'God has shown us favor,' Rainer reports
PHOENIX (BP) -- The newly released Christian Standard Bible gives Southern Baptists an unparalleled opportunity to uphold the fidelity of God's Word, reported Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, to messengers at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Faithful stewardship of God's Word has been critical in Southern Baptist history, Rainer noted as he introduced the inaugural Christian Standard Bible Award. He congratulated its first recipient, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., since 1993.
"At a critical time in the conservative resurgence, a leader was put there to turn that seminary around, back to the fidelity and the inerrancy of Scripture," Rainer said. "This award recognizes a person who has devoted his life and his ministry to the defense and the inerrancy of the Bible."
Mohler, who said he is deeply honored by the award, reminded messengers of the importance of Bible translations. Some Christians have been executed for translating the Bible into everyday languages, he said.
"I'm thankful for the heritage in which this translation stands," Mohler said. "We should never take it for granted."
The CSB, released in March, is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible that incorporates advances in biblical scholarship since the original translation. Southern Baptist scholars Tom Schreiner and David Allen led the multidenominational revision and oversight committee, which also sought input from Bible scholars, pastors and readers.
Each committee member was "guided by a deep love and reverence for the Word of God and its full authority, inerrancy and sufficiency," said a video shown as part of LifeWay's presentation to the SBC.
The translation team emphasized both precision to the original languages and clarity for modern readers, said Trevin Wax, Bible and reference publisher for LifeWay's B&H Publishing Group.
"We don't believe we have to choose between a literal translation and a readable translation," Wax told the SBC messengers.
"And as a denomination we have the opportunity now to steward a translation of the original manuscripts that is both precise and clear."
An accurate and readable translation is important because discipleship doesn't happen apart from Scripture, said Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay.
A study conducted by LifeWay Research shows Bible engagement is the top predictor of spiritual growth, and it also influences other spiritual disciplines, he said.
Geiger used an oversized balance scale to illustrate the effect of Bible reading. Blocks representing prayer, evangelism, serving and giving weighed down one side of the scale. "Sometimes we are discouraged that these spiritual disciplines are low," he said.
Then he placed a block labeled "Bible engagement" on the empty side of the scale, and the four spiritual disciplines rose.
"As we throw ourselves into the Word of God, it causes every other spiritual discipline to go up," he said. "That is why we are so excited to steward the CSB, for the Southern Baptist Convention and ultimately for the church."
While the CSB was the focus of LifeWay's presentation, Rainer also noted in his report that Forbes magazine named LifeWay one of America's best midsized employers for 2017. The honor, based primarily on employees' recommendations of their employer, reflects the commitment and fidelity of LifeWay employees, he said.
During his report, Rainer highlighted two new resources from LifeWay -- the popular She Reads Truth Bible and Technicolor, a book by Mark Hearn, pastor of First Baptist Church, Duluth, Ga. Technicolor tells the story of how First Duluth transformed from a monolithic Anglo-American congregation to a cross-cultural community with members from 37 different countries.
Rainer also gave an update on the construction of LifeWay's new corporate headquarters. LifeWay sold its current site in downtown Nashville in late 2015 and will move in November to a more efficient facility in nearby Capitol View, a mixed-use urban development.
"LifeWay is the longest tenured ongoing organization in downtown Nashville other than the government itself. We're delighted that we will remain in downtown Nashville as one of the city's largest employers," Rainer said.
"LifeWay continues to serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention with thousands of resources and ministries."