Sunday, May 18, 2014

You Can Use Your Greek Without Using It When You Teach

Clifton Stringer has a post called "3 Ways Preachers Undermine the Bible (and the Sermon)" on the Ministry Matters website. I was delighted when I read this:
"There are bad ways to use your knowledge of Greek/Hebrew/Latin. You can preach in such a way as to make it clear that your congregation can’t really know what the Bible says unless they know [insert 'original language' word here, and what it 'really' means]. You can make them think they need to know Greek to read the Bible in English."
I caution my students when it comes to using Greek when they teach. In fact, right or wrong, I just go ahead and tell them to avoid doing it. I am a champion for using it in preparation. If only more of our pastors and teachers were studying their New Testaments using Greek! But when it comes time to teach, I say just leave the Greek out of it. Let me give you an illustration.

When I was younger I used to go to a lot of car shows and car expos. My favorite car was the Ford Mustang 5.0. Nothing, absolutely nothing, sounds like that car with an H-pipe, no cats, and flowmasters. Okay, I'm running down a tangent. Oh yeah, back to my illustration. The purpose of the car show/expo was to show the audience the absolute best. If you entered your car, you did everything you could to make your car look better than ever (and hopefully better than all the rest). No one wants to see the oil and the grease that goes into getting those cars ready. No one wants to see the paper protective floor mats. Bringing all the Greek into your teaching is like leaving all the remnants of car mechanics on your hands and car; it's like not cleaning up after you're all done. It's like assuming people who come to a car show care more about the tools you use to do your oil changes than they do about seeing your high-octane, teal Mustang Cobra.

Of course, not everyone thinks this way. Clifton, in fact, believes there are "tasteful ways to use the actual Greek word, etc." And that's okay. I think what's most important is the sensitivity he points out that we should have. We ought not do three things:
  1. We should not exalt ourselves or our education above those we serve. 
  2. We should not tear down others' faith and trust in the translated Word of God. 
  3. We should not inappropriately use the Greek to make people think what we say is right. 

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