Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pastor Hires King James Translator for Better Sermon Clarity

Old Ridge, AR

Rolling Prairies Church of Christ in Old Ridge, AR has broken yet another cultural barrier. In a spirit of reaching out to those who felt disenfranchised and abandoned by more progressive congregations, Rolling Prairies has hired a translator. But it’s not what you think. Roy Jameson doesn’t interpret the morning worship into Spanish or Korean or even American Sign Language. Jameson’s responsibility is to translate the sermons–especially the Scripture readings–into King James English!

"The need was most powerfully expressed in the person of two members, Hoyt & Irma Senex," say Pastor Jacob Sladder. "While the New International Version has become the most popular around here and the one I typically preach from, the two of them clung to the KJV, insisting that anything else just wasn’t Bible."

Sladder says that he generally checks several translations, as well as the Hebrew or Greek in preparing his sermons, just to be aware of any problems that might arise. Usually, he says, it’s a matter of word order or an antiquated word misunderstood through modern ears. There were a few really interesting issues, though.

"Like the time I wrote my sermon on Esther entirely in rhyme, and Hoyt wanted to know what translation I was using. Then there was the time I intentionally misread Romans 6:23 as ‘The wages of sin is death, but only if you’re a really bad sinner,’ and Irma came unglued, wondering aloud what Satanic translation I was reading from."

The last straw came a few months ago when Pastor Sladder opened his service with a reading of Matthew 18:21-35. "I know the twenty-second verse contains a difficult translation. Is it ‘seventy times seven’ or just ‘seventy-seven’? I planned on taking on that issue in the sermon, and explaining that paying attention to the number misses the point of Jesus’ statement entirely. However, the Senexes spent the entire worship service comparing their Bibles with several others and trying to work out among themselves why their pastor was so stupid that he didn’t know the difference between 77 and 490."

Enter Roy Jameson. "I consider it to me pure joy that I have been deemed elect for this peculiar ministry to the saints," says Jameson. "For the bishop verily saith unto me, ‘Roy, thou art chosen for service to eschew obfuscation, making plain to those who wot not what surely I have said in the presence of the congregation.’"

The whole idea for a translator came from Scripture, insists Pastor Sladder. "I had been reading in 1 Corinthians 14 about how speaking in tongues ought not to be done in public worship without an interpreter, and it just came to me! I called Roy and pitched the idea to him, and he loved it.
"Our services go on a bit longer now, but at least the bickering over the King James has ceased. And we feel much more multicultural now, so maybe it’s for the best! It’s gone so well, we’re thinking of adding a Today’s English Version translator."

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