Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Eschatology, Judgement, & Bible Translation (What about those who don't believe?)

I’ve been pondering the spiritual impact Bible Translation (BT) has had on hundreds of minority speech communities – non-Christians converted; believers discipled; the believers empowered to do its own theology biblically in order to meet its spiritual, physical, pastoral, social, political, cultural needs; the worship of God and the joy of believers; etc…I’ve also been thinking of the impressive positive by-products of BT – promoting linguistic diversity; acknowledging that each minority speaker is a bearer of the Imago Dei (image of God); conserving minority languages; standardising languages; providing opportunities for minority speech communities to become literate; causing marginalised people groups to have a more positive perception of themselves and their language; etc, etc…

For the last few days I’ve also been giving thought to the title of this blog – well, I’d been thinking about the relationship between BT and the judgment of unbelievers first; eschatology came afterwards. Hasn’t BT got a disheartening negative effect on hundreds of minority language speakers as well? Does it not bring judgement on (or rather confirm God’s justice in judging) those minority speech communities (or members of these communities) who reject the euangellion i.e. gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? The translated Scriptures will not leave the unbelieving reader/hearer guiltless as the message (of the Kingdom) it has transferred into any heart language demands a response from its speakers – repent for the Kingdom of God, which has broken into our history in the person and work of Jesus, is at hand (Matt 3:2).

I’m reading to my Greek New Testament (GNT); this morning, I read a paragraph (Lk.10:1-12) which has again impressed on my mind the sure judgment of God on those who reject the message of the Kingdom. Luke’s first reference to the Kingdom is in chapter 6:20: the “poor” (in relation to this world’s goods & therefore marginalised, oppressed, etc or in spirit cf Matt 5:3 ???) are promised a blessing because “the Kingdom of God” belongs to them; the reference to the Kingdom in 7:28 is also positive; it’s not so positive in 9:62 where giving one’s family priority over the Kingdom is discouraged – the King will not share one’s allegiance. 10:1-12, is mixed: Jesus tells his missionaries that their benediction (request for God’s blessing) will be experienced by those who receive their message re the Kingdom (v5-6) – positive sign and wonders testify of the Kingdom’s presence; however, no benediction and rejection is portion of those who reject the Lord’s messengers (v6d, 10ff). According to our Lord, those who does not welcome his messengers (and their message re the Kingdom) will receive a more severe punishment than Sodom (v12)!

In fact, BT not only bear witness to the Incarnation of God; it also bears witness to God’s absolute conquest over every sickness (Lk.10:9); and His sure and righteous condemnation of those who refuse to submit to His Kingdom, which has invaded our history in the person and work of Jesus (Lk.10:6b,10ff).

I'm still thinking through these things. Any feedback?
(The above image shows John 1:1-8 in Papiamentu a language spoken in Netherlands Antilles by over 155,000 people.)

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