I just received a beautiful email from Desiring God, which does a great job of encouraging believers to memorize Scripture. Click on the title above and it will take you to Desiring God’s newly redesigned website where you can read the message for yourself.
What a refreshing exercise it is to train your brain to store and meditate on, and your mouth to speak, the words God the Holy Spirit superintended as the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles wrote. In any responsible, well-made translation, this is truly a nourishing, cleansing, sanctifying and effective spiritual discipline.
As I was reading John Piper’s reasons to memorize Scripture, I was taken back to my days in the IFB movement. Boy, those King James Onlyists remain champions of the discipline of Scripture memorization! So many of the things John Piper writes are clear reflections of things I’d been taught all of my life. I had a similar experience when I read some of Leland Ryken’s The Word of God in English, written to promote the superiority of what is today becoming known as “essentially literal” translations of the Bible, over the decades long fad we’ve all gone through together in our lifetime known as “dynamic equivalent” or “thought-for-thought” translations. Ryken’s well-presented arguments for literal translation directly parallel much of what the King James Onlyists attempt to defend in their own way. Their way may be mixed with bad arguments defending other less compelling aspects of their position, but their stand on the superiority of literal translation as the most faithful way of rendering a text which happens to be the product of the breath of God cannot be faulted. Read Ryken’s book and compare it with Edward Hills’ arguments in The King James Version Defended.
Now, in case some of my overzealous former KJVonlyist readers are taking me the wrong way, no, I’m not promoting King James Onlyism, I’m promoting the time-honored tradition of literal translations of the Word of God, of which the KJV as well as the NKJV, NASB, ESV and several others are good examples. I’m also promoting the time-honored tradition of Scripture memorization. It’s true that with the advent of modern translations, especially in the case of the thought-for-thought variety, the discipline of Scripture memorization is a lost art. Yet another point on which KJV Onlyists are correct.
Find yourself a good, essentially literal translation of the Word of God. Being a brain-washed Reformed Christian, I recommend the English Standard Version. But any of them well suffice. Take that essentially literal translation of the Word of God and begin committing words, phrases, sentences, verses, chapters, books (you know, it has been done! ), to memory, and see if your Conformity to Christ, Daily Triumph over Sin, and Satan, Comfort and Counsel for People You Love, Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers and Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways are not greatly fortified, strengthened, sanctified for the glory of God!