By Robert Bake Tumuhaise
In utter shock, I stared at the New Vision’s Cover Headline: ‘POPE WANTS THE LORD’S PRAYER CHANGED!’ It sounded like the Pope was attempting to change Jesus’ words/teaching. And that shocked me as a Catholic because I know that no human being has the power to change God’s teaching. Anything we believe as Christians must have come down from God through the apostles and the Church Fathers.
I then followed a certain Facebook post where disgruntled people were hurling insults at Pope Francis, calling him a false prophet, a Satanist, the anti-christ e.t.c. They named the Catholic Church a cult, a mirror of the Roman Empire e.t.c. I restrained myself from commenting because I never want to comment on something I do not understand. I hadn’t read the story from a reliable source to know exactly what the pope said. And I am sure many who are commenting negatively haven’t read his argument either, because when I read his view, I found that this whole fuss was uncalled for.
First of all, Pope Francis did not propose changing any doctrine; he only proposed correction of an erroneous translation of Jesus’ words. His argument is that the English translation of the last part of the scripture (Matthew 6:13) from which the Lord’s prayer was derived is somehow misleading. It says “Lead us not into temptation.”
But praying to God not to lead us into temptation makes it sound as though God can actually lead us into temptation, yet in the bible there are several scriptures which make it clear that God cannot lead any man into temptation. For instance, James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say ‘I am being tempted by God’ for God cannot be tempted by evil and neither can he tempt any man.’ Temptation is the work of the devil. God only allows it to happen. We know that there’s nothing that can happen without God allowing it but ALLOWING something to happen and DOING IT are different.In fact, if God led us into temptation, then we would not be responsible for our evil actions; we would be having a valid justification to blame him. That’s not our God. He tempts no one.
For the above reason, it is clear that there’s a problem in the English translation of that scripture because God cannot contradict himself. We should remember that the scriptures were written by men who were 100% inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore what they wrote was infallible (meaning it had no error). However, these scriptures were translated by linguists for whom no infallibility was promised. Hence, it’s not surprising that you can find an error in a certain translation of the bible. I for one have seen many bibles with typing errors. Such errors cannot be in God’s message but rather in the translation, typing, editing and the whole process of production. Remember the language that Jesus spoke is Aramaic. From Aramaic his words were translated to Greek. Then to Latin to create what’s referred to as the Latin Vulgate. And then later to English.
We all know how translation of languages can cause the loss of meanings and even change some meanings completely. I remember my first time to hear a Muganda say “Tusinza Kabaka” caused me goose pimples. Then another time I heard a Pastor advising women to “Kusinza” their husbands. What? I was shocked because I knew that “Kusinza” means worship and worship is for God alone. I was later corrected that in Luganda, there are no separate words for worship, adoration and veneration; they use one word “kusinza” for all that. And hence, “kusinza Kabaka” does not mean worshipping him.
Looking at this error in translation, the Catholic Church in France revisited the original scriptures and translated Jesus’ words to “Do not let me fall into temptation.” This is certainly a better translation for it agrees with the rest of the scriptures that God does not push us into temptation, but rather can let us fall into temptation. Hence, by praying this way, we are asking him for divine intervention whenever we are about to fall into temptation. Actually, in my language Rukiga and other languages like Runyankore and Rutooro, that part is translated as “Otatureka tukohibwa” which means “Do not let us be tempted.” This is an indication that what the pope is suggesting isn’t changing the Lord’s prayer but rather correcting the English translation.
Can we then say the Pope is changing Jesus’ words? Is he changing any doctrine? Is there any Christian doctrine which says that God can lead man into temptation? By pointing out such a misleading phrase, I find the pope performing his role of guiding the Church into understanding better the truth. This is not a doctrinal issue; it’s a language issue. I would love to hear the arguments of those countering the pope’s proposition. Do they feel it’s right to pray that God doesn’t lead us into temptation, yet he can’t?
Some people may not be recalling that there is a difference between a scripture and it’s translation. We see various translations e.g. Good News, Holy Bible KJV, NIV etc translating the same scripture differently. Haven’t you also noticed that various translations have a “Revised Edition”? When they revise, are they changing the scripture? No. They are making the original meaning more understandable. They are attempting to bring their translation to the closest possible way to the original meaning of the scripture. Hence, even adjusting the English translation of that phrase to bring out better what Jesus said is not an act of changing the scripture but rather interpreting it better. Again, I will emphasize that there is no promise of infallibility given to those who translate the bible; that was for those who wrote the different books of the bible.
I am, therefore, led to conclude that those hurling insults at the pope and the Catholic Church on this matter are not basing themselves on Pope Francis’s argument, but rather their biased view of the Catholic Church. They are convinced that what the Catholic Church teaches is wrong and they can’t find the strength to believe that the Pope can be right on this. I can’t blame them; that’s what they’ve been taught. I still love them. They are my brothers and sisters. We shall meet in heaven one day. And they will be surprised how I, a Catholic, got there!
As Children of God, the first thing that makes us godly is loving one another and accommodating one another. Jesus said to us “They will know that you are Christians by your love” (John 13:35). So if I hurl insults at my fellow brethren and call them devil worshipers simply because they worship God differently from me that would make me unchristian in the heart. I cannot and will never open my mouth to label a fellow Christian a Satanist, cult, false prophet e.t.c. Judgement is for God to do. My job is to love with the love of Christ. Personally, I found Christ in the Catholic Church, but I acknowledge that there are many people who have found Christ in other Churches. Even Jesus acknowledges the diversity in John 10:16 when he says, “I have other sheep that are not in this pen. But I will bring them also and there shall be one Shepherd and one flock.” This means I cannot claim that all followers of Jesus are exclusively in my church and neither can you claim that they are in yours.
Thank you Holy Spirit!
#Bake aka #MrInspiration