“Faith is about a relationship with God, not rituals and creeds”

16 He was brought to light in flesh; he was declared righteous in spirit; he was seen by angels; he was proclaimed among nations; he was believed in the world; he was taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3: 16 – The Keys of the Kingdom Holy Bible

19 In your going out, disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And, as you will see, I am with you all the days, until the completion of the eon. Amen

Matthew 28:19 – The Keys of the Kingdom Holy Bible

13 ‘And nobody has ascended into heaven, except the one come down from Heaven, the Son of Man, who is in the Heavenly One.’

John 3: 13 – The Keys of the Kingdom Holy Bible

4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise; be thankful to Him; exalt His name, 5for Yahweh is good; His mercy endures throughout the eon, and His truth to all generations.

Psalm 100: 4-5 – The Keys of the Kingdom Holy Bible

“Faith is about a relationship with God, not rituals and creeds”. So says Chris Sparkes, the translator of the newly published ‘The Keys of the Kingdom’ Holy Bible, who has spent 25 years giving us what he says is the first ever accurate translation of the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek. I can scarcely imagine what it must be like to study Hebrew and Greek in enough depth to be able to understand the Bible properly in those languages, let alone translate it word by word, verse by verse, book by book, accurately. To say that it is mind-boggling really doesn’t do it justice. It tells you a great deal about Chris’s commitment to his faith, and to God.

I need to state that I’ve never studied Greek and I’m not comfortable in the Greek alphabet. The nearest that I’ve got to the subject, has been to study different translations of the Bible, in order to spot potential areas of difficulty. This has taught me over many years that Greek can be a complex language that doesn’t always easily translate into English. I believe there are many words in Greek that have no direct equivalent in English.

To do real justice to Chris’s amazing achievement, I’d have to read the entire KOTK Bible, making copious notes, and checking several other translations as I did so. I hope that Chris will forgive me, when I say that his level of commitment is one that I can’t hope to emulate. And this fact underlines the difference between us. Chris is passionate about the issues to which he has given the mnemonic GIHRLT, standing for Grammar, Internal Harmony, Research, Logic, and Text. His method is what he describes as ‘Organic’ as opposed to ‘Processed’; he even makes the analogy with organic and processed food. I have no mnemonic for what has been the centre of my Biblical efforts, but maybe those who’ve followed this blog for some time would accept that what enthuses me most is trying, even if not always successfully, to identify what the stories meant to those who wrote them and, above all, to those who first heard them or read them. My approach, if you like, has been ‘big historical and cultural picture’, as opposed to Chris’s passion for the detail.

All I’ve done so far is to read the Introduction, a colossal work in itself, and dip into some favoured passages, to see how Chris has tackled them. But I’ve seen enough to know that this is a more than serious work. The impression that I’ve got, reading it, is that it’s often much easier to read than other translations as it sounds English, unlike some translations, the best of which sound American and the worst, like random words thrown together.

The fact that it sounds English is perhaps not surprising, if I tell you that Chris cares deeply about good grammar and punctuation and has written books about the subject. In his introduction, he explores some of the issues that have inspired him to carry out this task. Whilst I can’t comment technically, I can say that Chris’s explanations make sense to me. Where he and I part, we do so for what I’d describe as good reasons. Let me try to explain. Many years ago, I came to realise that there’s virtually nothing in the Bible that specifically supports the doctrine of the ’Holy Trinity’. There is of course ‘The Great Commission’, right at the end of Matthew’s gospel in Mt 28:19 (shown above), albeit some scholars believe that this verse may have been added later. But…….. I’m not sure that I’m ready to chuck out the Trinity; I’ve lived with this most complex of doctrines and have become comfortable with it, albeit I agree that Christ being fully human and also fully divine is a difficult ask. So, there are areas where I suspect that Chris and I are not entirely on the same page, but this doesn’t alter my admiration for his project.

What brings us together, in a way that has been as illuminating as it has been inspirational, is to spot the extent to which we agree on the ‘big issues’. I would in particular mention these:

  • Chris explains that previous translations were often made by Churchmen, appointed by Churchmen, in order to back up the Church system; in other words, the translators had not wanted to challenge Church doctrine. This seems self-evident and we now call it ‘groupthink’.
  • Chris underlines that the concepts of hell and the devil are not Biblical. I agree and have preached on this in the past.
  • Chris writes that Jesus’s death and resurrection are the centre-point of all history. No Christian can argue with this.
  • Chris stresses the fact that absolutely everyone needs God’s forgiveness. I could not agree more. I would add (and Chris may not agree with this) that I feel that the modern Christian Church is obsessed with sin and repentance, rather than forgiveness. And repentance picks up on the Latin paenitere, rather than the Greek word metanoia, which I believe has more the meaning of: to ‘turn your life around’, rather than heap ashes on your head.
  • Chris states: “Every good thing I have has come from God”; this has been precisely my experience. We were both born in 1951 and live only a few miles apart in Hampshire.
  • Chris believes that many translations obscure the coming age/eon of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. If we don’t believe that Christ’s Kingdom will come on earth, what is the point of striving to improve this age/eon and prepare ourselves for the next?

On a strictly subjective basis, I’ve also found that the thicker paper on which the KOTK Holy Bible is printed makes it much more user-friendly (albeit heavier!)

But finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, is the title of this blog, that: “Faith is about a relationship with God, not rituals and creeds”. It is an understatement to say that this hit the spot for me. My faith in, and relationship with God, as I get older, is becoming stronger. My faith in the Church of England is absolutely at rock bottom. I’m sad about this, as someone who’s devoted a lot of time to it, but it seems to me irrefutable that the CofE is doing everything that it can, to hasten its own demise.

More detail about the ‘Keys of the Kingdom’ Holy Bible can be found at: www.keysofthekingdombible.com. The Bible is published by Filament Publishing, and the ISBN is 978-1-913623-47-0   

Heavenly Father, we ask for your blessing on the ‘Keys of the Kingdom’ Holy Bible project, and we also ask for your blessing on Chris Sparkes, as he now tries to bring his amazing project to a wider audience. Amen

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