“Paradigm Shift” Perspective – Introduction

Paradigm Shift.001Malcolm’s mailbox is bulging with questions about a teaching series called “Paradigm Shift“. It seems the right time to have a look at the materials and offer some brief comments. A caveat to begin with – these are my own views, and depend on my own understanding of the messages (which may or may not be a fair representation of the intentions of the speakers).

The Jacksonville church have posted a series of lessons which examine, “..issues related to the ICOC regarding our conversion culture. Its aim is to take an honest look at our current conversion methodologies as well as offer ideas on rethinking how we help others become disciples of Jesus.”

The introductory video is taken from a lesson not connected to the current “Paradigm Shift” series. An extended metaphor compares joining a health club with becoming a Christian. The founders of the health club had a good goal – to help people live healthier lives. However, over time the intention of helping people become healthier was compromised by the desire to make sure people understood the commitment involved, thus inventing a set of pre-joining requirements.

Why did this happen? Because some people did not stick around. The story is told to reveal how the fear of failure has a tendency to invent processes that can obscure the point. In our attempts to prevent drop-outs, we arrive at solutions that prevent people joining. Although the goal is improved health (that’s why people join health clubs), the desire to prevent people leaving means we end up trying to get them healthy enough to join the club. The wrong way round.

In church terms, is it possible that our study series (going by various names including “Guard the Gospel”, and “First Principles”) is based on a defensive mindset? Or that it can be used that way? Have we been trying to get people ready for the kingdom instead of inviting them into it?

Does the metaphor work?

Yes, in the sense that all less-structured approaches tend towards greater structure over time. It is also the case that structure and process can obscure substance and point. I’ve used “GTG” well and badly and heard/seen it done well and badly by others. In the ’90s the high departure rate of church members prompted a good deal of soul-searching among leaders. One response was to ‘tighten’ the studies. I believe the intention was honourable, but hindsight tells us it was addressing the wrong problem.

We were so dependant on numerical growth as a sign of faith that we committed two errors; i. Rushing people to decision; ii. Failing to adequately nurture the faith of those we baptised. We’d have been better off building more slowly and solidly. Easy to say now, of course, and I was part of the problem too.

It reminds me of a statement about medeival liturgy – that it was invented to “idiot-proof” the Mass. Why was it needed? Because so many priests of that time were illiterate. If they could memorise the liturgical Mass they wouldn’t get anything wrong. A better approach would have been to go back to the scriptures to ascertain God’s desire for what a church service should contain and how they should be run (and by whom!).

The immature solutions for medieval services and the modern health club are born of legitimate fears.  The Jacksonville church appears to be correctly raising a warning flag to say that when we see a problem we must look for a Christ-centred solution, rather than a man-centred one.


No, it does not work in the sense that the metaphor (like all metaphors) is limited. We need a solution to the very real challenge of how we ensure that people know what they are getting into. What approach did Jesus take? He seems to be urging people to think about this issue in passages such as,

““Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28–30 NIV11)


“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:22–23 NIV11)

Our Lord was never hesitant in calling people into the kingdom, but he taught so much so frequently about the kingdom that people drawn to follow him were going to know what it meant. Jesus had a wonderful discernment regarding people. His approach varied greatly.  Levi is told to follow with little apparent preamble (Luke 5:27–28), but others are called to a great soberness before they follow, (Luke 9:56–58).

I suspect that one of the fundamental issues being addressed by Jacksonville is the choice between two approaches in bringing people to the point of readiness to either follow or reject Jesus. The one could be characterised as, “believe to belong”, and the other as, “belong to believe”.  These are not cut and dried, but they do summarise a difference of emphasis.  Perhaps the forthcoming lessons will address this issue. Let’s see as we go. I’ll post again when I’ve watched the next video in the series.

What do you think about these ideas? Do they ring true to you? What do you think of our historic use of study series and the like? Leave a comment and let’s learn together so that as many people as possible will have their best chance possible to come to know the king.

Until the next time, God bless.


OMQ: “No Inquiry”, Joshua 9.14

Listen here.

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Response to questions about the electronic version of the NIV

BibleI’ve had questions come my way in response to a post on WhatsApp questioning the accuracy of the electronic version of the NIV. Before digging into the detail let me stress that I applaud anyone’s concern that we keep the Bible accurate and free from corruption. I also salute the evangelistic zeal to save people and bring them to know our wonderful God.

It may also be helpful to add a note about translations in general. I am not defending the NIV11 here as such. More making comments about how we evaluate translations.

No translation is perfect. Only the Word of God is perfect. As a friend of mine once said, “Every translation is an interpretation.” The reason is that we are many centuries removed from the original language and culture. Some concepts are hard to understand and some words just do not exist anymore.

This does not mean that translations are not accurate, simply that they can always be improved as we discover more manuscripts or learn more about languages.

With this in mind here are a few thoughts on specific issues raised with me today. Excerpts from the message are in blue, while my responses are in italics.

I’m sure you know that NIV was published by Zondervan but is now OWNED by Harper Collins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex.

Who publishes the English text of the Word of God is not relevant to whether the translation is accurate or not. It is down to the scholarship of the translators and their integrity.

The NIV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name but a few…

I’m not sure where the figure 64,575 comes from, but here are some comments on the words highlighted.

1. Jehovah – This word is not in the original Hebrew or Greek texts. I quote here from Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.

“JEHOVAH – A name of God, devised around the 16th century by artificially combining the consonants of the name Yahweh (YHWH; held by the Jews to be unutterable) and the vowels of the substitute name Adonai (“the Lord”).”

In other words, the Jews did not want to say God’s holy name by accident, so substituted saying “YHWH” with “Adonai” which means “the LORD). The NIV has simply given us “the LORD” instead of “Jehovah”. It has not removed anything, just made it more accurate.

2. Calvary – Is not an accurate translation from the Greek. The passage relevant here is Luke 23.33. The KJV has,

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” (Luke 23:33 KJV),

while the NIV11 has,

“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.” (Luke 23:33 NIV11-GK)

“Skull” is a better translation of the greek word “Kranion” from which we get our English word “cranion” referring to the skull. The word calvary in the English is derived from the Latin “Calvaria”, which is the Latin Vulgate’s translation of the Greek Kranion, “skull.”

3. Holy Ghost – has simply been replaced by “Holy Spirit” because it is a better modern translation of the greek words “hagios pneuma” meaning holy spirit, breath or wind. The NIV has not removed a word but updated it.

4. Omnipotent – one reference is in Revelation. The KJV has,

“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (Revelation 19:6 KJV)

The NIV11 has,

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” (Revelation 19:6 NIV11-GK)

The Greek word, “pantokrator” means “Almighty, or omnipotent” and is found in these references: 2 Cor 6:18; Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22. The NIV has not removed the word but changed the translation. I do not think there is any difference between “omnipotent” or “Almighty”.

The NIV has also now removed 45 complete verses. Most of us have the Bible on our devices and phones. Try and find these scriptures in NIV on your computer, phone or device right now if you are in doubt: Matthew 17:21, 18:11, 23:14; Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46; Luke 17:36, 23:17; John 5:4; Acts 8:37

Let’s have a look at these – in my electronic version of the NIV11

Matt 17.21 includes a note saying, “Matthew 17:21, a1 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Mark 9:29.” The NIV is not hiding the fact it has not included a phrase that is not in all manuscripts

Matt 18.11 includes a note saying, “Matthew 18.11, a 11 Some manuscripts include here the words of Luke 19:10.”

Matt 23.14, includes a note saying, “Matthew 23:14, a 14 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47.”

Mark 7.16, includes a note saying, “Mark 7:16, a 16 Some manuscripts include here the words of 4:23.”

Mark 9.44, includes a note saying, “Mark 9:44, a 44 Some manuscripts include here the words of verse 48.

Mark 9.46, includes a note saying, “Mark 9:46, a 46 Some manuscripts include here the words of verse 48.”

Lk 17.36, includes a note saying, ‘Luke 17:36, a 36 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Matt. 24:40.”

Lk 23.17, includes a note saying, “Luke 23:17, a 17 Some manuscripts include here words similar to Matt. 27:15 and Mark 15:6.”

Jn 5.4, includes a note saying, “John 5:4, a 3,4 Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. 4From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.”

Acts 8.37, includes a note saying, “Acts 8:37, a 37 Some manuscripts include here Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

In other words we find that the NIV11 is pointing out that it has moved these verses to the notes section. The reason is because the earliest and/or best Greek manuscripts do not support including them in the main text. You will note that they are not saying the words were not originally there. They are simply noting that they are not in the best manuscripts.

I’m not going to comment on the references to the “rapture”, Obamacare and the mark of the beast. Instead I will confine myself to the questions raised over the electronic updating of the Bible and the specific words and verses mentioned.

Once again, I confirm my gratitude for the zeal of Christ-followers who wish to preserve the purity of the text of the Bible. I would suggest that before jumping to conclusions about a Satanic plot, we might want to check the facts.

God bless,


“OMQ”: The Curious Curse, Joshua 9.23

Because of their deception the Gibeonites are cursed with being, “woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.” Is that such a bad thing? Why might it be a “curse”?