The New Christians

The New Christians

A New Translation of Romans 5

For the sake of our discussion of Original Sin, commenter Brian has translated Romans 5 [UPDATE: it seems to be Romans 14-15] on our behalf.  Thanks, Brian!  (N.B., mean-spirited comments about his translation will be immediately deleted.  Thoughtful, albeit critical, comments are welcome.)

Welcome those who are traditional in faith, those who still believe
in original sin, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.
Emergent Christians believe in deconstructing all theologies, while the
Traditional Christians only deconstruct certain theologies. Those who
deconstruct must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain
must not pass judgment on those who deconstruct; for God has welcomed
them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is
before their own God that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld,
for God is able to make them stand.

Some judge one traditional doctrine to be better than emerging
theologies, while others judge a variety of theologies to be of
importance. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who
preserve traditional theology, observe it in honour God. Also those who
explore new theologies, explore in honour of God, since they give
thanks to God; while those who conserve tradition, conserve in honour of
God and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we
live, we live to God, and if we die, we die to God; so then, whether we
live or whether we die, we are God’s. For to this end Christ died and
lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you
despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord,
every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve
instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of
another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that no theology is
un-deconstructible in itself; but it is un-deconstructiblble for anyone who
thinks it’s un-deconstructible. If your brother or sister is being
injured by the theology you deconstruct, you are no longer walking in
love. Do not let the theology that you deconstruct cause the ruin of
one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.
For the kingdom of God is not about certain theologies or particular
dogma but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one
who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let
us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification. Do not,
for the sake of theology, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed
deconstructible, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what
you deconstruct; it is good not to deconstruct theology or challenge
tradition or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The
faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed
are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they
approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they deconstruct,
because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from
faith is sin.

The Emergent Christians, who are progressive in faith, ought to put up
with the stagnation of the Traditional Christians, and not to please
ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of
building up the neighbour. For Christ did not please himself; but, as
it is written, ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’
For whatever was written in former days was written for our
instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the
scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and
encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in
accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice
glorify God.

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for
the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of
those of Traditional Christians on behalf of the truth of God in order
that they might confirm the promises given through tradition, and in
order that Emergent Christians might glorify God for his mercy.

Comments read comments(27)
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posted February 20, 2009 at 10:53 am

I think this Romans 14:1 – 15:9a, not Romans 5. :^)

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posted February 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I wish I could write half as well.
This is precisely the meaning of Romans 14 and 15.

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posted February 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

only 2 comments?
or have you been just pushing the delete button all morning?

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Thomas Doubtful

posted February 20, 2009 at 1:15 pm

As I read this I feel like it is trying to heal the raw wounds between emergent and tradition Chirstians. Yet, it always seems to give the EC’s a one-up, as if they are on the right path and simply must wait for the “stagnant” Christians to follow suit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very sympathetic of the emergent movement. It asks questions I didn’t know I was allowed to ask. I also think it shows a certain quality of health in the Christian church to have a critical body, such as the EC, that is present to test our traditional holdings.
However, the notion in this “translation” that theology can be deconstructed as long as it does not cause a brother to stumble makes little sense to me. I have heard figures in the EC make bold claims concering foundational theological concepts that do more than simply cause people to stumble. How does the bold, “in-your-face” attitude of the EC reconcile with this seemingly more gentle nature?

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Jason Stauffacher

posted February 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

“All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.”
-Adolf Hitler

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Tim B

posted February 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

1st, call me old fashioned, but if we are going to call this a translation, it should actually accurately reflect the words of the original text so that we render it without changing the meaning.
2nd is it fair to place the traditional Christian is the role of one who is weak in their faith? What if it is just the opposite? Deconstructing this text a bit, we are to except traditional Christians but we can also label them as ‘stagnated’?
3rd, not every doctrinal difference or conduct difference can be lumped into a ‘weaker brother stronger brother’ issue. I’m mean consider 1 Cor. 15, 1 Corinthians 5, Galatians, 1 John 2:22; 4:1-3, 2 John 1:7. etc. There are some issues that we have to make judgment on… to do otherwise is not the follow the kingdom (consider Eph. 5:5; Gal. 5:21). How can we be so confident that an issue like original sin is just ‘weaker brother’ vs. ‘stronger brother’?

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Samuel Wood

posted February 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm

So…. when does “popular” make something “right”?
Sounds like governing by poll taking…..

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posted February 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I got the opposite impression from Thomas Doubtful. This seemed to be calling to an end for deconstruction. I especially bridled at the part that nobody who has doubts should deconstruct. Why would you want to deconstruct an established theology, if you didn’t have doubts about it?

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posted February 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Ummm, this can’t be Romans 5. I think this is actually a paraphrastic translation of Romans 14. TJ, please correct this in the title of the post so as not to embarrass Brian.

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posted February 20, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Scott February 20, 2009 2:36 PM Ummm, this can’t be Romans 5. I think this is actually a paraphrastic translation of Romans 14. TJ, please correct this in the title of the post so as not to embarrass Brian.
I pointed that out in the first comment for this thread. Maybe Tony Jones doesn’t check his blog during the day.

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Steve Butler, Kansas

posted February 20, 2009 at 5:44 pm

I was priviliged to see you at Southwestern College in Kansas. I appreciated you words. You mentioned that Sarah Palin called Africa a country. There were several laughs in the audience and the impression was that Palin once again said something stupid. I did some research and the whole Palin quote is a hoax. It was a made up story to see how many people could be fooled. As a person that seeks the truth, I just thought you might want to know this before you spread the hoax to more people.

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Cody Stauffer

posted February 20, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Incredible- well done Brian. I think this captures the spirit of our age and the heart of Paul’s teaching. I do want to comment on one comment- I don’t really see the point of the movement quote from Hitler. I’m not commenting to in a mean-spiriteg way, I just honestly don’t see how it’s helpful. For one thing, it obviously must have some dubiousness cast upon it, for obvious reasons. And ALL great movements would also include the Civil Rights movement AND the movement Jesus sparked, you know?

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emergent pillage

posted February 21, 2009 at 2:23 am

Dave Metz

posted February 21, 2009 at 9:26 am

Steve Butler is correct about the hoax, but it was well-done and pretty funny (except for the vitriolic comments made about Palin because of the hoax).
I didn’t vote for her ticket, but I was appalled at the massive attempt from her own party to pin their loss on her.

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posted February 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

In reply to “Steve Butler, Kansas”:
I don’t want to play the game of pouncing on Palin slip-ups. Obama (whom I voted for) had some good slip-ups, too. But if the truth is important, I *think* you’ve got this story a bit wrong (though maybe I’m the one misreading things). At least according to this little New York Times piece —
this is what happened. FoxNews reported that an unnamed McCain aide had told them that Palin didn’t know that Africa was a continent. Now, everyone has to decide for themselves how much stock to put in such a report, with such an unnamed source. But none of the subsequent developments show that that was wrong, or was just based on a hoax. There *was* a hoax involved, but Fox didn’t get hoaxed in the original story (so far as we know). The hoax was that some hoaxster put forward some fictional character he had just made up as the Fox’s source, and MSNBC reported that that fictional guy was Fox’s source. So, MSNBC got hoaxed as to who the source was, but there’s no reason to think Fox got hoaxed in their original story.

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posted February 21, 2009 at 11:29 am

as others have point out, this is a paraphrase, not a translation. And I also hedge at identifying emerging folks with the stronger and traditionalists with the weaker. That aside, my question is whether Paul’s words, construed this way, don’t actually demand an end to your deconstructing activities. In essence, doesn’t he suggest that you don’t have the right, if you’re causing another to stumble?

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posted February 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

Tony Jones wrote:
For the sake of our discussion of Original Sin, commenter Brian has translated Romans 5 on our behalf. Thanks, Brian! (N.B., mean-spirited comments about his translation will be immediately deleted. Thoughtful, albeit critical, comments are welcome.)
Tony Jones: How can “mean-spirited comments…be immediately deleted” when you seemingly don’t read or monitor the blog? E.g., you still haven’t corrected your sentence or the title of this post to note that this is NOT Romans 5, but Romans 14&15.
(Maybe I should post a “mean-spirited comment” about Brian’s translation to see if anyone is paying attention!) :D

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posted February 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

Here’s my paraphrase…
Welcomed people, welcome people

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Matt Scott

posted February 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm

@Eric W
Tony said that the BNet moderators do most of the deleting on his blog for comments that cross the line you agree before you comment. That is where, I’m assuming, mean spirited comments would be deleted from (and by whom they would be deleted).

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Cody Stauffer

posted February 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Annie, I don’t think it is saying to stop deconstruction, but rather not to do it in such a way that it causes a brother or sister to stumble. In other words, if it causes them to lose faith all together. This means that, on your own or amongst others who can handle some challenges to their faith or being stretched a bit, it is okay. Now, this might mean that someone may have to consider the implications of publishing a book or blogging, or at least how those are marketed. But I don’t think it puts an end to deconstruction.

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Andrew Martin

posted February 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I’ve always rather assumed that the question of who’s weak and who’s strong is rather in the eye of the beholder. Paul’s injunction is for mutual forbearance and respect: right now, we all know only in part, and we prophesy in part.
You may think that your faith is stronger than another’s. Are you going to be affronted if they think the opposite, or are you going to accept one another, as Christ accepted you?

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posted February 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Cody, thank for your thoughts. I tend to agree with you. I support deconstruction, but I don’t think it’s helpful to step over someone’s threat line. We must deconstruct with compassion. Good pastors and theologians should know how to “comfort the afflicted and conflict the comfortable” in regaurds to people and theologies. Cheers!

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posted February 23, 2009 at 1:28 am

it always seems to give the EC’s a one-up, as if they are on the right path and simply must wait for the “stagnant” Christians to follow suit.

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emergent pillage

posted February 24, 2009 at 1:48 am

–it always seems to give the EC’s a one-up, as if they are on the right path and simply must wait for the “stagnant” Christians to follow suit.–
I think someone else summed it up pretty well here…

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posted February 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Some emergent church folks do seem to imply that they are the only ones doing interesting, exciting, and innovative work. We know better. In fact, when one reads church history, one realizes that many of the things we think are new have already been done. But the EC folks do a good job at bringing “new” ideas to a pop audience. They are able are able to be theologically thoughtful yet contextually practical. All-in-all I’m grateful for the work of most of the EC folks.

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John C-W

posted February 25, 2009 at 8:59 am

orthodoxy/tradition is static.
it is stagnant.
by def.
If traditionalist see this as a slight, they are only judging themselves, by arguing that stagnant always means “bad”.
very good and very convicting for someone [me] who, often, does not handle his traditional brothers/sisters with care

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posted March 4, 2009 at 10:06 am

I know church bodies who hold fast to doctrines, attitudes, methods and practices which have been in place for at least fifty years. In my experience, these churches tend to see the Bible as a strict set of rules to be followed without question. Interfaith conflicts arise due to interpretation and extension. The resultant isolation leads to stagnation.
I believe the single most important concept Christians is this; what is the Bible? If it’s a hard and fast rule book I fear we’re exchanging the glory of an incorruptible God for an image-a book.
Rather, I see the Bible as a guide to relationships, God to man, man to God and man to man. To that end it illustrates ideals, compromises, transitional steps and fulfillment.
An ideal I take great comfort in is found in II Corinthians, chapter 5: …God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
God accepts us as we are. Are our standards so much higher that we cannot accept one another?

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