I like reading different translations of the Bible in order to pick up various nuances in the text. On of my favorite “reading” Bibles (as opposed to a “study” Bible) is one that came out of Britain several decades ago. But its translation of I Corinthians 11:28-32 startled me:
Everyone is to recollect (examine – KJV) himself before eating this bread and drinking this cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognising the Body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. In fact that is why many of you are weak and ill and some of you have died. If only we recollected (judged – KJV) ourselves, we should not be punished like that. But when the Lord does punish us like that, it is to correct us and stop us from being condemned with the world. (The Jerusalem Bible)
These mighty strong words seem to say that when bad things happen, it is because God is punishing us for one reason or other. I know of no other translation that hits this point in quite that way, including The New Jerusalem Bible, and therefore I doubt that the Jerusalem Bible’s wording is as Paul intended.
But the fact is, people do believe the theology as espoused in that translation, that if something bad happens, it must be God’s punishment. That misconception can lead to unwarranted self-flagellation.
True, there are scriptural examples of God-caused unpleasantness throughout scripture including things that happen to godly people (Job, Joseph) and other cases of God’s judgment for sin (Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26).
But there are also examples of bad stuff just flat out happening that as far as we know God did not have a hand in. Things just happen.
One example would be the Apostle Paul. An unfriendly mod had stoned him, dragged him out of the city, and left him for dead. Was this God-ordained punishment for something he did? Did he have some terrible character flaw that God saw fit to punish?
All that is doubtful. More likely this event was no more than the price one sometimes pays for telling this world truths it doesn’t want to here. For proof of the volatility it can usher forth, say something politically incorrect and watch what happens.
This story of Paul does have an interesting ending. He recovers from the attempt on his life and goes right back into the city that tried to kill him. Can you imagine the encouraging effect this must have had on the church at Lystra? It would have likely bolstered their courage and commitment. As so often happens under such circumstances, what some intended for evil in the end turns out for good.
Lenny Cacchio is a resident of Lee’s Summit. He blogs at http://morningcompanion. blogspot.com/.