I fervently believe in getting the Bible to the "common people" in the language of their hearts. That's precisely why, at 62, I'm learning American Sign Language.
As William Tyndale said so famously, "If God spares my life, I will make the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than the pope and all his cardinals" (actually, as much as I love Tyndale, he got that from Erasmus' Preface to his 1516 edition of the Greek Text of the New Testament!).
But I am NOT in favor of "dumbing down" for the sake of mass appeal at the expense of the precision and the majesty of God's Holy Word.
Please just consider what Leland Ryken, Literary Stylist for the E.S.V. ("English Standard Version of the Holy Bible") says.
(I realize this will not line up with the wisdom of "the consensus of evangelical scholars," but, like Tyndale, Luther and others, I have never equated Truth with the majority opinion.
In fact, whenever I find myself in synch with the majority, I tend to wonder most anxiously where I might have gone wrong):
"Instead of lowering the Bible to the lowest common denominator, why should we not educate people to rise to the level required to experience the Bible in its full richness and exaltation?
Instead of expecting the least from Bible readers, we should expect the most from them. The greatness of the Bible requires the best, not the least . . . The most "difficult" of modern English translations -- the King James -- is used most by segments of our society that are relatively uneducated as defined by formal education . . . Research has shown repeatedly that people are capable of rising to surprising and even amazing abilities to read and master a subject that is truly important to them.
Previous generations did NOT find the King James Bible, with its "theological heaviness," beyond their comprehension. Nor do readers and congregations who continue to use the King James Bible find it incomprehensible. Neither of my parents finished grade school, but they learned to understand the King James Bible from their reading of it and the preaching they heard based on it.
We do not need to assume a theologically inept readership for the Bible!
Furthermore, if modern readers are less adept at theology than they can and should be, IT IS THE TASK OF THE CHURCH TO EDUCATE THEM, not to give them Bible translations that will permanently deprive them of the theological content that is really present in the Bible."
I taught Bibliology for fourteen years, Bible Interpretation for 26, and I have studied Greek. And I tell you all Bible translations are NOT created equal.
I think, personally, it comes down to how important is God's Word to us, and how important to know what it really says, in all its marvelous depth and detail?
Is it worth a little hard work?
John 8:31-32; Job 23:12; II Timothy 2:15; 4:1-6.
"Dad, I think most Christians have no clue what's in this Book."
Levi Nathanael Richards