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Author Topic: The 'Clear Word' Bible Paraphrase--Much Ado About Nothing  (Read 3994 times)

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Azenilto Brito

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The 'Clear Word' Bible Paraphrase--Much Ado About Nothing
« on: May 28, 2009, 08:05:13 PM »

The Clear Word  Bible Paraphrase:

Much Ado About Nothing

       In the 2009 January/February edition of Proclamation magazine Mr. Ratzlaff takes the edition of SDA author and retired Theology professor, Jack J. Blanco’s The Clear Word as the main target of his new anti-Adventist bashing campaign. However, his is a clear water-muddling and wave-making series of false allegations on how important and “decisive” that volume is for SDA's. I, myself, had never seen one and had just one brother in our congregation who owned the copy he loaned me to examine and discuss the question raised by Ratzlaff. Let's see what we could glean from said book, as the author explains its objective and personal experience leading to its writing:
       On its cover one can find the explanation that it is “an expanded paraphrase to build strong faith and nurture spiritual growth”. On the back cover it adds that its intention is that “as the meaning of Scripture becomes more transparent, you see more of God's grace”. Now, that is interesting. . . Critics of Seventh-day Adventism would imagine that the author's intention would be to have people seeing more of God's law, but the emphasis in on God's grace.
       In the “Preface” Jack J. Blanco, the author, makes a clear effort to show that this volume has no intention to replace the Bible or being another Bible.

       “As has been stated in previous editions, The Clear Word is not a translation, but a devotional paraphrase of Scripture expanded for clarity. . . . It should not be considered a study Bible. Excellent translations of Scriptures are available for such purposes.”

       In some paragraphs further down he explains some more:

       “A paraphrase uses current language to make the text more understandable. Over the years there have been several modern paraphrases  such as Phillip's New Testament in Modern English, Taylor's The Living Bible, and Peterson's The Message. These provide a variety of reading choices. God has more ways than we can fathom to reach His children wherever they are. Each translation or paraphrase has proved beneficial in its own way to bring readers to a clearer understanding of God's magnificent gift to a fallen race.”

       Of course, every paraphrase will reflect the author's personal convictions. If the author is a Calvinist one can identify his inclinations toward the “election” doctrine in the exposition of certain key texts used for advocating that notion, as well as a bias in the use of other texts that are not directly related to his views, but probably will be slanted in that direction. Thus, it is simply natural that Mr. Blanco’s positions will reflect his Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the Bible. However, the dishonest assessment of its contents can be seen in the conclusion Ratzlaff jumps to, implying even that either the author and/or the S.D.A. Church teach justification by Sabbath keeping.
       Under the title “Saved by the Sabbath” he quotes Mr. Blanco’s commentary on Col. 2:16 (a key-text for anti-Sabbatarian, a truly one single note anti-Sabbatarian samba as we have already covered. But he distorts the meaning of what the author says as he points to a difference between the ceremonial Sabbaths and the “special Sabbaths” (which is not a S.D.A. Church interpretation only, but, as we have seen, that of different Protestant Bible commentary authors, such as Albert Barnes and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). He emphasized especially a version for kids, where the Mr. Blanco says:

       “Don't let anyone tell you that you have to go through certain rituals, eat certain foods, keep certain feasts, or observe extra Sabbaths to be saved. All these things pointed forward to Jesus. So now they're meaningless”.

       Now, where is any least hint of any preaching of salvation by keeping the Sabbath there?! Only in a sickly anti-Sabbatarian mind that conclusion could be come to. See how Mr. Ratzlaff proves without any shadow of doubt how he acts without any Christian ethics in his assessment of what the author means:

       “This passage is one of the clearest implicit examples from Blanco’s eisegesis indicating that the keeping of the weekly (not an ‘extra’ Sabbath) is something observed by those who are being saved. This Sabbath-requirement is the kind of legalism with which Jesus constantly confronted the Pharisees. It is the kind of legalism that Christians are to avoid, particularly given Paul's stern warning to the ‘bewitched’ Galatians gentiles who were being led into Jewish practices like those taught by the Adventist church and emphasized by Blanco”.

       Any unbiased person can see the “clear word” of prejudice and dishonest distortion of not only what Mr. Blanco says (and he emphasizes, “Don't let anyone tell you that you have to go through certain rituals, eat certain foods, keep certain feasts, or observe extra Sabbaths to be saved” because these things became “meaningless”, never, ever, implying any Sabbath-keeping requirement for salvation), but of what the Seventh-day Adventist church teaches regarding the means of salvation, which we also have covered in past analyzes and can be checked in the SDA Doctrinal Official statements (see topics 9, 10 and 18).

       Other distortions and demonstrations of unethical attitude could be mentioned in Mr. Ratzlaff's comments on the Clear Word text, but that suffices as a sample of how bias and prejudice act when a brainwashed mind puts forth the result of its evil machinations to harm the reputation of someone or some institution. Haven't Mr. Ratzlaff and his staff ever read Matt. 12:36?!
       Anyway, telling of his personal motivation to create this paraphrase the author, who has a Th.D. title and is a retired dean of Theology, adds:

       “This paraphrase began as my own devotional journey in seeking a deeper relationship with the One who loved me and gave His life for me”. So, no intention to promote the law, but the grace of God. . . Again, this is noteworthy. . .

Does reading Galatians makes us renounce to 7th-day Adventism? How come?!

       What we said above gives us a glimpse of how this “new alliance” folks so often distort the truth of what SDA's really understand of their Bible study, like the article by Berit Fischer, who recommends the reading of Galatians as a remedy for Adventists not to be so attached to the law. Since we already wrote a brief article, “Are Adventists Afraid of Galatians?” I just reproduce a little list of questions she poses as if they represented tremendous challenges to a Seventh-day Adventist:

       * Why is the fourth commandment itself not repeated even once in the New Testament?

       * Why is it that nowhere in the New Testament is Sabbath-breaking condemned as sin?

       * If Sabbath-keeping is so important for a follower of Jesus, why did Jesus not mention it in his Sermon on the Mountain or in any of his teachings?

       * Why did not Jesus, the apostles, or Paul command Sabbath keeping?

       * Why is the Sabbath not mentioned in Revelation if the Sabbath will have such significance in the end time?

       These questions have been mostly covered in our previous discussions, but I will this time post a very interesting questionnaire that I found in a Christian forum in Spanish, under the title “40 Questions For Seventh-Day Adventists”, which covers these ones too. I will give greater details of said material later on.
       Another contributing author in this Proclamation edition is a Pentecostal guy, called Adrian Bury, who boasts of how he “helped” a friend to not get involved with 7th-day Adventism, and who relates two interesting things:
       a) That he got involved with a Pentecostal pastor when a young man and asked him to pray for him, “and from then on I experienced and understood the Holy Spirit as Someone who is real, not merely abstract or theoretical”. Now, this puts editor Ratzlaff in an embarrassing situation—does someone who ask him to pray in his/her favor also go through this mentioned experience, thus understanding who the Spirit really is? If not, Ratzlaff would be among those who DON'T understand who the Holy Spirit really is, and don't have experienced it truly, as this Pentecostal contributor to his magazine stresses.
       b) He decided to investigate 7th-day Adventism, not directly through the SDA Church channels, literature or personal contacts with members or pastor of our church, but “through the Internet”. It's no wonder, then, he was so “shocked” when he read about the “scapegoat” teaching, according to which it is Satan who finally bears our sins. I must admit I was shocked”. The problem is that he simply came across a caricature of the REAL 7th-day Adventist teaching so popular among those who specialize in corrupting the meaning of the expiation and other of our teachings.
       Going back to the "40 Questions For Seventh-day Adventists”, I took the trouble of answering briefly every question, but I added at the end of each a “QUESTION FOR RETRIBUTION”. I published everything in said forum. Do you think I got any answers for my questions? As it would be expected, these anti-Adventists are very good in formulating questions and addressing them to us, but after they are answered they simply IGNORE the ones we have for them. Is that fair?
       So, see the 40 questions, their answers and our “QUESTIONS FOR RETRIBUTION” duly translated into English. That material will suffice to answering all these questions Mrs. Fischer poses (besides the arguments by Mr. Bury), as well as some of other of her arguments, like when she tells her story at a certain point:

       “When I began to read about the covenants, I came to see that the Ten Commandments are inseparable from the law and the old covenant. The Bible told me that the Ten Commandments were a part of the whole law to which Jesus came to make an end. I was totally shocked!”

       Well, it is indeed a shock to any balanced mind to think of Jesus putting an end to the entire 10 Commandments, which means that the gauntlet for all kinds of sins is thrown open, with the chaotic situation that would follow suit. . . Unhappily that is what is taught in certain sectors of Christendom, contrary to what has been FOR CENTURIES the official teaching of ALL mother-churches of Protestantism, from which so many others derived (including these “new alliance” neo-antinomian offshoots), with all the ambiguity and contradiction that this kind of rationale leads to. And all that to JUST get rid of the “inconvenient” Sabbath commandment, for those who come up with this kind of allegation finally realize that NINE out of the TEN “abolished” commandments survived intact this total “law abolition” stuff. How shocking that also sounds, doesn't it?
       I will take some time in a near future to reproduce in another topic the 40 questions with our answers and the "Questions for Retribution", then I communicate here the link leading to said material.

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