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Donald Schmidt introduces new biblical translation

Donald Schmidt, pastor at Admiral UCC in Seattle, finds that it “freaks out a congregation to have the pastor or lay reader take out a cell phone to read Scripture.”

Donald Schmidt

Donald Schmidt

He shared at the PNC Annual Meeting in a Sunday Bible study his reflections on translations.  He introduced the United Methodist’s Common English Bible translation.

“Encountering God’s Word in different ways happens any time we read the Bible, because any time we read the Bible we interpret,” he said.  “If you don’t want interpretation, don’t read the Bible.”

Given that the average adult reads at a third or fourth grade level, he believes it’s important to make the Bible readable.

“If people are not comfortable reading the Bible, they don’t read it and there’s no point to have it,” he said.

He finds the Common English Bible a readable, understandable version that fits with the move in worship away from churchy words—doxology, benediction or escatalogical.

For example, it translates the parable of the talents as the parable of the dollars.

Donald believes it’s important for progressive churches to encourage people to read, study, love, despise and question the Bible, rather than letting “others take it away from us” by giving the impression they know it and “we don’t.”

At some churches, fear about the Bible is so great, the pastor can’t lead a Bible study.

“You can hit someone over the head with a book that’s closed,” he said, advising people to open the Bible to find stories of people of faith struggling with their belief.  “I take the Bible metaphorically, because it means more to me.”

Telling a friend who is in an evangelical church about metaphor, he explained that people think “metaphor” means something is “wrong,” so the Bible must be taken literally.

On taking Mark 4:35-41 literally or metaphorically, he suggested: “Literally, it means if I’m in a boat on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and there’s a big storm, I know the storm will stop,” Donald said.  “Metaphorically, when I’m unemployed and about to be evicted, I remember that Jesus is on my boat and will help me.”

He added that “Emmaus happens all the time.  If we look, we may discover any time that Jesus is there talking with us.”

For information, call  206-932-2928 or email

Copyright © December 2012 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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