Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions. Here are a few that I have gotten recently from people I meet and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: I understand that extreme liberal anti-God groups have a new strategy to intimidate and “punish” Bible centered Christian churches by bringing outrageous “civil rights” lawsuits against them and their pastors for “discrimination.” For instance, the church refusing to hire non-Christians, as teachers or staff in a church sponsored Christian school ... or a pastor refusing to marry a gay couple, etc. These groups use no-cost volunteer attorneys and realize that they will lose their suit. They simply want to harass and punish the church by making it lay out thousands of dollars to defend itself in court. Your thoughts? —Kevin
Dear Kevin: According to the American Center For Law And Justice, a group of Christian lawyers who are defending pastors and churches in suits like you mention, this is indeed going on. How very sad. But be encouraged, because persecution of believers and the church is a sure sign, according to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:4-14, that the end of history and Christ’s return are near.
In the meantime, churches and pastors, in my view, should “go on the offense” and “counter sue,” for very high damages, the groups and individuals you mention in your question. The U.S. justice system, at both the state and federal levels (except for a very few extremist/liberal judges), takes a very dim view of what it calls “frivolous law suits” that have little or no chance of success and only waste the court’s valuable time. If churches will have the courage to stand tall and fight these enemies of God, it is very likely that the tactics you mention will seriously backfire on the groups in question.
Dear Father Paul: My husband is a new Christian and I want to buy him a nice Bible for Christmas. I have already shopped at a couple of our local bookstores, but found there are so many versions/translations that I left utterly frustrated. What translations/versions do you like best?— J.F.
Dear J.F.: Your husband is a blessed man to have such a wise wife, because a Bible is (in the eternal scheme of things) of much greater value than most any other gift you could possibly get him for Christmas.
There are indeed, as you say, literally dozens of Bible versions/translations available today. The good news is that almost all of them are highly accurate and readable English representations of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts in which the Bible was written.
But to answer your question, for serious Bible study, sermon preparation for instance, I prefer the Amplified Bible; while for casual reading and my daily devotional time, I prefer either the New International Version or the (recently published) New Living Translation. You can go to www.parallelbible.com and review these three versions as well as over 15 others, then decide for yourself.
Whichever version(s) you decide on, I would recommend three things. First, buy him a Bible with what Bible publishers call “helps,” or “study aids.” These will include a concordance/Bible dictionary, introductions/themes of each book of the Bible, maps, etc. Second, buy a Bible with a good, sturdy cover and binding, one that will hold up for years and years of use. And third, I recommend that you spring for a little more money and also buy yourself a copy of the exact same Bible that you buy your husband. In this way you can both read and study the same translation together and enjoy sharing what God will be showing both of you in his word.
Do you have a quetion? Write it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer it in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, evangelical and sacramental church where Jesus is Lord and the Bible is preached in a loving Christian family setting. Information on the church, service times, directions and downloads of Father Paul’s Sunday messages are available at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com