August 18, 2008

Oh Brother!

From: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"Brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant." NKJV
"Brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed." English Standard Version
"Brethren, I do not wish you to be ignorant." Darby Translation
"Brethren, I do not wish you to be ignorant." Youngs Literal Translation
"Brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." New International Version
"My friends, you asked me about spiritual gifts." Contemporary English Version
"Now, dear brothers and sisters... I don’t want you to misunderstand this." Living Bible

This could be proof positive that there are no perfect translations. The last several decades of political correctness have made it difficult to express the singular gender specific. The word brother in I Corinthians 12-14 is derived from the greek word αδελφοι adelphos meaning "a brother". The word adelphotes means "brethren, brotherhood".

The assumption is that Paul is addressing the brethren at Corinth. All the older translations use brethren or brothers. The newer translations, striving to be gender neutral use the words "friends" "brothers and sisters" to refer to the congregation. The German translations have the same problem. Luther's Bible had "liebe Brüder", "dear brothers" while the later translations had "liebe Brüder und Schwestern."

The specific question for I Cor 12 and 14; was Paul addressing the whole congregation or specific people who needed instruction? The context of these two chapters seem to imply a specific person or persons. A brother or some brothers.

Another political incorrect term is used in the older translation, "ignorant." We teach our children to never call someone ignorant, stupid or idiot. Wycliffe drew from crude olde English expressions such as dumb maumets, dumb simulacra (12:2); idiots (14:23,24).

It is my opinion that Paul would never call everyone in a congregation, ignorant. Whether the first or twentieth first century no one would give a blanket statement to everyone as ignorant.
But in either century there will be those who could be called really ignorant. I believe that Paul was writing to a specific brother , maybe brothers, and saying: "Oh brother or Oh brothers!" "Don't be ignorant!"

Few people reading this from me will take this serious. Why, probably because I was a Pentecostal preacher for almost 30 years. You won't take me serious because I don't have seminary experience (BA in Biblical Education) I avoided Bible language studies by majoring in education. (studied German). You will not take me serious because I am non-cessationist.

If we can look at this Pauline passage and dismiss the "tongues" and "sign gifts" we can gain insight from Paul's guidelines for congregational cooperation between pulpit and pew, assuming (we probably cannot) the terms "pulpit" and "pew" were relevant in first century Christianity.

The duty of the pastor is to restrain the abuses within the congregation but not to restrain the congregation.

The context of the chapters imply that the pastors may not excel in spiritual depth. They excel in administrative gifts for directing the body in biblical guidelines. They shepherd and teach the body. The ideal that the pastor is the spiritual giant for the flock is a misnomer. He coaches a team and the game is not kiddie tee-ball. His players live in a world of opportunities. They work in markets where what they learn from the coach are incorporated into day-to-day living.

The pastor's boast is what his team has accomplished. Today's team boast of what their coach has accomplished. The world's markets are the spectators and the Church is the training room.
Today the Church's building is the Colosseum and the team is the spectators. Rather the coach is the "game". The team witnesses unto their coach striving to bring people to "coach." "You have got to hear my preacher!"

Pastor, let your people grow! Let go and let God have his wonderful way with His people. There are good pastors but the indicator of this problem is the vast numbers of people who go to Church and that is the extent of their Christianity. Too many pastor are concerned about their vocation and the effectiveness of their ministry.

The problem at Corinth was not the chaos among the brothers and sisters. The chaos was the reaction of people fill enthusiastically with the Holy Spirit. Wherever people are Spirit filled
there will be chaos. The pastor guides the zealous and enthused into biblical order.

The dispensational cessationist perspective has enabled fundamentalist to rule the Church from the pulpit and keep the people restricted to "lay inactive status." The fault of lay inactivity is not the lack of desire of the people rather the lack of trust shown by the pastoral staff.

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