I often tell my students not to immediately believe anything they read or see on the internet if it seems TOO good or bad to be true, because most of the time it isn’t! Cell phones popping corn, videos of people jumping over buildings, Bruce Lee playing ping-pong with nunchucks…fake, fake, fake. A great resource to fact check online videos and stories is http://www.Snopes.com. Before reposting a video or story on social media, I strongly suggest a quick check at Snopes to verify authenticity, saves everyone a lot of stress and potential embarrassment.
I like to think that a good study Bible is the rough equivalent of Snopes.com for the rest of life, especially life in the church.
If you are hearing a word that doesn’t quite sit right with you, take a couple minutes and check it against the Word of God and the simple study helps found in the margins of many of today’s scholarly study Bibles. If the words you are hearing are along the lines of what you find in the study Bible, then there is a good chance that God is speaking to you and causing you to fidget a little and you would be wise to take some more time letting the word digest, even consuming more.
But if the words that you are hearing are vastly different than the notes in the Study Bible, I would encourage you to continue in your research, drawing upon various notable commentaries and scholarly works to find out why there is a discrepancy. There are certainly times when doctrinal differences will be at the root of the alternative meaning and I would encourage you to find why those differences exist, realizing that sometimes, in non-essentials, it is ok to have different interpretations of the same passage. The key is understanding why.
One of the Bibles that I have been using regularly is the New Living Translation Study Bible (NLT). The scholarship is top-notch and the idiom used in the translation really connects with me as a believer living in 2014. There are certainly others that are great and having a few is a viable option and a great addition to any personal library.
Chris Brewer is a doctoral graduate of The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies (www.iws.edu) and is the Academic Dean at The Kaleo Institute at Brewer Christian College (www.kaleoinstitute.org)
Photo by flickr user Kit. Used under a CC 2.0 license.