I have been looking at the history of the Pilgrims and have read some that goes along with the lesson of Paul being "bound in the spirit" (Acts 20:22) to go the course set for him:
The first of the Stuarts had scarcely received a new crown as James I of England when he was presented with the Millenary Petition so-called, signed by more than eight hundred reformist ministers, a tenth of all the clergy in the realm. The petitioners humbly begged the correction of the worst of the "abuses," finding particular fault with the continued use of papish vestments, want of weekly sermons by competent preachers, use of the ring in the marriage ceremony, inclusion of the Apocrypha in the Holy Book, and generally lax and "profane" observance of the Sabbath.
At once we see Robinson following Paul's example "bound in the spirit" (Acts 20:22) as the King James Version aptly puts it, "breaking bonds of flesh and blood wherein I was so straightly tied," but where the NIV not arising from the same cauldron waters down as merely being "compelled by the Spirit."
Curiously, the converse occurred in the Orthodox Church.
In the seventeenth century Nikon, the Patriarch of Moscow, in face of fierce opposition, carried through a reform of the Service Books. The Raskolniki--literally "schismatics," sometimes called Old Believers--, led by Avvakum, seceded from the Church rather than accept the changes. The origin of Russian Dissent is, therefore, the exact opposite of the origin of English Dissent. The Raskolniki afterwards themselves split into more sects, some having a priesthood and some without. Some of these sects degenerated into oddities, and indulged in the strangest excesses. But the more sober element among the Old Believers incorporates some of the best of the Russian religious spirit and character.582
A contingent of one of the strange sects, in fact, settled in Eugene at one time, the Dukhobours. Dukhobar Road in Eugene is named after them, and one can see still standing one of their old barns. They believe in Jesus but not in the Bible. One of their distinguishing customs has to do with their belief that we are all naked children in the eyes of God. That gets them in the news every now and then. In Canada a judge decreed that they would have to wear clothes. Their response was to immediately disrobe right in the courtroom. Pretty odd!
But people with religion tend to live out their beliefs. I was going to a mainline Protestantchurch before I came to the Restoration church I atend now. That church had officially adopted the NIV. After a few weeks I went right back to my KJV. Bound in the spirit, one might say.
I have a pretty tolerant preacher. If he were a Dukhobour preacher, he'd give us a sermon every Sunday, just not out of the Bible. Say, I showed up one day and asked him, saying I notice that this congregation wears clothes. I don't feel comfortable wearing clothes. Would I have to wear them?
No, he tells me, I don't have to wear clothes if I don't want to. I can use my KJV if I don't want to go by the NIV.
By and by, I notice that we have a traditional service in which we sing all the old traditional Russian songs. But they all wear clothes anyway. I point this out to him, and he replies that there's good reason to wear clothes these days.
Well, maybe there be very good reasons to wear clothes, but that hardly qualifies this as a traditional service, the traditional hymns notwithstanding.
Then we might want to look at the Quakers.
Okay, let's see, we don't have any special name for our church, but we still call it a church. We have a preaching minister as opposed to a "pastor". And we follow the "typical Protestant forms of worship with hymn singing and Scripture reading." That and we incorporate the Lord's supper in the service. How can we implement a traditional service and only make the hymns traditional, but not the scripture reading? The whole idea of the Restoration Movement was that the Protestant churches hadn't gone far enough in following the Bible. And now we call a service traditional but use the most popular version of the day rather than the established traditional one. And nobod seems to care so long as we follow the crowd. Isn't that like, "The living idea organizes a definite society for the propagation of it, and lo, the Society unconsciously smothers the original idea and becomes absorbed in itself!"?
To help compare the King James Version's lesson of Paul being "bound in the spirit" (Acts 20:22) with the New International Version's being "compelled by the Spirit," I am going to quote a story of a man being bound to commit an act that otherwise he would not do under any compulsion:
William M. Waller, a planter in Amherst County, Virginia, left a full record of one such slave selling expedition. In 1847, Waller and his neighbor James Taliaferro decided they must sell some of their slaves to escape from heavy debts. Though electing to handle the sales themselves, they consulted an experienced speculator who informed them that Natchez was the most promising market and that early October was the best time to begin the trip.
By analogy Paul being bound in the spirit is under more constraint than if he were being merely compelled by the Spirit. Waller's creditors may have compelled him to sell his negroes, but he could have resisted and not given in had he not felt so keenly his bondage to debt and his duty to family.
I was working on a construction site one week and my upper arms were getting sunburned and blistered. I asked my boss to loan me a long sleeved shirt, but the only one he had was dark and heavy which soon made me too hot. Then I asked him if he had a couple of clips. He said, "Yes, what are you going to do?"
I told him to watch. I sat down and started removing my shoes.
"You're doing a McGiver," he said.
I unzipped the legs from my pants--turning them into shorts--and then used the legs clipped to my shirt to make sleeves. Worked just fine.
But that was not a traditional clothing getup; it was a "McGiver," something used in an original way to accomplish a purpose. Maybe the preacher has legitimate reason for using a modern translation, but what it gives us is not traditional.
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Copyright © 2005, Earl S. Gosnell III
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright in most cases, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.
I have used material from a number of sources for teaching, comment and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The sources are included in a notes file. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.
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Scripture quotations marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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