Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good News Bible changed lives in spite of errantist translator

ABP reports the death of Bob Bratcher, translator of the Good News Bible.

For a time the best-selling Bible in America, the Good News Bible touched millions of lives, the vast majority of whom never heard of its chief translator.

Bratcher made SBC headlines in 1981 declaring that,
"Only willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty can account for the claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible," Bratcher said. "No truth-loving, God-respecting, Christ-honoring believer should be guilty of such heresy. To invest the Bible with the qualities of inerrancy and infallibility is to idolatrize it, to transform it into a false god."

With those comments he drew attention at a critical time in SBC life to the issue of inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture.

One notes the irony in his being chief translator of a version of the Bible loved by many.


Norm said...

William: “… inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture.”

Norm: Inerrantist SBCers, those that actually know the meaning of the term, like the errantist [sic] Bratcher, both acknowledge scriptural discrepancies, thus as logic would dictate, said SBC inerrantists are also, as William would assign, errantists [sic] on this point, as the term is conceptualized. Bratcher, of course, perceiving scripture as a foundation for faith, in addition to his relationship with Christ (preferring, however, to place greater emphasis on the Revelation of God rather than that which points to such, is, as far as I know, still well within the bounds of orthodox Christian belief). Not only is William playing loose with the concept of inerrancy, he is also stating that Bratcher has a problem with inspiration, but do notice that Bratcher was criticizing inerrancy and infallibility, not inspiration. Inerrancy and infallibility are not to be conflated with inspiration, as he has demonstrated. While it is William’s belief that the former are manifested from the latter, such can only be maintained theoretically and not empirically. And here is the biggest issue for the inerrantist: their theory will not allow for disconfirmation, thus, it cannot be confirmed, either. That is, suppose an original autograph was found and that it contained a discrepancy; never mind the empirical evidence, the theory would deny its validity as evidence, thus we have a situation in which it is not data that either supports or does not support theory, but theory that either supports or does not support data. Thus while the SBC inerrantists were systematically excluding others for not investing in this theoretical construct, they themselves had nothing concrete in which to point that justified their belief in inerrancy. Those excluded in the SBC could point to the transformation of their lives that scripture also facilitated, but ironically and tragically, that was found insufficient. Whereas there will always be those that darken counsel (regardless of intention), we have people like Bratcher to thank for teaching us, notwithstanding our supposed understanding of the nature of scripture, that the message of scripture points to an eternal and loving reality in which we may participate and find meaning.

William Thornton said...

Tony Cartledge, who is the author of the single best blog article I have ever read, has a positive piece on Bratcher entitled "A Man Who Told the Truth":

I suppose SBC conservatives owe Bratcher some gratitude for his plain speaking in 1981.

Jack Carver said...

Fortunately, the meaning of a Greek word or phrase is not dependent on the doctrinal perspectives of the translators(or shouldn't be). I want my translation to provide the best English rendering of the biblical text. I'll start there to develop my belief system. That being said, the irony is intruiging.