Fulton J. Sheen
I was talking to a sister who wouldn't permit her children to read any other version than the King James Version of the Bible, except perhaps to cross reference an unfamiliar word. The reason she told me was that every time one reads the Bible he may see new depths of meaning. If one were to read a modern version, he would be limited to the meaning the modern translators saw at the moment of their work and couldn't go beyond it.
Here's a program for thought:
How can we help but be reminded of the New International Version? Sheen's program "was the ecumenical thing to do" and the NIV is the modern book to read. By putting Bible stories into modern speech it shows our heroes of faith to be just like us, even as Sheen showed "that Catholics, even Catholic bishops, were just like everyone else, that they experienced the same problems of faith and personal dilemmas." Furthermore, the NIV has appeal to a variety of denominations of faith and even to those without faith, even as "'Catholic' answers to these difficulties were highly palatable to an audience of many faiths as well as to those who espoused no specific religious beliefs at all."
The NIV shows just how well Christianity can be integrated into our American lives, and yet it's undergirded by the writings of the apostles. "Sheen displayed on network television just how American Catholicism could be, and yet he undergirded his messages with a world view that stemmed from a thirteenth-century philosopher-theologian, Thomas Aquinas." Furthermore, "A great part of Sheen's appeal lay in his anecdotal style, his telling of jokes and stories; in contrast with the earnestness of many Protestant radio and television preachers, Sheen was funny." Yes, and the NIV isn't so heavy handed as the KJV; it is Bible lite. The NIV covers the full gambit, at least in my preacher's sermons, with the exception of prayer which he had to get from another version. "Sheen spoke on a great variety of topics."
"Perhaps Sheen's ultimate appeal lay in his expressed conviction that life still made sense, that there was indeed a divine plan for the universe." Perhaps the ultimate appeal of the NIV is that it helps us make sense of the divine plan for the universe. On the down side, Sheen was still Catholic, prayed to the virgin Mary, and was all wrapped up in church teachings that the Protestants had finally got away from.
My grandparents on my father's side had met in Viareggio, not far from Florence. My grandfather had been a waiter. My grandmother had been a chef's assistant. They came to the United States in 1912 and made their way to Chicago, where they opened a small neighborhood restaurant on the Northwest Side. they were officially retired by the time I was born. My maternal grandparents came from Rome. My mother's father was a reporter for a newspaper. My maternal grandmother worked at a bakery near the newspaper office. When they came to America, she stayed at home and had children and my grandfather split his time between working as a furniture upholsterer and writing for an Italian-language newspaper. He had a political column and a bad temper.
Say this couple marries, then leaves the Catholic church for highly personal reasons. They become Episcopalians, say. Okay, a better expression of Christianity. We applaud them even if we don't know their exact reasons.
Then, say, their Episcopalian minister is really enamored by Bishop Sheen's TV program, "Life is Worth Living." He liberally laces his sermons with Bishop Sheen's material from the preceding Tuesday. I mean, every Sunday--with but rare exception--he does that. However good Bishop Sheen's material is for all the reasons given above, it could still be argued, what's the point of becoming Episcopalian if one gets Catholic material every Sunday?
For highly personal reasons, I have become disappointed in the shortcomings of Protestantism; it seems that they have stopped short of true biblical Christianity, so I have aligned myself with restoration movement churches that don't accept that the Protestants have discovered all the Bible has to say, but have searched out matters further, and continue to search them out. Then what is the point of aligning myself with the restoration movement if every Sunday we hear quoted the NIV which only explains the position the translators stopped at on their way to understanding the Bible?
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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 couple 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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