What are your thoughts regarding a Church Pastor always preaching from a New Living Bible type translation and not referencing other more precise translations? Even though the preaching seems Biblically solid, is it a compromise or a yellow flag? I’m torn.
Thank you for your insight.
This is actually a very subjective question. For example, some people hold the King James Bible as the only version authorized by YHWH. Why? Because it says it is “the authorized version” and so it has been assumed that God Himself authorized it, even though it was King James who did so. This perception that YHWH authorized it has led countless people to see it as the only credible version, with some going so far as to actually imagine Jesus spoke in a King James era dialogue.
Aside from the KJV, others will swear by the NASB, CSB, etc. While all of these are solid translations, there is a reason why we have a firm policy in the group of “The best Bible translation is the one you are going to read.” Our goal is to get folks into the Word, teach them how to dig deeper, and help them develop a firsthand relationship with the whole word of YHWH, so we view any translation as a jumping off point, knowing that readers will keep reading, keep digging, and continue to grow in their knowledge of the Word.
Personally, there are instances in which I recommend the NLT as I have seen it open the doors of understanding in people who felt overwhelmed or intimidated by other translations of the Bible. In some instances, I think this translation makes it easier for our modern minds to see a verse with fresh eyes and really grasp the intent of the authors.
I, myself, read several translations whenever I am studying out a verse, passage, or book, and I make it a point to look up the original Greek or Hebrew as well, which is what makes it easier to see how other translations have treated a passage or verse and often lends far greater understanding on our part.
I think in this case you could ask a better question: Why would the pastor be using this translation in his sermons?
We know that this was written to help modern readers understand Scripture better. It is one of the most approachable, least intimidating translations for our time. So let me take a rabbit trail here: I have a policy of, whenever I am speaking to someone, I try to use the language they use. This is just a common courtesy. For example, if I were to speak Spanish and English and you only spoke English, it would be rude for me to speak Spanish in a conversation which included you. For this reason, I change up the names I call Messiah based on my audience. It is often the same with the name of God. I try to mirror the language of the person I am speaking to.
My first thought with this pastor in that they are likely doing the same, speaking in the most approachable, relatable language in order to break down any barriers of intimidation with the goal of having others venture into the Word for themselves. I’ve never once met a serious Bible scholar (as many pastors are) who did not study multiple translations themselves, but we must choose one to read from, as standing at a pulpit with five open Bibles and reading from each one whenever a verse is mentioned could easily add hours to a sermon.
I have another interesting story that may add another layer of understanding. I have a friend who is fluent in Hebrew. He’s studied it for years and years. He usually does his bible study from a Hebrew bible. We had a big gathering and there was a mixed multitude. In this instance I am referring to folks from all denominations of the faith and many who were new to the faith, new to the Bible, and really just beginning to learn. He brought an NLT Bible to read from whenever he was called upon to read. I had a lady come up to me afterward and ask me if I could please find out what translation that was because she had been trying so hard to study the word but that was the first one that made any sense to her. Later, I found out she was chastised by another friend for even considering reading that version – and they suggested she read a version so complicated that I find it to be counterproductive for new readers.
I find it shocking that people can believe YHWH can create all things, maneuver all time and space, and yet cannot convey what He wants us to know through varying Bible translations.
The Word of God is perfect. Human translations are not. But when we dedicate ourselves to reading that word and following Him, holding His word as authority, we will easily recognize any inconsistencies or verses we need to dig deeper on.
I think you should reexamine the pastor and consider what his motives might be. One who is seeking to serve the least is a true servant of the Most High. People who prefer more advanced translations have no issues keeping up, but let us look after those who may need a bit more encouragement, a bit more confidence, and love them where they are at. Grace and Kindness are found in looking after the dignity of others before our own preferences. It is not a compromise to look after the dignity of others to help them rise. Rather, it is the way of our Messiah.
Christy makes some great points here and I fully agree; I just wanted to add a little advice. Have a conversation with your Pastor. Ask him what he likes about the NLT and why it is his choice to preach out of. Open and loving communication is always the best way to find out where someone is. No judgement, just a conversation. Who knows, that may just be the best translation for him!
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