Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 4]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks 

(Part 4: pp.68-76)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

xi) Why are there different translations of Scripture?

“For centuries the Eastern church had the Bible only in Greek. The Western church had the Bible only in Latin. Since most people were not fluent in these languages, they were unable to read the Bible themselves. One of the great developments of the Protestant Reformation was to return the Bible to the people of the church. The Reformers wanted the people to have the Bible in their own language. Martin Luther and John Wycliffe are just two of the men who risked their lives to translate the Bible into German and English. William Tyndale was charged with heresy and condemned to death because he translated the Bible into English. According to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, he “was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire,” simply because he wanted people to be able to read the Bible.”[1]

“During the past four centuries there have been hundreds of English Bible translations, and dozens are actively used today. They fall into three major categories.”[2]

“1) Word-for-word translations (also known as formal equivalence translations) emphasize the patterns of the words and seek “as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. . . . Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.””[3] (emphasis mine)

Examples include the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), and New American Standard Bible (NASB).

“2) Thought-for-thought translations (also known as dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence) attempt to convey the full nuance of each passage by interpreting the Scripture’s entire meaning and not just the individual words. Such versions seek to find the best modern cultural equivalent that will have the same effect the original message had in its ancient cultures.”[4] (emphasis mine)

Examples include the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), and Contemporary English Version (CEV).

“3) Paraphrased translations put the emphasis on readability in English. Therefore, they pay even less attention to specific word patterns in an attempt to capture the poetic or narrative essence of a passage.”[5] (emphasis mine)

Examples include The Message (Message), The Living Bible (TLB), and The Amplified Bible (AMP)

“All faithful translations try to achieve a balance of four elements:

1) Accuracy to the original text as much as possible.

2) Beauty of language.

3) Clarity of meaning.

4) Dignity of style.”[6]

[1] p.69

[2] p.70

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] p.71

[6] Ibid.

xii) How can we best interpret Scripture?

“The first question to ask is, what does the Scripture actually say? God wants to speak to you through the Bible. One error is to under-read the text, missing what is there through lack of attention. The opposite error is to over-read the text, putting preconceived opinions, ideas, or perspectives into the text, which is called eisegesis. Therefore, the goal is to humbly read the text to hear from God, which is called exegesis.”[1]

“To avoid error, it is vitally important to be aware of the type of literature you are reading and interpreting.”[2]

“The second question is, what does the Scripture mean? In this step, you should look for what Scripture is teaching, especially in the original context. Much of the Bible was written to specific people in specific historical situations. The task is to discover that meaning and to understand the meaning of each text in its own terms, categories, and thought forms, beginning with the questions and issues the writer deals with, not the questions we bring.”[3]

“The third question is, what timeless principle truths is this section of Scripture teaching that apply to all of God’s people in all times and places? There are many questions to ask to find the timeless universal principle. Is the text describing an event or belief, or is it prescribing (commanding) a practice, precept, promise, or value?”[4]

“Faithful brothers and sisters from church history can greatly help us see the Scriptures more clearly, as they do not have some of our cultural assumptions.”[5]

“The fourth question is, how should I respond to what God has said? Here we are seeking to understand how the Bible’s teaching applies to our life individually as Christians and corporately as a church today.”[6]

[1] pp.72-73

[2] p.73

[3] Ibid.

[4] p,74

[5] p.75

[6] Ibid.

xiii) How does our view of Scripture affect our life?

“God speaks to us through the Scriptures as a perfectly loving Father. Subsequently, we listen to what Scripture says, learn what it teaches, and make every effort by the Holy Spirit’s empowering grace to repent of our sin, renew our minds, and redeem our lives.”[1]

“As the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures illuminates our understanding, we deeply enjoy our new life guided by our new wisdom of Scripture and our new power from the Holy Spirit, delighting in our new gift of repentance as part of God’s kingdom people together on mission in the world for Jesus.”[2]

[1] p.75

[2] pp.75-76

C) Review of Part 4 of Chapter 2:

  • Readability: 10/10
  • Theological depth: 5/10
  • Any other comments: This part of Chapter 2 is very practical as it addresses issues like bible translation, and biblical interpretation. It’s worth going through it once more to better understand what was said.


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