Friday, February 20, 2009

New Translation of Romans 14

Tony Jones is continuing an interesting series of blog posts on "original sin" over on Beliefnet. It has sparked some heated and helpful conversation. After reading through the posts and re-reading Paul's letter to the Romans, I was captivated by Paul's desire to unify the Christian Gentiles and Christian Jews. Paul's words inspired me to write a paraphrase of Romans 14, as a way to seek and explore unity between more "progressive" Christians and more "conservative" Christians. It was just for fun. It's not meant to replace Paul's letter! But writing it did challenge me to consider how Paul might respond to our discussion of "original sin." Maybe, just maybe, Paul would want us to find unity despite our diverse perspectives. In any case, here is what I'll call the "New Revised Emergent Translation" of Romans 14:

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.

This paraphrase is also posted on Tony Jones' blog. If you'd like to read the comments in responce - or add your own - click here. Thanks!

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