Why I am using the Christian Standard Bible this summer…

 |  Rev. Rob Armstrong  |  Announcements, The Bible

I announced on Sunday May 29, 2018 that I will be using the Christian Standard Bible for the summer here at Harrisburg. I also mentioned that we are considering using it as our pew Bibles in the future and as the version we preach and teach from moving forward. The reasons I feel led to use the Christian Standard Bible in my preaching and for use in the congregation are as follows:

  • I believe the Bible we preach from and encourage other people to use should be easily understood by the most people possible.

I think the Christian Standard Bible meets this expectation better than the other options.

In America the average adult reads at a 7th to 8th grade reading level. This is why most newspapers (and now websites) have been written on a 6th-7th grade reading level for decades.

I love studying with the New American Standard and the English Standard Version Bibles. Both of these are highly accurate “word for word’ translations, but they are both written on a high reading level. For instance the NASB is written on an 11th grade reading level and the ESV is written on a 10th grade reading level. (On a side note, the King James Version is the equivalent of a 12th grade reading level, while also in a vernacular that is not understood by most people in 2018.)

The Christian Standard Bible is written intentionally on a 7th grade reading level affording an accurate translation while being easily understood by the most people.

  • I believe the Bible we preach from and use in our church should be faithfully precise to the Hebrew (& Aramaic) OT and the Greek NT. 

Not all Bibles are translations. Some Bibles are paraphrases rather than translations. What that means is that instead of translating the Hebrew and Greek directly into English, the translators have paraphrased the Hebrew and Greek into English. This loses the precision that I believe we should want in our English translations. Another problem with paraphrasing is that it involves varying degrees of interpretation. Rather than simply translating what it says, a paraphrase requires the translation team to also interpret what it means. Again, this loses a portion of what God’s Word says and replaces it with what a team or a translator believes it means. In my opinion the goal of translating Scripture is to faithfully represent the original languages in English so that the Holy Spirit leads in the understanding of what they mean through faithful prayer and study.

The Christian Standard Bible, as the publisher likes to say is, “faithful and true.” I believe that it is faithfully precise. The translation philosophy used in the CSB is called “Optimal Equivalence.” This means that the goal was to precisely convey the original languages in the most contemporary and readable English. I like the translation approach that was used and think it has resulted in an accurate, yet highly understandable text that can be used by mature believers and new Christians alike.

  • I believe the Bible we preach from should be produced and translated by faithful Christians whose beliefs and lives line up with our church and its members. 

Not every Bible has been produced by men and women who have the same understanding of theology and mission as we do. What a person thinks about God, the Word, and the mission of the church is reflected in the finished product of a translation. The CSB is the work of Southern Baptists, who in an effort to produce a solid contemporary translation worked with over 100 of the best scholars in evangelical Christianity to translate the Word from the original languages. The teams involved were made up of deeply devoted followers of Christ who have the utmost respect for the integrity of God’s Word. I am thankful that the people used to produce this translation have a relationship with Christ, love His Word, and love the church- I believe it shows in the final product.

Personally, I don’t just accept something because it comes from a denominational entity. In fact, because it was produced by Broadman & Holman I was hesitant to jump to and use it. I wanted to make sure it really was faithful and true to the Word. I wanted to make sure that the accuracy of God’s Word wasn’t lost in the attempt to bring a more readable version to the church.

  • One of my goals as a preacher is for the sermon to lead our members to spend more time in the Word during the week. 

I think the clarity and readability of the CSB provides the best option for our church today. I believe the best Bible translation is the one that a person reads. So, if you are good with what you have been using, keep at it. I just want you in the Word. I am going to use the CSB in hopes that it helps more people who are not avid readers of Scripture to get involved in reading a translation that is clear and easier to understand.

I will continue to use multiple English translations in conjunction with studying through the original languages each week in my preparation.

If you would like to read more about the Christian Standard Bible you can visit the following website:

https://csbible.com/about-the-csb/why-the-csb/

Because a few people have asked: 

English Standard Version:
I am moving away from the ESV because I believe the CSB is better for the whole church and for those we haven’t led to Christ yet. The ESV is a beautiful translation that maintains one of the highest degrees of accuracy to the original languages. I will always be a reader of the ESV. But, as I have said earlier it is written in a high reading level and I think we need something that more people can easily read and understand. Up until a few months ago I would have said that the ESV is my favorite translation to read, but I have really begun to enjoy and look forward to my time in the CSB in a way that is similar to the ESV. I will continue to use the ESV as a part of preaching preparation because I think a pastor should consult more than one version each time. If you don’t have a copy of the ESV, I recommend you get one when you have time.

New American Standard Bible:
I have not chosen the NASB because it is written on a high reading level. I value it because I don’t think there is a better translation of Scripture out there. If you don’t have a copy of the NASB I think you should get one when you are able. I use it weekly in my study and preparation for preaching.

New Living Translation:
I have not chosen the NLT because I don’t think it is as precise as it should be. I value the NLT thought because it is another effort to provide an easy to understand English translation. I have a copy and often use it with the other translations I have in my sermon preparation.

New International Version:
I have not chosen the NIV because it is no longer in print. I value the NIV because it was the first modern translation that I read on a regular basis. When it was first produced it brought the truth of God to an entire generation in words that made sense, while at the same time maintaining a high degree of accuracy to the original languages. There is a new TNIV that I do not recommend due to a faulty philosophy of translation that was used. The result is something that feels familiar, but is intentionally inaccurate at times.

Holman Christian Standard Bible:
I have not chosen the HCSB because it was difficult to read for me. It was choppy and awkward at times in comparison to other translations. I value it for its attempt to make the truth easy to read and easy to understand. But, I am thankful that Broadman & Holman went back to original languages and produced the CSB.

New King James Version:
I have not chosen the NKJV because it holds on to wording and phrasing that isn’t a part of regular vernacular today. I value it and refer to when studying because it is based on a solid translation and sought to make a good translation more easy to read and understand. I like the rhythm and phrasing of the KJV and the NKJV maintains much of the same style of its predecessor.

King James Version:
I have not chosen the KJV because it isn’t clear to today’s reader. It is a highly accurate translation, but it falls short of presenting God’s Word in a way that is easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to pass on. The high reading level and the vernacular used make it difficult for me to use in preaching and to recommend. I do have a deep love for the KJV because it was the first bible I read and owned. Much of the verses I have memorized are still in my heart in the KJV, and will probably always be that way. But, it’s 2018 and we need English bibles that people can read and understand. The Gospel wasn’t lost when the KJV was put together, in fact, the KJV brought the Bible in its original languages to the common man of the 17th Century. I am thankful the Lord has continued to gift Christians with the ability to faithfully render the Word in contemporary language- we need it.

Remember, the best translation is the one you will read! 

By His Grace,

Rob