11 Minute Read
Since I began pastoring my first church in 2002, I have used quite a few different Bible translations as I have shared God’s Word in sermons and Bible lessons.
I have used the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, and now the Christian Standard Bible. I have typically made the switch in which translation I preach from when I moved to a different church.
Currently, I am using the Christian Standard Bible. Here are 5 reasons why I love it:
It is a different translation
When some people read through the fairly lengthy list of Bible translations that I have just mentioned, they might wonder why I keep changing the Bible translations that I use.
Simply put, changing which translation I use is intentional. If the Bible had been written in English, then I would stay with the English words that the original writers put on paper. The only changes I would allow are those which update the words that have experienced a change in meaning over time. (When I watched the Flintstones as a child, the opening song said that they were going to “have a gay old time.” The meaning of those words has definitely changed!)
But, the Bible wasn’t written in English. It was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and a little bit of Aramaic. In college and seminary, I took some Greek and Hebrew language courses but I am still far from fluent in those languages. So, I read my Bible like most English-speaking Christians read it – in English, a language in which it wasn’t initially written.
That being said, we are reliant upon men and women, translators that we don’t know, to get it right when they translate God’s Word into our own language. Further, we are reliant upon them to convey the nuance of words realizing that most words don’t have an exact “equal” in another language and actually may have quite a few secondary meanings.
For that reason, I prepare sermons and Bible studies with resources that allow me to dig into the original languages. But, I also like to read over a few translations to see how the translators conveyed God’s Word. By reading the various English translations, I can get a better idea of the nuance found in the original text of God’s Word.
This is why I never lock myself down to one Bible translation, and why I like to switch translations from time to time.
It is a contemporary translation
I grew up using the King James Version. In fact, if you listen closely as I quote Scripture in my sermons, you will realize that I often quote from the KJV (while taking out the “thees” and “thous”) since that is the translation I was using as a child when I memorized so much of Scripture.
As an adult, I have grown to love the KJV even more. It is unmatched in its beauty. No other translation comes close to its Shakeperian language.
Yet, please allow me to speak from my own personal experience for a moment. I remember how it felt when I was a child, growing up in a church that used that translation. I didn’t appreciate the Shakespearian language as a child. Instead, I realized that the Bible I held in my hand spoke in a language that no one else spoke in. Except for a deacon who periodically prayed in church and included a few “thees” and “thous” in his prayers, people in the world I lived in didn’t put “-eth” at the end of many of their words.
So, when some of my school peers, who desperately needed Jesus, told me that church and Christianity were outdated, I realized that if I quoted Scripture to them (with a few “thees” and “thous”), I would simply validate their claims.
When Jesus read the Scriptures in the synagogues, He read from a scroll that talked in the every-day language of first century Jewish culture. When the King James Version was first translated, I have no doubt that it was in the language of the people.
That is why I believe that Christians and churches need to use a translation of Scripture that speaks in the common, every-day language of the people who attend. While the Gospel we proclaim is 2,000 years old, the language in which we read about that Gospel and then convey it to a lost and dying world should be the language that everyone speaks. The Scripture makes it clear that the Gospel is a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23). But the language in which the Gospel is conveyed should not be.
This is why I love the Christian Standard Bible. It translates God’s Word into the contemporary English language that everyone understands.
It is an accurate translation
One of the benefits of being college and seminary trained is that I have had exposure to the original languages in which the Scripture was written. I also am very familiar and reasonably proficient with study tools that allow me to dig into the meanings of the original text of the Bible.
That being the case, I’m going to periodically site a Greek or Hebrew word in virtually every sermon and Bible lesson I teach. I realize that God’s Word is ultimately preserved in those languages so I will study them regardless of what translation I am using.
Yet, it is extremely helpful to know that the translation I have in my hand is accurate. I, personally, am convinced that the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is one of the best translations we’ve got right now.
For instance, this past Wednesday night, I brought a lesson out of Psalm 8. A word choice that appeared in the CSB was VERY different than what most of the folks had in their own translations. Here is what I read…
Psalm 8:4–5 (CSB): “what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him? You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.”
The CSB actually says that God made human beings a “little less than God” when most other translations say a “little lower than angels.”
But, if you do a study of the Hebrew word in Psalm 8:5, you realize that “Elohim” is used, a title which is translated as “God” in virtually every usage in the Old Testament (including Genesis 1:1). Certainly, we would agree that mankind is a LOT lower than God but I wonder if the Psalmist used the word “Elohim” to ultimately speak of the incarnation of God’s Son, which was spoken about in Philippians 2:5-8. So, while some would greatly resist the translation used in the CSB in Psalm 8:5, the Hebrew Scripture actually validates that word choice and calls us to reflect on why it is so.
Regardless of which English translation you use, it is helpful to have some tools that will help you to understand the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic words behind the English translations that we have.
BUT … we have been blessed with some wonderful English translations that are so accurately and carefully translated that even if you don’t know the original languages of the Bible, you can rest in the fact that you have God’s Word in your hands as you read and study your Bible.
It is a protected translation
Essentially, the Christian Standard Bible is a translation that was initiated and overseen by folks in Lifeway and the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Holman Bible Publishers. But, they didn’t want the translation to be “Southern Baptist.” Instead, they wanted it to accurately convey the meaning of the original languages while being very readable to contemporary English-speaking people. So, they assembled a team of translators, including many outside the realm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Here is what appears in the Introduction of the “CSB Day-by-Day Chronological Bible:”
Holman Bible Publishers assembled an interdenominational team of 100 scholars, editors, stylists, and proofreaders, all of whom were committed to biblical inerrancy. Working from the original languages, the translation team edited and polished the manuscript, which was first published as the Holman Christian Standard Bible in 2004.
A standing committee maintained the translation, while also seeking ways to improve both readability and accuracy. As with the original translation, the committee that prepared this revision, renamed the Christian Standard Bible, is international and interdenominational, comprising evangelical scholars who honor the inspiration and authority of God’s written Word.
Those at the SBC’s Holman Bible Publishing company took measures to make sure the CSB was an accurate and readable contemporary translation.
But they are also able to carefully watch over it. In an age of Christendom when liberalism is taking over (once again), I am concerned that some Bible translations will be adjusted to validate the new morality. I am so grateful that Southern Baptists have a translation that we will protect from the moral slide.
It is a consistent translation
Since the Christian Standard Bible is published by the Holman Publishing Company, it also appears in much of our Southern Baptist Sunday School literature. Some Christians, desiring to read God’s Word in the vernacular they speak in church and outside of church will find their desires met in the CSB. They might even ask that it is the translation that shows up in their Sunday School literature.
If their pastor is also preaching from that translation, it provides a great deal of consistency and continuity in the Bible training that happens in our churches.
I am sure that there are some other reasons that I could have included in the list above. I am also certain that I could have explained or illustrated my points better. But, I hope I was at least reasonably clear as to why I use the Christian Standard Bible.