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a minor epiphany

I was reading Romans 8:28 yesterday:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (King James Version)

and it was different than I remembered. Here is a translation that is closer to what I remembered:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (New International Version)

I prefer the first translation not only because I think it's more accurate (check this out), but also because it's so blatantly less "American." It's not so much that God is fiddling with human history so that a little band of His righteous people can have a perfect life, but rather that history is happening--yes, God's hand is moving in it--and to those who love and trust Him, they view all of life's circumstances, both good and bad, as under His control and thus as working out His good, perfect plan. It's about changing our attitude instead of about unrealistic expectations of life's ease.

I'm not saying the second translation is theologically incorrect, per se, but just that it feels more like it's saying that we're the center of it all, instead of causing us to see reality as it is and smile anyway.


Yes, I agree with you -- one reason why I prefer the ol' RSV over the NIV -- the NIV has a tendency to... simplify things to the degree of losing certain subtleties. "All things work together for good" is how I've always remembered that verse, and the NIV version seems odd to me. Not that I would have considered it "American", but the emphasis is all wrong, as you say, putting us at the centre of it all. The KJV and RSV versions put more emphasis on... the interconnectedness of all things. All things work together for good. For good. The point being not that things will be good for us, but that things will be good. God's plan is for goodness to happen, for all things -- and those of us who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, we're going to fit into that overall plan of goodness, not because he's bending the universe to suit us, but more that we're bending (through love) to fit into his Good universe.