The Cripplegate

The Racial Justice Debate Needs Biblical Clarity, Not More Straw Men

No, Jesus would not require vaccine passports

Samuel Sey tweeted something recently that came as a shock for many christians. A church in Canada is going to reopen next month (after being closed since covid began) but with a twist, they will be requiring a vaccine passport for people to come in the doors.

The writer of the article, who is the pastor of the church, said that if Jesus been alive today, he would have done the same. 

After appealing to science for his decision, the pastor made a shift into theology. He said Jesus would agree with him.

Theologically, the argument is stronger. To be a Christian is to model one’s life after Christ. Jesus always put others first. He gave up his individual rights for the common good and sacrificed for the sake of the weak. He loved others as he loved himself and would have surely done anything to best protect the unvaccinated children in his neighbourhood. A Christian ethic always puts the vulnerable first.

Not only is this argument not strong it is actually quite foolish.

Jesus consistently exposed himself to sick people. People with Leprosy (Matt. 8:2), fevers (Luke 8:38-40), blood discharges (Luke 8:43), demons (Matt. 5:1), and even dead people (Mark 5:21, Luke 8:40) were constantly approached by Jesus without regard for his own safety.

He could have healed everyone he came in contact with yet he didn’t. There were times where he chose not to heal people who needed it. (Mark 6:5) In fact, Jesus could remove not only Covid from this world in a split second, but all pain and suffering whenever he wants. But doesn’t.

Jesus’s mission was not to eradicate suffering in this world, but it was to suffer himself for the sake of the elect. (Heb. 2:9-10) He was willing to die for the sake of the lost! And He expected his disciples to follow suit! (John 15:20)

The only reason you might require proof of vaccines for entrance to a church service is because you have lost sight of the cost of discipleship and are controlled by the fear of death.

You should be willing to die for people to hear the gospel.

Jesus said very clearly that we should be willing to suffer and even die for His sake. (Matt. 10:38, Matt. 24:9)

Paul said that for the sake of his people, Israel, he would be willing to be accursed in their place, if it meant that they would get to go to Heaven. (Rom. 9:3) And Paul believed in a literal eternal hell.

Every follower of Christ should be willing to suffer and die for the sake of expending our energy and our whole entire lives for the lost. 

It is for this reason that it is shocking that there are churches that are forbidding people from coming to church. I know that this is a hot topic and that many people are sensitive about this. I am not against being careful and using wisdom, after all unlike Jesus, we don’t have the ability to heal people. But under no circumstance are we allowed to turn away people from hearing the Gospel and gathering with the saints.

We should be begging people to come, not banning them!

We truly need to pray for pastors around the world. These situations are not easy to navigate. We need to pray for churches to not be afraid. 

We need to pray that elders who are afraid of dying, would remember their high calling and either repent or resign. 

Sadly too many shepherds right now, instead of fighting away the enemy of their sheep, are dropping their staffs and running away, afraid to die.

If you should be willing to be speared in the chest to bring the Gospel to a tribe in Equador, you should be willing to be exposed to a respiratory disease that you have more than a 99% chance to survive.

This is not to minimize the fact that this virus does harm some people in a significant way, but it is to say that if the fear of death is driving you to make your decisions then you are not being a faithful shepherd.

We need to pray for much wisdom from the Lord. Obviously we don’t want to have a martyr complex where we expose ourselves and those around us to unecessary risks, but we must, if we desire to follow our Lord’s example, be willing to expend ourselves for the Lord. 

I can’t help but think of Peter who was told by Christ that he would die on a cross, (John 21:19) yet boldly declared Gospel, each and every time he had the opportunity, without compromise or concern for his own body.

By all means get vaccinated if you want, protect yourself as best you can, but never forbid people from hearing the good news. Elders, (and really every member of the church) go and preach boldly the word of God, leaving your life in God’s hands.

Strategies for Reading Greek, Retention Pt 3

By Clint Archer

Translating Greek to English is not the same as reading Greek. We covered that last week.

Today I want to suggest some practical strategies for improving fluency of reading Greek. I gleaned most of this from an inspiring and helpful break-out session offered at the Greek for Life Conference in Louisville, Kentucky last month.  These insights were offered by the energetic, knowledgeable, and delightfully candid Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor, Dr Brian Vickers. At times it wasn’t clear if he was tailoring his advice for language students or cyclists training for the Tour de France. But these strategies obviously work for any grueling endurance endeavor.

Fernando’s Secret.

Dr Vickers told us about a former student of his, who we’ll call Fernando. This young man came to seminary with absolutely no knowledge of Greek, but as soon as he learned the alphabet he began to read, and read, and read. At first he recognized nothing but common conjunctions and words that sounded like their English cognates (kardia sounds like “cardiac” and means “heart”). As his Greek classes started filling in the blanks with vocabulary lists, lessons on grammar and syntax, and explanations of morphology, Fernando’s base was solid and his fluency accelerated. Before the end of formal Greek training at the MDiv level, he could read Greek significantly more fluently with higher comprehension, than any Greek PhD candidate. His secret? He just read Greek. All. The. Time.

Vickers was clear that the strategies that follow don’t work if this is all you do. But he avers that to become proficient in reading and thinking in Greek, you need to be doing at least this. It is the base, the foundation on which all your vocabulary and grammar studies will stand. I realized as he was talking that this is what I had neglected in my studies. I had memorized for the quiz and exam, the paradigms, vocabulary, and rules of translation. But I wasn’t reading Greek; I was analyzing it. And that was enough for years. But now I want to read, think, and enjoy New Testament Greek. If that describes you, read on…

Assess the Damage.

Start with an honest assessment of where you need to begin. Do you need to relearn the alphabet (quick test, what letter comes before and after Xi?).

How many minutes of Greek did you read this past day, week, and month? If you did that for the next twelve months, how would your skill improve? My honest answer was that the amount I was reading daily and weekly was not enough to produce improvement, no matter how long I did it. I needed more volume.

When he qualified that “reading” doesn’t count if you’re using helps or doing it for sermon preparation, my number fell to zero. For someone who wants to read the Bible for enjoyment and devotion, I realized I had been doing nothing to attain that goal.

Resist Buying an App.

Vickers showed us a picture of an Olympic cyclist with medal, and another picture of him as a teenager, with his first bike. It had no tires. But he rode it everywhere. He did what he could with what he had at the time. Most Greek students will spend time on Amazon and the app store looking for the perfect new grammar book, laminated paradigm charts, flashcards, learning apps. It is a black hole of futility this early in the process.  Use what you have. All you need for the first month is a Greek New Testament. If you have Machen on your shelf, that’ll do. If you have a coffee-stained, Dana & Mantey… that’ll do! Just start reading.

Build a base.

The point of this is to build a habit on which to add other studies. Vickers swears that if you start with seven minutes a day, five days a week, for a month, you will experience success. Why seven? Because it’s not ten, but it’s also not only five. In other words, it’s enough to get a chunk done, but not that much that you will be tempted to skip a day.

7 minutes x 5 days = 35 minutes a week. That’s nearly two and a half hours a month, which is a zillion times more than I was doing before.

What counts as reading? Just mouthing the sounds (preferably aloud, unless you have to do it on the subway or in your cubicle at work), and not stopping to look up anything. Just read. You are hardwiring a sense of the syntax, the sounds, the cadence, the structure of the language. You might not understand 80% of what you are reading, but your brain is learning something. The scaffolding is going up. Just trust the process.

Be Consistent.

Show up. Just do your seven minutes every day for a month and see what happens. Don’t break the habit before it begins. Pick a regular time and place, set a timer on your phone, put it on airplane mode, and start reading until it tells you you’re done.

Add work.

After your seven minutes is done, and those unfamiliar vocab words or verb forms are driving you nuts, now is the time to add study. It’s optional. The base is non-negotiable. It’s a duty. But the extra work will be a delight now, not a chore.  It will feel so satisfying to look up a word and when you read the same verses tomorrow you will know more and more and you will want to read more and more. That is why I read the same passage each day. As I read faster I get more verses in. Every few days I change to a new passage by a different writer, so I get a feel for the different styles.

When your base is solid, you can start to increase the time incrementally. So instead of seven minutes, spend nine, and then fifteen, and shoot eventually for a half-hour a day or more. Just take it slow. Or spend more time looking up words after your seven minutes. Just don’t stop the bare minimum of seven.

Add to your plan the memorization of a verb paradigm, maybe one a month to start. You will start to see the endings and augments all over the place. When it’s stuck in your mind, add another.

Be patient.

You are not translating yet, you are first learning to read. Comprehension will come. Remember “Fun with Dick and Jane”? Slow, faltering, leads to fluency over time. Measure your progress over long periods of time; months not days. Six months from now you will compare your first week of stuttering incoherence with less than 10% comprehension, to an unprecedented rapidity of recognition, improved pronunciation, dexterity with accented emphasis, and noticeable growth in reading comprehension.

Be merciful.

It’s okay to skip a day or two. No need for self-flagellation. If you get down about missing a day, you may resign your efforts. You will not lose what you’ve gained in 48 hours. But get back on the horse as quickly as you can, lest it leave you in the dust. Again. 

Religious exemption to mask mandates?

As elementary school students return to school this year, many states are requiring them to wear masks unless they have a religious objection to such a mandate. I have already been asked by several parents for my thoughts on such a thing. Now, generally I want to leave medicine to doctors, science to scientists, and politics to politicians (and in the case of mask mandates for little children, it honestly is hard to tell where one of those groups ends and the other begins). However, since the government is allowing religious opting out, that is my wheel house.

This post is an argument for why, if you are in a state that allows religious opting out of mask mandates for children, you should opt out—even if you want your kids to wear a mask. It is not a post denying the reality of COVID, nor is it a post about vaccines. It is not a post that is comparing persecution by the Taliban to mask mandates.

It is a post meant to help parents think through the religious implications and convictions behind ceding to the state the authority to tell little kids to wear a mask all day at school.  

Let me start by asking in religious terms, what is the purpose of education? How you answer that question will help you understand the nature of a potential religious objection to mask mandates.

I answer that question by saying that the purpose of education is to “study reality as a manifestation of God’s glory, to speak about it with accuracy, and to savor the beauty of God in it.” That definition is not mine, but borrowed from Piper’s God’s Passion for His Glory (p. 43; link takes you to a free PDF version). That kind of devotion to reality is at odds with world systems. The world’s approach to education is to dissuade people from finding their satisfaction in the gospel, and instead promise safety and satisfaction through politics, work ethic, or personal self-worth. Thus, the world’s education will be “wrong, because [it] knows neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Mark 12:24).

A Christian approach to education should give children the foundation they need to grow up to be different than the world. We want to make Daniels, who disregard the king’s edict and throw open the window to pray. We want to make people like Moses, who count it a privilege to suffer with God’s people rather than enjoy the comforts of home. We want Rahabs, who are willing to defy the mandates of the city in order to side with God’s people. We want Abrams, who receive more joy from God’s glory than they do from familiarity with their world.

Now, if you have that as the goal, how you get there is key. It is a critical component of Christian education that children learn that the world view that they are being taught is more significant—indeed more true, if there is such a phrase—than the world views of society. Cultural conformity is not a virtue.

Mask mandates don’t correspond to reality

With that said, consider mask mandates for children. They do not appear scientifically based. I know scientists say “masks are an effective way of stopping the spread of COVID,” but that is very different than saying what the scientists say corresponds to reality. This requires nuance. Do you understand the difference between science says and scientists say?

I don’t want to tread too far into verboten territory here, but the idea that mask mandates for little children are political theatre should be evident. I am not talking about mask mandates for adults, and I am not talking about mask mandates for airplanes. I’m talking about places like Virginia, where initially the mask mandate was for kids over 12, then it became 7, then it became 2. Those changes did not come with any corresponding “science.” There were not studies on the spread of COVID to arrive at the age of 12. When COVID was rising a year ago, many states adopted mask mandates for age 12 and up, and we were told that if we complied, they would go away. But rather than COVID going away, it raged out of control despite the mask mandates. How did governments respond? Well most of them simply lowered the mask mandate’s age, as if those unmasked 7 year-olds were why it was out of control. In Virginia it dropped from 12 to 7, then finally to 2. It did so without research, studies, or any evidence whatsoever other than the assertion that “science says.” That’s what I mean by “political theatre.”

Speaking of politics, these mandates are becoming more and more evident in blue states, but not in red states. Why? I am not asking that question from a “mask-denying” perspective, but am literally asking that question: why do mandates for little kids follow the political make up of an area? Could it be that these mandates are more world-view oriented than scientific?

And, while we are on that question, it is also worth asking if mask mandates have been effective at “slowing the spread.” There is plenty of research showing that COVID rates follow patterns, and those patterns are pretty much consistent regardless of masking. Nations without masking follow the same patterns as nations with. Hawaii (strict masks) and Texas (no mandates) follow the same curves. To reference back to how we described the purpose of education, mask mandates for children as a means of slowing the spread of COVID does not match reality.

Again, let me stress the nuance here. I’m not arguing overtly against masks, but against mask mandates for children. That is a huge and critical difference that I hope is clear, and leads to the next part of this religious objection to mandates. I visited one school recently for a sports practice that required masks on little kids. But when the kids went to recess, all the students put their masks in a shared basket. Then, after recess, they all fished their masks out to go back to class. It was an incredible scene to watch, and if you think your kindergartener’s mask is more sanitary than that…well, if you have a kindergartener, you already know it isn’t.

My point is that these mandates, despite all of the “experts” agreeing on their efficacy, don’t actually correspond with the world as it is. Some parents might say “I don’t think the mask mandates for kids do anything, but at the same time, we should just go along with it, because we don’t have a religious objection.” But I’m saying that is a huge problem in Christian education. If you are teaching kids to comply with a mandate that does not correspond to the real world (especially when the state lets you opt out), that in and of itself is the big deal. I’m not saying it should be a matter of martyrdom—don’t die over masks. Don’t’ get thrown out of stores (or schools, for that matter). But if the stores (or schools, for that matter) allow you to opt out for a religious conviction, then the mandate’s lack of correspondence to reality is that religious conviction. The uniquely Christian purpose of education to teach kids a vision of the world that corresponds to reality.

Ephesians 6:4 teaches that it is the family’s job to raise their children, not the state’s

In the Christian family, fathers are supposed to “raise [their] children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” and children are supposed to “obey [their] parents,” so that they may “live long in the land” (Ephesians 6:4, 1). While the phrase “discipline of the Lord” may sound benign, there is an entire world view behind it that is relevant today.

In the Greco-Roman world, that word translated in Ephesians 6:4 as discipline was a critical world-view level word. In the New Testament era, the Romans continued the Greek tradition of believing that it was the state’s job to “discipline” children. Don’t confuse this with parents spanking their children—that’s not what this word describes. Rather, it describes the kind of cultural discipline required to function well in society. Think “discipline” as in “military discipline.” In the Greco-Roman world, it was the state’s function to instill those social norms in children. TDNT (a Greek dictionary) describes the word translated discipline this way:

“Even ideas about family education in the classical period are mostly presented as demands of the legislator. For strictly all education is a public affair. At issue in discipline is the relations of man to the polis (political element of society), and…the indissoluble tension between man’s freedom and the claim of society… Political education (in the Greek Empire) is introduction into the political relation created by the legislator. Thus the state attains to radical superiority over the individual; [in this vision] education is fully a matter for the state.”TDNT paideuo

Into that world, Paul tells fathers the opposite. He pierces the loyalty educators have to the state, and instead claims that it falls to the family to instill into their children the kind of discipline that will prepare them to function well in the world God created. My eyes often just glide through Ephesians 6:4 but it is helpful to remember that Paul is saying “Fathers, it falls to you to make sure your family understands reality for the glory of the Lord. Don’t give that burden away to the state!”

To be clear, I’m not even particularly arguing against masks. If you have done the research, and you want your children to wear a mask at school, then by all means have them wear a mask at school. If they are the only kid in a mask, tell them that it is a good reminder that they are being obedient to their parents, and that obedience will give them a longer life than the mask will (Ephesians 6:3). Own your decision, and teach them that they can be a Daniel by doing what their parents tell them to do, not because the state says so, but because Mom and Dad say so. Religiously opt out of the mandate, and then have your kid mask up.

But whether you want your kids to mask up or not, I hope you agree that it falls to parents to say “God has made me responsible for my children’s wellbeing and safety; I do not want them to be pawns in some sort of political game. God gave my children to me, I will decide if they should mask up at school, according to the authority God has given me in Ephesians 6:1-4, and for that reason I have a sincerely held religious belief that precludes me from having my kids participate in this mask mandate.”

If you are in a place with a mask mandate and God has providentially provided a way for you comply without violating your conscience or neglecting your parental responsibilities, and without provoking the state, then you should avail yourself of it.

At the advice of attorneys from the Liberty Counsel, if you are opting out for religious reasons, and you are in a state that allows you to opt out for religious convictions (like Virginia), then a simple notification to the school should suffice: “I have a sincerely held religious belief that, in accordance with the governor’s emergency order, allows my child to decline to wear a mask while at school.”

“I’ll see you in court!”

I once received a phone call from another elder from a church not far from the one I was serving at. He told me that a member of his congregation owned a business, and a member of my congregation had been injured at work. There were no denials about what happened, nor was there any dispute about the blame. There was, however, a catch.

The business had workman’s comp insurance, but the insurance company was requiring that the injured worker’s personal insurance company file a claim in court in order to compel payment. The bottom line: in order to get covered, a believer (or his insurance company) would have to sue another believer (or his insurance company).

The elders at the other church reached out to the elders at my church (at the time I was at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles). We all wanted to apply 1 Corinthians 6, but we also all wanted to make sure the injured worker was covered. In other words, nobody was trying weasel out of anything, and we were trying to apply the scriptural principle that two believer’s shouldn’t sue each other. Here is the relevant passage:

1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!1 Corinthians 6:1-8

So, what is an injured worker at a company owned by a Christian supposed to do? Is he out of luck?

Well, a careful study of this passage reveals that Paul was not giving a blanket prohibition on Christians using the court system, but instead was laying out a much more profound principle: it is better for Christians to count themselves as wronged than it is to be right in a way that brings shame to the church.

First, verse 1 rebukes those who go to court over a “grievance” against another believer. In fact, the word “grievance” is intentionally broad. Paul is not covering a limited kind of Greco-Roman law. Rather he uses a word that includes any kind of division or issue with another believer. In Luke 1, this word is used to cover all the “matters” or “events” of Jesus’ life (Luke 1:1). In Hebrews 6:18 it is just translated “things.” In 1 Corinthians 6:1, Paul is saying “if you have anything” dividing you, then apply the rest of this passage.

Then in verse 2, Paul calls any kind of division between brothers a “trivial matter.” This too is a fascinating word. It is used for the “smallest” of a ship’s rudders (James 3:4), or for Paul himself, as in “I am the least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:1). Paul is saying that compared to the surpassing weight of glory, any division with another believer is certainly trivial.

Then verses 3-6 get to the problem. Going to court reveals that there are not elders competent enough to mediate a dispute. There could be lots of reasons for that. The elders might not be impartial, the congregants may not trust the elders, or the elders may not be sufficiently versed in biblical wisdom to navigate a complex issue. But behind all of those reasons is the reality that the elders in the church are not properly functioning.

So if you are confronted with a “trivial” matter (and remember, trivial in comparison to the glories of salvation), and it involves division with another believer, and your elders cannot handle a trivial matter, the temptation would be to go to court. Yet, Paul’s point in verse 7 is that by going to court a Christian is exposing the church’s dysfunction for the world to see.  The angels see it (vs. 3), the world sees it (vss. 4, 6), and believers ought to be embarrassed by that. When believers sue other believers, it is like Ham exposing his father’s nakedness. Instead, believers should count themselves as wronged, pretend they’d lose in court, and call it a day (vs. 7). They should be like Shem, and instead of exposing their elders for the world to see, they should cover them by not drawing attention to their dysfunction.

Now, this does not mean that believers should never use the court system. In Acts 25:11, Paul appealed to Caesar, which was his right as a Roman. In so doing, he exposed the truth that Festus could not protect an innocent person in Israel. That was Paul’s right as a citizen. But it did not bring shame on the church because it did not involve division with another Christian.

So what about in the worker’s comp issue above? A few elders from each church got together and talked. We decided that the insurance company’s insistence on a lawsuit was simply part of living in this world, and that nobody who heard about it would think “those elders don’t know what is going on.” Instead, both sets of elders agreed that allowing the lawsuit to go forward was the best way to get the medical expenses covered, and that it would not bring shame on the church. Key for us was realizing that even though this would result in a lawsuit, the lawsuit was not connected to division between believers. The elders, worker, and owner all left the meeting rejoicing in our common faith.  

That relationship between the two churches was important, because years later a person in one church was scamming somebody from the other church, and swindling them out of thousands of dollars. Now, this is a case where the elders should be involved! So the person doing the swindling was confronted, she refused to repent, and so she was disciplined out of the church. Then, of course, the victim could sue to get her money back, as she was no longer suing someone in the church, but rather someone who had been put out of the church for exactly what she was being sued for.

I share those examples because they both show the nature of applying biblical principles to life. The principle is taught in 1 Corinthians 6—it is better to count yourself as cheated than it is to sue another believer—and it encourages elders to be involved in using wisdom to apply that principle (vs. 5). When the principle is rightly applied, the church is protected, people are confronted, and God is glorified.

But if elders run from their duty to mediate, if they lack wisdom, if they turn away from conflict resolution, or if they simply don’t care about biblical church membership and discipline, then they are exposed as being unqualified. When that happens, immature believers (like the Corinthians were) will be tempted to run to court. First Corinthians 6 is an appeal to those believers to grow up, and count yourself cheated for the greater good of glorifying God.

So, should believers sue each other over a “trivial” matter? No. It is better to be wronged than it is to disregard the Bible’s teaching, and in a quest to be right, end up wronging the church.

Reading vs Translating Greek: Retention, Pt 2

When a healthy 70-year-old man is bedridden for ten days, he can lose up to 10% of lean muscle mass in his legs, according to Dr D. P. Jones of the University of Texas. Likewise, if you don’t use a learned language at all, or if you rely too heavily on tools like software, your fluency will atrophy like unused muscle. That is what we looked into last week. Next week I will supply some strategies for regaining reading fluency of Greek.

Today I want to clarify what we are trying to do. We need to understand the difference between reading Greek, and translating Greek.

These are two distinct skills, and each has its place. You will need to adjust your approach at retention, based on which of these skills you are aiming to improve.

Translating Greek refers to the ability to render a Greek word, phrase, or sentence into a suitable English equivalent. Now, of course, you can just skip this step by reading your English Bible, which people a lot better at translation than you will ever be, already did.

But for preachers digging for exegetical insights or nuances in the Greek, translating the passage yourself is the way to go. Or at the very least looking at the Greek words one at a time with your helps, to get a feel for what is lying beneath the veil of translation.

Greek words are made of parts, for example, the lexical stem (which is the definition of the word given in a lexicon), the augment (an added vowel on/near the front of some verb forms that indicates something about which English tense to use in the rendering), and the ending, which are letters on the end of the stem that signal the case (nominative/accusative, etc.) gender (masculine/feminine/neuter), the number (singular/plural), etc.

So, to translate a sentence from Greek to English you need to be able to figure out (“parse”) what’s going on in the words, OR… you can consult a tool to parse it for you. The most helpful “helps” are interlinear Bibles (that put an English gloss above the Greek word), analytical Greek texts (that list the parsing), and Bible software, like Logos, BibleWorks, or Accordance, which allow the user to float a mouse pointer over the Greek word and have the parts and gloss supplied.

I put “helps” in quotes because they certainly do “help” with translation… but they do not help you to improve your reading skills. That is why you need to know the difference between translating and reading—so you know which skill you want to improve.

Reading is the ability to look at the letters, words, phrases, and sentences of the New Testament, and recognize enough of what is going on with the forms so that you know what is being communicated without help. Reading is not analyzing, it is grasping the sense of the letter, the story, the poem, or prophecy without the help of English. A good reader of Greek is literally thinking in Greek as they read, even if they don’t know every word’s meaning or its exact form.

Think of it this way. If you know no Afrikaans (a dialect of Dutch spoken only in South Africa), and I type a paragraph of this blog post in Afrikaans, and you wanted to know what it said, you could use Google translate to tell you, and you would have a pretty good idea of what I said. You would be trusting entirely on the software. Or you could look up every word, one at a time, in an Afrikaans-English dictionary. And yes, you could figure out what I was saying, especially if you had had a semester or two of Afrikaans studies, so you would understand the changes you see that are different from the dictionary entry.

But that’s not reading Afrikaans. That’s translating.

If you want to try that, here is a sample:

Want so lief het God die wêreld gehad, dat Hy sy eniggebore Seun gegee het, sodat elkeen wat in Hom glo, nie verlore mag gaan nie, maar die ewige lewe kan hê.

Translating would feel like this…

Want (Because) so (thus) lief (love) het (have) God (God) die (the) wêreld (world) gehad (had), dat (that) Hy (He) sy (his) eniggebore (only-born) Seun (Son) gegee (gave) het (did), sodat (so that) elkeen (each one) wat (that) in (in) Hom (Him) glo (believe), nie (not) verlore (lost) mag (may) gaan (go) nie (not), maar (but) die (the) ewige (eternal) lewe (life) kan (can) hê (have).

Pretty cool, huh?

You can understand that a word at a time. But a fluent reader of Afrikaans would have a different experience taking it all in as it flows into their understanding, and they would have a different appreciation for how powerfully and beautifully it is being said.

Translating is not immoral.

If you took Greek in seminary, and then, after five years of using software and an interlinear, you can translate the passage you are preaching on into English a word at a time (or just compare it carefully to the ESV, NASB, LSB or another more literal translation), then that’s great—if that’s your goal.

However, if your goal is to read Greek, to think in Greek as it streams into your consciousness, then you will need some strategies to help you acquire that reading fluency.

And for some suggested strategies, sien julle hier weer volgende week! (see y’all back here next week!)

It’s All Greek to Me: Language Retention, Pt 1

How Simone Biles helps us understand Eric Liddell

Am I Too Old for Seminary?

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