights for us. Sound theology directly influences our real lives. Check out the Peanuts comic strip that sees this connection when many people go though life and miss it.

Sound theology is believing correct things about God. Bad theology is believing incorrect things about God. The way we know the difference between the two is knowing the Bible. Dive in and find the truth of the Scriptures and see how it speaks to real life today.                                                                  -Adam

peanuts

Train Up the Next Generation

Here is a fantastic article focused on a glaring deficiency among pastors, and really all believers. We can get so fixed on running “my race” for God in the day to day grind that we forget there is a biblical mandate to guide the next generation into maturity. If we don’t do it who will?

Writing for DesiringGod.org, Mike Bullmore posts “Brothers, Train Up the Next Generation” as a reminder to this very fact.  Check out the article to get a great perspective of the need and solution.

Here are his main points, but go read the full article:

  1. Disciple Faithful Men: Paul is used as a rubric here. Do you have a Timothy?
  2. Beware the Hezekiah Syndrome: After God grants 15 years of “added” life to the sick king, he goes off and parades Israel’s riches before Babylon, Isaiah prophecies coming captivity, but Hezekiah is content that there will be peace in his lifetime. (aka, sorry next gen, but at least I’m ok.)
  3. Avoid Temporal Shortsightedness: it is easy to think only about the here and now, but the coming glory is always a key element in biblical living.
  4. Cultivate a Far-seeing Vision: Contrast Hezekiah with Paul. It take intentionality and devotion, but it is our responsibility.
  5. Invest in the Next Gospel Generation: 1) be personally devoted to Gospel ministry, 2) Notice those who rise to the top, 3) create context for youth to “practice” handling the Word, 4) Pray intentionally for God to raise up passionate hearts, pray for your replacement.

10 Answers Every Creationist Should Know

Here are 10 key areas of creation every Christian must know to be well informed and able to speak clearly about hot issues related to the beginnings of life. These links provide support for a biblical understanding of the most current scientific research to the more popular questions in society. So take a look and be informed!

  1. Six Literal Days
    1. For more in-depth:
      Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days?
  2. Radiometric Dating
    1. For more in-depth:
      What Is Radiometric Dating?
  3. Variety Within Created Kinds
    1. For more in-depth:
      Creation’s Hidden Potential
      Do Species Change?
      Bara-What?
  4. Uniqueness of Man
    1. For more in-depth:
      Chapter 8: Did Humans Really Evolve from Apelike Creatures?
  5. Distant Starlight
    1. For more in-depth:
      Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old?
  6. Global Flood
    1. For more in-depth:
      Was There Really a Noah’s Ark and Flood?
  7. Dinosaurs on the Ark
    1. For more in-depth:
      Dinosaurs Q & A
  8. One Race
    1. For more in-depth:
      Racism Q & A
  9. Suffering & Death
    1. For more in-depth:
      Death and Suffering Q & A
  10. The Gospel: For more in-depth: What Is the Gospel

Thank you AiG for great stuff all the time! You are helping christians around the world understand that believing the bible not not mean you have to check your brain out at the door!

-Adam

Biblical Illiteracy

Dr. Greg Thornbury, one of the most influential professors I had while attending Union University, has written a blog posted HERE, available through BibleMesh.com, addressing the Biblical illiteracy of our culture. While we have everything from game shows (The American Bible Challenge: with host Jeff Foxworthy) to books aimed at bible-knowledge, how well are we really doing? Are we training the next generation to understand the Bible in a way that, as Thornbury says, “everything points to the message and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ”, or are we just teaching trivial moral facts? Read and be challenged!

-Adam

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For more than two decades now, American society has been fixated on our ignorance about things, often to the point of celebration.  In 1991, the very first For Dummies book (it was on DOS) rolled off the presses, and more than 1600 of the series have been published since then.  We’re not afraid to say when we don’t know stuff, and actually to do so is kind of therapeutic.

Sometimes, the dummy culture rises to the level of comedy, and one thing we find hilarious is our collective cluelessness about the Bible.  Years ago, Tonight Show host Jay Leno poked fun every so often at the pandemic ignorance of Holy Writ during his “Jaywalking” segment.

Biblical illiteracy is, however, no laughing matter.  Recent titles such as Timothy Beal’s The Rise and Fall of the Bible and Kenda Creasy Dean’s Almost Christian show that the problem for the Church is pandemic.  Both books demonstrate the appalling state of how little believers know about their own sacred text. How long can any organization survive if its members don’t know its mission, axioms, and core beliefs?  Well, that’s a rhetorical question.

But what if people actually did know their Bibles? Esquire writer A.J. Jacobs took up that challenge and tried to combine humor with astonishing levels of biblical literacy in his irreverent book, The Year of Living Biblically.  In it, Jacobs, an admitted agnostic, seeks to live an entire year by trying to obey the commands of the Bible as literally as he possibly could in modern day Manhattan. He found it rough going for multiple reasons, chief amongst them not being able to gossip at work, lie, or covet the possessions of others.   Rules such as stoning adulterers, slaughtering oxen, wearing clothing not made of mixed fibers, and not shaving one’s beard seemed even harder to apply to modern life.  In the end, Jacobs concludes we can’t read the Bible literally, and that in reality people just pick and choose the commands they like, and ignore the ones that they don’t.

On a more positive note, comedian Jeff Foxworthy (of “You Might Be a Redneck” and “Are You Smarter Than Your Fifth Grader?” fame) hosts a new game show called “The American Bible Challenge,” a Family Feud style format in which groups are called upon to pit their Bible knowledge against each other in purportedly knee slapping fashion.  The show bills itself this way: “Questions will be designed to acknowledge and celebrate the Bible’s continuing importance in contemporary life and culture. The contestants will share their compelling back-stories and each team will be playing for a worthy charity.”

What do all of these books, shows, and analyses have in common?  They reveal that we live in a culture that can’t live with the Bible, but also can’t seem to live without it.

At the bottom line, however, here’s the truth: the Bible is a confusing and even bizarre book.  But it is only that way if it is not read through the lenses of what the 16th century Reformer John Calvin called the “spectacles of faith” – where everything points to the message and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Try to turn the Bible into a disconnected series of facts, and you might have a quiz show.  Try to squeeze the law of Moses into modern society and you get a Kafka-esque nightmare or a funny Jacobs’ book.  Read the Bible without the grace and love of Jesus to explain all that has gone before?  How many ways can you spell disaster?

The Lifebook Movement

Here is a great FREE resource for student ministries everywhere! (and the price is right, eh?) The Lifebook Movement is an effort to get the bible in the hands of every High School Student in the nation. This is a product of Gideon’s International and contains:

  • An Old Testament Recap
  • The Gospel of John
  • Interactive Student Questions and Comments
  • A Challenge to Trust Jesus Christ

To receive a free packet of 1000 Lifebooks only requires an online registration and a (suggested no-mimimum) love offering. Our student ministry has organized and participated in a “saturation” in the past and I fully recommend yours doing the same. What is more effective than getting God’s Word in the hands of teenagers in your area? By handing out these compact little books, your students become “gift-givers” rather than preachers or intrusive as they learn to share their faith. Here is specific link for Youth Leaders with quick video describing how to get involved.

Isaiah 55:10-11 speaks of how God’s Word is always effective. What an awesome promise!

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with My Word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

Check out the informative video below and see if you want to get plugged in! 

Go get ’em!

Your fellow worker in the field, Adam

What Do Christian Teenagers Believe about Jesus?

Biola Magazine has done some research and produced this thought provoking article on the nuts and bolts behind the faith of the current generation of teenagers. We need to get specific about Jesus Christ and faithfully teach what the bible reveals. This generation is floundering in a vague divinity and spineless teaching when all along a strong clear picture of Jesus is on display in the pages of scripture. WIll we believe it? WIll we pass this on. Check out the below article and gain insight into the faith of this generation of teenagers.

Your fellow worker in the field, Adam

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What does the faith of the next generation of Christians look like? When we examine the actual beliefs of Christian teenagers regarding Jesus and his meaning for our lives, is what we find encouraging or alarming?

In The Jesus Survey (Baker Books, 2012), bestselling author Mike Nappa (’89) explores these questions by presenting the results of a nationwide survey of Christian teens. Here, Nappa discusses some of his findings with Biola Magazine and talks about the takeaways for parents, teachers, youth pastors and anyone invested in the faith of future generations.

Mike, could you briefly describe the types of Christian teens that you surveyed and the survey methodology?

The Jesus Survey was administered during summer 2010 at Reach Workcamp mission sites in Colorado, Indiana, Maine, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. (You can download a reproducible copy of the actual survey used at nappaland.com/tjs.) More than 800 teens, ages 12 to 18, participated in the survey. All teens self-identified as “Christian” and were active in a church youth group at the time of the survey. In all, the survey sample represented 16 Christian denominations from 24 United States, and delivered a 99 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

What was the overall goal with “The Jesus Survey”? What did you want to find out?

The original goal was just to satisfy my own curiosity! I wanted to discover what Christian teens believed about Jesus — and how that was (or wasn’t) affecting their everyday lives. So I asked them.

In terms of the specific survey, the first part was designed to measure what teens thought about four core doctrines of Christ: 1) The Bible is completely trustworthy in what it says about Jesus. 2) Jesus is God. 3) Jesus physically lived, died and came back to life. 4) Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Having established those baselines, the second part of the survey was designed to measure how a Christian teen’s belief or unbelief in those core doctrines affected his or her daily experience with God.

While 86 percent of those surveyed reported that they viewed the Bible as at least somewhat trustworthy, 70 percent expressed persistent, measurable doubts that what the Bible says about Jesus is true. And these are “cream of the crop” youth group kids. How do we make sense of this, and should we be alarmed?

As a former youth pastor, those numbers do concern me. Realistically, just about everything our youth group teens know about Jesus came from what’s found in the Bible, so if they don’t trust the Bible, they can’t fully trust their own knowledge of Jesus. It seems to me that we parents and church leaders can do a better job of helping our Christian teenagers grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture.

What’s more (and this surprised me), the data show that Christian kids who do have strong confidence in Scripture actually experience God more noticeably in their daily lives. For instance, four out of five (82 percent) teens who have “unshakable” faith in the Bible also report possessing “strong” proof that the Holy Spirit is active in their lives. Among kids who are uncertain about Scripture, that number is less than half (49 percent). For Christian teens who disbelieve the Bible’s reliability, only 22 percent (about 1 in 5) strongly claim real-life experience with Christ’s Holy Spirit.

Christ’s exclusivity seems to be a big stumbling block for many teens. Fully 1 out of 3 (33 percent) of the Christian teenagers you surveyed believes that Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha and other great religious leaders all lead to heaven. Why do you think this is, and what are the implications?

What’s hard about this finding is that these are Christian kids — teens who claim to have already trusted in Jesus for heaven (and more). In spite of that, they seem unaware that their answers to this question actually contradict their own Christianity — and the beliefs of other religions, too. Youth culture researcher Christian Smith calls this a “tolerance over truth” attitude that’s a result of mainstream, social indoctrination. There’s probably some validity to Smith’s opinion, but it’s always easy to blame the world outside for problems inside the church.

Realistically, an enormous error in basic Christian truth like this one wouldn’t be widespread in our youth groups if adult Christians in our churches weren’t also embracing — and promoting — the fallacy. Tolerance and truth are not mutually exclusive — we need to be better at communicating both for our teens.

What’s worth noting here is that belief in the trustworthiness of the Bible is directly related to belief that Jesus, alone, saves. Among “Jesus only” kids, 99 percent also agreed with the statement that “The Bible is 100 percent accurate.” The implication there is both encouraging — and obvious.

Barely 5 percent of those surveyed reported that they study the Bible on a daily basis, with 67 percent reporting that they seldom or never study Scripture outside church, numbers that reflect a downward trend in Bible study from similar studies conducted 10 years ago. How do you think we can reverse this trend and get young people excited about the Bible?

Our first priority must be to help our Christian teenagers grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture. After all, why bother studying the Bible if its message can’t be trusted? If you can’t believe the Bible, then whatever it says is irrelevant. On the other hand, if the Bible can be trusted, then the Bible will be read — that’s my opinion.

I don’t see Scripture needing any special ad campaign or “teen friendly” package. It already has within its pages everything a Christian teenager wants and needs in life. What our kids must come to know is that their Bible is real and true and trustworthy. When they come to grips with that, it’ll change everything — and create a hunger for God’s Word that won’t be denied.

In the evangelism area, 84 percent said they believe Christians are “expected to tell others about Jesus,” while 56 percent said they actually did in the last month. Still, 56 percent seems pretty high. Are teenage Christians less afraid of evangelism than we think?

This was another of the surprises of The Jesus Survey: Christian teenagers are actually quite open and unashamed about their religion. What’s more, talking about Jesus to their friends seems to come naturally for this generation. Even among Christian teenagers who say that Jesus is not the only way to heaven, more than half (55 percent) believe that every follower of Christ has a responsibility to tell others about Jesus “with the intent of leading them to be Christian too.” This unexpected openness about faith may be a benefit of that “tolerance indoctrination” our kids are experiencing in their society. After all, if all religions are tolerated, then it’s OK to talk about any religion — even when the topic is Jesus.

At the same time, there is cause for concern about the evangelistic passion of our Christian teenagers. If the things they’re saying about Christ reflect what they actually believe about Christ, then (according to The Jesus Survey at least), three-fourths of them (74 percent) are actually spreading untruth about Jesus to their friends, neighbors, coworkers and more.

What encouraged you most from the results of the survey?

I was humbled and grateful to see, right there in the data, that God rewards teenagers who place full faith in him. Or, as I put it in the book, “Right belief translates into real experience.”

As part of the study, I was able to identify what I called “Confident Christian Teens.” This group of kids consistently and strongly affirmed each of the four core beliefs around which the survey centered. These kids were the minority in their youth groups (outnumbered 10 to 1 actually), but they reported a real-life experience with God that was identifiable and ongoing.

For example, 94 percent of Confident Christian Teens strongly agreed with this statement: “I’m 100% certain Jesus has answered one or more of my prayers—and I can prove it.” Among the rest, only about half (55 percent) could say the same thing. Additionally, nearly nine out of 10 (86 percent) Confident Christian Teens strongly agreed with this: “I’m 100% certain that the Holy Spirit of Jesus is present and active in my life today — and I have proof that this is true.” Among all other Christian teens, barely half (52 percent) could make the same claim.

For parents, youth group leaders, pastors, professors and others who care about the beliefs of the next generation, what are the big takeaways from this data?

The absolute best thing you can do for any Christian teenager is to help that teen grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture. Teens who believe the Bible is reliable are more likely to embrace authentic Christian beliefs and — according to the data — are significantly more likely to experience an authentic, noticeable relationship with God. That’s the big takeaway I learned from The Jesus Survey.

If you could summarize your overall assessment of the current generation of Christian teenagers in just three words, what would they be?

Honest. Tolerant. Passionate.


Mike Nappa (’89) is a bestselling and award-winning author with more than 1 million copies of his books in print worldwide. He’s also the founding publisher of FamilyFans.com, “The Free E-Magazine for Parents” and a noted commentator on pop culture, theology, family and film.