Bible

#ThinkOrange: Our #kidmin is changing colours this fall.

This September our #kidmin program is turning Orange and using the 252 Basics curriculum. I have found myself overly excited about this transition since going to the Orange Conference back in May. I am excited for a few reasons:

  1. The amount of content that will be available to our parents and families throughout the week. This will include Parent Cue, 252 Live, and more. It also means that more families will be talking about Jesus throughout the week. A win on all levels.
  2. The added responsibility and content for our tech team. Our tech team is full of students that have wanted more ownership over the content on Sunday mornings. Even though the content is still prepared ahead of time they will have the opportunity to pull it up at home experiment with it and make the visuals their own.
  3. The added role of a host on Sunday mornings. This will allow some of our volunteers the opportunity to use their dramatic skill sets to help the storyteller bring the Bible to life every Sunday.

The one thing I have not enjoyed about implementing Orange has been the constant need to justify our choice to other #kidmin leaders from other churches I come into contact with. Whether it is their preconceived feelings about what Orange brings, or their desire to have full control of the content that they bring to their kids many leaders have asked me the same question in one way or another,

“Are you worried about the lack of Bible content in their lessons?”

I can’t even begin to tell you how often I have heard this in the last three months. In a way I find it heartbreaking and I always feel as though one of our team’s core responsibilities in being questions. That responsibility is presenting the Gospel to our kids and allowing families the opportunities to live out the Gospel in their homes each week. When I get asked that question about Orange I feel as though I am being asked whether or not our team is capable to bring the Gospel message to our kids.

Orange is creative in ways that I could never be, or would take me hours to produce and summon from within myself. Those hours of creativity that this curriculum saves me allows me to add Bible when I need to, (I personally think that Orange provides just as much Bible content as many of the other curriculums out there do) for my volunteers, or for family specific content. I have also gone through Bible college for Biblical Studies and as a leader in a church realize that part of my job is to add in Bible wherever I need to.

So when I hear that question asked to me what I really hear in my head is,

“Are you prepared to do your job and teach those children in your care how to live out the Gospel message of Jesus?”

The answer is of course. I also realize for me the question goes way farther than what curriculum do I use and I probably take it way to personally, but I am always surprised when I get it.

I am excited for September and what 252 Basics will add into our ministry. I truly believe at this point that the benefits of this curriculum choice will be felt in the lives of the children in our ministry for years to come. As a children’s pastor you cannot ask for anything better than impacting the lives of the kids and families in your community.

Restoration and #Kidmin (Part 2)

You can read Restoration and #Kidmin (part 1)  by clicking the link provided.

After we talked about creation, Adam and Eve and their role to multiply the earth We dove right into the next part of God’s plan.

Who were Adam and Eve’s children?

The kids responded with a resounding Cain and Abel chant and I asked them another question.

Do you think that Cain and Abel’s relationship was as “good” as creation was intended to be?

NO!

Why?

The one killed the other (some kids had the names mixed up). They did see that the sin kept them from restoring creation to

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“good”. At this point I brought up another student to wrap in God’s plan (yarn) making sure that the same piece of yarn had wrapped creation, separation and  now Cain and Abel together. I made sure that the yarn was all messy and droopy because themessiness of the yarn will come into play later.

Do you think God gave up on his people after Cain and Abel?

No, because there is more stories in the Bible. The cleverness of that answer made me smile.

On to the next piece. Even though Cain had sinned against God and moved away from the goodness that God had intended He still did not give up on His people. Even though there was sin in the world God saw a family that he said would help move His plan of restoration along.

Do you know what family God looked to in order to continue his plan of restoration?

The children had a bit of trouble with the Bible timeline here, so I started to give them some hints like:

He lived on a boat

He liked animals

He built the boat

Etc.

At that point they knew that I was talking about Noah, so we read about how God came to find favour with Noah.

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. God was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. God said, “I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds—the works. I’m sorry I made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7 MSG)

Do you think God’s people were moving closer or further away from God’s original goodness? Does this sound like the restoration that we read about in Rev. 22?

“Further” God called his people evil and they were not what God wanted, but even though God saw all the things that werekeeping His people away from His plan we still cared for us. He found one family that would help carry out his plan.

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But Noah was different. God liked what he saw in Noah. (Genesis 6:8 MSG)

“But I’m going to establish a covenant with you: You’ll board the ship, and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives will come on board with you. You are also to take two of each living creature, a male and a female, on board the ship, to preserve their lives with you: two of every species of bird, mammal, and reptile—two of everything so as to preserve their lives along with yours. Also get all the food you’ll need and store it up for you and them.” (Genesis  6:18-21 MSG)

We brought up another child to hold up the Noah picture and again wrapped them up in God’s plan. I explained to the kids that even though people had fallen so far away from God’s plan to restore creation he still found the family that would continue to work for God and help him fulfill his plan. God took care of Noah and his family so that he could continue working on his ultimate plan.

After Noah we talked about how even though God had to restart with only Noah and his family the people still had some of that baggage in their life that caused them to still fall short of God’s plan of restoring creation to what He would call “good.”

DId you know that the next person we are going to talk about had so much favour in God’s eye that God told him that his family would eventually be as numerous as the stars and the sand under his feet?

As I introduced the story of Abraham and God’s next covenant with his people I brought up another child to wrap up in God’s plan of restoration.

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15-18 The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear—God’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, howI’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15-18 MSG)

Abraham believed in God’s plan for his life so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son to God. Abraham believed that God would always provide for him and God blessed Abraham for his faithfulness. God told Abraham that he would have descendants to numerous to count, but boys and girls do you think that God’s people stayed this faithful to God, or was their still sin present that kept God’s plan of restoration from coming to an end?

Do you think God’s people stayed faithful?

Even though people were still falling short of God’s created goodness He was still providing for them and telling them that He still intended to care for his people. God would continue his plan through those that showed they were faithful to him.

I will pause here and continue part three tomorrow.

What Place Has History in the O.T. – Tracking the Debate Through Time

More notes from my O.T. History Class. This was a short outline for a presentation. This was the rough draft for my final project.

In 1651 Thomas Hobbes, in chapter 33 of Leviathan, marshaled a battery of passages such as Deut 34:6 (“no man knoweth of his sepulchre to this day,” implying an author living long after Moses’ death); Gen 12:6 (“and the Canaanite was then in the land,” implying an author living in a time when the Canaanite was no longer in the land); and Num 21:14 (referring to a previous book of Moses’ deeds), and concluded that none of these could be by Moses.

Hobbes thus begins by establishing that we cannot infallibly know another’s personal word to be divine revelation:

When God speaketh to man, it must be either immediately or by mediation of another man, to whom He had formerly spoken by Himself immediately. How God speaketh to a man immediately may be understood by those well enough to whom He hath so spoken; but how the same should be understood by another is hard, if not impossible, to know. For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it.

To Hobbes, it is manifest that none can know they are God’s word (though all true Christians believe it) but those to whom God Himself hath revealed it supernaturally. And therefore The question truly stated is: by what authority they are made law?

There is an enormous amount of biblical scholarship in this third part. However, once Hobbes’s initial argument is accepted (that no-one can know for sure anyone else’s divine revelation) his conclusion (the religious power is subordinate to the civil) follows from his logic. The very extensive discussions of the chapter were probably necessary for its time. The need (as Hobbes saw it) for the civil sovereign to be supreme arose partly from the many sects that arose around the civil war, and to quash the Pope of Rome’s challenge, to which Hobbes devotes an extensive section.

Hans W. Frei:

Long before the thought of ‘history of salvation’ became apart of historiography or theological inquiry the idea by those like Augustine was that the real world was formed by the sequences of biblical stories this covered creation to the final consumption that was to come, this included 1) man’s natural environment and 2) man’s secondary environment which is provided by himself (history or culture)

Three elements to traditional realistic interpretation of biblical stories:

Read Literal:

“The true historical reference of a story was a direct and natural concomitant of its making literal sense”

An event at this level in regards to being evidence has the best chance of becoming a reliable historical report

In a single world of one temporal sequence, there must in principle be one cumulative story to depict it

“the several biblical stories narrating sequential segments in time must fit together into one narrative.”

He sees figuration and typology as a natural extension of literal interpretation:

“Figuration was at once a literary and historical procedure, an interpretation of stories and their meanings by weaving them together into a common narrative referring to a single history and its patterns of meaning”

Must in principle embrace the experience of any present age or reader:

It is the reader’s duty to fit themselves into that world and they do this through figural interpretation

“He was to to see his disposition, his actions, and passions, the shape of his own life as well as that of his era’s events as figures of that storied world.”

His point was that such experiences, events, concepts were all ranged figurally into the smaller as well as the overarching story.  Biblical interpretation becomes an imperative need, but its direction was that of incorporating extra-biblical thought, experience, and reality into one real world detailed and made accessible by the biblical story – not the reverse.

Johannes Cocceius and Johann Albrecht Bengel:

“Tried to locate the events of their day vis a vis the narrative framework of biblical story and history, and to locate by means of biblical sayings the present stage of the actual events we experience and predict future stages as well as the end of actual history”

This was a sign of the breaking of literal meaning of the biblical narratives and the reference to actual events.  The narratives no longer provided an access to the events, they could now only verify them.

“Not only did an enormous amount of inquiry into factual truth (or falsity) of the biblical stories develop, but an intense concentration as well on their meaning and religious significance, whether factual or of some other sort”

Question becomes, Do the stories and whatever concepts may be drawn from them describe what we apprehended as the real world? Do they fit a more general framework of meaning than that of a single story?

Figural Reading:

1) Verbal or literal sense was now equated with the single meaning of statements, a logical and grammatical rule prevalent everywhere so that figural reading of the Bible seemed a senseless exception to it

2) The very attempt to read unity out of (or into) the Bible now appeared different from, if not incompatible with, the self-confinement of literal reading to specific texts

-no longer a persuasive instrument for unifying the canon

Realistic Reading:

– consists of matching the written description against the reconstruction of the probable historical sequence to which it referred.

– not only about history but also about specific historical sequences, so that they were not concerned with the unity of the canon

18th Century England:

– Relationship between revelation and theology and the problems in this concept are key

1) Rationality or credibility of the very idea of historical revelation

“Or is what is called revelation nothing more than a specific instantiation of what God had made known everywhere and all along, concerning truth and human happiness?”

“appeal to ‘mystery’ of revelation anything other than an admission that the idea itself is unintelligible, a token of that unwarranted intrusion of imagination or, worse yet, sheer ignorant superstition into matters religious which the new intellectual rigor must repel?”

2) How likely is it that such a thing has taken place?

“How authoritative, in short, how well attested are biblical accounts, especially those of miracles, since the natural presumption in a ‘scientific age’ is obviously against them?”

Debate was:

1) General credibility of miracles in a physical and historical world which was increasingly believed to be governed in accordance with natural law, conceived either prescriptively or descriptively

2) Credibility of the specific miracle accounts of the Bible, especially the NT including the claims to the fulfillment of prophecy

The plausibility of miracles both positive and negative was argued through external and independent evidence (i.e. geological evidence to explain a catastrophe over a large part of the earth for the Flood

18th Century Germany:

How and with the aid of what authority one settles the principles of biblical interpretation?

Reformation focused questions on authority and unity, Protestant questions on the detailing of the principles of textual interpretation

“The consequence of unity and universality in method of interpretation ensured unity of textual meaning also.”

The belief of a layered text such as literal, typological, spiritual, etc. was gone

Late 18th century with the help of Deism things changed,

“From now on, the harmony of historical fact, literal sense, and religious truth will at best have to be demonstrated; at worst, some explanation of the religious truth of the fact-like description will have to be given in the face of a negative verdict on its factual accuracy or veracity”

Unlike the external argument of the English the Germans was almost exclusively internal, they took a literary-historical approach

In his The Concept of Biblical Theology, Barr devotes a chapter to ‘story’ in which he notes that from the 1960s onwards he and others and others stressed the importance of story as a category in Old Testament studies. Story in this context is deliberately set against history, partly as a reaction to the emphasis on the acts of God in the Biblical Theology Movement (BTM). Story embraces material that is historical as well as that which includes myth and legend, and above all divine speech. Story focuses attention on the beginning, the progression and the culmination as more important than the historical realities behind the text. Barr notes that G. Ernest Wright and others in the BTM had already indicated the importance of story in biblical theology but he asserts that they made little of the actual story character of the Bible so that story functioned in their works more as an idea

Barr continues to see great value in approaching the Bible as story, as long as we don’t set this against historical criticism.

“That the story is a totality and to be read as such would seem to agree with the ‘holistic’ emphasis of many literary and canonical tendencies of today. But the fact that it is a totality does not mean that it has to be swallowed whole, uncritically.”

Barr,  defends taking the whole of the Bible as story. Making Genesis the starting point enables us to avoid past mistakes such as isolating the exodus from its broader narrative context. A story approach also connects with current understands of communal and personal identity.

Childs is less positive towards story and biblical theology than Barr. He discusses narrative under literary approaches to biblical theology. His major concern with narrative is that,

“The threat lies in divorcing the Bible when seen as literature from its theological reality to which scripture bears witness.”

Barr, by comparison, finds a story approach to the Bible helpful theologically in that it alerts us to the Bible as the raw data of theological reflection.

Brevard Childs levels this criticism against narrative approaches to biblical theology. In his Biblical Theology Childs includes narrative theology under ‘Literary Approaches to Biblical Theology. Referring to Barr and Frei, he says that

“initially the appeal to the subject matter of the Bible as ‘story’ served to shift the focus away from the perplexing problems of historical referentiality . . .”

Later he criticises this narrative approach because it also sidesteps theological issues: ‘many modern “narrative theologies” seek to avoid all dogmatic issues in the study of the Bible and seek ‘to render reality’ only by means of retelling the story.’  The problem can be seen, notes Childs, by the fact that liberals and conservatives agree on the centrality of narrative, but disagree on the nature of the Biblical story. Again he notes that ‘it has become increasingly evident that narrative theology, as often practised can also propagate a fully secular, non-theological reading of the Bible. The threat lies in divorcing the Bible when seen as literature from its theological reality to which scripture bears witness.

James Barr notes a shift in the paradigm of Biblical theology that moves from ‘revelation in history’ as the primary category to a ‘literary mode of reading.’ Story is then qualified in a literary way: narrative is a literary structure that creates a symbolic world. Or to put it another way, story is qualified in a linguistic way: the Bible offers a merely linguistically constructed narrative world. In this paradigm the historical and theological dimensions of the Biblical story are muted at best.

N.T. Wright:

In fact, the theological authority of the biblical story is tied up with its overarching narrative form. He offers a rich metaphor to explicate this authority. Imagine that a Shakespearian play is discovered for the first time but most of the fifth act is missing. The decision to stage the play is made. The first four acts and the remnant of the fifth act are given to well-trained and experienced Shakespearian actors who immerse themselves both in the first part of the play and in the culture and time of Shakespeare. They are told to work out the concluding fifth act for themselves.

This conclusion must be both consistent and innovative. It must be consistent with the first part of the play. The actors must immerse themselves in full sympathy in the unfinished drama. The first four acts would contain its own cumulative forward movement that would demand that the play be concluded in a way consistent and fitting with that impetus. Yet an appropriate conclusion would not mean a simple repetition or imitation of the earlier acts. The actors would carry forward the logic of the play in a creative improvisation. Such an improvisation would be an authentic conclusion if it were coherent with the earlier acts.

This metaphor provides a specific analogy for how the biblical story might function authoritatively to shape the life of the believing community. Wright sees the biblical story as consisting of four acts – creation, fall, Israel, Jesus – plus the first scene of the fifth act that narrates the beginning of the church’s mission. Furthermore this fifth act offers hints at how the play is to end. Thus the church’s life is lived out consistent with the forward impetus of the first acts and moving toward and anticipating the intended conclusion. The first scene of act five, the church’s story, begins to draw out and implement the significance of the first four acts, especially act four. The church continues today to do the same in fresh and creative ways in new cultural situations. This requires a patient examination and thorough immersion in what act four is all about, how act four is to be understood in light of acts one through three, and how the first scene of act five faithfully carries forward act four.

Theological interpretation will be as important as the literary or historical. Theology is concerned with claims about God embodied in a worldview – whether there is a God, his relation to the world, and whether or not he is acting to set the world right. The theological beliefs of the Biblical authors and its modern interpreters will be essential to Biblical scholarship: ‘ .  . . ‘theology’ highlights what we might call the god-dimension of a worldview. . . . As such it is a non- negotiable part of the study of literature and history, and hence of New Testament studies.’

The recovery of the Bible as one controlling story is important for Wright because that story provides the true worldview context for Biblical scholarship, allowing all dimensions of the Biblical text—theological, literary, and historical—to find full expression.

Exodus 34 – Review from O.T. Theology Class

These were some interesting tidbits I pulled from a study on Exodus 34. Thought I would share.

Stuart, Douglas K. Exodus. The New American commentary, v. 2. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006.

34:1 – Moses supplying the tablets provides some assumptions 1) all new covenants would require human initiation “chisel out” in the imperative form could refer to Israel having to start the process of restoration. 2) By having Israel supply the tablets it is a physical reminder to them that it wont be so easy.

34;2 – The command of first thing in the morning refers to the belief that what one person does first thing in the morning is the most important.

34:3 – When the NIV refers to “in front of the mountain” should be translated as toward/in the vicinity of the mountain.”

34:4 How did the words get on the tablets? 1 Kings 5:18 suggests that even much later the Israelites were not skilled or renowned stone cutters.  However, the text makes no mention of this.

34:5 – Moses is able to perceive that a real personal being had come to him and not just in a concept, or a feeling.  As before he employed a cloud as the visible portion of his manifestation.  Yahweh’s self proclamation allows for Moses to know that Yahweh would be with him and Israel when they left Mt. Sinai.

34:6 – This delayed response  (the fulfillment of the promise made by God in 33:19 has been delayed until now) is one of the techniques of Moses’ narrative style.  Hebrew word hesed translated as love by the NIV connotes a long term, reliable loyalty of one member of a covenant relationship to another.

34:7 – God lets Israel know that they can not think that they would not be punished because He already punished an earlier generation.

34:29 – God’s presence was obviously there if Moses’ face was obviously reflecting it.  This shows that God had not withdrawn himself from Israel as He was still with Israel’s mediator.  W.H Propp argued that Moses’ face was disfigured and although it didn’t hurt Moses it was not pleasant to look at.  Another link has been placed in a link between the words ‘horns’ and ‘rays’ giving an allusion to the idolatry of the golden bull in Ch. 32.

34:30 – Hebrew verb qrn is not well understood, so there is an argument between the translation of ‘rays,’  ‘horns,’ or ‘radiant.’  The people understood that Moses had been with and was accepted by the God they needed to fear.  This answered their question as to where Moses went in verse 1.

34:31 – Moses ‘spoke to them’ indicates that he told Aaron and the others where he had been.  Aaron is mentioned and comes to Moses as well as the other leaders of the people indicates that they are confirming Moses leadership over them.

34:33-35 – There is no connection between the veil on Moses’ face and the veil of the Tabernacle.  The veil of the Tabernacle blocks out all visibility whereas Moses could see out and the veil lowered the intensity of his encounter with God.

The Akedah – Comparison Between NRSV and Genesis Rabbah

Here are some notes from my Old Testament Theology class last year. I found the words of the Genesis Rabbah to be very compelling and at times it allowed for some great discussion on translating text. Enjoy.

The chapter begins with ‘and it came to pass’ where the NRSV simply begins at ‘after these things’.  The JPS ads in ‘some time afterward.’  The ‘things’ are misgivings or second thoughts of Abraham (LV:IV)  It would be these thoughts that would bring Abraham to his limit.

Verse one has two key words ‘try’ and test’.  The words ‘banner’ and ‘test’ have the same consonants and ‘truth’ and ‘validate’ accompany this.  God’s test for Abraham was one of justice and was not off the cuff.  The author is going to focus on what man does as his centre point for the exegesis.

Psalm 11:5 states that God tests the righteous and in Deut. 6:16 says that no one is to test the Lord.  The conclusion made is that the testing of Abraham represents Israel and because of this places Israel in its own history as strong and holy based upon the conclusions made of Abraham.

Verse two shares a linking between the Moriah and the Temple (LV:VII:2).  ‘Moriah and ‘awe’ share the same consonants and Moriah can be explained as the place where awe enters the world (i.e. The Temple) There is also a strong linking between the binding and the consecration with the temple. The NRSV says that God will show Abraham the mountain whereas in this text Abraham will be told which mountain to go to (LV:VII:4).  The conversation between God and Abraham provides a stronger active God figure in the lives of his people.

Why does Abraham saddle his own ass in verse three when he has two servants with him?  The answer provided is that love disrupts the natural order (LV:VIII).  This idea can be connected back to verse one as it relates back to Abraham as being strong, humble and worthy of this test.

Verse four has Abraham ‘lifting his eyes up’ instead of ‘looking up’  as well as in verse 13 (NRSV).  The strong imagery found in three days deals with the fulfillment of prophecy in the scriptures and the redemption of Israel.

Gen. 22:6 “So they went both of them together,”  It sounds very much like they both knew what was to happen. They went together up the hill in knowledge and acceptance (LVI:III:3) Verse five also states that both will come back down from worshipping.

Verse 6 and 8 have ‘walked on together’ as the ending to the conversation.  Again, an illusion to the idea that both Issac and Abraham know what is to happen.

Verse 1 and 11 have Abraham answering God’s call in the same way, “Here I am”.  This is interesting because one is before the test and the other is after.  It shows that Abraham’s trust in God doesn’t falter.

Why is the name “the Lord will provide” in the future tense in verse 14?  The author places the future tense in conjunction with the future history of the Temple.

Verses 17 and 18 give a double blessing to both the father and the son.  The use of indeed bless is the Hebrew verb written twice and this is what indicates the double blessing.  There is a switch from multiply in this text and numerous in the NRSV.

Verse Genesis Rabbah NRSV/JPS
1 And it cam to pass… (add)
2  (Genesis Rabbah has this as verse three at some points?) Take I Pray you… I shall tell you Take your son …I shall show you
3 And…saddled his ass…and arose and went to… God had told him So…saddled his donkey…set out…God shown
4 Lifted his eyes Looked up
5 come again to you We will come back to you
6 So they went both of them together walked on together
8 God will provide himself the lamb God himself will provide
9 God had told him God had shown
10 slay his son kill his son
12 Seeing you have not Since you have not
13 Lifted his eyes Looked up
14 Called the name of the place called that place
16 done this thing done this
17 multiply your descendants offspring as numerous
18 earth bless themselves earth gain blessing
19 dwelt at lived at
20 And it cam to pass… (add) Behold (add) Now…
22

ESV, NLT, NIV, KJV, The Message… Which to Choose?

Is one translation of the Bible more truthful than the other?

This is the question of the ages that has created heated arguments, rifts in friendships and even splits among church goers. Does this not go against the central message that the Bible presents?

Love God, Love others. Period.

Yes, I believe that the Bible was God-directed and is of the words of God that have been passed onto others and written as He intended. However, if we are going to argue over translations, shouldn’t all camps realize that any questions raised can be directed back at them?

For example, if I said that I would not read The Message because it is the Bible paraphrased and the King James Version is closer to the original words and is therefore more truthful, I would be continuing a common misconception. Hence, on the flip-side, I could say that the King James Version was translated by a human who could have been humanly influenced or is, in fact, not perfect and, therefore, makes any translation or its claim to be more truthful very skeptical. In fact, the Bible needed to be translated from different Greek, Roman and Aramaic sources even before it came to us in the forms we have today. Also, if someone wanted to search for the real and so-called truth, they could even go search out the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I am not harping on any translation (as I have quite a few), I am just frustrated over this claim that one version can be more truthful than another. I do believe though that some versions can be better suited for academic versions than others, but in terms of youth work and ministry, if a student understands, or can even relate more fully to The Message than to the KJV, can anyone really argue with that?

If they are reading the words of God and are then able to apply it to their lives, I see no value in an argument over translation.