I believe this week’s sign is in reference to Matthew 18:7, which can be translated a number of different ways. I make a point of this translation issue often because for the Bible being represented as the true word of God, it seems the word true is being used rather loosely.
Looking at the number of options available and what is on the church sign this week, the closest version seems to be the English Standard Version (ESV). The ESV was mentioned as one of the versions that Lutheran uses, so I’m starting to lean towards that being the version that Bramwell favors.
So here’s the full verse as it is in the ESV bible:
Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!
Now if we’re created in God’s image and he’s perfect, why would it be necessary to direct temptations toward us?
If it was a perfect world, we could all live off chocolate cake, morning, noon, and evening. There would be no reason to worry about the effects of the sugar on our teeth, or that we might become diabetic later in life.
So I don’t buy the argument that temptations are necessary. I don’t believe in the little devil sitting on your shoulder anymore than I believe in the little angel on the opposite shoulder.
The truth is, Pastor Bramwell needs you to feel shame, fear, and guilt or else you’d find something better to do with your Sunday morning. That’s why sin is his favorite word, and he’ll label anything a sin if it doesn’t agree with his own personal morals.
A word about the Gospels as written by Matthew. They weren’t. They were written 50 to 80 years after the death of Jesus by an anonymous Jew. It was written in Greek, for a Jewish audience. It is written with the bias of a Jew who was seeing his faith diminished by the rise of Christianity, so he tries to incorporate as much of his Jewish religion as possible into the new religion that’s taking over.
He basically plagiarized the Gospel of Mark, rewriting it so that the story of Jesus followed his own personal feelings about religion. That hardly makes the Gospel of Matthew the true word of God, no matter how you translate it.